Monday, October 31, 2011

HEALING THE TONGUE

The prophet Isaiah provides us with an example of how we can heal our tongue.

1. Isaiah drew near to the Lord and prayed for a vision of God’s holiness. “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1).

Anyone who wants to live pleasing to the Lord must constantly go into His presence until he obtains a vision of God’s holiness. All healing, all true blessings, all victories begin at His throne. That is where we see God in His holiness!

2. In God’s holy presence Isaiah was deeply convicted of having unclean lips. “Then I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts’” (6:5).

Why did Isaiah cry out, “I am a man of unclean lips”? It was because he had seen the King of Glory! Our transgressions become exceedingly sinful when we are in God’s presence. The light of His holy countenance exposes everything that is unlike Him!

3. Isaiah allowed the Lord to touch him and cleanse him with His holy fire. “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged’” (6:6-7).

God’s Word is a live coal and the Holy Spirit is its fire! Right now you have been touched by the Holy Spirit through this message and God wants to put His fire to your tongue and sanctify it. He can do it for you if you will let His Word convict you! He is the only One who can do it. Your part is simply to confess, as Isaiah did, “Woe is me, I am unclean!”

Let this word go straight to your heart and purge you with its fire. Confess, “Yes, it is me, Lord! I will not let this word pass me by! Purge my lips and my tongue. Cleanse my mouth and my heart!”

Friday, October 28, 2011

CARELESS WORDS

“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

We seem to think our words simply fall to the ground and die, or vanish into thin air and dissolve into nothingness. Not so! Our words live on—they do not die!

You may say, “But I only told this gossip to one friend and he promised never to repeat it. It will end with him.” No, it will not! Every single word you and I utter is recorded, written down in eternity, and we will hear them all repeated to us at the judgment.

I recall coming under deep conviction after sharing a vicious bit of gossip with a friend. What I said was indeed true. It was about a moral situation I had had to deal with concerning a minister. His name came up in the conversation and I said, “Don’t trust him. I know something about him!”

Even as I mouthed off, I felt condemned. The Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Stop right there! Nobody needs to know that. Don’t say more, because there’s no purpose to it. Even though it’s true, don’t repeat it!”

What I had already said was bad enough. But then I blurted out the lurid details! I knew I should have been quiet and sure enough, I was deeply convicted by the Holy Spirit. So later I called my friend and said, “I’m sorry, that was gossip. I was out of order. Please don’t repeat it. Try not to even think about it.”

Is my sin covered by the blood of Jesus? Yes, because I fully acknowledged that I had sinned and I allowed the Holy Spirit to show me some of the legalistic pride left in me. I allowed Him to humble me and heal me! Now, whenever I begin to say something against somebody, I obey the Holy Spirit as I hear Him say, loud and clear, “Stop!”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

OUT OF THE ABUNDANCE OF THE HEART

Whenever I said something naughty as a child, my mother washed out my mouth with soap. But it was not my mouth that needed cleansing, it was my heart! You see, your tongue speaks only what is in your heart. Those are the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ and He says that loose, careless, evil talk can come only from an unclean heart.

As believers, we have not taken seriously what our Lord said about taming our tongues. He has made it a heart issue! Not only does my careless tongue discount all my spirituality, it also makes me face the fact that my heart is unclean.

If I gossip, tell dirty jokes, run down other people, raise my voice and scream at my family, I must ask myself: “What unclean, filthy stuff is still stored up in me that I could speak this way?”

I must examine my heart and ask, “Where does this come from? There must be something I have not dealt with or I wouldn’t be saying such things. Why do I go on gossiping? Why do I utter such mean, careless words? What unsanctified strongholds still hold my heart?”

Jesus gives this matter serious weight: “How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34-35). Jesus is saying, “If you are careless with your tongue—quarreling, complaining, murmuring, tattling—you have a serious heart problem! Your heart is not right with God, and it goes very deep. There is an evil treasure stored up in you, just as a snake has bags of poison stored behind his jaw. If deadly poison is coming out of you, it is because the bag has not been drained!”

