“Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10, NKJV). What an incredible statement! Paul is saying, “The Spirit delivered me out of a hopeless situation. He’s delivering me even now. He will continue to deliver me in all my afflictions.”
Receiving the Holy Spirit isn’t evidenced by some emotional manifestation. I do believe there are manifestations of the Spirit, but what I’m talking about here is receiving the Spirit through ever-increasing knowledge. Receiving him means having an ever-increasing light about his delivering power, his burden bearing, his provision.
I repeat Peter’s words: “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). According to Peter, the divine power of the Spirit doesn’t come as a manifestation. He comes first “through the knowledge of him who called us.”
Moreover, the Holy Spirit is not fully received until he is fully in charge. We have to cast ourselves totally into his care.
Let me give a final example to illustrate this. In Genesis 19, we find Lot and his family in a terrible crisis. Judgment was about to fall on their city, Sodom, and so God had sent his angels to deliver them. Lot opened his door to these messengers of the Lord, and they entered the house. They had the power of heaven to deliver that whole family, but in the end, the angels had to force their will on Lot and his family, dragging them out of Sodom. The angels’ message was clear: “If you want God to be in control, then you have to give up the reins. If you look to him for deliverance, you’ve got to let go of your plans and be willing to go his way.”
God’s plan all along was to deliver Lot’s family in the process of fleeing. He was going to feed and clothe and take care of them. But, as we all know, Lot’s wife looked back and died. In short, the Holy Spirit doesn’t use his power to deliver doubters. Unbelief aborts his work. We have to be willing to let him make changes in our lives, if that is God’s chosen way of delivering us.
God not only loves his people but delights in each one of us. He takes great pleasure in us.
I see this kind of parental pleasure in my wife, Gwen, whenever one of our grandchildren calls. Gwen lights up like a Christmas tree when she has one of our dear, little ones on the line. Nothing can get her off the phone. Even if I told her the President was at our door, she’d shoo me away and keep talking.
How could I ever accuse my heavenly Father of delighting in me less than I do in my own offspring? At times, my children have failed me, doing things contrary to what I taught them, but never once have I stopped loving them or delighting in them. So, if I possess that kind of enduring love as an imperfect father, how much more does our heavenly Father care for us, his children?
Joshua and Caleb stood up in the midst of Israel and cried, “If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it to us” (Numbers 14:8, NKJV). What a simple yet powerful declaration. They were saying, “Our Lord loves and delights in us, and he’s going to vanquish every giant because he delights to do it for us. Therefore, we mustn’t look at our obstacles. We have to keep our eyes on our Lord’s great love for us.”
All through the scriptures we read that God delights in us. “The blameless in their ways are His delight” (Proverbs 11:20). “The prayer of the upright is his delight” (15:8). “He delivered me from my strong enemy…for they were too strong for me…. But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:17-19).
It is absolutely imperative that we believe that God loves us and delights in us. Then we’ll be able to accept that every circumstance in our lives will eventually prove to be our Father’s loving will for us. We’ll emerge from our wilderness, leaning on the loving arm of Jesus. He will bring joy out of our mourning.
I want to talk to you about “soul sickness.” This is caused by a flood of troubles coming upon you. King David cried, “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, Where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying” (Psalm 69:1-3, NKJV).
Troubles came at David so powerfully that he thought he would collapse. He prayed, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye wastes away with grief, yes, my soul and my body!” (Psalm 31:9).
Some people right now are facing a flood of fears. Multitudes of elderly people are living on starvation means. Parents grieve over children who are drawn away by drug and alcohol-addicted friends. Couples have mounting mortgage payments, troubled marriages, bills piling up. The root cause of soul sickness is when your troubles go on and on, when events get worse, when your soul cries out to God for help, and there seems to be no answer. Soul sickness is to know the Lord, to love him, to pray and even to shed tears, and still he does not seem to be there.
David said his troubles became so overwhelming and his soul was so cast down that “I cannot even speak.” In other words, “I have cried so much there are no tears left. All I can see now is despair in the days ahead.” If you relate to this at all, I have hopeful news for you. Here are simple biblical truths that can heal your soul sickness:
Shake off fear because it’s a torment. Instead, rest in his promises. All things do work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose. Look up. God will never fail you!
Only one thing conquers and dispels darkness, and that is light. Isaiah declared, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2, NKJV). Likewise, John stated, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5).
Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and when he revealed himself in his resurrected body to his disciples, he promised to clothe them with power. This promise is for us today as well. Our God has sent us his Holy Ghost, whose power is greater than all the powers of hell: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
In Revelation, we read of hell spewing forth locusts and scorpions that have great power. We read of a dragon, beasts, horned creatures, as well as the coming Antichrist. Yet, we don’t know the meaning of all these creatures. That is, we don’t have to. We don’t need to worry about the Antichrist or the mark of the beast.
There is living in us the Spirit of Almighty God and his Christ. Paul declares that the power of the Holy Spirit is working in us. In other words, the Holy Ghost is alive in us at this very moment.
So, how does the Spirit work in us in the midst of hard times? His power is released only as we receive him as our burden bearer. The Holy Spirit was given to us for this very reason, to bear our cares and worries. How can we say we’ve received him if we haven’t turned over our burdens to him?
The Holy Spirit isn’t shut up in glory but is here, abiding in us. He’s waiting to take control of every situation in our lives, including our afflictions. So if we continue in fear — despairing, questioning, going deeper into anxiety — then we haven’t received him as our comforter, helper, guide, rescuer and strength.
The witness to the world is the Christian who has cast his every burden on the Holy Spirit. This believer sees overwhelming problems all around, and yet he has the joy of the Lord. He trusts God’s Spirit for his comfort, and for guidance out of his affliction. He has a powerful testimony to a lost world because he embodies joy despite being surrounded by darkness. His life tells the world, “This person has seen the light.”
I heard a bestselling author talk about how one of the great problems we face in America today and the modern church is busyness, and I believe it. It’s so common to talk to people and hear them say, “Oh, I’m so busy. I have so much going on in my life.”
If your life is helter-skelter, falling apart at the seams, and there’s no margin, it’s probably because you’re not living in obedience to what God has for you. You’re doing more than that, and that’s why so many people feel overwhelmed. However, there’s a whole group of people on the other side of the spectrum that the church doesn’t talk too much about, and that’s the lazy ones.
Now they often still say they’re busy, but they spend four, five, six hours a day watching the television or in front of some kind of screen being entertained.
Some entertainment is good and can be fun. I enjoy movies as much as anyone. There’s nothing wrong with entertainment in and of itself. This is not to say that you shouldn’t play sports or watch films. This is dealing with an attitude of the heart. When entertainment becomes such a large portion of your life, when it rules and dictates your choices, when it becomes your priority, it points to a deep heart-sin.
The Bible talks in the Old Testament about the sins that God hates, and one is sloth. When we sit on the sidelines and say, “Well, I was hurt in the past or a dream fell through, so I’m not going to engage anymore. I tried and failed, so I’m done. I’m just going to go to work, get home and then chill. Nobody bother me.” That’s a slothful spirit that allows a life be drowned in entertainment.
The opposite is someone who turns away from a slothful heart and has a servant’s heart. Then we rely on God’s strength to accomplish his purposes and live fully. Paul tells us in the Bible that the marks of a true Christian are these: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Romans 12:9-11, ESV, my emphasis). Let’s obey that command with all of our hearts today!