“Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed … who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4). We must discern, identify, confront, and learn to overcome and protect against the enemies of our faith.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony” (Hebrews 11:1-2). There is only one way to maintain a good testimony for Christ and that is by the renewing and the defending of our faith. Think about how the enemy wants to steal, corrupt and abort your faith. The Bible is very clear that “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (11:6).
The author of Hebrews gives an incredible word to all the young believers. There were thousands of them and they were to look to the older believers as models. “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (13:7-8). He is saying, “Look at those who have brought the word of God to you and follow their conduct.”
Those of us who have been walking with the Lord and singing, worshiping him, and seeing him remain faithful all these years are to be examples, standards for those coming behind us to look to. This is an astonishing and humbling responsibility. Those younger in the faith are to follow our lives and actually see how we demonstrate our faith through the struggles and pain we endure.
The author of Hebrews is saying, “Look to them and follow their example!” And Jude is saying, “It’s urgent that you fight earnestly for the faith, for ungodly men have crept in unnoticed.” We are living in the last days of time and we must allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to live and also to discern those things that would draw us away from our Jesus and cause us to deny him.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
When King David was in a time of discouragement and struggle, he cried out: “I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long … I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart … My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me” (Psalm 38:6, 8, 10).
This psalm shows us a godly, righteous man slumped in despair. David hungered for the Lord and poured out his heart to him daily in prayer. He revered God’s Word, writing psalms that extolled his glory, but now all he could do was cry, “Lord, I’m at the end of my rope and I have no idea why it’s happening.”
Like many discouraged Christians, David tried to figure out why he felt so empty and broken in spirit. He probably relived every failure, sin and foolish deed in his life. He finally reasoned that God must have been chastening him: “O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!” (Psalm 38:1).
David is not writing just about his own condition in this psalm. He’s describing something that all devoted lovers of Jesus face at some point in their lifetime. It is important to note that the spirit of discouragement is Satan’s most potent weapon against God’s elect. Most often, he uses it to try to convince us that we have brought God’s wrath upon ourselves by not measuring up to his holy standards. But the apostle Paul urges us not to fall prey to the devil’s snare: “Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Paul tells us we must see our discouragement for what it really is — a demonic weapon. Satan knows he can’t get us to turn away from Jesus, so he swamps us with vicious lies. When this happens, the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance all the precious promises of Jesus.
“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 tells you and let him flood your spirit with encouragement from the heavenly Father. He loves you and his promises are true!
Anyone who sincerely seeks the abiding presence of the Lord will surely have it. “If you seek Him, He will be found by you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). The Hebrew word for “found” here is “matsa” which means “his presence coming forth to enable, to bless.” In short, this verse tells us, “Seek the Lord with all your heart and he will come to you with his presence. Indeed, his presence will be an almighty power that emanates from your life.”
God makes his covenant of grace with every believer — a covenant which is embodied in promises such as, “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). “[Jesus] will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He makes special promises to those who determine to seek him with all their hearts but this covenant is strictly conditional.
An unnamed prophet delivered a message to Eli, the high priest of Israel, who was backslidden at the time. The Lord had been warning him against sin and compromise but Eli had ignored all God’s words. This prophet said to Eli, “The Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed’” (1 Samuel 2:30).
The phrase “lightly esteemed’ has to do with the lifting of God’s presence — not that the person is damned but rather that he will have to walk in the power of his own flesh. God was telling Eli, “I intended to bless your house, to favor you, but you scorned me so I must take my presence from you.”
Many people come to Christ with an initial burst of great faith, yet over time their zeal wanes and they begin to neglect Christ. They lightly esteem his commands and turn back to their old ways. God never stops loving them, but his presence is not with them in the fullness that they once experienced.
God's promises never fail. But some - like the covenant of his presence - are absolutely conditional. They require more than merely our cooperation. Of course, God will never abandon us or stop loving us. But if we remain in sin, his presence will not be with us - and our lives will no longer be an instrument of his powerful presence.
Beloved, seek him with all your heart, and desire his presence in your daily life. Then you will know and experience the incredible glory of God!
Resigning yourself into God’s care is an act of faith. It’s easy for Christians to say in a general way, “The Lord’s will be done,” but it’s another matter entirely for us to resign ourselves into the Lord’s hands about a specific circumstance. In the Bible when someone approached this walk of self-resignation, it was done with great seriousness of thought.
Merely saying the words, “I trust the Lord completely,” isn’t sufficient to prove that we have total trust in him. It must be a free and willing surrender. Consider Egypt’s Pharaoh: Only when he couldn’t hold out against God’s plagues any longer did he resign to let Israel take their wilderness journey toward the Promised Land (see Exodus 12:29-32).
Likewise, many people living today have said, “I give in, I commit, I trust,” only after they have seen no other way out of their situation. But true resignation, the kind that pleases God, is done willingly, prior to our coming to our wit’s end. We are to act in covenant with the Lord, giving him a blank check and letting him fill it in.
God will accept no less than our all. If we resign our lives to him only half-heartedly, with any kind of reservation, we are as guilty as Ananias and Sapphira. They pretended to give their all to the Lord, but in reality they held back a part and they paid with their lives (see Acts 5:1-11). There can be no deals or restrictions placed on our Lord.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him” (Psalm 62:8).
Although the psalmist says we’re to trust in God at all times, our pride always makes us want to keep control of our lives. It is surprising how stubborn and willful we can be. Our surrender to him — in our thoughts, our actions, our desires — is by nature a daily, ongoing work.
We are reminded, “The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). How reassuring to know that as we reach to him in faith, our Master will carry us through all hardships and natural impossibilities.
Moses was convinced that without God’s presence in his life, it was useless for him to attempt anything. When he spoke face to face with the Lord, he said, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). He was saying, “Lord, if your presence is not with me, then I’m not going anywhere. I won’t take a single step unless I’m assured that you’re beside me!”
Moses knew that God’s presence in Israel was what set the people apart from all other nations. And the same is true in the church of Jesus Christ today. The only thing that sets us apart from nonbelievers is God’s presence — leading us, guiding us, working his will in and through us.
Moses was not concerned about how other nations received their guidance, formed their strategies, ran their governments or directed their armies. His philosophy was, “We operate on one principle alone. The only way for us to be guided or governed, to make war and survive in this wasteland, is to have the presence of God with us!”
God answered Moses’ bold statement in this way: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (33:14). What an incredible promise! The Hebrew word for “rest” here means “a comfortable, quiet repose.” God is saying, “No matter what enemies or trials you face, you’ll always be able to find a quiet rest in me.”
A church body that has God’s presence in its midst will live, move and worship in a quiet confidence in the Lord at all times. The same is true for every individual Christian. If you have the presence of Jesus in your life, you will experience God’s divine order. You’ll have a peace and a calm, with no fretting or anxiety, no running to and fro seeking guidance, no sense that the bottom is falling out. What a wonderful way to live!