Friday, December 30, 2011

THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

Psalm 45 provides us with a beautiful picture of Christ and His bride. A great marriage is about to take place and the writer is "overflowing" with ecstasy and excitement: "My heart is overflowing with a good theme. . ." (Psalm 45:1).

The psalmist can hardly contain himself! He is describing something he sees in his mind's eye—an incredible ceremony, with a grand and glorious Bridegroom and a beautiful bride dressed in gold!

In 1981, the entire world was mesmerized by the royal wedding in England. Millions around the globe were glued to TV sets as Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married. It was one of the most glamorous and celebrated weddings in modern history.

Television networks had "color commentators" who described every detail of the proceedings. News clips showed the regal life of Charles—his polo matches, his duties as prince, his inheritance as the next king of England, his throne, his riches, his palace.

The commentators also described in exquisite detail everything about Princess Diana. The picture was incredible: her hairstyle, her royal gown, her retinue, her shoes, her ornaments, her ring, her flowers, her royal carriage. Even during the wedding ceremony, as the couple stood together at the altar, a commentator whispered details into a microphone: "Isn't she beautiful? Look at her gown, her shoes, her flowers."

It was romantic, breathtaking—a prince and princess united in holy marriage "until death doth them part." People all over the globe wept at the sight. But we lived to see this marriage disintegrate into one of the most sordid, ugly breakups on the face of the earth!

The marriage described in Psalm 45, on the other hand, is a union far more glorious and grand. It too is full of romance, beauty, majesty—but it is a marriage that will never end. It is meant for eternal glory! This psalm is about Jesus and His bride! The Bridegroom is our King and Lord, Jesus Christ, and the bride is His church—believers who have prepared themselves for His coming, who yearn for Him with great expectancy, and whose hearts are without spot or wrinkle.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

“Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this”
(Ecclesiastes 7:10).

Were the “nineties” really gay?
Were the “twenties” really innocent?
Were there any good old days?
Don’t ask!
It is not wise,
For who knoweth what is good for man
In this life.
Speak not of gay times,
For the heart of the wise is
In the house of mourning,
But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
Speak not of past years of song and dance,
For it is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
Than for a man to hear the song of fools.
Speak not of days of law and order,
For there is a time wherein one man ruleth over
another
To his own hurt.
Speak not of days when work was honest,
For all the labor of man is for his mouth,
And yet his appetite is not satisfied.
This day is ours.
Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better
Than that a man should rejoice in his own works,
For that is life’s portion.
Who shall bring him to see
What shall be after him?
Our day will be envied
By those of tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

AT THE END OF YOUR ROPE

Paul wrote “. . . that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). He said, in essence, “The Lord brought me to the end of all human help, the brink of death. It was a place so hopeless, only the God of resurrection power could have rescued me!”

What a wonderful place to be—at the end of your rope! I have always said that when you hit rock bottom you bump into God! Yet, if you listen to most Christians in the midst of their suffering, you hear, “I’ll make it somehow. I’m hanging in the there. I just live one day at a time.”

Since childhood we have been spoon-fed the concept of self-sufficiency: “Take it like a man! Men don’t cry!” How many times have you tried to work out all your troubles? How often have you been flooded with temptations that overwhelmed you?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe God want us to fight the good fight of faith, but the Lord has a way of allowing us to be “pressed out of measure.” Nothing you try works. Nothing you have read seems to help. No counsel of others makes any sense. Suddenly, you are forced into a crisis that obliterates all your trust in yourself. You have no hope—except to give up all human hope. You are forced to trust God—and you see that the only way out is to trust!

Paul clearly is saying to us, “I had the sentence of death in me. I was tested beyond measure, at the end of all hope. And it was all so I would no longer trust in myself! I had to turn to God, with faith that He alone could save me out of my sufferings!”

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

What is this way of escape? It is coming to the end of your own strength and turning absolutely to God! It is saying, as Paul did, “I do not trust in myself anymore!”

The way of escape is simple, childlike faith in God. It is trusting Him totally to see you through it all, resigning yourself and saying, “God, I put everything on You!”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

THEIR LANGUAGE IS PRAISE

People who have endured suffering and proven God to be faithful are strong, mellow and patient. They have the gentleness of Christ. I love to be around such people! They encourage my spirit!

You will come through your trial and be of great help to others if you will trust God through it! You will see it happen on your job, in your family, in your church. People will be attracted to you because they know what you have gone through and they have seen you gain the victory through the power of God alone!

Many believers who suffer never learn anything from it. As a result, they never know God as their comforter or consoler. To hear them talk, you would think God was hard, spiteful, uncaring. They ask, “Why me?” Then they doubt God’s love and begin to turn away from Him. They moan, groan and murmur, and all their joy fades. Soon they grow bitter and hard.

I have a pastor friend who for years had a very successful ministry to troubled people. But today he is deep in sin, drug-addicted and totally backslidden. His wife left him and he has taken up with a drug-addicted woman.

When you ask him what happened, he blames it all on how others let him down. His wife left him; God didn’t answer his prayers; other ministers disappointed him. He says, “I really tried, but I just couldn’t take it. There were too many pressures and there were so many hypocrites. I was misjudged and I couldn’t handle that.”

The apostle Paul, even in the worst hour of his sufferings, blessed the name of the Lord. He knew the Father was full of mercy and the Source of all his comfort. He did not question God or become bitter; in fact, he praised Him in the midst of it all!

The best teachers in any church are not the ones in the pulpit. Rather, they are sitting in the pews right next to you—people who have suffered and yet still worship the Lord. The language of those who learn through suffering is praise!

Monday, December 26, 2011

AT THE END OF YOUR ROPE

Paul wrote “. . . that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). He said, in essence, “The Lord brought me to the end of all human help, the brink of death. It was a place so hopeless, only the God of resurrection power could have rescued me!”

What a wonderful place to be—at the end of your rope! I have always said that when you hit rock bottom you bump into God! Yet, if you listen to most Christians in the midst of their suffering, you hear, “I’ll make it somehow. I’m hanging in the there. I just live one day at a time.”

Since childhood we have been spoon-fed the concept of self-sufficiency: “Take it like a man! Men don’t cry!” How many times have you tried to work out all your troubles? How often have you been flooded with temptations that overwhelmed you?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe God want us to fight the good fight of faith, but the Lord has a way of allowing us to be “pressed out of measure.” Nothing you try works. Nothing you have read seems to help. No counsel of others makes any sense. Suddenly, you are forced into a crisis that obliterates all your trust in yourself. You have no hope—except to give up all human hope. You are forced to trust God—and you see that the only way out is to trust!

Paul clearly is saying to us, “I had the sentence of death in me. I was tested beyond measure, at the end of all hope. And it was all so I would no longer trust in myself! I had to turn to God, with faith that He alone could save me out of my sufferings!”

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

What is this way of escape? It is coming to the end of your own strength and turning absolutely to God! It is saying, as Paul did, “I do not trust in myself anymore!”

