Monday, August 31, 2009

WHAT SATISFIES HIS HUNGER?

Jesus answered his disciples’ request for faith in this way. He told them: “Which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?…So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:7–8, 10).

 

Christ is speaking here of us, his servants, and of God, our Master. He’s telling us we’re to feed God. You may wonder, “What kind of food are we supposed to bring to the Lord? What satisfies his hunger?”

 

The Bible tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6). Simply put, God’s most delectable dish is faith. That’s the food that pleases him.

 

We see this illustrated throughout Scripture. When a centurion asked Jesus to heal his sick servant by merely speaking a word, Christ feasted on the man’s vibrant faith. He replied, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matthew 8:10). Jesus was saying, “Here’s a Gentile, an outsider, who’s feeding my spirit. What a nourishing meal this man’s faith is giving me.”

 

I notice in Jesus’ words a blunt statement: “You don’t eat first. I do.” In others words, we are not to consume our faith on our own interests and needs. Rather, our faith is meant to satisfy our Lord’s hunger. “Make ready wherewith I may sup…and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken: and afterward thou shalt eat.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

DEALING WITH JESUS’ WORDS

“If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:12). Jesus is saying, “You say you want a revelation, something to enable you to do greater things. Yet, how can you be entrusted with that kind of faith, if you’re not reliable with the things others have given you?”

 

Jesus’ words must have left his disciples scratching their heads. Their Master knew they didn’t own anything, much less something that another person had given them. They’d forsaken all to be his disciples. And they had followed him to the best of their ability. His words here simply didn’t seem to apply to them.

 

What does Jesus mean when he says, “that which is another man’s” (16:12)? He’s speaking of our bodies and souls, which he purchased with his own blood. “Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

 

Jesus is telling us, “Your body doesn’t belong to you anymore, And if you don’t take care of that body—if you won’t allow me to look inside you, deal with your sin, and sanctify you—how can you expect me to entrust you with something greater?”

 

The disciples had requested an increase of faith and Jesus had a ready answer for them: “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6).

 

What could Jesus be suggesting with this image? I believe this statement is about plucking up the roots in our hearts. Jesus is speaking of roots of evil, the hidden things we must deal with as his followers. He’s saying, “Before you can believe God to move mountains, you need to remove roots. And you don’t need some great, apostolic faith to do that. All you need is the very least amount of faith. I’m asking you to do something very basic: to pluck up the roots of sin. I want you to examine your heart and remove everything that’s unlike me.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

EVER-INCREASING FAITH

“The apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). The men who comprised Christ’s close circle were asking something important of their Master. They wanted a greater understanding of the meaning and workings of faith. They were saying, “Lord, what sort of faith do you desire from us? Give us a revelation of the kind that pleases you. We want to grasp faith in its fullest meaning.” 

 

On the surface, their request seems commendable. Yet, I believe the disciples asked this of Jesus because they were confused. In the previous chapter, Christ had baffled them, saying, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much…If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (16:10–11).

 

Jesus knew his followers’ flesh wanted to avoid what they considered to be the lesser matters of faith. So he told them, “If you’re faithful in the little things, the foundational matters of faith, you’ll be faithful in the greater things too. So, prove yourself trustworthy in the basic requirements of faith. Otherwise, how can you be trusted with a deeper measure?”

 

If we are honest, we’ll admit we’re much like Jesus’ disciples. We also want to proceed straight to the larger matters of faith, to obtain the kind of faith that moves mountains. And, like the disciples, we often judge faith by visible results.

 

True faith, in God’s eyes, has nothing to do with the size or amount of a work you aim to accomplish. Rather, it has to do with the focus and direction of your life. You see, God isn’t as concerned with your grand vision as he is with who you’re becoming.

 

God is more interested in winning all of me than in my winning all the world for him. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

EARTHEN VESSELS

One of the most encouraging Scriptures in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Then Paul goes on to describe those earthen vessels as dying men, troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down. Even though never forsaken or in despair, those men used by God were constantly groaning under the burden of their bodies, waiting anxiously to be clothed with new ones.

