There is so much bad news, so much division and distortion on all sides. Reports of depravity, terror, hatred and political turmoil seem to overload our senses.
In the midst of this restlessness and disorder, I hear God’s Word telling me to rejoice greatly and be glad.
“Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds” (Psalm 149:5).
When was the last time you sang joyfully, out loud in your bed, before retiring?
“Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King” (Psalm 149:2).
When you can sing and rejoice in a time of great turmoil, you truly possess faith.
DON’T LOSE YOUR PEACE
If we listen to the so-called experts in the media, we may open ourselves to a spirit of unrest and anger. We can get caught up in issues that are not eternal but are soon to pass. I refuse to be caught up in the present political rage. I will go to the voting booth and cast my ballot, not according to my feelings but on the basis of biblical truth. I will vote calmly, without losing my peace or my love for lost humanity.
Most of all, I will obey God’s eternal Word and rejoice and be glad, no matter how fiercely the storms rage around me. We are told to sing and rejoice — and we must do so, knowing our God has promised to lead and protect us through it all.
“Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7).
When I began working on this message, The Wall Street Journal reported that the entire world had come under a great cloud of fear. Immediately, my thoughts turned to those who attend Times Square Church. They show no such fear. Instead, while we all have a great soberness about these times, we also have a deep, abiding joy.
I was led to Psalm 37, written by David:
“The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil [calamitous] time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied” (Psalm 37:18–19, my italics).
Psalm 37 tells us that the Lord rises to action against societies whose sins have outraged heaven.
“The arms [power] of the wicked shall be broken” (37:17).
David’s amazing prophecy for God’s people is being fulfilled before our eyes. Yet this same psalm is also one of great hope. It contains an incredible promise to those who put their trust fully in the Lord.
TIME FOR PAYBACK
There comes a time Isaiah describes as “the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of [payback] for the controversy of Zion” (Isaiah 34:8).
“I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face. . . . I will not keep silence, but will recompense” (Isaiah 65:2–3, 6).
We know our God is not asleep. What we see happening to our economy is not only His vengeance but it has to do with the very honor and glory of Almighty God. He will not stand by as His ways are maligned by the wicked.
At the same time the Lord is recompensing the ungodly, He will reward those who trust in Him.
Consider the testimony we have put forth about our glorious Lord. We have said He will provide, calling Him Jehovah Jireh. We have declared His promises to supply for His children. He promises:
“I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought [Israel] out” (Ezekiel 20:14).
He is saying, in essence, “When I delivered Israel, it wasn’t in some hidden corner. I worked miracles for them before the whole world. Now I want to do the same in your generation.”
Dear saint, are you facing a situation you have not yet committed to God? Are you being called to put your faith out on a limb in the distant unknown? Have you resolved, “Only a miracle from the Lord can deliver me”?
GOD’S PEOPLE WILL NOT BE ASHAMED
We may not figure out how God will work His deliverance; no one in the Bible did. But we do know that just one of His angels can put multitudes to flight. The Lord will never let His people be ashamed!
Right now, He is telling us just as He told Israel, “I called you out of your sins, and I have set you within sight of everyone around you, that I may glorify My name. It was I who called you out, and I will deliver you in the sight of the ungodly, for My name’s sake.” So, will you now walk in what you preach and claim to believe? Will you commit God to His Word for His name to be glorified before multitudes?
May we all adopt the prayer of David for these times:
“Do thou for me, O God the Lord, for thy name’s sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me” (Psalm 109:21, my italics).
God will never put His trusting people to shame. He will keep His Word to you because His own honor is at stake.
As Peter and John walked toward the temple, they came upon a beggar who had been lame from birth. Peter and John had probably passed this man many times, but this time they stopped. The throngs in the marketplace heard Peter tell the beggar, “Look on us. . . . In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:4, 6).
Peter was calling on the Lord to act, with God’s own glory at stake. The people in the crowds must have said to each other, “What a foolish preacher. He’s asking a man who’s been crippled all his life to stand up and walk.” I believe those people were ready to laugh Peter and John to scorn.
LEAPING AND DANCING
Then the lame man felt a strange sensation start in his feet. First he wiggled his ankle. Then the feeling moved upward into his calves and his thighs. He raised himself to a crouch and slowly he pushed himself upright and stood. And then to the crowd’s amazement, the man began to leap and dance.
I ask you: What if God hadn’t acted? That was never a concern to Peter, who gladly committed his God to deliver. The Lord will never put to shame those who trust Him!
Today we also are called to place God’s honor, glory and reputation on the line.