The way of escape is simple, childlike faith in God. It is trusting Him totally to see you through it all, resigning yourself and saying, “God, I put everything on You!”

THE MINISTRY OF CONSOLATION

The apostle Paul said, “[The Lord] comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

One of the neediest ministries in the church of Jesus Christ today is that of consolation—comforting others in their trouble and affliction. Many believers simply do not know where to turn in their hurt.

When I am really hurting, suffering deeply, I do not want to read a book outlining ten steps on how to find victory or go to a big-name evangelist who will zap me. None of these is the answer—because none will reach the root of my suffering! No—I want to talk to some ordinary saint who has suffered heavily, and yet has come through it all praising God, comforted and full of faith!

It is suffering people who receive the consolations and comforts of the Lord. They know the sympathy of Jesus, because His voice speaks true comfort to them in their hour of darkness. These sufferers become rich in spiritual resources. They develop a confidence born out of having endured tribulations and testing. Best of all, God gives them influence they could not have attained in any other way!

I think of Corrie Ten Boom and the wonderful experience it was for the thousands of people who sat and listened to her talk about Jesus. Many pastors and leaders all over the United States were comforted and encouraged by this once-unknown woman—because all her suffering had produced a wealth of knowledge of the Lord. She had an abundance of consolation and comfort from the Holy Spirit—and she used it as an influence for Jesus!

Paul was able to rejoice in all his tribulations because he knew his sufferings were for others’ benefit. He saw his trials as a kind of schooling he was going through. He could say, “God has a purpose in this because He is training me! There will be people who are going to need the comfort and consolation that I have received in my suffering!”

It is no wonder Paul referred to his heavenly Father as, “The Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Friday, December 23, 2011

THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE WAYS OF GOD!

We are facing a time when the word deliverance will take on a whole new meaning! In the past, Christians have thought of deliverance mainly as physical healing but soon the greatest deliverance will be from fear and terror!

Deliverance at that time will mean having a “sure word from heaven.” Jesus said that men’s hearts will fail them for fear as they see the awful things coming on the earth (see Luke 21:26) Indeed, people will clamor to know what God is going to do next. They will turn in all directions, wanting to hear the voice of someone who is calm, peaceful, not going crazy. They will cry, “Please tell me! Is this God’s judgment? When is it all going to end?”

And who do you think is going to have the answers? You! The ordinary Christian who has been shut in with God! You will be full of calm and peace while everything is falling apart, because God is with you and you’re hearing from heaven. He warned you this was coming and He promised to protect you!

I believe God is going to use His holy remnant in these last days to stir multitudes, revive pastors, and awaken churches. This army will turn people’s hearts back to God by bringing them to repentance—through prayer and godly reproof of sin.

When I speak of a holy remnant in training, I do not mean an army of preachers, evangelists and missionaries. I am talking about ordinary saints, lovers of Jesus who themselves will be signs and wonders to the world, peaceful and calm. God does not want a professional army trained in man’s methods. He wants men and women who are trained in prayer by the Holy Spirit! He is seeking believers who are shut in with Him, preparing their hearts before Him, learning to hear His voice.

Does this describe you? Is your life right now a witness to a scared and shaken world? I urge you to get alone with God and let Him speak to you. Ask Him to reveal the sin in your life. Forsake all that the Holy Spirit convicts you of. Make yourself available to Him by giving yourself to prayer and then you will be a ready soldier in His great, last-day remnant army.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

THE CHURCH’S MISSION: TO LIVE FOR OTHERS

One simple way to measure whether you love well is to examine how you look out for the interests of others.

As a pastor, I have to forge an unwavering vision to do this. I am charged by God with a call to stir my people to action and to relentlessly pursue the mission he has given us. The truth is, I can go about this in one of two ways: through my own ambition, pushing to achieve my individual goals; or to adopt the heart of Christ and make my mission to love.

If my church grows to ten thousand and I don’t have love as my vision...if our church sends out 1,000 missionaries but doesn’t have love…then we are failing in our calling as a believing body. We are raising up false ambassadors and exporting a weak brand of watered-down Christianity empowered by something other than love.

How about you? Are your prayers or spiritual ambitions locked in a world of your own wants, needs and desires? Are you bothered or irritated when others’ genuine needs interrupt your goals?

What is the remedy for selfish ambition? Paul wrote to the Philippians, “In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3b). Paul doesn’t say not to esteem yourself, your vision or your life mission. But he does say others also have vision, purpose and a mission. If you will esteem them, you will not just be helping them but also strengthening them in their calling—and perhaps affecting many lives.

Think about the power of Paul’s statement. Imagine what might happen if every Christian radically obeyed this truth. We would all have deep, world-impacting interests in others—and none of us would be immersed in our individual goals. The whole body of Christ would be so other-centered we would empower one another in our many varied callings.

If each of us is looking only to interests of our own making, our testimony will be limited at best. But if we all are looking in love to build up others, every God-ordained mission will have more than ample support to be accomplished.

That is what I call a way to live. It is a campaign I want to start today—living for, being in and serving those around me for the glory of God.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

POWER BELONGS

“Then he called his twelve disciples together and gave them power” (Luke 9:1).

Jesus gave his disciples power not because they were ambitious but because they were his. Belonging to Christ is a non-negotiable to receiving his power. Power is birthed out of belonging. Belonging brings real power.

So many Christians lead powerless lives—having habitual sin practices, a poor testimony, a weak spiritual life; lacking a fervent, radical prayer life and any answers to their prayers.

Do you feel powerless? This one short verse is loaded with words of power:

“Called”—meaning, in essence, not our own agenda, direction, self-will or resource of power.

“Disciples”—those who abandon all to follow the life, teaching and direction of the teacher.

“Together”—that power is not to be contained in singular vessels but expressed in community, in work toward kingdom purposes.

“Gave”—showing we can do nothing unless Jesus gives us power to do it.

“Power”—it is not what we desire, work for or strive after, but comes only and exclusively through His giving it. We never outgrow this part of our history as Christians. Every follower of Jesus is commanded to wait until we are endued with (given) power from on high.

Are you lacking power? There is no other way to obtain it than to have it given to you by the One you belong to. Jesus has power to give to those who are totally and fully His.

Don’t strive for power. Desire to belong—fully, passionately, humbly, ambitiously, to the One your heart yearns for. Then power will come to you beyond what you can imagination.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

WHO AM I?

“I am blameless, yet I do not know myself;
I despise my life” (Job 9:21).

God seems so great and big;
I seem so small and imperfect.
He commands the sun and it rises;
I break to pieces in a tempest.
He spreads out the heavens and walks on waves,
But He goes by me and I see Him not.
He rules the chamber of stars.
If I call to Him in the heavens
And He answered,
Yet I would not believe He heard my voice.
I feel like God has wounded me
Without cause.
He is the Judge,
But who will plead for me?
When I try to justify myself,
My own mouth condemns me.
The feeling grows
That even if I were perfect,
I would not know myself.
I would still despise life
Because
We are really of yesterday
And know nothing,
For life is a shadow.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A HOLY SPIRIT CHURCH!

