Friday, October 29, 2010

YOU ARE SECURE IN YOUR FATHER’S LOVE!

Jesus said that when the prodigal son came home, he was welcomed back into his father’s house. He received a new robe, ate at his father’s table and had full forgiveness. But that didn’t make him an angel.

On the contrary, I believe his father experienced a lot of problems with him before it was all over. But the one thing this son had to know was that he was secure in his father’s love! He had to know his father would bear with him, work with him, love him. That’s how our heavenly father is with us. And yet we keep saying, “One of these days, I’m going to be so perfect and right before God that it will be easy for him to love me.”

No! He loved you when you were a sinner, a reprobate, an enemy to him. How much more does he love you now that you’re reconciled to him! God has already said to you, “I loved you when you were an alien to me, when you were in rebellion and sin. Will I not love you even more now since you have committed to sonship?”

We don’t rest confidently in his love as we should. And yet the Lord says of himself that he IS love. John wrote, “And we have known and believed that love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth (rests) in love dwelleth in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WAKE UP AND LIVE—NOW!

Most of us are still dumb creatures looking to the future for fulfillment. We think some future event or some change in our circumstance will bring us peace and joy. We say, “Just wait; my day is coming. Somehow, someday, somewhere…I don’t know what it is that’s out there for me, but it’s coming.” We are like children waiting for Christmas and counting the days.

David once wrote during a mournful, introspective season in his life that he felt time was going too fast. He had accomplished so little, he thought. Everything at the time seemed to be in vain. “Surely every man walks in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heaps up riches and knows not who shall gather them. And now Lord, what wait I for?” (Psalm 39:6-7). David was depressed, down. His present situation appeared so useless. And out of a perplexed heart he cried out, “Lord, what am I waiting for?”

Recently I was walking alone in the hills of Pennsylvania and God spoke to my heart on this same question, “David, what is it you’re waiting for? Why isn’t this the best day of your life? Why can’t you now be full and joyous? There is nothing out there that you don’t already have in Jesus.”

I ask you, What are you waiting for? “Oh, for Mr. Right,” you may answer—that godly person you think is going to rescue you from all loneliness and fill your soul with unspeakable joy. Some are bored with their mates and waiting for them to go to glory because they’re looking for romance to come into their lives and drive away their emptiness. No! There is nothing out there that will change or save you from who and what you are already. If you think someone else is giong to solve your loneliness problem, you’re badly mistaken. You must find deliverance, peace, hope and joy now!

Jesus is the only one who can fill the void. Wake up and live!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PUTTING LIMITS ON GOD’S POWER AND PROMISES

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

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

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

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

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

God told me, “David, you’ve tied my hands; you’ve shackled me. How can I heal you when you don’t really believe I will? Your doubt hinders me from being God to you. I tell you, you don’t know me unless you know that I am more willing to give than you are to receive.”

Israel murmured continually, “Can God…? Sure, he made a way for us through the Red Sea, but can he give bread?” God gave them bread. In fact, he spread a table for them in the wilderness. “But can he give us water?” they asked. He gave them water from a rock. “But can he give meat?” He gave them meat from the sky. “But can he deliver us from our enemies?” Time after time, God provided and delivered in every area. Yet, the people spent forty years saying, “Can God…? Can God…?”

Beloved, we ought to be saying, “God can! God can!” He did—and he will! God can and will do all that we ask and believe him to do!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

KNOWING GOD BEGINS WITH KNOWING JESUS!

You cannot know God in fullness until you see Christ as God wants you to see him. Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). We must see Jesus not as man teaches, but as the Spirit reveals him to us, as God wants us to know and see him.

There are many volumes in my library about Jesus, written by good men. Yet, I believe many of these men have never seen Jesus as God would have us see him. We are to get God’s vision and testimony of Christ, then we will know God as he desires to be known. Here is how I believe God wants us to see his Son: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

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

In the Old Testament, God gave Israel many wonderful gifts in the wilderness: A cloud to shelter them from the desert sun. Fire at night to assure and lead them. Water out of a rock. A branch to heal bitter waters. A brass serpent to heal the snake-bitten. Yet all of these good things were only shadows.