 

God mocks man’s power. He laughs at our egotistical efforts at being good. He never uses the high and mighty, but instead he uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not…That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26–29).

 

Wow! Does that ever describe me! Weak thing! Foolish thing! Despised thing! A base thing! A thing not very noble, not very smart, not very mighty! What insanity to think God could use such a creature! Yet that is his perfect plan and the greatest mystery on earth. God calls us in our weaknesses, even when he knows we’ll do it wrong. He puts his priceless treasure in these earthen vessels of ours, because he delights in doing the impossible with nothing.

 

God has determined to accomplish his goal, here on earth, through men with weaknesses. Abraham had weaknesses: He lied, and he almost turned his wife into an adulteress, but Abraham “…believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

THE HERMIT CRAB

King David, the author of so many Psalms, grew weary of his struggles. He was so tired in soul, so embattled and beset by troubles, all he wanted was to escape to a place of peace and safety: “My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me…. And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest…. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest” (Psalm 55:4-8).

 

A lesson from nature reveals what happens when we trade the good fight for an easier way and walk away from our struggle. I recently read a biologist’s study on crabs, creatures that live in a rough, dangerous environment among jagged rocks. Crabs are dashed about daily by waves and attacked on every side by creatures from deeper waters.  They battle continually to protect themselves, and over time they develop a strong shell and powerful instincts for survival.

 

Amazingly, some in the crab family give up the struggle for life. Searching for a safe haven, they take up residence in the cast-off shells of other ocean creature. These crabs are known as hermit crabs. Settling for safety, they retreat from the battle and escape into secondhand houses that are ready-made.

 

But hermit crabs’ “safe houses” prove to be costly and ruinous. Through their lack of struggle, crucial parts of their bodies deteriorate. Even their organs wither due to lack of use. Over time the hermit crab loses all power of motion, as well as vital parts needed for escape. These limbs simply fall off, leaving the crab out of danger but useless to do anything except exist.

 

Meanwhile, crabs that continued the struggle grow and flourish. Their five pairs of legs become meaty and strong from resisting the powerful tides. And they learn to hide from their predators by skillfully scuttling under rock formations.

 

This law of nature, too, illustrates the law of the Spirit. As believers, we get tossed and pounded by wave after wave of difficulties. We face vicious predators in Satan’s principalities and powers. But as we fight on, we grow stronger. And we come to recognize the devil’s wiles when he employs them against us. We discover our true refuge, the “cleft in the rock,” by trusting in Jesus. Only then are we truly safe in the midst of our battle.

Monday, August 24, 2009

ARE YOU AMONG THE 7000?

We know that all through the Bible, the number seven is equated with God’s eternal purpose. Therefore, I believe the number of 7000 that God quoted to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:18 simply denoted everyone who made up his remnant. The people he sets aside for himself could number 70 or 7 million. What matters is that they are wholly given to him.

 

So, what are the characteristics of the remnant? Here are three defining marks:

 

1.     An unchangeable commitment to cling to the Lord. Every remnant believer has made a single-minded choice to swim against the tide of evil. At some point, you have to make a commitment, declaring, “I don’t care what others say or do. I am the Lord’s. And I won’t give in to the wicked spirit of this age.”

2.     A willingness to identify with the poor. While society’s trend is to associate with the rich and successful, you align yourself with the suffering class. Obadiah was a godly man serving in Jezebel’s house. He was determined to fear God and no one else and he proved that his heart was right and was with the poor by taking care of 100 ragged, suffering prophets (1 Kings 18:4).

3.     A reliance on hope. The 7000 in Elijah’s time endured because of their hope in a coming day of deliverance. Likewise today, the church’s blessed hope is the soon return of Jesus. With one trumpet blast, all wickedness will end. Our Lord will do away with all killing of babies, all blatant perversions, all ethnic genocide.

 

Do these three marks characterize you as a part of God’s holy remnant? If so, God boasts of you, “This one has given his heart to me. He’s focused on me. And he is wholly mine!”

