Monday, May 31, 2010

WHERE DO YOU TURN FOR ENCOURAGEMENT?

Where can you find Christians wholly devoted to the Lord who have an easy, trouble-free life? Show me a Spirit-led, God-filled, anointed servant of the Lord, and I'll show you one who is chased, chastened, often baffled, and familiar to deep waters and fiery furnaces.

Those who seek to avoid difficulties seldom get the revelation of God's fullness. They attempt to use faith to exempt themselves from crisis, not realizing they are robbing themselves of the greatest opportunity to find out what is really in them. Then one day when trouble can no longer be avoided, they cave in, having no proven source of inner strength.

Paul wrote, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16).

These days the Lord needs Christians who are not tossed about by every wind and wave of doctrine; who are not being made merchandise of; who have discernment and are not being deceived; who need no special teacher with some new revelation; who do not need a human shepherd to guide their every step; who do not have to depend on someone else for their happiness or spiritual strength—but who have been tested and tried and have proven that the very life of God is in them, providing grace and mercy to help in every need. Christ has been revealed not only to them, but in them. They are drawing on the strength of their inner man, according to the riches of His glory.

We can learn valuable lessons from King David's experience at Ziklag. "David encouraged himself in the Lord" (1 Samuel 30:6). It is imperative that we learn to encourage ourselves in the Lord because of the troubled times just ahead.

Brothers, sisters in Christ, I beseech you in the name of the Lord, to open your eyes to the mighty power of God at work in you, and to appropriate the fullness and completeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what fiery furnace we may be cast into, our supreme Lord will walk us through it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

SPECIAL REQUEST: PRAYER FOR REVIVAL IN NEW ENGLAND

I am requesting prayer for a spiritual awakening in New England. This burden for special prayer for revival began at our Bible school, Mount Zion International School of Ministry. The leadership was led by the Holy Spirit to begin prayer intercession in anticipation of a Holy Spirit outpouring.

New England is the birthplace of revivals in America. Now in sobering times, God has seen fit to place this prayer burden on many intercessors. Many are now sharing their heart cry, “Oh Lord, rend the heavens and come down. America needs a spiritual revival more than in any time in history. Lord, do it again!”

Please share this burden with all your friends and contacts. For more information, contact us at prayer@mzisom.org or by visiting us at www.mzisom.org.

DAVID ENCOURAGED HIMSELF IN THE LORD

These are familiar words: "And David was greatly distressed" (1 Samuel 30:6). He had just returned from Gath, where King Achish had said to him, "Thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God" (29:9). With those praises ringing in his ears, David and his men returned to Ziklag, anxious to be reunited with their wives and children. However, they found their city burned to the ground, their homes destroyed, and their children and wives gone. The Amalekites had invaded while they were in Aphek and taken captive all that was precious to David and his men.

What a horrible day of infamy in the life of this anointed man of God! "Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep" (1 Samuel 30:4).

The people rose up in anger, and because of their overwhelming grief, there was talk of stoning David. David himself was torn with grief, with not a tear left to shed. "And David was greatly distressed" (v. 6). They had come to the end of their rope, all hope gone and swallowed up in grief and despair.

What does a child of God do when discouragement sets in and he feels useless, like a complete failure, abandoned by God and rejected by those who once cared? Believe it or not, God was in this apparent tragedy. God had incredible blessings ahead, but he had to be cast completely into the hands of the Lord. This was a situation that no amount of human resources could solve.

"But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God" (v. 6).

David learned to stand alone, dependent only on God and finding all he needed through personal communion and affection for the Lord. What a victorious sight—David standing amid the ruins of his life, rejoicing in God's faithfulness and encouraging himself in the presence of the Lord. He came to see that all that really counts in the face of death and despair is a personal knowledge of God.

Once the lesson was learned, God opened the heavens and spoke clearly to David. Directions came loud and clear. David inquired, and God answered, "Without fail you will recover all" (1 Samuel 30:8). There was nothing lacking—David recovered all.

