The prophet Isaiah prophesies what happens when the Holy Spirit falls upon a people. “The Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest” (Isaiah 32:15). He is saying, “When the Holy Spirit comes, what was once a barren wilderness becomes a harvest field. A dead patch of ground suddenly overflows with fruit and that field of fruit will grow into a forest; you will be able to take cuttings from this forest year after year and build on your fruitfulness continually.”
When the Holy Spirit comes, his first work is to cleanse his church. That’s what happened at Pentecost. When Peter began to preach with the Spirit’s anointing, the people were strongly convicted and they cried out, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter’s answer was, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Thousands came to Christ that day because they recognized their sin and wanted freedom.
When the Holy Spirit begins to deal with things in the church of Jesus Christ, he deals lovingly with each individual, convicting them of every idol, every measure of self that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.
Isaiah goes on, “Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field” (Isaiah 32:16). Isaiah is not speaking of a one-time outpouring of the Spirit, what people might think of as a “revival.” No, he is describing something that brings lasting change.
“The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (32:17-18). The Holy Spirit is the administrator of the peace of Christ — he portions out peace — and there can be no peace without righteousness.
I encourage you today to pray for more of the Holy Spirit in your life. Pray that he will stir your soul and draw you to your secret closet of prayer. He will supply you with quiet rest and assurance that he will see you through whatever comes.
We cannot understand the gospel unless we know the glorious nature of our awesome God. “Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know” (Ephesians 1:18).
The gospel does not start with acknowledging that you are a sinner or realizing that God has a wonderful plan for your life. It starts with understanding the grace of our glorious Father.
Being in the Lord’s presence illuminates our understanding and yet our hearts are broken before our powerful, awesome God. Paul is saying here, “I want your eyes to be open to the reality of the character of this magnificent God we serve. He is not small, petty, or insignificant. He is the one, true God, and he wants us to have our eyes open to the revelation of his nature.”
Moses had a hunger and thirst to know who God was — what his nature and character were like — and he cried out, “Please show me your glory!” (Exodus 33:18). But Moses was unable to see God’s face because he was far too glorious. Rather, God came to him in a simple revelation: “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin’” (34:6-7).
Pray that God will open your eyes that you may know “what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power” (Ephesians 1:18-19).
Consider the immeasurable greatness of God. Never think that your problems are bigger than God’s ability to solve them. Nor think your struggle with the flesh is greater than his power to overcome. And as you acknowledge his greatness, give thanks and magnify the name of the Lord for all he has done for you because of his wonderful grace.
Many servants of God are bearing heavy burdens today and God wants to remind each one, “My righteousness is near, my salvation has gone forth, and My arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands will wait upon Me, and on My arm they will trust” (Isaiah 51:5).
God is saying, “I have already spoken the word of your deliverance — I decreed it in my covenant promises — and I have stretched forth my mighty arm to take you out of your wilderness experience. Why don’t you claim what I have decreed and walk in the light of my freedom, joy and peace?”
God promises his people, “The Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody” (51:3). He wants his people to know, “I’m going to bring you comfort. Right now all you see is failure, but that is about to change! I’m going to turn your wilderness into a garden where you will enter into my joy and gladness.”
These are not foolish, empty promises. They are spoken to us by Almighty God, he who reigns over all. His thoughts for his people are good; he loves us and he is set on delivering us from all fear and depression. But the Lord also wants to show us how we came to such a low condition. “You’ve allowed the devil to trample all over you.”
We see an example of this in King David, who admitted, “I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart” (Psalm 38:8). David knew he was adding to his discouragement by allowing his own fear to foment his turmoil.
Then we see the terror experienced by the disciples when they were in an awful storm. Their boat was being tossed by powerful winds and high waves … but then Jesus appeared with this life-giving word: “It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).
That is the word for every believer today. Jesus is with you in your crisis and he will come alongside you and speak peace.
Satan is deceiving many in Christ’s Body, causing despair and confusion, and he is not being challenged in God’s house. Why is that? Too many sermons today focus on meeting the needs of people rather than on living a victorious life in Christ. Preachers offer how-to plans for merely getting by and totally neglect the heavenly position we have been given in Christ. The truth is, this world has always been troubled, which means God’s people have always faced an enemy who attacks from all sides. The circumstances change, but the devil remains the same.
The Body of Christ needs “a great awakening” … a revelation and enlightenment. Paul speaks of this: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:17-19).
Paul was telling the Ephesians, “I pray that God will give you a fresh revelation and open your eyes to the calling he has given you. And I’m also asking him to give you a new understanding about your inheritance, the riches in Christ that belong to you. God wants to unleash a mighty power in you — the same power that was in Jesus.”
According to Paul, “[God’s] mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” is the same “exceeding greatness of His power” that we who believe possess (see Ephesians 1:19-20).
Beloved, this power-life is not a fantasy or some theological illusion. It is a provision made possible to us through the cross of Christ, and your personal “awakening” comes the day you look at your life, look up to him, and cry out, “Jesus, I accept what you have done for me and I claim my place in you.”
In days past, “Jesus is coming!” was declared during almost every Sunday church meeting. Evangelists brought stirring messages about the hope of Christ’s return and there was a godly fear and expectancy in the hearts of his followers. Today, however, the coming of the Lord is seldom spoken of and, sadly, only a few righteous servants seem to yearn for his appearing.
The Bible warned of this lack of vigilance regarding Jesus’ return. “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
There are those who mock the message of Christ’s return but it is probably out of fear — fear of having to stand before God and give an account. Such mockers are among us today, preaching a new message: “Don’t worry, Christ isn’t coming. The sun will rise on schedule tomorrow, the seasons will come and go. All the warnings we heard in the past haven’t come to pass, so enjoy yourself and be happy.” God’s laws are being mocked in high places and there is rampant lawlessness in the land. We read of atrocities being committed around the world and watch increasing instances of deadly new diseases, while natural disasters increase in number and intensity. It should be clear to even the ungodly that the Lord is shaking everything that can be shaken.
In Matthew, Jesus says, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). Jesus’s coming should not disturb you, it should thrill you! If you truly love someone, you want to be near that person, right? Imagine what it will be like when Jesus calls your name.
In the midst of these times, Jesus says, “Surely I am coming quickly,” and the Bride of Christ answers, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (see Revelation 22:20). This is our blessed hope!