Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WE ARE NOT WITHOUT HOPE

We who know Christ’s righteousness are not to live as those who are without hope. We have been blessed with both the love and the fear of God. And his will for us in the darkest, most terrible times is to obtain his joy and gladness. Even as we see judgment falling around us, we’re to sing, shout and rejoice—not because judgment has come but in spite of it.

Isaiah 51:11 begins with the word
Therefore, meaning, “In light of what I’ve just said.” What had God just said here? He had reminded his people, “[I] made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over” (Isaiah 51:10), meaning, “I’m still the Lord, the Ancient of Days, the worker of miracles. And my arm is still strong to deliver you.”

So, what is it God wants his people to know in light of this truth? He says it all in one verse, Isaiah 51:11:

- “
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion.” In other words: “I’m going to have a people who return to me with trust, faith and confidence. They take their eyes off the conditions surrounding them. And they’ll get back their song of joy.”

- “Everlasting joy shall be upon their head.” The joy that God’s people experience won’t be just for a Sunday morning, or a week or a month. It will last through the years, through hard times, even to the very end.

- “They shall obtain gladness and joy.” God looked down through the ages and said, “I’m going to have a people who will obtain joy, take, possess it. They’ll lay hold of it, and it will be theirs.”

- “Sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” This doesn’t mean all our suffering will end. It means our trust in the Lord will put us above every pain and trial. Such things won’t be able to rob us of our joy and gladness in Christ.

Monday, March 30, 2009

SNAKE HANDLERS

You cannot work effectively for Christ unless you are willing to take the risks involved. Jesus warned about the risks of encountering serpents.

I say this kindly, but the Bible says that the wicked are like poisonous serpents, and we must be snake handlers. I think it is significant that the Bible calls Satan “that old serpent” (Revelation 12:9). And Christ promised, “They shall take up serpents…” (Mark 16:18).

Jesus said, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23). But in Ecclesiastes we are warned: “…whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him” (10:8). The hedges are filled with serpents, yet as fishers of men, we are told: “If he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?” (Luke 11:11).

Soul winners are promised “…and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them…” (Mark 16:18). This refers to a missionary’s or other believer’s accidentally imbibing a poison, but there is something far greater hidden in this Scripture. Just as surely as Christians drink of the blood of Christ—the river of life, of his divine love and beauty—we unconsciously drink also of the poison of this world when we go out to preach the gospel.

We absorb so much of the spirit of this world, we take such deadly things into our spiritual lives, that unless we receive Holy Ghost protection I do not see how Christian workers can go where sinners are. You cannot help drinking in some of these unmentionable things into your spirit. But if you drink any deadly thing while you are going after serpents in the power of Christ, the poison will not hurt you. When the Lord began to show me this truth, I would go home and pray, and I could feel the breath of the Holy Spirit pouring through my system. The poison would just drain out and I could stand up cleansed and pure—unharmed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

TO DIE IS GAIN?

Paul said it: “To die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). That kind of talk is absolutely foreign to our modern spiritual vocabularies. We have become such life worshippers, that we have very little desire to depart to be with the Lord.

Paul said, “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). Yet, for the sake of edifying the converts, he thought it best to “stay in the shell.” Or, as he put it, “live in the flesh.”

Was Paul morbid? Did he have an unhealthy fixation with death? Did Paul show a lack of respect for the life God had blessed him with? Absolutely not! Paul lived life to the fullest. To him, life was a gift, and he had used it well to fight a good fight. He had overcome the fear of the “sting of death” and could now say, “It’s better to die and be with the Lord than to stay in the flesh.”

Those who die in the Lord are the winners; we who remain are the losers. Death is not the ultimate healing: resurrection is! Death is the passage, and sometimes that passage can be painful. No matter how much pain and suffering wreak havoc on these bodies, it is not even worthy to be compared with the unspeakable glory that awaits those who endure the passage.

Any message about death bothers us. We try to ignore even thinking about it. We suspect those who talk about it of being morbid. Occasionally we will talk about what heaven must be like, but most of the time the subject of death is taboo.

How different the first Christians were! Paul spoke much about death. In fact, our resurrection from the dead is referred to in the New Testament as our “blessed hope.” But nowadays, death is considered an intruder that cuts us off from the good life we have been accustomed to. We have so cluttered our lives with material things that we are bogged down with life. The world has trapped us with materialism. We can no longer bear the thought of leaving our beautiful homes, our lovely things, our charming sweethearts. We seem to be thinking, “To die now would be too great a loss. I love the Lord, but I need time to enjoy my real estate. I’m married. I’ve yet to prove my oxen. I need more time.”

Have you noticed there is very little talk, nowadays, about heaven or about leaving this old world behind? Instead, we are bombarded with messages on how to use our faith to acquire more things. What a stunted concept of God’s eternal purposes! No wonder so many Christians are frightened by the thought of death. The truth is, we are far from understanding Christ’s call to forsake the world and all its entanglements. He calls us to come and die, to die without building memorials to ourselves, to die without worrying how we should be remembered. Jesus left no autobiography, no headquarters complex, no university or Bible college. He left nothing to perpetuate his memory, but the bread and the wine.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

THE LESSON OF THE PRODIGAL

The Bible says, “When he [the prodigal] was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

I believe the prodigal came home because of his history with his father. This young man knew his father’s character—and apparently he had received great love from him. He must have known that if he returned, he wouldn’t be upbraided or condemned for his sins.