Who was the rock from which water came? Who was the fire? The manna? The brass serpent? Everything God did for Israel was through Jesus. That’s right—Jesus was every one of those gifts. “Brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea…and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

Today we have much more than the shadow. We have the actual substance—Christ himself! And he lives in us.

WAKE UP AND LIVE—NOW!

Most of us are still dumb creatures looking to the future for fulfillment. We think some future event or some change in our circumstance will bring us peace and joy. We say, “Just wait; my day is coming. Somehow, someday, somewhere…I don’t know what it is that’s out there for me, but it’s coming.” We are like children waiting for Christmas and counting the days.

David once wrote during a mournful, introspective season in his life that he felt time was going too fast. He had accomplished so little, he thought. Everything at the time seemed to be in vain. “Surely every man walks in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heaps up riches and knows not who shall gather them. And now Lord, what wait I for?” (Psalm 39:6-7). David was depressed, down. His present situation appeared so useless. And out of a perplexed heart he cried out, “Lord, what am I waiting for?”

Recently I was walking alone in the hills of Pennsylvania and God spoke to my heart on this same question, “David, what is it you’re waiting for? Why isn’t this the best day of your life? Why can’t you now be full and joyous? There is nothing out there that you don’t already have in Jesus.”

I ask you, What are you waiting for? “Oh, for Mr. Right,” you may answer—that godly person you think is going to rescue you from all loneliness and fill your soul with unspeakable joy. Some are bored with their mates and waiting for them to go to glory because they’re looking for romance to come into their lives and drive away their emptiness. No! There is nothing out there that will change or save you from who and what you are already. If you think someone else is giong to solve your loneliness problem, you’re badly mistaken. You must find deliverance, peace, hope and joy now!

Jesus is the only one who can fill the void. Wake up and live!

Monday, October 25, 2010

HE WANTS TO TEACH US TO KNOW HIS NAME!

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

The Lord recently showed me that I was still wavering about hearing his voice speak to my soul. Oh, I know that he speaks and that his sheep need to know the Master’s voice. But I doubted my ability to hear him. I spent all my time “checking” the voice I heard, and when it was too big or too mysterious for me, I thought, “This can’t be God. Besides, the devil can speak too. The flesh speaks; lying spirits speak. A multitude of voices come at us all the time. How can I know God’s voice?”

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

1. An unshakable confidence that God wants to speak to you. You have to be fully persuaded and convinced that God longs to speak to you. Indeed, he is a speaking God and he wants you to know his voice so you can do his will. What God tells you will never go beyond the boundaries of Scripture. And you don’t have to have a Ph.D. to understand his voice. All you need is a heart that says, “I believe God desires to talk to me.”

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

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

Jesus says, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?” (Luke 11:11-12). In other words, if you ask your heavenly Father for a word—a clear direction, a godly correction, a particular need—do you think for a moment he will instead let the devil come and deceive you?

Suppose a son calls his father every night for direction and advice. Then one day the father decides to play a joke on him and hires an impersonator to answer the phone—someone to mimic his voice. When the boy calls, the imposter gives him all kinds of off-the-wall advice and phony counsel. Suddenly the son is absolutely confused and heartbroken because everything he hears goes against what he has learned from his father. What kind of father would you say this man is? Yes, a cruel one! Yet that is what we accuse God of being when we do not trust him to give us his voice but one of an imposter.

God is not a tease. He will not allow the devil to deceive you. When God speaks, peace follows and Satan cannot counterfeit that peace. If you are in a place of quiet and rest, convinced that God can speak to you, then you have an assurance that never changes. You can go back to God a thousand times and you will receive the same word—because it is trust!

Friday, October 22, 2010

DELAYED ANSWERS TO PRAYER!

