Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SAVED BY FAITH ALONE

When we first came to faith in Christ, we trusted that our sins were forgiven. We believed we were accepted, that we could lay down all guilt and fear and say, “I am saved by faith alone in what Jesus did for me at the cross.”

Then, as we proceeded in our walk with Jesus, we committed fresh acts of disobedience. We were crushed by our sins and quickly lost our vision of the cross. We tried to work out our own righteousness, to win back God’s favor by trying harder, but life then became a nightmarish merry-go-round of sin and confession, sin and confession.

We sometimes act as if trying harder on our own can save us. We think if we could just reform this flesh of ours, God would be pleased. Soon we are constantly working on our old man, to shape him up for a victorious Christian walk.

Some Christians may say, “I paid a high price for the victory I’ve achieved. I went through a lot of pain and suffering. I fasted, prayed, and successfully put down all my lusts and sinful desires. Is my struggle to obey worth nothing to God? Does He consider all my righteousness, all my hard work, as filthy rags?” Yes! It is all the flesh and none of it will stand before Him. There is only one righteousness and that is the righteousness of Jesus Christ!

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).

The only way to get into God’s good grace is to admit the truth: “There is no good thing in my flesh, nothing in my good works to merit my salvation. I cannot become righteous through anything I do in my own strength. My righteousness is in Christ alone.” Paul says of the gift of righteousness: “Those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17).

Monday, January 30, 2012

NO INHERITANCE

Paul gives us a list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God:

"Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

But then the apostle adds: "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (verse 11).

How did these people who were saved out of such horrible sin become righteous before God? What happened to them that they no longer were evil but, rather, were accepted by God?

First of all, God is no respecter of persons. He is not at all impressed by a person’s title or earthly honor—whether a king, a queen, a president or a prime minister. And second, God is not charmed by any goodness in us. Long prayers, fasting, tithing, Bible study, benevolent acts—none of these makes us righteous or acceptable to God. Even our "good" flesh—good character, speech, thoughts and deeds—are a stench in His nostrils if used as a plea for our own righteousness.

When Jesus went to the cross, He crucified our "old man" of the flesh. There is only one Man left, only One whom God will deal with—and that is His Son. When Jesus finished His work on earth and sat down at the right hand of the Father, God said, “From now on I recognize only one Man, only one righteousness. Anyone who comes to Me must come through Him—My Son. All who would be righteous must accept His righteousness and no other!"

We are accepted in God's eyes only by faith in Christ and His work: "He made us accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).

Do you see how important it is to abide in Jesus, to come to Him quickly whenever you fail? You must learn to run to Him, crying, "Jesus, I have failed You! I cannot work this out. No matter what I do, I can never be recognized before the Father, except as I come to Him in You!"

Friday, January 27, 2012

FINDING HIS REST

“You will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30).

I know of only one way to enter into this rest that Jesus is talking about. If understood and appropriated, this truth will usher you into the most glorious peace possible on this side of heaven and end all feelings of insecurity.

This foundational truth upon which all others are built is the doctrine of justification by faith. It is the one doctrine you must understand if you hope to enter into the rest that Jesus offers.

I can only touch on the highlights of the magnificent truth of being justified by faith. Yet I believe God desires to lead His church further into this divine truth—to give us a foundational strength that will hold us in the days to come.

Sadly, when you mention the subject of doctrine, many Christians turn up their noses. They say, “I don’t want to hear all that deep, heavy stuff. Just give me Jesus!” Yet what they really mean is, “I don’t want to discipline myself or spend the time to learn what Jesus did at the cross.”

Too many Christians become emotionally involved with the cross but never really study it. I have heard many preachers deliver emotional appeals about Jesus and the cross—about His beatings, the crown of thorns on His head, the spikes driven into His hands. The preaching of the cross is about much more than that, however. It is about the victory of the cross and what Jesus did for all of humankind.

For those who desire to “learn of Him,” who want to understand Jesus’ wonderful work at Calvary, let me try to explain this concept of justification by faith.

Two things are involved in our justification by the cross of Jesus Christ:

  • First, we have pardon for all our sins. When Jesus went to the cross, His blood pardoned us from all guilt.
  • Second, we are accepted by God as righteous in Christ, through faith. This means God accepts us on the merits of what Jesus did on the cross and not because of our works or any good deeds.

“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

HOW TO BECOME A JEW, A CHRISTIAN OR A COMMUNIST

“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and
circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit,
not in the letter; whose praise is not from men
but from God” (Romans 2:29).

