Discouragement is the devil’s most devastating tool in his attacks on Spirit-hungry saints. It has always been the enemy’s weapon of choice against God’s elect, and from the day you became serious about the things of God — determining in your heart to know Christ in his fullness — Satan has sought to discourage you. He has watched you dig deeper into God’s Word every day. He has seen you growing, changing, overcoming all worldliness, and he has made you a heavy target.
Right now you may be able to praise God loudly in church but watch out for what comes tomorrow. Satan will use his most powerful weapon to try to bring you down, so don’t think his attacks are unusual. God allows this type of fiery testing with all his saints. Peter writes, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). God’s people have been enduring discouragement for centuries.
When you’re under attack, you won’t feel like praying but you must still go to the secret place and into the presence of Jesus! Don’t try to pray your way out of despair — this is the time for God’s Spirit to go to work for you. He will lift you out of the pit!
You can be honest with the Lord and tell him how weak and helpless you feel. “Jesus, my spirit is dry and I have no strength left. I’m coming to you for help!” In such times, the Lord is very patient with us. He doesn’t expect us to exert some intense, fervent effort in prayer, so just sit in his presence and trust his Holy Spirit to do in you what he has been sent to do. He will never forsake you but you must give him time to do his work.
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Dare to believe the incredibly good things the Holy Spirit is going to tell you. The Lord has glorious promises for all who wait on him!
God says to us, “My son, give me your heart” (Proverbs 23:26). His love demands that we reciprocate, that we return to him a love that’s total, undivided, requiring all our heart, soul, mind and strength. However, the Lord tells us in no uncertain terms, “You can’t earn my love. The love I give to you is unmerited.” John writes, “We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
No one wakes up one day and decides to walk away from sin and follow Jesus. No, the Holy Spirit of God reaches down into the wilderness of our lives, shows us our lost state and makes us miserable in our sin. Our Father sent us his Word to show us truth, sent his Spirit to convict us, and then came after us himself. He did it all for us!
David expresses a rest in his love for God when he writes, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You” (Psalm 73:25). The heart that loves the Lord ceases completely from looking elsewhere for comfort. Rather, it finds full contentment in him. God’s lovingkindness is better than life itself.
Such a heart also rejoices in its love for God. When a child of God knows how much his Father loves him, it puts a delight in his soul. Our love for the Father must be conveyed through his Son. Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). It is by Christ alone that we are accepted by the Father and have access to him.
God placed all his goodness, love, mercy and glory in his son and he sent Jesus to manifest and reveal that glory to us. Thus, Christ comes to us as the express image of our loving Father. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9).
When you find true intimacy with the Father, you’ll be able to walk in his glory — all the days of your life!
Communion with God consists of two things: receiving the love of the Father and loving him in return. You might spend hours each day in prayer, telling the Lord how much you love him, but it isn’t communion unless you receive his love in return.
The psalmist encourages us to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4). Why are we given such a bold invitation and what is the reason for such thanksgiving and praise? It’s because we are shown the kind of God we are to come to: “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (100:5).
God does not come to us as a hard, demanding father. Rather, he is kind and tenderhearted, filled with love and mercy toward us. His love is unconditional and he will never turn us down when we call upon him. He cares about everything concerning us but too few Christians have laid hold of this amazing love and grace. They live in fear and doubt, with little or no hope.
True love is manifested in two things: rest and rejoicing. The prophet Zephaniah writes: “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
God rests in his love for his people. In Hebrew, the phrase “He will quiet you with His love” reads, “He shall be silent because of his love.” God is saying, in essence, “I’ve found my true love and I don’t have to look elsewhere.”
God gets great pleasure from his people. Zephaniah testifies that God’s love for you is so great that it puts a song on his lips! To “rejoice” means to have joy and delight; it’s an outward expression of internal gladness. It’s also the highest expression of love.
God foresaw all your sins and failures, yet he still loved you with tender love. If God loved you enough to give his own Son to die for you when you were still deep in sin, would he remove his love when you stumble or fail? Absolutely not! His love is glorious and steadfast — unchanging and eternal.
Understanding God’s glory has very real, practical value for every true believer. Grasping it can unlock the door to an overcoming life!
The glory of God is a revelation of our Lord’s nature and being. We know Moses received a literal glimpse of God’s glory. God took him aside into the cleft of a rock and, scripture says, he revealed himself to Moses in all his glory: “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7).
Often when we think about the glory of God, we think of his majesty and splendor, his power and dominion. But the way God wants us to know his glory is through the revelation of his great love toward all men. That’s what he revealed to Moses. The Lord is forever waiting to show us his love to forgive us, shower us with his mercy, and restore us to himself!
This revelation of God’s glory has powerful effects on those who receive it and pray to understand it. At the first sight of his glory, Moses was no longer fearful of the Lord. Instead, he was moved to worship: “Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped” (34:8). He saw that God’s nature was one of kindness and tender mercy — total love!
True worship arises from hearts that are overcome by a vision of God’s unmerited love for us. It is based on the revelation that God gives us of himself, of his goodness, his mercy, his readiness to forgive. If we are to praise God both in spirit and in truth, our worship must be based on this awesome truth about him.
Seeing God’s glory changes the way we live! Each new revelation of his love and mercy brings supernatural change and makes us more like him. It also changes our relationships with others. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Just like Paul told the Ephesian church then, it holds true today: We’ve seen and tasted the glory of God. Now, let’s be a reflection of that glory to others.
For the first time in history, less than 50 percent of Americans identify themselves as believers of any kind. That figure is even lower — 30 percent — for those under thirty. Many of these check “NONE” as their religious affiliation. It is estimated that within a decade this generation will be lost completely to secularism and godlessness. And tolerance for Christians will only decrease.
What are we to do with this information? The writer of Hebrews answers, “Recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings” (Hebrews 10:32).
God turned the suffering of those early Christians into tools for gospel power: “Sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction … you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come … but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (10:33-39).
Although this seems to be a hard passage, there is good news embedded here. It speaks of a time when things get so bad that believers are tempted to shrink back from their message. Yet “we are not of those who shrink back … but of those who … preserve their souls” (10:39).
We may never face the same trials that New Testament believers did, but God still gives us New Testament power. Surely we will face trials of our own because we’re not immune to what is coming in the world. But those hardships will produce in us a power we’ve never seen.
The nonbelievers referenced above represent a soul headed to hell, someone for whom Jesus died. Those numbers alone call us to rise above mediocre Christianity to proclaim the gospel without fear or hindrance.
Christ’s great power is endued by grace alone and it is free to all who believe. May you be a testimony of his grace and power to all those in your sphere of influence today.