Whenever I allow something unclean to come out of my lips, I must stop and say to the Lord, “Master, there must still be a root of jealousy, envy or lust in my heart. Dig deep into my heart and pluck out the roots of bitterness, pride or whatever it is!” God wants to get at that evil in your heart, that bag of poison hidden inside of you! He wants to root it out and heal you completely.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TAME YOUR TONGUE

“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

In this verse from his epistle, James is talking about the tongue of a believer. He is issuing a call to the church to gain control of their tongues—before they are destroyed by them! You may ask: How serious is this matter of taming the tongue? Can an “unruly tongue” really be that sinful?

A loose tongue renders our religion absolutely worthless! It can make your every spiritual activity totally useless in God’s eyes: “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26).

James’ reference here to those “among you” means people in the church. Not drug addicts or street people but those members of the body of Christ who appear pious, spiritual. They are active in the work of the Lord, but their tongues are unbridled, out of control! James is zeroing in on those who seem to be holy, kind, gentle and loving, yet who move about the church or their job or their family with acid tongues, always telling tidbits of gossip or listening with a willing ear. They murmur and complain and God says their religion—all their show of spirituality—is in vain, worthless!

Beloved, I do not want to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and discover that all my work for the Lord—my entire spiritual endeavor—has been in vain! I do not want to hear Him say, “David, you did mighty works in My name. You fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cast out devils, and established drug rehabilitation centers and homes for alcoholics. Yes, you preached to countless thousands and won many to the kingdom. But it was all for nothing! Many uplifting words came out of your mouth but there were also bitter, unkind, hateful, envious words! You took My warnings on this matter of the tongue too lightly!”

You may speculate, “Surely God isn’t so unloving that He would discount my spirituality because I said something uncharitable!” I am speaking here of Christians whose tongues have never been tamed, who speak against God’s people without blinking an eye! Here is what God’s Word says: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

HEZEKIAH—THE MAN WHO BEAT A DEATH RAP!

“In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.”’ Then Hezekiah . . . prayed to the Lord” (Isaiah 38:1-2).

He was a king riding the crest of victory,
Delivered miraculously by God
From King Sennacherib’s army.
He was wealthy and renowned
When sickness struck,
Bringing him to the brink of death.
The prophet warned,
“Get ready to die
It’s all over for you.”
But the king loved life,
And turning his face to the wall
Cried, and prayed to the Lord
For a new lease on life.
God heard and gave him fifteen more years.
But how should a man live
Who has won over death?
As so many do who survive
A close call with death.
Should he not live each day gratefully,
Giving himself humbly to God and mankind?
But the way of human flesh is not so.
The king began to glory in his own worth—
He sank in the mud of materialism,
Parading his treasures before foreigners.
A second message by the prophet was sounded
Of judgment on his posterity
For pride and ingratitude.
And how many today have been given
A new lease on life,
Only to spend their borrowed years
In selfish pursuit of things
Which have no value?
Eternity will reveal
It would have been better
For some to die
Rather than beat the rap.

Monday, October 24, 2011

WHERE DO WE GO TO EAT?

The seventh chapter of Micah contains one of the most powerful messages on the new covenant ever preached. In this incredible sermon, Micah is speaking to natural Israel—yet he is also speaking to the church of Jesus Christ in these last days. He begins his sermon with a heartbroken cry—one that is still being heard from spiritually starved believers around the world today: “Woe is me! . . . There is no cluster to eat” (Micah 7:1).

Micah is describing the effect of a famine in Israel—a famine of food and of God’s Word. It echoes the words of an earlier prophecy by Amos where the Lord says: “Behold, the days are coming . . . that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall . . . run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it” (Amos 8:11–12).

