Friday, January 30, 2009

THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT!

“And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1John 5:6).

There are times when the Holy Ghost’s inner witness will not allow me to keep quiet. The Spirit rises within me and I have to speak up.

The Holy Spirit abides in us to reveal what is true and what is false. He speaks with a still, small voice, deep within the heart. Many of our holy forefathers believed in this operation of the Spirit in believers. They preached much about “having the witness.” But I don’t hear this truth being preached anymore. In fact, the witness of the Spirit is virtually unheard of in most churches today!

Believers need the Spirit’s witness as never before. And we’re going to need it more and more as the day of the Lord draws near! Satan has come brazenly as an angel of light to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect of God. His evil seductions are going to flourish: false doctrines, false teachers, false gospels.

The Spirit’s inner witness operates on the “principle of peace.” The peace of God is the greatest thing you can have. And when your peace is disturbed, you can be sure the Holy Ghost is speaking to you! When there is a troubling in your spirit—a shaking and a turmoil deep inside—God is telling you that something is false. You will feel his embarrassment—his grief and anger!

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). Any hidden, unrepented sin will rob a believer of his precious peace! His heart will be torn by guilt, condemnation and fear—and the Spirit will only speak two words to him. “Repent! Flee!”

Yes, the Spirit will speak to you to correct you; he will deal with you about sin, righteousness and judgment. But when it comes to giving you direction—that is, the still, small voice which tells you what to do and where to go—he will not operate in an unclean vessel!

If you persist in sin—if you do not confess it or deal with it—your heart will feed you a steady stream of lies. You’ll hear teachings that make you at ease in your sin. You’ll think, “My problem couldn’t be that bad. I don’t feel convicted.” But you will be totally led astray!

Isaiah speaks of a people who went out claiming to desire the true counsel of God. They said: “Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!” (Isaiah 5:19).

But these people had deceit in their hearts—and they ended up perverted in all their counsel! Sin had perverted their judgment! As a result, they weren’t able to discern evil. And the things that were holy and pure they called unrighteous. Isaiah said of them, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

REST IN THE LOVE OF THE FATHER

Have you ever had a friend or loved one say to you, out of the blue: “Are you mad at me? Did I do something wrong?”

You may simply be quiet, deep in thought. So you answer, “No, I’m not mad. You didn’t do anything to hurt me. I’m just quiet right now.”

But they press you: “Was it something I said?”

“No, you didn’t say anything. All is right.”

Finally, to convince that person, you have to hug him: “Look, I love you—I’m not upset. But if you keep this up, you’re going to get me upset!”

Beloved, this is how we treat our heavenly Father! At the end of the day, we go to our secret closet and say: “Let’s see now, how did I grieve Jesus today? What did I do wrong —what did I forget to do? I’m such a mess, I don’t know how he can love me. Lord, forgive me one more time. Someday I’ll be so obedient, you’ll find it easy to love me.” But God is there all the time, waiting to embrace you! He wants to show you how much he loves you and he wants you to lie back and rest in his love!

When the prodigal son came home, he was welcomed back into his father’s house. He received a new robe, ate at his father’s table and had full forgiveness. The one thing this son knew was that he was secure in his father’s love! He knew his father would bear with him, work with him, love him. That’s how our heavenly Father is with us.

No matter how far we may stray from our Father, we have continued access to return. But we must believe what God’s Word says—he hath “made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).

He waits with outstretched arms to embrace all who accept their access and return to his love.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I HAVE LIMITED GOD BY BEING SATISFIED WITH TOO LITTLE!

God has so much he wants to give you. His desire is to “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). He stands in a full storehouse, saying, “I am a giving, loving God—but so few will receive from me. They won’t let me be God to them!’

Of course, we are to thank God for all he has done and given already. Yet we are not to be satisfied with what we think is a lot! Many Christians are satisfied to sit in church and be blessed by God’s presence. Such people are no more than “satisfied sponges”! They soak everything up—but they limit God in their lives, when he so wants to anoint them for service.

When the disciples marveled at Christ’s miracles, Jesus replied, “God has an even greater work ahead for you!” Most of us are like the disciples. We see one miracle, and we’re satisfied to talk about it for the rest of our lives. Yet if we really knew God and let him be God to us, we would ask him for so much more:

· We would reach into the heavenlies by faith, believing God to bring down the godless leaders in local, state, and federal agencies. We would bring down principalities and powers, as God said!
· We would believe God to help us saturate our city with the gospel of Jesus. We would stand up in faith against every weapon aimed against us, and we would be putting down satanic strongholds in our families and churches.

Our vision would be limitless. We would believe God for even greater things for his kingdom!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

KNOWING GOD AS HE DESIRES TO BE KNOWN

Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). We must see Jesus not as man teaches, but as the Spirit reveals him to us—as God wants us to know and see him! We are to get God’s vision and testimony of Christ—then we will know God as he desires to be known!