 

We are to evangelize, minister and work while it is still day. We are also to live in the hope that King Jesus is coming. And he’s bringing a new world with him, where he’ll rule from his eternal throne.

Friday, August 21, 2009

GOD’S MEASURE OF SUCCESS

Success in God’s eyes is being totally fulfilled in ministering to him. Such servants aren’t striving to “make it” or seeking earthly security. They only want to know their Lord and to minister to him.

Think about the 100 prophets hidden by Obadiah (1 Kings 18:4). They lived an isolated existence in caves for at least three to four years, during a severe famine. These men had no outside ministry. They were completely out of the public’s view, forgotten by most people. They couldn’t even share in Elijah’s victory on Mount Carmel. No doubt, the world would call them failures, insignificant men who hadn’t accomplished anything.

Yet God had given these devoted servants the precious gift of time. They had days, weeks, even years to pray, study, grow and minister to the Lord. You see, God was preparing them for the day when he would release them to minister to his people. Indeed, these same men would shepherd those who returned to God under Elijah’s ministry.

Years ago, the Lord blessed me with this gift of time. Before I ever pastored a church, I went into the woods and preached to the birds and trees. I had no plans, no agenda, no dreams. I only wanted to get to know God’s heart. So I prayed daily, seeking the Lord and ministering to him. And I marked my Bible from cover to cover. I was hidden, not seen by anyone. But God knew my address all along.

My advice is, “Quit looking for ministry. Spend your time seeking God instead. He knows where to find you. He’ll summon you when he sees you are ready. Forget what others are doing. Strive to be a success at God’s throne. If you’re ministering to the Lord and praying for others, you are already a success in his eyes!"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DAYS OF EXCITEMENT

God, in his love and mercy, is allowing disasters to strike the earth to warn all who hear that Jesus is coming back, and that it’s time to get ready. He loves his children too much to bring his new kingdom to pass without warning. He knows that mankind is hard of hearing and that it takes disasters of earthquake proportions to get his attention. These disasters are a kind of countdown, too painful to ignore, allowed by God to set the stage for the final moments of time. These labor pains will become more frequent and intense as we approach the last hour. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

 

Does it all sound scary? Is the truth frightening? Is it really possible that the end of the world is upon us? Is this the very point in time that all the prophets in the Bible predicted would come? Can even the most devout Christians remotely understand how terribly close this earth is to midnight hour? One thing is certain—everything appears to be falling apart, as far as the natural eye can discern.

 

Dear friend, hear what the Holy Spirit spoke to me about these days. Just five little words, but so powerful that they awakened in me a glorious new hope and faith. Those five little words are: God has everything under control! If you trust God, you can look every disaster in the face and proclaim with confidence, “My God is speaking to this universe and his power is being demonstrated. I will just stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”

 

God has everything under control, and we are under his control. God’s message for this hour is: “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

PRIDE AND THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT

Let me distinguish clearly between pride and humility.

 

A humble person is not one who thinks little of himself, hangs his head and says, “I’m nothing.” Rather, he is one who depends wholly on the Lord for everything, in every circumstance. He knows the Lord has to direct him, empower him and quicken him—and that he’s dead without that!

 

A proud person, on the other hand, is one who may love God in a fashion, but he acts and thinks on his own. At its root, pride is simply independence from God, and the proud person makes decisions based on his own reasoning, skill and abilities. He says, “God gave me a good mind, and he expects me to use it. It’s silly to ask him for direction in every detail of life.”

 

This person is unteachable because he already “knows it all.” He might listen to someone who is higher in authority or better known than himself—but not to someone he thinks is inferior.

 

Not one word a proud person receives is of God! It is impossible for him to judge righteous judgment—impossible to speak God’s mind—because the Holy Spirit is not present in him to bear witness to truth. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

 

Pride is independence—humility is dependency. The humble Christian is one who makes no move, no decision, without counsel from the Lord. The Bible says the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord, but he cannot order the steps of an independent spirit. This is all to say—God wants full control—give it to him.