It was harvest time in Israel and the vineyards should have been bursting with fruit, but there were no clusters hanging from the vines. Micah watched as people went into the vineyards looking for fruit to pick and finding none. In his prophetic eye, Micah saw multitudes in the last days running from place to place, seeking to hear a true word from God. He envisioned believers scurrying from church to church, from revival to revival, from nation to nation—all seeking to satisfy a hunger and thirst for something to nourish their souls. The cry is still heard, “Woe is me—there is no cluster!”

There is a great famine in the land. Yet, in spite of multitudes running about looking for spiritual food, those who truly desire God’s Word comprise only a remnant (see Micah 7:14, 18). This is certainly as true today as it was in ancient Israel. Few Christians today truly hunger to hear the pure word of the Lord. Instead, the majority fatten themselves on Sodom’s apples, feeding on the straw of perverted gospels.

Friday, October 21, 2011

THE PIERCING ARROWS OF HOLY TRUTH

I believe God has to accomplish a work in us before we can lay claim to any covenant promise. What is this precedent work upon which all others depend? Jeremiah tells us: “I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me” (Jeremiah 32:40). God’s precedent work of the covenant is to put His fear into our hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah is speaking here of the provisions of God’s new covenant, not the old. And God tells us very clearly how this first work of the covenant will be performed: “I will put My fear in their hearts.” He is letting us know we cannot work up a holy fear by the laying on of hands or the strivings of our flesh. No—the only way this holy work can be accomplished in us is if God’s Spirit performs it.

God is telling us through this passage, “I am going to do marvelous things in you. I will send My very own Spirit to abide in you and give you a new heart. He will empower you to mortify all fleshly deeds and He will guide you into total freedom from the power of sin. Finally, He will cause you to will and do My good pleasure.

“But there is one work the Spirit must perform in you before any of these others. He is going to put in you the true fear of God concerning sin. He will implant in you a profound awe of My holiness, so you will not depart from My commands. Otherwise, your sin will always lead you away.”

Very simply, the Holy Spirit changes the way we look at our sin. He knows that as long as we continue to take our lust lightly, we will never be set free. How does the Holy Ghost do this? By using the convicting Word of God—the piercing arrows of holy truth.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

DRY BONES CAN LIVE!

Ezekiel 37 is all about God’s desire for us to lay hold of the promises of His new covenant—learning how to truly live by entering into the blessing of the covenant.

We have all heard the story of the “dry bones” that Ezekiel speaks of. It is important to note that these vessels lying lifeless on the ground were under the covenant. You see, the Lord had told them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!” (Ezekiel 37:4). They had heard God’s covenant promise: “I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live.”

Yet, even though these dead bones had the new covenant promise preached to them, they had not yet entered into the enjoyment of its blessings. Many believers today know of God’s new covenant—yet they can hardly believe it, because it sounds too good to be true. They say, “I know God has given us the Holy Spirit to indwell us. And I know the Spirit takes it upon Himself to cause us to obey Christ. Oh, I want that blessing badly, but how can I obtain it for my life?”

There is something we must do. Ezekiel writes that God told him to prophesy, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live’” (37:9). Then Ezekiel says he prophesied as God had commanded, “. . . and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army” (37:10).

Suddenly there stood before Ezekiel a great army, alive and breathing! The Holy Spirit had filled all those dead bodies with life—and now they were prepared to do battle. In an instant they had entered into the full enjoyment and blessings of the new covenant. God’s Spirit had taken His rightful place in them—and He was bringing about all the promised changes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

GET READY TO DIE

In forming the new covenant, God obligated Himself by an oath to supply all the enabling power and strength to fulfill every condition and demand of the covenant. So, when God says by oath, “I will do it,” faith in us responds, “Let it be so.”

