Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables: “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:34-35, my italics).
Nehemiah is known as the man who led the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. Israel was in captivity when God first stirred Nehemiah’s heart toward this noble work. And when Nehemiah asked the Persian king to let him return to Jerusalem for this purpose, God moved the king’s heart to grant his request.
Daniel testified, “Behold, a hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands” (Daniel 10:10). The word for “touched” here means to “violently seize upon.” Daniel was saying, in essence, “When God placed his hand on me, it put me on my face. His touch gave me an urgency to pray, to seek him with all that’s in me.”
"Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and the 300 men who were with him, exhausted yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4, my emphasis).
Gideon’s life is a perfect example of how God creates impossible circumstances for his servants in order to demonstrate his glory. The Lord called this shy man to lead Israel into battle against an overwhelming enemy: 100,000 Midianites, compared to Israel’s army of 22,000.
As I write this, the whole world is frightened, perplexed and confused. Even the most devoted Christians are wondering about all the fast-moving events as they rapidly unfold. Are these things prophetic?
I hear from believers everywhere who ask a question I myself am wondering: “Are we in the very last years of human history?” I do not know — any thoughts on that subject are mere speculation. But one thing is sure: We have seen an acceleration of world events as never before.
When Israel had crossed the Red Sea they sang God's praises for his mighty deliverance. Think of the amazing miracle they had just experienced. Giant waves of water parted for them but swallowed their powerful enemy. As they beheld what happened they could only marvel. They must have said to each other:
Every year during the busy holidays, Christians remind themselves of the real significance of Christmas: the coming of Jesus. Our hearts are filled with gratitude that God the Father sent a Savior to redeem us. And celebrating Christ's birth is a sweet and pleasant time, filled with blessings of all kinds. We love seeing colorful presents around the tree in our living room. We enjoy singing carols and hymns, thanking God for his many blessings. Some of us even enjoy "A Charlie Brown Christmas," with Linus quoting from Luke 2 at the end.
What does the word "passion" mean to you as a Christian? I think passion at its truest and deepest level cannot be defined by any dictionary. Let me show you from Scripture what I believe it means to have a passion for Christ.
As I read the Bible, I see passion for Jesus as an ever-increasing obedience to his Word. Most of us think of obedience as personal, individual compliance to God's commands. Yet obedience to his Word has implications far beyond this. It isn't merely a personal pursuit but a fervent desire for the sake of the Lord's body.
Numbers 13 contains a list of names every Christian should be familiar with. See if you recognize any of the following: Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi or Geuel.
Having trouble recognizing them? Don’t worry—it would be unusual if you did know these names. They’re the spies sent by God to scope out the Promised Land. When I say we ought to be familiar with these names, the failure isn’t ours—it’s these men’s.
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).