Friday, April 30, 2010

BE YE HOLY

Three months after Israel left Egypt, they arrived at the base of Mt. Sinai and set up camp. Moses climbed that rugged mountain to commune with the Lord and God called to him: “I am going to come to you in the form of a dark cloud, so that the people themselves can hear me when I talk to you. Then they will always believe you. Go down and get the people ready for my visit—sanctify them.”

On the morning of the third day there was an awesome thunder and lightning storm, and a huge cloud came down upon the mountain. Mt. Sinai was completely covered with smoke because Jehovah descended upon it in the form of fire. The whole mountain shook with a violent earthquake and as the trumpet blast grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God spoke his reply with a forceful voice (see Exodus 19:9-19).

God thundered to Moses and his chosen people: "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation..." (Exodus 19:6).

An earthshaking prophecy recorded in Hebrews is about to be revealed at this time. God has promised to speak once more—just as he did at Mt. Sinai.

"Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven" (Hebrews 12:26).

"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven" (Hebrews 12:25).

Once again God is speaking from heaven with the same message that he spoke in Moses' day. Our God is even now thundering this awesome command. "Be ye holy—even as I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16).

How do we stay holy in this wicked age? Who can keep himself from being contaminated by it all? No one—in his own strength, that is. Only God has the power to keep us holy—to present us to himself a holy people without spot or wrinkle.

The God who gives us his holiness has the power to keep us in it! The safest place on earth is at the foot of the cross, humbled before God’s throne. The more wicked the times, the more we need to stay yielded to him!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

GOD’S PROMISED REST

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:9-10).

You may wonder, “What does it mean to enter this promised rest? What should it look like in my life?” I pray that God will remove the scales from our eyes and allow us to grasp this. Simply put, entering into his promised rest means fully trusting that Christ has done all the work of salvation for you. You’re to rest in his saving grace, by faith alone.

This is what Jesus means when he urges, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It means the end of all your fleshly striving, all your human efforts to obtain peace. And it means relying totally on Jesus’ work for you.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood. It takes place in the spiritual realm. The Old Testament makes this crystal clear. Time after time, Israel made empty, futile promises to God: “We want to serve you, Lord. We’ll do whatever you command us.” But history proves they had neither the heart nor the ability to follow through on their word. God had to strip them of all faith in themselves. Everything we need is to come from our precious Lord’s presence.

Paul states, “In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This speaks of uninterrupted fellowship. Through the victory of the cross, our Lord has made himself available to us every hour of the day or night. We have to make a decision: “I want Christ in my life. I want to be set free from all flesh. So I’m going to move forward, into his presence and claim my possession. I want Jesus to be my all, my only source of satisfaction.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WILL MY PRAYERS EVER BE ANSWERED?

I believe in Holy Ghost timing. In God’s own time, all our prayers will be answered—one way or another—but the trouble is, we are afraid to submit our prayers to Holy Ghost scrutiny. Some of our prayers need to be purged because often our faith is misspent on requests that are not mature. We do not know how to pray, “Thy will be done.” We don’t want his will as much as those things permitted by his will.

Abraham exercised his faith to keep reminding himself he was a stranger on this earth. His blessing pact produced only a tent to dwell in, because he put all his faith in that city whose builder and maker is God.

Were some of these faith warriors not living in faith? Did God refuse to answer some of their prayers? After all, not all of them were delivered and not all lived to see answers to their payers. Not all were spared pain, suffering and even death. Some were tortured; others were torn asunder, wandering about destitute, afflicted, and tormented (Hebrews 11:36-38).

Some who had a reputation for having great faith “received not the promise” (Hebrews 11:39). Those who did “obtain promises” used their faith to work righteousness, to gain strength in times of weakness, and to put the enemy to flight.

Don’t worry about whether God is saying “Yes” or “No” to your request. Don’t be downcast when the answer is not in sight and, please, quit concentrating on faith formulas and methods. Just commit every prayer to Jesus and go about your business with confidence. He will not be one moment early or late in answering, and if the answer you seek is not forthcoming, say to your heart, “He is all I need. If I need more, he will not withhold it. He will answer in his time and in his way. And if he does not fulfill my request, he must have a perfect reason for not doing so. No matter what happens, I will always have faith in his faithfulness.”