Here is how I believe God wants us to see his Son: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

Jesus was a gift! God wrapped all his resources up in Jesus—“he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). Christ is God’s good and perfect gift to us, come down from the Father! Do you see Jesus as God’s perfect gift to you? Do you see him as all you need to live joyfully, victoriously, righteously, full of peace and rest?

Ages ago, before you were created, God saw what your hurts and needs would be. He knew ahead of time what you would need to solve all your problems. He did not wrap up his answers and send them to you as a rule book or as an army of “answer men.” No—he gave us all one solution to all our crises and needs—one Man, one Way, one Answer to everything we need: Jesus Christ!

God says to you, “I don’t want you to live for tomorrow! You’ll only look back and see that today could have been your very best time. Jesus can’t be any better or stronger to you than he is right now. Why won’t you let me be God to you today?”

Monday, January 26, 2009

TO KNOW HIS VOICE

Those who truly know God have learned how to recognize his voice above all others. He wants you to be absolutely convinced that he desires to talk to you—to tell you things you’ve never seen or heard before.

I believe that three things are required of those who would hear God’s voice:

1. An unshakeable confidence that God is wanting to speak to you. You have to be fully persuaded and convinced of this. Indeed, he is a speaking God—and he wants you to know his voice so you can do his will. What God tells you will never go beyond the boundaries of Scripture.

2. Quality time and quietness. You need to be willing to shut yourself in with God and let all other voices hush away. True, God speaks to us all day long. But whenever he has wanted to build something into my life, his voice has come only after I had shut out every other voice but his.

3. Asking in faith. We do not obtain anything from God (including hearing his voice) unless we truly believe that he is able to convey his mind to us—to enable us to understand his perfect will!

God is not a tease! He will not allow the enemy to deceive you. When God speaks, peace follows—and Satan cannot counterfeit that peace!

“But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:2-5).

Friday, January 23, 2009

WHERE YOU STAND

In Exodus 33, Moses didn’t know it but God was about to bring him into a greater revelation of his glory and nature. This revelation would go far beyond friendship, far beyond intimacy. It’s a revelation God wants all his hurting people to know.

The Lord told Moses he was going to show him his glory: “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee” (Exodus 33:19). Then he said, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live…. [But] behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by” (33:20–22).

The Hebrew word for glory in this passage means “my own self.” God was telling Moses, “I myself will pass by near you.” One translation says it this way: “I will hide you in a cavity of the rock, and I will defend you with the protectiveness of my power until I have passed by.”

This is what the apostle Paul means when he says that we are “hid in Christ.” When we fail God—when we sin grievously against the light—we are not to linger in our fallen condition. Instead, we’re to quickly run to Jesus, to be hid in the Rock. Paul writes, “Our fathers…did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:1, 4).

What was the great revelation that God gave to Moses about himself? What is the truth about him that we’re to sanctify in our hearts? It is this:

“The Lord said unto Moses…be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai…And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:1, 2 and 5–7).

Here was the greater revelation, the full picture of who God is. The Lord told Moses, “Come up to this rock in the morning. I’ll give you a hope that will keep you. I’ll show you my heart as you’ve never seen it before.” What was the “glory” that Moses besought of the Lord?

Here is the glory: a God who is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquities and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.”

Christ is the full expression of that glory. Indeed, all that is in the Father is embodied in the Son. And Jesus was sent to earth to bring that glory to us.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

THANKSGIVING TIME!

The subject of thanksgiving came to me recently during a time of great personal heaviness. At the time, our church building needed major work. Parishioners’ problems were piling up. Everyone I knew seemed to be going through some kind of trial. And I was feeling the burden of it all.

I went into my office and sat down, feeling sorry for myself. I began to complain to God: “Lord, how long will you keep me in this fire? How long do I have to pray about all these things before you’ll do something? When are you going to answer me, God?”

Suddenly, the Holy Spirit fell upon me—and I felt ashamed. The Spirit whispered to my heart, “Just begin to thank me right now, David. Bring to me a sacrifice of thanksgiving—for all the past things I’ve done for you, and for what I’m going to do in the future. Give me an offering of thanksgiving—and suddenly everything will look different!”

Those words settled in my spirit. But I wondered: “What does the Lord mean, ‘a sacrifice of thanksgiving’?” I looked up the phrase in Scripture and was amazed at all the references I found:

“Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing” (Psalm 107:22).
“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17).
“Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:2).
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

We live in a day when our high priest, Jesus, has already presented the sacrifice of his own blood to the Father to make atonement for our sins. Christ has wiped out all our transgressions, never to be remembered against us. So, for us, the work of atonement is finished.