Let me show you a wonderful truth from the new covenant. It suggests that the Lord can never get near enough to His people, and that He can never get them as close to Him as He desires. Therefore, He unites and binds and fashions us close to Himself, and Him to us, by this binding contract. The new covenant is all about our Lord’s commitment to keep His children from falling, and to console, comfort and assure us that the power and dominion of sin can and will be broken by the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

This truth is the only hope for those believers who have lost heart in their struggle against a besetting sin. Only by having the new covenant unveiled to us can we learn the secret to having total victory over sin.

Death is the only way out of the old covenant and into the new. Flesh faith has to die—no more striving to believe. If I am to have faith—true faith, the faith of Christ—He must give it to me. We have been given a measure of faith, yet if it is true that I can do nothing of myself, then this includes having His faith. That is why Scripture calls it “the faith of Christ.”

Are you sin-sick? Are you truly yearning to live a holy life, free from the habituating lusts of the flesh? Then get ready to die. Get ready to embrace the cross. The old covenant will bring you to your wits’ end—to nothingness. When you have given up all hope of overcoming sin by your own human power and will, then you are ready to enter the glorious realm of freedom through the new covenant.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

TAME YOUR TONGUE

“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

In this verse from his epistle, James is talking about the tongue of a believer. He is issuing a call to the church to gain control of their tongues—before they are destroyed by them! You may ask: How serious is this matter of taming the tongue? Can an “unruly tongue” really be that sinful?

A loose tongue renders our religion absolutely worthless! It can make your every spiritual activity totally useless in God’s eyes: “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26).

James’ reference here to those “among you” means people in the church. Not drug addicts or street people but those members of the body of Christ who appear pious, spiritual. They are active in the work of the Lord, but their tongues are unbridled, out of control! James is zeroing in on those who seem to be holy, kind, gentle and loving, yet who move about the church or their job or their family with acid tongues, always telling tidbits of gossip or listening with a willing ear. They murmur and complain and God says their religion—all their show of spirituality—is in vain, worthless!

Beloved, I do not want to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and discover that all my work for the Lord—my entire spiritual endeavor—has been in vain! I do not want to hear Him say, “David, you did mighty works in My name. You fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cast out devils, and established drug rehabilitation centers and homes for alcoholics. Yes, you preached to countless thousands and won many to the kingdom. But it was all for nothing! Many uplifting words came out of your mouth but there were also bitter, unkind, hateful, envious words! You took My warnings on this matter of the tongue too lightly!”

You may speculate, “Surely God isn’t so unloving that He would discount my spirituality because I said something uncharitable!” I am speaking here of Christians whose tongues have never been tamed, who speak against God’s people without blinking an eye! Here is what God’s Word says: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

WE RECEIVE ALL THE BENEFITS

God gave His Son, the Son gave His life, and we receive all the benefits!

By mutual consent, the Father and Son made a covenant to keep and preserve the seed of Christ. It is meant to ensure that we will endure to the end.

“He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.’ Also I will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My mercy I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall stand firm with him. His seed also I will make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, if they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail. My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me” (Psalm 89:26–36).

The Father made this covenant pledge to His Son: “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6). God was saying, “My hand will always be holding on to Yours and You will never be away from my keeping power. I pledge to keep You safe from all the schemes of the devil.”

This pledge by the Father is made available to us now because the Son’s sacrifice on the cross has brought us into their covenant agreement. God pledged to His Son, “If You go, I will keep and preserve every one of Your seed, just as I have kept and preserved You. I will never remove My faithfulness from You, nor from Your children.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

CALLED INTO THE FELLOWSHIP

Paul the apostle wrote: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).

This single verse opens us up to a truth that can see us through every storm of life. Here is a simple truth that can keep our hearts at rest when all things around us are shaken. Here is the Word of God that can keep us from the fear that now grips the whole world.