God forgive us if we are more concerned about getting prayers answered than in learning total submission to Christ himself. We do not learn obedience by the things we obtain but by the things we suffer. Are you willing to learn by suffering a little longer with what appears to be an unanswered prayer? Will you rest in his love while patiently waiting for the promise?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

THE TRUE MEANING OF THE PROMISED LAND

God gave our forefather Abraham the land of Canaan “for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8). In Hebrew, the word everlasting means never-ending. You might think, “Abraham had to rejoice over this. God promised his descendants a permanent homeland, as far as they could see, and it would last into eternity.” However, the New Testament tells us the world will be destroyed by fire, burnt completely out of existence, after which the Lord will bring about a new heaven and earth.

You may wonder: How could God’s “everlasting possession” to Abraham be a mere piece of real estate? How could it be eternal? The fact is, this land of promise was symbolic of a place beyond the earth. I believe Abraham knew this in his spirit. The Bible says that as Abraham moved about in Canaan, he always felt alien: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country” (Hebrews 11:9). Why was this so? It was because Abraham’s heart longed for something beyond the land itself.

“He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham could see the true significance of the land blessing and he realized, “This place isn’t the real possession. It’s just an illustrated sermon of the great blessing to come.” Abraham grasped the true meaning of the Promised Land; he knew Canaan represented the coming Messiah. Jesus himself tells us, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).

The Holy Spirit enabled this patriarch to see down through the years, to the day of Christ. He knew that the meaning of his Promised Land meant a place of total peace and rest. And, as Abraham knew, this place of rest is Jesus Christ himself. That’s right, the Lord Jesus is our promised possession. We are his, but he is ours as well. And God invites us to obtain our everlasting possession by simple faith.

Monday, April 26, 2010

THE 7,000 CLUB

Elijah, that great prophet of holiness and righteousness, had become disheartened by the moral landslide his nation was experiencing and had fled from the threats of Jezebel, the wicked wife of King Ahab. God found him hiding in a cave on Mount Horeb and asked, "Elijah, what are you doing here, hiding?"

With indignation, Elijah replied, "God, I've been jealous for your glory, but your people have forsaken your Word; your altars have been broken down; your ministers have been persecuted. I'm the only one left—and now they're out to get me, too."

To all outward appearances, Elijah had a good argument. The government was the most wicked and vile in all history and his society was nearing a collapse. The Bible says, "Ahab made a grove [pagan shrines for pleasure]; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him" (1 Kings 16:33). The government was actually forcing the nation into idolatry. Jezebel, the most wicked queen to ever share the throne, was a God-hating woman, bent on killing every follower of Jehovah.

Elijah was determined to "hold out to the end." If the whole nation forsook God, he would stay true! But God was not about to congratulate this hiding prophet, because at that very moment, the Holy Spirit was moving throughout the land. Elisha, Elijah’s eventual successor, was feeling the first stirrings of God's hand upon him and Jehu, a powerful young revolutionary, was chomping at the bit, waiting anxiously to declare war on the corruption and godlessness in the land. A great moral awakening was about to happen, and God would soon fling Jezebel to the dogs and overthrow the wicked rulers.

Elijah was most emphatically informed by God, "I have 7,000 who have not compromised and given in to the wickedness around them. They have not been seduced—they are Mine!" God was trying to tell Elijah that he had his people stationed in key positions, all across the nation, believers standing tall and true in spite of the corruption around them.

God has been encouraging me to open my eyes to the great calling out of saints that is now taking place in this, our own time. God said to Elijah, "Thousands have not bowed." To us, I believe He is saying, "Millions have not bowed!"

Glory be to God, we are not a tiny remnant! We are an army, a blood-washed multitude, in every walk of life, unbending and uncompromising in an age gone crazy. Satan would like God's people to think their numbers are dwindling fast; he wants true believers to think the majority have already defected to his camp, so that fear would drive them into hiding. Don't believe the lies of Satan! God is still at work, pouring out his Holy Spirit and drawing hungry hearts to himself.

Friday, April 23, 2010

OUT OF THE DARKNESS INTO THE LIGHT

What is it going to take to get us out of our miserable lives of guilt, fear and depression? What will it take to make us see there is a far more glorious life awaiting us?

Paul said, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12).

