Tuesday, July 31, 2012

NEVER FORGET WHAT HE DID FOR YOU

Jesus told a parable about a servant who had been forgiven a great debt (Matthew 18:23-35). This man found grace and mercy with his master but then he took that grace and mercy for granted. Immediately after he was forgiven, he went out and began to choke a man who owed him a small, insignificant amount, demanding, "Pay me what you owe me!" When the debtor asked the man for mercy, the man refused and had the debtor jailed.

Why was this man so judgmental? Why did he lack mercy? It was because he did not consider his own unworthiness. He did not understand how hopeless and exceedingly sinful his own life was. He did not appreciate the danger he had been in, how close to death he had been before he'd been shown mercy. When the master found out what the ungrateful man had done to the other debtor, he had him thrown into jail for life.

While I was working on this message, the Lord stopped me and said, "David, forget your message right now. I want to talk to you about your judgmental spirit, your lack of mercy."

I thought, "Me, Lord? I'm one of the most merciful preachers in America." But He began to review all the things I had said to young preachers, things I had blurted out sharply. Then He reminded me of all the insensitive things I'd said to people who had failed, people I'd given up on.

That session absolutely wiped me out. I wept before the Lord. When I asked God how this could be, He answered, "You've forgotten what I did for you, the incredible mercy I showed you. How many times did I dig you out of something that could have destroyed you? You wouldn't be here without My mercy."

Beloved, before you can offer mercy to someone else, you must look at the pit where you would be without God's mercy. Only then can you say, "Oh, God, I know what You did for me and You can do the same for my friend who is in sin. At one time I was just as wicked in Your sight. I can't judge this friend, because You had mercy on me."

That is where you must begin!

Monday, July 30, 2012

THE MISSION OF GOD by Gary Wilkerson

I love the Latin phrase missio Dei — which means “mission of God.”

In the first chapter of Genesis we see that the missio Dei, the mission of God, was to reveal Himself to man, to make Himself known in all His wonderful glory and goodness.

Genesis 2 introduces us to Adam and Eve, whose fall caused that mission to be broken. There was no longer the fullness of revelation that enabled man to see things as they were intended to be seen. Then in Genesis 3 we see Adam and Eve covering themselves in shame and being driven out of the Garden. They were running from God, no longer intimate and walking with Him.

From the Garden of Eden to the book of Revelation the Bible reveals the mission of God, showing us clearly what God’s purposes are for His people.

When the church doesn’t understand the mission of God — when it becomes diminished, ignored and perverted — the church loses its power. When the mission of God is set aside, the church becomes introverted and takes on a form that God didn’t intend for it. Then the church continues building on itself, becoming a type of the Tower of Babel that just keeps going up until its weight causes it to crumble.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem.” Is that really what He said? No! He said, “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end [uttermost parts] of the earth” (ESV). He knew that this mission of God was meant to bless those in Jerusalem but then it should spread to others.

If you limit the mission of God to being only what He has blessed you with, you will shortchange your own blessings. You will block the flow of what God has for you because His blessings are meant to come to you and then flow through you to others, to the world.

Friday, July 27, 2012

MY CLOTHES GOT IN THE WAY!

I remember as a young evangelist preaching at a crusade before 5,000 people in Los Angeles. At least 2,000 of those people were Christian hippies. They had just been born again and were brought out of the hippie culture. Many of these young people lay sprawled before me on the floor, barefoot, wearing long hair and tattered clothes.

That night I was dressed in a spiffy blue blazer with a sharp tie, the latest bell-bottom slacks and shiny shoes. When I took the stage, I started railing on those kids. I said, "Some of you look awful. Put on some decent clothes and get a haircut before you come back tomorrow night!"

Backstage after the service, I was met by a delegation of those long-haired, young hippie Christians. One of them ran his fingers down my fashionable coat collar and said, "What a beautiful suit." Then he looked up at me and said, "Brother David, we couldn't see Jesus tonight."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Your clothes got in the way," he replied. I had considered them to be too dressed down — and they had considered me to be too dressed up.

