Friday, March 30, 2012

CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S WORD

Christ is the living Word of God and when you are shut in with Him in prayer, the Holy Spirit will always lead you to God's revealed Word. He will build up your faith by feeding you from the Bible, even while you are in the secret closet!

We are commanded: "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. . . . Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day. . . . And take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:11, 13, 17).

Often when you receive specific instructions from the Lord, His Spirit will whisper, "Now turn to . . ." and you will be directed to a passage of Scripture. God's Word will speak to you directly, telling you how to get through your crisis.

Many Christians reading this message simply must hear a word from the Lord. Nobody on earth can help them. The only way for them to get through their trial is by staying in Christ's presence until He gives them direction. He must tell them the way through—what to do and when and how to act. His exclusive direction to them will not come one minute too early or too late. It will all be in the Holy Spirit’s timing!

Beloved, there is no need for you to worry about your trial. God is faithful to respond to your every need and request. Simply pray, "Lord, I come now not just to have my needs met but I come also to meet Your need!"

We were made for fellowship with Him even in our heaviest times. I ask you: Do you love to be with Him? Let your heart cry out, "Jesus, You are my everything. You are my soul's great pleasure and I love Your company!"

Father, help us to listen closely to Your Spirit and put all our confidence in Your revealed Word.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

LISTENING TO GOD

Most Christians don't listen to God. They go to Him only to talk! Yet the Scriptures reveal that any person who was ever used of God learned to remain in His presence until hearing from Him.

Scripture makes it clear that the Lord wants to talk to every one of us: "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21).

I heard of a little girl suffering from leukemia who was struggling with the thought of dying. One morning when her mother came into her room, the girl was all aglow and happy. "What has happened to you?" her mother asked.

The little girl answered, "An angel came to me and said I was going on a trip. God came and took my hand and walked with me through a beautiful garden. He told me, 'You're coming here tomorrow to be with Me.'"

God spoke to that little child and took all the pain and fear from her heart. When she left to be with Him the next day, she had total peace.

When you are intimate with Jesus, do you receive direction from Him? Does He tell you what to do and when and how to do it? Some Christians don't believe God does this but Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice . . . and they follow me" (John 10:27).

In your trial, get alone with Jesus and cry, "Lord, You're the only One who can help me. Only You know the way through this trial, so I'm going to stay here till You tell me what to do."

This is the kind of praying that is pleasing to God. It means stopping everything, all activity. Only then will you hear Him speak clearly to your heart: "You must make things right with this person." Or, "Just stand still till next week. Don't get in a hurry. Sit in My presence and trust Me." He will give you clear directions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

PRAYING THROUGH

“Praying through" is a term coined by the early Pentecostals. To some it meant simply staying on your knees until you were assured you had an answer from God. To others it meant continually coming back to the Lord until you had the answer in hand. (This was also called "persevering in prayer.")

As a young boy in those early camp meetings, I heard people testify, "I'm going to lay hold of the horns of the altar and I won't let go until God answers!" Yet I don't believe that is the truest meaning of "praying through."

You can be shut in with the Lord, delighting in His presence. You can spend quality hours, even days, with Him, glorying in sweet communion. You can have all your needs met and your heart can be totally satisfied. His presence can heal you, lift you, empower you and strengthen you.

But what happens when you leave that hallowed place of intimate communion? You may rise up from your knees only to go back to a crushing situation that has not changed. You can see the devil waiting there for you, ready to throw the same problems and emptiness at you. I ask you: What good is it to get the glory on the mountain if it won't see you through your battle?

I believe "praying through" means simply this: The strength, power and encouragement you receive from the Lord while shut in with Him must see you through the trials ahead. The victory you get in the secret closet has to give you victory on the battlefield.

What exactly do you get from your time of prayer if not something that can see you through the battle? "Praying through" means waiting for the total completion of your prayer. Many Christians see only half-answered prayers because they do not allow what they received from the Lord in prayer to carry them through their trial.

Beloved, prayer is not finished—it is not "completed prayer"—until it sees you through to the other side of your trial. We have not "prayed it through" until we have "lived it through" our trials by the strength we received in God's presence.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

COMING TO THE LORD IN SADNESS

The Holy Spirit directed me to the book of Nehemiah and as I read chapter 2, I saw something I had not seen before. This chapter contains an encouraging story for all who come to the Lord with a heavy heart.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. He tasted the wines before they were brought to the king's table to make sure they weren't poisoned. Over time, Nehemiah became a trusted servant to the king.