Most of us pray as David did: “In the day when I call answer me speedily” (Psalm 102:2). “I am in trouble: hear me speedily” (Psalm 69:17). The Hebrew word for speedily suggests “right now, hurry up, in the very hour I call on you, do it!” David was saying, “Lord, I put my trust in you—but please hurry!”

God is in no hurry. He doesn’t jump at our commands. In fact, at times you may wonder if he will ever answer. You cry out, weep, fast and hope—but days go by, weeks, months, even years, and you don’t receive even the slightest evidence that God is hearing you. First you question yourself: “Something must be blocking my prayers.” You become perplexed, and over time your attitude toward God becomes something like this: “Lord, what do I have to do to get this prayer answered? You promised in your Word to give me an answer, and I prayed in faith. How many tears must I shed?”

Why does God delay answers to sincere prayers? It certainly isn’t because he lacks power. And he is most willing for us to receive from him. No, the answer is found in this verse: “He spake a parable unto them…that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).

The Greek word for lose heart, or faint in the King James Version, means “relax, become weak or weary in faith, give up the struggle, no longer wait for completion.” Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” The Lord is seeking for a praying people who will not relax or grow weary of coming to him. These people will wait on the Lord, not giving up before his work is completed. And they will be found waiting when he brings the answer.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CHASTENING LOVE!

Because God loves you, he will work to cleanse you. But it is a loving chastening upon those who repent and return to him. You may feel God’s arrows in your soul because of your past and present sins, but if you have a repentant heart and want to turn from error, you can call upon his chastening love. You will be corrected—but with his great mercy and compassion. You will not feel his wrath as the heathen do, but rather the rod of his discipline, applied by his loving hand.

Perhaps your suffering comes from making wrong decisions. How many women are suffering because they married men whom God warned them not to marry? How many children are breaking their parents’ hearts, bringing them to the end of their ropes? Yet many times this happens because of the parents’ own past years of sin, neglect and compromise.

When you know you have arrived at your lowest point, it is time to seek the Lord in brokenness, repentance and faith. It is time to receive a new infusion of Holy Ghost strength. It is time to be renewed and refreshed, to have spiritual strength overflow within you.

You see, when you cry out to God, he pours his strength into you: “In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul…. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever” (Psalm 138:3, 7–8).

One of the most difficult things for Christians to accept is the suffering of the righteous. Up to the time of Christ, the Jews associated prosperity and good health with godliness. They believed that if you were wealthy, in good health or otherwise blessed, it was because God was showing that he was pleased with you. This was why Jesus’ disciples had a hard time understanding his statement that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). The disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Likewise today, there is an erroneous doctrine that says if you are in agreement with God you will never suffer; just call out to God and he will come running and solve everything immediately. But this is not the gospel! The heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 all walked in close relationship of faith with God and they suffered stonings, mockings, torture and violent deaths (vv. 36–38). Paul himself, who walked closely with God, was shipwrecked, stoned, whipped, left for dead, robbed, jailed and persecuted. He suffered the loss of all things. Why? These were all testings and purgings, the proving of his faith to the glory of God.

God wants to plant something in our hearts through our testings and trials. He wants us to be able to say, “Lord Jesus, you’re my Protector, and I believe you rule over the events of my life. If anything happens to me, it’s only because you allowed it, and I trust your purpose in doing it. Help me understand the lesson you want me to learn from it. If I walk in righteousness and have your joy in my heart, then my living and dying will bring glory to you. I trust that you may have some prepared glory, some eternal purpose that my finite mind doesn’t understand. But either way, I’ll say, ‘Jesus, whether I live or die, I am yours!’”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

GOD TOLD ME SOMETHING I WAS NOT EXPECTING TO HEAR!

One night during a prayer meeting, God told me something about our church I was not expecting to hear.

The Lord whispered to me, “This church needs shock treatment! Too many have grown satisfied and complacent. You feel safe and secure from all the winds and waves of false doctrines sweeping over the land—but you are not prepared for what is coming!”

