“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Ask any Christian, “Do you love Jesus?” and he will answer, “Absolutely — yes!” But words alone will not stand in the holy light of God’s Word. Jesus said two distinct things will reveal your love for him and if these are not shown in your life, your love for Jesus is in word alone instead of “in deed and in truth.” Those two evidences are: (1) obedience to Jesus’ every command and (2) a manifestation of his presence in your life.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me … and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). “Manifest” means to “shine or break forth.” In other words, to become an instrument or channel that radiates Christ’s presence.
So often we hear, “Oh, Lord, send your presence among us. Fall upon us and move by your Holy Spirit.” But God’s presence does not suddenly fall and surprise or overwhelm the congregation. He does not “come down” like an invisible smoke that God sprays into the atmosphere, somewhat like the Old Testament cloud of glory that so filled the temple that the priests could not stand to minister (see 2 Chronicles 5:14).
Our bodies are the temple of God, and if his glory comes, it must appear in our hearts and fill our bodies. Christ does not inhabit buildings or a certain atmosphere; in fact, the very heavens cannot contain him! Rather, he manifests through our obedient, sanctified bodies — his temples: “For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people’” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
If you have forsaken all sin and desire to know him, you carry Christ’s glory and presence with you. His life flows through you at all times!
“By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:5-6).
One of the great tragedies of this generation — and one of God’ greatest griefs — is that so few Christians are truly happy. They put on a good front of singing, clapping, smiling, but lurking just beneath the surface is misery, loneliness and sadness. Yet, is this what Christ died for? Paul warns of Christians who need to “come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26). This verse describes many Christians perfectly. Satan moves in and out of their lives at his own will and they have no power or authority to stop him at their heart’s door. He flaunts his hold over them: “You have no power of Christ in you to stop me. You will do as I say.”
Perhaps you’re one of those caught in the devil’s snare, but you can recognize the trap and seek to be released. If you have been serving the Lord for more than a few months, you should be growing daily in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Your spiritual victories should be sweet, and you should be assured of his constant presence. By now, Satan should be running from you!
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13, KJV). Firmly set your heart on walking with God. In doing so, you will be assured that the Lord will deliver you from the devil’s dominion.
We serve a God of hope! The Greek word for hope is elpo, which means “to look forward to with pleasurable confidence and expectation.” The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Paul introduces an incredible concept — “that you may abound in hope.” He implies that you may have enough hope to spare; a supply that is “overflowing, excessive, beyond measure.” To anyone who is in a state of despair, this may sound like a cruel joke. But, beloved, God’s Word is true! He is a God of hope, a hope that is beyond measure. Paul’s prayer for the people of God was that they would be filled with “joy and peace in believing.”
This should be the normal state for all Christians, not just for well-adjusted, happy believers. God is not mocking his hurting children today; he truly is a God of hope. Paul said, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24-25). In spite of this promise, we often respond by demanding to see a change in our situation: “Well, I could have hope if I could see just a little movement, a small piece of evidence that God is working. How can I have hope when months go by and things only get worse?”
“To abound in hope” also means to have great patience — more than enough patience to “wait for it.” You see, the joy and peace come when you know God has everything under control.
Christ will turn your feelings of hopelessness into rejoicing and clothe you with gladness if you will release your faith to him. “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11). Rejoice in the God of hope — and live!
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).
Paul was writing to the Ephesians from prison in Rome. The young Timothy had become pastor of the church at Ephesus, which was growing exponentially and enjoying bountiful blessings. The church was eager to hear what Paul had to say to them. He begins the letter by speaking about the glories and splendor of Christ and then reminds them of where they came from. They had been dead in their trespasses and were now made alive and seated in the heavenly places in Christ. Not only were their sins washed away, but they had moved into a realm that far surpassed the glory of anything they had ever experienced. All because they had been saved by grace through faith!
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (2:10). God’s presence will create for you all kinds of opportunities that are not birthed out of your own works. He has something planned for you that you can walk into. Not only does he save you and give you faith, but he also calls you out and gives you a life of glory, power and grace!
Christ does not simply take the evil out of you; he puts all the kingdom of the glory of Christ Jesus into you. His blood does not only wash you from sin, but it begins to be imputed into your life so that the righteousness of God in Christ dwells in you. Because of this, you can walk in victory with your head held high.
“There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18, MSG).
These words spoken by the apostle Paul are powerful. He reminds us of things beyond this life that are far out of sight. Eternal things! Our life on this earth is but the first page of a never-ending story that goes on into eternity. We have a hard time conceptualizing the vastness of eternity. In fact, we have difficulty even comprehending the word billion. For example, a billion seconds ago it was 1959. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive, walking on the planet. A billion hours ago the characters in Genesis were alive: Adam, Abraham, Noah. Think about that!
David says, “Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more” (Psalm 39:4, TLB). We will not be here forever; in fact, we will not be here very long at all. But in a billion years from now we will be somewhere — so the question is: where will you be?
Markers on burial sites typically contain the date you were born and the date you died — separated by a dash. And it is what happens during the “dash” that determines where you will spend eternity. During your seventy, eighty, or even more years, you will make many choices that determine the way you live, but your most important decision will be regarding your eternal destiny. Jesus told Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
God provides a way — one way — to heaven and it is through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). God made it simple when he said, “The only way to eternal life is through Jesus.” Eternal life — billions upon billions of years — with our Lord and Savior. Such a glorious hope! Now is the time to make sure you have made your decision to spend eternity with him.
Pastor Tim pastored an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years before serving at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years. He and his wife Cindy presently pastor in Lafayette, Louisiana.