Nehemiah received a report from his brother that Jerusalem was in ruins. The population had been decimated, the people were in terrible straits, and conditions were worsening daily. This tore at Nehemiah's heart. He loved Judah and Jerusalem and a sorrow began to grip him.

Scripture says: "And it came to pass . . . I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid" (Nehemiah 2:1-2).

Understand that people were forbidden to come into the king's presence with sadness, especially if they were court employees. Nehemiah knew that having a gloomy countenance could cost him his head and he was terribly fearful.

When the king saw Nehemiah’s grief, he was moved with compassion. Scripture tells us he gave his downcast servant a leave of absence. He also gave him a letter of credit, opening the royal treasury to him. And then Nehemiah received from the king the desire of his heart—permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city walls!

Here is my point: If Nehemiah could go into the presence of a pagan king with a sad countenance and yet find favor and blessings beyond imagination, how much more will King Jesus show compassion to each of us, His children, in our sadness. He is eager to lift our burden and supply our needs.

Monday, March 26, 2012

WHEN WE HAVE NO HOPE by Gary Wilkerson

Elisha inherited from Elijah the role of prophet in the land. In 2 Kings 4, Elisha encountered one of his first big tests when he was approached by a Shunammite woman whose son had just died. In desperation, she told Elisha, “I’ve prayed and fasted, wept and pled but I have received nothing from the Lord. With my son gone, I don’t have the strength to go on. I just don’t understand what God is doing. This is more than I can bear.”

Elisha responded by doing something unusual. “He said to Gehazi [his servant], ‘Tie up your garment.’” In other words, “Gird up you loins.” Then he continued, “Take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child” (2 Kings 4:29, ESV).

Heeding Elisha’s instruction, Gehazi went to the family’s home and laid his staff on the face of the dead child. There was no sign of life so Gehazi returned to Elisha saying, “The child has not awakened” (v. 31).

Here is my question to you: What do you do when everything you try brings no result? Where do you turn when every effort you put forth does not accomplish its purpose?

There comes a time when we have no resource but Jesus alone. In this story, Elisha is a type of Christ. He went to that Shunammite family and stretched himself out over the body of the dead boy. When he was face to face, foot to foot, hand to hand over the child, he breathed into him.

What happened then? Scripture says the boy sneezed seven times (v. 35). He was alive!

What brought about this life? Jesus Himself breathed into the situation. When we have no hope, no resources, no ability, Christ breathes His supernatural life into our circumstances.

Make this your prayer: “Lord, I have nothing but You have everything and I need You now. If you do not breathe into my problem, I won’t make it. I can’t do it, but you can, Lord!”

Friday, March 23, 2012

IS PRAYER A BURDEN?

Perhaps prayer is a burden to you. Is prayer boring to you? Is it more of a duty than a pleasure?

So few Christians enter God's presence with delight, simply for the pleasure of His company. Some think of it only as "work". Yet, when we commune with a dearly loved one here on earth, do we think of it as work? No, it is a pleasure to us! If you are happily married, you don't think of your times of intimacy with your spouse as "work".

Christ likens His relationship with His people to that of a husband and wife and the Bible says Jesus delights in us! The fact is, a husband's pleasure in enjoying intimacy is not simply the satisfaction of his own needs. No, his real pleasure is in the joy of knowing his wife shares his delight. He says in his heart, "She really wants to be with me. I'm first in her heart—I'm everything to her!"

We know the Lord delights in His people. David said, "He delivered me, because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:19). The Scripture gives us a picture of the Lord and His exuberant delight in us.

Yet, do we delight in Him? The Bible tells us: "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37:4). Delighting in the Lord does not mean simply being happy in His presence. I asked the Lord what the word "delight" means and He answered:

"David, delighting in Me means simply being able to say: ‘I would rather be with Jesus than with anyone else on earth. I prefer His company to that of my spouse, my family, my friends. I prefer Him over all celebrities, world leaders, even great men and women of God. He is my delight!’”