Notice how the prodigal’s father received him in his pitiful condition. The young man was intent on offering a heartfelt confession to his dad. Yet when he faced his father, he didn’t get a chance to fully confess. His father interrupted him by running up to him and embracing him.

The young man was only able to blurt out the beginning of his speech, saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son” (v. 21). But his father didn’t wait for him to finish. To him, the young man’s sin had already been settled. The father’s only response was to issue an order to his servants: “Put a robe on my son and rings on his fingers. Prepare a feast, because we’re going to celebrate. Everyone rejoice—my son is home.” He knew his son’s heart. He knew he had fully repented.

Sin wasn’t the issue to this father. The only issue in his mind was love. He wanted his boy to know he was accepted even before he could utter a confession. And that is the point God wants to make to us all: His love is greater than all of our sins. “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CUT THEM OFF

Jesus tells his disciples, “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8).

Jesus begins this sentence with the word Wherefore, meaning, “in the light of this.” He is tying his statement into the whole context of the lesson he’s been teaching about mixing works with the cross. So, when he says here, “If your hand or foot or eye offends you,” he’s talking about the offense that the cross brings to the flesh.

When Jesus says, “Pluck it out—cut it off,” he’s talking to Jewish listeners first about their confidence in their own good works. The hand, foot and eye all represent flesh—instruments of independence, by which man goes his own way, relying on self-will and human effort to rid himself of sinful bondages. Christ is saying to such a person, “Your eye is focused on the wrong thing. You’re looking at your own ability and power. Therefore, pluck out your eye. You have to rid your body, mind and heart of all such evil thinking. Renounce it, surgically remove it. Cut off all hope of offering to God anything of your own merit or goodness. Lust and offences must be cut off—but not by your hands. It is the work of the Spirit.

“Then simply run into my arms. Humble yourself like a child by embracing my victory on the cross. Commit to a life of total devotion and dependence on me. Because of my work at Calvary, you are no longer your own. I have bought you. My Spirit will fulfill my demand for holiness in you.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I CAN’T TALK TO YOU…UNLESS!

Sadly, great numbers of Christians do not know God’s voice. Some can go for months, even years, without ever receiving an intimate word from the Lord in their inner man. Oh, God did speak to them at one time. But over the years, they’ve learned to silence his voice in their hearts. Others have been turned off by so much foolishness among those who believe that every word that pops into their minds is divine. Such people boast, “God told me”—yet the “word” they hear is only their covetous flesh taking voice!

If you want to know and hear God’s voice in the days ahead, be ready to have him speak of cleansing before he speaks of direction. Many Christians want God to tell them how to hold on to what they’ve earned, how to provide for their family, how to keep their business or career afloat. But the truth is, before God gives us a word of direction in any of these matters, he’ll speak to us about his commandments.

“These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:17). God will first speak to you about your actions at home with your wife and children—about your quick temper, your grudges, your unforgiving spirit. He’ll point out every hidden, secret thing in your life—and he’ll lovingly tell you, “I want to be your adviser, your counselor, your guide, your protector, your provider. I want to walk with you through every trial and hardship. And I want to favor, bless and keep you by my Spirit. But first, you have to get honest with me about the hidden idols in your heart. Right now you’re holding on to them—but you must give them up! We simply can’t walk together unless we agree on these matters of your heart!”

Monday, March 23, 2009

GET TO KNOW THE VOICE OF GOD

God wants us to know that no matter how difficult things may get for us, he will sustain all who trust in him—by the power of his still, small voice, speaking to our inner man daily.

This is confirmed by the prophet Isaiah: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21). You have to understand, Isaiah delivered this word to Israel in the very worst of times. The nation was under judgment, in absolute ruin, with everything breaking down. And so Isaiah told Israel’s leaders, “Turn to the Lord now! He wants to give you a word of direction—to speak to you, saying, ‘Go this way, go that way, here’s the way…’” But they wouldn’t listen. They decided they would turn to Egypt to deliver them! They thought they could rely on the Egyptians’ chariots, horses and supplies to see them through.

Yet, God did not send all of his judgment on Israel at that point. Rather, he decided to wait patiently until the bottom fell out of every plan. He said, “While they’re running around scheming how to survive, I’ll wait. I want to show them my mercy, in spite of their wickedness!” (v. 18). Sure enough, everything failed, and things only got worse for the nation. Finally, when all their schemes had fallen through, God told the people, “Now, let me take over! Open your ears, and I will speak to you. I know the way out, and I will direct you. I want to guide your every move, to the right and to the left, to deliver you. I’ll lead you by my voice—speaking to you, telling you what to do, down to the last detail!”

What matters—what’s vitally important—is that you get to know the voice of God. He is still speaking. He made it clear, “My sheep know my voice.” There are many voices in the world today—loud, demanding voices. But there is that still, small voice of the Lord that can be known and heard by all who trust what Jesus said.

