In generations past, God touched and anointed particular men and women in a powerful way. These followers of God became enraptured with the Lord and his cause and rose up in faith. They awakened and changed the destinies of entire nations — and one such man was Daniel.
“Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession” (Daniel 9:3-4).
The prophet Daniel discerned the times because he knew God’s heart. “I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet” (9:2). Daniel came to this path of knowledge and discernment through the study of God’s Word. He allowed the Scriptures to lay hold of him fully, and he quoted them often and at length because he had hidden them away in his heart.
In Daniel 10, this godly prophet was given a vision of Christ. “I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz … his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire … and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude” (10:5-6).
There were other men with Daniel when he saw the vision. These men had to be believers because in his captivity, Daniel had set a standard for himself not to associate with the wicked. Yet these believers who were with him now weren’t like Daniel, so when the vision came, they fled. “I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves” (10:7). Why did they flee in fear? Because they possessed hidden sin in their hearts.
Does God raise up such men and women today? We know God “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). We serve the same God as past generations; in fact, we possess something those godly of old didn’t have — the gift of his Holy Spirit.
Beloved, I encourage you to be filled with the Spirit, set your face toward the Lord and step out and be set apart.
“The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep … The sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:2-3, NLT).
We all need guidance for decisions in life, yet in a world as chaotic as ours, getting good guidance isn’t always simple or easy. Jesus makes it clear that it’s different for his children, however. “His sheep” know his voice and “come to him.” The picture he gives is that of a good shepherd providing oversight and care for his own sheep.
Does that suffice for the hard decisions we all have to make? “Whom do I marry? What vocation do I pursue? What is my purpose in life?” Such questions are fraught with tension.
As our Shepherd cares and provides for us, our enemy, the devil seeks to steal from us. Satan is bent on destroying our precious faith and Jesus describes him as a thief who sneaks into a pen: “Anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! … The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:1, 10).
A hindrance every Christian encounters is the alluring gospel of a false teacher. Jesus teaches, “[My sheep] won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice” (10:5). Such “strangers” look, sound and dress the same as any good pastor but the gospel they preach gradually leads people away from Christ’s rich, satisfying “good pasture” to the destruction of their souls.
It is essential that we learn the voice of our Good Shepherd and be able to distinguish it from the voices of false shepherds. And the only way to detect the counterfeit is to intimately know the original. This comes only by feeding on the meat of our Shepherd: “So faith comes by hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:17).
We all know the story of David — the young shepherd who became a hero when he defeated the Philistine giant named Goliath. David was the youngest son of Jesse, whose three oldest sons were serving in King Saul’s army. Their father Jesse sent David out to the battlefield to check on his brothers and take some provisions to them.
“Take these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of the unit. See how your brothers are doing and bring back news of them. Now they are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. So David got up early in the morning … and went” (1 Samuel 17:-20, AMP).
David’s father asked him to do something small and he obeyed, never imagining that this insignificant task would lead to a great victory for himself, for the Israelites and for God. David was bold and he ended up killing Goliath, who had been taunting the men of Israel relentlessly — a feat that would define his life (read the full story in 1 Samuel 17:23-51).
Think of it. The Holy Spirit was not moving on David to take cheese to his brothers, he went because his father told him to. David was making a cheese delivery, a menial act of service, when he was supernaturally positioned for the destiny God had planned for him.
Hudson Taylor, British missionary to China, said, “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing.”
Your entry ramp into your destiny starts with humble tasks that may not even match what you want to do. You must pass the humility test. Many people are never selected to fight the giant because they didn’t want the cheese assignment!
Go from the beginning of the Bible to the end and over and over you’ll find the stories of men and women with servant hearts, minds and spirits who made the world a much better place:
Moses didn’t say, “I don’t do deserts.” Ruth didn’t say, “I don’t do mothers-in-law.”
Noah didn’t say, “I don’t do boats.” Mary didn’t say, “I don’t do virgin births.”
Paul didn’t say, “I don’t do letters.” Jesus didn’t say, “I don’t do crosses.”
Be the believer who does the seemingly insignificant act of service on your way to finding your destiny in Christ. Deliver the cheese!
After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.
Most of Jesus’ parables relate to him and his church. In Matthew 18 he describes a king who calls his servants to account. Evidently, the king was dealing with servants who had been exposed for committing crimes and the servant in greatest debt was one of the first offenders to be brought before him. In some way, this man had managed to fall into tremendous debt, owing the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars. When he was called to account, “he was not able to pay” (Matthew 18:25). So the king commanded that he be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he possessed.
This servant immediately cried out, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all” (18:26). The man had nothing of value to exchange for his criminal act — so he fell on the mercy of his king. “Give me some time. I can make up for my sin and satisfy all your demands.” But the truth was, this servant couldn’t possibly pay for his crime.
“Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt” (18:27). And then we find that the servant wasn’t repentant at all, he was merely trying to play on the king’s feeling, seeking his pity. The king knew this, but he had compassion because of the awful sickness that plagued this man’s mind and heart.
The king in Jesus’ parable knew just how crushing the consequences of his servant’s sins were. And he could see that if he gave him over to those consequences, the servant would be lost forever. Without forgiveness, he would spiral downward hopelessly and become hardened for life. So the king forgave him and declared the man to be free and clear, releasing him from all debt.
How did the forgiven servant respond to his master’s grace and forgiveness? He went right out and attacked a fellow servant who owed him a small amount of money (18:28-30). What an abominable sin; the blackness in his heart was revealed, even after he had been forgiven.
Are you getting the message? We cannot ever repay God for our trespasses; we must just accept his grace and mercy toward us. And we must be tenderhearted and loving to one another: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Disobedience is walking contrary to God’s revealed Word. Stubborn disobedience brings a spirit of slumber and apathy. We all know the story of Jonah when he was fleeing “to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” God sent a great storm and “Jonah [went] down into the lowest parts of the ship … and was fast asleep” (Jonah 1:3, 5). His disobedience had brought on a fierce storm but he was oblivious to the chaos and pain he was causing and drifted into a spiritual stupor.
The captain of the ship awakened Jonah from his sleep and the crew questioned, “For whose cause is this trouble upon us?” (Jonah 1:8). Jonah urged the crew to cast him overboard, but they ignored him and headed for land (1:13). Their actions said they knew they were on their own.
Jonah was utterly powerless. Even if he was spared from the storm, he was in no condition to prophesy to Ninevah, which had been his original calling (see 1:2). Scripture tells us, “The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (1:17). Why would a merciful God take Jonah so low? He was in a living hell, but after three days and nights, “Jonah prayed to the Lord his God” (2:1). Why didn’t Jonah pray before this? It was because he was convinced, “I am cast out of Your sight” (2:4). He thought, “I’m a dead man; I can’t go any lower. God has turned his back on me.”
Nothing could have been further from the truth! When Jonah went overboard, the fish was there, ready to swallow him — evidence that the Lord was at work. Satan had succeeded in robbing Jonah of any hope of God’s grace for three days and nights, but the truth was that God was speeding him on his way to Ninevah — his place of obedience. Soon the prophet would be walking in sunlight again, fulfilling his calling.
The storm you’re in is meant to give you a revelation of God’s mercy and grace. If you’re walking in disobedience, run to him now, quickly repent, and pour out your soul to him. He won’t keep you long in the whale’s belly because he is a loving God who longs to restore you. The intensity of your time “in hell” will speed you on your way to complete victory — so keep your trust in him.