Do you want this glorious, liberated life? Do you now believe it is your inheritance? Do you now believe God wants desperately for you to have it? Then accept it by faith and move into it! Claim it as your own! Paul says, "Haven't you suffered enough? Haven't you learned your lesson yet?" In other words, "Aren't you sick and tired of living a life of fear and mental torture? Haven't you yet learned there is a better way?"

"The just shall live by faith"(Galatians 3:11). You simply put your faith in what God said he would do for you. This liberated life of righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Ghost is a gift. You can't work for it.

The greatest joy of all is knowing you are no longer "guilty" before God. It is the joy of knowing your faith makes you right before him.

"Blessed and happy and to be envied are those…whose sins are covered up and completely buried. Blessed and happy and to be envied is the person of whose sin the Lord will take no account nor reckon it against him” (Romans 4:7-8 Amp.).

Abraham became the father of nations simply because he took God at his Word. He could have doubted and lost everything.

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able to perform…. Now it was not written for his sake alone…but for us also…if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Romans 4:20-24).

We believe him to forgive us in order to save us; we must believe that he will keep us. The power that saves us keeps us! The faith that brought Christ into our lives keeps us from falling.

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1-2).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

CALLED FROM BEFORE CREATION

The apostle Paul says of God, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Every person who is “in Christ” is called by the Lord. And we all have the same mandate: to hear God’s voice, to proclaim his Word, to never fear man, and to trust the Lord in the face of every conceivable trial.

Indeed, God made this promise to his prophet Jeremiah when he called him (see Jeremiah 1:1-10). Like Jeremiah, we don’t need to have a message prepared to speak before the world. He has pledged to fill our mouths with his Word, at the exact moment it’s needed. But that will happen only if we trust him.

Paul tells us that many are appointed as preachers, teachers and apostles, and that they are all going to suffer for that reason. He counts himself among those: “I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things” (2 Timothy 1:11-12). He was saying, “God has given me a holy work to do. And because I have that calling, I am going to suffer.”

Scripture shows that Paul was tested as few ministers have ever been. Satan tried to kill him time after time. The so-called religious crowd rejected and ridiculed him. At times even those who supported him left him abused and forsaken.

But Paul was never confounded before men. He was never dismayed or put to shame before the world. And Paul never did burn out. On every occasion, he had an anointed word to speak from God, just when it was needed.

The fact is, Paul simply wouldn’t be shaken. He never did lose his trust in the Lord. Instead, he testified, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). He is saying, “I have committed my life fully to the Lord’s faithfulness. Live or die, I am his.” And he urged his young charge Timothy to do likewise: “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (1:13).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

THE SAME FAITH

Isn't it shocking that the children of Israel believed God could get them out of Egypt, but they couldn't believe he could get them into the Promised Land? They had survived ten supernatural plagues. They watched in horror as death claimed all the firstborn children in Egypt, and yet not one of them died. They had witnessed the unbelievable sight of a sea piling up on both sides to open a dry passage right through it—and they walked through the sea! Then they watched in amazement as the sea fell in on Pharaoh and his army, drowning them.

"Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore…and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord" (Exodus 14:30-31).

How excited Israel was! They were now saved! The old life was gone and new life was theirs. They danced for joy, filled with anticipation of a glorious new life in a land of beauty and rest.

"Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance…which thou hast made for thee to dwell in…" (Exodus 15:17).

Only six weeks later, the people were down in the pit of despair! They were miserable, troubled, fearful and complaining. They had forgotten all about God's miraculous power.

"On the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt…the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses.... Would to God we had died in the land of Egypt…” (Exodus 16:1-3).

In the months ahead, these same people doubted God on ten different occasions.

Jesus said, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

God wants to give me a kingdom? Where is it?

"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation [visibly].... The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20, 21). It is something you possess in your inner man. It is a liberated life!

"For the kingdom of God is not meat or drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

WALK AS A NEW MAN

You know the story. A young man took his portion of his father’s inheritance and squandered it on riotous living. He ended up broken, ruined in health and spirit, and at his lowest point he decided to return to his father. Scripture tells us, “He arose, and came to his father. But when he 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).

Note that nothing hindered this father’s forgiveness of the young man. There was nothing this boy had to do—not even confess his sins—because the father had already made provision for reconciliation. Indeed, it happened all by the father’s initiative; he ran to his son and embraced him as soon as he saw the boy coming up the road. The truth is, forgiveness is never a problem for any loving father. Likewise, it’s never a problem with our heavenly Father when he sees a repentant child.