Thursday, May 27, 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, May 26, 2010

A PLACE OF NO REPUTATION

At one time, Moses had been held in high esteem, respected in high government places, great in reputation and prestige. He moved among the wealthy and was one of the best-known men of his time. But when God spoke to him out of the burning bush (see Exodus 3:5), Moses had decreased to zero point.

God couldn't use him until he tore him away from his worldly attachments. Who knew Moses now? Hidden away, out of sight—silenced and without influence. He had no outlet for his great energy.

But the very moment Moses reached zero point—when his reputation was totally lost and there was nothing left of the old, self-assured Moses—he was on holy ground!

How long did God wait by that bush, ready to break forth in a glorious new revelation? Only until that final, breaking moment when Moses truly no longer cared about his work or his reputation. When he gave up the last scraps of self-reliance, he found revelation.

The Lord Jesus stood on this same holy ground. The Scriptures say, "He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant..." (Philippians 2:7).

Shunning reputation and becoming a servant was a willful choice. Thank God for those who once again are being called to such holy ground, seeking to decrease that he may increase, and prepared for servanthood.

One great man of God wrote, "The man of God who truly preaches the Word will finally give up the idea of being known. If he preaches Christ, his reputation will constantly decrease and Christ will increase. True prophets die unknown. God gives them their dues only after they die."

I believe that if we seek a larger, more widespread reputation, something is missing in our message. Self is too prominent. Christ should be gaining and we should be losing recognition. We should be less known as the years go by until, like Paul, we end up shut in with God.

May we all decrease! May he alone increase! God help us to get back to this holy ground.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

HEALING AFFLICTIONS

“Before I was afflicted I went astray: BUT NOW have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67).

I believe in healing. I believe in affliction. I believe in “healing afflictions.” Any affliction that keeps me from going astray—that drives me deeper into his Word—is healing. God’s most gracious healing force spiritually and physically can be afflictions.

To suggest that pain and affliction are of the devil is to suggest that David was driven by the devil to seek God’s Word. I have suffered great pain. I have called on God for deliverance and I believe him for complete healing. Yet, while I go on believing, I continue to thank God for the present condition and let it serve to remind me how dependent on him I really am. With David I can say, “It is good for me” (Psalm 119:71).

Pain and affliction are not to be despised as coming from the devil. Such burdens have produced great men of faith and insight.

“Casting ALL your care upon him…” (1 Peter 5:7).

Paul spoke of the “cares” of the churches that were thrust upon him (see 2 Corinthians 11:28). Every newborn church was another “care” on his shoulders. Growth, expansion, lengthening of stakes always involve new cares. The man God uses must have broad shoulders. He dare not shrink under the challenge of numerous cares and responsibilities. Every new step of faith God leads me to take has brought with it numerous new cares and problems. God knows just how many cares he can trust us with. It is not that he seeks to break us—in health or strength; it is only that willing laborers are few and the harvest is so great. Cares are taken from those who refuse them and given as gifts to those who are not afraid of them. Forget the load of cares you carry—can we not cast them all on him?

Every new blessing is related to a family of cares. They cannot be divorced. You cannot learn to live with the blessing until you learn to live with the cares.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A PLACE WHERE LEPROSY IS EXPOSED

Moses truly was a man touched by God, supernaturally called and full of revelation about who God was. He was humble, pious, and burdened for the honor of God. He was permitted to know guidance as few other men have known as he loved God and grieved over the sins of the people.

In spite of all this, Moses did not know of the leprosy in his own bosom: "And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow" (Exodus 4:6).

What terror—to reach into your own bosom and touch leprosy! What an object lesson on the utter depravity of the flesh. Was God indulging in a little magic with Moses? No, this was a powerful lesson the man of God must learn. It was God's way of saying to his man, "When self is in control, you end up hurting people and bringing reproach on my work. When you attempt to do my work in spectacular, fleshly ways, you minister death, not life.”

God was declaring, "I cannot use that old nature from Egypt—it cannot be transformed, it will always be leprous. There must be a new man, one caught up in the glory and power of the I AM!"

Moses was commanded to put his leprous hand back into his bosom. "And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh" (Exodus 4:7).