Friday, March 20, 2009

PEACE WITH GOD

Jesus died on the cross to purchase peace with God for me—and he’s in heaven now to maintain that peace, for me and in me. The peace we have with God through Christ distinguishes our faith from all other religions.

In every other religion besides Christianity, the sin question is never settled. Sin’s dominion simply hasn’t been broken. Therefore there can be no peace: “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22). But we have a God who provides peace by pardoning sin. This is the very reason Jesus came to earth: to bring peace to troubled, fearful humankind.

How does Jesus maintain God’s peace for me? He does it in three ways:

- First, Christ’s blood removed the guilt of my sin. In this sense, Paul says, “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Jesus made peace for me through his blood.

- Second, Christ maintains my peace and joy in believing: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans15:13).

- Third, Jesus causes me to rejoice at the hope of entering glory: “We…rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).

Simply put, peace is the absence of fear. And a life without fear is a life full of peace.

When Jesus ascended to heaven, he didn’t just bask in the glory that God bestowed on him. No, he went to the Father to maintain the hard-won peace he achieved for us at Calvary.

Our Savior is alive in glory right now. And he’s both fully God and fully human, with hands, feet, eyes, hair. He also has the nail scars on his hands and feet, the wound in his side. He has never discarded his humanity; he is still a man in glory. And right now, our man in eternity is working to make sure we’re never robbed of the peace he gave us when he left. He’s ministering as our high priest, actively involved in keeping his body on earth full of his peace. And when he comes again he wants us to “be found of him in peace” (2 Peter 3:14).

When I sin, my peace is interrupted in two areas. First, my conscience troubles and accuses me, and rightly so. But, second, Satan’s accusations put fear in me. I believe these are the two primary areas where Christ’s intercession applies to us.

First, my high priest won’t permit my conscience to hold me captive. Nor will he allow Satan’s accusations against me to go unchallenged. Christ is my advocate with the Father against every accusation from hell. What is an advocate? It is simply “my friend in court.” For Christians, this friend in court is also the son of the judge. In addition, our advocate is our brother. In fact, we are set to inherit the judge’s fortune along with him.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

OUR INTERCESSOR

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

What does Scripture mean when it says Jesus makes intercession for us? I believe this subject is so deep, majestic and beyond human understanding, I tremble even to address it. Bible scholars hold various views on its meaning.

Through prayer and trust in the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I’m beginning to grasp just a little of this incredible subject. Recently, I’ve prayed very simply, “Lord, how does your intercession in heaven affect my life? Your Word says you appear before the Father on my behalf. What does this mean in my daily walk with you?”

The English word intercession means “to plead on another’s behalf.” This speaks of a figure who takes your place before others to plead your cause. When you hear such a definition, do you picture Christ continually pleading to God for you, asking for mercy, forgiveness, grace and blessings? In my opinion, this image makes our heavenly Father appear tight-fisted. I simply refuse to believe that grace has to be pried out of our loving God. If we limit ourselves to such a narrow definition of intercession, we’ll never understand the deeper spiritual meaning of what Christ does for us.

The Bible declares that my heavenly Father knows my needs before I can ask him. And often, he supplies those needs even before I pray. Therefore, I find it difficult to accept that God’s own Son has to plead with him for anything. Besides, Scripture says the Father has already entrusted his Son with all things: “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

I don’t claim to know everything about Christ’s intercession for us. But I do believe that whatever our high priest is doing in his intercession for us, it is a very simple matter. And I believe that intercession has to do directly with the growth of his body here on earth. He is at work supplying every joint and part with might and strength.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

THE NEW TEMPLE PRIESTHOOD

Please carefully read Ezekiel 44:15–16. The Hebrew name Zadok means “right or righteous.” Ezekiel here is referring to a man named Zadok who served as a priest during David’s reign. This righteous man never wavered in his faithfulness to David or to the Lord. He stood by the king and by God’s Word, through thick and thin. Zakok always remained loyal to David, because he knew the king was the Lord’s anointed.

Because Zakok remained faithful through everything, he came to represent a ministry distinguished by its faithfulness to the Lord. Indeed, Zadok was a prime example of a true minister of God—separated from this world, shut in with the Lord, consistently hearing from heaven. Such a minister recognizes his main work as prayer: seeking God daily, constantly communing with the Holy Spirit and ministering to Jesus.

The new temple priests are faithful to stand before the Lord before they ever stand before the congregation. They spend precious hours in the Lord’s presence, until they’re saturated with a message that’s been burned into their souls. And when they emerge from God’s presence, they are able to speak straight to the people’s hearts. Their message gets down to where the sheep live, because it has come directly from God’s throne.

The Lord says of the Zadok priesthood, “These ministers will enter my sanctuary and stand before me. They shall come near to my table and minister to me. And they shall keep my charge. I’ll be faithful to lead and direct them and I’ll give them my word for my people.”