Those kids were not making fun of me. They were sincere. They wept as they told me, "We believe you're a man of God, but you're missing something." I know now that it was mercy I lacked. I never railed on that subject again. God taught me a hard lesson, one I pray remains in my heart.

Let me say this: Many Christians think it is enough to be pure and sanctified. We think that is the number-one issue and that all we need to do is abstain from evil, come out from the world and remain clean. As long as we don't smoke, drink, fornicate or commit adultery, we think we are pure.

No one has preached stronger messages on holiness and purity over the years than I have. But according to James, purity is merely the first matter of concern: "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17). Yes, first we are to be clean. But mercy, grace and kindness are to follow.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

ARE YOU A MERCIFUL CHRISTIAN?

"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

"Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Luke 6:35-37).

You probably remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah related in Genesis. Two angels, appearing as men, approached the gates of Sodom. Most likely they were dressed just as any ordinary person.

Abraham's nephew Lot sat at the city gate, possibly in some official rank (he may have been one of the city elders who welcomed visitors).

Let me ask you: Why did God send angels to rescue Lot and his family? We know that Lot and his daughters ultimately were saved out of Sodom, but his two sons-in-law and wife were destroyed. Why was Lot saved? Why did God send angels to literally pull this man out of destruction?

Was it because of Lot's morality? Was it because God saw something great in him? No! The answer is very simple: "The Lord being merciful unto him . . . brought him forth, and set him without the city" (Genesis 19:16). God was being merciful to Lot.

I see Lot as a type of remnant believer in these last days, living in a wicked society about to be judged. Right now America is ripe for destruction; indeed, our nation is already under judgment. And Lot represents the righteous remnant church in the midst of it, for the Bible calls Lot a righteous man (see 2 Peter 2:6-8).

Yet, if God's church today is righteous, it is only because of the blood of Jesus Christ, and not because of any goodness or morality the Lord has seen in us. It is only out of His sheer mercy that He came to us and pulled us out of judgment, even when we hesitated to leave our sins. The Lord, being merciful to us, brought us forth and has set us outside this doomed society. We deserve to be consumed but He has had mercy on us.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DRAWING NEAR TO HIM

I have a word from the Lord for many who read this message: There is a powerful promise in God's Word that you must lay hold of right now. I believe that if you act on this promise from Him, you will witness a great, new kind of victory in your life.

The promise is: "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4:8). But now you must read the rest of the verse: "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded."

This is a great promise of victory over all sin. Yet you cannot produce this victory yourself. You can't cleanse your own hands or purify your own heart. No, James is saying, "If you want clean hands and a pure heart, if you want victory over guilt, temptation and every evil pursuer coming against you, you must draw near to God and believe He is near you."

It all hinges on the nearness of God. Simply draw near to Him, believe He is near you, and He will take care of all the enemies in your flesh.

You may ask, "But how do I draw near to God?" The answer is very simple, even childlike: Just go to the Lord and talk to Him — anytime, anywhere, all day long. In the shower, on the way to work, on the job, everywhere, talk to Him, drawing near in full assurance of faith.

Years ago I worked with the late Kathryn Kuhlman. That dear woman of God used to work seventeen hours a day. I often wondered, "When does she ever have time to shut herself in her secret closet and pray?"

Then I realized that she always seemed to be muttering to herself. She was praying! She prayed as she drove her car, as she rode in elevators. Everywhere she went, she always talked to the Lord.

One day she told me, "David, the Bible says to pray without ceasing. I talk to the Lord all day long. He's just as real to me as you are. I don't have to run somewhere to try to get in tune with Him, because we talk all the time. We're friends."

Beloved, God is always there for you. I believe in secret-closet praying, but your secret closet can be on the subway, in your car, anywhere you shut yourself in with Him.

Here God’s promise to you, if you will practice drawing near to Him all day long:

"Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God” (Psalm 68:1-2).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

THE CONFRONTATION OF THE CROSS

Let me show you what I mean by the confrontation of the cross.

