“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20-21). The Bible is filled with the truth of God’s love but at times we may wonder how the Lord could ever love us.
Millions of believers who have tasted the love of God have never learned how to enter into the fullness of his love. They know the doctrine of his love — they have heard it preached often — yet they don’t know what it means to be kept in his love.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The revelation of God’s love comes in part through the power of the Holy Spirit when we are born again. It’s a wonderful moment when you grasp this truth and realize, “God loved me when I was lost, undone, a stranger, and he proved his love by sacrificing his own Son on my behalf.”
After this initial revelation, Christians must learn how to be kept in God’s love. The Father loves his people with the very same love he has for Jesus, who sits at his right hand. In his final prayer on earth, Jesus said, “You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). What an incredible thought! Christ was greatly loved by the Father before creation — before any planet was formed, before the sun, moon or stars came into being, before the creation of man.
Jesus then followed with this remarkable prayer: “That the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (17:26). He was saying, “Father, I know you’re going to love those I bring into my body just the way you’ve loved me.” You see, according to Jesus, in God’s eyes Christ and his Church are one.
Keep yourself in God’s great love for you and it will be your strength through all the things you experience in life.
Imagine a heavenly bank where the Holy Spirit sits ready to dispense any and every resource of heaven. Believers have the ability to step up to the teller’s window and withdraw endless reserves of God’s grace, power, faith and hope.
Many in the church make a lot of deposits but they don’t make nearly as many withdrawals. Instead, they step up to the window and ask for a mere pittance. “Lord, I don’t want to bother you, but I need just a little grace to get me through this present problem. If you can just get me going, I can handle the rest.” What? They don’t want to bother their heavenly Father? Well, God doesn’t want them to “handle the rest,” he wants to do it for them.
God wants us to deposit everything to him: our anxieties, struggles, sins and heartaches. And then he wants us to draw on his infinite resources, which are stored up for us in his vaults. He longs for us to say, “Lord, I’m finished asking for just a small amount of faith to get me through a problem. I need your grace in abundance! And I need more of your life, your breath, your movement within me.”
The prophet Zechariah was seeing down through history to our day when he wrote these words.
“On that day the Lord will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David! And the royal descendants will be like God, like the angel of the Lord who goes before them!” (Zechariah 12:8).
Because of Christ’s work for us, even the weakest Christian will be as strong as David, Israel’s greatest king. And the strongest believer will “be like God,” meaning, like Christ. It sounds outlandish, but in this prophecy God gives us an image of the resources he has made available to his church. The reserves of heaven’s bank are meant to pour out on us to his great glory, especially during our times of trial.
No matter how great your need, I urge you to go to the teller’s window and make a withdrawal. Ask God to supply you with his healing and restoring power — and then keep asking. He is pleased with your faith and he will be faithful to make his glory known in your situation, astounding the world around you.
When Christians experience joy today, it has a much more powerful impact on the world than it did decades ago. Why? Because the entitlement mentality so prevalent in our society leads many to feel justified in their anger. We may think, “The government, my employer, my family — someone for sure! — owes me big-time. I’m entitled because my life has been hard. You have no idea what I’ve been through.” There is often a deep resentment in that kind of complaint.
If you carefully analyze international affairs, national politics, call-in radio shows, blogs, labor disputes, and race relations, you find a worldwide epidemic of venom and bitterness. It’s everywhere and, sadly, it has also invaded the Body of Christ. It is the exact opposite of the joyous living that Jesus intended for all of us. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
Centuries before Jesus said those words, joy was already understood as an important facet in the life of God’s chosen people. Moses instructed them that the blessings of God were granted so that “your joy will be complete” (Deuteronomy 16:15). Enjoying God’s presence produced an even deeper joy than any material blessing (Psalm 21:6), and God’s people were to continually celebrate his goodness with “songs of joy” (Psalm 107:22).
When singing a song of joy, it wasn’t only the lyrics or melody that made the song worshipful; the singers needed a heart of joy for all that the Lord had done for them. God was more interested in joyful hearts than vocal ability — that’s why David’s attitude pleased God so much. Although surrounded by enemies and under intense stress, David didn’t complain or get bitter. Rather, he went to the tabernacle and made sacrifices with “shouts of joy,” saying, “I will sing and make music to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6).
We Christians have been forgiven, cleansed, justified, and sealed with the Spirit — and we will live eternally with Christ! Joyous singing, shouts of praise, and exuberant thanksgiving are certainly in order. Although there is a time to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), we should also remember to “sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob” (Psalm 81:1).
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.
Many Christians are lovers of Jesus, yet they sin against the light they have been given. They’ve heard thousands of righteous sermons, read the Bible daily for years, and spent countless hours in prayer. Yet they’ve allowed a besetting sin to remain in their life and cut off their communication with Jesus. When the Holy Spirit convicts of a sin that has never been dealt with, it comes with a warning: “This sin must go! I won’t wink at the way you’ve been indulging it.”
King David sinned and the Lord exposed it for the whole world to see (read the story in 2 Samuel 11 and 12). He suffered many outward troubles and was tormented inwardly, afraid the Lord had utterly forsaken him: “You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths” (Psalm 88:6). As many anxieties fell on David, he confessed, “I remembered God, and was troubled” (77:3).
David anguished over the scandal he had created and his grief over the shame he had caused was so overwhelming that he begged God, “Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish” (39:8). His every waking moment was filled with thoughts of being struck down in wrath and he cried out, “O Lord, do not rebuke me in your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!” (38:1). A contrite David cried from the very depths of his heart, “Have mercy upon me, O God” (51:1), and the Lord was quick to quick to forgive and restore sweet fellowship with him.
If you are carrying a sense of failure and you’ve become weak, soul-sick, ready to faint, it may be because your sin has cut off your communion with God. But thank God for his mercy! He is implanting in your spirit a holy fear of the Lord and that is a good thing. When the Lord sees one of his children wrestling with some sin or bondage, he moves in quickly to bring him back to a path of obedience and peace.
Rest assured, God has promised forgiveness for every sin: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). Accept this forgiveness and walk in renewed freedom and sweet fellowship with your heavenly Father.
The very first message Jesus delivered after he emerged from the temptation in the wilderness was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He called people to repent even before he called them to believe!
The word “repent” is rarely mentioned in most churches today. Pastors seldom call for their congregations to sorrow over sin — to grieve over wounding Christ by their wickedness. Instead, the message we hear from many pulpits is, “Just believe. Accept Christ and you’ll be saved.” The text used to justify this message is Acts 16:30-31. The apostle Paul was being held in jail when suddenly the earth shook and all the cell doors opened. The jailer immediately thought all the prisoners had fled, which meant he faced execution.
In despair, the jailer drew his sword and was about to kill himself when Paul and Silas stopped him, assuring him that no one had escaped. Seeing this, the man fell down before the apostles and cried out, “‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household’” (Acts 16:30-31). It’s important to remember that the jailer was on the verge of suicide, with sword in hand. He was already at the point of repentance — on his knees, broken and trembling before the apostles. So his heart was truly prepared to accept Jesus in genuine faith.
Jesus promises that your godly sorrow, your repentant heart and your renewed love for him will lead you to life. So, pray to him right now: "Lord, give me a truly repentant heart. Take me back to who I was when I was first in love with you. Yet, this time take me farther, deeper in you, than I've ever been before!"
Jesus promises that your repentant heart and renewed love for him will lead you to life.