In the new, last-days sanctuary, the Zakok priesthood knows their central work is to minister to the Lord. This ministry includes every lover of Jesus who desires to walk in righteousness. Indeed, we see the “priesthood of believers” echoed throughout the books of the New Testament. John tells us, “[He] hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Revelation 1:6). Peter writes, “Ye also, as lively stones, are…an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

You may not have ministerial credentials from any church body. You may never have been to seminary. You may never have preached a sermon. But you are just as called and ordained to serve in the Zadok priesthood as even the most well-known preacher or evangelist. Both Testaments make it abundantly clear: Each of us is to hold the office of priest and perform a priest’s duties.

So, you’re wondering, how are you to do this? You do it by ministering primarily unto the Lord. You offer up sacrifices to him—sacrifices of praise, of service, of turning over to him all your heart, soul, mind and strength. He’s called you to be part of his royal priesthood. Therefore, you are to minister to others only after you’ve ministered to him. This means you are not to show up at God’s house each week empty and dry, hoping some message from the preacher will fire you up. No, you’re to come prepared to minister to the Lord with a heart of praise.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

HAVE FAITH IN GOD'S FAITHFULNESS

Faith begins with a total abandonment of oneself into God’s care, but our faith must be active, not passive.

We must have full confidence that God can and will do the impossible. Jesus said, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). “With God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). In short, faith says, “God is enough!”

The Lord was making Abram a man of faith by leading him into an impossible situation. He wanted to hear his servant say, “Father, you led me here, and you know best. So I’m going to stand still and believe you to do the impossible. I’ll put my life in your hands, fully trusting that you won’t allow me or my family to starve. I know we’ll be preserved because you promised I would have a seed!”

Our faith is not meant to get us out of a hard place or change our painful condition. Rather, it is meant to reveal God’s faithfulness to us in the midst of our dire situation. God does at times change our trying
circumstances. But more often, he doesn’t - because he wants to change us!

We simply can’t trust God’s power fully until we experience it in the midst of our crisis. This was the case with the three Hebrew children. They saw Christ only when they were in the midst of the fiery furnace. And Daniel experienced God’s power and grace when he was thrust into the lions’ den. If they had suddenly been pulled out of their circumstances, they never would have known the full grace of God’s miracle-working power. And the Lord would not have been magnified before the ungodly.

We think we’re witnessing great miracles whenever God ends our storms and crises. But we can easily miss the lesson of faith in such times — the lesson that says God will remain faithful to us through our hard times. He wants to raise us above our trials through faith, so we can say, “My God can do the impossible. He’s a deliverer, and he’s going to see me through.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

THE SECRET OF GOD’S PRESENCE

In Psalm 31, David introduces us to the phrase “the secret of thy presence.” He writes, “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:19-20).

David is saying something very profound here: “All true strength comes from drawing near to the Lord. The measure of our strength is proportionate to our nearness to him!” Simply put, the closer we are to Jesus, the stronger we’re going to be. And all the strength we’re ever going to need will come only through our secret life of prayer. If we’ll just draw near to Christ, he will draw near to us, giving us a fresh supply of strength daily. This is the secret of his presence!

In the Old Testament, the presence of the Lord was associated with the ark. Israel believed that wherever the ark was, God’s presence was there. And so, wherever the people traveled, they took the ark along with them. We see an example of this faith concerning the Lord’s presence with the ark in 1 Samuel 4.

The devil greatly fears the Lord’s presence in our lives. He trembles at the very thought of a believer’s nearness to Christ. So, when his demonic hordes see you praying each day, in the presence of your heavenly Father, all hell cries out, “God is with this believer. This one has the divine presence. What can we do against such?”

This is why Satan will do everything in his power to rob you of the Lord’s presence in your life. It’s why he wants to bog down your soul in doubt and fear. He wants you drained of all strength! He’ll use anything he can, even “good” things, to keep you away from spending time alone with Jesus. He knows your time with Christ makes you victorious over the fears and anxieties of this age!

The Word of God tells us we can pray without ceasing. This is unspoken prayer, anywhere, any time. I have come to believe that my most important prayers are those quiet whispers of thanksgiving that I offer to him all through the day. This keeps me in the awareness of his presence.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A PASTOR’S RESPONSE TO “AN URGENT WARNING”

It is the task of a true prophet to warn. We have recently heard such a clear warning of perilous days just ahead of us. The prophet is like a man who comes to warn a shepherd that ravenous wolves are approaching.

It then becomes the shepherd’s task to appropriately discern the warning and to guide those in his care to a place of wisdom and security. I am not a prophet. I am a local pastor. I must ask myself what I am to do in light of hearing the warning from God. What should I say to those under my pastoral care?

First, I want my people to clearly hear the word. What is it saying and what is it not saying. Some have heard of fires and looting and their hearts are filled with fear. I am to assure my people that God is always completely in control. God is sovereign. Nothing takes place outside of his notice and counsel, and all things happen for his ultimate, highest glory. Even in the most troubling of times, our God knows exactly what he is doing.

Second, I want those I serve to know two things concerning God’s wrath. First, some leaders in the church have sadly fallen into the deception that there is no such thing as the wrath of God. Roman 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Some act in ungodly ways, others are ungodly by their suppressing the truth of God’s wrath. Some leaders reduce, ignore and even ridicule anyone who reminds them of the certainty of God’s wrath. Romans 2:5 also tells us clearly that the wrath of God is toward those whose hearts are hard and impenitent. This leads to the second element of understanding God’s wrath. It is never, ever, ever poured out on the children of God. In I John 2:2 “He is the propitiation for our sins.” The word propitiation means “wrath quencher.” What marvelous grace, what redemption! God’s wrath at my rebellion and sin has been quenched on the Cross of Christ. Hard times come; rain falls even on the just but wrath does not.