Consider a man who is fed up with his sinful habit yet he continually falls deeper into its clutches. He has promised himself a hundred times he will never do it again — and, for a while, he submerges the temptation and enjoys a measure of freedom. But later it comes back with greater force.

This man has covered up his sin, lied about it, cheated because of it — and it has brought him great sorrow. He no longer enjoys it, but he can't quit. He just keeps going back.

The man knows he will have to stand at the judgment seat one day and he goes through life fearing exposure and scandal. His sin has drained him, shackled him, deceived him. It has brought him down to a weariness in which he can hardly exist — he's at the end of his rope.

In this sad, weary, worn-out state, the Holy Spirit brings the man this word: "There is a way out for you. There is a place of victory, peace, joy, newness of life. Accept Christ's call to run to Him and find rest. Go to the cross of Jesus Christ."

Beloved, when you kneel at the cross, you will not hear an easy, soft word, at least not at first. Even though the cross is the only door to life, you are going to hear about death — death to every sin.

At the cross, you face the crisis of your life and that is what is missing in so many churches. The preaching of the cross brings about a crisis of sin, of self-will. It will speak to you with loving, but firm, words about the consequences of continuing in your sin: "Deny yourself. Embrace the death of the cross. Follow Me!"

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Monday, July 23, 2012

THE FORBEARANCE OF GOD by Gary Wilkerson

When Jesus says in Revelation 3:15, “I would thou were cold or hot,” He is saying that He does not want us to be lukewarm. Some translations say, “I would rather you be hot or cold but not lukewarm.” That little phrase “I would rather” is the difference between someone who is against you and someone who is for you.

If anyone is going to say “I would rather” about things in my life, I want it to be Jesus. When He says, “I would rather you be on fire for God,” you can be assured that He is releasing an all-out campaign, pulling out all available resources of heaven, on your behalf to turn your lukewarmness to fire — to bring you back!

We see Jesus say in verse 16, “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will . . . .” I love the fact that Jesus said, “I will . . .” because He could have said “I have.”

It is good news for lukewarm people that He is planning ways to bring them back into the fire of God. It is good news because even though He despises that taste in His mouth, His love is grand. The wrath-quenching love of the Lamb of God has been so poured out upon us that even when we are far from what He desires us to be, He hasn’t spit us out.

The early church fathers called this the forbearance of God. What is forbearance? It is God’s patience and bearing with us even in our lukewarmness. He doesn’t love your lukewarmness but He loves you. His grace, His plans, His power all are available right now to recapture your heart as you respond in obedience to Jesus Christ.

Jesus also said to the lukewarm, “I’m standing at the door of your heart and I’m knocking . . . and if any man opens the door, I will come in to him” (see Revelation 3:20).

Friday, July 20, 2012

GOD IS STILL FAITHFUL

When Samuel anointed David to be Israel's king, the young man was given a new heart: "Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward" (1 Samuel 16:13).

David became a man who was godly, wise, loved and full of the fear of God: "And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him" (18:14).

David was a man of much prayer. He praised the Lord as few people ever have, blessing the heart of God with his songs and psalms. Nobody could have been more intimate with the Lord than David.

David was also a man of great faith. He went on to slay Goliath and become a mighty warrior for Saul. Women sang of his exploits on the battlefield. God's Spirit clearly was upon this man, and the Lord obviously had a plan for his life.

But then Saul came after David with wrath, and David had to flee. He took 400 of his men and fled to the hometown of the giant Goliath, whom he had slain. Talk about an unfaithful act. David had not asked the Lord about this move. On the contrary, he had decided to put his life in the hands of the king of Gath, seeking refuge from him. But in Gath, hostile whispers rose up, "Isn't this the man people sing about? Hasn't he killed thousands of Philistines?" (See 1 Samuel 21:11.)

David was taken to the king. He knew he was trapped, in trouble, so he pretended to be mad, raving incoherently, scratching the walls, spittle running down his beard. He hoped that somehow his "insanity" would deliver him from the clutches of King Achish.

What a poor testimony this was before all his men. Achish looked at David and said, "This man has lost his mind. Get him out of here!"