You should never go to church without praying, “God, give me Holy Spirit ears to hear. Help me to hear, understand and apply Your Word to my life!” Just as the Holy Spirit anoints a pastor’s tongue to speak, so must He anoint your ears to hear.

In a Holy Spirit church you will always hear a gut-wrenching cry of repentance. In fact, you cannot be a Holy Spirit person until you “cry out from your guts” yourself. And that is something that Solomon never did!

King David’s church was not perfect; in fact, it was a type of a Corinthians church. David committed adultery; he killed an innocent man; he walked for a season in horrible deception. Yet, after David sinned, he uttered this agonizing cry from his innermost being: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight. . . . Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:2-4, 11).

A heartrending cry is the mark of a Holy Spirit church! Of course, there are people in this church who fail and live in deception. But like David, they have become so sensitive to the work and moving of the Holy Spirit, they do not always need a prophet to tell them they have sinned. They repent even before a prophet comes to them—because they feel wounded by their sin!

David said of his sin: “The sorrows of Sheol [hell] surrounded me, the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God. . . . He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me” (2 Samuel 22:6-7, 17-18).

God is going to bring the Solomon church to ruin and resurrect David’s church from out of those ruins! This remnant church will have a godly sorrow for sin. It will cry out in anguish and repentance and be wholly dependent upon the Holy Spirit!

“After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up” (Acts 15:16).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

THE CHURCH OF ZION!

The driving force behind David's church was total dependence on the Holy Spirit. Here is what distinguished David:

"Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward" (1 Samuel 16:13).

When David was on his deathbed, he said to his son Solomon: "I want to tell you why God has blessed me. I want you to know the secret of my ministry." Listen to David's last words to his son: “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2).
David was saying, “I didn't trust in my knowledge and wisdom. I didn't trust in any part of my flesh. I was a weak man—but I depended on the Holy Spirit! Every word I spoke was under His unction and anointing. His words filled my mouth!”

When we opened the ministry doors at Teen Challenge here in New York City, our motto was, "The Holy Ghost is in charge here!" It wasn't “how to cope” preaching that saved gang members. They didn't fall on their knees because we preached concise, pithy sermons. They weren't convicted by pointed illustrations and nature stories. No! These former drug addicts testified to their friends, “I once was on the street, like you. But look at me now! The Spirit of God changed me!”

Solomon spoke of trees, hyssop, beasts, fish, creeping things. But David spoke of intimacy with the Lord, of brokenness and contriteness. David was convicted and changed by his own preaching. He so valued the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life, he asked the Lord never to take His Spirit from him. David knew he was nothing without the Holy Spirit!

Paul said, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

“We also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches . . . But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him: nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (vv. 13-14).

THE SOLOMON CHURCH

“Now Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and exalted him exceedingly” (2 Chronicles 1:1).

The church of Jesus Christ today has been strengthened and blessed by God. Provision has been made for endeavors of all kinds. Consider the big, beautiful edifices being built in the land. Consider also the church’s great financial blessings. Millions are spent on televangelism, books, records and tapes, missions, institutions, colleges and parachurch ministries of all kinds.

When all these works began, each one had something of God’s anointing. Indeed, most started out with the same blessings that God poured out upon Solomon. Solomon was well organized and much more educated than his father, David. He did everything bigger and better than any previous generation ever could have conceived.

The driving force behind Solomon was wisdom and knowledge. This was his heart-cry to God: “Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10).

Isn’t this a wonderful prayer? It sounds so good and God was pleased that Solomon did not ask for selfish gain. Yet there’s a problem: This prayer is totally man-centered! This very talented, self-confident king was saying, in essence, “Just give me the tools, God, and I’ll get the job done. Give me wisdom and knowledge, and I’ll set everything in order among this people. I’ll accomplish it all!”

Solomon’s prayer was not the prayer of his father, David, a man who was after God’s own heart. No, Solomon’s prayer was that of a new generation—an educated people with new ideas and skills. His cry was, “I need wisdom and knowledge!” I believe Solomon represents the spirit and nature of the last-day Laodician church. This church is headed for the same ruin Solomon faced!

Solomon had a head full of wisdom and a mouth full of songs. He could preach and teach with incredible skill. He had a well-organized operation, with talented leaders. Everything about his church appeared to be decent and in order. But everything Solomon did ended up in the phrase, “All is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)

The Solomon church has all the answers. It looks great on the outside but it is absolutely lifeless! And it ends up in vanity, idolatry, sensuality, emptiness and despair.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

STAY IN LOVE

“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 created
thing, shall be able to separate us from the
love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”
(Romans 8:38-39).

Death is deep and dark.
Life is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Principalities and powers are immovable,
Things present are uncertain:
Things to come unknown.
There are mysteries in the height and depth
Of this universe,
Yet none of these can separate us
From the love of God,
Which is in Christ the Lord.
Who shall separate us from His love?
Shall tribulation or distress?
Persecution or famine?
Nakedness, peril or sword?
No! For God is love.
This love passeth all understanding
A bond of perfectness—
So walk in His love.
He that dwelleth in love
Dwelleth in God—
And God in him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

BRINGING GOD'S PEOPLE TO THEIR KNEES!

"Then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him" (Zechariah 12:10). I see in Zechariah's prophecy a new vision of the cross of Jesus.

Right now, the Holy Spirit is doing just that in Israel. Multitudes of Jews gather at the Wailing Wall, weeping for their Messiah to come. But one day soon God will remove the veil and they will know Jesus for who He is and weep over having pierced Him!

There is another application of this verse that has to do with the church. There is soon coming a very personal dealing by the Holy Spirit. The church of Jesus Christ has so blunted sin—so whitewashed and overlooked it—that when the Spirit comes down with the spirit of prayer, He will bring a purging as well. There will be weeping, mourning, brokenness—a reality of how our sins grieve the heart of God!

The Holy Spirit is going to move in this way not just in congregations, but in families and in individuals: “And the land shall mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves" (Zechariah 12:12).

What greater gift could God give His church just before He comes than a powerful, convicting message against sin? He will bring such piercing conviction that we will not be able to tolerate any unholy or unclean thing in us!

In summary, here are the qualifications and marks of the latter-day outpouring of the Spirit:

  1. A focus on the final harvest of souls.
  2. A spirit of grace leading to repentance and godliness.
  3. A spirit of supplication resulting in surrender and an urgency to pray in the Spirit.
  4. A yearning for Jesus, and mourning, a brokenness and weeping with godly sorrow for sin. Only after such dealings of the Spirit will the true blessing of joy come!

I do not want to miss out on God's last outpouring! I have been praying for Him to include me, and I urge you to do the same. Pray with me now: “Lord, I don't have the discipline needed for Your holy work. You have to give it to me! Give me Your burden for lost souls; put Your weeping Spirit in me. You are my only hope, so I surrender and turn totally to You. I'll do anything You tell me and I will depend on You for everything!”

Monday, December 12, 2011

PRAYING SUCH AS THE WORLD HAS NEVER KNOWN!