The truth is this: We learn God’s faithfulness by answering our calling to stay in fellowship with Jesus. “Called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ” (1:9)

We are not called to trust our own intellect. We are not called to trust in flesh, or men or anything that is of this world. Jesus calls to us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Christ alone is our peace, our confidence and contentment. I have experienced such great contentment when I see by faith my Lord in glory—loving me, calling me into His sweet presence, telling me He is all-sufficient. I do not have to beg or plead or fear. The more I keep looking unto Jesus in all things, the more I know He is pleased, because without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Sadly, many who truly love Jesus often panic in times of crisis, and they worry and fret. They spend time trying to figure out ways to escape or endure their trial. They do not heed His call to “come and dine” with Him. I am not talking about spending one hour or so each day in prayer, I am talking about focusing on Him all through the day, “Praying without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This is simple, quiet conversation—just talking to Him, becoming more acquainted with Him, so that in crisis times we need not rush in consternation to a prayer closet and wail out for help like a stranger.

He hears all cries, loud and soft, and He will always answer us in His faithfulness.

Friday, October 14, 2011

ON DRY GROUND

God insists there must be “dry ground” on our way through the Red Sea. He told Israel, “[You] shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea” (Exodus 14:16). Amazingly, God uses this phrase four times, telling His people, “You will go over on dry ground.”

We see this phrase again when Israel was poised to enter Canaan. They crossed over Jordan on dry ground on their way into the Promised Land.

Simply put, dry ground is a path. And if you are on it, then you are going somewhere. You are not losing ground or going backward; your dry ground is the Lord’s plan, His work in your life, His miracles to perform. You are moving toward a revelation, a new victory in Christ, toward something greater.

Scripture proves this. Note where Pharaoh and his army lost their battle: on God-given dry ground. Dry ground is the exact place where the devil will come after you. He wants to attack you when you are at your weakest. Yet, it is on this same dry ground that the Lord removes the “chariot wheels” from Satan’s principalities and powers: “The waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained” (Exodus 14:28).

God is telling us, in essence: “I want you to learn to move on in faith—not according to a vision or a voice, but when you are in the midst of a dry spell. I want you to be confident that when you cannot hear My voice or see ahead—when you are on dry ground—I am leading you somewhere.”

The Lord promises that He will turn our dry ground into springs of fresh water: “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongues fail for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them. . . . I will open rivers in desolate places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isaiah 41:17-18).

Dear saint, are you dry? God is telling you, “Soon you will see a harvest. Where there once was dry ground, life will spring up at your feet. And I have created it! Stand still and see what I will do for you on dry ground.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

GOD NEVER GIVES UP

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?" (Luke 15:4).

Jesus is speaking here of a sheep that had been in the fold. Clearly, this represents a member of Christ’s flock, one that has been well fed and led by a loving shepherd. Yet this sheep has gotten lost, so the shepherd has gone out looking for it.

Note what Jesus says about the shepherd here: “He goes after the one that is lost until he finds it” God never gives up on anyone who belongs to Him and has gone astray. Instead, He goes out to find that sheep, embraces it and brings it back into the fold.

Simply put, you can go so far into sin that you come to very brink of hell, and He will still pursue you. David testifies, “If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there” (Psalm 139:8).

We have all heard the expression “hell on earth.” That is what life is like for those who run from God. Their “bed in hell” is an awful, terrible condition. It means to be captivated by sin, drifting so far from the Lord that you eventually fall into a lifeless slumber. This slumber is accompanied by a nagging fear that whispers, “You are going deeper and deeper into hell. You may not ever get back to God.”

Christ’s message to us is, “You may have made your bed in hell, but you are not too deep in sin for Me to reach you and receive you with open arms.”

When the shepherd finds the lost, injured sheep, he carries the wounded creature into his house. Then he calls all his friends and neighbors together, exclaiming, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:6).

“Likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

THOUGHTS ABOUT LOVE AND FAITH

Let me share some very healing thoughts about faith and love. I believe God works miracles in answer to the prayer of faith. And I believe every promise in God’s Word. But, through much suffering and tears, I have discovered something wonderful about the way God works. What you are about to read should help renew your confidence in the Lord and set you free from the bondage of trying to figure out faith.
Here are my conclusions:

  • If you cannot give God perfect faith, give Him perfect love. “Perfect love casts out all fear.” Perfect love is the rest God has for His people. He wants us to rest in His love, trusting that He will always come to our aid as a father to a hurting child in spite of our inadequate faith.

Stop evaluating or grading your faith. And stop trying to figure out faith. The Bible says, “Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). If you are going to specialize in anything, specialize in love—faith works by love.

  • If God does not answer certain of our prayers, we can be sure He has some great eternal reason for not doing so.

It boils down to this: God has all power and can do anything. Nothing is impossible to Him. He has promised to answer every prayer in Christ’s name, so we must ask in full assurance of faith, expecting an answer. But should God delay that answer or choose another path for us, He must have a mighty good reason for it all. And we must believe that whatever God permits in our lives will one day all work to our good (Romans 8:28).

Our heavenly Father knows exactly where we are going and what we need. He will give us what is best, in proper Holy Ghost timing (Matthew 7:11).

God will not permit you to be overcome by your trials. You may come to what you think of as your breaking point, yet you will survive and live to tell of His faithfulness if you will not harden you heart but fall into His arms, trusting His everlasting love.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

THE CATASTROPHE

A scientist said of the catastrophe, “The whole world shook.” Another called it “the worst natural disaster in the world’s history.” They were describing the underwater earthquake that devastated entire coasts in Asia a few years ago. Tens of thousands were left dead. We continue to see disasters around us.

When horrible events strike, I go to the Father with one question: “Lord, what is this all about? Was this simply an unexplainable accident of nature, or is there something your people ought to know as to why it happened?”

We mourn for the indescribable pain and misery endured by multitudes. We pray earnestly for those afflicted. Our ministry has sent thousands of dollars through Christian relief agencies to help rebuild churches and homes in devastated areas. Scripture tells us our heavenly Father is touched by the very feelings of the wounded and the Holy Spirit pours out comfort to all believers in the nations affected.

America is a compassionate and giving nation and I thank God for the response of so many who pray, give and go to those areas to help. But something deep within my soul troubles me. The magnitude of the disasters does not seem to sink in. We appear to be numbed, stupefied by it all.

I thank God for good reports of blessings in many areas of the world, including America. But if we cannot be brought to our knees by unleashed power—if we cannot humble ourselves after witnessing terrible natural disasters—what will it take to silence the God-mockers? Are we now shockproof?

Think of this:

  • The expulsion of God from our society in the name of political correctness
  • The whole world turning to secularism and materialism
  • A church growing more worldly than the world itself
  • The rise of violence and apathy
  • The Bible no longer being accepted as God’s Word
  • A day “when everything that can be shaken” is being shaken
  • When thoughtful people everywhere have an intuition that “somebody is tinkering with nature, something is happening that cannot be explained away”
  • When society continues its business without a single “God pause,” without even a thought that God will not be mocked

When these things happen, we have come near or crossed a line into a spiritual stupor that no amount of divine mercy can awaken.

God is merciful, gracious and ready to forgive. May Jesus demonstrate His love and compassion through His disciples as the day of the Lord approaches.

Monday, October 10, 2011

SOMEBODY UNDERSTANDS

O Lord, You have searched me and known me (Psalm 139:1).

Nobody understands me
But God.
He understands my deep thoughts.
There is not a word in my tongue,
But God knows it altogether.
He has me hemmed in;
His hand is laid upon me.
Such knowledge is so high,
I cannot attain unto it.
There are times
Darkness surrounds me,
Yet He searches my heart
And knows it.
He sees the wicked ways in me.
Only His wisdom
Can figure me out.
In the day when I cry to Him,
He answers
And strengthenest me with strength
In my soul.
Darkness and light are both alike to Him.
He understands my darkness
And will give me light.
He understands me.