GOD’S PLANS SURVIVE
Think about the biblical episodes we read of in Acts. In each one, everything that Christ came to earth and died for was at stake. Yet, all through the Old and New Testaments, God’s plan, purpose and people survived. And in every case, God called His children not only to trust Him but to believe Him to work miracles.
Tell me, would the Lord ask any less of our generation?
Even after the Lord blessed them powerfully, the Israelites turned to idols. While Moses was communing with God in the mountains, the people melted down their jewelry and made a golden calf. We cannot relate to this kind of thing today but the upshot is this: When you pursue God’s blessings without seeking God Himself, you end up in idolatry — because the focus of your pursuit is something earthen. As Paul says:
“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25, ESV).
WHAT ARE OUR IDOLS?
Thankfully, today most of us don’t have to plead for water or bread. We can just turn on the tap or go to the grocery store. But we have golden idols of our own, things we seek apart from God: job success, financial security, material comfort. Those aren’t bad things but if we want them more than we want God — if they become the focus of our life’s pursuit — we have built an idol. And God will say to us, “Go ahead, pursue that. Enjoy it. But you won’t find Me present in it.”
I love Moses’ response: “God, kill me in the desert before you lead me to someplace where You aren’t.”
I pray that this becomes the church’s cry as well: “Lord, my life has been so blessed that I’ve let myself get misdirected. My eyes have been on Your unlimited favor, the blessings You give. I want something different. Let my life be defined by Your ultimate favor—to know You for who You are.”
IS GOD ENOUGH?
I want to ask you: Is God enough for you? Does knowing Him satisfy you? Does anything keep you from Him, an idol you’ve put before Him? His first commandment is, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
“Proclaim it amongst the nations, wake up the heroes! Let them come near and let the weak say: ‘I am strong!’ Let My people wake up and come together in the valley of decision” (see Joel 3:9-12).
I plead with you to pray with me, “Lord, increase our faith,” but also I challenge you to make the decision to be a hero for God. I deliberately use the expression “plead” because I believe it is appropriate and proportional to our cause and the seriousness of the times.
A BLAZING PASSION FOR GOD
The apostle Paul had a fire burning in him. He told the Corinthians, “The love of God constrains [presses] me” (see 2 Corinthians 5:14). The eternal kingdom issues at stake were so real and pressing to him that he let out a cry with an intensity that flies like an arrow straight to our hearts, transcending centuries and cultures.
“I plead with you, in the name of Christ, to be reconciled with God” (see 2 Corinthians 5:20).
The blazing reality of this passion burns within me today. I beg you, be reconciled with the desires and purposes God has prepared for you.
There is a faith that reawakens and revives the heroes. I have often thought that if, for even a fraction of a second, heaven could open to unveil the scope of the immensity and intensity of God’s desires, love and intention for humanity, monotonous Christian living would have to be put away. We could not continue to just sit in another church service, absent-minded and disinterested, between all the movie rentals and pointless reality shows on TV.
Dear reader, God’s voice is being heard in the hearts of millions of believers around the world: “Reawaken and revive the heroes!”
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.
Scripture says King Hezekiah was God-fearing: “He clave [held fast] to the Lord” (2 Kings 18:6).
During Hezekiah’s reign, Jerusalem was besieged by the Assyrians, the great world power of the day. This vast army had already captured Samaria and the cities of Judah, and now they surrounded Jerusalem. Their captain loudly taunted, “We have overpowered the gods of all nations. How do you expect your God to deliver you?”
GOD ON TRIAL
Here we see the Lord Himself on trial. His faithfulness was being questioned before the whole empire, before Israel’s enemies, even before His own people. What if He didn’t act?
As the crisis mounted, Isaiah stood by, watching it all. He had received a word from the Lord and he trusted in it fully. Now he committed God to that word, putting the Lord’s reputation on the line. He prayed, in essence, “God, my honor doesn’t matter. If You don’t deliver, I can always hide in the wilderness. It’s Your honor that is at stake.”
With that, Isaiah calmly spoke to Hezekiah regarding the Assyrian captain:
“He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake” (2 Kings 19:32–34, my italics).
God will never let His trusting people be put to shame, and that night He delivered a powerful miracle. Scripture says 185,000 Assyrian soldiers died mysteriously, causing a huge panic, and the mighty army fled. Once again, God defended His people for His own sake.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, often referred to as “the three Hebrew children,” refused to bow in worship before Nebuchadnezzar’s ninety-foot golden idol. They stood resolute even when condemned to die in a fiery furnace. As the wicked king taunted, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15), the young men committed the Lord to His promises.
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee [we don’t hesitate in our response] in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. . . . But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (3:16–18).
TOTAL CONFIDENCE IN GOD
These young men were so confident God would honor His name that they willingly faced certain death.