Yet, like the Israelites, we also are to come into the Lord’s courts as Psalm 100 says—with thanksgiving and praise. And we are to bring with us two “goats.” “Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips” (Hosea 14:2). The word “calves” here represents our lips, or words. The full meaning of this phrase in Hebrew is, “We will offer young bullocks, even our lips.”

Our offering of thanksgiving is to be made with the two goats we bring—an offering of our lips, or voices. God is saying, “Bring into my presence your words of thanksgiving. Speak, sing out your praises to me!”

We are no longer to bring to God sacrifices of blood or offerings of silver and gold for atonement. Instead, we are to bring him a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving from our lips: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). The “fruit of our lips” is gratitude and thanks!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

RIGHT SONG—WRONG SIDE

When the children of Israel were going through testing, were they really supposed to express gratitude and thanksgiving in the midst of it? When they were surrounded and in a hopeless situation, did God really expect them to have that kind of reaction?

Yes—absolutely! That was the secret to getting out of their difficulty. You see, God wants something from all of us in our times of overwhelming troubles and testings. He wants us to offer him a sacrifice of thanksgiving in the midst of it all!

I believe James had discovered this secret when he admonished, “…count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations…” (James 1:2). He was saying, “Don’t give up! Make an altar in your heart, and offer up joyous thanksgiving in the midst of your trials.”

Of course the children of Israel did offer the Lord praise and thanksgiving—but they did it on the wrong side of the Red Sea! Yes, the people rejoiced all night—but God had no pleasure in it. Anybody can shout in gratitude after the victory comes. But the question God was putting to Israel was, “Will you praise me before I send help—while you’re still in the midst of the battle?”

I believe if Israel had rejoiced on the “trial side” of the Red Sea, they wouldn’t have had to be tested again at the waters of Marah. Had they passed the Red Sea test, the waters at Marah wouldn’t have tasted bitter, but sweet. And Israel would have seen water springing up everywhere in the desert, rather than having to go thirsty.

God help us to sing the right song on the testing side of trials. This brings the highest delight to our heavenly Father.

Are you right now going through a most difficult time? Then sing! Praise! Say to the Lord, “You can do it—you delivered me before, you can deliver me now. I rest in joy.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

THE SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING

One of the most important verses in all of Scripture is found in Peter’s first epistle. The apostle speaks of the necessity of having our faith tested: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).

In this same passage, Peter tells us what we can expect to face in such tests of faith: “…though now for a season…ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations” (v. 6).

The Greek word used for temptation here means “proving, examining, testing with difficulties and adversities.” Peter is saying, “If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are going to go through many heavy trials and temptations. You will be tested severely!”

This passage suggests God is saying, “Your faith is precious to me—more precious than all the wealth of this world, which will one day perish. And in these last days—when the enemy sends all manner of evil against you—I want you to be able to stand strong with an unshakeable faith.”

He says further, “I will keep you and bless you through every dark day! Your part is to simply have faith in me. You will be kept by my power, through faith!”

“[You], who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (v. 5).

Peter tells us: “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations…” (2 Peter 2:9). The Greek word here that is used for temptation means “putting to proof adversities.”

Paul writes: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Clearly, God does not want to keep us in our trials. Why would he be interested in keeping us in the midst of temptation and affliction? He doesn’t get any glory from testing his children—but from the results of our testings!

There is only one way to escape our trials—and that is by passing the test. Think about it: When you were in school, how did you finally escape? You passed the final exam. And if you didn’t pass, you were sent back to class.

That was the case with ancient Israel, when God brought them to the Red Sea. God was testing his people, trying them, proving them. He brought them to the very brink of destruction—surrounding them by mountains on two sides, a sea on another, and an approaching enemy on the other.

Yet the Lord put Israel in that circumstance expecting a certain reaction. He wanted his people to acknowledge their helplessness. He wanted to hear them say, “We remember how God delivered us from the plagues. We remember how he brought us out of the furnace of affliction where we made bricks without straw and had no rest. God delivered us then—and he will do it again! Let us rejoice in his faithfulness. He is God—and he has given us promises he will keep. He will protect us from every enemy who comes against us.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

KNOWING GOD

I am going to make a very shocking statement, and I mean every word of it: I really do not know God! That is, I don’t know him in the way he wants me to know him.

How do I know this? The Holy Spirit told me. He whispered to me, lovingly, “David, you really don’t know God in the way he wants you to. You really don’t allow him to be God to you.”

In the Old Testament, God took a people unto himself—a people no richer or smarter than the rest—only so that he could be God to them: “And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God” (Exodus 6:7). God was saying, in other words, “I’m going to teach you to be my people—so that I can be God to you!”

Indeed, God revealed and manifested himself to his people over and over again. He sent angels. He spoke to them audibly. He fulfilled every promise with great deliverances. Yet after forty years of miracles, signs and wonders, God’s estimation of his people was: “You don’t know me—you don’t know my ways!”

“Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways” (Psalm 95:10). God said “In all of this you never really let me be God! In my forty years of wanting to teach you, you still never knew me—you still didn’t know how I work!”

God is still looking for a people who will let him be God to them—to the point that they truly know him and learn his ways!

Scripture says of Israel “Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78:41). Israel turned away from God in unbelief. And likewise, I believe we limit God today with our doubt and unbelief.

We trust God in most areas of our lives—but our faith always has boundaries and limits. We have at least one small area that we block off, where we don’t really believe God is going to undertake for us.

I limit God most in the area of healing. I have prayed for physical healing for many, and I have seen God perform miracle after miracle. But when it comes to my own body, I limit God! I am afraid to let him be God to me. I douse myself with medicine or run to a doctor before I ever pray for myself! I’m not saying it’s wrong to go to the doctor. But sometimes I fit the description of those who “sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians” (2 Chronicles 16:12).

I ask you: Do you pray for God to bring down walls in China or Cuba—but when it comes to the salvation of your own family, you don’t have an ounce of faith? You think, “God must not want to do this. My loved one is such a tough case. God doesn’t seem to be hearing me in this matter.”

If this is true, you are not seeing him as God! You are ignorant of his ways! God’s desire is to “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

The seventy elders of Israel ate and drank in God’s very presence on the mount. Yet the Lord said of them, “You never got to know me or my ways!”

The disciples spent three years in God’s presence—with Christ, who was God in the flesh. They sat under his teaching and were with him night and day. Yet, in the end, they forsook him and fled—because they did not know his ways!

Jesus says that God does not hear our prayers and praises simply because we utter them over and over, for hours at a time. It is possible to pray, fast and do righteous things, and still not reach the place where we hunger to know him and begin to understand his ways. We do not learn his ways in the prayer closet alone, although everyone who truly knows the Lord is very intimate with him. You cannot know God’s ways without spending much time with him in prayer. But prayer must include quality time in which we let God be God to us—laying every need and request in his hands and leaving them there.

Friday, January 16, 2009

AT THE END OF THE ROPE?

Are you at the end of the rope? Weary, cast down, about to give up? I challenge you to answer the following questions with a simple yes or no:

-Does the Word of God promise to supply all your needs?
-Did Jesus say he would never leave you, but would be with you to the end?
-Did he say he would keep you from falling and present you faultless before the Father’s throne?
-Did he say that he would supply you with all you need at all times? Did he promise you all the seed you need to spread the gospel?
-Is he more willing to give than you are to receive? Is he greater in you than he that is in the world?
-Are his thoughts toward you good thoughts? Is he a rewarder of those who diligently seek him?
-Is he preparing a place for you in glory? Is he coming in the clouds to gather his people home? Are you going with him when he comes?

Your answer to all of these should be, “Absolutely, yes!”

Now—take inventory. Ask yourself, Do I really believe God is faithful to his word or do I waver in my trust?

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptation; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:2-7).

You can lay hold of God’s wisdom, all the wisdom needed to solve life’s problems—if you will believe with no wavering by casting your very life and future on this promise.

God giveth to all men…liberally…wisdom.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

PUT YOUR HEART INTO IT!

God does not accept grudging service from anyone. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). Heartily means, “with all your heart—all your strength, all that is within you.”

Paul writes, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity [unwillingly]…” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The apostle makes a dual application of this matter of giving: it has to do with our financial offerings—and the giving of our very lives to God’s work!

Paul wrote that the church in Macedonia literally begged him to let them take up a collection for the poor, suffering saints in Jerusalem. These Macedonians were so wholly given to the Lord, they gave out of their poverty!

“…But first [they] gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:5). Paul says the Macedonians gave much more than money. They told him, “Here is our offering. Now what do you want us to do? We volunteer our services to the work of God!” They spared nothing in serving the Lord and their brethren! “…beyond their power they were willing of themselves” (8:3). They gave beyond their human ability—with much prayer!

If you give only because you believe it is commanded—or if you’re always wondering, “Is tithing a New Testament concept, or just Old Testament?”—your heart-attitude is all wrong! If you give ten percent because the pastor asks it of you, that is wrong also. None of this gets to the issue—to the heart of what it means to give!

If you’re going to give yourself wholly to the Lord and his service, you must do it cheerfully! “…for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

I am sorely convicted by this verse—because so often I go about my life and ministry without the joy of the Lord. I hear so many Christians say, “I’m so weary, I don’t know how I’m going to make it. Oh, God, you’ve got to come and give me strength!” That is a human cry, common to us all. But to give oneself to pleasing God, it must spring from a cheerful spirit—available to us all by simple, childlike faith.

The word for cheerful in Greek means “hilarious, merry, glad”—having a light heart, willingness, gladness; being full of hilarity. God is saying, “Whatever you do in your labors for me—whether it’s interceding, worshipping me in my house, or seeking me in your secret closet—do it cheerfully! Be joyful and generous with everything—your money, your service, your time, and your life!”