A missionary spoke to our church of great awakenings around the world. In every case, the "spirit of prayer" is tied to the last harvest. In Vietnam, China, Siberia, the Amazon, Africa, and numerous other places, God's people are praying with fire and fervency—weeping and crying out to God, seeking His face, dealing with sin and turning to righteousness.

You cannot manufacture this kind of inclination to pray. It is the result of the Spirit of supplication—as God promised in Zechariah 12:10. And these believers are already experiencing it!

Not long ago we called for weeks of prayer at Times Square Church and we also have experienced a small taste of this outpouring of the Spirit. Indeed, there is a measure of fire and diligence in prayer throughout this nation. But we have not yet experienced the outpouring of the Spirit of supplication!

God is showing me that even the desire and inclination to pray must come from the Holy Spirit. Now my dilemma is this: God has promised to pour out a Spirit of supplication on His church, and I want to be a part of the genuine move of God. So, how can I make sure I receive this outpouring?

The answer is in Zechariah 10:1: “Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone” (Zechariah 10:1).

We must ask the Lord for this Spirit of supplication! The flashing clouds in this verse speak of "lightning, thunderstorms." God has promised to give us showers! He is telling us in Zechariah, "Ask and I will give you this burden from heaven. But you must seek it from Me!"
It is time we started asking the Lord, "O God, pour your Holy Spirit on me that I may learn to pray! Open up the fountain. Let me be a part of Your final harvest!"

Once His Spirit of supplication showers down upon you, you will find yourself praying for holiness, godliness, purity. You will intercede for your lost loved ones and weep over this dying world. But you have to ask the Holy Spirit to do it in you—and then trust Him!

Friday, December 9, 2011

THE SPIRIT OF SUPPLICATIONS

The word supplication (see Zechariah 12:10) is never used in the Bible except to denote a cry or prayer that is vocalized. In other words, it is not private or meditative. Supplication has to do with the voice!

The Hebrew word for supplication signifies “an olive branch wrapped with wool, or some kind of cloth, waved by a supplicant seeking peace or surrender.” These were called “branches of supplication.” Simply put, they were flags that signified a cry of total, unconditional surrender.

Picture a battle-weary soldier, ragged and worn, tired and overwhelmed, stuck in a foxhole of self-will. He is all alone, weary and haggard, and has come to the end of himself. He breaks a branch off a tree and ties his white undershirt to it, lifts it, and crawls out of his foxhole, crying, “I surrender—I give up!”

That is supplication! It says, “I surrender! I can’t fight this battle anymore. I’m lost and despairing.”

Supplication is not just calling on God to do what you want. It is not begging and pleading with Him to assist you in your plans. On the contrary, it is a total giving up of your will and your way!

For centuries Christians have called on God while full of self-will, begging and crying, “O God, send me here, send me there, give me this, give me that.” But in the last days the Holy Spirit is going to fall with great power to produce a sense of spiritual bankruptcy. We will wake up to the fact that even with all our money, brains, programs, ministries, and plans, we have not even touched this world. The truth is, the church has lost ground and become weak and pitiful.

There must be surrender! Our cries must be accompanied by a willingness to give up everything in our life that is unlike Jesus Christ.

Daniel’s prayer demonstrates what supplication is all about: “Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies” (Daniel 9:17-18).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

THE SPIRIT OF GRACE

The Bible says the Holy Ghost will be poured out as “. . . the Spirit of grace and supplication” (Zechariah 12:10).

The book of Titus tells us that grace is given to us as power over sin, to enable us to live sober, holy lives: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13).

There has been a marvelous measure of this grace in God’s people since Pentecost. The Holy Spirit has sent conviction of sin on all nations, teaching believers of every race and tongue how to forsake ungodliness and worldly lusts. The result has been a people who live soberly and righteously in this present world and who long for the coming of Jesus.

I believe Zechariah 12:10 prophecies that in the very last hour, the Holy Spirit will fall mightily on God’s people with a spirit of grace that turns them completely from all worldliness. It will produce in them a cry for purity of heart!

A dear brother in the Lord, the head of a ministry, called to tell me that leaders in his ministry had been gathering to seek the Lord. The Holy Spirit began exposing sin in their midst and several of the ministry team had to be dismissed. The brother told me, “Now that the Holy Spirit has come down, there is a pressure to do right.”

His phrase struck me and I couldn’t shake it off: a pressure to do right. When the Holy Spirit comes down and exposes sin, those who have been lukewarm or in compromise become convicted. Ministers will wake up to true “grace preaching,” the kind that convicts people of every hidden thing in their lives.

Beloved, the pressure to forsake sin and to do right is going to get hot and heavy in God’s last-day church!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HOLY GHOST RAIN

No matter what kind of manifestations you see in a so-called revival, it is not a true move of God unless it is focused on the harvest! Holy Ghost rain always falls to produce an ingathering of souls.

God poured out His Spirit at Pentecost to prepare the ground and soften it for the gospel seed to be sown. Spirit-filled believers were sent out from the Upper Room into all the world to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

The church has seen almost 2,000 years of sowing and growing and it is now harvest time! All who have died in Christ up to now represent the first fruits or the early harvest. Jesus has not yet come because He has been waiting patiently for His final, mighty harvest!

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain” (James 5:7).

In the early part of the last century, the “Latter Rain Movement” began in Canada. It lasted forty or fifty years. Today, only a few “Latter Rain” churches remain, yet those who were involved in that movement were convinced they were experiencing the Spirit’s great, final outpouring. Many said, “This is it! We’re seeing Zechariah 12:10 come to pass!” But the movement dissipated and other such movements have come and gone also. Why? Because they were not focused on the harvest!

Many so-called Holy Ghost movements have vanished quickly because they were man-centered—focusing on gifts, self-improvement, personal happiness, and not in reaching a lost and dying world!

Jesus tied the harvest to lost souls when He said, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

Any true outpouring of the Holy Spirit will focus on this prayer of Jesus. The few revivals documented as genuine all were blessed with great harvests of souls.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DEEP WATER

“I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where floods overflow me”
(Psalm 69:2).

Save me, O God,
For my soul is being flooded
With foolishness.
My sins are not hidden from Thee.
I am sinking
With no place to stand;
I am in deep water.
Floods overflow me;
I wait for God to rescue me.
My throat is dry
From calling on Him.
I weep and chasten my soul,
Mocking my own weakness.
Hear me speedily, God,
And don’t hide your face.
I need a comforter:
Turn to me with tender mercy.
Deliver me out of this mire.
Let me not sink.
Save me from this deep water:
I am in real trouble—
Danger.
Don’t let the deep swallow me up.
Let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
Make haste, O God,
Tarry not;
You are my help
And deliverer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

GOD IS WILLING TO SAVE WICKED, HARDENED SINNERS!

God’s people in Judah had a problem. They doubted His willingness and power to redeem a people entrenched in apostasy and idolatry. “They said, ‘That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart’” (Jeremiah 18:12).