Beloved, the message of having the Spirit’s witness functioning in you is not a request—it is a matter of life and death! If you don’t have the witness of the Holy Ghost in these last days, you’re not going to make it! You’ll give in to the coming spirit of the Antichrist!

You need the Holy Spirit witness every day—on your job, at work, at school. You need to rightly judge politicians and leaders so you’ll not suddenly be sucked into the antichrist system.

This is what Jesus was trying to tell us about the foolish virgins who ran out of oil for their lamps. They had a supply of the Holy Ghost—but they didn’t have his witness at the final moment.

Don’t end up a foolish virgin! If you are running out of oil—trusting your church or your pastor to keep your soul—then repent! Humble yourself and search your heart! Cry out to God to rid your soul of all anger and bitterness. Confess your sins and forsake them. And depend on God once again for everything!

Get the peace of God in your heart, so you can have a Holy Ghost witness. And ask the Father for a greater enduement of the Spirit. Invite him to be your witness and guide in everything!

We face a cost of going all the way with Jesus, but we also will receive a reward: It is simply the blessing of having Christ stand with us. There are many other rewards as well (see Matthew 19:29), but I mention this one because it is all we will ever need.

When Paul was imprisoned in Jerusalem, the whole religious system wanted to kill him. They accused him of polluting the holy place and preaching false doctrines. His life was in danger; even the soldiers were “fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces” (Acts 23:10). So they took him by force and locked him away in a castle. The next night the Lord himself spoke to Paul, and what a word he brought: “Cheer up! There’s even more trouble to come!”

The cost of following Christ was clear in the lives of these men of God—and if we are going to be like our Master, then we must embrace this cost as well. Enduring it becomes a joy because Jesus promises to stand with us in every situation. And we can face anything or anyone when we know the Lord stands with us.

So count the cost and know that your reward, in all things, is the precious presence of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

REST IN THE LOVE OF THE FATHER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

I HAVE LIMITED GOD BY BEING SATISFIED WITH TOO LITTLE!

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

KNOWING GOD AS HE DESIRES TO BE KNOWN

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

VICTORY THROUGH CHRIST

The glory of God and the worthiness of his Son are involved in his dealings with us. Hence everything that could possibly stand in the way of our eternal blessedness has been disposed of in such a manner as to secure the divine glory and furnish a triumphant answer to every plea of the enemy.

Is it a question of trespass? He has forgiven us all trespasses.
Is it a question of sin? He has condemned sin at the cross, and thus put it away.
Is it a question of guilt? It is cancelled by the blood of the cross.
Is it a question of death? He has taken away its sting and actually made it part of our property.
Is it a question of Satan? He has destroyed him by annulling all his power.
Is it a question of the world? He has delivered us from it and snapped every link which connected us with it.

Thus, beloved Christian reader, it stands with us if we are to be taught by Scripture, if we are to take God at his word, if we are to believe what he says—and we may add, if it be not thus, we are in our sins, under the power of sin, in the grasp of Satan, obnoxious to death, part and parcel of an evil, Christless, godless world and exposed to the unmitigated wrath of God—the vengeance of eternal fire.

Oh that the blessed Spirit may open the eyes of God’s people and give them to see their proper place, their full and eternal deliverance in association with Christ who died for them, and in whom they have died, and thus passed out of the power of all their enemies!

Excerpted from the writings of J.B. Stoney used in David Wilkerson’s personal devotions

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ACCEPTANCE THROUGH CHRIST

For anyone to enjoy settled peace as long as he is occupied with himself, he must cease from self and harken to God’s Word, and rest, without a single question, on its pure, precious and everlasting record. God’s Word never changes. I change; my frame, my feelings, my experience, my circumstances change continually, but God’s Word is the same yesterday and today and forever.

It is a grand and essential point for the soul to apprehend that Christ is the only definition of the believer’s place before God. This gives immense power, liberty and blessing. “As he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). This is something perfectly wonderful!