I ask you: Has serving the Lord become a bore, a drag to you? Is it just a burden, leaving you mostly sad and weary?

God doesn’t want you complaining about your burden—he wants you to chase those things out of your life by laying hold of his Word!

Your checkbook to his resources is faith! He is saying, “I have already made provision for you. What need in your life is so great that I cannot supply more than is required?”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SUFFICIENCY IN ALL THINGS

Why do so many believers experience weakness, feelings of despair and emptiness, as if they can’t go on? It is because they do not have the revelation that the Spirit gave Paul—a revelation of all the provisions God has made possible for those who would claim them by faith!

Do you fit Paul’s description of a bountiful servant—one who has all he needs and more, at all times, in every crisis? Have you proven this by drawing on the bank of heaven?

For several years I worked with Kathryn Kuhlman. I preached my heart out at her meetings in the morning and evening, and usually by the end of the day I was wiped out. One night Kathryn said to Gwen and me, “Let’s go out and get something to eat.” I told her, “I’m sorry—I’m too tired. I’ve got to go to the motel and get some sleep.”

She looked at me quizzically and asked, “David, did you preach under the Spirit’s unction tonight?” I answered, “You know I was anointed. The altars were filled!”

Kathryn said quietly, “Then you’re missing something. If you’re ministering under the power of the Holy Ghost, you should be stronger at the end of service than when you started—because he is a quickening Spirit! You can rise above your flesh, because by the Spirit you can claim that freedom.” Since then I have proved that truth in my ministry.

“…that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). To abound here literally means, “ever-increasing; to have more at the end than at the beginning.” In other words, as the battle gets hotter, God’s grace increases! As weakness comes upon you, his strength comes on even greater—if you believe it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

HE HAS ALREADY MADE PROVISION

When God calls us to any specific work, he has already made provision for everything we need to accomplish it.

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

This verse is not just a hope—it is a promise! It begins with the words, “God is able!”

God is not interested in just meeting your need. He wants always to give you more than you need. That is what abound means—an ever-increasing, super-abundant supply!

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

Think of what is being promised here: When you are down and tired and don’t think you can go any farther, God is able to so invigorate you that you will have all you need—at all times, in every possible situation.

It is as if the Lord is saying, “Listen, all you shepherds! Listen, all you who faithfully attend my house and labor in prayer, praise and intercession! I want to give you an abundance of strength, hope, joy, peace, rest, finances, encouragement, wisdom. In fact, I want you to have an overabundance of all you need—at all times!”

God never intended for us to be spiritual paupers, poor in the things of the Lord. On the contrary, the bountiful servant is the one who enjoys a revelation of all the great provisions God has prepared for him! And he goes after this revelation by faith!

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9–10).

Paraphrased, “Our forefathers could not begin to comprehend all the great provisions God had prepared! It never entered into their vision, hearing or imagination. But there is no reason for us to be blind about these things, to go about not knowing what is ours. Our eyes must see, our ears must hear, it must enter into our hearts and minds—because we’re the people for whom God has prepared it all! The Holy Spirit has revealed it to us!”

Indeed, the Bible says we are to seek him for this revelation. Paul wrote, “Now we have received…the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God…which things…the Holy Ghost teacheth…[and] are spiritually discerned” (vv. 12–14).

I believe most Christians have not honestly faced the power of these promises of God! We’ve read them many times, but they remain as dead letters to us. We haven’t laid hold of them and said, “Lord, reveal to me what you have prepared! Open my mind and my spirit to your resources. Your Word says I must know all these things that are freely given to me so that I can claim them for your glory!”

Monday, January 12, 2009

THE BOUNTIFUL SERVANT!

Recently I went to the Lord in prayer very heavyhearted, laden down with many cares. I began to plead my case before Him:

“Oh, Lord, I’ve never been so weary in all my life. I can hardly go on!” Then I began to weep. I was so exhausted the tears literally burst out of me. As I lay crying, I thought, “Surely my tears will move the Lord’s heart!”

The Holy Spirit did come and minister to me—but not in the way I thought he would! I wanted sympathy, encouragement, understanding. And he did give me all of that—but in a way much different from what I expected.

The Lord gently instructed me to go to 2 Corinthians 9:6–11 and he said everything I needed was contained in this passage:

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

“(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.”

I read this passage and reread it—but I got nothing. Finally, I closed my Bible and prayed, “Lord, I’m confused. I see nothing here to help or encourage me.”

Finally, the Spirit spoke forcefully but lovingly to my inner man: “David, this has everything to do with what you are going through. Lately you have been serving me without a bountiful, cheerful spirit! Where is your joy and happiness in your service to me? My Word isn’t talking only about giving money to help the poor. It is speaking of ministry to me and to my body!