It also means being able to say, “I long to be shut in with Jesus because He is the only One who can satisfy me. All others leave me empty and unfulfilled. No one but Jesus can touch my deepest needs and I rush to Him as often as I can.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PRAYER THAT IS PLEASING TO THE LORD

I believe the kind of prayer that most pleases God is very simple and easy to understand. It is so simple that a little child can pray in a way that pleases Him.

The disciples said to Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). They would not have asked unless they had wanted to learn. I believe that most who are reading this message would love to be faithful in prayer, but they do not know how. They simply do not understand the purpose of prayer and until they grasp this vital purpose, they will never be able to maintain a fulfilled, meaningful life of prayer.

Many Christians pray only out of a sense of obligation. They think of prayer as something they are "supposed" to do. Others pray only when tragedy strikes or when a crisis befalls them and then they do not pray again until the next difficulty comes along.

Prayer is not just for our benefit, but for the delight of our God! We are not just to intercede for things we need, but to ask for the things He desires. Unless these two elements go together, we do not have a foundation upon which to build a prayer life. Whereas we seek relief and help from the Lord, He desires fellowship with us—intimacy and communion.

"Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on” (Matthew 6:25).

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take no thought for the morrow. . . ." (6:33-34).

"For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (6:8).

God is saying to us: "When you come into My presence, focus your attention on fellowship with Me, on getting to know Me. Don't let your focus be on material things. I know what your needs are so you don't even have to ask. I willl take care of them all. Just seek Me. Let us enjoy sweet communion!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DANIEL’S REPENTANT HEART

Daniel, a righteous man, had such devotion that you would not expect to find him repenting. Daniel's heart, however, was sensitive to sin and also he identified with the people's sins.

"O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. . . . We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled. . . . Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land" (Daniel 9:8, 5-6).

Daniel repeatedly used the words we, us, our. He was saying, in essence: "Every one of us is affected!"

The key to it all is found in this verse: "And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God" (Daniel 9:20).

Daniel said, "God, deal with me while You are dealing with Your people. If there is any iniquity in my heart, bring it out.”

Daniel was given new lips that had been touched by God's purging hand: "And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake" (Daniel 10:16). Whenever Daniel spoke, he spoke "as unto the Lord."

Isaiah was a godly man who had issued mighty prophecies, but when he stood before the Lord in all His holiness, this prophet could only say, "I am a man of unclean lips . . ." (Isaiah 6:5).

God took coals of fire from the altar, put the tongs on Isaiah's lips, and burned out all self and flesh—everything that was unlike Him. And then He gave Isaiah a new pair of lips! I believe the prophet never again had to have his lips purged.

God does this for every person who repents! Once your tongue and lips are purged, you will never again want to speak anything that is unlike Jesus. The words that flow from you will be pure!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

REPENTANCE IS NOT JUST FOR SINNERS

The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I am convinced that repentance is not just for sinners, but also for believers. It is not simply a one-time thing, but something God's people are called to do until Jesus returns.

Every Christian who maintains a repentant attitude brings upon his life God's special attention. Indeed, repentance opens up something to us that nothing else can. If we walk before the Lord with a repentant heart, we will be inundated with incredible blessings!

A repentant heart is soft, tender and pliable, and is easily molded by the Holy Spirit. It responds to and acts upon godly reproof.

The number-one characteristic of a repentant heart is a readiness to acknowledge guilt. It is a willingness to accept blame for wrongdoing, to say, "I am the one, Lord. I have sinned!"

If there is no admitting to sin, there can be no repentance: "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of" (2 Corinthians 7:10). If you are not willing to acknowledge you are wrong, you are saying you don't need to repent.

Before Pilate released Jesus into the hands of murderous priests and elders, he wanted the world to know it wasn't his fault. He called for a basin of water, dipped his hands into it and declared himself innocent of Christ's blood before the angry mob:

"When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it" (Matthew 27:24).

The phrase, "See ye to it" here means, “Make sure you all know my hands are clean. I have done nothing wrong and I am clean from all guilt."

Pilate's hands were not clean, of course; he was about to hand over the Son of God to murderers. This kind of thinking shuts a person off from any possibility of repentance. Had a prophet approached Pilate the next day, preaching, "Repent or perish!" the ruler would have been aghast. "Who, me?" he would have asked. "I've done nothing wrong. How can I repent when I haven't sinned?"

John writes: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:8, 10).