Not every man born a Jew is one.
He is not a Jew who is one only outwardly.
He is not a Jew who denies the spirit,
The tradition, the calling, of a Jew;
Yet he is a Jew who is one inwardly
By faith becoming so in the heart.
This is the way of all life.
A Christian is one who receives the spirit of Christ,
By faith becoming so in the heart.
A Communist need not carry a card
To be one.
He can deny to the world he is a Communist,
Yet if inwardly he embraces the spirit,
The tradition, the calling, of a Communist—
He is one inwardly.
What a man is cannot be determined
By the words and praises of men,
But by what God sees in the heart.
As a man thinketh in his heart,
So is he!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

JUSTIFIED BEFORE GOD

Picture yourself standing before God's throne with no excuse, no alibi. Satan, your legal adversary, is reading off the list of charges, with times, places, every shameful detail. He makes accusations of pride, prayerlessness, covetousness, unfaithfulness, and your heart smites you because you have to admit, "Yes, that's me. I did it all."

It looks hopeless for you. You know God's eyes are too holy to look upon sin, and His justice demands that you pay for your crimes against His holiness. You are helpless.

But suddenly, here comes your Lawyer, your Advocate. He stretches forth His nail-scarred hands and you know something is about to happen. He smiles and whispers, "Don't be afraid; none of these charges will stand. You're going to walk out of this courtroom free and fully pardoned. When I'm finished, your accuser won't have one charge left against you!"

Best of all, your Lawyer tells you He has adopted you as His brother. Then He tells you He is the Son of the Judge so you now belong to the Judge's family, as well!

But there is still the matter of justice. What about the charges against you? You listen in absolute wonder as your Advocate pleads your case:

"Judge, You know that I fulfilled the law, living a sinless life. And then I took this person's place, taking on all the punishment for his crimes. Through these nail-scarred hands and My pierced side, blood came forth to blot out all of his transgressions. All these charges were put on My back and I paid the penalty for every one of them.”

Your Advocate then looks at your accuser and says, "Satan, you have no grounds to accuse My child. Each of his sins was placed on Me and I have fully pardoned them all. He is not guilty because his faith in the victory of My sacrifice gives him full pardon. You have no case!"

As the devil slinks out of God's court, you can hear the Lord cry out: "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies" (Romans 8:33).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

LEARN OF ME

Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me” (Matthew 11:28-29, KJV). Christ tells us very plainly: "Do not attempt to take on a walk with Me until you are at rest in your soul!"

If you do not have this wonderful confidence in what the Word of God says Jesus did for you, His yoke will not be easy or light. On the contrary, you will spend your time striving in the flesh to please God. You will go from hot to cold, living with unnecessary guilt and shame.

I believe the key to this verse lies in the words “learn of me.” Jesus is speaking here of the discipline of learning who He is and what He accomplished on the cross. He is saying, "You must have a knowledge of what I have done for you. Then, once your soul is at rest, you can take on My yoke. So, learn of Me!"

We do not want this kind of discipline. We want to take the easy way! We are like schoolchildren on the playground at recess who do not want to go back into the classroom.

Perhaps today you say, "I'm reading my Bible now and praying a little each day. I'm trying hard to do better!" This is all good, but I assure you that these things will not keep you through the coming storm. It is not enough to try hard, to make promises to God, to strive to be better. Nor is it enough to say, "I'm more diligent than before." No, it is all about going after a revelation of what Jesus did for you at the cross!

Something should cry out in all of us: "Jesus, Your Word says I can live in total rest, peace and security. I don't have to strive in my flesh or be tossed about by guilt or fear. You have set before me the promise of a life at rest, but I don't have that rest. Oh, Lord, I want Your rest with everything that's in me. Teach me by Your Spirit—I want to learn of You."

Monday, January 23, 2012

I WILL GIVE YOU REST

God has promised His people a glorious rest, a rest that includes peace and security for the soul. The Lord offered this wonderful rest to the children of Israel, which meant a life full of joy and victory, without fear, guilt or condemnation. Up to the time of Christ, no generation of believers ever walked fully in this blessed promise. Why was this? The Bible makes very clear that it was because of their unbelief. “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:19).

Because of their unbelief, God's people—during the period of the kings and prophets through David’s generation—went through life full of misery, doubt, fear and restlessness. In every generation the rest was promised but it was refused—never appropriated, never understood.