“I have called you to New York City and I did not send you without help or abundant resources. All that you need is available to you—strength, rest, power, ability, joy and cheer. There is no reason for you to labor with sadness, to be overburdened. You have access to all strength and joy!”

Friday, January 9, 2009

LEARN TO STAND UP AND FIGHT ON YOUR OWN

You have to learn to fight your own battles. You can’t depend on someone else for your deliverance!

Perhaps you have a prayer warrior friend you can call and say, “I’ve got a battle before me. Will you pray for me? I know you have power with God!” That is scriptural—but it is not God’s complete will for you! God wants you to become a warrior! He wants you to be able to stand up against the devil.

God promised Gideon, “Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:16). God told him, “I have sent you—I will be with you!”

But then the people of the city came looking for the one who tore down their idols (see Judges 6:28–30). Where was Gideon? He was hiding—still unsure of God’s promises, still wondering if God was with him. Gideon said: “If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? And where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of…?” (v. 13). And so it is with many of us! Jesus has promised us, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). And yet we have not learned to stand on his Word and fight!

Things will begin to change—the moment you are fully persuaded that God is with you. That he speaks to you and that he will show you all you need to know!

You are stronger than you think! Like Gideon, you may wonder, “How can I fight? I’m so weak, so inexperienced.” But God told Gideon, “Go in this thy might” (6:14). “What might?” you ask. Gideon’s might was bound up in God’s word to him: “Surely I will be with thee.”

Beloved, that same word—“I am with you”—is your strength! And you will receive that strength believing this word is true—and by acting on it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

DEAL WITH YOUR FEARS AND UNBELIEF

Israel had fallen into idolatry. But their root sin was still unbelief, resulting in all kinds of fears! And God sent them a prophet to expose their root sin.

The prophet told them in so many words, “Look at you—a bunch of wimps, hiding out, afraid to stand up and fight. You’ve already given up. But you have a history of God’s deliverance! He gave your fathers great victories when they trusted him. And he has promised to deliver you too—yet you don’t believe him!” (See Judges 6:7–10.)

Many Christians are terrified the devil is going to destroy them. They’re afraid they’ll make a mistake or go back to their sin, and the devil will have his way. But that’s a lie from the pit of hell! The Bible says you don’t have to be terrified as you walk through this life!

When you hold on to fear, it becomes contagious. Everybody around you catches it! When Gideon gathered his army, God told him to send home every fearful soldier: “Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart…. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand” (Judges 7:3).

God is speaking the same word to his church today. He is asking, “Why do you fear? Why do you sin by not trusting me to bring victory to your life? I have promised to defeat every demonic power that comes against you!”

Gideon’s father, Joash, had erected statues of Baal and the goddess Asherah, made from huge stones. His reasoning was, “Baal has given Midian power over us, so maybe if we worship their god, he’ll give us power.” People came from miles around to worship there, including Midianites and Moabites; it was a powerful, demonic stronghold in Israel!

God told Gideon, “I’m not going to deliver Israel until you get rid of this idol that stands between us. Lay it aside—cut it down!” So in the middle of the night Gideon “took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto him” (Judges 6:27). He took an ox and used ropes to pull down Baal and Asherah!

God is giving his church today the same message he gave Gideon: “I want to help you—but I can’t when you don’t trust me. You’re full of fear. And before I bring deliverance, you’re going to have to pull down this stronghold, this besetting sin!” “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [you]” (Hebrews 12:1). We are to pull down all strongholds of fear and sin!

Gideon pulled down demonic strongholds using a strong ox. But we have been given weapons far more powerful than Gideon’s (see 2 Corinthians 10:4–5).

Victory comes by praying in faith. This doesn’t mean cold, empty prayer but prayer in the Spirit, prayer that believes God to answer: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

HOW TO STAND UP AND FIGHT!

With all the talk going on in the church about spiritual warfare, Christians still have not learned how to stand up to the enemy. We are pushovers for the devil!

I don’t believe every misfortune that befalls a Christian comes from the devil. We wrongly blame him for a lot of our own carelessness, disobedience and laziness.

It’s easy to blame the devil for our foolishness. That way, we don’t have to deal with it. But there is a real devil present in the world today—and he is busy at work!

Let me tell you something of Satan’s strategy. If he cannot pull the Almighty out of his throne, he will try to tear God’s image out of you! He wants to turn worshippers into murmurers and blasphemers.

Satan cannot attack you at will. God has put a wall of fire around each of his children, and Satan cannot go beyond that wall without God’s permission.

Satan cannot read a Christian’s mind. Some people are afraid to pray because they think the devil eavesdrops on them! Others think the devil can read their every thought. Not so! Only God is omnipresent and omniscient.

Scripture commands us to stand up, be strong and do battle against the flesh and the devil: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). “Brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).

