Not long ago, I began planning a book on the suffering of God's saints. I've wanted to encourage Christians about the Lord's faithfulness to his people in the midst of their trials. Since then, many readers have written to me, testifying of how God has given them grace in their times of suffering. One woman wrote of an enduring physical trial:
The apostle Paul said, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). He also said, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (verse 25).
As Christians, we have heard this phrase throughout our lives: "Walk in the Spirit." Many believers tell me they walk in the Spirit — yet they cannot tell me what that truly means. Now, let me ask you: Do you walk and live in the Spirit? And what does that mean to you?
The following is a prophetic warning from Azusa Street 75 years ago, concerning the dangers of a Christless Pentecost!
Frank Bartleman was an eyewitness to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1907 at Azusa Street, Los Angeles. He has been characterized as the Reporter of the Azusa Street Revival. Nearly 75 years ago, during the outpouring, he wrote a tract warning of a Christless Pentecost.
I once conducted a funeral service for a young man from our church who died of cancer. When I arrived for the service, I was told the young man’s mother was the only surviving member of a family of five. Her husband had died three years earlier and her two other sons had also died. This was her fourth funeral and the third son she’d had to bury.
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward” (Hebrews 10:35). If you are a Christian, you are in a fierce war. In fact, you’re in a life and death battle for your faith. Satan is determined to shipwreck and destroy the faith of all of God’s elect. And the stronger your faith, the greater will be his attack against it.
God promised the prophet Zechariah that in the last days he would be a protective wall of fire around his people: “For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about” (Zechariah 2:5).
Isaiah also testifies to this: “For thou hast been a…shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall” (Isaiah 25:4). “There shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain” (4:6).
In John 2, Jesus and his disciples were invited to a marriage supper in Cana. Evidently, the Lord’s family received the invitation, too, because Jesus’ mother was there. Mary came up to him with a request: “The hosts have run out of wine.”
Jesus’ response to his mother seems a bit strange. He told her, “My hour is not yet come.”
What was this “hour” Jesus was referring to? He wasn’t talking about the moment of darkness he would face three years later, before his crucifixion. At that time Jesus did say, “My hour has come.”
All of us know what afflictions are. They’re those times of trouble and stress that keep us up at night. They can be so painful and debilitating that we lose sleep because of the anguish and anxiety.
Yet, as painful as afflictions are, God uses them to achieve his purposes in our lives. David writes, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19). Moreover, Scripture makes clear God can use afflictions to heal sinners as well as saints.
One of the best ways to lose friends and be rejected is to go all the way with God. Get serious about spiritual matters; forsake all your idols; turn to the Lord with all your heart and become possessed with Jesus; get your eyes off the things of this world — and you have suddenly become a religious fanatic! And you are in for the worst rejection of your lifetime.
According to Paul, we who believe in Jesus have been raised up from spiritual death and are seated with him in a heavenly realm. “Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ…and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6).