Stretching forth the hand represents ministry. What is leprosy, but sin? Hidden, unexposed, unforsaken sin! What happens when a man of God gets on holy ground? His inner soul is exposed. His deepest, hidden sins are brought to light before his eyes and he is driven to the tender mercies of Christ for healing and restoration.

Thank God for that second, sanctifying touch! That cleansing moment, when by faith the old flesh is crucified and the hand of ministry is purified—when we are once again clothed in the proper flesh—his flesh.

Thank God we can rejoice in the cleansing by the precious blood of Christ.

Friday, May 21, 2010

HOLY GROUND

Moses was tending sheep when God called to him from the burning bush, commanding him: "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).

Holy ground is not a physical place, but a spiritual one. When God commanded Moses to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground, he was not referring to a two-by-four piece of real estate—he was talking about a spiritual state. A holy God must have a holy man on holy ground; in fact, God can't use a man until he gets him on holy ground.

The place was holy! What place? The place was the spiritual condition Moses had finally come to, a place in his growth where God could get through to him. He was finally at the place of reception, ready to listen, mature enough to be willing to respond to the dealing of a holy God.

Please don't think for a moment that Moses alone was on holy ground. So was all of Israel, even though they were at the end of their hope. I have never believed God would keep an entire nation under slavery just to give Moses time to mature into a gracious leader. Our Lord is no respecter of persons. God, in those forty trying years, was preparing Israel as well as Moses. By way of loving judgment, the Lord was driving Israel back to holy ground—back to a hunger for Jehovah.

While Moses was on the mountain being stripped of all his rights—because that is what was meant by the removal of his shoes—Israel was in the valley being stripped of all human strength. Moses would have no rights; Israel would have no strength. God could prove himself strong on their behalf in no other way. The great I AM was being revealed!

We will have to go the same route to usefulness. That is, stripping of all self-pride and self-confidence.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

WHERE ARE THE TIMOTHYS?

It was to the Philippian Christians that Paul first introduced the truth, “Let the mind of Christ be in you.” Paul wrote this message to them while he was imprisoned in Rome.

It was from a jail cell that Paul declared he had the mind of Christ, casting aside his reputation to become a servant of Jesus and his church. Now he wrote, “I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state” (Philippians 2:19).

This is the thinking, the outworking, of the mind of Christ. Think about it: Here was a pastor, sitting in jail, yet he wasn’t thinking of his own comfort, his own hard situation. He was concerned only about the spiritual and physical condition of his people. And he told his sheep, “My comfort will come only when I know you’re doing well, in spirit and body. So I’m sending Timothy to check up on you, in my behalf.”

Then Paul makes this alarming statement: “For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state” (2:20). What a sad statement! As Paul wrote this, the church around him in Rome was growing and being blessed. Clearly, there were godly leaders in the Roman church. But, Paul says, “I have no man who shares with me the mind of Christ.” Why was this so? “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (2:21). Evidently, there was no leader in Rome with a servant’s heart—no one who had cast aside reputation and become a living sacrifice. Instead, everyone was set on pursuing his own interests. None had the mind of Christ. Paul could trust no one to go to Philippi to be a true servant to that body of believers.

Paul’s words here cannot be softened: “Everybody’s out for himself. These ministers seek only to benefit themselves. That’s why there’s nobody here I can trust to naturally care for your needs and hurts, except Timothy.”

Our prayer should be: “Lord, I don’t want to be focused only on myself in a world that’s spinning out of control. I don’t want to be concerned about my own future. I know you hold my path in your hands. Please, Lord, give me your mind, your thinking, your concerns. I want to have your servant’s heart.” Amen.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

GOD HELP US NOT TO MURMUR OR COMPLAIN

This is my daily prayer now. As fear spreads and uncertainty abounds, let us pray the Holy Spirit will show us that murmuring and complaining are signs of impatience and distrust of our faithful Lord.

In Exodus 17, Moses called murmuring “tempting God.” The children of Israel were at Rephidim and there was no water to drink. Unbelieving doubt spread through the encampment! The people forgot all their past deliverances from distress and began once again to doubt that God was with them. They cried, “God, why did you bring us out of Egypt? Why didn’t you let us die there instead of bringing us to this place to kill us?”

