We long to see our churches transformed, filled with power and the glory of God. The book of Acts shows us the way.
In Acts 3, Peter and John had just been part of a historic spiritual awakening at Pentecost. Jesus’ followers had gathered in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit came and filled everyone in the place. As a crowd gathered outside, Peter was emboldened by the Spirit to preach — and three thousand people came to Christ in a single hour.
Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Christ shared these words with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. It was meant to give them comfort and reassurance in what would be the darkest hour of their faith. Since that time Christians down through the ages have drawn comfort from Jesus’ words here, to sustain them through their most difficult trials.
Do you sense God is about to unleash something tremendous in your life? Has he spoken to your heart, “I have prepared something special for you. You’re about to enter a walk with me you’ve never known before”? Maybe your life has already been greatly blessed by God. Now the Holy Spirit is saying his longstanding promise is about to come into full fruition—and that it will amaze you.
If this describes your life right now, I can tell you with the authority of Scripture: Get ready to examine your heart.
The question mark in my title is intentional. As Christians we know that Jesus won the victory for us at Calvary. He defeated death, Satan and the power of sin. The question remaining for believers is, “Now what? I know Jesus won my victory on the cross. But what about my present conflict? Where is his victory for the battle raging in my life right now?”
In Psalm 38 we find David at his wits’ end. He was downcast and discouraged, and his struggle had drained him of all strength. David cried, “I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long…I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart… My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me” (Psalm 38:6, 8, 10).
Let me ask you a simple question: Have you been set free? You probably think, “Of course! I’ve been washed, redeemed, made holy by Jesus, and I live for him. That’s every believer’s testimony.”
Now here’s a follow-up question: Does your everyday life reflect the glorious freedom you’ve just described? Would your friends, your spouse, your children say you’ve been set free? Or are you like multitudes of Christians who feel they’re on a spiritual seesaw? Is your walk with Christ continually up and down, seemingly spiritual one moment and carnal the next?
The Bible says that when Jesus was baptized at the Jordan River, “the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the spirit of god descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved son, in whom i am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).
The opening chapter of Hebrews repeats a truth every Christian knows but that few of us actually grasp: “Jesus is greater.” The writer is so focused on this theme he doesn’t take time to offer a greeting. He doesn’t give his readers any instructions, as some epistles do. Instead, he has one thing on his mind: “Jesus is greater!” He is enamored, thrilled and overcome with Christ.
In Mark 5 Jesus had just finished teaching in a seaside town and dismissed the crowd. Now he set his sights on a town called Gadara on the other side of the water. I believe that as soon as Christ set sail for that town, all of hell shuddered.
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).