Monday, March 19, 2012

CROSSING THE JORDAN by Gary Wilkerson

We all have a high calling from the Lord. At some stage of our lives, He sets before us a preordained plan we are to fulfill. God promises that if we act in faith, He will bring that plan to completion.

Yet this is not always easy. As everyone who has walked with Jesus for any length of time knows, following His calling means we will encounter obstacles. One of the most common obstacles is the skeptic’s voice. As we seek to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land, we will hear every kind of voice telling us not to go.

Joshua heard these voices as God stirred him to lead Israel to cross over the Jordan. The crossing held all the promise of God’s future glory for His people on the earth. You can be sure there was no way they would make that crossing without hearing the shrill voices of skeptics trying to dissuade them.

Our God wants to obliterate every skeptical voice that would keep us from obeying His direction. Whenever He asks us to take a step of faith, He is leading us to “cross over” to a measure of trust in Him we have never had before.

When the priests carrying the ark stepped into the rushing river, God supernaturally parted the water. After that, every evil thing the skeptics had predicted was turned into good for God’s people. When the people came to a great fortified city occupied by their enemy, they marched around it and the impenetrable walls came tumbling down.

Are you willing to step into the river? God may be saying, “If you’ll just commit to putting your toe in, you will see Me part the water for you. I will carry you across to the other side. I have already laid out My plans for you and I will see them through to fulfillment.”

I urge you: Trust God to lead you across your Jordan. Let Him silence the voice of the skeptic. His plan for you won’t be defeated—He is faithful!

Friday, March 16, 2012

REMOVAL OF FEAR

“And, behold, an hand touched me. . . . And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright. . . . Then he said unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words" (Daniel 10:10-12).

Show me a Christian who refuses to acknowledge his sin—who says, "My hands are clean"—and I will show you someone with a false piety. Such a person puts on a big smile, has a confident walk and boasts that all is well. But it's all a facade! The Bible makes it clear that if anyone hides his sin, he will not prosper. God lifts His Spirit from him and his unrepentant heart is full of fear and restlessness!

But show me a repentant Christian—one who is sensitive to sin, willing to be searched, crying out, "I'm guilty, God!"—and I will show you one who soon will walk without any trace of fear. God will reach His mighty hand into that believer's heart and pluck out all roots of fear so that he will know the immeasurable favor and blessing of God!

Beloved, let God examine your heart; ask the Holy Spirit to reveal everything you have said or done that is grievous to Him. Think of anyone you have slandered or gossiped about, and admit how sinful it was. Go to that person and seek forgiveness.

I promise that if you make things right, you will release in your life favor from God as you have never known before! The Lord will open your eyes, ears and understanding and you will be given a revelation of things to come: "[You will] understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days" (Daniel 10:14).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

JOY OF WALKING IN REPENTENCE

"And [He] said . . . Fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me" (Daniel 10:19).

Daniel's soul was in agony. He had been mourning for sin—praying, fasting, weeping—and it left him flat on his face, totally drained. He moaned, "O my lord . . . my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength" (Daniel 10:16).

Then Jesus came to him and touched his body and suddenly Daniel was flooded with peace and strength. "O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened" (Daniel 10:19).

Jesus told Daniel, "Daniel, I love you and I want to give you My peace. Now, stand up and be strong!" Daniel received the word of the Lord and was filled with God’s strength. Then he stood up, completely free from fear.

The repentant Christian can be downcast, totally wiped out, overwhelmed by sorrow and weariness. However, the Lord always comes to touch his body, to give him renewed peace and strength!

I ask you: Do you have a repentant heart? Do you want one? Fall on your knees today and cry out in confession—for yourself, your family, your loved ones, your church. You will receive an incredible revelation of the Lord and you will begin to speak from pure lips. You will know peace and strength from God's mighty hand so that you will no longer live in fear of any kind.

Best of all, each of these marvelous benefits will be "loaded" upon you daily: "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation" (Psalm 68:19).

That is when you will know the joy of walking in repentance.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

OUR HELP IS IN THE NAME OF THE LORD

How do you get out of the trap of besetting sin? To whom do you cry out, "I want my freedom back"?

Picture yourself as a bird in the fowler's trap. Stand still. Don't flap your wings; don't struggle. There is a secret of deliverance for you, and it is not complicated:

"Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 124:8).

What a wonderful promise! Your escape to freedom is in the name of Jesus, in His incredible, glorious, all-powerful name.
All you have to know is that He is on your side. He is not mad at you for falling into the trap. He is not against you. No, never! He hears your cry because not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowing about it!