They were ready to stone Moses. In great mercy, God gave them water out of a rock, but the Lord made them call it Massah and Meribah—murmuring and complaining. It was to be a place never forgotten in Israel’s future.

We feel we have a right to murmur and complain because our particular afflictions are so painful, so difficult. There are times I have been guilty of this tempting God, but as I read and reread Exodus l7, a reverent fear of the Lord gripped my soul—“God takes this matter very seriously.”

He has seen us through so much in the past and he has proven his faithfulness every time. The question is, when will we ever fully trust him? When will we ever fully trust his promise to keep us, to love us, to be a Father, a keeper? We need the Holy Spirit to help us.

I plead with you, do not murmur or complain, for all who hold fast to faith, that person will be blessed. God help me to take this to heart in the testing times ahead. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

If you could know how this will all end up to God’s glory, you would rest in his Word.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

UNDER THE RULE OF GRACE

The prodigal son needed what the apostle Paul calls the “renewing of the mind.” I love reading these words from the parable: “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet…bring out the fatted calf, and kill it; let us eat and be merry” (Luke 15:22-23).

The prodigal had a mindset of condemnation, and it was put on him by Satan. Today, the same thing happens with many of God’s children. Our Father rejoices over us, embracing us with loving arms. Yet we think humility means telling God how bad we’ve been, digging up our past sins rather than trusting his expressions of love. And all the while we think guiltily, “He has to be angry with me. I’ve sinned worse than others.”

When the father’s servants brought forth the best robe in the house and put it on the son, it represented his being clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Then the father put a ring on the boy’s finger, signifying his union with Christ. Finally, he put shoes on the boy’s feet, representing being shod with the gospel of the peace of Christ. This loving father was showing his child: “Away with those rags of flesh, those shreds of self effort to please me. Let me show you how I see you. You are coming into my house and into my presence as a new, kingly, royal child. You’re not coming as a beggar or a slave, but as my son, who delights me! Now, enter in with boldness and assurance.”

The same is true for us today. We have to be renewed in our thinking about how God receives us into his presence. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-20, 22 italics mine).

The word for “boldness” here is derived from a root meaning “an emancipated slave.” It means no longer being under the law of sin and death, but under the rule of grace. In short, it is by the love of the Father—by his mercy alone—that we are qualified to go into his presence. And here is the qualification: “Giving thanks unto the Father, who hath made us meet (qualified) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13).

Monday, May 17, 2010

GOD IS ABLE TO SEE YOU THROUGH

The most important question facing God's people in these last days is this: "Do you believe God is able to see you through? Do you believe he can do all that is necessary to answer your prayers and meet your needs?"

This is the same question our Lord asked the two blind men who begged him for mercy and healing. "And Jesus said unto them, ‘Do you believe I am able to do this?’ They said, ‘Yes, Lord.’...And their eyes were opened" (Matthew 9:28-30 NKJV).

The Lord asks you, me, and the church, "Do you believe I am able to direct and guide you, and perform my perfect will in your life? Do you believe I am still at work on your behalf? Or do you harbor secret thoughts that I have forsaken you and let you down?" He says to us the same thing he said to Mary and Martha, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40).

God is not primarily interested in our doing some great work for him. Rather, he desperately wants us to simply trust him! He desires full dependence on him.

Beloved, God doesn't want anything you possess. He is not after your house, your land, your car, or any other worldly possession. He wants your trust! He wants you to be firmly established in your confidence in him.

An American soldier in Germany wrote to me, offering me his coin collection, which he called an idol. I wrote back, "God wants more than your coin collection—he wants your trust!"

We keep wanting to do things, to give up things, to sacrifice, work, suffer. And all the while what he desires most is our obedience and trust. His Word is clear. God will be pleased with nothing short of our faith.

"But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

God has not forsaken you. Your prayers have been heard—and God will work things out according to his perfect will. Hold on!

Friday, May 14, 2010

PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT

I've told my children, "When you're in need, when you're hurting, just call me. I'll be there! I don't care where I am, I'll come!" I'm just an earthly father—how much more the heavenly Father cares! Will he not respond when we call?