So forgiveness simply is not the issue in this parable. In fact, Jesus makes it clear that it wasn’t enough for this prodigal merely to be forgiven. The father didn’t embrace his son just to forgive him and let him go his way. No, that father yearned for more than just his son’s restoration. He wanted his child’s company, his presence, communion.

Even though the prodigal was forgiven and in favor once more, he still wasn’t settled in his father’s house. Only then would the father be satisfied, his joy fulfilled when his son was brought into his company. That is the issue in this parable.

Here the story gets very interesting. The son clearly was not at ease with his father’s forgiveness. That’s why he hesitated to enter his father’s house. He told him, in essence, “If you only knew what I’ve done, all the filthy, ungodly things. I’ve sinned against God and against your love and grace. I just don’t deserve your love. You have every right to cut me off.”

Note how the father responds to his son. He utters not a single word of reproof. There is no reference to what the prodigal had done, no mention of his rebellion, his foolishness, his profligate living, his spiritual bankruptcy. In fact, the father didn’t even acknowledge his son’s attempts to stay outside, unworthy. He ignored them! Why?

In the father’s eyes, the old boy was dead. That son was out of his thoughts completely. Now, in the father’s eyes, this son who had returned home was a new man. And his past would never be brought up again. The father was saying, “As far as I’m concerned, the old you is dead. Now, walk with me as a new man. No need for you to live under guilt. The sin problem is settled. Now, come boldly into my presence and partake of my mercy and grace.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

THE LIBERATED LIFE

Centuries before Christ was born, Isaiah prophesied that God would send a deliverer who would liberate mankind. Jesus himself stood in a Jewish synagogue one Sabbath and reminded the world of this prophecy:

"And when he had opened the book, [Jesus] found the place where it was written [by Isaiah], The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised... This day is the scripture fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:17-21).

Jesus was telling the whole world, "My mission on earth is to liberate every bruised life." To liberate means to set free from all bondage; to release from all slavery; to do away with everything that oppresses. If you believe Christ is telling the truth, then you must believe he is saying to you and me, "I am sent to liberate your life, to release you from all oppression and bondage. I come to set your spirit free."

Paul also preached that Christ came to call every believer to a liberated life. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1)

Paul preached about "the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21).

If Christ came to liberate us from a miserable life, why do we go on living the same old miserable way? We think a life totally free of fear and guilt is too incredible. We cannot imagine life with 24-hour-a-day rest and peace—life without a heavy burden of condemnation or depression—life in the presence of a loving, gentle Savior who cares about all our needs.

This may sound too good to be true but this is exactly the kind of liberated life Christ wants every one of his children to enjoy. Not just a few of his children—but all! This life is not just for those who break some kind of theological code, but it is for all who simply trust him for it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

THE TRUTH ABOUT FAITH

Suppose one of my sons is caught in a bear trap in the woods and lies hurt and bleeding, crying for help.

As his father, do I stop to analyze the quality of his faith? Do I ask myself the question, “Does my son have enough faith in me to trust that I'll come to his rescue?”

No! A thousand times no! I run to my boy's side—no questions asked—no faith involved—because I am motivated by a father's love for a hurting child. His faith doesn't motivate me. It is not anything he does at all; it is simply my love for him.

What kind of an earthly father would leave a child bleeding and hurt in some forsaken woods simply because the child didn't voice some kind of faith in him? And God will never leave one of his children to suffer alone. He will never shut his ear to their cries simply because their faith in him is weak.

"If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself" (2 Timothy 2:13).

My faith, your faith, all faith must rest on the lovingkindness and concern of our heavenly Father. We are commanded to glory in the love and everlasting kindness of our Father.

"But let him who glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight…” (Jeremiah 9:24).

God so loves his children, he hears before they call, like a mother who anticipates her baby's cry. That is why David prayed, "Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, quicken me and give me life according to your [righteous] decrees" (Psalm 119:149 Amp.).

He loves me and comes to my rescue when my faith is weak, when I don't deserve any answer from him, all because of his tenderness and kindness.

"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy" (Psalm 103:8).

