In his letter to the church, Jude gives a dire warning. He writes, "To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called...it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares...ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 1-4).
The book of Exodus contains one of the strangest passages in all of scripture. As Israel camped at Mount Sinai, they were suddenly engulfed by thick darkness and an incredible, blazing fire. Out of the midst of these awesome elements, God spoke: "These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice" (Deuteronomy 5:22).
I'm an old-fashioned preacher who believes in honoring the sabbath. And one reason behind my conviction is that I was raised in a preacher's home, where the sabbath was honored religiously.
The sabbath began for us when we children were awakened early on Sunday morning for a full day in church. First came Sunday morning church, followed by lunch. And after lunch, we all had to take a nap, whether we wanted to or not. (Sometimes this seemed just awful. We had to lie down just when we felt full of life!)
Isaiah prophesies that God will one day rise up and shake the whole earth. The prophet writes: "Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty... and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof... all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone.... When thus it shall be in the midst of the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree..." (Isaiah 24:1, 11, 13). God is going to shake the earth as if it were an olive tree - till every bit of fruit falls!
Recently I went to the Lord in prayer very heavy-hearted, laden down with many cares. I began to plead my case before Him:
“Oh Lord, I've never been so weary in all my life. I can hardly go on! My mind is so tired, I don't think I can get another message. You've got to come and help me with these heavy burdens You've put on me, in my ministry and in my life. I've got to have strength from You. Lord, please — help me!"
Then I began to weep. I was so exhausted the tears literally burst out of me. As I lay crying, I thought, "Surely my tears will move the Lord's heart!"
The apostle Paul was one of God's most faithful servants. And I believe there were three important motivations behind Paul's faithfulness: hope, love and fear.
Paul had a blessed hope of eternal life that motivated him to faithfulness. He also had a great love for Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:14 he says, "The love of Christ constraineth us"— meaning, it constrained him to remain faithful to God.
But Paul's faithfulness was also motivated by something else: the reverential fear of the hour he would stand before the Judge of the world on Judgment Day!
In recent weeks I have been crying out to God, "O Lord, take hold of me. Grip me, possess me, apprehend me!" Oh, how I've longed for that. But I didn't know I wasn't prepared to have the Holy Ghost handcuff me!
It is clearly Scriptural — and, in fact, apostolic — to pray that God handcuff you. This means asking Him to place manacles on your hands, to lock them up, throw away the key and take you as His prisoner.
A precious doctor friend told me once how God enlisted him in the "school of sympathy." He had had very little empathy with people who complained of pain. Doctors see and hear so much regarding pain that they often become immune to it. He couldn't understand why patients with kidney stones, for instance, would scream with pain. He thought, "It can't be that bad – they must be putting it on a little – perhaps to get medication. How could anybody hurt that badly?" Then one day he woke up with kidney stones!
The prophet Micah delivered a message for our day which is both frightening, yet very hopeful. The importance of his message can be found in these works: "Hear now what the Lord is saying!" (Micah 6:1). Micah speaks forth the heart of God to men of all ages - to the backslidden Jew of his day, to the remnant of the last days, and especially to the shepherds in our time. Keep in mind the message of Micah is the burden of the Lord and His view of the church and of His shepherds.
"And all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground." (Ezekiel 38:20).
There is an ominous Scripture in the Bible that is a source of comfort to many Christians. It is Matthew 7:22,23: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."