Last, I am obligated to guide the flock given to me with loving-kindness and soberness. If a wolf or a storm is coming, I as a shepherd must know the conditions of my flock. Are any sitting on the fence? Warn them that this is no time for compromise or close affiliation with the world. Partying in the house of an Egyptian on the night of the Passover is definitely not a good idea. This is a time to stay close to the Chief Shepherd. This is also an opportunity for us to call out to those outside the gate. Jesus is the Door and has opened his heart. His cry is that all flee from wrath to come. More than shrinking behind a double-locked door or fleeing to a rural farm, this is a call from Jesus to move your life into the sheepfold.

When a prophet comes with a message of warning, often people want the prophet to give them specific advice about what to do in response. At times, God gives the prophet a word, but more often it is up to the shepherd, and even more so, up to every man of God to take the word into account for his own family. Just as a pastor has stewardship of the church, a man of God is to give an account of his own family. When one comes to warn that wolves are coming, it is not always his responsibility to tell them what to do. We can hear from God. Joseph heard God say to store up food for the season to come (Genesis 41). Moses heard God say to receive gifts from the Egyptians for their journey (Exodus12). We as well can hear from God for our situation. Sheep do hear the Shepherd’s voice.

Jesus—in this hour, in this storm—will not only guide his people and comfort his flock but will also give them boldness, confidence and a heart to serve those troubled by the afflictions. A prophet once came to Paul and prophesied that if he went to Jerusalem he would be bound and put in prison. The prophet was faithful to give his word; it was up to Paul to hear from God how to deal with that warning. Paul, after hearing the prophecy, still decided to go to Jerusalem—willing to risk his life for the gospel (Acts 21). Some will hear and stay in a place of safety; others will hear and go to a place to serve. Some churches are positioned in cities that will need their spiritual strength and compassion. Perhaps the wisdom of Paul in Ephesians 5:15-18 speaks most to what we need, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

FEAR NOT. FIX YOUR THOUGHTS ON JESUS

We are to listen carefully to the warnings of the watchmen but are not to become obsessed with their warnings.

We are to be alerted and warned by prophetic messages, and we're to heed every one that's revealed and confirmed in Scripture. We're to gather all the knowledge we can about the coming storm, so we can prepare our hearts for whatever destruction it brings. But we are not to let fear or anxiety consume our thinking, dominate our minds, take hold of our hearts!

Darkness is certainly coming, and judgment is at our very door. But as God's people, we cannot allow any cloud of darkness to hide the light of his great promises of love and mercy toward his people. We are to be well informed by the Lord's words and prophets, but we are not to dwell on prophetic knowledge so much that it takes over our lives.

The devil would love for that to happen. He knows if he can't get you to doubt God's Word concerning his judgment, he'll take you to another extreme by driving you to a fearful obsession with perilous times. He'll try to rob you of all hope by consuming you with thoughts of foreboding.

The apostle Paul reassures us about such things with this instruction: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8). Paul is telling us, "You've heard all the warnings. Now, simply take heed to what God's Word reveals and to what his watchmen are saying. Then, finally, fix all your thoughts on Jesus and his goodness."

I have faithfully warned of a soon-to-come worldwide economic holocaust, and we already see this happening around the world. I have warned that Christians are going to suffer - that here will be great loss and hardship - and right now multitudes of precious saints all over the world are enduring unbelievable tribulation. But none of these things is the focus of all my energies and ministry. No, the deepest expression of my soul is to proclaim the love of God the father and the tender mercy of our savior Jesus.

So when I go to bed at night, I know that he alone is in control of all these things. I simply do what the prophet Isaiah did: he put his mind to rest by fully trusting in his Lord. He said, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee"(Isaiah 26:3).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PERFECT PEACE

In the time of panic, God’s trusting people will be blessed with perfect peace.

The Lord declares, “I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord: and I will heal him” (Isaiah 57:19). The Hebrew word for “peace” here is “perfect peace.”

I believe that as we’re surrounded by chaos and hysteria in the coming days, America is going to witness the greatest testimony of God’s glory and power it has even seen. How? All of America will see that many of God’s people possess his perfect peace! In that time the Lord is going to raise up a people who’ve been endowed with his absolute, perfect peace – peace that Christ himself now enjoys at the right hand of the Father. And we’re going to live, move and breathe in that wonderful peace.

Scripture says God will keep all who trust him “…in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26.3). And right now, many of God’s people are making this commitment to him: “I’m going to set my heart to seek God through everything, no matter what comes. I’m going to give him all that I have and all that I am. I believe his judgment is coming – so I’m going to prepare myself for him, as his bride!”