Here is what the bird of freedom sings to himself: "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. . . . Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him" (Psalm 91:2-3, 14-15).

Rest assured, beloved, that God will deliver you. No matter what your failure, your hardship, your trap, He is on your side. Just stand still and see His salvation. Even if you are weak, you can cry out to Him because He promises to come and tear the net away!

He has come to bring you out of your despair, to break the snare that binds you and set you free. “Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers” (Psalm 124:7, NKJV).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

THE SNARE IS BROKEN

"Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped" (Psalm 124:7).

Imagine a little bird trapped in the fowler's net. Lying helpless, its little heart throbs with terror and its wings beat wildly against the net—to no avail. The more it struggles, the more battered and bruised it becomes. Frightened, the bird begins to cry and screech but escape is impossible. It is completely at the mercy of the fowler.

Beloved, that little bird is you—snared by the net of sin! And the fowler is the devil, the wicked one. He laid his trap and caught you in it.

Now, consider that trapped little bird. How he could possibly get free by his own strength and power? If he fights to break through the net, he will become even more entangled. He may even break a wing or bleed to death. He can't deliver himself.

Isn't this a picture of us when we're trapped in sin? We make all kinds of promises to God. We struggle and cry, trying to break free from our bondage. But we have lost our freedom and remain trapped!

Think of that little trapped bird again. That night, the fowler goes to bed dreaming of this special little bird he's been after. He can hardly sleep and is anxious to go out the next day and see if he caught it.

As the fowler comes near the trap, he sees it has been sprung and he gets excited. He expects to see a worn-out, bleeding, frightened, half-dead little bird in the net but, lo and behold, when he examines the trap, he sees the net is torn, broken. The bird has soared!

We find the little bird perched on a limb in a tree high on God's mountain. He's free, and his wounds are healing—all because the Lord came and ripped open the net!

That little bird is saying to itself, "If it had not been for the Lord—if He had not rushed to my side—I would have been swallowed up and devoured. But God broke the snare and plucked me out of the trap!"

The snare is broken—and we have escaped!

Monday, March 12, 2012

LIFT YOUR HANDS AND WORSHIP

“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him” (Zechariah 3:1)

Satan will resist every true worshiper who draws near to God. James instructs, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God . . .” (James 4:7-8).

James presupposes that when you draw near to God, you are going to be attacked by the enemy, so he warns, “First, fight Satan—put up all you resistance—because when you worship with all your mind and soul, he will oppose and distract you!”

Satan’s chief work is to hinder prayer and corrupt pure worship, especially in those who are serious about following Jesus.

Whenever the Holy Spirit moves in Times Square Church—when all minds are focused on the Lord and He is receiving pure worship—Satan uses everything in his power to try to disrupt it!

One time a man got up in the middle of our service, went outside, picked up a garbage can and smashed it into a car window. Then he calmly walked back into church and sat down. The police had to come into the congregation and take the man out.

These distractions happen all the time. Demon-possessed street people take a seat and fall asleep. But just as our worship begins and the Lord begins to receive our praises, the devil awakens these people and they begin to make a scene!

Satan will do anything to disrupt worship because he fears it! He will shoot subtle darts into your mind about all kinds of unfinished business, replaying every problem, every worry, every failure of the past week.

Satan want you to be a despairing, defeated believer, so wrapped up in your problems, so distracted by the cares of life, you cannot worship God with all your heart and mind.

Are you repentant, full of godly sorrow? Have you run to Jesus for cleansing? If so, then resist the devil’s lies! Lift your hands and worship your Savior!

Friday, March 9, 2012

UNWILLING DISTRACTIONS

Our minds have a natural tendency to wander and drift. Often we can't sleep because we are unable to shut down the barrage of thoughts that invade our minds. I call these "unwilling distractions."

As I sat in church during worship recently, my mind was flooded with invading thoughts—thoughts of ministry, my next sermon, church finances, the need for more space. These are all important things, but I was totally distracted from worshiping the Lord. I had to keep bringing my thoughts into captivity.

When God communed with Abraham and made covenant with him, Abraham killed five animals and laid them out as a sacrifice. Scripture says, "When the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away" (Genesis 15:11).