David was unfaithful at that moment but God was still faithful. He didn't write David off. While David was acting foolishly, God's eternal purpose for him went onward. Saul's kingdom was growing weaker every day and God was moving everything into place to ensure David's blessing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

OUT OF PATIENCE

Israel refused to believe God's message about how precious they were in his eyes. Instead, they preferred to focus on their condition — their problems, weaknesses and inabilities — and they gave in to their fears.

After a time, God ran out of patience with them, saying to Moses: "How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have showed among them? I will smite them . . . and disinherit them" (Numbers 14:11-12).

The Lord forgave Israel for Moses' sake but they were not permitted to enter into the Promised Land. Instead, they were assigned a wilderness existence, a life given over to constant fear and destructive doubts. They were forgiven — but miserable! They had lost the hope, rest and peace that come from accepting and believing how special God's children are to Him.

Beloved, the only time God's patience runs out with us is when we refuse again and again to accept how much He loves us and wants to see us through our battles. Indeed, many Christians today have been turned back into a wilderness of their own making. They have no joy, no victory. To look at them, you'd think God had forsaken them years ago when actually He has just turned them over to their own complaining and murmuring.

Thank God, Joshua and Caleb entered into the Promised Land. And what joy they had! God blessed them incredibly and they stood as green trees in His house until their dying days. They were men of power and vision because they knew they were precious to God.

You also are precious to the Lord, in spite of all your problems and failures. No matter what your trials or struggles, you can be a green tree in God's house, just as Joshua and Caleb were. Simply stand on what His Word promises: "He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me" (Psalms 18:19). That is the foundation of true faith.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

FULL OF HOPE

Joshua and Caleb were among the twelve spies sent to spy out the Promised Land. They didn't shed tears, bemoaning the conditions they had found. Rather, they rejoiced after searching out the land and came back full of hope, faith and vision.

Do you know Christians like this? They are always rejoicing. You know they are enduring awful trials, yet they seem to know how to get hold of God in the midst of their situation.

What about you? Are you always down, always complaining? Perhaps your personal problems or family situations have possessed you and eaten up your soul. Beloved, no matter what you are going through, you are precious to God. If you come to Him with a repentant heart and a hungry soul, He will give you His vision and hope.

Joshua and Caleb had a revelation of their value in God's eyes and they knew Israel was special to the Lord. That was the key to their hopeful, victorious spirit. Joshua said, "If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us" (Numbers 14:8). In other words, "Because He delights in us, we are as good as in the land already."

This is the same revelation David had: "He brought me out and delivered me because He delighted in me." Likewise, every victorious Christian today has this same revelation of the loving heavenly Father: "We can't fail! All our enemies are meat for us, because we are precious to the Lord. He delights in us."

Let me reveal to you the great mercy of God in the preaching of Joshua and Caleb. Israel had spent the night in rebellion, wallowing in unbelief, weeping as though God had forsaken them, and finally appointing a captain to lead them back to Egypt. Yet the Lord sent Joshua and Caleb to them and they told the people, "In spite of your night of confusion — in spite of all your misery and complaining — God delights in you. He will lead you forward. Fear not, for you are precious to Him" (see Numbers 14:9).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A SPECIAL TREASURE



In Numbers 13 and 14, we see that Israel had sent twelve spies to search out the Promised Land. When these spies returned after forty days, they planted three lies in the hearts of God's people:
  1. "There are too many people in the land — and they're too strong for us." 
  2. "The cities are walled too high. The strongholds are impregnable." 
  3. "There are giants in the land and we are no match for them. We are helpless, finished!" 
These lies took the heart right out of Israel and the people endured a night of despair: "And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night" (Numbers 14:1). Can you imagine this scene? Think of what it must have sounded like. More than 2 million people were weeping, wailing, moaning, focusing completely on their weaknesses and inabilities. Those wailing sounds of unbelief bombarded heaven.