Judah had given up hope, thinking, “We’ve gone too far—and now there is no going back. We have left the Lord, mocked Him, cast Him aside, abused Him. We are so deep into our sins, it’s hopeless. Not even God can bring us back!”

After all my years in ministry, I still have to fight this kind of thinking. You may feel the same. Your husband may be an atheist, mean and godless. And you have convinced yourself, “All around me, people are getting saved but my husband is different. He is so hard!”

The Lord said to Judah, “Is my hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?” (Isaiah 50:2).

To shorten means to “chop off.” God was saying, “Tell me, has the enemy chopped off My mighty arm? Have I lost My power to save? No! My mighty arm dried up the Red Sea. It clothed the heavens with blackness. It opened blind eyes! You have seen that I will save to the uttermost. Why do you think I have lost My power to redeem you?”

Beloved, when did God lose His power to save the vilest sinner on earth? When did He lose His willingness to deliver drug addicts, drunkards and prostitutes even when nobody was praying for them?

Would God somehow decide not to save your family members, for whom you have fasted and prayed faithfully? Absolutely not! We must cry out to Him in faith, “Oh, Lord, You can save Wall Street. You can deliver the sinner in New York. You can redeem any Muslim in any foreign land and you can save any member of my family. Your arm is not too short. You can save anybody!”

Don’t believe that His hand has been chopped off; instead, believe Him for the impossible! Get a vision of His love and mercy—of His mighty outstretched arm, all powerful to save!

We are to pray and be patient and He will gather in our loved ones, one at a time!

“‘Return, O backsliding children,’ says the Lord; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion’” (Jeremiah 3:14).

Friday, December 2, 2011

DARKNESS CANNOT STOP THE LIGHT!

When I first began this ministry I spoke in churches all over America, warning of the moral landslide to come. I told people in Iowa, Oklahoma and all the Southern states that drugs would strike even the smallest hamlet. Pushers would appear in schools and on playgrounds. I warned of blatant homosexuality, with nude parades taking place in our cities, and I prophesied that nudity and sexual acts would air on prime-time television.

Many people who heard me preach thought I had come from Mars. Pastors berated me and sincere Christians came to me saying, “No way! God will never let that happen in America.” Today, some of those people are grandparents. They sit before their TV watching the R-rated movies I prophesied about and their grandchildren are addicted to drugs and alcohol. The darkness I warned about has now come.

Can you imagine how dark it is going to be ten years from now, should the Lord tarry?

Yet, I ask you: As you see the darkness deepening on all sides, do you believe it will exceed the light of the gospel? Are you afraid the darkness is going to squash it, snuff it out?

No—never! God’s people must never be intimidated by the darkness and fury of the enemy. The Bible says Jesus is going to rise and shine in the darkness no matter how dark the world becomes! “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

We live in a time of widespread death and darkness. But God says that in such times He will shine His light the brightest: “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16).

No darkness will ever stop God’s light! So get your eyes off the darkness, off the sin, off the fury of violent people, and believe the Lord for the bursting forth of His shining, effusing light!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

READY FOR REVIVAL

Can we be ready for revival if we believe that all hope is gone—that we have sinned away our day of grace and there is nothing left but judgment? Beloved, we cannot have faith for a revival until we are convinced that God still wants to pour out His Spirit upon us!

Why hasn’t America been judged? Why hasn’t Jesus come yet? It is because there is still a great harvest ahead and God is “. . . not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

We see this great mercy of the Lord in a passage in Isaiah where God instructed the prophet to tell Judah: “Where is the certificate of your mother’s divorce, whom I have put away? Or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you? For your iniquities you have sold yourselves, and for your transgressions your mother has been put away. Why, when I came, was there no man? Why, when I called, was there none to answer? Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver?” (Isaiah 50:1-2).

God had already divorced Israel, giving them “. . . a certificate of divorce” (Jeremiah 3:8). But now His attention was on Judah, a people who had cheated on Him and walked away from Him. God still had a heart for Judah, and He came to them crying to see the certificate of divorce (see Isaiah 50:1). He was saying, “Show Me your divorce papers! Prove to Me I ever put you away. It was you who walked away from Me! I did nothing to grieve or hurt you. I loved you the whole time. I came to you and I called you!”

Beloved, that is exactly what I see God doing with America right now. He is saying to us, “Show Me your divorce papers! Show Me I walked away from you! I have not yet removed my Holy Spirit. Rather, I am still at work all over this nation—still wooing, calling, coming to you!”

The Lord is speaking this through many pulpits across this nation. He is speaking it through godly men and women who spend precious time seeking Him. He is calling America back to repentance—back to His own heart!

We have to be fully persuaded that there is still time, still hope, and that while we are praying, the Spirit is at work in all levels of society, calling and wooing people to Himself!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

THE LATTER RAIN!

“It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:9-10).

This prophecy from Zechariah is about a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will take place in the last days. A similar outpouring is described in Joel 2, which I believe to be Pentecost. That passage reads: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).

This is exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost! The Holy Spirit came in like a flood as a spirit of prophecy at the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

This great outpouring also became a steady watering of the Holy Spirit that has lasted throughout the centuries. For nearly 2,000 years God has poured out His Spirit like showers on His people, daily watering His church and protecting it. Isaiah refers to it as: “A vineyard of red wine! I, the Lord, keep it, I water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I keep it night and day” (Isaiah 27:2-3).

The two outpourings of the Spirit are referred to as the first (or former) rain and the last (or latter) rain: “And it shall be that if you diligently obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil” (Deuteronomy 11:13-14).

The planting and harvest seasons in Israel were just the opposite of ours. The first rains, which softened the ground, were from October to the end of December, just before the planting season. The last rains ripened the harvest and fell from March through April, just prior to reaping.

It is important to note that these two outpourings always had to do with the harvest. The Spirit’s work is always focused on the harvest of souls!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

THE ROOT OF FEAR

“If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away,
And would not let wickedness dwell in your tents;
Then surely you could lift up your face without spot;
Yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear” (Job 11:14-15).

All fear can be traced
To a spot
Of sin and secret iniquity
Harbored in a man’s heart.
He has the power in his hand
To put it away.
Despising the riches of God’s grace,
His . . . forbearance and longsuffering,
He continues in his evil way,
Allowing in his own life
What he condemns in others,
Becoming a law unto himself.
He seeks to be God’s favored exception
To escape wrath and tribulation.
But God is no respecter of persons,
Judging all alike,
Promising glory, honor and peace
To those who put evil away.
And then he shall lift up his face without spot.
He shall be steadfast
And shall not fear,
For only where sin lies at the door
Is man afraid.

Monday, November 28, 2011

KNOWING THE VOICE OF THE LORD!

Because of the sinfulness of the priesthood and the people, God was not speaking to Israel. The Bible says, “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation” (1 Samuel 3:1). Yet, in the middle of this famine of the Word, the Lord appeared to the young Samuel: “The Lord called Samuel [who] did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him” (3:4, 7).