That is exactly what happens to us during worship. Thoughts fly down on us like bothersome birds, interfering with our intimacy with Him, trying to devour our sacrifice. And, like Abraham, we need to drive them all away.

Every time I shut myself in to pray, within ten minutes my thoughts begin to run off in all directions. I hear my mouth worshiping the Lord, but my mind is completely on something else. I try fighting off the flood of thoughts, but even more come pouring in. The flesh constantly wars against our spirit, wanting our attention.

The same happens to me in God's house. I can be praising the Lord, full of love for Jesus, when suddenly my mind begins chasing after some other matter. Our wandering thoughts are not always of the devil. Sometimes they simply crowd in on us—thoughts of business, family, problems, difficulties. They must always be brought into captivity, however, because we are at war!

The flesh will always try to interfere with our worship or our prayer time. We are commanded to resist the flesh, and we must keep bringing Jesus back into focus. If we keep our mind centered on God, His fire will fall on our holy sacrifice.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

THE CHURCH OF GOD'S GLORY!

"In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel" (Isaiah 4:2).

All through the Old Testament, the branch that is mentioned as coming forth is none other than Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. According to Isaiah, there will be a church to whom He will appear beautiful, excellent and comely. They will be passionately in love with a Man whom they see as glorious.

Right now there is a remnant church that desires nothing but Christ. He is the center of attraction and the people focus totally on Him. These are the ones Isaiah refers to as being ". . . escaped of Israel" (same verse). Indeed, the last-days church that will be filled with God's glory is more than just a forgiven church. It is a holy church, one that has been purged by the consuming fire of God's convicting Word. Holiness and purity characterize its people. Isaiah adds, "He that is left in Zion . . . shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem" (verse 3).

The best evidence here that Isaiah is referring to the last-days church is found in verse 5: "And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place . . . a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night" (Isaiah 4:5).

Isaiah is predicting that God will create a new pillar and cloud to cover His people. We know that when Isaiah prophesied this, the pillar and cloud in the wilderness had already passed away. Obviously, this was something that had yet to be created—a new thing!

The cloud has to do with direction and comfort, with preservation from evil and terror, and with guidance. This means God's last-days remnant people will have clear direction.

God is saying "I am going to see you through. Even in the worst storm, you will have clear direction from Me because I will give you a pillar of fire to lead you as I did Israel in the wilderness!"

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GLORY OF GOD

"And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert [shelter] from storm and from rain" (Isaiah 4:6). The glory of God's presence will be our shelter from the heat. The Hebrew word for heat means "drought, desolation, barrenness" and here it is used as a type of God's judgment on an evil society.

In Revelation 16, the fourth angel of judgment is given power ". . . to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God" (Revelation 16:8-9).

The glory of God is our defense, our covering—". . . a place of refuge . . . from storm and from rain"— and we will rest in the cool shadow of Jesus' wings. Already we are seeing the rain of Holy Spirit outpourings as well as God's judgments. The storm clouds are gathering but, thank God, there will be a covering over His holy remnant church.

You may say, "I have no glory church I can attend. All I can find are man-centered churches. Where is my covering from the heat and storm?"

Your dwelling place is the glory of God in your own heart. If Jesus is present in you, manifesting Himself to you, then you are covered in full. If you turn your heart and eyes toward Him, allowing His Word to reprove, convict and correct you, He will reveal Himself to you. He has promised it!

"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" (John 14:21).

God says, "I will be there with you. It doesn't matter how bad it gets, I will see you through. I will never leave you nor forsake you!"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Lord has a people in these confusing times who are not confused. They are so given to Jesus—so in love with Him, so separated from the wickedness of this age—that they know the ways and workings of the Holy Spirit. They know what is pure and holy, and what is fleshly and foolish.

"For upon all the glory shall be a defence" (Isaiah 4:5). The original Hebrew here reads: "Over all shall be a covering of glory." This means, in essence, "Over each of these remnant people will be a blanket, a canopy, a hiding place—the covering of the glory of God!"

Remember that a cloud of glory covered the tabernacle in the wilderness: "Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:34).

In Isaiah 4, we are promised that in the last days the Lord will create a glory that covers His remnant church. The glory of God will fill every heart and cover every house and we will worship under the canopy of God's glory—which is the manifest presence of Jesus Christ, God's Son.