That is why, when we read Hebrews 4, we find this glorious life of faith still unclaimed: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (verse 9). Yet we also read: "Since therefore it remains that some must enter it . . ." (verse 6). The Bible admonishes present-day believers with a warning: "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering into His rest, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have come short of it" (verse 1).

Thousands upon thousands of believers claim to be filled with the Spirit of God, yet few have entered into this promised rest. Many are tossed about by winds and waves of doctrines, restless and guilt-ridden, with no security in Christ. Jesus said, “I will give you rest, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (see Matthew 11:28-30).

My prayer is that today you will enter into the rest God has for you. Reach up by faith and receive because it is His free gift!

Friday, January 20, 2012

VIOLENT FAITH!

Genesis tells us that the more man multiplied on the earth, the more violent he became.

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:11-12).

There is another, different kind of violence taking place in this last day. Indeed, I see a godly people with an aggressive faith being raised up. This holy remnant is full of Jesus, loving Him with all their hearts. These believers see a mad devil coming at them with everything in his power and they know they have more of hell to face than any other generation before them.

Jesus said: "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12). This remnant is going to rise up and say, "I'm not going to let the devil steal my joy and peace. I will not let him plant seeds of grudges, murder, hatred or violence in me. No! I'm going to rise up in Jesus' power and live victoriously above this demonic filth."

Dear saint, God wants to put a fight in you! If you have been guilty of any of these forms of violence, quickly repent before the Lord and obey His Word. That's all He asks. May God put a holy zeal and faith in you beyond anything you have ever known. He wants you to be able to stand against Satan's wicked devices.

The only spirit of violence we are going to have is a violent faith. It will be a strong, holy violence that comes full force against the gates of hell and the strongholds of the enemy. And, by the power of God, we will bring them all down in Jesus' name!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

NEW EVERY MORNING

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

We would all be consumed
Because of our wickedness,
Had it not been for God’s mercies.
They are fresh and new every morning.
God is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger,
And of great kindness.
Soft in heart to those who repent,
He retaineth not His anger
Because He delighteth in mercy,
Pardoning iniquity.
He delights not in the death of the wicked,
But offers universal mercy
To every transgressor;
But let him who receives mercy
Be merciful.
Blessed are the merciful:
For they shall obtain mercy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A RESERVOIR OF LIVING WATER

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes, but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

Consider the one who trusts God in the hard places: "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord" (v. 7).

This Christian is "planted." He has roots, stability, a reservoir of living water. He is always "spreading out," fruitful and green with fresh life. Scripture says, "[He] will not be anxious [fearful] in the year of drought . . ." (v. 8). When things get intense and bothersome, he will not be afraid!

This person says, "Jesus, I give up looking to any person to bring me out of my trial. You are my only hope. I look to You to bring me out of this!" The Lord desires this kind of faith from us in everyday matters. You may object, "But, Brother Dave, I'm still unemployed, still having trouble." I still must believe God's Word: "Trust Me, and you'll be blessed!"

You may answer, "But I don't know what I'm going to do. It looks so hopeless. I don't see any sign of help or deliverance!" To all these things God still says, "Trust Me, My child, and you'll be blessed!"

It does not matter whether your trial is with your family, with your business, or provision. If you put your total trust in His Word and His faithfulness, God has promised to bless you—and He cannot lie! When the heat comes, you won't even be bothered. When the wind comes, you'll stand strong, because you will have learned to trust Him. You'll be a green tree bearing the abundant fruit of confidence—and everyone around you will be given hope and encouragement as they behold your quiet trust.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

THE LIMITATIONS OF THE MIRACULOUS

Nobody had ever seen as many supernatural works as Israel. God provided miracle after miracle for them—and yet each work left the people as faithless and unbelieving as before! You would think that the ten plagues on Egypt would have produced faith in the Israelites. When Egypt was afflicted with flies, none were found in Israel's camp. When Egypt fell under total darkness, there was no darkness in Israel. Yet none of these plagues produced faith of any kind!

Even after God opened the Red Sea, Israel's faith lasted only three days. Scripture says: “They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea" (Psalm 106:7).

The psalmist is saying here: "They even doubted God at the Red Sea—the place where He performed His greatest miracle!"