Beloved, take a good, hard look at that scene and you may see yourself in the midst of it. Have you ever spent a night like that one, wailing and moaning because of demonic lies that were planted in your spirit? You may have cried out to God, "I've had it — I can't take any more. This trial is too much. These strongholds in me will never come down. I'll never make it. I've lost the battle."

The devil throws these same three lies at all of God's people: "Your temptations are too numerous. Your lusts are too overwhelming. You are too weak to resist the powers coming against you."

The word that God spoke to Israel is for us today: "Ye shall be a peculiar [special] treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine" (Exodus 19:5).

"For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar [precious, special] people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth" (Deuteronomy 14:2).

Monday, July 16, 2012

NEWS FOR THE LUKEWARM by Gary Wilkerson


“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).

Jesus is speaking to the Laodicean church — the church that has become famous worldwide. Laodicean is even a word in the dictionary, meaning lukewarm or indifferent. Lukewarm is right in the middle with cold on one side and hot on the other. Jesus does not say He would like for us to be hot, lukewarm or cold. No, He says He would rather we be cold or hot rather than lukewarm.

When Jesus speaks of our being hot He is talking about being full of zeal, full of passion, with a heart that is on fire for God. He is talking about our having something in us that stirs us to action. That is why He says, “I know your works.” He doesn’t say, “I know your thoughts — I know your emotions.” He says, “I know your works,” because when you look at someone’s works you have a revelation of that person’s heart.

Many of us don’t realize how far lukewarmness is from the heart of God. This state is despicable to Jesus because it speaks of someone who is claiming to be one of His, people who take on the name of Jesus and quote Scripture but then behave like the world.

A lukewarm person is somebody who claims to be a Christian but does the same things as someone who is totally cold: still getting drunk, still sleeping around, still taking God’s name in vain, still cheating, still lying — and still calling himself a Christian. This person becomes a ruinous testimony for Christ.

Jesus prefers an honest testimony that says, “I’m not saved and I’m living like it,” rather than, “I claim to be saved but I’m not living like it.” Jesus goes on to say to the lukewarm, “I know your works!”

Friday, July 13, 2012

HE WILL ACT FOR YOU!

Do you think the Lord is going to sit by passively and let the devil do to you what he pleases? If God didn't act on your behalf when you needed Him, He would be nothing more than the false god Baal!

Elijah had a showdown with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, where an altar was built. The test was: "The god who answers prayer today will be God!" Elijah prayed that fire would fall down supernaturally on the sacrifice he laid on the altar — and that is exactly what happened.

But before that happened, the prophets of Baal danced from morning till noon, crying, begging, pleading with their god to answer. "But there was no voice, nor any that answered" (1 Kings 18:26).

Elijah mocked those false prophets: "Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked" (verse 27). Elijah was saying, "Where is your god? Is he on vacation? Is he sleeping? He must be out walking somewhere."

We could make the same mockery of God if He did not answer when we cry. You see, His honor is at stake when we pray, and He will not be mocked for not answering. The Bible says of Him: "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved . . . he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:3-4). Our God is awake at all times and He is attentive to our every need.

“They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law. Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth” (Psalm 119:150-151).

The glorious truth in this passage can change your life, bringing you peace and giving you rest beyond anything you have yet experienced. You see, once you understand the truth of God's constant nearness to you, that He loves you and is continually near you, all fear and anxiety must go.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE

Many dear Christians tell me true stories of incredible hardships — problems that keep piling up, discouragements that keep coming at them. Humanly speaking, they all seem to be impossible situations and my heart goes out to every believer who experiences such trials.

Every Christian must be convinced that he or she is precious, loved—and that God is near. In fact, the nearer the enemy comes, the more faithful God is to reveal His nearness and the more tightly He will hold His precious child's hand.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). The root word for trouble here is "a tight place." Are you in a tight place? Read God's promises to get you out of that place:
  • "The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion" (Psalm 20:1-2). 
  • "I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; and hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly" (Psalm 31:7-9). 
  • "Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:19-20). 
  • "Blessed be the Lord: for he hath shewed me his marvelous kindness in a strong city. For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: neverthless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord" (Psalm 31:21-24).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

THE LORD IS NEAR

God is more prepared to keep His promises to you than the devil is to ruin you. Indeed, no matter how near the enemy comes to you, the Lord is all the nearer.

