“The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:11). In this passage, Isaiah is telling us that in the midst of the dark times to come, some of God’s elect are going to awaken and lay hold of the Spirit of Christ. When they do so, the Holy Spirit will cause a spirit of joy and gladness to reside in them so deeply that no condition, circumstance or person will be able to steal their joy.
There may be no joy in our wicked society, among the ungodly, or even in dead, formal churches. But Isaiah speaks a word of hope to the righteous: “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law” (51:7). God is speaking here to all those who know and obey him.
We who know Christ’s righteousness are not to live as those who are without hope. We have been blessed with both the love and fear of God, and his will for us in the darkest times is to obtain his joy. Even as we see judgment falling around us, we are to sing, shout and rejoice — not because judgment has come, but in spite of it.
God reminded his people, “[I] made the depths of the sea a road for the redeemed to cross over” (51:10. He was saying, “I’m still the Lord, the worker of miracles, and my arm is still strong to deliver you.” So, what does God want his people to know in light of this truth? He says it all in one verse, Isaiah 51:11:
God looked down through the ages and said, “I’m going to have a people who will obtain joy.” You can lay hold of it and it will be yours — forever!
God desires every believer to be involved in full-time ministry — but what is full-time ministry? It doesn’t simply mean pastoring a church, traveling as an evangelist or going to a foreign land as a missionary. Scripture says we are all called as priests unto the Lord; in the Lord’s eyes, full time ministry is ministry unto him.
You won’t need human applause, a plan, an assignment, or involvement in some great work. The only ministry that satisfies your soul is your prayer and worship to the Lord because you know that all ministry flows out of ministry to the Savior. When you’ve given yourself completely to a single thing — ministering unto the Lord — then you're ready for what God sees as full-time ministry.
In the coming days, passive, lukewarm believers will experience a searing of their conscience. This won’t be a hardening against God; they’ll hold a form of godliness and believe they’re safe, but the time will come when they have no feeling whatsoever. And, in turn, they’ll have no fear, shock or concern for eternity. They’ll stop growing in Christ and become easy targets for Satan.
Paul describes what happens to those who refuse to grow up in Christ: “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:18-19). In short, such people become casual about the things of God and ignore all calls to wake up and seek him.
I urge every young believer: if you’ve grown lukewarm and apathetic toward Jesus, wake up! Don’t let the fire of the Holy Spirit go out of your life. Seek the Lord and become a full-time minister unto him, pursuing him with all your heart. In so doing, you’ll have the power of Christ to face the days ahead with confidence and peace.
“A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8).
Of all the Old Testament prophets, Amos speaks most clearly to our times. The prophecy he delivers zeroes in on our generation as if it were ripped from today’s headlines. Indeed, Amos’ message is a dual prophecy, meant not only for God’s people in his day but also for the church right now, in our time.
Amos described God as a roaring lion, ready to strike Israel with judgment. The Lord was using Amos to awaken Israel with the message that God was about to send judgment on his people because of their overwhelming evil and corruption.
The Lord never judges a people without first raising up prophetic voices to warn them. “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (3:7). As Amos saw the cloud of judgment gathering, he was compelled to speak: “If the trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid?” (3:6). Amos’ message here is chilling: “God has sounded a trumpet of warning to his people but no one is alarmed.”
Sadly, too many Christians have become biblically illiterate, open to great deception, and our nation has become pleasure-mad. But God still has a holy, separated remnant, those who aren’t caught up in worldly pursuits; they’re brokenhearted before the Lord and have a holy reverence of him.
Think about the events unfolding in our nation at this moment. Few want to hear a message having to do with judgment even though our nation is filled with fear. People are even saying, “I can’t handle any more.” But the Lord speaks when he will and his Spirit provides us strength to hear his Word, as delivered by his anointed servants. Our Lord will faithfully empower his people to endure whatever may come.
So, what are believers to do? Heed Amos’ warning and follow his message: Seek the Lord with all your heart; allow yourself to be judged by his Word; and confess and forsake your sin. Then God will bless you with discernment and you can walk in total assurance of his presence and safety.
Our Lord always has a remedy for a world in chaos, a remedy he has used for generations to wake up his church, and it is simply this: God raises up chosen men and women!
In times such as these, our Lord uses individuals to respond to a world in crisis. He touches his servants in a supernatural way, transforming them and then calling them to a life of total submission to his will. “Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts” (Psalm 65:4). In short, God’s Spirit woos this servant into intimate communion with him. There, the servant is given God’s mind and he receives a divine call. His soul is filled with an urgency and he begins to walk with spiritual authority.
When God chooses someone to be set apart for a special, redeeming work, he gives that servant a call — and how the servant responds determines the power and intensity of God’s touch in his life. This is the call to “come up” and it summons us out of the activities of life and into an unshackled pursuit of God’s presence. Consider Moses. When he became Israel’s leader, he was suddenly an extremely busy man. God’s people numbered in the millions and Moses’ life became hectic as he judged and ministered to the people from morning till night.
Watching all this, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro intervened and warned Moses that he would wear himself out if he didn’t make some changes. “You’re the pastor, Moses, and you need to shut yourself in with God. Assign others the jobs of arbitrating and counseling. Then get alone with God, seek his presence, get his mind, and receive his word. This should be your priority” (see Exodus 18:19-22).
Moses heeded this wise counsel; he appointed others to act as judges and counselors and he determined to accept God’s call to “come up.” Scripture says, “Moses went up to God” (19:3). “The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up” (19:20).
Moses prized the presence of God in his life, as have many Christians who have experienced this call, this divine urge to commune with the Lord. The Lord is asking you to “come up,” to meet him on the mount and let him fill you anew with his presence.
“I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:26-27).
Jesus had just miraculously fed a crowd of thousands, amazing and thrilling the people. They were ready to eagerly follow this wonder-working Messiah — until he challenged them about what they were really after. Then their adulation turned to scorn, and they turned and left him by the droves.
A question that every Christian faces early on in his walk with the Lord is, “Who is in charge of my life, me or Jesus?” Do we allow God to have total direction of our lives or do we try to determine for ourselves what God wants of us?
The people in this scene were quick to follow Christ but they were just as quick to reject him. Jesus knew this would happen, that’s why on the heels of performing a great miracle for those multitudes, he confronted them: “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs” (see 6:26).
Is the same true of us today? What happens to our faith commitment if things don’t come to pass for us as we anticipated? Do we follow Jesus mainly because of who he is or because of his blessing? The Lord won’t bend to our lusts to give us everything we want, when we want it. His desire is to have a relationship with us — an ongoing, long-term relationship that bears lasting fruit. His blessings are signs of his faithfulness and compassion.
As the crowds began leaving, Christ turned to the twelve disciples and asked them, “Are you going to leave as well?” (see 6:67). This is a question for every hurting Christian today — everyone whose prayer hasn’t been answered the way they’ve wanted; in other words, everyone who is disappointed with God. In such times, we are all tempted to give up and turn away.
Praise God, our faith commitment isn’t based on what God gives us but on our relationship with him and who we know him to be: compassionate, merciful and faithful. And best of all, this relationship doesn’t hinge on our performance but on his faithfulness. Friend, hold on to your faith! Your heavenly Father is continually at work on your behalf.