Samuel was only twelve years old and although he was a devout child, he did not yet recognize the voice of the Lord. So God came to Samuel’s bedside and called to him audibly. At first Samuel thought Eli was speaking; he did not know he was being trained to discern voices—to hear directly from God!

God was not speaking to the priest, Eli, who had grown deaf to His voice! In fact, it seems that only one prophet was hearing from God—the unnamed man who warned Eli that God was about to cut him off (1 Samuel 2:27-36).

Hearing from God takes more than quiet time alone. It takes more than simply saying, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears!” No, there is not a formula for hearing God; there are not ten steps to follow. Before you can hear God, He has to be talking to you—and He talks to those who have prepared their hearts to hear!

Samuel had no deep theological knowledge of God when the Lord first spoke to him. But he had a tender, pure, devoted heart that was open to the Lord. So, what do you think God taught Samuel first after speaking to him?

The Lord told Samuel, “I’m going to judge Eli because he knew his sons were wicked, but he did nothing to restrain them! They should have been stripped of their robes and told, ‘You can’t go near the holy place!’ Now, Samuel, I want to show you My hatred for sin in My house. I want to show you what it’s going to take to hear My voice and walk with Me” (see 3:11-14).

It is no wonder the Bible says Samuel spoke such sure words—he had heard the voice of the Lord! He spent much time shut in with Him, praying, seeking Him, and God spoke clearly to him at all times.

There are people right now who have been trained to know God’s voice. These praying saints pour out their hearts to Him—and in turn He pours out to them!

Friday, November 25, 2011

BIRTH OF THE LAST-DAYS REMNANT

The prophet Samuel is a type of the last-days holy remnant—a prepared body of believers that rises out of the ruins of the old, decadent church.

Hannah, Samuel’s mother, birthed her son through bitter tears and much prayer. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Samuel 1:10).

Try to imagine the scene: Hannah was at the temple every day, on her knees before the altar, crushed and broken because she was childless. As she wept, her adversary—her husband’s other wife—made fun of her. “And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:6).

There are three important things I want to point out from this passage:

  • First, the remnant that Samuel represents is born in grief and intercession.
  • Second, those who pray and grieve after God’s heart will be provoked by adversaries.
  • And third, God’s remnant is always going to be misunderstood!

Note what happened to Hannah as she prayed: “And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!’” (1 Samuel 1:12-14). Eli and his sons represent the dying, corrupt church that has forsaken the Lord’s way. Eli was so out of touch—so dead in his spirit—he thought Hannah was drunk!

When Hannah was praying, she was filled with grief, burdened for the birth of a son. All she could do was move her lips because of her groaning in the Spirit. She prayed, “If You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and . . . will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:11).

Here are two distinguishing marks of God’s holy remnant:

  • They pray like Hannah. Their burden is deep and their heart is stirred because of the wickedness in God’s house.
  • Like Hannah, they give themselves to prayer every day of their lives.

God wants to make you like that. He wants you to be able to touch Him and hear from Him. He wants to give you a ministry to others who will come to you with their burdens and trials. And as you pray for them, His Word will come forth!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

GOD’S POWERFUL ARMY

Something very powerful and awesome is going on in the world today—something beyond human comprehension—something that will affect the whole world in these last days.

God is preparing a small but powerful army of Christians, the most dedicated army on the face of the earth. The Lord will come forth to command them to do exploits; He is going to close out the ages with a pure, devoted, fearless remnant.

All my life I have heard stories about our godly forefathers who hated sin. These men and women knew God’s voice and spent hours, even days, in fasting and prayer. They prayed unceasingly and had the power and ability to successfully stand up against immorality in their day.

These forefathers have long since passed on. But God is in the process of raising up another army and this time His warriors will not be made up only of elderly, gray-haired fathers and mothers of Zion. This new army will be composed of both new and seasoned believers, both young and old, ordinary Christians who lay hold of God! A whole new realm of ministry is about to come forth!

The denominational church system appears to be in the throes of death. It has almost no influence in the secular world, no mighty power in Christ. Some accuse me of being “hard” on pastors. But I am in touch with many godly pastors who grieve as I do over the backsliding in the ministry today. There is a holy remnant of godly pastors in the land, and I thank God for every one of them. Yet, it is still a fact that more and more ministers are racing down the road of compromise.

The Bible warns that we are not to fret! God has a plan and it is being manifested. It is put forth plainly in Scripture, mostly in the first four chapters of First Samuel.

The prophet Samuel is a type of God’s last-days remnant. The Lord chose him amid the worst of times and hid him away in training until it was time to bring forth His new thing. God told Samuel, “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11). What would so amaze and startle all who heard it? It was the judgment of God on the backslidden religious system and the raising up, training and anointing of a new, holy remnant!

What God did in Samuel’s day, He does in every generation. Indeed, in every generation there has been a remnant, a praying people after His own heart.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE

If you think you’re too ordinary to be used of God, listen closely: God is not going to do
His last-days work through big-name evangelists or pastors. They alone will not be able to handle the great moving of His Spirit! The fact is, God is going to need every housewife, teenager, elderly person and all who love Him to carry out His mighty work. This last-days army is going to be made up of Christians who have been weaned from bread alone. Let me explain.

God said through Moses: “Man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Bread stands for all natural, material things necessary for this life—food, shelter, clothes, labor, wages. Bread represents livelihood—those things we need that are not evil in themselves. Many Christians, however, live only for the things of this life—they live on bread alone!

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). But first He said we were to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done” (v. 10). We are to focus first on God’s interests—praying for His will to be done!

What have you been thinking about more than anything else these past six months? What has consumed most of your time and prayers? Has it been mostly bread issues—personal needs?

If you focus only on bread, then you have no life! You are living in a wilderness, just as the children of Israel did. They rose daily and began crying for bread—their personal needs—every day for forty years!

Beloved, that is boredom—drudgery! God never intended for His children to live like that. Instead, He told Israel through Moses, “You should be living by every word that proceeds out of My mouth! Yes, I told you I would give you bread, but don’t stop there. Move on! I have told you there is a land flowing with milk and honey, with rivers, trees, forests, green pastures—and I want that place for you!”

God is raising up a people who are focused on His will for this midnight hour! They are tired of living in a wilderness of mere survival. All they want is to know and do God’s will. Every member of this last-days army must be ready and prepared in heart—because God is poised to release His great, final outpouring!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

GOD IS INTEGRATED

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21)

Never believe what a man says about love,
If he segregates himself from a brother
Of any color or race,
For there is no fear in love.
Perfect love casteth out all fear
Because fear hath torment.
How can one say he loves God
And believes in equality,
While at the same time he is tormented
By the fear of a brother
He mistrusts or dislikes?
If a man cannot love his brother
Whom he can see,
How can he love God
Who is unseen?
God has commanded men everywhere
To love his brother
As God has loved him—
For God is love.

Monday, November 21, 2011

KNOWING THE LORD’S MIND AND WILL

“Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear” (Psalm 10:17).