God first made his promise of perfect peace to those in Judah who were undergoing a great chastening of the Lord upon their land. God was bringing down all the high fortresses and walls, all the pomp and riches people leaned on, “…even to the dust” (Isaiah 25:12). Even the faithful remnant that still trusted in God were shaken to their very core. Yet during that time, God told Isaiah to reassure these faithful believers: “The Lord is going to keep you in perfect peace – if you simply trust him!” The prophet said, “Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us…” (26:12). In other words, God is going to set up in our hearts his very own peace. He wants to give us a peace that can’t be shaken.

Likewise today, when panic strikes in America – when the ominous news begins to send shock waves of fear across the land, and hysteria mounts – God’s people won’t be able to avoid feeling the huge wave of human anxiety. That’s right – I will feel it, you will feel it; all Christians are going to feel it. Such feelings are inevitable; it’s simply human to have this kind of reaction to such terrible chaos. Yet, at the same time, God will put within us the resources needed to take immediate control of every fearful thought and bring it to the truth of Christ. And his Spirit will fill our very beings with his perfect peace!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

WHO DREAMED UP THIS PLAN FOR SURVIVAL?

“And the word of the Lord came unto him [Elijah], saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan” (I Kings 17: 2–3).

As Elijah looked ahead to the coming crisis, things must have looked absolutely hopeless to him. But God had a specific survival plan in mind for his faithful servant. He instructed the prophet, “Go east to the Jordan River, and there you will find Cherith, a little tributary that runs off. You can get all the drinking water you need from that brook. In addition, I’ve arranged for food to be delivered to you daily, by my courier ravens!”

How could any person, in a million years, ever dream up this kind of a plan for survival? How could Elijah ever have imagined he’d be sent to a hidden brook to find water to drink, when there was nothing but drought everywhere else in the land? How could he ever have thought a daily supply of bread would be brought to him by ravenous birds that ate everything they sank their beaks into?

Later, times got hard for Elijah, because the brook finally dried up. But God stepped in again, giving the prophet another fresh word of direction. He said, “Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow there to sustain thee” (v. 9). Again, I have to ask—how could anyone ever think a poor widow woman, in the midst of a depression, could feed a man for days, weeks, months on end? But the fact is, God uses the most despised, insignificant things of the world for his glory. And he told Elijah, “If you’ll go to her and do what I tell you, you’ll survive. Listen to me—heed my direction—and you’ll make it through!”

The evidence is overwhelming: God—our adviser, counselor and survival expert—has a detailed plan for every one of his children, to help us face the worst of times!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Further Word

“If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?”

Recently I felt compelled to send out an URGENT message warning of an impending great calamity — such that will cause even God’s elect to tremble.

One Bishop asked, “Is there no further word: How should the righteous respond to such a word?”

I can only answer by sharing what the Holy Spirit is speaking to my own heart and what I am to do. I shared that I was led in a practical way to lay aside a month’s supply of food — because I have witnessed the panic in the wake of terrorism. That has to be a personal word for every individual.

This is what I hear the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart concerning my own spiritual response to impending calamity. It is simply this —STAND STILL AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD.

“And Moses said to the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show you today…The Lord shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14).

This is the attitude of faith in the face of calamity. What could Israel do on the brink of the Red Sea? Pharaoh’s army is pressing in, mountains are on both sides, and there is an impossible sea ahead. The flesh cries, “Do something!”

The flesh cries hopelessness. Can God’s people dry up the sea? Level a mountain? Fight a great army without having weapons? They are in what appears to be a dreadful, frightening situation. God’s people tremble — and in this hour of trembling comes a word from God. In essence:

“Stand still. Fear not. This is the hour of salvation. You are going to witness the pulling down of the foundations of a world power. But in the same hour, I will fight for you. Hold your peace — be still and see my works.”

Beloved, my warning is just one voice among many who are saying the same thing. We may all tremble for a season, but those who truly know God’s Word will be quickly comforted by the Holy Spirit. We will be baptized with a great peace — a supernatural quietness — which will be a tremendous witness to the fearful multitudes.

In Christ,

David Wilkerson

Saturday, March 7, 2009

AN URGENT MESSAGE

I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to send out an urgent message to all on our mailing list, and to friends and to bishops we have met all over the world.

AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. IT IS GOING TO BE SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE - EVEN THE GODLIEST AMONG US.

For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires—such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.

There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. In Psalm 11 it is written,

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (v. 3).

God is judging the raging sins of America and the nations. He is destroying the secular foundations.

The prophet Jeremiah pleaded with wicked Israel, “God is fashioning a calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh, turn back each of you from your evil way, and reform your ways and deeds. But they will say, It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:11-12).

In Psalm 11:6, David warns, “Upon the wicked he will rain snares (coals of fire)…fire…burning wind…will be the portion of their cup.” Why? David answered, “Because the Lord is righteous” (v. 7). This is a righteous judgment—just as in the judgments of Sodom and in Noah’s generation.

WHAT SHALL THE RIGHTEOUS DO? WHAT ABOUT GOD’S PEOPLE?

First, I give you a practical word I received for my own direction. If possible lay in store a thirty-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials. In major cities, grocery stores are emptied in an hour at the sign of an impending disaster.

