The question is not whether God is saying something in the midst of this pandemic. God is always saying something. In the Old Testament, there was no word from God for extended periods of time. In the New Testament, under the new covenant, God has revealed himself and his will through both the living word (Jesus Christ) and through the written word. No matter what is going on in this crazy world of ours, there is always a word from God. So the question is not whether God is saying something, the question is what he is saying and how.
God provides strength and guidance in the midst of every crisis.
The danger we face is the temptation to go with the flow of the media and cultural agenda without seeking insight, without prayer, without listening to God. God wants us to discern the times and the seasons and not just float merrily down the stream without knowing where we are heading.
Spiritual leaders have the big, at times almost overwhelming, responsibility of guiding God’s people to live in confidence and victory in difficult days. When we study Bible history, we also see that leaders have a responsibility to stay alert, discern the times, and sound the alarm. Leaders who lead God’s people astray will be judged. Leaders must develop biblical insight to discern where we are heading, praying for wisdom, and developing the knowledge necessary to lead God’s people.
In the midst of the current pandemic, I have been impressed with how disoriented many Christians seem to be. The Bible speaks to this need. Thirty years ago, Bob Young published a study on the role of Baby Boomers in the emerging church. He often cited 1 Chronicles 12:32, seeking to empower people to be “as the men of Issachar who knew the signs of the times and what to do.” In many ways, that passage is still very relevant. We are called to speak clearly and boldly. To call attention to the biblical insight regarding this situation we find ourselves in. Because it is only when we listen to God’s word and clearly read the times will we know what to do.
The end is not yet in sight. The coronavirus pandemic is an international health crisis. The challenges of combatting the virus are constantly before us in the news, on the internet, and in personal conversations. Below the surface and less visible, the virus has brought into focus the nature of our world and the nature of our societies and cultures. Moreover, the spread of the virus has exposed our spiritual stature and how deeply we are committed to living out each day the kingdom of God in our lives. Either our kingdom life and kingdom values are continuing, or we are distracted and disabled from our daily kingdom tasks as disciples.
I fear that many Christians have become near-sighted. I fear that churches have laid aside any vision for reaching people. I hope I am wrong, but I am telling you what I see going on through social media, news and even personal conversations.
In this new world situation, opportunities to advance the gospel abound.
A former professor of mine who is now a missionary in Australia wrote, “God is opening a great and effective door during this time, and we must take advantage of technology to reach more souls, to understand the grace and the sovereignty of God.” You will not be surprised to learn that the church where he serves continues to reach out with the gospel and souls are being baptized into Christ. Souls are being won by the preaching and study of God’s word. A member of Rend Collective posted on Instagram, “The coronavirus has us inside our houses, but we are evangelizing from our houses because this pandemic has served to cause unbelievers to now seek the Almighty.”
Spiritually-minded Christians remain calm and courageous in the face of crisis, adversity, danger, and threats. When we understand that God is God, and when we understand who Jesus is, fear is dispelled. It is easy to think we are further along in our spiritual journey than we really are. In times of crisis, much of what we think, say, and do is quite superficial! Yet, in times like these, we get a clear look at our true spiritual condition.
In times like these, “We do not lose control of our lives. What we lose is the illusion that we were ever in control in the first place.” Ultimately, God is in control.
So ask yourself, “do my actions reflect fear, or do they reflect my trust in the Lord?” What concerns rule your heart? I encourage you not to lose sight of kingdom life and kingdom values. Avoid the disabling distractions that would pull us away from daily kingdom tasks. Stay balanced! Seek God’s eternal purpose. Our vision may be fuzzy, but this is a time when our idea of what it means to be a disciple (Christian) is in clear focus.
We must understand our Christian identity in Christ before we will be actively involved in God’s work. Our basic problem is not a doing problem–our basic problem is a being problem. We are in danger of losing our identity. We must seek biblical answers to basic questions.
- Who are we?
- What is the church?
- What matters to the church? What is the purpose of the church?
- What things are most important to God?
- What things are most important to us?