We are so like Israel. We want God to speak a word, grant us a miraculous deliverance, quickly meet our needs, remove all our pain and suffering. In fact, you may be saying right now, "If God would just get me out of this mess—if He'd give me this one miracle—I would never doubt Him again!" Yet, what about all the miracles He has performed for you? They haven't produced in you any faith to help you in your present trouble!

Two precious men of God from the Zulu tribe in Africa visited Times Square Church. An incredible revival was taking place among the eight million Zulus, and God was doing miraculous things among them.

Yet that is not what these men wanted to talk about. Rather, what impressed them most about the revival were the "overcomer Zulus"—those who stood for Christ, burning witchcraft books and witnessing boldly, even though they were being tested and tried severely. These people were once evil, with murderous spirits, and they were being transformed into the image of Jesus!

I believe the greatest sign or wonder to the world in these last days is not a person who has been raised from the dead. No, what truly makes an impact on the mind and spirit of the ungodly is the Christian who endures all trials, storms, pain and suffering with a confident faith. Such a believer emerges from his troubles stronger in character, stronger in faith, stronger in Christ.

Monday, January 16, 2012

NO WATER TO DRINK

"Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. . . . And the people murmured against Moses, and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me’” (Exodus 17:1-4).

God had led Israel to the driest place in the whole wilderness. It was a testing place with no stream, no well, not even a trickle of water. Most baffling of all, Israel was led there "according to the commandment of the Lord" (v. 1).

God Himself had allowed His people to grow thirsty: "And the people thirsted there for water" (v. 3). Babies were crying, children wailing, grandparents suffering parched throats. Parents looked at their families and thought, "In a few days we'll all be dead." So they turned in anger to Moses, crying, "Give us water to drink!" They were still depending on man—on the flesh!

I want to stop here to point out something. First, God took Israel to Migdol by the sea to test them—and they failed to trust Him. Next, He took them to Marah, where He had another plan of deliverance—and they failed again. Now He brought them to Rephidim for more testing.
Do you see the pattern? If you don't learn to trust the Lord in simple, childlike faith when you're being tested, He will bring you back to yet another testing ground.

Israel was in just such a place once again. They were hot, thirsty, angry. But God already had a plan! He was not going to let them die. He had chosen beforehand to have them walk up Mount Horeb to a reservoir of water that He had prepared long before. And that source would last not just a day, a week or a month—but thirty-eight years!

Yet God was waiting for a response of faith from Israel. He was saying, “I have taken you through all these things, but you've refused to learn. Will you trust Me now? How many more problems do I have to allow in your life before you trust Me?"

Our loving, heavenly Father would never lead His children into a dry desert only to let them die of thirst, especially when He had a reservoir stored in a nearby rock! God has always had a plan for His people. And He has a plan for you right now, to deliver you from your present trouble.

Friday, January 13, 2012

AT WITS’ END

"Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end” (Psalm 107:23-27).

In this psalm, the place referred to as "wits’ end" is a ship's deck in a storm-tossed sea. Giant waves carry the ship up to the heavens and then drop it down to the depths. Powerful winds toss it back and forth so that none of the sailors can find their "sea legs." They stagger across the deck like drunken men.

The ship's sails are tattered and ripped, and wave after powerful wave crashes onto the deck. The sailors have to struggle just to hold on. It appears to be all over for them, and they are in total despair. They are helpless—vulnerable to the power of the elements, unable to stop the storm, powerless to save themselves.

These sailors have come to a place called "wits’ end." This condition afflicts all Christians at one time or another. It simply means, "Having lost or exhausted any possibility of perceiving or thinking of a way out." In short, there is no escape—no help, no deliverance—other than in God Himself!

“Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven” (Psalm 107:28-30).

When did the storm stop for the sailors in Psalm 107? When did God bring them into their desired safe haven?

First, the sailors came to their wits’ end, giving up on all human hope or help. They said, “There is no way we can save ourselves. Nobody on earth can get us out of this!”

Second, they cried to the Lord in the midst of their trouble—turning to Him alone for help!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

THE CRUCIFIED MILITANT

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth”
(Isaiah 53:7).

Christ was a true militant—
Fighting for other men’s rights,
Driving money changers from God’s church
And letting the oppressed go free;
Yet He Himself was oppressed . . .
And afflicted,
Misunderstood and rejected.
His own rights were denied Him:
A jury perjured Him.
Priests aroused the silent majority
With lies and half truths.
He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter.
They plucked His beard
And spit on His face.
The highest court in the land
Was prejudiced against Him;
Yet this mighty militant
Opened not His mouth
And in his sorrow claimed no rights.
He poured out His life
As an offering
To justify the rights of all men.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

THE NO-NAME INFIRMITY

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? . . . O my God, my soul is cast down within me” (Psalm 42:5-6).