The Word of God says, "He shall deliver...the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight" (Psalm 72:12-14).

God says, "All you who are poor, all you who are needy, who seem helpless—the enemy has been attacking. Don't you know your very blood is precious to me? All you have to do is cry out, and I will deliver you from the wiles of Satan!"

David said, "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him..." (Psalm 34:6).

You don't have to know a lot of religious terms. The one thing you must know is that no matter what you've done, how wicked you may have been, his repentant ones will always be precious in his eyes. Christ said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in..." (Revelation 3:20).

Why is he knocking? Because your life is precious and he won't let you go. He doesn't come to push you around, but time and time again he'll come and speak to your heart: “Call on me now in your need,” he whispers. You may have been in churches where people condemned you and put you down. But all they did was judge you by what you look like on the outside and God doesn't do that. He sees your potential. He'll give you joy and beauty in place of the dirt and filth and ashes. He'll set you free!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

THE NEW MAN

As followers of Christ, we are to take God at his Word and accept as true what he says we are. This means our “old man” represents a man who still seeks to please God in the flesh. Such a man hates sin, he doesn’t want to offend God, and yet his conscience continually brings him under guilt. So he pledges to overcome his sin problem: “I’m going to change! I’ll start today to fight my besetting sin, no matter what the cost. I want God to see how hard I am trying.”

Such a man brings to the Lord much sweat and many tears. He prays and fasts to prove to God that he has a good heart. He’s able to resist sin for days at a time, and so he tells himself, “If I can go for two days, then why not four, why not a week?” By the end of the month he feels good about himself, convinced he’s working himself free. But then his old sin surfaces, and down he goes, deep into despair. And that starts the cycle all over again. Such a man is on a treadmill that will never end, one he can’t get off.

May it never be! His man-in-flesh was crucified along with Christ, killed in the eyes of God. Indeed, Paul tells us that the old man was pronounced dead at the cross. Jesus took that old man into the grave with him, where he was left for dead and forgotten. Just as the prodigal’s father ignored the “old man” in his son, the Lord says of our old man, “I won’t recognize or deal with such a one. There is only one man I recognize now, one with whom I’ll deal. That is my Son, Jesus, and all who are in him by faith.”

The new man is the one who has given up all hope of pleasing God by any effort of the flesh. He has died to the old ways of the flesh. And by faith he has come to know there is only one way to please God, one way to delight him: Christ must become all. He knows that there is but One whom the Father recognizes: Christ and all who are in him.

This new man lives by faith alone: “The just shall live by faith.” He believes God’s Word so completely he leans on nothing else. He has found his source of everything in Christ, who is all sufficient. And he believes what God says of him: “Your old man is dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” He may not feel it, or comprehend it fully, but he won’t argue with his loving Father’s Word. He accepts it on faith, believing the Lord is faithful to his Word.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

OBEDIENCE OPENS THE FLOODGATES

It was said of Christ that he endured and was obedient to his heavenly Father, not because of fear, but because of the joy that was set before him. He laid aside all weights and ran the race with patience. He endured shame and never fainted or wearied in his mind, because he saw the glorious rewards of obedience.

Shouldn't we be getting weary enough of all the inner turmoil that we begin to hunger after the glorious riches promised in Christ? Fear is not the best motivator toward obedience—love is! After all, divine threats were finally ignored by the children of Israel. Even God's audible voice and his frightful thunder could not keep disobedient Israelites from dancing around the golden calf. Only a deep, abiding love and reverence for God could have kept them from such disobedience.

It is sweet surrender to the will of God that opens the heavens to us. It is the yielding of every sin, every act of disobedience, that allows us the revelation of who Christ really is. The Scripture says, "Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him" (1 John 3:6).

Could it be possible that we, through living in disobedience, become distant from him? Could it be that we our own way because we have never had a revelation of Christ, his hatred of sin, and his glory and mercy? In plain language, "He who lives in disobedience has never truly seen Christ in reality."

Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" (John 14:21).

What greater reward for loving obedience could we want than having Christ reveal himself to us? What a simple formula for such a great revelation. "Love me enough to obey me—I will love you and show you who I am!" You can read all about him, study his nature, his historical background, but you will never get to know him until you do such a simple, basic thing as obeying him completely in all things.