 

“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO

Three enemy armies were closing in on Judah, and King Jehoshaphat called the nation together at Jerusalem to formulate a war plan. He needed plans, a decisive declaration of action. Something had to be done immediately. Instead Jehoshaphat stood before his people and poured his heart out to God in confession.

 

“Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee” (2 Chronicles 20:11–12).

 

We are living in a time when everything is getting shaky and insecure—and almost everybody is hurting in one way or another.

 

Hardly anybody knows what to do anymore. Our leaders don’t have the foggiest idea of what is happening to this world—or to the economy.

 

The business world is even more confused—with economists arguing with each other about what is coming. Psychologists and psychiatrists are baffled by the changing forces affecting people today.

 

You don’t fold your hands—sitting around at ease—letting God do it all! That is not what it means to keep your eyes “fixed on the Lord.” We look to the Lord, not as people who know what to do, but as people who don’t know at all what they must do. But we do know that he is the King who sits on the flood. He is Lord of all, and we know that even if the world breaks in two—if it all falls apart—he is a rock of certainty. Our eyes are fixed on a risen Lord. If we do not know what to do, our faith assures us he knows what to do.

Monday, August 17, 2009

JONAH GAVE THANKS AND WAS DELIVERED

Listen to the words of Jonah: “Thou hadst cast me into the deep…the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me…the depth closed me round about…I went down to the bottoms…the earth with her bars was about me for ever” (Jonah 2:3–6).

 

Jonah had hit rock bottom, entombed in the belly of a whale. He was in a battle for his life—filled with despair, shame and guilt. He was heavy of heart—literally as low as a person could get. He thought God had abandoned him.

 

So, how did Jonah get out of his pit? Simply put, he passed the test! “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord…I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving…” (Jonah 2:7, 9).

 

Jonah didn’t receive any word of deliverance. He was in a hopeless situation, with everything about him dark and gloomy. He was ready to faint. Yet, when he came to such a point, he said, “I’m going to thank the Lord!”

 

In the midst of all his troubles, Jonah entered the Lord’s presence and offered up thanks! God answered, “That’s what I’ve been waiting to hear you say, Jonah. You’ve trusted me in the middle of it all. You just passed the test!”

 

Scripture says, “The Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (verse 10). With one command from heaven, the fish spit Jonah onto the shore. And that burdened man must have rolled onto the beach shouting, “I’m free! I’m free!” He probably danced as he pulled the seaweed from his hair—because he was already at the altar of thanksgiving!

 

When you have no place to turn, turn to thanksgiving. Thank the Lord for his forgiveness—for releasing you from all past sins. Thank him for delivering you from the teeth of the lion…for giving you a new home in glory…for all his past blessings, for all his promises, for all that he is going to do. In everything, give thanks!

 

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High” (Psalm 92:1).

 

“Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50: 14-15).

Friday, August 14, 2009

ABOVE ALL THAT WE ASK FOR OR THINK

God always desires to pour out more of his glory on his people. He longs to do for us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). This is why he wants a people who have a ravenous appetite for more of him. He wants to fill them with his awesome presence, beyond anything they’ve experienced in their lifetime.

 

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Yet, to obtain this abundant life, we must abound more and more in pleasing the Lord. Paul writes, “We…exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

 

The Greek word for abound means “to exceed, excel, super-abound—to have enough and to spare, over and above, excessive, exceeding abundantly above, beyond measure.” Paul is saying, “God’s glory in your life is going to exceed the little moments you’ve gotten up till now. But your prayers have to be more than just asking a blessing over your meals.”

 

“So walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6–7). Paul is instructing us, “To have this abundant life of God’s glory and presence, you must serve him above measure—with a love and commitment exceeding that of lazy, slumbering servants.”

 

“Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:8). God wants to mete out to you glory and revelation beyond any previous measure. “Having made known unto us the measure of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself (1:9). The Lord is saying, “I’m going to open to you a deeper understanding of my Word. I want to give you revelations of its mysteries.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I AM

I asked the Holy Spirit to give me a one-paragraph description of faith so that the boys in our Teen Challenge drug center could understand it. I have a book in my library that uses over three hundred pages to define faith, and I never understood it. (I don’t think the man who wrote it understood it either.)