Scholars aren’t certain who the writer of this psalm is. But we do know for sure that something is bothering him. His soul is deeply disturbed and he can’t explain why!

This psalmist is on fire for God. He pants after the Lord the way a deer pants for water (see verse 1)—thirsting after Him, yearning for intimacy. He asks, “When shall I come and appear before God?” (v. 2).

We never do learn what the psalmist’s infirmity is. Have you ever experienced this kind of unexplainable melancholy—unexpected, unnamed spiritual blues? You’re doing just fine, with no known sin in your life. But one day you wake up with a disturbance deep in your soul. Some kind of depression has come over you and you can’t put your finger on it.

I have good news for you: This is an infirmity of the righteous! It strikes only those who hunger after Jesus. We are not to be afraid of such an infirmity because the Holy Spirit has a part in it.

I have experienced enough of life to know that a time comes when this happens to every Christian. But we mustn’t try to figure it out—because we can’t! The psalmist never did get his “why” answers. And there isn’t a book, counselor or psychologist on earth who can tell you why an unnamed infirmity has come upon you.

I believe this strange infirmity is “the sighing of the Holy Spirit” within us. He is letting us know what it feels like to be without God—to be on our own, without comfort, hope or guidance. He allows us to experience just a taste of such an awful, horrible condition!

Our bodies are His temple and He has been sent to prepare us a chaste bride to Christ. He knows what it takes to keep us unspotted for the Bridegroom. And He knows how important it is for us to cry out to God for daily strength and power. We simply cannot stand in this time unless we are intimate with the Lord—trusting in Him fully, and constantly fleeing into His presence.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A RELIGION OF THE FACE

When we allow Jesus to be lord of all—when we cast all our cares upon Him, fully trusting in His Word and resting in His love—our appearance should undergo a deep change. A quiet calm should begin to radiate from our countenance.

Scripture gives us many examples of this: When Hannah laid down her burden, “. . . her face was no longer sad” (1 Samuel 1:18).

When Stephen stood before hostile, angry men in the Sanhedrin, [they] “. . . saw his face as the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). Stephen stood among unbelievers with the shine of Jesus Christ and the difference was clear to all!

I am convinced that we have a duty to let our countenance speak of God’s faithfulness in our lives. But the problem is, our facial features and body language often say just the opposite! Many believers’ faces say, “My God has failed me! He doesn’t care for me anymore. I have to carry all my burdens and problems alone because God doesn’t come through for me!”

You may not consciously say such things to yourself but they will show on your face. I want to show you from God’s Word that what you are going through is not new. Someone else has been exactly where you are:

“My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted. . . . I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. . . . I am so troubled that I cannot speak. . . . Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed? . . . And I said, ‘This is my anguish’” (Psalm 77:2-10).

Yet the psalmist eventually comes out of his trouble with his happy countenance restored. Why? It is because, he says, “I cried out to God with my voice . . . in the day of my trouble I sought the Lord” (Psalm 77:1-2).

If this describes you, I beg you: Today, this very day, get alone somewhere with the Lord and cry out to Him! Tell Him you are at the end of your rope, that you can’t take it anymore, that you’re ready to lay it all on His shoulders. Have it out with God!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A HOLY GHOST FACE LIFT

David boldly declared, “For I shall yet praise Him, the help [health] of my countenance” (Psalm 42:11). And he repeats the same statement in Psalm 43:5. In the original Hebrew, the proper rendering of both these verses is, “God is the salvation of my face!”

I believe David is saying something important here. You see, your face is a billboard that advertises what’s going on in your heart. All the joy or turmoil that’s inside you is reflected in your countenance. When I speak of countenance, I am talking about facial expression, body language, tone of voice.

For example, when my mind is loaded down with the cares of our church—sermons, finances, relationships—I have a tendency to slouch. I look preoccupied. My brow is furrowed. Some people even tell me I look sad.

One day I was walking along 52nd Street near Hannah House, totally absorbed with church business and probably slouched over. I came upon a crack house where a woman sat on the stoop, smiling from ear to ear. I could see she was high on crack. She watched me approaching and as I got nearer she spoke up, “Mister, it can’t be that bad.”

