Let me tell you about two men I knew. Both are converted drug addicts and alcoholics, and at one time they led horrible lives. Both are married with children – and while they were addicted, they had problems with lust, pornography and adultery. They were con artists, trying to fool their wives and families about everything, hustling and conning their way through life.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24, my emphasis). Jesus prayed this for his disciples, and that includes us. He asked the Father that we may see his glory, meaning to know him.
“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (Psalm 25:14).
I believe God carefully chose the word “secret” to use in this passage. Its Hebrew root means “to be alert, to be on the lookout, to watch, to be a confidant.” The concept expressed here is powerful: God has a secret he will share only with believers who are willing to pursue it with passion. This company of seekers will become his confidants only by having a deep hunger to know his heart.
There’s a popular phrase used by pastors today. On any given Sunday in churches across the U.S., a preacher says, “I invite you to engage in community.” There are books on the subject of connecting with community. There are podcasts and sermons. And it all sounds good because they sound like they’re talking about fellowship, the deepening of bonds between Christ-followers.
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Galatians 3:1, KJV). If you’re a devoted servant of Jesus, there’s something you need to be absolutely sure of. It’s that Satan tries to bewitch everyone who sets his heart to go deeper with the Lord. The enemy of our souls is constantly setting demonic traps for all who are desperate to know more of Christ.
When Paul wrote his epistle to Titus, he left behind powerful instructions for us regarding Christ’s Great Commission to preach the gospel. He had just left the island of Crete, where he and Titus ministered together. Paul encountered persecution on Crete, and when he departed to evangelize in other cities, he left behind Titus and some other leaders. Now those young men also wanted to leave. Like Paul, they found Crete a hard place to minister.
We cannot separate Christmas from Christ’s resurrection. You may think of the resurrection as an Easter message, but the birth of the child in the manger can’t be separated from the man on the cross. God’s message to us through both events is one and the same.
We love to quote Jesus’ words about the victory he has promised to his church: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Paul says Christ loves his church, and that it will be presented to him in the last days sanctified and washed by the Word, a glorious bride without spot, wrinkle or blemish of any kind (see Ephesians 5:25-27). Simply put, the church of Jesus Christ at the end of time will be a glorious, prevailing, overcoming body of believers. And we can stand on this as a promise from the Lord himself.
I’m not used to writing messages on this subject, and you may be surprised by this one. I prepared it with great reservations; it took me far beyond my comfort zone, even though I’m dedicated to preaching the whole counsel of God. Right now I’m compelled to speak because of something I see happening in our culture. I’ve grown convinced that America now stands on the brink of one the most extreme judgments it has ever faced. And in this bleak hour God has something to say to his church that may begin to turn the tide.