Jesus said of Nathanael, "Behold, an Israelite, indeed, in whom there is no deceit…you shall see heaven open [to you]..." (John 1:47, 51 NKJV).

The very moment we surrender, and commit ourselves to absolute obedience, a marvelous healing power is released in our inner man. No more dread of God, or hell, or retribution. No more fear of what men can do to us. Instead, the Spirit of God begins to flood us with new light, new hope, great joy, glorious peace and abounding faith.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

TEMPTING GOD?

As Jesus stood at the highest point of the temple, Satan whispered to him, “Go ahead—jump! If you’re really God’s son, he’ll save you.”

“And [the devil] saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6).

Do you see Satan’s deviousness in this? He isolated a single promise from Scripture—and he tempted Jesus to cast his whole life upon it. He was suggesting, “You say God is with you. Well, show me the proof. Your Father has already allowed me to harass you. Where was his presence in that? You can prove he’s with you right now by jumping. If God is with you, he’ll provide a soft landing. Then you can base your confidence on that. If not, you might as well die rather than go on wondering if you’re on your own. You need a miracle to prove the Father is with you.”

How did Jesus respond? He stated, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7). What exactly does Jesus mean here by “tempting God”?

Ancient Israel is an example. Ten times the Lord had proved himself faithful to the Israelites. God’s people received visible proof that their Lord was with them. Yet, every time, the people asked the same question: “Is God among us or not?” God calls this “tempting him.” Jesus uses this same phrase—“tempting God”—in his reply to Satan. What does this tell us? It shows us it is a grave sin to doubt God’s presence; we’re not to question whether he’s with us.

As with Israel, God has already given us an entire body of evidence. First, we have in his Word multiple promises of his closeness to us. Second, we have our own personal history with God—a testimony of his many past deliverances in our lives. Third, we have a Bible full of witnesses to God’s presence in past centuries.

The Bible is clear: We’re to walk with God by faith and not by sight. Otherwise, we’ll end up like faithless Israel.

Monday, May 10, 2010

THE LAST OUTPOURING

I know some will not receive what I am about to say, yet many will. I do not believe we have yet seen the glory and fullness of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Joel. What we have seen are just a few sprinkles! Yes, we have had a worldwide charismatic renewal and love has brought many together. It has been an experience shared worldwide, yet it is just a foretaste.

God will permit nothing to hinder what he plans to do. The enemy is in for a surprise. Just as it appears the church will be inundated by a satanic flood, the Spirit will raise up a standard. Understand what that standard is, and you will understand what God is about to do. The standard is a holy people, pure, undefiled, delivered from the corruption that is in the world. That standard is a new breed of sanctified Christians, who will shine forth as lights in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. It will not be just a renewal of love and praise, but a restoration of holiness unto the Lord!

There will still be shouting and praise, but it will be the shout of victory over sin and compromise, fulfilling the purpose of the last outpouring: "That all who call on his name shall be delivered..." (Joel 2:32). Delivered from what? From sin! From the spirit of the world!

We will not have the fullness of the Spirit's outpouring until baptized people separate themselves completely from the world. We must emphasize separation and purity of heart. The purpose of the Spirit's coming is to sanctify and prepare a people for the Lord's return, a people without spot or wrinkle.

When the fullness of the Spirit's outpouring comes upon all flesh, conviction for sin will be everywhere. "He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). That is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!

Tragically, too many speak with tongues, but then live like the devil. Sin was never uprooted and all they received was an experience of ecstasy. God blessed them just enough to call them into a deeper life of holiness and submission, but they stopped and went about saying, "I’ve got the Holy Ghost."

Oh, there is so much more! I thank God for the privilege of praying in an unknown tongue; it is my way of releasing all the pent-up praises to God in a communication beyond my understanding. But you can speak with the tongues of men and even angels, and without charity, you have received nothing. But I say it goes even deeper. You are not truly baptized with the Holy Spirit until every hidden part of your soul has been exposed—and every sin confessed and forsaken.