"They draw nigh that follow after mischief; they are far from thy law. Thou art near . . ." (Psalm 119:150-151). David said, in other words, "God, if my enemies are drawing so near to destroy me, You are all the nearer in my time of need."

The Hebrew word for near in this verse connotes "defense." It means, "I am near you to defend you." God says He is especially near to defend the downcast and brokenhearted:
"For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:15).
"The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit" (Psalm 34:18).

Are you a child of God? Does the Lord Jesus live in you? God says He is near to you in your anguish. Here is His promise to you:

"I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

"For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. . . . Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee" (Isaiah 43:1-5).

David saw God as holding him ". . . by my right hand" (Psalm 73:23). He said, "God not only is near me, but He is walking with me, hand in hand, through this whole mess. Let all my enemies come after me. I've got my hand in the Father's!"

Moreover, David said God talked to him, giving him counsel and guidance: "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel" (verse 24).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH

Like Paul, I have no confidence in the flesh. Some of the godliest people I have known have failed God miserably. I think of the awful temptation and failure of David, a man after God's heart.

David was sorely tempted, fell into adultery, lied and then murdered an innocent man. I'm sure that when the prophet Nathan exposed him, Satan was convinced David was down for the count. He expected this man to throw up his hands and say, "What's the use? I have disgraced God! I have sinned against the light and committed the very sins I've preached against. God can never use me now. My heart is too black. I have been overpowered by sin."

How wrong Satan was. Listen to David's cries after he repented: "The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death" (Psalm 118:18). David said, "I was tempted and tried but God would not turn me over to Satan's power."

Beloved, if the devil comes at you with powerful temptations, it is not always because your heart is wicked. He could be attacking you because you have turned to the Lord. He is bringing fiery trials of lust and temptation against you to try to destroy your faith.

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (1 Peter 4:12).

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

There is nothing at all strange about what is happening to you. You may be discouraged because the enemy has come against you like a flood. The attack could be through temptation, lust, marriage problems, a financial crisis. You may be saying to yourself, "Here I am trying to serve the Lord, doing my best to love Him and be faithful to Him. But things just keep getting worse. Is there something wrong with me? Why can't I get out of this hole? Why do my problems keep piling up?"

I urge you to look to your right, to your left, in front of you, behind you. Everybody is going through something. Behind the smiles of your dear brothers and sisters in Christ are many tears. They are hurting with trials you know nothing about.

No, you are not alone in your suffering and your trial is not some strange, unusual circumstance. What you are going through is common to multitudes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

THE LUKEWARM HEART by Gary Wilkerson

What does a lukewarm heart look like?

A heart that is no longer on fire for God, or perhaps never has been on fire for God, has distinctive characteristics.

First, a lukewarm heart is a prayerless heart, one that has no desire to pray, no desire to come into the presence of God.

Second, a lukewarm heart is unawakened by anything in the Word. It finds parts of the Word interesting and sometimes emotionally moving but does not grasp the power of God’s Word to transform hearts.

Third, a lukewarm heart is disobedient to the Word. When the lukewarm heart begins to respond to the Word and the Holy Spirit breaks through and reveals a truth, this heart is like the man spoken of by James: “He is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror . . . and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:23-24, ESV). The lukewarm heart is not a doer of the Word.

Fourth, a lukewarm heart has little or no passion for souls, and little or no desire to pray for or reach out to the lost.

Fifth, a lukewarm heart only comes to church when it’s convenient. Even though the Word speaks very clearly that we are not to neglect gathering together, the lukewarm heart just doesn’t feel that it is significant (see Hebrews 10:25).

Sixth, the lukewarm heart has grown emotionally dull, it is unmoved. The lukewarm heart will read this message and hear this truth, yet will not care. It becomes emotionally dull to the things of the Spirit, to the Word, to prayer and to the lost.