Prominent leaders from throughout the land gathered for the execution: princes, governors, judges, rulers from surrounding provinces. And Nebuchadnezzar ordered the fire stoked seven times hotter than usual, a heat so fierce it killed the servants tending the furnace.
The crowds were aghast, exclaiming, “These men can’t survive! They’ll drop dead before they get near that furnace. No God can deliver from this kind of fate.”
WALKING OUT OF THE FIRE
Again, the Lord’s name was on the line. If He didn’t intervene, His name would be defamed throughout the nations.
But the Lord never puts to shame those who fully trust Him! Scripture says Jesus Himself showed up in that furnace to protect and comfort His servants. And out of the fire walked the men, without even a whiff of smoke on them.
There are times when it looks as if God hasn’t shown up — when His people are left in shame and despair — but the full story hasn’t been told. (The cross was one of those times.) What we don’t realize in the midst of our crisis is that God’s own honor is at stake.
Throughout the Bible He had a people whose flint-like faith proved His faithfulness in the most difficult times. These servants unashamedly committed the Lord to act, putting His honor at stake while trusting Him to deliver.
KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
Consider Moses’ example at the Red Sea, a humanly impossible situation. Israel was on the run from the Egyptian army, hemmed in on one side by the sea and on the other by mountains. Moses had already prophesied that God would lead Israel into the Promised Land and now the Lord’s reputation was at stake for all to see.
What was Moses’ reaction to this crisis? Facing the vast sea before him, he cried, “Move forward!” Moses so believed in God’s care, trusting His word to lead Israel into His promise, that he declared, “I know the Lord is faithful. And I’m going to act on His word.”
WILLING TO BE THOUGHT A FOOL
Think about the consequences of such faith. If the Red Sea didn’t open up miraculously, Moses would be thought a fool. The Israelites would go back into bondage, and God would never again be trusted. Yet we all know what happened: As Moses stretched out his hand, the waters divided, and the people walked across on dry ground. I tell you, no one who fully trusts in God will ever be put to shame. God will deliver on His promise for His own name’s sake.
“O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? Or to thy faithfulness round about thee?” (Psalm 89:8).
“The Lord upholdeth the righteous. . . . They shall not be ashamed in the evil time [the time of calamity]” (Psalm 37:17, 19, my italics).
You may ask, “What does this mean exactly?” It means simply this: God is faithful not just in His recompense of woes, but also in His promises. David is saying, in effect, “Look around you and see how God keeps His Word. His warnings are now being manifested in our headlines, His actions all over our media. Will not God also keep His Word to preserve His chosen ones?”
Think of it: No matter what happens in the world — no matter how fearful the news becomes; how severely the world shakes; how closely economies teeter toward collapse — God’s people will not be left ashamed. Indeed, the Lord will act on our faith to fulfill His Word to us. We may suffer, but He will come through for all who fully trust in Him. The world will never be able to say, “Your God didn’t keep His Word.”
TESTIMONIES TO A NUMB WORLD
Make no mistake, we are going to face impossibilities in the days ahead. But our Lord says He is God of the impossible, providing miracles when there is no human answer. In fact, He willingly puts His reputation in the hands of His people, calling us to commit Him to His Word. You may think, “But God can defend His own name. He doesn’t need me.” Not so! God has chosen His people to be His testimony to a numb, unmoved world. And He is calling us to openly commit Him to do what He promises.
“If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Exodus 33:15).
Moses knew something of God that exceeds His blessings, even His supernatural works. He knew that beyond God’s unlimited favor is His ultimate favor, favor that isn’t found in the things He does but only in Who He is.
A HEAVEN WITHOUT GOD’S PRESENCE
A famous Christian writer posed this question, “What if heaven were a place where you could have everything you wanted — all your dreams come true and every desire is made a reality—but God isn’t there? Would you want to go?” It’s a legitimate question for any Christian. Do we desire God’s blessings apart from knowing Him, the Giver of all good things? Or, like Moses, would we prefer to have every blessing stripped away rather than lose God’s presence?
I don’t take God’s blessings lightly — and neither does His Word. There is hardly a book in the Bible that doesn’t mention God’s concern for the poor. Poverty affects every area of life, and we are to give food to the hungry, hope to the downcast, healing to the brokenhearted. But for those of us who know God’s abundant blessings, Moses conveys something important: Even daily bread pales in comparison to knowing God.
WITHOUT JESUS WE HAVE NOTHING
It’s not that Christians today aren’t grateful for God’s blessings. Our problem is that we stop there. We say, “Lord, Your unlimited favor is enough for me.” But it isn’t enough. We can have the most vibrant marriage, the most beautiful home, the most fulfilling job, and the greatest kids — but if Jesus isn’t in the midst of them, we have nothing.