As for our spiritual reaction, we have but two options. This is outlined in Psalm 11. We “flee like a bird to a mountain.” Or, as David says, “He fixed his eyes on the Lord on his throne in heaven—his eyes beholding, his eyelids testing the sons of men” (v. 4). “In the Lord I take refuge” (v. 1).

I will say to my soul: No need to run...no need to hide. This is God’s righteous work. I will behold our Lord on his throne, with his eye of tender, loving kindness watching over every step I take—trusting that he will deliver his people even through floods, fires, calamities, tests, trials of all kinds.

Note: I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off. I have unburdened my soul to you. Do with the message as you choose.

God bless and keep you,

In Christ,

DAVID WILKERSON

Friday, March 6, 2009

GETTING TO KNOW THE FATHER

I believe our natural children get to know our nature and character toward them most during their times of crisis. When they’re in the midst of pain, suffering and need, they recognize our deep care and provision for them. When my children were growing up, I didn’t have to lecture them about what I’m like. I never had to say, “I’m your father—I’m patient, kind, full of mercy and lovingkindness toward you. I’m tenderhearted over you, ready to forgive you at all times.” It would have been ludicrous for me to make this kind of proclamation. Why? My kids learned about my love for them during their crisis experiences. And now, as they’re grown and married with children of their own, my sons and daughters are getting to know me through a whole new set of experiences. They’re learning even more about me by my attitudes and actions toward them in this new time of need in their lives.

So it is with us, in getting to know our heavenly Father. From the time of Adam down through the cross of Christ, the Lord gave his people an ever-increasing revelation of his character. Yet he didn’t do this simply by proclaiming who he is. He didn’t try to reveal himself by merely announcing, “The following names describe my nature. Now, go and learn these, and you’ll discover who I am.”

The Hebrew expressions (names) do describe the wondrous glories and provisions that are wrapped up in our Lord’s name. Yet, God revealed these aspects of his nature to his people by actually doing for them what he proclaimed himself to be. He saw his children’s needs, foresaw the enemy’s strategy against them, and intervened supernaturally on their behalf.

I urge you to get to know your heavenly Father slowly, purposefully, on a heart level. Ask the Holy Spirit to recall to you the many facets of heavenly provision God has given you during your times of need. Then ask the Spirit to build into you a true heart knowledge of I AM—the God that is everything you need, at all times.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

THE GREATEST TEST OF ALL

“And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided” (Exodus 14:21).

Before the Israelites was a path that would lead them to safety. In this crucial moment, God wanted his people to look at those walls and believe he would hold back the water until they arrived safely on the other side. Simply put, God wanted his people to have a faith that declared, “He who began this miracle for us will finish it. He has already proven to us he’s faithful.

“As we look back, we see that all our fears were wasted. We shouldn’t have been afraid when we saw the Egyptians coming. God put up a supernatural wall of darkness to protect us from them, and we shouldn’t have feared their threats through the night. The whole time, God provided us with an illuminating light, while our enemies were blinded by darkness. We also wasted our fears on those fierce winds, when all that time God was using them to make our way of escape.

“We see now that God desires only to do good to us. We’ve seen his power and glory on our behalf. And now we are determined to no longer live in fear. It doesn’t matter to us if those walls of water collapse. Live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

There was a reason God wanted this kind of faith for Israel at this point. They were about to face a journey through the wilderness. They would endure deprivation, danger and suffering. So He said, “I want my people to know I’ll do them only good. I don’t want them to be afraid they’re going to die every time they face danger. I want a people who aren’t afraid of death, because they know I am trustworthy in all things.”

A true worshipper isn’t someone who dances after the victory is won. It isn’t the person who sings God’s praises once the enemy has been vanquished. That’s what the Israelites did. When God parted the Red Sea and they arrived on the other side, they sang and danced, praised God and extolled his greatness. Yet, three days later, these same people murmured bitterly against God, at Marah. These weren’t worshippers—they were shallow shouters!

A true worshipper is one who has learned to trust God in the storm. This person’s worship isn’t just in his words, but in his way of life. His world is at rest at all times, because his trust in God’s faithfulness is unshakable. He isn’t afraid of the future, because he’s no longer afraid to die.

Gwen and I saw this kind of unshakable faith in our twelve-year-old granddaughter Tiffany. Sitting at her bedside in her final days, we beheld in her a peace that surpassed all our understanding. She told me, “Grandpa, I want to go home. I’ve seen Jesus, and he told me he wants me to be there. I just don’t want to be here anymore.” Tiffany had lost all fear of death and deprivation.

That is the rest God wants for his people. It’s a confidence that says like Paul, and like Tiffany, “Live or die, I am the Lord’s.” This is what makes a true worshipper.

I pray that all who read this message can say in the midst of their storm: “Yes, the economy may collapse. Yes, I may still be facing a dark, stormy night. But God has proven himself faithful to me. No matter what comes, I will rest in his love for me.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

DO THREE THINGS

In the midst of their trial God told Israel to do three things: “Fear not. Stand still. See the salvation of the Lord.” His call to Israel was, “I am going to fight for you. You’re simply to hold your peace. Just be quiet, and put everything in my hands. Right now, I’m doing a work in the supernatural realm. Everything is under my control. So, don’t panic. Trust that I’m fighting the devil. This battle is not yours” (see Exodus 14:13-14).