The greatest peace has flooded my life since I have convinced myself that God loves me. So much so, he will come to my rescue and do what is right in every situation of my life. Weak faith or not, he still loves me and nothing can hinder that love.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

INTO ARABIA

If I seek to please man, I simply cannot be a servant of Christ. If my heart is motivated by the approval of others—if that’s my mindset, influencing the way I live—my loyalties will be divided. I’ll always be striving to please someone other than Jesus.

A few years after the apostle Paul was converted, he went to the church in Jerusalem to try and join the disciples there. “But they were…afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26).

The apostles knew Paul’s reputation as a persecutor. “[I] was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed” (Galatians 1:22-23).

Barnabas helped the apostles get over their fear of Paul, and they offered him fellowship. But Paul decided to itinerate among the Gentiles. Indeed, Paul is careful to describe his calling very clearly. He states that it came “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (1:1).

He then adds emphatically: “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I nether received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ…. I conferred not with flesh and blood” (1:11-12, 16).

What Paul is saying here applies to all who desire to have the mind of Christ: “I didn’t have to read books or borrow men’s methods to get what I have. I received my message, my ministry and my anointing on my knees.” In Galatians 1:17, Paul points out that, “I went into Arabia.” He’s saying, in other words: “I didn’t get my revelation of Christ from the saints in Jerusalem. Instead, I went into Arabia, to the desert, to have Christ revealed to me. I spent precious time there, being emptied of self, hearing and being taught by the Holy Spirit.”

Paul was not some proud, arrogant, lone-ranger preacher. We know he had a servant’s heart. He had emptied himself of selfish ambition, and had found total satisfaction in Christ.

When your mind is set on pleasing Christ, you will never need the applause and approval of men.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A SPECIAL WORD FOR SOMEBODY ON THE VERGE OF GIVING UP

Today, I was impressed to speak to those who are emotionally and intellectually bending beneath a burden too heavy to bear.

The promises of God do not seem to be working for you or your family. You have tried to please God, you pray — you truly love Him — but you are right now at the end of your strength and endurance.

Your trials increase as you hold on to your faith. It seems to you God is silent toward you.

BELOVED, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Multitudes of godly people are suffering in like manner and Satan whispers — God’s word is not true! We know that is the devourer speaking. Don’t fear the powers of hell.

Go to Job 19 - read the whole chapter. Job said “I cry, but I am not heard…God has fenced me in…He has put darkness in my path…He has destroyed me on every side…He counts me as one of His enemies…” (19:7-11).

In the midst of this satanic attack - Job cries out-“For I know my redeemer lives, and he shall stand upon the earth…and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God…with my own eyes shall I behold Him…” (19:25-27)

God said “Ephraim is given to idols, leave him alone” (Hosea 4:17). No trials, no tests for that tribe. But you are not given to idols. You are still the apple of His eye. God sees something in you worth working on.

God chastens those He loves. It is not pleasant, and it hurts - but it is the Father saving us for His own glory to be revealed in years ahead.

He has never loved you more than now. Take heart - God is still speaking to you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

IN THE SECRET PLACE

The Holy Ghost came to a godly man living in Damascus named Ananias. The Spirit instructed Ananias to go to Judas’ house on Straight Street, lay hands on Saul and restore his sight.

Of course, Ananias knew of Saul’s reputation and he realized this was going to be dangerous. Yet, here is how the Holy Spirit recommended Saul to Ananias: “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9:11).

The Lord was saying, in essence, “Ananias, you will find this man on his knees. He knows you are coming. He even knows your name, and why you’re being sent to him. He wants his eyes opened.”

When did Saul receive this inner knowing? How did he receive this vision, this pure word from God? It came through fervent prayer and supplication. In fact, I believe the Spirit’s words to Ananias reveal what moved God’s heart about Saul: “Behold, he prayeth.”

Saul had been shut in with God for three days, refusing all food and water. All he wanted was the Lord. So he continued on his knees all that time, praying and seeking God.

When I was growing up, my preacher father taught me, “God always makes a way for a praying man.” There have been periods in my life when the Lord has provided indisputable evidence of this. I was called to preach at eight years of age, when the Holy Spirit came upon me. I wept and prayed, crying out, “Fill me, Lord Jesus.” Later as a teenager I prayed until the Spirit came upon me in divine intensity.