Let us ponder it; let us think of a poor wretched, guilty slave of sin, a bondslave of Satan, a votary of the world, exposed to an eternal hell—such an one taken up by sovereign grace, delivered completely from the grasp of Satan, the dominion of sin, the power of this present evil—pardoned, washed, justified, brought nigh to God, accepted in Christ and perfectly and forever identified with him so that the Holy Ghost can say, “As Christ is, so is he in this world!”

All this seems too good to be true. And most assuredly, it is too good for us to get. But blessed be the God of all grace and blessed be the Christ of God, it is not too good for him to give. God gives like himself. He will be God, in spite of our unworthiness and Satan’s opposition. He will act in a way worthy of himself and worthy of the Son of his love.

Excerpted from the writings of J.B. Stoney used in David Wilkerson’s personal devotions

Monday, October 11, 2010

THE DEPTH OF GOD'S LOVE

Paul said of God’s love: It passes all knowledge. It is broad, wide, high and deep. I want to focus on the depth of his love.

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith: that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height: and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:17-20).

Recently I’ve been receiving emails from backslidden Christians who are coming back to their first love. One wrote, “I was forgiven; I loved the Lord. But I lived for years in awful sin. Now I am back, but I can’t accept my forgiveness. I fear God can’t forgive me the unspeakable sins in my past—awful sins. I have no peace. I can’t feel the Lord’s presence.” Another wrote, “I’ve sinned such horrible sins. I want to get back to Jesus but I feel God despises me. I sinned against light. I’m afraid I’ll not be forgiven. I am one of the worst sinners.”

Backsliders are being stirred. Many are coming back. They are tired of falling into drugs, alcohol, lusts; tired of the world. I hear this, “I fell so deep into immorality, so deep into gross sins.” It is as if they believe God has a line—a limit to his love and mercy—as if there is a point where he says, “You provoked me too often. You rejected all my pleas—all my warnings. But now you have crossed a line. Your heart is cold. Satan has a stronghold in your heart.” I believe many backsliders are too embarrassed or too convinced that they have sinned away their day of grace. They can’t conceive the Lord reaching down in the depths of their sinful condition with love and mercy.

Jonah sinned greatly, running from God’s commission. His disobedience would put the blood of many on his hands. In the belly of the whale, God was there in the deepest depth of his sin and rebellion. (See Jonah 2) Jonah believed God had forsaken him for his sin. “You have cast me into the deep…I am cast out of your sight…I went down to the bottom…the depth closed me round about…my soul fainted in me” (Jonah 2:3-7). When he went down to the bottom—into the lowest depth—he got a fresh touch, a special calling. He was forgiven and delivered. This proves the Holy Ghost is at work down in the depth of our sin. No one is too far gone; no one is cast off. The Holy Spirit is dealing with many, saying, “Repent. I am at your rock-bottom situation to bring you back.”

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing! “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).

The blood of Jesus reaches into the depths of sin, offering freedom, pardon, mercy and reconciliation with the Father. No matter how deep you have fallen, the love and forgiveness goes deeper.

Oh, the depth of his love!

Friday, October 8, 2010

TO KNOW HIS VOICE

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

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

1. An unshakeable confidence that God is wanting to speak to you. You have to be fully persuaded and convinced of this. Indeed, he is a speaking God—and he wants you to know his voice so you can do his will. What God tells you will never go beyond the boundaries of Scripture.
2. Quality time and quietness. You need to be willing to shut yourself in with God and let all other voices hush away. True, God speaks to us all day long. But whenever he has wanted to build something into my life, his voice has come only after I had shut out every other voice but his.
3. Asking in faith. We do not obtain anything from God (including hearing his voice) unless we truly believe that he is able to convey his mind to us—to enable us to understand his perfect will!

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

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

Thursday, October 7, 2010

WHERE YOU STAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

THANKSGIVING TIME!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

RIGHT SONG—WRONG SIDE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 4, 2010

THE SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 1, 2010

KNOWING GOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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