Two kinds of things result from understanding who we are. There are some positive things that we resolve to make a part of our life; there are some negative things that we refuse. Until we understand who we are, we do not know how to do what we have been called to do. For example, apart from our identity as participants in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4), we do not understand biblical love. We are to love, but what does that mean? Love is not defined merely in human terms and expectations. Biblical love is different from worldly love. God created love; God is love and defines love (1 John 4:7). Jesus said there are two basics: love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:34-40). Loving God is Number One (#1). When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we are focused on the ultimate treasure of life. The Christian life may be defined as a treasure hunt. Jesus said the kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field or a pearl of great value (consider the parables of Matthew 13).
We must correctly identify the treasure. We must understand the treasure. The treasure is not heaven. The goal is not selfishly escaping eternal condemnation. God is the treasure. In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and godliness (Col. 2:2).
As God treasures his people, his people treasure God. Loving our neighbors is Number Two (#2). Love for neighbor includes love for family, the community, and the world. When we love our neighbors as ourselves (and as God loves them), our purpose aligns with Jesus’ purpose. Jesus came seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10). We are the continuation of the rescue mission. Love for people has this clear result: we attempt eternal rescue. We can affirm love only for those we seek to rescue. We may do a lot of things for people: we may provide physical necessities in times of difficulty or tragedy; we may provide activities that strengthen families; we may provide entertainment; we may provide education; we may provide medical care. All of these are good, but none of them prove that we love our neighbors or the world. Loving our neighbors–loving the world–implies that we are involved in an eternal rescue attempt.
I will be among the first to admit that loving people in this way is not easy. Loving people in this way requires that we put our lives, resources, and reputations on the line.
Loving people this way may be uncomfortable and may move us out of our comfort zone. When Jesus said that loving our neighbors as ourselves is the second great command, he challenges us to follow him in difficult but delightful ways. To follow Jesus in this way is worthy of our diligent prayer. Consider asking God for wisdom in the following prayer areas.
- How can I truly love my neighbors as God does?
- How can I truly love the world as God does?
- How can I love the unlovable? [What makes a person unlovable in our minds?]
- How can I love difficult people? [You may know these as EGR people–“extra grace required.”]
- How can I love people with whom I disagree?
- How can I love people I do not even like? [Loving is not the same as liking.]
- How can I love people by what I say?
- How can I love people by what I do?
Word of the Month: Lament
Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic was declared, on March 27 Pope Francis gave a meditation on Mark 4 and the calming of the storm. His message: let us give our fears to Jesus so he can conquer them. Perhaps a coincidence, but the next week I read several blogs on Mark 4, Many of those lessons followed Pope Francis and treated fear as a normal response by Christ-followers in difficult circumstances.
To help us put this story in context, it might help to understand how Mark 4 contributes to the message of Mark? In Jesus’ conversation with the disciples, they had not yet developed faith. “Do you not yet have faith?” Jesus asked. There answer was no. None, nada, not a little, not at all, according to Mark’s gospel. Therefore, their fear was a function of having no faith. Jesus is first saying, “for a disciple, faith is normal, even in fearful times.” The problem of Mark 4 is that the disciples did not yet understand who Jesus was. “Who is this?” they asked. They did not understand his power, his purpose, his passion and compassion for them. The calming of the wind and waves is the last story of four chapters that describe who Jesus is. The evil spirits knew his identity—his closest disciples did not. Do we? Do I? Do you?
“for a disciple, faith is normal, even in fearful times.”
A quick survey of Mark 1-4 will orient us, to help us understand the story in its context. 1:14-15, John is in prison, encouraging people to believe the good news! Thus a fearful situation is used for encouragement to believe. 1:40, a leper, who is fearful but faithful, says you can make me clean, appealing to Jesus’ compassion. And throughout Mark chapters 1-4, there are multiple stories of fear and faith. Fear and faith often dwell side by side in the human heart. In fact, in the last phrase of the book, Mark 16:8 says, “they were afraid.” but that fear did not keep them from sharing their faith through the known world.
The Gospel of Mark challenges us to understand an important dynamic: Unresolved fear, angst, generic fear, abstract fear — is not normal for the Christian. Fear of (reverence for) God, yes. But the key is not to eliminate fear. The key is to become comfortable with a great Bible truth – faith and fear dwell side by side in the human heart.