 

Moses once asked the same questions we ask: “Who am I?—Who is God?—Describe him.” God answered Moses in two words. God said, “Moses, tell the people, ‘I AM’ sent you” (see Exodus 3:14). (According to modern thinking, God oversimplified himself.)

 

Can you imagine Moses telling people when they ask, “Who sent you?” that “I AM sent me”?

 

I AM who? What do you need?  Deliverance? Then I AM deliverance. I AM whatever you need. 

 

Faith is God saying, “I AM” and my answering, “HE IS.” Faith simply accepts God’s description of himself. God says, “I am delivering you from the storm.” I say, “He is delivering me from the storm.”

 

Faith is taking God at what he says HE IS.

 

What is the storm in your life? How do you face it?

 

Ask him to give you faith to believe. Ask him no matter what happens—no matter what conditions you face. The storm is the way out!

 

Paul said, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). I believe that the moment faith gripped Paul, he was content. He was in the center of God’s will and he had the promise of God. He had prayed through. It didn’t matter what happened from that moment on. God had taken the sting out of the storm.

 

He can take the fear out of the storm for you, too. Will you let him? Ride out your storm—God is not about to let you go under.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

OUR MINISTRY

“We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). What does it mean to behold the Lord’s glory? Paul is speaking here of devoted, focused worship. It’s time that’s given to God simply to behold him. And the apostle quickly adds, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry” (4:1). Paul makes it clear that beholding the face of Christ is a ministry we all must devote ourselves to.

 

The Greek word for beholding in this verse is a very strong expression. It indicates not just taking a look, but “fixing the gaze.” It means deciding, “I won’t move from this position. Before I do anything else, before I try to accomplish a single thing, I must be in God’s presence.” 

 

Many Christians misinterpret the phrase “beholding as in a glass” (3:18). They think of a mirror, with Jesus’ face being reflected back to them. But that isn’t Paul’s meaning here. He’s speaking of an intensely focused gaze, as if peering at something earnestly through a glass, trying to see it more clearly. We’re to “fix our eyes” this way, determined to see God’s glory in the face of Christ. We’re to shut ourselves in the Holy of Holies, with but one obsession: to gaze so intently, and to commune with such devotion, that we’re changed.

 

The Greek word for changed here is “metamorphosed,” meaning “changed, transformed, transfigured.” Everyone who goes often into the Holy of Holies and fixes his gaze intently on Christ is being metamorphosed. A transfiguration is taking place. That person is continually being changed into the likeness and character of Jesus.

 

Maybe you come often into the Lord’s presence. Yet you may not feel yourself changing as you spend time shut in with him. I tell you, you can know a metamorphosis is taking place. Something is surely happening, because no one can continually behold the glory of Christ without being transformed. Note the last phrase in Paul’s statement: “We all…are changed unto the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (3:18 italics mine). Now note the preceding verse: “The Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (3:17).

 

Do you see what Paul is saying here? He’s telling us, “When you’re beholding the face of Christ, there is freedom to be changed.” By being in his presence, we give the Spirit liberty to govern our lives, to do with us as he would. It’s an act of submission that says, “Lord, my will is yours. Whatever it takes, transform me into the image of Jesus.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

PLANT A TREE

God has not promised to keep his children from suffering. He has not promised to keep us from facing an hour of need. We have no promise of world peace, tranquility, security or continuous financial well-being. We are promised peace and security of soul and mind—the supernatural provision for every true need—and assurance that we would never have to beg for bread. God would rather we come to the place Paul the apostle came to when he said, “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8).

 

The future looks evil and foreboding. But David said in Psalm 23, “I will fear no evil.” This is the message for believers today. The future is also under his control, so we need not fear. God has it all preprogrammed. He knows the exact moment Christ will return. The God who controls all of heaven and earth said: “The nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance…All nations before him are as nothing…less than nothing” (Isaiah 40:15, 17).