Friday, October 7, 2011

GOD DESCRIBES HIS LOVE FOR HIS PEOPLE

God describes Himself this way: “I taught Ephraim [Israel] to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them” (Hosea 11:3).

In the original language this verse reads, “I came to them in their despair and tenderly nursed them through foul, rugged places. I held them in my arms as a nurse!” But Hosea 11:7 says, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me.” The word bent here means “hanging in suspense, hanging in doubt.”

Israel was not sure of the Lord’s love and tenderness and God was saying to Hosea, “My people are doubting My love for them. They do not really know Me and they are unsure of My love!”

It was true! Israel could not believe God still loved them. They were idolaters, backsliders and doubters and they were probably thinking, “We brought God’s displeasure on ourselves. We sinned willfully and He will surely judge us!” But God said, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? . . . My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred” (v. 8).

Listen to His words of comfort and healing for you:

"For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made” (Isaiah 57:16). The Lord was saying, “If all you saw in Me was anger, your spirit would fail because it would be too overwhelming.”

“For the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry and struck him; I hid and was angry, and he went on backsliding in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him and to his mourners” (v. 17-18). Does this sound like God gives up on His people when they fail?

You may be going through deep waters right now. I do not mean temptation or trials necessarily. I am talking about overwhelming events that are being thrust on you that you cannot understand. Winds and waves of all kinds are flooding you, things beyond your comprehension. They are coming to your home, your church, your job, on all sides. But God wants to carry you through it all! He wants to restore you to spiritual health! If all you can believe right now is that He loves you in spite of all your stubborn ways, that He begs you to see Him as your Divine Nurse, then that is enough!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

FILLED WITH HOPE, JOY AND PEACE!

If you want the peace of God to reign in your life, you have to quit several things:

  • You must quit trying to figure out how God will work everything out.
  • You must quit worrying and fretting: “Be anxious for nothing...” (Philippians 4:6).
  • You must quit telling God what you think is right for you.
  • And most of all, you must quit thinking you are a failure; stop thinking you do not please God!

One of Satan’s most effective traps for robbing Christians of peace is to convince them they must strive in the flesh to please God. He springs this on me all the time!

Sometimes when I need a quiet place to pray, I get in my car and drive to a secluded spot. I can praise the Lord and enjoy His presence while looking out over green fields and forests. But sometimes the thought hits me that I am not doing anything for the Lord!

I pray, “Lord, I’m just not accomplishing much for Your kingdom. All I do is pray, get messages for sermons, and go to church and preach. The whole world is going to hell, and I’m not doing anything for You!”

Have such thoughts ever hit you? You do everything you can in order to please the Lord, yet you do not feel holy. I hardly ever feel holy. That is true even in my best times—even when I am preaching under the Spirit’s anointing!

You say, “You, Brother Dave? You feel at times as if you’re not doing much for God?” Yes! The devil comes in and makes us all feel unworthy, unfulfilled. And we lose our peace by giving in to these awful feelings!

Listen to Paul’s prayer for us: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Trust in His goodness. Believe in His love and mercy. Do not accuse Him of being angry or upset with you or of not speaking to you. Let His peace rule in your heart and over your whole life!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

THE GIFT OF HIS PEACE

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

When I reread this passage recently, I was struck by something I had never seen before. Paul instructs us to stop worrying, go to God with prayer and supplication, and thank Him for the answer. But he never says anything about getting answers! Paul says nothing about receiving a word of direction, deliverance, miracles, or healing. Instead, he says we receive a gift of the peace of God!

God answers all our requests and supplications with the gift of His peace: “Let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (v. 6-7).

In other words, God’s first answer to our every prayer and heart-cry is His peace! All praying people have this one thing in common: No matter how bad they feel going into their secret closet of prayer, they come out filled with His peace! God has limited Himself to His own government. This is known as the providence of God. He does things here and there, preparing people’s hearts and orchestrating events, but until His providence works out the answer to your prayer, He says, “I am going to give you not what you think you need, but what I know you need—peace of mind and heart!”