“I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”
To understand this truth, Mark 9 is helpful. Coming down from the Transfiguration, Jesus encounters a father with a convulsive son. 9:22, “if you can do anything, help us.” Jesus responded, “If you can? All is possible to believers.” The father’s words reflect great truth: “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” Faith and unfaith—side by side. Christ-followers need to respond to the fearful situations of this life differently. The older, mature disciple John, 60 years after Jesus’ ministry writes, “Perfect love casts out fear,” 1 John 4. And this my friends is what we need to cling tightly to. We need to hold tight to God’s perfect love. We need to grab hold of it; ingest it; digest it; believe it; live it our in our every day lives? And when I understand this we will have made major progress toward dealing with fear, by using the power of faith.
Making Meaningful Resolutions
We often start the year off with good intentions, but our follow-through stinks. So it’s the dawn of another New Year, a time when many of us plot to do some internal remodeling in the form of some New Year’s resolutions. Sadly, many of us make the same set of resolutions year after year. Here’s a Bible Study you can use to get teens talking about how they’ll use the new year. According to Time magazine, about half of us made at least one New Year’s resolution this year. Some of us commit to lose a little weight or gain some muscle. Others say we’d like to get organized or work harder in school. Most of us never follow through. In fact, Time says more than a third of us never even get started on our resolutions, letting them slip away before we’ve even tried. Only 12 percent of us succeed in achieving our resolutions.
God loves us just the way we are—but we could all still use a little improvement in one area or another. Why is it so hard for us to change, even when we want to? Experts say that often we fail at our New Year’s resolutions because we don’t have a plan: We want to lose weight, but we don’t plot how to do so. Consequently, we slip back into the same habits. We say we want to study harder, but we don’t bother to figure out how that would look day-to-day. Does it mean spending a half-hour more with the books? Turning off the television while doing algebra? Many of us know we need to change, but we don’t know how.
Why is it so hard for us to change, even when we want to?
Sometimes, we actually don’t want to change. We might want to lose weight, but we don’t want to stop eating those sweets. We may need to get organized, but we can’t bear taking the time to clean. Bad habits are tricky that way.
Some people make fun of New Year’s resolutions—maybe with good reason. There’s nothing magical about making a commitment on the New Year than any of the 364 other days of the year, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve ourselves. Often, the things we try to correct with resolutions are things that distract us from God, which makes them sins that should be squelched.
Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution before? Did it work for you? Why or why not? Have you made any resolutions for 2020? What are they? Why did you decide those things needed work or needed to be fixed? If you’ve made a resolution, have you put forth a plan to help you achieve your goals?
What do you think God would want you to work on this year?
There’s a saying that “God loves me too much to leave me the way I am.” What do you think God would want you to work on this year? Would your resolutions and the resolutions God has for you match up? Do you think it’s important to always try to improve yourself? Why or why not?
What does the Bible say about this:
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5).
“When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said” (Numbers 30:2).
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord. But I tell you, do not swear at all…Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” (Matthew 5:33-37).
Seven Lessons from 1,500 Years of History
In October, over a 20-day period, I read through about 1,500 years of history – 388 pages of print that was far too small, and without any pictures! I read Genesis to 2 Chronicles, in order (except I read 1 Chronicles immediately after 1-2 Samuel). I wanted to read the Old Testament storyline in the same way that I would read any other book. There is a place for detailed study of the Bible; however, there is also a place for simply reading the Bible — reading until you “finish the book.”
As I read through these books, there were seven things that impressed me:
- The story is about God. I read about a lot of Bible personalities, but the Bible is the revelation of God. I was reminded that the people we refer to as “Bible characters” are simply people who happened to be alive during the time of the Bible storyline.
- God has revealed himself and his nature through his actions. Lists of God’s characteristics are few and far between in the Old Testament.
- God chose the people of Israel and wanted to bless them based on his nature and purpose. God’s way of penetrating the world in that time was proactive. Can it be any other way today?
- Israel was constantly challenged to make choices and to follow God whole-heartedly.
- When God rejected Israel for disobedience, he was willing to take them back at the slightest evidence of repentance and return. Amazing grace!