Soon dusk fell over the camp. This was the beginning of Israel’s dark and stormy night. But it was also the beginning of God’s supernatural work. He sent an awesome, protective angel to stand between his people and their enemy. I believe God still sends protective angels to camp around all who love and fear him (see Psalm 34:7).

The Lord also moved the supernatural cloud he’d given to Israel for guidance. The cloud suddenly shifted from the front of Israel’s camp to the rear and it loomed as a pitch-black wall before the Egyptians. On the other side, the cloud provided a supernatural light, giving the Israelites clear visibility all night long (see Exodus 14:20).

Even though Pharaoh’s army was in total darkness, they could still raise their voices. And all night long they spewed forth threats and lies. Israel’s tents shook from this barrage of lies throughout that dark night. But it didn’t matter how loudly the enemy threatened them. An angel was on guard to protect them, and God had promised his people he would bring them through.

Dear saint, if you’re a blood-bought child of God, he has put a warrior angel between you and the devil. And he commands you, just as he told Israel, “Do not fear. Stand still. Believe in my salvation.” Satan may come against you breathing every evil threat. But at no time during your dark, stormy night is the enemy ever able to destroy you.

“Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night” (Exodus 14:21).

The windstorm that God brought down was so powerful, it began to part the waves of the sea: “The strong east wind…made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided” (14:21).

The Hebrew word for wind here means “violent exhaling.” In other words, God exhaled and the water congealed in walls. Israel’s tent-dwellings must have shaken fiercely as those mighty torrents blew through the camp. Why did God allow Israel to go through an entire stormy night, when he could have spoken a mere word and calmed the elements?

What a storm it must have been. And what a fearful time it had to be for Israel. I ask you, what was God up to here? Why would he allow such a terrible windstorm to go on all night? Why didn’t he just tell Moses to touch the water with his mantle, and part the waves supernaturally? What possible reason did God have for permitting this awful night to take place?

There was but one reason: The Lord was making worshippers. God was at work the whole time, using the terrible storm to make a path for his people out of the crisis. Yet the Israelites couldn’t see it at the time. Many were hiding in their tents, but those who came outside witnessed a glorious light show. They also beheld the glorious sight of waves mounting up, mighty walls of water rising to form a dry path through the sea. When the people saw this, they must have shouted, “Look, God has used the wind to make a way for us. Praise the Lord!”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

THE MAKING OF A WORSHIPPER

Exodus 14 describes an incredible moment in Israel’s history. The Israelites had just left Egypt under God’s supernatural direction. Now they were being hotly pursued by Pharaoh’s army. The Israelites had been led into a valley surrounded on both sides by steep mountains, and ahead of them was a forbidding sea. They didn’t know it yet, but these people were about to experience the darkest, stormiest night of their souls. They faced an agonizing night of panic and despair that would test them to their very limits.

I believe this passage has everything to do with how God makes his people into worshippers. Indeed, no other chapter in the Bible demonstrates this more strongly. You see, worshippers are not made during revivals, in the good, sunny times, or periods of victory and health. Worshippers of God are made during dark stormy nights. And how we respond to our storms determines just what kind of worshippers we are.

Hebrews 11 gives us this image of Jacob in his old age: “By faith Jacob, when he was a-dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21). Why is Jacob portrayed this way in his dying days?

Jacob knew his life was about to end. That’s why we see him giving his blessing to his grandchildren. So, what does Jacob do as he looks back on the events of his life? He is moved to worship. Not a word is spoken by this man. Yet, as he leaned on his staff, marveling at the life God had given him, “[he] worshipped.”

Jacob worshipped God in that moment because his soul was at rest. He had proven God faithful beyond any shadow of a doubt. And now the patriarch concluded, “It never mattered what battle I went through. God proved himself faithful to me. He has always been faithful. O Lord, almighty God, I worship you!”

Monday, March 2, 2009

DON’T BE AFRAID OF A LITTLE SUFFERING

Christ’s resurrection was preceded by a short period of suffering. We do die! We do suffer! There is pain and sorrow.

We do not want to suffer or be hurt. We want painless deliverance, supernatural intervention. “Do it, God,” we pray, “because I am weak and always will be. Do it all while I go my way, waiting for a supernatural deliverance.”

We may blame our troubles on demons. We seek out a man of God and hope he can cast out the demon so that we can go on our way with no pain or suffering. All done! Breeze right through to a peaceful life of victory. We want someone to lay hands on us and drive away all the dryness. But victory is not always without suffering and pain. Look at your sin. Face it. Suffer it through, just as Jesus did. Enter into his suffering. Suffering endures for a night, but joy always follows in the morning.

God’s love demands a choice. If God supernaturally lifted us out of every battle without pain or suffering, it would abort all trials and all temptation; there would be no free choice and no testing as by fire. It would be God superimposing his will on mankind. He chooses to meet us in our dryness and show us how it can become the way into a new life of faith.

It is often the will of God that we suffer dryness and even pain. “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19).

Thank God, suffering is always the short period before final victory! “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).