In this verse David outlines a simple, three-step plan for knowing the Lord’s mind and will for your life:

  1. Petition Him (pray)
  2. Prepare your heart to hear His voice
  3. He will cause you to know—the Holy Spirit will speak to you

Very soon, God is going to pour out of His glorious cup the greatest measure of His Spirit the world has ever seen. Great Holy Spirit conviction will come upon your neighbors, coworkers and unsaved family members.

People everywhere are going to be hurting and they will turn from their dead churches to seek out those who walk with God. They will be desperate to find someone whose heart has been prepared!

God is going to use hundreds of thousands of ordinary servants for His end-time work of people-to-people ministry. So I ask you: Are you preparing your heart right now for His work to be done, both in you and through you?

Confess to God today: “Oh, Lord, I want my life to count! I know that right now I am living on bread alone—in a wilderness of despair. But I want to live!”

Dive into His Word. Learn to seek Him daily. There is revolutionary power in the preparation of your heart! It is through this preparation that meaning and fullness will come into your life. Your feelings and personality will change and power will be released in you!

When God sees you are ready, He will bring you great opportunities to do His work. You will not even have to leave your house. God will bring the needs right to your door!

The mighty God we serve is preparing His people at this very hour for a mighty work.

“The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies” (Isaiah 42:13).

Prepare your heart to meet Him! Become a ready servant, equipped and prepared for His great last-day outpouring, and His glory will come alive in you in this final hour!

Friday, November 18, 2011

MORE THAN PREACHING AND TEACHING

I believe the gospel should be accompanied by the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost—working mighty wonders, proving the gospel is true!

Paul boldly stated, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). The Greek here means “with proof.” Paul was saying, “I preach the gospel with proof. God and the Holy Spirit are backing me up with signs and wonders!” Hebrews 2:4 says that God did confirm Paul’s message with signs and wonders: “God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.”

The New Testament believers had one prayer: “That signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (Acts 4:30). These apostles went everywhere fully preaching the gospel.

“Many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43). “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. . . . And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5: 12, 14).

Here is one of the most conclusive of all verses—proving that a fully preached gospel must include signs and wonders: “They stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3). This verse says that the apostles ministered boldly for a long time, preaching grace and repentance, and then God granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

God’s last-day church will go “out and [preach] everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20). That is what God envisions for us.

The miracles of this last-day church will be genuine, indisputable, undeniable, and yet they will not be well known. Instead, they will issue forth from the hands of ordinary, holy, separated saints who know God and are intimate with Jesus.

These believers will emerge from the secret closet of prayer—a small, prepared army full of faith, with no other desire than to do the will of God and glorify Him. They will be fearless and powerful in prayer. They will open entire nations for the gospel and God will confirm His Word by their mighty deeds!

THE “FULLY PREACHED” GOSPEL

The apostle Paul said to his generation: “I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19). And he described the “fully preached” gospel as one that is much more than words. It is a gospel of words and deeds! “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed” (v. 18).

Paul was saying, “The Gentiles turned to Christ not because of my preaching alone, but because my words were accompanied by miraculous deeds!”

“In mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel” (v. 19).

If Paul had preached and taught without signs and wonders following, his message would not have had its full impact. It would not have been the gospel fully preached! He said to the Corinthians, “Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2 Corinthians 12:12)

Note Paul’s words in this verse: signs, wonders, mighty deeds. Most Christians today cringe when they hear these words! Why? Because these words have been made an abomination by unscrupulous, power-hungry preachers and teachers! The great tragedy is that such perversions have caused many God-fearing pastors, evangelists and laypeople to turn away from the truth of a fully preached gospel.

Beloved, God is still God—and He is mighty in working miracles and wonders! He is still our healer and He wants to show Himself strong on behalf of those who trust in Him! Great supernatural workings took place in the New Testament church without any perversions—without advertising, showmanship or any person claiming all the power and authority. The ministry of Paul is an example:

At Troas, while Paul was preaching a long message, a young man fell asleep while sitting on a window sill and fell three stories to the ground. The Bible says the young man was “taken up dead” (see Acts 20:9-12).

When Paul got to where the boy was, he quieted everyone. Then, just as Elijah had done, he stretched himself out over the dead boy and suddenly life came back into the young man. The boy had been resurrected—raised from the dead! What a mighty miracle!

After this happened, Paul did not send everyone out to spread the news that a miracle had taken place. No, that was not what happened at all. Everyone simply went back to the third floor, took communion, and Paul continued preaching. Scripture does not even mention the young man again. Why? Because the church expected supernatural works to happen! They preached a full gospel—with signs and wonders following!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

THE LAST-DAY CHURCH

I believe God’s vision for His last-day church is based on His revealed Word—because the Bible clearly outlines what the church of Jesus Christ will be like just prior to His coming.

The church in America is far from what God envisioned it to be. For the most part, entire denominations today operate without the Holy Spirit. They are devoid of the presence of Jesus and bankrupt of all spiritual gifts. They practice a form of religion without any power, conviction or saving message. They are cozy with the world and are more political than spiritual. They appease sin, wink at divorce and ridicule the supernatural, while tossing aside all teaching about heaven, hell, repentance and judgment.

The New Testament church made devils tremble! It drove legions of demons into the abyss, prayed prison doors open, made rulers cringe in fear. Those early believers had such faith and power that cripples rose up leaping and beggars became evangelists. They believed in the supernatural and they opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears and healed all manner of diseases. They even raised the dead!

I am not saying God’s last-day church will be a repeat or copy of the first-century church. No—I am saying it will be even greater than that! It will be mightier, stronger, with an ever greater revelation of Jesus. It will have greater unction from the Spirit than ever—greater even than at Pentecost! God always saves His best wine for last!

The prophet Daniel confirms this. He said that certain prophetic truths were locked up, only to be revealed in the last days: “For the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. . . . And none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand” (Daniel 12:9-10).

Today the Holy Spirit is revealing these things to spiritual, discerning saints! “It is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

The Lord is preparing a powerful yet humble army of shepherds after His own heart and also a remnant congregation of hungry sheep who have turned away from the deadness and sin of the modern church. The scene is being set for that church which will be hot, not lukewarm—and it will rock the very foundations of hell. No power on earth will be able to ignore or despise it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GOD HASN’T EVEN FAINTED

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of
the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.
There is no searching of His understanding”
(Isaiah 40:28).

There is an ignorance of God
That supposes He no longer reveals Himself
To mankind in his crises and needs—
That He is either dead or asleep,
Unable to monitor or guide the steps of man.
But who is man to measure God?
To whom will we liken Him
Or compare Him?
Hast thou not known?
Hast thou not heard?
The everlasting Creator,
The God of the ends of the world,
Neither slumbers nor sleeps.
He fainteth not,
Neither is weary,
But they that trust in Him
Shall renew their faith and strength
They shall fly as eagles:
They shall run and not be weary,
Nor shall they faint.