I was flabbergasted! I thought, “Here is this woman, high on crack, and here I am, a man of God. She’s smiling and looking good and I’m slouched over, as if all hope is gone.” What a rebuke it was to me!

I thank God for His great salvation—for redeeming our soul, our spirit, even our body. But many of us need to get our faces saved! We need a Holy Ghost face-lift—because our faces are giving the wrong message to the world!

One young woman came into Hannah House with lines of sin etched deeply in her face. Her countenance was extremely hard. Yet, two weeks after she was saved, no one could believe the change. I didn’t even recognize her.

Why such a change of countenance? “A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, and the sternness of his face is changed” (Ecclesiastes 8:1).

I take “wisdom” in this verse to mean Jesus Christ. Indeed, the very presence of Christ in your heart has a direct impact on your face! It affects your walk, your talk, the very tone of your voice.

Friday, January 6, 2012

LIBERTY IS NOT A LICENSE!

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not us liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

The rebel cries liberty
For the oppressed black,
The neglected Indian tribes,
Mexican illegals and West Coast grape pickers.
They call for liberty on campus—
For colonies and emerging nations.
They behave as though liberty
Were their discovery and brainchild,
But God says
Man is called unto liberty
Divinely destined and called.
Only liberty must not be used as a license
To appease the flesh,
To indulge in wreckless pleasure and sensuality—
As a badge of liberty.
But man is called to liberty
Only to free himself for service to others,
By love, serving one another
Peaceably and nonviolently;
For if the rebels continue to bite and devour
In the guise of liberty,
They will only consume one another.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

GOD IS A JEALOUS LOVER

“For the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14).

Yes, it is possible for us to provoke Him to jealousy: “Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” (1 Corinthians 10:22). Paul is asking: “You have testified that you love Him. You’ve even taken His name. Yet, has someone or something else stolen your heart?”

You can say you love Jesus; you can go to church every time the doors are open. But do you seek Him when your time is your own?
How many books, magazines and newspapers do you devour? How much TV and radio gets your attention—and yet you never give a thought to spending time with Christ?

Preachers search their Bibles for sermons. Sunday school teachers study it for lessons. But why do we not turn to it for recreational reading, to be refreshed by our Lord? Why don’t we open it to learn of Him, to love Him?

The Bible is Jesus—God’s own Word! It is the full revelation of His heart; everything about Him is unmasked there. I would think that if you truly love Him, if you expect to spend eternity as His bride, then you would want to learn everything possible about Him!

Our Lord yearns after us, wanting our time and attention. Yet He sees us spending all our time on other people and other things and that makes Him jealous! The day is coming when His jealousy will “burn” against those who turn to vain idols (Deuteronomy 29:20). It will burst into flames of judgment!

Beloved, when that day comes, I know you want Jesus to take your hand and whisper, “At last we’re together! You have desired Me so. You have given Me the best of your life, your time, your attention. Come, now—let us be one!”

How will you stand before Him on that day? Everything of this world is going to burn. But what about your intimacy with Him? Will you be able to stand before Him knowing you shut out the world and cried out that you wanted to know Him?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

SATISFIED WITH JESUS

It is not enough for Jesus to win your heart. He has to be the satisfaction of your heart! Yet, there are many believers who have never been satisfied with Jesus. They're always up or down according to their circumstances.

That is not a suitable bride for this Bridegroom. No, a certain beauty must adorn His bride in order to attract Him: "So the King will greatly desire your beauty" (Psalm 45:11). But what is this beauty?

You probably have sung of the beauty of holiness: "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" (Psalm 29:2). This beauty is beheld in God's eyes; it is what Jesus sees in us that attracts Him.

The Holy Spirit says to the bride of Christ, "If you will lay aside everything, forget all others and adorn yourself for Him alone, then He will desire your beauty!" This means no job, no person, no relationship can come between you!

I heard a godly wife say, "The more godly my husband becomes, the more attractive he is to me." Indeed, that is what a godly marriage is all about. And, likewise, the more you give yourself in entire devotion to the Lord, the more attractive and beautiful you become to Him.

"So the King will greatly desire your beauty . . ." (Psalm 45:11). What an incredible thought: Jesus will not be able to stay away from you! In fact, the Hebrew meaning of beauty here signifies a strong yearning and desire. In other words, Jesus will draw close to you—overflowing with desire for you!