Are we willing to declare with Moses, “Lord, if You’re not there, I won’t go”? If we are, God will answer us the way He did Moses: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).
On the heels of his great sin, David prayed:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. . . Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:1-3, 9-10).
David’s sin took him farther from God’s face than he ever imagined he could travel. The greatest pain of his life came during his time away from God’s hand of blessing and favor. He couldn’t bear the thought of losing his relationship with the One he loved the most.
“Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (verses 11-12).
SEEKING GOD’S PURPOSE
David paid dearly for his sin, but he didn’t allow it to define him. When he came to his senses he cried out to God for forgiveness and God eagerly took him back; however, that didn’t erase the consequences his sin brought about.
If we knew the consequences of our sin before falling to temptation, how many of us would ever take that leap? If only we could see beforehand the harm that our sins eventually bring.
Living in the blessing of God demands that we seek the purpose He has set before us, looking to the future and calculating the cost of every decision. We must keep our eyes fixed firmly on His path and stay focused and true.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
When David sought God’s guidance after the catastrophe at Ziklag (see 1 Samuel 30:1-6), I believe he heard a voice behind him whispering, “This is the way, walk in it.” And, beloved, the same is true for us today.
There is an old uplifting gospel song entitled, “He Will Make a Way,” and our Lord does just that. You see, He has always had a plan in place for us and that plan is still at work even now through whatever turmoil we face.
WHAT TRULY MATTERS?
I’m convinced the word from God that David replayed over and over in his mind was, “You will recover all” (see 1 Samuel 30:8). David knew full well he wouldn’t recover his house in Ziklag nor would his soldiers recover their homes, their gardens, their possessions. Those material things were all gone, burned and destroyed. No, the all they were going to recover was the safety and security of their families.
All that David and his six hundred loyal men cared about was that their families — everything that truly mattered — were going to be safe. They may have had to live in tents with their wives and children after that. But God had assured them they were going to be secure.
FORGET THE “GOOD OLD DAYS”
Do you see the parallels to our own time? These men weren’t about to recover a past lifestyle. They weren’t about to return to the same quiet days that had been so peaceful before. Those “good old days” were now history — but they “recovered all” the important things.
“And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away” (1 Samuel 30:18).
Every believer is challenged to stay in the Scriptures until the Holy Spirit makes God’s promises seem to jump off the pages to him or her personally. We can know when that happens because we will hear the still, small voice of the Spirit whispering: “This promise is yours. It is God’s Word given just to you, to see you through hard times.” I am convinced you can’t fight the battle of faith without hearing the assuring voice of the Lord to you.
HIS PERSONAL WORD
When David went down in defeat, he encouraged himself, got back his fight, and immediately acted in faith. When he got back his fighting spirit, he sent for something known as the ephod. This was a kind of garment that included two stones kept in the priest’s breastplate. On occasion God spoke through the ephod, and David was determined to get a word of direction from the Lord.
“David said to Abiathar the priest . . . I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David inquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them?” (1 Samuel 30:7–8, my italics).
RECEIVING GOD’S DIRECTION
Consider what David did here. After he had wept, and after he had regained his fight, this man went directly to his knees. The Lord gave him the word of direction he needed:
“He answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all” (30:8, my italics).
God’s direction to David was, “Go forth. You will be victorious.” In other words: “Fight on!”
If your pastor’s sermons are anointed, they will produce life in you. The preaching of God’s Word will always encourage His saints. Likewise, corporate worship will lift you for a season. But how quickly we forget that uplift after a Sunday service is over. As Monday and Tuesday pass and the news begins to turn bad, we often fall back into fits of anxiety and fear.
In normal times, I am able to draw advice from my godly wife, Gwen. She is always there to give me a good word — just what I need. I feel toward her the way David did when he said to Abigail, wife of Nabal: “See, I have hearkened to thy voice” (1 Samuel 25:35). But things can be different in calamitous times. When our faith is being threatened — indeed, when our very lives are being threatened — the counsel of spouses, pastors and wise friends can take us only so far.
Today we are living in fearful times and the truth is, only a personal word from the Lord can lead us through such times with the enduring hope we need. Throughout history, God has always been faithful to provide a word to His people.
HE STILL SPEAKS TODAY
In the Old Testament we read this phrase again and again: “The word of the Lord came.”
- Scripture says of Abraham: “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram” (Genesis 15:1).
- We read of Joshua: “According unto the word of the Lord which he [gave] Joshua” (Joshua 8:27).
And so it was with David and also the prophets. As for God’s people today, we have the abiding Holy Spirit to speak a word from heaven to us. Through Him, the comforting, healing, guiding word of the Lord is available to all who trust.