Monday, November 14, 2011

GIVE UP ON MEASURING UP

“The people feared the presence of the Lord . . . and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God” (Haggai 1:12, 14). The Israelites were convicted of their self-interests and returned to working on rebuilding the temple. They were back where they should be—building the house of God!

They stood before the foundation of the temple and the walls were beginning to go up. But something was wrong and many of the older people began to weep! Why? Because they had seen the splendor of Solomon’s temple sixty-eight years before and this new one did not measure up. In comparison, it seemed as nothing!

The people began to talk of past glory, saying, “This temple has no ark in it, no mercy seat or cherubim. There is no consuming fire on the altar, no shekinah glory coming down on the house. After all our hard work, all our sacrifice and obedience, all our putting God’s interests first, we don’t measure up! This is nothing compared to what we once saw. Why struggle, why go on, when we see so little for all that we’ve done?”

A host of God’s people today are giving up because they do not think they will ever measure up! Like the Israelites, they have gone back to God, back to putting Him first, seeking His will, building His house. But when they look at their lives, they say, “I have so little to show for all my struggles! I have so little of God’s holiness, so little of His glory in my life. Compared to other Christians, I’ll never measure up. What’s the use of struggling? I’ll never have victory.”

I am convinced this is why many devoted Christians give up the fight. They compare themselves to other believers and become discouraged because they feel hopelessly inferior!

If you will just stay true to the Lord and not try to measure yourself by anything except your own love for Jesus, you can be assured that you are growing—and God promises to be with you!

Beloved, you can mark this down, because it is God’s promise to you! From the very hour you focus again on building up Christ’s body—setting aside all thoughts of measuring up and all selfish ways, letting Him become your all—you will begin to see His manifold blessing. You can literally mark it down! You will know He is favoring you, smiling on you, rejoicing in you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

KEEPING THE BLESSING AND FAVOR OF GOD

God blesses those who walk in faithfulness and He shows favor to those who favor Him!

How do nations, families, individuals lose the blessing and favor of God? The prophet Haggai speaks to this, and the first reason he lists is that self-interests begin to replace God’s interests!

“The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built” (Haggai 1:2). The Israelites gave up building the Lord’s house in order to build their own homes!

This scene took place sixty-eight years after Solomon’s temple was destroyed. A remnant had returned to Jerusalem out of Babylonian captivity specifically to rebuild God’s house. And, indeed, they laid the foundation of the temple with zeal and excitement!

But then they began running into some hard places—difficulties and discouragements. Slowly they lost interest in the work of God, saying, “This just isn’t the time. We are having too many problems. Besides, we’re spending so much time here that we’re neglecting our families and businesses.”

One by one, they walked away to look after their own interests. The Lord’s interests, that had everything to do with their own well-being, became secondary! They began building their own houses and they used the lumber that had been stored up for building the temple.

How do believers today lose the blessing and favor of God? By stopping work on His temple! It happens when we stop praying and seeking God—when we stop building up His spiritual body!

Haggai points out this problem: When the people put God’s interests first, He provided their food and shelter. Indeed, they were cared for by Him in every way. Their vineyards grew, their grapes were heavy; they slept peacefully at night and their children danced in the streets. None of their enemies prevailed against them. It was a marvelous time of God’s blessing but then the people became absorbed with their own self-interests!

This is what is happening today! Our world is consumed with self—self-pride, self-ambition, self-will—with every person out for his own interests! No wonder so many are drunk and dazed with drugs, wandering in darkness and confusion.

God says, “I called for a drought on the land . . . and on all the labor of your hands” (Haggai 1:11). He is saying, “If you begin to neglect your souls and turn to materials things, you will end up joyless, dissatisfied, empty, dry! I want you to put My interests first, so I can again bless and favor you!”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

JESUS WANTS THE BEST FOR HIS BRIDE

How it must break the Lord’s heart when we question His ability and desire to do the best for us! The Bible tells us clearly how the Lord took wonderful, meticulous care of Ruth. Ruth pledged her love to Jehovah God and told Naomi, her mother-in-law: “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16).

God loved Ruth and opened up every door for her. She was poor and had to glean in the fields, but Scripture says, “She happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz . . .” (Ruth 2:3). Now, there’s not a chance in the world that this just “happened.” It was the Lord’s doing and He knew what was best for Ruth!

Ruth simply loved the Lord—she put all her trust in Him—and God had a very wealthy man prepared for her as a husband! Boaz saw Ruth in the fields and immediately discerned, “She’s different, really different.” His heart was captured!

What a love story and what incredible circumstances brought it all about. Ruth married this godly man, and if the Lord would do that for Ruth, will He not do right by His own bride, in every circumstance?

We have Someone who is richer and mightier than Boaz. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He knows all and can do all and He loves His bride! Yes, the Lords works everything in your life for your absolute best. And He takes great pleasure in doing so.

Even in suffering and trials, every lover of Jesus gets His full attention! Yet, sadly, we often do not rest in that. We doubt He is on the job at all times, working out all things to our good.

Beloved, nothing breaks His heart more! Paul describes the bride of Christ as “a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (Ephesians 5:27). “Wrinkle” here means “fold,” as on one’s face—a wrinkled brow. This speaks of worry, fretting, and Paul is saying that Jesus’ bride will have no “worry lines” on her face.

The bride of Christ rests in His love. She is confident He knows where she is, how she feels, what she is going through, and what is best for her. His loves gives her peace and calm. She knows He will not allow anything that will cut her off from Him or hurt her. He is going to preserve her because He said, “She’s mine!”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

What would a man think if his bride-to-be invited him to her house, sat him in the living room and then went her way? While he waits, she works in the kitchen, dusts the furniture, mops the floors—and never says a word to him!

Jesus endures the same pain any man would feel if his beloved continually praised him, saying “I love you” over and over, yet showed him little or no attention!

The sweetheart may claim, “Well, he’s always on my mind.” I have heard people say that about Jesus: “He’s on my mind all day, in everything I do.” But you can have Him on your mind all day and still neglect Him! When a bride-to-be does this, her so-called love is a lie! She may tell her fiancĂ© she truly loves him, but her actions tell him she does not.

The Lord asks, “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number” (Jeremiah 2:32). David also said Israel kept forgetting the Lord: “They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt” (Psalm 106:21).

The Lord mentioned His pain in Scripture for the whole world to see! He said openly, “My people neglect Me for days on end!” Why would the Lord tell the world about such neglect? Shouldn’t lovers’ differences be kept quiet? No—He wants us to know how hurt He is! He tells the whole world because He is so heartbroken by our behavior!

Imagine that you are an engaged young woman going to church with your husband-to-be. You grasp his hand and tell everyone, “We’re going to be married. I love him—he is absolutely wonderful!” But as soon as you are out the door, you just clam up and do not say a word to him! What is he supposed to think?

I would not want a bride who extols my virtues, says loving things about me in public, tells me how precious I am, and then later gets cold and avoids spending time with me. That is not true affection!

Beloved, if you do not have quality time with Jesus every day—if you do not spend time in prayer with Him, or seeking His Word—you do not love Him and you are breaking His heart!