"His Son . . . being the brightness of his glory" (Hebrews 1:2-3). The glory cannot get any brighter than Christ manifesting Himself to you. The word manifest means "to lay hold of by the hand." In other words, when Jesus' presence fills a place, it is so real, so evident, that your spiritual hands can touch it, your spiritual eyes can see it. It is as real as the air you breathe.

I want to see a revival where the presence of Jesus is so powerful and glorious that the "fruit" (conversions) will be excellent (see Isaiah 4:2). I want to see a revival where people stream toward the front of the church, weeping, broken before the Lord and they will know that they have truly been covered by the glory of God.

Monday, March 5, 2012

THE CHURCH OF FORGIVENESS ONLY

Isaiah 4 opens with a concise and tragic description of what I call “the church of forgiveness only.”

“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach” (Isaiah 4:1).

I believe we are living in the last days and this chapter in Isaiah is one of the clearest prophecies about how the church will look just prior to the coming of the Lord.

The seven would-be brides Isaiah mentions are clearly a type of many in the last-days church. They are seeking to lay hold of one man, whom I take to be Christ. Yet these brides are not interested in loving Him. On the contrary, they have only one thing on their minds—the removal of reproach! “We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach” (verse 1).

The number seven is used in regard to these brides to remind us that in every church there are such people. They attempt to “take hold of one man”—Christ—only to get relief from the guilt and condemnation of their sin. They do not want intimacy with Him. They want nothing more than forgiveness, to have the reproach of sin removed. I call this “the church of forgiveness only.”

These self-centered, would-be brides have no desire to submit to the authority of a husband. They do not want to know His heart and they do not care about His concerns.

Out of intimacy with Jesus we receive discernment, direction, a knowing of what is right and wrong—and what is holy and pure. Intimacy with Christ gives us a firmness wherein we are not tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Stay close to Him so that you will have discernment about the foolishness going on around us.

Friday, March 2, 2012

SWAMPED BY A STORM

Are you facing trouble in your business or career? As you read the following verses, be reminded that career people and businessmen here are likened to seamen in ships. The great waters signify the big world of competition, an ocean of activity.

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. . . . They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end" (Psalm 107:23-27).

These people are God's beloved saints. They are in awe of His greatness and power, but a storm breaks out that is beyond their control. It is not judgment for sin, yet suddenly waves are swamping them, swallowing up their boat. They are staggered by problems on all sides, and it looks as if their ship is going down. Suddenly they are confused and perplexed: "Their soul is melted because of trouble" (verse 26).

Many career people have told me, "It looks bad. I don't know what happened, but suddenly I'm in a mess." They were able to solve their own problems in the past, and to escape one crisis after another. With this trial, however, there seems to be no way of escape. They are mentally and physically exhausted.

How easily we forget that our loving heavenly Father is our partner in our work, regardless of our career or calling. Indeed, nothing happens to us without His involvement. He has power over all our difficulties and He has a reason and purpose behind them all.

What can you do when your business partner has no advice and consultants cannot help you? Where do you turn when your spouse, your pastor, your best friend has nothing to say to you? I am not a businessman but I can point you to the seamen in Psalm 107:

"Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven" (Psalm 107:28-30).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WORD

“Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God . . . therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help" (Psalm 107:10-12).

They were bound in affliction because they rebelled against God and rejected His counsel (see verse 11). Beloved, could this be you? You have sat under godly preaching and the Holy Spirit has convicted you but still you are miserable and continue to sin.

When a person willfully disobeys the Word of God, his tendency is to hide and cower in fear. He may feel that it is all over, thinking, "God can't use me." When you are in that condition, the devil will whisper to you, "There is no deliverance for you. You're one of those people who never change. God has had it with you—your sin has caused Him to hide His face."

Satan will pound you with Scriptures, misquoting them all. When you sit in church, you will hear only judgment, not God’s mercy—because you are under such guilt, condemnation and fear.

I am not referring to people who hide from God because they love their sin. Rather, I am talking about Christians who have taken a fall but still have a sorrow and a hatred for their sin. Something inside them cries, "I have hurt God."

To this Christian, God's Word promises: "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works. . . . For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder" (Psalm 107:13-16).

God never has—and never will—hide His face from a crying child of His. No matter how far you have fallen or how many promises you have made to God—and broken—He will always hear your cry for help and bring you back into close fellowship with Him.