In the midst of a time of volatility and upheaval, how are God’s people to respond? If you have confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you need never fear. Those who are in Christ are forever sheltered by the blood that Jesus shed for them and this truth is the cornerstone of our faith. It will determine everything we think and all we do regardless of what is going on around us.
Paul assured the believers in Rome, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8-9).
What are God’s people to do when the world is barraged with bad news? When markets rise and fall and the world becomes paralyzed with fear? God gives his children a hiding place: “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past” (Isaiah 26:20).
When you are distressed — overwhelmed, laid low by affliction, concerned about the future — God says there is a place of comfort where we find composure for our souls. This secret hiding place is a chamber in your mind which Isaiah describes this way: “[The Lord] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).
When the Lord tells us, “Shut the door,” he is showing us the need to shut out the many troubling voices in our heads. We are to close the door to all thoughts about tomorrow and about world events. The Lord who has faithfully brought us this far will not fail us in the days ahead.
God be praised! He is our hiding place in times of crisis and his faithful promises are our shield of protection. Cling to them!
Holy and anointed — these two important elements of Jesus’ life are meant to be part of our lives too. We are called to be holy and anointed but some Christians may be intimidated by this. “I live a moral life and I do my best to be godly — but holy? And anointed? How can that happen, considering all my failures?”
Straight from Peter’s pen comes this instruction: “It is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:16). The only way this could ever be accomplished is if Jesus gave us his own holiness and anointing. And that is exactly what he did through his perfect sacrifice for us!
For thirty-three years, Christ lived on earth, perfectly reflecting spotless motives, speech, and actions. If he had been guilty of just one sin, he could not have paid for all our sins. But through his perfect life on earth, his payment for the sins of the whole world is thorough and endless.
Christ’s work for us — his crucifixion, death, and resurrection — did more than cleanse us of sin. He also imparted to us his righteousness. Think about what an amazing thing this is: While all our sin is on him, all his righteousness is on us. One of the sins we must be cleansed of is the deep belief that our behavior makes us righteous. We can never earn our way to a higher level of righteousness; we are made righteous by him alone.
Paul testifies, “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9, NLT).
Perhaps you feel holy on days when you are doing well; you’re worshipful and conscious of God in every way. But do not mistake that for a state of holiness because you can never be holier than Jesus’ blood makes you, even on your worst day. By his power, you are his worthy witness not just in good times but in bad times. His sacrifice frees you from sin and makes you righteous.
A couple months ago, I began reading a book by a Franciscan monk who was reflecting on the mystery of God’s nature as pointed out in the first chapter of John.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 ESV).
Though many parts of nature may reflect an aspect of the trinity—shamrocks, the three states of water, and triangles—nothing is a complete or accurate illustration.
The closest example is probably the atom with its three parts: neutron, proton and electron. These three parts of the atom are meant to work together. Of course, modern science allows us to separate them, but they naturally want to be together.
They are three distinct parts that make a single entity, much like our God.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit—three distinct persons exist within one God. We do not worship three different gods, and our Lord is not a lonely, isolated deity. This surely has to be the strangest monotheistic religion in the world, one that embraces the contradiction of three-in-one.
Our God lives in continual relationship within himself and—most incredibly—with us.
I know God is around me and for me. He promises to go before me, to protect and guide me, comfort me, pray with groans beyond understanding for me and to speak to me. He’s there for each one of us. He’s with you, protecting you, rejoicing with you.
There’s a worship song that expresses this so beautifully:
“There’s a table that you’ve prepared for me in the presence of my enemies. It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you. This is how I fight my battles.”
I used to feel a little odd about that expression in Psalm 23:5. Eating alone would be so awkward, especially in front of people who don’t like me!
Then I realized that I’m not alone at that table.
I’m sitting with my family, my community and with you. We’re together as God’s children at his table, surrounded by him: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29 ESV).
This is Kelly’s heart for believers everywhere, shared most recently with pastors and their wives in Kenya at the conference where her husband, Gary Wilkerson, and Nicky Cruz also spoke.
Oddly, God loves to choose the most unlikely, untrained, and imperfect folks to accomplish amazing things. Abraham lied when under pressure, Moses killed a man before he became Israel’s deliverer, King David’s family dismissed him as only a shepherd boy, and the apostle Peter was a fisherman with no formal religious training.
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
Note that those words were written to a congregation of believers in Jesus, not to the clergy. In case you are feeling inadequate and untrained when the Spirit calls, please remember that this is the way God usually works so that he will be guaranteed to receive all the glory.
Let’s look at Paul for a moment. He was Jewish, trained as a Pharisee, and an expert in Old Testament teaching. No one was better equipped to take the good news to the Jewish people but that is not where God placed Paul. Instead, he used him to spread the gospel among the Gentiles!
When God’s Spirit moves, his purposes are revealed and accomplished in ways that no committee, personality test, or computer program could ever figure out. Christ did not die on the cross so that we would spend our time as Christians on earth merely sitting around waiting for his return. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Jesus said there is a shortage of workers, but the actual work will be done by God’s Spirit through you and me doing things beyond our wildest imagination. It all begins when you offer yourself to serve.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.
“[Jesus] did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:58). Unbelief always hinders the fullness of God’s revelation and blessing and Scripture makes it clear that God does not take it lightly. He gives us an example of this in the story of King Asa, a righteous king and descendant of David who ruled over Judah (read the account in 2 Chronicles 14 through 16).
During King Asa’s reign, he wiped out idolatry and brought revival to the land. Then, as the people enjoyed God’s blessing, a huge army from Ethiopia invaded Judah, causing Asa to turn to the Lord in prayer, calling out for help. Judah won a tremendous victory in one of the greatest miracles of faith in the history of God’s people. After the battle, a prophet came to Asa and, rather than congratulating him on the great victory, he issued a warning: “King Asa, as long as you rely on the Lord and fully trust in him, you will be blessed. You will win victory after victory and the Lord will walk with you. But if you turn away from him and trust in your flesh, chaos and disorder will follow you.”
King Asa faithfully walked with the Lord and Judah was greatly blessed by God, as the prophet had said. But then another crisis came and Judah was attacked again. The enemy captured a town just five miles from Jerusalem, Judah’s capital, and cut off the vital trade route into the city, which could cause Judah’s entire economy to collapse.
This time, King Asa panicked and instead of trusting the Lord, he turned to an enemy, the king of Syria, for help. Unbelievably, Asa stripped Judah’s treasury of all its wealth and offered it to the Syrians to deliver Judah — an act of absolute unbelief. God had in motion his plan to deliver Judah but Asa aborted it by acting in fear. Because Asa did not trust the Lord, from then on Judah had wars.
Acting in unbelief always brings turmoil and confusion — no exceptions. But trusting God’s Word will enable you to stand firm in the face of any challenge and let God bring victory.