 

God wants us to keep working until the return of Christ. That means simply that we are to work as though the end will never come, and live as though it were coming tomorrow. The great evangelist D.L. Moody was asked, “What would you do today if you knew Jesus Christ was coming tomorrow?” His answer came, “I would plant a tree.” So let it be. Let the true Christian go about planting and sowing God’s seed and keeping busy doing God’s work. When he returns, let him find us “doing his will.”

 

God is still counting the very hairs on our heads. He is still counting the sparrows that fall. He is still hearing petitions before they are asked. He is still answering before being called. He is still giving abundantly more than we can ask or think. So why be afraid?

Monday, August 10, 2009

DAVID’S SURPISING ADMISSION

After exalting God’s Word at length, David concludes Psalm 119 with this verse: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant” (verse 176).

 

David is saying, in essence, “Please, Lord, seek me out, the way a shepherd searches for a lost sheep. In spite of all my biblical knowledge, preaching, and long history with you, somehow I’ve strayed from your love. I’ve lost the sense of rest I once had in you. All my plans have failed. And now I realize I’m totally helpless. Come to me, Father. Seek me out in this awful, dry place. I can’t find you on my own. You must find me. I still believe your Word is true.”

 

David knew he’d strayed from God’s rest. He knew the Lord’s love should have been imprinted on his heart during his previous crises. But now, once again, he had forgotten about God’s love for him. So he cried out to the Lord, begging him to seek out his lost servant.

 

Now the shepherd had come after David again. And as David heard his name called, his heart was comforted. He realized, “My shepherd knows me by name.” David found himself being led down the hill into the green valley. And once he reached the green pasture below, Jehovah Rohi (the Lord my Shepherd) said to him, “Lie down now. Go to sleep, and rest your weary soul. Don’t worry—I’ll be at work, taking care of everything.”

 

It’s important to note here that David’s circumstances hadn’t changed. In fact, Scripture says the enemies who troubled David had increased (Psalm 3:1). But David had been restored to God’s love. Now he could say, “Salvation (deliverance) belongeth to the Lord” (3:8). He testified, “No more self-made plans. No more sleepless nights, trying to work things out. I eagerly enter into my shepherd’s love. I welcome his open arms toward me.  And I’m going to lie down in his rest. I am going to sleep peacefully in his unconditional love for me.”

Friday, August 7, 2009

THE GUIDING HOLY SPIRIT

When Scripture says the Holy Spirit “abides” in us, it means God’s Spirit comes in and possesses our bodies, making it his temple. And because the Holy Spirit knows the mind and voice of the Father, he speaks God’s thoughts to us: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is the voice of God in and to us!

 

If you have the Holy Spirit abiding in you, he will instruct you personally. Please know he doesn’t speak only to pastors, prophets and teachers, but to all followers of Jesus. This is evident all through the New Testament, as the Holy Spirit led and guided his people, constantly saying to them, “Go here, go there…enter this town…anoint that person….” The early believers were led everywhere and in everything by the Holy Ghost!

 

And the Spirit never speaks a single word contrary to the Scriptures. Instead, he uses the Scriptures to speak clearly to us. He never gives us a “new revelation” apart from God’s Word. He opens up to us his revealed Word, to lead, guide and comfort us, and to show us things to come.

 

I am convinced God speaks only to those who, like Moses, “come and stand by him.” This means we have to spend quality time with the Lord daily—waiting on him to open our hearts fully to hear his voice, not being rushed in his presence, believing he loves to speak to us. He won’t keep anything from us—and he’ll never allow us to be deceived or left in confusion. Even in the most difficult times, we’ll enjoy a time of great rejoicing—because he will reveal himself to us as never before.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JOY?

The Holy Spirit yearns to bring God’s people back to serving the Lord with joy and gladness. How grieved heaven must be to witness the wet blanket of despair and sadness that has fallen upon multitudes of believers.

 

The Psalmist declared, “Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15).

 

Isaiah said, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).

 

When the Holy Spirit began to deal with me on the matter of serving him with joy, I had a difficult time facing the seriousness of the subject. I did not fully understand God’s attitude. I wondered how important it could be compared to all the heartbreaking problems in the world today.