You have to become fed up with being held down by the devil—living low, depressed, joyless, empty, harassed!

The book of Judges tells us, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel” (Judges 6:1–2).

The Israelites were at their lowest point ever. They were driven to living in dark caves and damp dens, starving, scared and helpless. Then something happened. It started with Gideon, and it spread throughout the whole camp: Israel got sick and tired of hiding in those dark caves!

Gideon said to himself, “How long should we put up with this? They go through our land with no opposition. Nobody stands up and does anything about it! We’re told we have a God who moved for our fathers. But look at us now—we are stripped, helpless. We live in constant fear!”

Something rose up within Gideon. And he said just what God was waiting to hear: “This has gone far enough! We serve a mighty, victorious God. Why do we go on, day after day, taking this abuse?”

God will not do anything until you are thoroughly disgusted—until you are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

You have to do as Gideon did—cry out to the Lord! We serve the same God that Israel did. If he heard Israel’s cry in their idolatry, he will hear you—in your sincerity.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

THE PRAYER OF UNBELIEF

You’ve heard of the prayer of faith. I believe there is a mirror image of this prayer, a prayer that is based on flesh. I call it the prayer of unbelief.

I want to pose a question to you. Have you ever heard the Lord tell you, “Quit praying—get up off your knees”? Has his Spirit ever commanded you, “Stop crying, and wipe your eyes. Why are you on your face before me?”

The Lord spoke these very words to Moses: “The Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me?” (Exodus 14:15). The literal Hebrew meaning of the verse is, “Why are you shrieking at me? Why all the loud pleading in my ears?”

Why would God say this to Moses? Here was a godly, praying man, in the crisis of his life. The Israelites were being chased by Pharaoh, with no escape. Most Christians would probably react as Moses did. He set out for an isolated hillside and got alone with the Lord. Then he poured out his heart in prayer.

When God heard Moses shrieking, he told him, “Enough.” Scripture is not explicit about what follows. But at that point God might have said, “You have no right to agonize before me, Moses. Your cries are an affront to my faithfulness. I’ve already given you my solemn promise of deliverance. And I’ve instructed you specifically on what to do. Now, stop crying.”

As we face our own crises, we may convince ourselves, “Prayer is the most important thing I can do right now.” But a time comes when God calls us to act, to obey his Word in faith. At such a time, he won’t allow us to retreat to a wilderness to pray. That would be disobedience and any prayers would be offered in unbelief.

The prayer of unbelief takes into account only God’s goodness. It ignores the severity of his holy judgments. Paul writes, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22). The apostle purposely mentions God’s goodness and severity in the same breath here. He’s saying one can’t be separated from the other.

In the Old Testament, Isaiah stated it this way: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood” (Isaiah 59:1–3).

Beloved, God didn’t change between the Old Testament and the New. He’s a God of love and mercy, as Isaiah points out. But he still hates sin because he’s holy and just. That’s why he told Israel, “I can’t hear you because of your sin.”

Consider the words of the psalmist David: “I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: but verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away [ignored] my prayer” (Psalm 66:17–20).

The psalmist is saying, “I saw there was iniquity in my heart and I refused to live with it. So I went to the Lord to get cleansed. Then he heard my prayer. But if I had held on to my sin, God wouldn’t have listened to my cry.”

Monday, January 5, 2009

THE OTHER SIDE OF COMMUNION

Walking in God’s glory means not only that we receive the Father’s love, but that we love him back as well. It’s about mutual affection, both giving and receiving love. The Bible tells us, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

God says to us, “My son, give me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26). His love demands that we reciprocate, that we return to him a love that’s total, undivided, requiring all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

However, the Lord tells us in no uncertain terms, “You can’t earn my love. The love I give to you is unmerited!” John writes, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” and “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:10, 19).

Just as God’s love for us is marked by rest and rejoicing, so our love for him must have these same two elements:

1. David expresses a rest in his love for God when he writes, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25). The heart that loves the Lord ceases completely from looking elsewhere for comfort. Rather, it finds full contentment in him. To such a lover, God’s lovingkindness is better than life itself!
2. Such a heart also rejoices in its love for God. It sings and dances in joyous ecstasy over the Lord. When a child of God knows how much his Father loves him, it puts a delight in his soul!

Let me give you one of the most powerful verses in all of Scripture. Proverbs give us these prophetic words of Christ: “Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:30–31).

Beloved, we are the sons being mentioned here! From the very foundations of the earth, God foresaw a body of believers joined to his Son. And even then the Father delighted and rejoiced in these sons. Jesus testifies, “I was my Father’s delight, the joy of his being. And now all who turn to me in faith are his delight as well!”

So, how do we love Jesus in return? John answers, “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).