- God’s promise to Israel to establish them in their own land was conditional – based on their obedience. Reading the stories of judges and kings in about a week, I was impressed by how often God warned them that he would remove them from the land he had promised them.
- God’s promise to Abraham — renewed to David — to maintain an heir as king continued even when Israel disobeyed. The contrast between God’s conditional promise and God’s unconditional promise was striking as I read the story.
The story is about God.
I am confident that another rapid reading would yield even more insights. I encourage you to try it! For a week or two, set aside a little more time each day and read the Bible like you would read a book. You will be surprised at what you see!
“Live your lives here in reverent fear.” (1 Pet. 1:17)
“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house….” (1 Pet. 2:5)
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Pet. 2:12)
“…by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” (1 Pet. 2:15)
What a challenge! How can we live so powerfully that others glorify God? How can God’s people be a dynamic spiritual house? How can we live in harmony with one another? A closer look at Peter’s first letter reveals three important clues to help us meet the challenge of being God’s people in a hostile, alien world. Our lives are based in the living God who imparts life. Three times Peter describes God’s work in our lives as “living,” enabling us to truly “live.” His word, revealing his Son, gives us hope.
I. Hold onto a living hope, 1:3.
Through our new birth, mirroring the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God gives us a living hope. Baptism does not serve only to wash away the sins of the past. We are born into a living hope and eternal inheritance untouched by the decay of this world. The changes wrought in our lives last because our hope is alive. Ours is no yo-yo existence with continual ups and downs.
Our hope is based not only on God’s power in Christ’s resurrection, but also on God’s power to shield his faithful ones. The God who has acted on our behalf in Christ’s death continues to intervene providentially for our protection. Our faith in Christ works to protect us, prove us, and deliver us. Because of what God has done in raising and glorifying Christ, our faith and hope are in God.
II. Look to God’s living, enduring word, 1:23.
Our new birth is through God’s living word. Redemption from the vanity of this world and liberation from the emptiness of human traditions is not accomplished with this world’s resources. If it were, it could not last. The world will wither, but God’s word stands firm forever.
Obeying the truth purifies us, craving God’s word builds up our spiritual life, living God’s word makes us like Jesus as influences others.
III. Imitate God’s Living Stone, 2:4.
We, as living stones, resemble the Living Stone. God’s call is to holiness and spiritual sacrifice. God has chosen us as a nation of kings and priests, as his holy possession, to declare his praises.
How will others know to praise God? Our abstinence from sinful desires, our determination to do good, our willingness to be God’s servants show forth his excellencies.
We can do it because God stands by us. We hope because the God of all grace has called us to glory in Christ. We stand firm in the faith of God’s word. We believe that the power of God’s Living Stone imparts to us life, even in suffering and travail, restoring us, and making us strong, firm, and steadfast.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast” (1 Pet. 5:10).
Most of us don’t set out to be liars; we don’t wake up and ask, “How am I going to lie today?”
We are much more subtle and nuanced. Sometimes lying just sort of creeps into our decisions. Lying is certainly a big deal to God. Bearing false witness is number nine in the Ten Commandments and God gave instructions about lying and falsehood throughout Scripture. In fact, there is a special shout out–and consequence–to those who “love and practice falsehood” in the last chapter of the Bible.
God, however, is not concerned with us simply telling lies. He desires that we live authentic, genuine lives. The short passages below give us a clue about the truthful nature we are to embody. As you read the passages, notice what they say about falsehood, truth and lying.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Eph. 4:25).
“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:9-10).
Both of these passages are part of letters that were written to believers—followers of Christ. Ephesians opens with a greeting of: “To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.” Colossians opens with: “To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.” These first readers were holy. They were faithful in Christ. Yet, they still were instructed to speak truthfully and not lie.
It’s not the overt lying that we have to worry about. It’s the subtle falsehoods that creep in, frequently out of selfishness and fear. These might show up in our lives as:
- harboring secret habits
- wearing masks (projecting to be something we are not)
- hiding our hurts
- withholding truth
- thinking one thing and doing another
The English word pseudo comes from the Greek word (the language of the New Testament) that we translate falsehood. You probably recognize pseudo as meaning “fake” or “pretend.” When the first readers of Colossians and Ephesians heard this word, they would have understood it to describe “something that is not what it seems to be.”