As a young pastor a deep hunger rose up in me that caused me to pray diligently. Something in my heart told me, “There’s more to serving Jesus than what I am doing.” So I spent months on my knees—weeping and praying for hours at a time—when finally the Lord called me to go to New York City to minister to gangs and drug addicts.

I was also on my knees twenty years ago, seeking God with tears and loud crying, when he called me back to New York to start a church in Times Square.

If I have ever heard from God—if I have any revelation of Christ, any measure of the mind of Christ—it came not through Bible study alone. It came through prayer. It came from seeking God in the secret place.

Monday, April 12, 2010

THE WAY UP

I have known of great Christians who have experienced a trial so dark and deep that life itself seemed almost not worth living. In his very darkest hour, Jeremiah discovered a glorious truth that brought new hope and assurance to his mind. It was something he already knew about God, but it didn't touch his soul until he came to the end of himself. He discovered that at the very bottom, God was there! The farther down he went, the more God was to be discovered. God was not to be discovered up there in some blissful soaring into untroubled skies, but in the shadows of grief and despair. When Jeremiah hit bottom, he bumped into God! He fell hard against the faithfulness of a compassionate God. Listen to his discovery:

"God is a God of compassion...his compassions for me cannot fail.... They are new every morning...great is his faithfulness..." (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Little by little, Jeremiah came to realize great truths that can only be discovered by those who are down.

1. When I am at the very lowest point; when troubles flow over my heart like water, and I say, "I am cut off," God draws near and whispers, "Do not fear!" (Lamentations 3:54-57).

2. When God seems to have "covered himself with a cloud, so that my prayers could not pass through," he will still see my oppression and will “judge my case” (Lamentations 3:44, 59).

3. If the Lord allows grief and sorrow, he will at the same time uphold me with abundant compassion and love (Lamentations 3:32).

4. God is not against me, trying to crush me under his foot when I'm down like a prisoner in trouble (Lamentations 3:34).

5. God is not trying to sabotage any of my plans; he is not causing my confusion; he is not working against me (Lamentations 3:35-36).

6. Even in my despair and bitterness, when I hated to face a new day, his compassion failed not. His mercies were waiting for me, new each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

7. Because God is always faithful, he will not cast me off. He will do right by me and save me (Lamentations 3:25-26).

8. When I am at my lowest, I have nowhere to turn but to God, so I will lift up my heart and my hands, and thank him for his faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:40-41).

9. Being down has spent my strength and hope. I am left empty and humbled, so now I depend totally on his mercies! (Lamentations 3:18, 20-22).

Friday, April 9, 2010

HATE LIFE TO FIND IT!

“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25).

The key to abundant life is right here in this seemingly insignificant and confusing statement. This is his challenge to our small world! Understanding what he means here is the door to a life-giving revelation. Jesus also said: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).

Certainly Christ cannot mean hate in terms of a classic dictionary interpretation: to loathe or detest; to dislike or reject. God's Word says, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer…" (1 John 3:15). "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them" (Colossians 3:19).

It is not life that is to be hated, because life is a gift from God. It is not people we hate; that is unscriptural.

We must learn to hate the way we are living life. We must hate what our preoccupation with families and loved ones has done to us. Is your life all wrapped up in just your children, husband, wife, or parents? Are all your joys and problems limited to this small circle?

God is simply calling on us to widen our circle of living. Life must be more than simply draperies, bills, kids' schooling, parents' welfare, family relationships. Martha was addicted to a life of trivia but Mary wanted to grow! Mary wanted to expand her horizons—and Jesus approved of Mary's approach to life.

You cannot grow until you hate your present immaturity. You don't have to forsake your duties and obligations to family and friends, but you can become so bound by duty that it stunts your growth. One day you must wake up. A holy anger, a holy hatred, must arise in your soul, and you must cry out, "Oh, God! I hate what I have become. I hate my temper tantrums. I hate how irritable I am at times. I hate my moodiness. I hate how small I have become. I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!" You must hate your present life so much that you cry out to God, “Lord, translate me into your glorious kingdom of power and victory!” (See Colossians 1:13)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

CONFESSING CHRIST

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).

The Greek word for confess in this passage means covenant, assent or agreement. Jesus is speaking of an agreement we have with him. Our part is to confess him, or represent him, in our daily lives. We are to live by his promises of protection and personal care for us. And we are to testify of his marvelous blessings by how we live.