But there is good news for the lukewarm — Jesus is calling you out of your lukewarm state! He is saying, “Yes, I am knocking on the door of your house. I want to come in and have dinner with you and I want to see the fire of God once again brought into your heart and life.”

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20, ESV).

Friday, July 6, 2012

WHY DID GOD DELIVER YOU IN THE PAST?

David wrote: "In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. . . . He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented [came upon] me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:6, 16-19).

Dear saint, rest assured that if you are being afflicted, it is because God delights in you. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth" (Hebrews 12:6). Your afflictions are a sign of His love.

You must also remember that whatever you're going through will pass. Recently, I read a passage in one of my journals that I had written while going through a great trial. Three months' worth of entries all ended with the same phrase: "Oh, God, when will this nightmare end?" Then, finally, these words appeared across a page in huge letters: "IT'S OVER—HE HAS DELIVERED!"

I can honestly say I have learned more in my afflictions than I ever did in good times. Prosperity doesn't teach us—afflictions do. The humanitarian Albert Schweitzer said, "Happiness is good health and a bad memory." No, happiness is remembering all the ways God has brought us through.

I ask you again: How are you reacting to your afflictions? Are you wasting them, becoming a doubter and complainer? Or are you building up your faith, knowing that your God delivers?

There is only one way to endure your present troubles: Remember that your heavenly Father delights in you. He has a plan at work, a great investment in you. "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). Your Father is preparing you to be a veteran of spiritual warfare, an example of faith and trust to this generation.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

In Memory of Gwen Wilkerson




This morning at 10:30am CST our beloved mother, Gwen Wilkerson, passed away. She was 81 and went to be with Christ with great peace and even anticipation. She had an amazing resolve and unshakeable faith, exemplified throughout her life in her numerous battles with cancer. Her miraculous story was told in her faith-building book, Abiding in His Strength.

Her husband of 58 years and our father, David Wilkerson, passed away in April of 2011. Ever since then Mom has longed to go to be with Christ in heaven. We are comforted knowing she has entered her reward.

We are grateful to our World Challenge partners for all your prayers. She prayed for you daily and always considered it a great privilege to be part of this ministry.

With you in Christ,
Debbie, Bonnie, Greg and Gary Wilkerson

REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS DONE

We have a tendency to forget every good thing God has done for us. When we face new challenges we often do not remember our deliverance from old ones.

When David stood before Goliath, he rehearsed his past victories in order to build up his faith. He recounted, "And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:34-36).

Moses reminded Israel of all their past deliverances and then he warned them: "Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons" (Deuteronomy 4:9).

The Bible says of Israel: "They kept not the covenant of God . . . and forgot his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them" (Psalm 78:10-11). Like the Israelites, we have the same tendency whenever we face a new trial or affliction. We say, "Oh, God, this time it's too much for me to face." But God answers, "Simply look back and remember Me!"

If need be, keep a journal to remind yourself of God's great deliverances in your life. Jot down a few notes at night before going to bed. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself of all the things He has done for you, all the heartaches you have been through and the deliverance He brought. Then, when your next affliction arises, open your notebook and say to the devil, "You're not going to deceive me this time. My God brought me out before, and He will do it again."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

DON’T WASTE YOUR AFFLICTIONS

The book of Numbers contains a sad example of wasted afflictions. The five daughters of a man called Zelophehad came to Moses asking for a share in the possession of the Promised Land. They told Moses, "Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; but he died in his own sin, and had no sons" (Numbers 27:3). These women were saying, "When all the others rose up against you with Korah, our father wasn't one of them. He wasn't in rebellion. He died in his own sin."

This last phrase struck me as I read it: "He died in his own sin." This meant that although their father had seen incredible miracles—deliverance out of Egypt, water flowing from a rock, manna coming from heaven—he died in unbelief with the rest of his generation. Of that generation, only faithful Joshua and Caleb survived the wilderness.