Friday, May 7, 2010

THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH

The Old Testament closes out with this glorious prophecy: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6).

Jesus said of John, "If you will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come" (Matthew 11:14). What Christ was saying is, "John the Baptist has the spirit and power of Elijah upon him—if you could just see it." We are told the angel of the Lord prophesied to Zachariah that his son John would "go forth before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17).

I believe Malachi's prophecy is for today also. I believe that once again God is going to put upon many of his chosen servants the spirit and power of Elijah. And these men and women of God are going to be mightily used to bring about a restoration of families. Divorces will be canceled! Children will be convicted of their rebellion and be restored in love to their parents.

This prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes—right now. In a Texas town, an unassuming young pastor began to pray for the salvation of the youth in the local schools. God anointed him with the dynamic spirit and power of Elijah and not only have hundreds in his local school been saved, but the restoration is spreading to schools wherever he goes. Not hundreds but thousands of high school students are being convicted of their drugs, alcohol, sex and rebellion. Young people are hurrying home from outreaches to make up with their parents. They have been confessing deep hatred, but now they weep and repent! This will spread all through the land because God has promised to restore parents and children.

Because of what I see coming, I am so excited I can hardly write these words. Unknown, unassuming, humble young men and women of God are being miraculously touched and anointed. They have been given a supernatural mission to "Go forth—and restore! For the day of the Lord has come. The cankerworms of drugs and alcohol are no longer permitted to eat away at the life of the youth. God will destroy the cankerworms."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

HE BROUGHT US OUT TO BRING US IN

Before the cross, there was no access to God for the general public; only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies. Now Jesus’ cross made a path for us into the Father’s presence. By his grace alone, God tore down the wall that blocked us from his presence. Now he could come out to man, to embrace his prodigals and sinners of all sorts.

Consider Israel’s miraculous deliverance. As God’s people crossed over on dry land, they saw the waves crash down on their enemy behind them. It was a glorious moment, and they held a mighty praise meeting, with dancing, singing and thanksgiving. “We’re free! God has delivered us from the hand of oppression.”

Israel’s story represents our own deliverance from the bondage and guilt of sin. We know that Satan was defeated at the cross, and we were immediately set free from his iron grip. Yet there is more to God’s purpose in saving and delivering us. You see, God never meant for Israel to camp there on the victory side of the Red Sea. His greater purpose in bringing them out of Egypt was to take them into Canaan, his land of fullness. In short, he brought them out in order to bring them in: into his heart, into his love. He wanted a people who were totally dependent on his mercy, grace and love. And the same is still true for his people today.

Israel’s first test came just a few days later, and they ended up murmuring and complaining, totally dissatisfied. Why? They had known God’s deliverance, but they hadn’t learned his great love for them.

Here is the key to this teaching: You cannot come into joy and peace—indeed, you cannot know how to serve the Lord—until you see his delight in your deliverance…until you see the joy of his heart over his communion with you…until you see that every wall has been removed at the cross…until you know that everything of your past has been judged and wiped away. God says, “I want you to move on, into fullness that awaits you in my presence!”

Multitudes today rejoice in the wonderful benefits of the cross. They have moved out of Egypt, and they are standing on the “victory side” of their Red Sea trial. They enjoy freedom, and they thank God continually for casting their oppressor into the sea. But many of these same believers miss God’s greater purpose and benefit to them. They miss why the Lord has brought them out—which is to bring them in to himself.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

RESTORATION

The days of the Gentiles are almost over. God has given us plenty of warning that the Spirit will not forever strive with the rebellious. But before this generation comes under the retribution of almighty God, a great restoration is prophesied.

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you" (Joel 2:25).

The psalmist David said the righteous shall "be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit...with leaves that do not wither...and whatever he does shall prosper" (see Psalm 1:3). But that promise is only to those who have totally separated themselves from the wicked, and who refuse to walk in the way of sinners. It is only for those who are devoted students of God's Word, meditating in it day and night.

"The ungodly are not so," said David (v. 4). They become weak and withered, blown about by every wind and wave of doctrine. The compromisers are likened to withered trees, diseased and corrupted with every conceivable kind of worm.