So here is the hard question: Are you what you seem to be? This leads to a follow-up question: What needs to change in you so that you are what you seem to be? To help with any changes or adjustments, close this devo time with a stop and a start.
Living Above the Law
The tension seems ever-present. What is a correct understanding of the place of grace and law in the life of a Christian? Further, what is an appropriate contrast? Law vs. no law? Law vs. grace? Law vs. gospel?
Paul addresses some of the issues surrounding the place of the law in the life of a Christian in the book of Galatians. Based on the first few verses of Galatians 3, one might even ask if the correct contrast is law vs. Spirit.
Where does the Christian exist between law and no law?
Where does the Christian exist between law and no law? Should we conclude that law is focused on the flesh and the absence of law focused on the Spirit? The declaration is clear: sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). That antinomianism (no law) is not an option seems obvious.
I believe a helpful corrective is to rethink the role of grace in the life of a Christian. In Gal. 5:16-24, we are admonished to walk in step with the Spirit to avoid fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. Gifts are given for our benefit, that we might excel and attain the nature of God in our lives. Among these gifts are the fruits of the Spirit (or at least the Spirit is a gift, and the fruits follow). The gift of the Spirit is an evidence of God’s grace.
Let me clarify. There is no grace unless there is a standard or norm (law). How do I know that I did not get what I deserved, unless there is a standard that defines what I deserve? Law and grace must coexist; grace is not the absence of law. In fact, grace demands law. The question for the Christian is not law or no law. As a Christian, law exists, but I do not choose to live by a law ethic. I choose to live above law—in step with the Spirit. Life in the Spirit makes the law irrelevant.
Allow me an illustration from everyday life. I drive on the interstate highway several times each week, speed limit 70. I generally set my cruise at 68. I like that speed—I find it comfortable and it doesn’t make much difference in my arrival time on the trips I make. When I set my cruise at 68, the law becomes irrelevant to me. I don’t constantly look around to see if a policeman is near. I don’t have to put on my brakes when I see a policeman ahead. I don’t even disengage my cruise control. I just keep right on going. The law is irrelevant. It is not that law doesn’t exist, but when I choose to live above the law, the law becomes insignificant as a guide for my life.
Christ has liberated us so that we might be genuinely free (Gal. 5:1).
In the spiritual realm, the law is not my guide—life in the Spirit is my guide. Even law forbids lowering one’s self below the nature of God within us. That is the purpose of law. Law keeps me from living on the bottom.
Paul in Gal. 5:24, says we ultimately reach this goal by passing from law to grace. Christ has liberated us so that we might be genuinely free (Gal. 5:1). Life for the Christian, in step with the Spirit, does not focus on the flesh and its desires. Rather, as Christians we live above the law which forbids that we lower ourselves and deny God’s nature and Spirit within us. The result of living by grace and in the Spirit—above the law, is genuine freedom. The centrality of the cross (Gal. 6:14) empowers a life of reconciliation and salvation.
The Secret of the Easy Yoke
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29-30)
G. K. Chesterton said, “Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried.” Yet John wrote, “His commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:13 NIV). In the religious world of our culture, being a Christian is either so easy as to be totally undemanding, or so difficult that the “cost of discipleship” is constantly stressed and stressing. Which shall it be? Kierkegaard suggests there is also a cost of non-discipleship: “It costs a man just as much or even more to go to hell than to come to heaven.”
Here is the truth of the matter. Because we do not have, or better, do not use, the strength God desires and provides in walking the Christian walk, Jesus’ commandments are extremely burdensome and difficult. So difficult is Christianity that some Christians give up, or at least cannot believe Jesus was serious when he called men to follow him, counting the cost and paying the price. Many cannot find any congruence between Jesus’ ideal and the reality of experience. Numerous false views result.
- A false view of humankind. The affirmation of humanity as the pinnacle of God’s creative genius, made in His image and likeness, blessed and empowered by Him to live in relationship with God is overshadowed by “to err is human,” “I’m only human,” or “the flesh is weak.” Is our nature so torqued or warped that we can never escape sin’s clutches? Is 1 Cor. 10:13 only an empty promise?
