Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he instructed his disciples, “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus’ message was clear: “Wait on the Spirit!”
Most of us need a lot of work when it comes to the discipline of waiting. The more we rush to accomplish things for God in our flesh, the more his power drains out of us. This happened in the Old Testament over and over again. Israel was always moving ahead of God, frustrating his plans for them and robbing him of the glory he deserved as their faithful deliverer. We have the same tendency today. Our flesh is simply inclined to move ahead of the Lord.
Elijah knew what it meant to wait on the Lord. “The word of the Lord came to [Elijah], saying, ‘Hide yourself’” (1 Kings 17:2-3). These are some of the hardest words any follower of Jesus can hear. It’s the equivalent of Jesus telling his disciples, “Wait.” For the disciples, waiting was a matter of weeks (see Luke 24:49). But for Elijah, it was three years. That was the remaining length of the famine Israel endured after God spoke to him.
Imagine how hard that period was for Elijah. He had a word from God burning in his heart, but he was commanded to stay silent for three long years. Once those years passed, however, God told Elijah, “Go, present yourself … and I will send rain upon the earth” (1 Kings 18:1).
Today, some of us “present ourselves” before God’s appointed time. We end up spinning our wheels, tiring ourselves, becoming weary in doing God’s work. But, friend, the only power we will ever have for God’s work will come from time spent in prayer.
Waiting is a painful experience, often filled with boredom and sighing. For the disciples, however, waiting was anything but boring because they had Jesus’ word of promise and it made all the difference! When the moment comes for us to “present ourselves,” God will endue us with his power. What an awesome moment that will be!
In the Scriptures, God reveals his nature to us through his names. In Genesis he reveals himself as Elohim, the transcendent Creator worthy to receive worship. In Isaiah, he reveals himself as Emmanuel, God with us —showing his great love for us by stooping down and meeting us.
When God asked Moses to lead his people out of bondage, he gave him a fresh revelation of one of his names to equip him, to strengthen him. “Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they say to me, “What is His name?” what shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’” (Exodus 3:13-14).
No matter what you are facing, no matter what you are carrying in your life at this moment, God is the I Am. He is not the I once was or I may be someday. No, he is your Lord, your God, your I Am — now. The Scriptures always refer to God in the present because we have yesterdays and tomorrow, but God doesn’t have a yesterday or tomorrow. God is always the now God, the ever-present Father.
Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your ways, O Lord, and I will walk in truth and unite my heart to honor your name.” What a prayer that says, “Lord, bring my heart to a place of never living in vain. I want my life to hallow your name. I want my testimony, my words to hallow your name. I want the truth, the joy, my trueness and my character to hallow your name. Hallowed be your name in my life!”
Jesus the Messiah is our hope, our peace, our joy unspeakable and full of glory. He is our rock and our prophet, our high priest and our redeemer, the Son of Man, the Son of the Most High God. Receive God’s peace today; receive freedom from anxiety, freedom from fear — and worship the powerful name of Jesus!
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.
“So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night” (Numbers 9:16).
In Numbers 9 we read of a cloud that came down and covered the tabernacle in the wilderness. This cloud represented God’s constant presence with his people, and for us today, the cloud serves as a type of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. At night, the cloud over the tabernacle became a pillar of fire, a warm glow in a dark place.
The children of Israel always followed this supernatural cloud, however it directed them. When it rose above the tabernacle, the people pulled up stakes and followed it. And wherever the cloud stopped, the people also stopped and pitched their tents (see 9:18-19).
Another cloud descended from heaven centuries later, at the Upper Room in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit — the same Spirit who had hovered over the wilderness tabernacle — came down and hovered over some hundred and twenty worshipers who had gathered in the Upper Room after Jesus’ death. This cloud came down into the very room where people sat, and it dwelled upon the heads of the people as cloven tongues of fire (see Acts 2:3).
We who love Jesus today also have a cloud to follow. We may be filled with the Holy Spirit but we still have to commit to taking orders from him. If we don’t wait for his direction in all things, we simply aren’t walking in the Spirit. Paul’s instructions make this distinction clear: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
The meaning of Paul’s phrase regarding walking in the Spirit means: “Just say yes!” “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). So, according to Paul, walking in the Spirit begins when we give a confident, intractable “divine yes” to all of God’s promises. It is saying, “Father, I have read your promises, and I say yes to all of them. I believe your word to me.”
God will lead you into all truth, guiding you where he wants you to go and showing you things he wants you to know. Just say yes to him today!
At the time Paul was still known as Saul, he was on his way to Damascus with a small army to take Christians captive, bring them back to Jerusalem, imprison and torture them. But on the way, Jesus appeared to him and he fell to the ground (see Acts 9:3). Trembling and astonished, this proud, misguided zealot asked, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Jesus directed him to go to the city, where “he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (9:9).
In those three days’ time, Saul’s mind was renewed as he spent the entire time in intense prayer, reconsidering his past life and renouncing his evil ways. That’s when Saul became Paul. He “spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (9:19-20).
Paul was a man who could say, “I was a man of influence; all my peers, including my fellow Pharisees, looked up to me. I was a powerful teacher of the Law, considered a holy man, climbing the ladder. But when Christ apprehended me, everything changed. The striving, the competing, everything that I thought gave my life meaning, was surrendered. I saw that I had missed the Lord completely.”
Paul had once thought his religious ambitions, his works, his competitiveness, his busyness, were all righteousness. He had thought it was all for God’s glory. Now Christ revealed to him that it was all flesh, all for self. Therefore, Paul stated, “I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more” (1 Corinthians 9:19). He was saying, in essence, “I laid aside all desire for success and recognition and I determined to be a servant.”
Paul believed that the mind of Christ changes a person’s affections for all time. When Christ became his total satisfaction, he set his affection on heavenly things: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).
Our prayer should be, “Lord, I don’t want to focus only on myself in a world that’s spinning out of control. I know you hold my path in your hands. Please, Lord, give me your mind, your thinking, your concerns.”
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16).
I am convinced by Scripture there is only one core purpose for all believers. Our specific callings are gathered up in this single purpose, and every gift springs from it. If we miss this purpose, all our desires and pursuits will be in vain. This purpose is simply this: we are all called and chosen to bear fruit.
Bearing fruit means something much larger than even soul-winning. The fruit Jesus is talking about is Christlikeness, reflecting the likeness of Jesus. And the phrase “much fruit” means “the ever-increasing likeness of Christ.”
Growing more and more into Jesus’ likeness has to be central to all our activities, lifestyle and relationships. Indeed, all our gifts and callings — our work, ministry and witness — must flow out of this core purpose.
God’s purpose for us cannot be fulfilled by what we do for Christ, it can only be fulfilled by what we are becoming in him. We are becoming transformed into his likeness each day as we seek him.
“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Paul’s message here is simple: “All things ought to be working out for good in the lives of those who love God and walk in his ways.”
The most useful people in the church of Jesus Christ are those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Yes, some people are doing great things that are seen and heard by many, but some of those same people don’t have eyes to see the needs of hurting people. They are project-oriented rather than need-oriented.
Jesus sees all the needs and hurts around us and we need his eyes to see the same things. This is the love of Christ: to have “eyes to see and ears to hear.”
May you have ears to hear what God is saying to you and may you love others in deed and in truth.