This is a picture of many professing Christians in God's house today. They neglect their Bible reading; they become too preoccupied to pray and build themselves up in the faith; they become cozy with the ungodly and take their seat among the scornful.

An army of cankerworms has been eating away at the lives of multitudes of backslidden Christians. Outwardly they appear as trees planted by the water—but inwardly they are corrupted, weak, diseased. They no longer bear fruit! They are drying up spiritually. The cankerworm did its destructive work with the bark of the tree. So it is with sin—it is eating away deep within those who have strayed from the presence of the Lord.

God has told us how he is going to bring about this great restoration. First, he will pour out his Holy Spirit in such abundant ways, it will bring health and strength back to all the trees in his forest. The worm of sin will begin to lose its power as God's people get back to Bible reading. A powerful revelation of the Lord's new covenant will make God's people as bold as lions. Yes—believe it—a revival of spiritual strength and divine health is going to be poured out from on high.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

BOLDNESS TO ENTER GOD’S PRESENCE

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil…. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-20, 22).

There are two sides to Christ’s work at Calvary. One side is to the benefit of man, and the other side is to the benefit of God. One benefits the sinner, while the other benefits the Father.

We are well acquainted with the benefit on the human side. The cross of Christ has provided us with forgiveness of our sins. We are given the power of victory over all bondages and dominion over sin. We are supplied with mercy and grace. And, of course, we are given the promise of eternal life. The cross has given us the means of escape from the terrors of sin and hell.

I thank God for this benefit of the cross to mankind, and for the wonderful relief it brings. I rejoice that it is preached week after week in churches all over the world.

Yet there is another benefit of the cross, one that we know very little about. And this one is to the benefit of the Father. You see, we understand very little about the delight of the Father that was made possible by the cross. It’s a delight that comes to him whenever he receives a prodigal child into his house.

If all we focus on about the cross is forgiveness—if that is the end-all of our preaching—then we miss an important truth that God has meant for us about the cross. There is a fuller understanding to be had here, and it has to do with his delight. This truth provides God’s people with much more than just relief. It brings liberty, rest, peace and joy.

In my opinion, most Christians have learned to come boldly before God for forgiveness, for supply of needs, for answers to prayer. But they lack boldness in this aspect of faith—an aspect that is just as crucial in their walk with the Lord.

The Lord has great joy that the cross has provided us with open access to himself. Indeed, the most glorious moment in history was when the temple veil was rent in two, on the day that Christ died. It was at this very moment that the benefit to God burst forth. In the instant that the temple veil—separating man from God’s holy presence—was torn asunder, something incredible happened. From that point on, not only was man able to enter into the Lord’s presence, but God could come out to man.

Monday, May 3, 2010

TOTAL SURRENDER

"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested...even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference...being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:21-24).

God has revealed to us a sure way to become absolutely holy and perfect in his sight, whereby all his children can live in absolute peace and joy, knowing God looks upon them as holy and pure. And this is all a free gift!

His gift of holiness can never be a reward for anything we have done. It is an unearned, undeserved favor—an outright gift. "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:3-5).

Submission is the only way into God's holiness, submitting to the righteousness of Christ through faith.

To submit means "to surrender the power of your will." With God there is no such thing as willpower—all power is his and he will permit no other power than his own. God demands absolute holiness so that we will be humbled by this demand! He watches over our struggles to be holy with patience, waiting for us to fail so miserably that we will run to his throne, fall on our knees, and cry out, "It's hopeless—I will never be holy! I am weak, sensuous, sinful. I have no good in me at all." The kind of repentance that God is looking for is confessing the weakness of our futile efforts and denying that we have any power at all in ourselves.

You can never be clothed in Christ's holiness until you fall on your face before God's throne, naked, poor, wretched, weak, and totally helpless! You must once and for all admit you have no power to resist sin, that you have nothing to offer the Lord but a broken-down, defeated and helpless lump of clay. You must admit you can't be holy, even with help. You must be given holiness as a gift.

The greatest gift you can give to God is your faith that he will give you his holiness. Isaiah exulted, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.... So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations" (Isaiah 61: 10-11).