Confessing Christ means more than believing in his divinity. It’s about more than stating he’s the Son of God, crucified, buried, resurrected and seated at the father’s right hand. The Bible says even demons believe this, and tremble at the knowledge. So, what does Jesus mean when he says we are to confess him before men?

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me…” (10:32, italics mine). By using the word therefore, Jesus is saying, in essence, “In light of what I’ve just said…,” or, “Because of what I’ve just told you…” What had Christ just told his listeners? He had said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father” (10:29). Jesus was telling them, “Think of the millions of birds throughout the earth. Now think of all the birds that have existed since Creation. To this day, not one bird has died or been snared without your heavenly Father knowing it.

Then he pointed out, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (10:30). Christ was emphasizing, “God is so great, he’s beyond your ability to comprehend. You’ll never be able to grasp how detailed his care for you is.”

Jesus concluded by saying, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” 10:31). He sums everything up by saying, “Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (10:32). He is saying, “Think about what I’ve just revealed to you about the Father’s all-seeing, all-knowing care. You’re to confess this truth to the whole world. You’re to live, breathe and testify, ‘God cares for me.’”

Believe in the Father’s love for you and accept his intimate care for you. And lay down all your fears and doubts. Live before men with the faith that God hasn’t overlooked you. Confess to everyone, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches over me.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

HE UNDERSTANDS COMPLETELY

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin, let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).

I take great comfort in knowing that my Savior understands my feelings. He relates to all I am experiencing. He truly understands every feeling and never condemns me for suffering attacks from the enemy. Instead, he tells me to hold on, and not to be afraid. He lets me know he too is familiar with this kind of struggle. Then he offers me a gracious audience at his throne, with a promise of mercy and grace in my hour of need. Whether my negative feelings have been a result of a physical or spiritual battle, our Lord offers comfort and help when most needed.

What does our Lord mean by this? He is encouraging all his dear children to quit fretting when under the influence of negative thoughts. No more accusing yourself of failure and wickedness. Despair and fear can be caused by sin—but not always. So don't just lie down and take it! Don't go to bed at night until you shut yourself in with him, approach his throne boldly, and claim the mercy and help he has so clearly promised. Claim mercy, forgiveness, and grace to expel all negative feelings. That is Christ's formula, not mine.

Having claimed victory, having used the authority of his name, having come to him with faith to lay hold of forgiveness and the promises, ride out your storm in a state of rest! Let God dissipate the negative feelings at his own pace.

"…after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise" (Hebrews 6:15).

"…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

You can lie down to sleep with this prayer on your lips: "Oh, Lord, I reject these negative feelings. I disown them. I don't know where they came from or how, but I commit them all to you. Give me a new assurance and take away all fear. Amen!"

"For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to help them that are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

FULL CONTROL

There is no formula for living wholly dependent upon the Lord. All I can offer to you is what God has been teaching me in this area. He has shown me two simple things about how I’m to give him full control.

First, I must be convinced the Lord is anxious and willing to make his will known to me, even in the smaller details of my life. I have to believe that the Spirit who abides in me knows God’s will for me, and that he will guide me, lead me and speak to me.

“When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-14).

Maybe right now you are in the midst of some affliction, perhaps one that has been caused by too quick a decision. Even so, the Lord promises you, “Your inner ear will hear my Spirit speaking to you, ‘Go that way. Do this. And don’t do that…’”

Secondly, we have to pray with unwavering faith for power to obey God’s direction. Scripture says, “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-7). When God tells us to do something, we need power to stay the course and obey him fully. Over five decades of life in ministry, I have learned that Satan and the flesh will always plant doubts and questions in my mind. And I need strength from heaven not to say “yes” to any situation when Jesus has said “no.”

Many of us pray, “Lord, I know what you told me. But I’m still not sure that was your voice speaking. I’m not sure I’m spiritual enough even to recognize your voice. Please, just open or close the door for me on this matter.”

That is not the faith response he’s looking for from his children. You can pray all you want, for hours or even days at a time. But if you don’t pray with faith—believing the Holy Spirit will guide you, as Jesus has promised—you will never have the mind of God conveyed to you. He waits until he sees you’re committed to accepting whatever he says, and to obeying it without question.