 

Few Christians have the knowledge of the truth about liberty and the life-freeing sacrifice at Calvary! They have never allowed the cross to set them free from all fear and bondage. We cannot rejoice and be exceedingly glad in our relationship with the Lord when we have a poor or limited knowledge of what happened at the cross.

 

You need not understand all the doctrines of atonement, reconciliation, propitiation, grace, sanctification, etc. All you need to know in order to live joyfully unto the Lord is this one foundational truth: GOD WAS COMPLETELY SATISFIED WITH CHRIST’S SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS!

 

It was all that was needed! God now willingly—joyfully—forgives all who repent.

 

To not rejoice in Christ’s forgiveness is to doubt his full payment of our sins! Let the Spirit give you an understanding of this truth—we are called to liberty. God wants us to have an abundance of joy, a joy that is full and complete. Pressed down and running over!

 

God’s Word makes it perfectly clear that he yearns to be enjoyed by his saints.

 

“That they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves…” (John 17:13).

 

“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

GO AHEAD AND CRY!

When you hurt the worst, go to your secret prayer closet and weep out all your bitterness. Jesus wept. Peter carried with him the hurt of denying the very Son of God and he wept bitterly! He walked alone on the mountains, weeping in sorrow. Those bitter tears worked a sweet miracle in him and he came back to shake the kingdom of Satan.

 

Years ago a woman who had endured a mastectomy wrote a book entitled First You Cry. How true! Recently I talked with a friend who was just informed he had terminal cancer. “The first thing you do,” he said, “is cry until there are no more tears left. Then you begin to move closer to Jesus, until you know his arms are holding you tight.”

 

Jesus never looks away from a crying heart. He said, “A broken heart will I not despise” (see Psalm 51:17). Not once will the Lord say, “Get hold of yourself! Stand up and take your medicine! Grit your teeth and dry your tears.” No! Jesus bottles every tear in his eternal container.

 

Do you hurt? Then go ahead and cry. And keep on crying until the tears stop flowing. But let those tears originate only from hurt, not from unbelief or self-pity.

 

Encourage yourself in the Lord. When the fog surrounds you and you can’t see any way out of your dilemma, lie back in the arms of Jesus and simply trust him. He has to do it all! He wants your faith, your confidence. He wants you to cry aloud, “Jesus loves me! He is with me! He will not fail me! He is working it all out, right now! I will not be cast down! I will not be defeated! I will not become a victim of Satan! I will not lose my mind or my direction! God is on my side! I love him and he loves me!”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

LORD, WALK ME HOME!

As we read in Daniel 3:15–16, the three Hebrew men went into the fire with their bodies already dead to the world.  They were able to offer their bodies joyfully, as living sacrifices. And Jesus literally met them in their crisis!

 

What do you think they said to Jesus when he showed up in the furnace? “Thank you for not letting us feel the pain. Thank you for giving us another chance—for a few more years!”

 

No—never! I believe they said, “Lord, take us with you! Don’t leave us here. We have touched the ecstasy, the glory—and we don’t want to go back! Walk us home to be with you.” They would have preferred to be with him! Jesus knows this kind of heart—and it is to such that he commits himself.

 

Are you able to say, “Lord, walk me home”?  Perhaps you’ve never learned to commit your body, your business, your marriage, your crisis into God’s hands. Yes, we are always to pray in faith, believing that God will answer; yet we are to trust him completely with our situation, saying in our hearts, “But if not, Lord—I’m still going to trust you!”

 

 “Lord, you are able to deliver me from this fiery furnace. But if not, I will still believe! Even if I have to go on in this horrible trial—if I have to face more suffering, more testing—I commit everything to you. Just come and walk through it with me!” Can you pray this prayer? 

 

I promise you—Jesus Christ will come into your crisis. He will take you by your hand and lead you through the fire! 

 

I consider the coming of Christ into my crisis to be the greatest possible answer to prayer, because when he comes, his presence lifts me above all my pain, all my hurt, all my confusion. When Jesus appears at your side, he takes you by the hand and makes you stand strong.