My friend the evangelist Nicky Cruz calls the church a Holy Ghost hospital. I couldn’t agree more. The church is and should be a place of healing. In my decades as a pastor, I’ve counseled a lot of people who needed restoration after lifelong heartbreak.
Jesus foresaw a crisis of belief when he asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, NKJV). Our Lord knew many would lose their faith in the last days. Paul spoke of this as well, writing, “The Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). In fact, Paul warned Timothy to hold fast to his faith because so many believers “concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1:19).
When Christians hear the phrase “Upper Room,” one of two biblical scenarios comes to mind. For charismatics and Pentecostals, the predominant sequence happens in Acts 1 and 2. In Chapter 1, the disciples gathered in the upper room of a house, and “with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:14, ESV). Then, in Chapter 2, things get really dramatic.
I’m convinced we can’t fully obey God’s Word until we understand why the Lord calls for perfect obedience. Why does God demand this? Is it because he’s a despot, a tyrant who delights in placing heavy yokes and burdens on his people? No, not at all. Jesus tells us the burden he places on us is light and easy (Matthew 11:30). His commands aren’t grievous.
Have you ever been overwhelmed? Are there days when you face things that seem too difficult to deal with? The Bible isn’t silent on the subject. God’s Word provides great encouragement to us as we seek to overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds positioned against us.
I know what it’s like to believe the promises of God and not see them realized. I know the promise of unspeakable joy and also years of discouragement and even depression. I know what it’s like to hear God’s promise of an overcoming, victorious life and spend long seasons overwhelmed and defeated. I know the promise that we’ll know his love—the height, depth and breadth of it—and yet not sense that love but instead feel driven to earn it.
When you’ve been in ministry long enough, you start noticing pendulum shifts in the church’s teaching. Sometimes the emphasis is on one subject for a season. Then it swings in an opposite direction for a while.
Accepting Our High Calling to Share the Joy of the Lord
There are two elements of Jesus’ life that are meant to be part of our lives too. That is, we’re called to be holy and anointed. Some Christians might be intimidated when they hear this. “Sure, I live a moral life, and I do my best to be godly—but holy? And anointed? How could that happen with all my failures?”
Yet here it is, straight from Peter’s pen: “It is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:16, ESV).
Not long ago I was invited to a lavish lunch in a spacious New York City apartment. It was a beautiful home, 20 floors up with a wide balcony and a great view of the city. The woman who hosted the event put on a great feast, with luscious vegetables, salads, and pork loin.