Many of us wrestle with the Lord in prayer. We petition Him with crying and tears; we pound heaven’s gates; we claim every promise. But as the days, weeks and months go by, we begin to wonder: “Why won’t You answer, Lord? What is blocking my prayer? What have I done to grieve or displease You?”

The fact is, God already has said to us, “Here is My peace that passes all understanding! Take it and let it rule in your heart while I work out all things for your good!” We are to be kept in God’s peace until His promise is worked out by the Holy Spirit!

Hold on to His peace and let it rule and reign in your heart!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

LET THE PEACE OF GOD RULE

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)

This one verse contains an incredible command: God calls the entire body of Jesus Christ to let His peace govern our hearts, minds and bodies! The peace of God is to be the arbitrator of our lives, sitting as ruler over everything. If there was ever a time this call needed to be sounded, it is today in this hour of turmoil and confusion!

Why did the Lord command the early church to let His peace rule in their lives? It was because He knew what was coming and He wanted to prepare them! In just a few years’ time, incredible turmoil would come upon them. They would be tortured and persecuted. They would face hard times, loss of homes, confiscation of all worldly goods, even attacks from vicious men who thought they were doing God a favor by killing them. God was warning them, preparing them, “You are going to have to be grounded in My peace because it alone will see you through all the incredible changes ahead!”

“The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

Right now there is a false peace sweeping through many churches, a peace that will fail in the troubled days ahead. It is the peace of stubborn, sin-blinded Christians! Moses called such believers “self-blessed,” meaning self-deceived. He warned Israel that a curse would come upon all wicked, disobedient children of God who walked in idolatry. He said they would plaster over their sinful ways with a false sense of peace: “When he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I walk in the imagination of my heart’—as though the drunkard could be included with the sober” (Deuteronomy 29:19).

Moses is describing the child of God who decides to satisfy his lust for evil! He finds a cozy doctrine that tells him he is all right, still saved, heaven-bound, while continuing in his sin. He says to himself, “I will do as I please and still not lose the peace in my heart.”

No matter what happens to America or to the nations of the world, no power in hell can rob you of the peace of God through Jesus Christ, which He implants in your soul! God will have His people governed by peace.
“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”

Monday, October 3, 2011

THE CURE FOR UNBELIEF

I searched my reference books and found lists of ways to “cure” unbelief, but none of these dozens of things touched me. So I asked God for something simple and He gave me two thoughts on how I can rid my heart of unbelief:

1. Lay hold upon every worry, fear and burden. Take them all to Jesus and leave them on His shoulders!

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Beloved, this is God’s personal invitation to you, His request: “Put it all on Me! Do not carry it one hour longer. I care about everything that is happening to you and I am big enough to take it all for you!”

Not long ago someone in an extremely stressful situation called me seeking a word of encouragement. But I was overwhelmed that day by so many problems, I could not handle even one more, so I answered, “I’m sorry but you’ll have to call some other time. I’m too overloaded right now.” Thank God, He is never stressed out! He is never overloaded! His shoulders can carry the load of all His children! He urges us, “Lay it all on Me!”

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). Go down your list right now: “God, I give You this, and this, and that. I give You this burden, this trouble, that relationship, that problem.” And be fully convinced that He cares!

2. Launch out in full faith on the written Word of God. Take up the Lord’s challenge to live by His Word!

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). You must be able to say, “I’m going to live and die by God’s Word to me!”

I ask you: How is it that we can trust His Word for our eternal salvation, but not for our daily needs and problems? We can believe Him for the hardest part. Why is it harder for us to believe for help, guidance and power over sin? “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). God promised this to you, so let Him take on the burden of keeping you! Go to the Lord and challenge His Word. Tell Him you are going to stake your life on it! Show Him you trust His every word—and be blessed!