As I read Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church, I stop and ponder these words: “My preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4, my italics).
When I was a young minister, I sought the Lord for clear manifestations of his Spirit. I prayed, “Oh, God, fill me with the power of your Spirit and give me a convicting message. Demonstrate your power. Shake the house as you did at Pentecost, so that people run to the altar and fall in reverence before you.”
Are you facing a crisis that has driven you to your knees? Maybe you need physical healing. Perhaps you’re in financial turmoil. Your marriage might be on the brink. Has your trial continued for so long that your spirit has sunk into despondency?
This message is for anyone who is suffering pain, affliction or tribulation. It is for the unemployed and those facing financial trials. It is for people who live each day with an anxious foreboding about their future. I want to say to each of you right now: GOD KNOWS ABOUT IT ALL.
We live in a time when biblical predictions have become visible realities. Paul wrote that in the last days perilous times would come upon the earth (2 Timothy 3:1). Right now things are taking place we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. Who could fathom a fifteen-year epidemic of school shootings?
When I was a boy the cry of the church was, “Jesus is coming!” All through my teenage years, every evangelist who came to preach in my father’s church had a stirring message about the soon return of Christ. Even today their sermons remain burned in my memory: “The Bible says Christ will come like a thief in the night, when you least expect him. It will happen in the twinkling of an eye, with the sound of a trumpet. You must be ready at all times.”
We know from Scripture that Ezekiel was a great prophet who moved mightily in the Spirit. In Ezekiel 37, God gave him a vision that I believe holds a timely message of spiritual awakening for the dry church of today.
The Bible says it is possible for every believer to see the Lord’s glory. In fact, God says he will reveal his glory to all who seek him for it. Why is it important for us to see and understand God’s glory? It is because the revelation of his glory is meant to equip his people for the storms of life. According to Paul, this revelation “is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
Isaiah was speaking of Jesus when he prophesied these words: “Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages” (Isaiah 49:8, emphasis mine).
This message is about spiritual prisons—those that Satan uses to cage us, and those we keep ourselves in. God’s Word shows us how to be freed from these prisons, with a powerful example from Peter’s life.
Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Isaiah is speaking of a Savior, a wonderful Prince of Peace coming to rule over a kingdom. This kingdom would be made up of a people wholly submitted to the Prince’s supreme authority. And the Prince himself would provide loving counsel to those he ruled over, guiding and directing their lives.