I have performed many weddings in my lifetime. And there was never a groom who didn't smile with delight at his bride, thinking, "She's all mine!" Beloved, that is the beauty I'm talking about. Our Bridegroom rejoices, saying of His bride, "I'm the apple of her eye. She'd rather spend time with Me than with anyone else. And that makes her beautiful to Me!"

Indeed, the bride of Christ has an inner beauty that makes her outwardly beautiful. She is ". . . all glorious within. . ." (Psalm 45:13) because she is devoted to her Bridegroom. He knows beyond any shadow of a doubt, "She is all Mine—devoted only to Me! She worships Me and is submissive to Me. I am the only One in her life, the sole focus of her attention. She makes time for Me, is overjoyed in My presence, and desires to be with Me continually.” What beautiful devotion.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

LEAVING AND FORGETTING

The Holy Spirit's message to the bride of Christ in Psalm 45 was: "Forget your own people also, and your father's house" (v. 10). The still, small voice was whispering, “It's not enough just to leave your past behind. You must also forget it all—put it out of your mind—all past loves and distractions!"

The messenger here is saying to the bride, "Are you counting the cost as you prepare to be united to Him? Or are you going to give Him mere lip service after the wedding? Have you started a commitment you're willing to finish or does your mind wander back to things of your past—old friends, old habits, old loves? If you commit to this marriage, you must not only leave your past behind, you must forget it completely!"

When Jesus speaks of some who "do not forsake all" (Luke 14:33), He is speaking of those who turn from Him and cling to idols. An idol is anything that becomes the sole focus of our devotion—anything that possesses our time, attention, money, love, interest.

Many husbands can rightly say they are good providers. They work long and hard, don't waste their money, and spend quality time with their family. But how much time do they devote to Jesus? Do they have what I call a "leaving-and-forgetting time"—a time when they mentally leave everything, setting aside quality time for Jesus alone? It's a time to set aside all thoughts of work, family, children and say, "This is Your time, Jesus. I'm Yours alone right now!"

The problem isn't business or family or career. Rather, it is "loitering"—aimlessly lounging around and wasting time. Multitudes of God's people spend their time endlessly loitering—idly spending time with friends or lolling in front of a TV. We waste so many precious hours and neglect our Lord and Savior!

Now I want to speak to wives: You have given your husband and children the best years of your life. You are hardworking and faithful and you take good care of your family. Yet, how much "leaving-and-forgetting time" do you give to Jesus? How many hours a week do you shut the world out and draw close to Him?

How jealous the Lord must be over all our other loves, all the things that eat up our time and attention. The old adage is true: It's not the "bad" that is the enemy of the Christian, but the "good." It's family, career, job, children. Yet these things in themselves do not stand between us and the Lord. No—it's our loitering!

Now the Lord stands before us, asking: "Do you love Me more than these?" (John 21:15).

Monday, January 2, 2012

LISTEN AND CONSIDER

“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. . .Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife’” (Revelation 21:2, 9).

This is a beautiful picture of the last-day church of Jesus Christ! The great, holy city descending out of heaven is His spotless bride—the overcoming church seated with Him right now in heavenly places. This church is built upon the foundation of gospel truths of the twelve apostles. And it is surrounded by walls and gates that keep out everything impure and uninvited.

As the queen stands before her Bridegroom, the wedding about to begin, the voice of a third party is heard! The queen in gold is honored, favored, greatly adorned, and now she stands at her Beloved's right hand, the marriage about to be performed. But before the ceremony begins, a voice whispers an admonition to her: "Listen, O daughter, consider and incline your ear. . ." (Psalm 45:10).

I believe this voice is the Holy Spirit, warning all who are called by His name. He is speaking a word to overcomers—to those most in love with Jesus—saying, "Listen and consider." This voice comes to the bride in the final moments just before the marriage is to be consummated.

Now, you must understand, the queen has already been chosen. Her heart has already been won by her Bridegroom. She has left her home, family and country and has committed herself to Him. And she is full of joy because she passionately loves the King.

So, let me ask you: Do you think of yourself as chosen by the Lord? Are you the blood-covered, redeemed apple of His eye? Do you love Him with all your heart? Have you forsaken all the world, all your past, for Him? “He is mine, and I am committed to Him. Lord, I love You with all my heart!" Can you say that?

My point is this: If you want to be in the bride of Christ, you must be concerned with more than simply escaping a godless hell. Rather, you must desire not to be absent on that great wedding day! You must shudder at the very thought of not being His bride—of not being in His embrace, not spending eternity with Him.