What are his commandments? Jesus says, in essence, there are two and “on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40). The first and most important is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind. We’re to hold nothing back from him. And the second is that we love our neighbor as ourselves. These two simple, non-grievous commands sum up all of God’s law.

Jesus is saying here that we cannot be in communion with God or walk in his glory if we bear a grudge against anyone. Therefore, loving God means loving every brother and sister in the same way we’ve been loved by the Father.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A LIFE OF COMMUNION

Multitudes of God’s offspring know little or nothing of a life of communion with him. Why is this so?

I believe such Christians have a sad, twisted concept of the heavenly Father. I recall Jesus’ parable about the servant who hid his talent because he had a twisted image of his master. That servant said, “I knew thee that thou art an hard man” (Matthew 25:24).

Likewise, many believers today think, “There’s no way God could ever be glad over me, rejoicing and singing in love. I’ve failed him so miserably at times, bringing reproach on his name. How could he possibly love me, especially in the struggle I’m facing now?”

I believe this is one powerful reason why so many Christians don’t want to get close to their heavenly Father. They dread drawing near to him because they sense they’ve failed him somehow. All they can conceive of him is that he’s full of consuming fire, ready to judge and condemn them.

The question for all of us today is, how can we not want to be near a Father who writes love letters to us, who tells us he yearns to be with us, who’s always ready to embrace us, who says he has nothing but good thoughts about us? In spite of our foolishness, he assures us, “Satan may tell you you’re useless, but I say you are my joy!”

You may be thinking, “Surely the Lord doesn’t rejoice over someone who’s still in sin. I can’t expect him to love me if I continue my sinning ways. That sort of thinking borders on blasphemy.”

Yes, God does love his people but he doesn’t love their sin. The Bible says he reproves every child who continues in iniquity, but he always does it with longsuffering. And after he reproves us, his Spirit fills us with a sense of his indignation over sin.

Through all of this, God’s love for us remains unchanged. The Word says, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). “The Father…with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). “I am God, and not man” (Hosea 11:9).

God forbid that his love for us should ebb and flow as ours does for him. Our love varies almost daily, going from hot and zealous to lukewarm or even cold. Like the disciples, we can be ready to die for Jesus one day and then forsake him and run the next.

I must ask you if are you able to say, “My heavenly Father is in love with me! He says I’m sweet and lovely in his eyes and I believe him. I know no matter what I go through, or how tempted or tried I become, he’ll rescue me. He’ll hover over me through it all, never allowing me to be crushed. He’ll always be kind and tender to me!”

This is when true communion begins. We’re to be convinced each day of God’s unchanging love for us. And we’re to show him we believe his revelation about himself. John writes, “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

TRUE COMMUNION

Many Christians talk about intimacy with the Lord, walking with him, knowing him, having fellowship with him. But we can’t have true communion with God unless we receive into our hearts the full revelation of his love, grace and mercy.

Communion with God consists of two things:

1. Receiving the love of the Father, and
2. Loving him in return

You can spend hours each day in prayer, telling the Lord how much you love him, but that isn’t communion. If you haven’t received his love, you haven’t had communion with him. You simply can’t share intimacy with the Lord unless you’re secure in his love for you.

I know when I come to my Lord, I’m not coming to a hard, fierce, demanding Father. He doesn’t wait for me with an angry countenance, anxious to put a rod to my back. He doesn’t trail me, waiting for me to fail so he can say, “I caught you!”

No, I’m coming to a Father who has revealed himself to me as pure, unconditional love. He’s kind and tenderhearted, full of grace and mercy, anxious to lift all my cares and burdens. And I know he’ll never turn me down when I call on him.

That’s why I’m to come into his courts with praise and thanksgiving because I’m thankful for who my God is. He cares about everything concerning me! (See Psalm 100.)

The prophet Zephaniah says something incredible about God’s love for us. He writes, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

This verse tells us two important things about how the Lord loves us:

1. God rests in his love for his people. In Hebrew, the phrase “He will rest in his love” reads, “He shall be silent because of His love.” God is saying, in essence, “I’ve found my true love, and I’m totally satisfied! I don’t need to look elsewhere, because I have no complaint. I’m completely fulfilled in this relationship, and I won’t take my love back. My love is a settled matter!”
2. God gets great pleasure from his people. Zephaniah testifies, “He rejoices over you with singing.” He is saying, “God’s love for you is so great, it puts a song on his lips!”

To rejoice means “to have joy and delight.” It’s an outward expression of internal delight. It’s also the highest expression of love. The Hebrew word Zephaniah uses for “rejoice” here is tripudiare meaning, “to leap, as one overcome with joyful ecstasy.”
Can you conceive of your heavenly Father being so in love with you that he leaps with joy at the very thought of you?

Can you receive his word that he loved you before the world was created, before humankind existed, before you were even born? Can you accept that he loved you even after you fell into Adam’s sinful ways and became an enemy to him?