- A false view of sin. That sin is indeed a powerful force can never be denied, but the view that mankind can never escape sin’s power, even through Christ, is a false view. (Romans 7-8 deserves a careful restudy in this regard!) Is walking after the Spirit only an ideal, never to be realized in human experience? Are the hopes of Gal. 5:16-26 only empty expectation? Can I never walk after the Spirit in this life? Can I never be filled with the Spirit to produce his fruit in this life?
Spiritual Training–the Secret of the Easy Yoke!
- A false view of grace. If justification for human weakness is not based on inaccurate views of mankind or of sin, it may be explained by an unbiblical view of salvation. Doesn’t the Bible affirm that we are “saved by grace”? If we are saved by grace and not by anything we do, obedience to Christ becomes unnecessary. Grace is not opposed to effort, grace is opposed to earning. This inability to balance the demands of discipleship with the overpowering dynamic of sin has led astray a large portion of Christendom, beginning with humanly devised systems of earning salvation or penance through payments, and reformed to deny any effort from man except to believe (a false view of faith). Neither approach gives grace its proper biblical place.
- A false view of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises an easy yoke and light burden. Where most contemporary versions of Christianity drive us more than call us, Jesus offers rest. That offer is made for this life. We have only to grasp the secret of the easy yoke. Oswald Chambers said, “The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is getting his way with us.” We must enter a certain kind of overall life, in associations and rigorous training both in mind and body. Being saved is not earned; keeping saved is not earned. We must cultivate the Spirit of love, power, and discipline. Quench not the Spirit.
The secret of the easy yoke is to live for him every hour of every day. Christianity is not only for Sunday. Such a training schedule is inadequate for the rigors of life–to meet sin head on, expending every human effort while depending upon God’s gracious power for being and keeping saved is an “always activity.” Daily training is required.
Spiritual Training–the Secret of the Easy Yoke!
“….that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:21-23)
I have a question: What is the greatest power to help unsaved persons make a decision for Jesus Christ? It is not the gospel, although the “good news” message of Jesus is essential. It is not prayer, though prayer is important and God’s people ought always to pray for the salvation of souls. It is not good deeds, though our deeds allow other people to see God and indicate a fruitful relationship with God. It is not good behavior, though Christ commands us to be obedient. The greatest power God’s children have over darkness is unity. Throughout his ministry (especially as recounted in John’s Gospel) and in his Gethsemane prayer, Jesus talked a lot about his oneness with the Father and the importance of unity in the body of Christ. This may be the most difficult command Jesus gave to the church, because it gets to one of the most evil and difficult to control aspects of our human nature—our desire for independence. Today God’s Spirit is convicting more and more of his children with regard to the lack of unity within his church. God is connecting people and groups that were formerly alienated. God is providing the power and insights for unity. There is much work to be done. The walls of division and competition within the church are a stench in God’s nostrils. He sees the competition and the pride of ownership and weeps for the lost who cannot come to Him because they cannot see him in the church which God intended to declare the wisdom of God. When the church is one, unbelievers see that Jesus was sent by God. They also learn of God’s love for them. These are like supernatural keys that unlock heaven. These keys are in the hand of Christ’s church.
Where the church is unified, there is power.
Where the church is unified, there is power. Scripture says five will chase 100, and 100 will chase 10,000 (Lev. 26:8). There is a dynamic multiplication in unity. The church is a hundred times more effective when it is unified. Imagine what God could do with a unified church. Jesus prayed that we all might be one, as the Father and he are one. He wanted the same love God has for Jesus to be in each of us. When this love is in us, we are drawn to each other with a common mission—the commission. The walls fall down. The independent spirit is broken. Competition is destroyed. Satan’s accusations are thwarted. Our love for each other is manifest to the world around us. Lost souls seek this love that is so foreign to them.
Pray for the unity of the church.
Are you contributing to an independent spirit within his body? Are you seeking to break down walls of competition among Christians, congregations, and ethnic groups? Until we walk in the spirit of unity, we will hinder those in whom God has reserved a place in heaven. Pray for the unity of the church.