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!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

THE SECRET OF STRENGTH

“Yet the righteous will hold to his way,
And he who has clean hands will be stronger
and stronger” (Job 17:9).

Men are losing their grip on life,
Mockers abound—
Provocation on all sides.
Wise men can’t be found.
When beds are made in darkness
Corruption has become their father.
It is time for the innocent
To be astonished by this and
Stir up himself against the hypocrite.
O that one might plead for a man with God,
So the righteous may hold onto their way
And the light of the wicked put out—
The spark of his fire die.
The way of the wicked is slippery
And sin is a reproach, devouring strength;
But he that hath clean hands
Shall be stronger
And stronger.

Monday, November 7, 2011

SERVING THE LORD WITH GLADNESS

God desires that we be so convinced of His tender love, so persuaded He is at work bringing us into His best, that we will have continual joy and gladness in our walk with Him! Moses warned Israel, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of all things” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48).

God is saying to us today, “Be glad and rejoice in what I have already done for you! If you go around moping, murmuring and complaining, you will forever be spiritually starved and naked, a prey to your enemies!” God wants us to so trust in His love for us that we will be testimonies of gladness and good cheer! He wants preachers who are glad at heart, filled with a gladness that is based on truth.

His truth produces a wealth of gladness that flows naturally outward from the heart: “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2). “He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness” (Psalm 105:43). “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11). “Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yes, let them rejoice exceedingly” (Psalm 68:3).

You may ask, “How long can I expect to maintain joy in my service to the Lord?” Many believe that it lasts only as long as seasons of refreshing come from on high or as long as things go right. No, we are to have joy at all times! That is exactly what the Bible says: “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” (Psalm 90:14). “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy” (Isaiah 65:18). We are “the Jerusalem from above”—reborn and living for Him with a spirit of gladness and rejoicing! Trust the Father, believe His Word about Himself, and see His gladness pour forth from your life.

Friday, November 4, 2011

GOD’S MERCIFUL DEALINGS!

“I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9).

The people of Ephraim, the largest tribe of Israel, were the closest to God’s heart. The Lord had an eternal plan for this very blessed tribe but Ephraim kept backsliding and grieving God. The people sinned more than anyone in Israel! But did God abandon Ephraim? Just the opposite: The Lord said that they were to be a free and ransomed people! They would live among fatness, meaning, God’s greatest blessings (see Jeremiah 31:14 KJV).

What did God see in Ephraim? They had a repentant heart—a shame for sin, a willingness to return to the Lord. And in spite of all their failures, this one trait attracted God’s heart to them! When a strong, prophetic word came forth, they responded and when they were rebuked, they wept over their sin.

At the height of their backsliding, God said, “Is Ephraim [not] my dear son? Is he [not] a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him” (Jeremiah 31:20). God was saying, “In spite of Ephraim’s shortcomings and failures, I see a repentant spirit and I will not take away My tender love. My eternal purpose for Ephraim will go on as I have planned!”

Beloved, God has a plan for your life! He is going to accomplish all His purposes for you, no matter what you are going through or how severe your trial. God has put a lot of thought into planning your future!

I have a prophetic word for some who are reading this message right now: You cannot judge God’s eternal purpose for you by what you are feeling or thinking. God wants to say to you, “Keep your heart humble before Me. Trust My Word about My nature—that I am a tender, loving Father who has invested much in you and I am not about to let you go. You are my delightsome child and I will deliver you!”

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

GOD KNOWS WHAT IS BEST FOR US!

There are times when God takes things from us and other times when we pray for things we think we need and God does not give them to us. Nevertheless “…the Lord knows the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6). One day God’s action will prove to be for the benefit of us and for His kingdom!

The truest satisfaction in life comes from being in the perfect will of God, doing His work, living according to His choosing. But most of us are convinced that only we know what we need in order to be fulfilled and happy. And, in most cases, what we believe is best for us actually would ruin us! Never in the history of mankind has God taken anything from one of His children without bringing in something better, more beautiful, more fulfilling.

God’s best is not something to fear; He not only knows what is best for you, He wants you to have His best! If we truly believed this it would produce such rest, peace and joy in us! We would not grieve over letting go of things; we would know we’ve been set free from all bondage! We would say, “Lord, if You are taking this from me, it must mean You have something much better for me. So take it—You can have it!”

Beloved, we need to rest in the loving hand of our Father! We need to come to the point of trust where we say, “I have a loving Father who wants the very best for me. He knows it all!” How did Job finally come to a place of rest? He persuaded himself that God knew what He was doing and that everything was under control! Job said “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

Many Christians see God at work in their lives yet they still wonder, “What if I blow it? What if I do something wrong and God gets angry or impatient with me? Will all His promises fail me? Will I have to settle for something less than His best?” No—never! If your heart is right before God, if you keep returning to Him and seeking Him with all your heart, nothing will change His plans for you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

TWO KINDS OF LOVE

The Father has two kinds of love: a general love for all sinners and a special love for all who are in His family. God’s general love for mankind can be embraced by anyone who comes to Him in repentance. But God’s heart is also filled with another kind of love—a distinctive, exceptional love for His children!

God has always had a chosen people for Himself upon whom He bestowed His great love. Israel once was the sole object for this special love:

“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you ... [He] has brought you out with a mighty hand ...” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).

God directed these words to Israel. Yet, if you have received Jesus as your Savior and Lord—if you have been adopted into God’s family and He is your loving Father—you too must come to grips with how special you are to Him! You are the recipient of God’s extraordinary love and here are His words to you:

“You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2: 9-10).

At one time you were not an object of His special love, but now you are! You have been reconciled to the Father and He loves you deeply—right now, at this very moment!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

THE FATHER’S LOVE

Many people find it difficult to think of God as a loving Father. They see Him through eyes clouded with the pain of past experiences with an ungodly father or stepfather.

Thousands of Christians do not believe God loves them because their earthly father abandoned, wounded, or grieved them so badly. I pray that this message will speak not only to them but also to those of you who have not yet discovered the depths of our heavenly Father’s love!

Many of us know the Scriptures and the theology behind God’s great love for His children. Yet very few of us have learned to appropriate that love and we are not enjoying the benefits of having it.

Listen to how God described Himself to Moses:

“The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin . . .” (Exodus 34:6-7).

When we are in the midst of our trials, we forget what God has said about His own nature. Yet, if we would only believe Him in such times, we would have great assurance in our souls. From cover to cover, the Bible speaks to us as God’s voice, revealing to us how tender and loving He is.

He is ready to forgive at all times. “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5).

He is patient with us, full of tenderness and mercy. “Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord” (Psalm 119:156). “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy” (Psalm 145:8).

When you go to the Lord in prayer and worship, be very careful what kind of image of God you take into His presence! You must be fully convinced of His love for you and believe that He is all He says He is!