When the lost souls of this world face serious life crises and have no source of hope, Christ’s church is meant to embody the difference they are looking for. Our lives are to be distinguished by hope, joy, peace, love and giving. But a lot of followers today have erased those distinctions by creeping toward a line of compromise and even crossing it. As a result, the lost and hurting see Christians’ lives as no different from their own.
Jesus addressed this when he said to his disciples, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. … Peace I leave with you; my peace, I give to you” (John 14:23, 27). Jesus essentially stated, “You’ve seen that the peace I offer isn’t received by the world. I’ve demonstrated to you the values of my kingdom — how to live, believe, walk and serve the Father. Those values are in stark contrast to the world’s and you are to live out my kingdom values.”
When God speaks of separating from the world, he doesn’t mean removing ourselves from it. The separation he desires takes place in the heart. It happens through revelation of God — and his glory remains with us even in our hard times.
When the prophet Isaiah entered the temple, he saw the glory of God: “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). That holy sight sent Isaiah face down on the floor in humble awe and he said, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (6:5).
At that moment Isaiah recognized God’s separateness and the Lord told him, “I have separated you for my holy purposes. I am sending you to preach my word to a corrupt people who will resist you, but you’ll be able to endure it because you have seen my glory. You have seen the nature of the God who has called you.”
The beauty of our God is paradoxical: holy and pure yet intimate and caring. He is above us and with us — and he gives us peace we could never find on our own. He is a God worthy of our confidence in and through all things!
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).
Psalm 1 is a wisdom psalm and contains two contrasting ways of life in the pursuit of happiness. Most theologians believe the psalm was written by David; it is literally the gateway to fulfillment and abundant life. So, the blessed man delights in the law of the Lord — in his promises, his word, his kingdom, his heart for his people, his commands. And this man shall be “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (1:3).
In contrast, “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives way. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (1:4-6). The psalmist says, “You must choose what your pursuit will be.” He differentiated between the two lifestyles, one like a tree planted by the rivers of water and the other like chaff in the wind.
The way of life that leads to blessedness, vitality, productivity, security, joy, fulfillment, accomplishment and satisfaction goes even beyond peace of mind and quietness of heart. You will find deep and authentic happiness if you have a basic biblical understanding of where it is found. Proverbs 4:20-26 says, “My son, give attention to my word; incline your ear to my sayings … Keep your heart with all diligence … Let your eyes look straight ahead … Ponder the path of your feet.” The Word of God is full of instruction and guidance — far more than enough to keep you on the path of righteousness.
Social media with its hollow, meaningless pastimes can eat up your time. Mindless entertainment can cheapen and weaken your soul. It is each person’s responsibility to choose which pursuit he will follow. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). The Word of God is clear; the choice is yours!
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.
“Some of the spoils won in battle they dedicated to maintain the house of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 26:27). This verse opens us to a profound, life-changing truth. It speaks of spoils that can only be won in battle, and once these spoils are won, they’re dedicated to the building up of God’s house.
Grasping the powerful truth behind this verse will enable us to understand why the Lord allows intense spiritual warfare throughout our lives. God not only allows our battles but he has a glorious purpose for them.
So, what are the “spoils won in battle”? The first mention of spoils in the Bible occurs in Genesis when a confederation of kings invaded Sodom and Gomorrah. These invaders captured the inhabitants and plundered their possessions: “They took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and … they also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son” (Genesis 14:11-12).
When Abram learned his nephew had been taken captive, he gathered his army and overtook the invaders and brought back Lot and his goods (see 14:15-16). As Abram was leading his victorious procession of joyful people home, he met Melchizedek, the king of Salem, and felt led to tithe of his plunder to him (see 14:20). Why would Abram tithe to this king? Because Melchizedek was “the priest of God Most High” and Abram wanted to help maintain the ministry of God’s house.
Imagine the scene just a few hours before Abram overcame those invaders. Satan must have been gloating. His armies had just carried away the entire population of two cities, including the only godly man who lived there. Satan took Lot as a “spoil” along with vast herds of cattle, wagons full of food and clothing, and chests full of gold, silver, and precious stones. Abram’s small army soundly defeated the confederated army, freed the people, and recovered a massive caravan of spoils. The spoils that belonged to Sodom and Gomorrah were returned to them but the spoils of the invaders were kept by Abram. And he promptly gave a portion into the work of the Lord
Here is the principle God wants us to lay hold of: Our Lord is interested in much more than making us victors. He wants to give us spoils, goods, spiritual riches from our warfare. This is what Paul refers to when he says, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). We’re to emerge from our battle with resources we can use to bless and maintain the house of God.
“I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:29). In writing these words to the Christians in Rome, Paul was telling them, “I have no doubt that when I meet you, it will be in the fullest measure of Christ’s blessing.”
The apostle’s words here imply something that every believer must know; that is, there are varying degrees, or measures, of Christ’s blessing. Some believers obtain a full measure of this blessing, which is the goal, of course. Yet other Christians enter into only a small measure of his blessing — but we can all pursue the fullness.
Paul makes it clear that we all have the same access to the Lord: “There is one body and one Spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). We all have an equal opportunity to obtain his ever-increasing blessing. Indeed, our lives should continually increase in what Paul calls “the blessing of Christ.”
The blessing of Christ means having a life that is pleasing to the Lord. It’s an inner knowing from the Holy Spirit that as God looks on your life, he says, “I’m pleased with you, my child. There is nothing between us to hinder our communion and relationship.”
The writer of Hebrews sums up the fullness of Christ’s blessing this way: “The God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Hebrews 13:20-21).
People who live in this fullness of blessing have about them an aroma of having been with Jesus. Like Paul, they have a divine dissatisfaction with this life, a longing to be in the presence of Christ, a hunger to obtain more and more intimacy with him.
Let us strive to be like these believers — determined to finish our walk of faith and ministry in a way that is pleasing to God.
Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life … I am the living bread which came down from heaven … he who feeds on Me will live because of Me" (John 6:35, 51, 57). The image of bread here is important. Our Lord is telling us, “If you come to me, you’ll be nourished. You’ll be attached to me, as a member of my body. Therefore, you’ll receive strength from the life-force that is in me.” Indeed, every member of his body draws strength from a single source: Christ, the head. Everything we need to lead an overcoming life flows to us from him.
This bread is what distinguishes us as members of his body. We are set apart from the rest of humanity because we dine from a single loaf: Jesus Christ. “We all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).
The apostle points out, “We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5). In other words, we are not just connected to Jesus, our head, but we’re also joined to each other. The fact is, we can’t be connected to him without also being joined to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We are knit together not only by our need for Jesus, but by our need for each other. Paul states, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21). Note the second half of the verse. Even the head can’t say to another member, “I don’t need you.” What an incredible statement. Paul is telling us, “Christ will never say to any member of his body, ‘I have no need of you.’” Our head willingly connects himself to each of us; moreover, he says we’re all important, even necessary, to the functioning of his body.
It is absolutely vital that we gather together in Jesus’ name, for each other’s sake. As brothers and sisters in Christ we are to reach out to one another in love and concern, seek fellowship with others, and support each other in prayer.