Jesus’ church is a place where sinners repent of sins, with their heart and their mouth. Indeed, the apostle Paul attests: “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:8-10).
Simply put, we are brought to salvation through our open confession of repentance. Jesus states, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). And, he says, repentance is how we’re healed and restored: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
Beloved, this is good news! Jesus is telling us, “In my church, everyone is healed through repentance. It doesn’t matter who you are — the physically broken, the mentally ill, the spiritually sick. Everyone must come to me the same way and all find healing.”
Repentance was at the heart of the very first sermon after Christ’s resurrection when Peter told the crowds gathered at Pentecost: “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you … you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:22-23). When the people heard this, they fell under powerful conviction. The preached Word pricked their hearts, because the Holy Spirit had come in all his power. And according to Jesus, that’s precisely the Spirit’s work. He said the Holy Spirit comes to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).
The crowds were so stirred when they heard this that they couldn’t move. Suddenly, before them were the very issues of life and death. When they cried out to Peter and asked what they should do, he answered, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins … Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:38, 40).
As Christians, you should be immensely grateful for the presence of the Holy Spirit as you allow him to do his true work in you. Jesus wants you to walk in his peace as you live out repentance.
The apostle Paul says of God, “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9).
Simply put, every person who is “in Christ” is called by the Lord. And we all have the same mandate: to hear God’s voice, to proclaim his Word, to never fear man and to trust the Lord in the face of every conceivable trial. Indeed, God’s promises apply to all of his servants. That is, we don’t need to have a message prepared to speak before the world. He has pledged to fill our mouths with his Word at the exact moment it’s needed. But that will happen only if we trust him.
Paul tells us that many are appointed as preachers, teachers and apostles, and that they’re all going to suffer for that reason. He counts himself among those: “I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things” (2 Timothy 1:11-12). He was saying, in effect, “God has given me a holy work to do. And because I have that calling, I’m going to suffer.”
Scripture shows that Paul was tested as few ministers ever have been. Satan tried to kill him time after time. The so-called religious crowd rejected and ridiculed him, and at times even those who supported him left him abused and forsaken. But Paul was never confounded before men, nor was he ever dismayed or put to shame before the world. And, interestingly, he did not burn out. On every occasion, he had an anointed word from God to speak, just when it was needed.
Paul could not be shaken — and he never lost his trust in the Lord. Instead, he testified, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (1:12). Simply put, “I have committed my life fully to the Lord’s faithfulness. Live or die, I am his.”
Beloved, you may be facing battles and the heavens may seem as brass to you. But the Holy Spirit is faithful to restore you and raise you up. He will see you through every dark night, so don’t let the devil break you down!
“Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness” (Isaiah 58:9).
The reason we pray, fast and study God’s Word is to be heard in heaven. But the Lord attaches a big “if” to this. He declares, “If you want me to hear you on high, then you have to look at the issues of your heart. Yes, I will hear you — if you quit pointing a finger at others, if you stop speaking about them disrespectfully.”
It's a great sin in God’s eyes for us to speak in ways that tarnish someone else’s reputation. Proverbs tells us, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold” (22:1). A good reputation is a treasure that is carefully built up over time. Yet we can quickly destroy it with a single defaming word from our mouth.
David made a conscious determination to watch his tongue: “I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress” (Psalm 17:3). “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
Again, David exhorts, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
You may wonder, “Is it really possible to control the tongue, to purpose not to sin with the mouth?” Again, David answers with this testimony: “I said, ‘I will take heed my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me’” (Psalm 39:1, KJV). He is saying, in essence, “Every time I mount a horse, I have to put a bridle in its mouth. And as surely as I do that with my horse, I have to do it with my tongue.”
Beloved, not one person reading this message is too holy to heed it and make a change. We have all misjudged people, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and spoken in ways we should not have. But there’s good news! If you repent before the Lord, in his love and graciousness he will give you a renewed heart and strength to put away all evil speaking.
The story of Job and his calamitous suffering is well known. At his deepest point of despair, Job stated, “He laughs at the plight of the innocent” (Job 9:23). In so many words, Job was saying, “It doesn’t pay to be holy or walk uprightly. God treats the wicked and the pure the same. We both suffer, so why labor to be upright?”
The example of Job’s suffering should be a great comfort to all of us. That may come as a surprise to some, but Job represents the latter-day believers who will undergo fierce trials in the days ahead. Indeed, multitudes of God-fearing Christians are going to face the same fires that Job experienced. And we need this suffering man’s example in order to draw hope for ourselves.
Our nation has entered a time of suffering and calamity. As we survey the troubles mounting all around us, looking into the future can be a frightening prospect, as all we may be able to see are more uncertainties, fears and crises. Like Job, our hearts cry out, “What are we going to do? Why is all this happening to faithful servants of God? Why doesn’t the Lord intervene and stop it?”
This flood of trouble has a personal entity behind it: Satan. The fact is, the devil was Job’s troubler, and he is still the troubler of God’s people today. Once again, the enemy is standing before the Lord, making great accusations against his church. He’s challenging God, saying, “You have no true body in this last hour. Just take a look at your people, God. They’re materialistic, self-centered, grasping for riches and the good life, preoccupied with making life better for themselves. They’re all spiritual wimps.”
It could be that the furnace of
your affliction is meant to bring you into a life-changing revelation. This is exactly what happened with Job. In the midst of his suffering, Job made an incredible discovery: despite his pure knowledge of God, he didn’t truly know the Lord. He confessed, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I … repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
Look to God right now and remember that he always has everything under his control. He is going to harness everything Satan means for evil and turn it into your good. Encourage yourself with these words: “My God can do anything! He loves me and I know he has not forgotten me.”
Right now people are unhappier than ever. That may sound surprising because of all the progress humankind is making. Economists tell us we are the wealthiest generation in history. We have more leisure pursuits and entertainment than at any other time. We also have more modern conveniences than ever. Medical advances multiply year after year.
Yet, in spite of these advancements, we’re told by leaders in virtually every field — psychiatry, sociology, medicine, education — that this is the unhappiest generation that ever lived. And this is not restricted to secular society. The same statistics apply to the family of God — people who are saved, sanctified, filled with God’s Spirit, know God’s Word and are active in Christian community. Young people speak of being bored, even with thousands of digital entertainments within their reach. At the end of the day it all leaves them with an internal angst.
Our joy is being stolen from us! The Bible says, “The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). This is not just a warning for people about addictions or gross sins. The enemy of our souls wants to rob us of all that God has in mind for us, including joy, peace, contentment, vibrancy of life — and according to the Bible, that includes happiness.
The Bible tells us, “Happy are the people who know the joyful shout; Yahweh, they walk in the light of Your presence” (Psalm 89:15). “I will turn their mourning into joy, give them consolation, and bring happiness out of grief” (Jeremiah 31:13).
How do followers of Jesus in other parts of the world endure horrifying attacks? How do imprisoned Christians in countries hostile to their faith maintain hope? They have within them a joy and happiness that sustains them through it all. The Bible they look to renews their minds, stirring within them what the Spirit has already placed in their hearts: that true happiness — given by God — is a reality in our lives.
When your head is filled with negative thoughts — when you begin to doubt God’s love for you and his pleasure in you — remember that you are a child of your heavenly Father who takes pleasure in you. His Word makes this a reality, so believe it and find true happiness!