Monday, April 5, 2010

FEELINGS, THE MESSENGERS OF SATAN

I am so glad my feelings have no meaning. I am even more grateful they do not affect my salvation or my relationship to the Lord. When the enemy comes in like a flood, trying to drown me in depressing feelings and negative thoughts, I have a tendency to blame myself. I say to my heart, “Why am I cast down, O my soul? Why am I suddenly disquieted in spirit? Why so restless and irritable—when I don’t want to be? What evil thing have I done to deserve these negative, depressing feelings?”

My negative, blue feelings did not come from God so I don’t have to put up with them!

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

I can reject every negative feeling because I know not one of them is from God. Feelings that make one afraid are not sent from heaven, they are messengers from the pits of hell! They are to be rejected and bound through the power of prayer and faith.

God is saying to us, “I didn’t give you these feelings of fear and doubt. Instead, I’ve given you a spirit of love, power, and authority.” He calls us to abolish these unwanted thoughts, bringing them into captivity and obedience to himself. We dare not allow our feelings to master us. We dare not permit them to linger and grow into roots of bitterness and doubt. We must come against them in the name of Christ the Lord and cast them down. We are commanded to do so!

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Every downcast feeling is the fruit of a satanic seed of mistrust. It is the old serpent at work trying to make us question God’s faithfulness, question God’s care, question God! These lies are the seeds of negative feelings and God commands us to war against them.

Friday, April 2, 2010

GOD HAS NOT FORGOTTEN YOU

God has not forgotten you! He knows exactly where you are, what you are going through right now, and he is monitoring every step along your path. But we are just like the children of Israel who doubted God’s daily care for them, even though prophets were sent to deliver wonderful promises from heaven. We forget in our hour of need that God has us in the palm of his hand. Instead, like the children of Israel, we are afraid we are going to blow it all and be destroyed by the enemy.

Can it be that we continue in our hurting—continue living in defeat and failure—simply because we really do not believe God answers our prayers anymore?

Are we as guilty as the children of Israel in thinking God has forsaken us and given us over to our own devices to figure things out for ourselves? Do we really believe our Lord meant it when he said God will act just in time, in answer to our prayer of faith? Jesus implies that most of us, even though called and chosen, will not be trusting in him when he returns. Some of God’s people have already lost their confidence in him. They do not believe, in the deepest of their souls, that their prayers make any difference. They act as if they are all on their own.

Be honest now! Has your faith been weak lately? Have you almost given up on certain things you have prayed so much about? Have you grown weary with waiting? Maybe you have thrown up your hands in resignation as if to say, “I just can’t seem to break through. I don’t know what is wrong and why my prayer is not answered. Evidently God has said no to me.”

God has not forsaken me—nor you! A thousand times no! He is right now wanting us to believe he is working all things out for our good (Romans 8:28). So stop trying to figure it out; stop worrying; stop doubting your Lord! The answer is coming. God has not shut his ear and you will reap in due season if you faint not! “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

In this exhortation the apostle Paul is telling the people of God, “Let the mind that is in Christ—the very thinking of Jesus—be your thinking also. His mindset is the one we all are to seek.”

What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? Simply put, it means to think and act as Jesus did. It means making Christ-like decisions that determine how we are to live. It means bringing every faculty of our mind to bear on how we actually can have the mind of Christ.

Every time we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we’re to ask ourselves: “Does what I see about myself reflect the nature and thinking of Christ? Am I changing from image to image, conformed to Jesus’ very likeness by every experience that God brings into my life?”

According to Paul, here is the mindset of Christ. “[He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).

Jesus made a decision while he was still in heaven. He made an agreement with the Father to lay down his heavenly glory and come to earth as a man. He was going to descend to the world as a humble servant. And he would seek to minister rather than be ministered to.

For Christ, this meant saying, “I go to do your will, Father.” Indeed, Jesus determined ahead of time, “I am laying down my will in order to do yours, Father. I subjugate my will so that I may embrace yours. Everything I say and do has to come from you. I’m laying down everything to be totally dependent upon you.”

In turn, the Father’s agreement with the Son was to reveal his will to him. God said to him, in essence, “My will won’t ever be hidden from you. You will always know what I am doing. You will have my mind.”

When Paul states boldly, “I have the mind of Christ,” he is declaring, “I too have made myself of no reputation. Like Jesus, I have taken on the role of a servant.” And Paul asserts that the same can hold true for every believer: “We [all can] have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).