Obviously, these five daughters were born in the wilderness and they grew up in a family full of anger toward God. All of Israel's testings and trials produced only hardened unbelief in their father and these young women grew up hearing murmuring, complaining and bitterness. At breakfast, lunch and supper, there was constant bellyaching, with never a word of faith or trust in God. Now these women had to tell Moses, "Our father left us with nothing—no hope, no possessions, no testimony. He spent those forty years whining and in bitterness, because life was hard. He died in sin, his life a total waste."

What a horrible thing to have to say of one's parents. Yet I must warn all parents reading this: Your children are watching you as you're under affliction and your reactions and behavior will influence them for life. So, how are you behaving? Are you wasting your affliction, not only for yourself but for the generations that follow? I hope your heirs are being established in Christ as they hear you say, "I don't like this affliction but blessed be the name of the Lord."

I know many Christians who become more bitter and grumpy with every new affliction. The very afflictions meant to train and sweeten them, trials designed by God to reveal His faithfulness, instead turn them into habitual complainers, sourpusses, and meanies. I wonder, "Where is their faith, their trust in the Lord? What must their children think?"

Beloved, don't waste your afflictions. Let them produce in you the sweet aroma of trust and faith in your Lord.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

IN JAIL FOR JESUS!

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). When Paul wrote this, he was an older man with years of experience. In the midst of one of the worst trials of his life, he was speaking to his friends from his heart.

In the time you have been walking with Jesus, you surely have known pain, trials, afflictions. So, how have you behaved? What has been the outcome, the result of your experiences? Have your afflictions all been in vain? Or have you learned of God's love and faithfulness in the midst of them?

Let's say you are a dedicated believer who has laid down his life for Jesus. You have a burden for a dying world, you weep for the lost, and you have a clear command to win souls. So you tell all your friends you are going to a certain city to testify of God's grace.
Yet after you arrive, your friends back home receive word that you are not being used of God at all. Nothing has gone as planned; in fact, your ministry is dead. You have nothing to show for your efforts and rather than stirring up the city for Christ, you have landed in jail.

How would you react if all you had to show for your dedication, labors and sacrifice was utter failure?

Some Christians would pout. They would doubt God's word to them and question the Spirit's leading. Yet other Christians would respond as Paul did—rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake. Paul did not try to figure out his afflictions. He responded with joy, faith and hope because he knew he was in training as God's witness. He wrote to his friends from jail: “My situation is the topic of conversation in Caesar's palace. In fact, everyone in Rome is talking about what's happening to me. I'm in jail for Jesus!” He must have been quite a sight in that prison cell—a scrawny Jew encouraging everyone around him, “Rejoice in your afflictions. God is faithful!”

Paul did not waste any of his afflictions, because he knew that each of them had a divine purpose. Likewise, the Lord is watching us to see how we behave during our trials.

Monday, July 2, 2012

CALLING THE CHURCH TO ACTION by Gary Wilkerson

The Holy Spirit is calling the church to action and we have to know what type of faith to employ or what action to take. If you start flailing away with a sword, stirring things up on your own and saying, “I’m going to take care of this mess,” you are going to hurt others and yourself.

Perhaps you think you should just pray over an issue but God says, “No, this is the time for you to stand up and take action.” Or, on the other hand, God may say, “Just trust Me right now. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”

People ask me all the time how they can attain discernment or how they can know what to do in a situation. They want to have the type of faith that gets action.

Well, there is not a ten-week series on what to do in every situation in your life and you can’t call a counselor every day and say, “I have to make a decision and I want to know what to do.” You have to know Jesus and you will gain discernment only as you spend time in His presence.

If I were to tell you today to go out and run a marathon, if you’re like me you would go about a mile and then drop. But if you begin to train—one mile then two miles and then three, eventually you will be able to run that kind of race.

Likewise, we must train for righteousness. You may be feeling very stretched but begin to let yourself be trained by hearing the Word of God. If you obey in the small things, He will give you more and more wisdom and strength and before long you will know when it’s time to say, “God, you are in control. This is out of my hands.”

Or you will know when it’s time to pray.

Or you will know that it’s time to stand up and do what He has called you to do.