Friday, September 28, 2012

IDOLATRY BRINGS DECEPTION

Idolaters live in deception, believing a lie to be the truth!

"For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the Lord will answer him by myself” (Ezekiel 14:7).

This passage means: "Because you are hardened in your sin, with no desire to turn and repent, every word you hear from now on will confirm you in your deception. Even the preaching you hear will speak to your idols."

We see a picture of this with King Ahab in 1 Kings 22. This man was probably the most wicked king in the history of Israel. At this time he had aligned himself with King Jehoshaphat to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead.

The Scripture says: "And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall [be defeated] at Ramoth-gilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so" (1 Kings 22:20-22).

We see one of the worst idolaters of all time, a man whose heart was captivated by covetousness and lust, inquiring of the Lord. So, what did God give to Ahab? He provided him with four hundred prophets who would lie to him and echo the desire in his heart: “Go into battle! Everything looks great. There is peace and prosperity ahead.”

What a horrible tragedy! Ahab could not hear God's voice because of the idols rooted in his heart. God answered him by sending him a strong delusion — one that would destroy him.

"Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause [reason] God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

GOD’S ANSWER FOR IDOLATERS

"And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him; that the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord God" (Ezekiel 14:10-11).

God is telling us in tender terms: "I am going to do whatever it takes to get you away from your polluted idols. I will not let you fall into deception and destruction. I am going to woo you back to Myself — but if that doesn't work, I will have to bring punishment.”

"When ye see their ways and their doings . . . ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord God" (verse 23). The Lord is saying: "You will know that My strong dealings with you are for a reason. I simply will not let you go."

Do you have a stumbling block of iniquity in your heart? Are you deceived by a bondage that could destroy you? If so, and if you find yourself under conviction from this message, there is hope for you.

It does not matter what your idol is — covetousness, sexual sin, pornography, alcohol, drugs, bitterness or unforgiveness. Ask God to open your eyes to your sin and seek Him for a revelation about it. Ask the Holy Spirit to instill the fear of God in you, to soften your heart to His convicting voice. You must hate your sin and determine to make no peace with it.

Cry out to Him now: "Lord, don't leave me blind. If there is any delusion or deception in me, expose it. I don't want to believe any more lies. I only want to hear Your voice and have Your power and authority rule my life."

There is deliverance for you if you truly want it. One day soon you will realize you are no longer a slave, but a child of God set free by truth.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WE WILL GIVE OURSELVES TO PRAYER

In the first-century church at Jerusalem, the Greek widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. Naturally, they sought the help of the leaders in the church.

The apostles did not feel right about giving up their study of God's Word and time in prayer just to oversee this administrative task, so they called together the church body and said, "It is not reason [good] that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables" (Acts 6:2). As a result, seven men of "good report" were appointed to handle all the church's business affairs. In the meantime, the apostles pledged, "We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4).

The result of this arrangement was: "The word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied" (Acts 6:7). The church grew because these men refused to neglect their primary task.

Very few pastors today will make this kind of sacrifice. One minister looked me in the eye and said, "I simply don't have time to pray. I'm too busy. There are too many demands on my time." Another pastor confessed to me, "I haven't prayed in months. I meditate and have quick devotions occasionally, but I can't bring myself into the discipline of prayer."

I don't want to condemn any hardworking, devoted minister of God. But the fact is, every servant rises and falls to his own master, and many preachers of the gospel today are not aware that they have become victims of a satanic conspiracy of interruptions. They are constantly on the run, bogged down under an avalanche of duties and details.

I thank God we are never at the mercy of Satan or any of his devices. We can expose his tactics, speak the word of faith, and in Christ’s name stop every single interruption. By the power of God’s Spirit within us, we can clear our path to the Lord’s gates and come boldly to His throne of grace to receive help in our time of need. That is what the Lord desires for all of us.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME

"Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency" (Psalm 73:13).

Asaph, the writer of this psalm, was so confused by his sufferings in comparison to the easy life of the wicked that he nearly slipped into a pit of absolute unbelief. He was ready to accuse God of abandoning him, of not being concerned, and for a moment he was ready to quit the battle and give up completely.

This godly man must have thought, "I've been doing right and enduring hardships all this time but it was for nothing. All my diligence, my praising and worshiping, my study of God's Word has been useless, in vain. I have done only right; yet I continue to suffer and it makes no sense. What's the use of going on?"

Beloved, you must be careful. When calamity falls, when a trial comes upon you, when you are grieving, you need to guard your heart against slipping.

You may not be in Asaph's condition, suffering and being tested, but you may know someone who is going through something similar. Sudden calamity may have come upon a godly relative, friend or church member, someone you know who is doing right, and you have asked, "Why, God? How could You allow this? That person is so righteous!"

Asaph went to the temple and prayed. Beloved, when your time of grief or suffering comes, you must go to the secret closet. Get alone with God and cry out to Him. If you will get alone with the Father, He will give you understanding. That is when the Holy Spirit spoke to Asaph: “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction” (verse 18). Asaph realized, “I’m not the one slipping, the wicked are slipping. They’re going straight into destruction.”

Asaph began to see the whole picture and he rejoiced: “God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (verse 26). He could say, “Yes, my strength is failing. Yes, I’m enduring a great battle — but I’m not alone in my struggles. I have a loving Father in heaven and He watches over me!”

Monday, September 24, 2012

SUCCESS AND OBEDIENCE by Gary Wilkerson

“Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, ‘Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys’” (1 Samuel 9:3, ESV).

Whenever Scripture tells us about something being lost, as in this story or the parable that Jesus told of the lost sheep, we are being taught about God’s heart for the lost. God wants His people to be willing to go and rescue the lost — exactly as was happening here in the account regarding Saul.

“And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim” (verse 4). Going up and down the hills of Ephraim was a hard way to start, but Saul’s father had given him a mission and he was going to see it through.

Then verse 4 continues: “[They] passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them.” Saul had gone through the hill country and now a second territory without finding the donkeys. He must have felt kind of hopeless, wondering, “Am I ever going to find these donkeys?”

In his heart Saul was committed to the search because, “My father asked me to do this and I want to be obedient to that call. These lost donkeys matter to my father and I’m going after them with my whole heart.”

“They passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then they passed through the land of Benjamin, but did not find them” (verse 4, continued).

Finally Saul said to his servant, “Come, let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious for us” (verse 5).

Saul was saying, “We gave this a good try. We had a vision and I really thought we could do this but we can’t.”

For some people their apprehension about stepping out in faith is really a fear of failure. They do not do what God has called them to because they are afraid they may not succeed.

Listen carefully. When God calls you to something, He is not always calling you to succeed, He’s calling you to obey! The success of the calling is up to Him; the obedience is up to you.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Prayer Request

Once again, we are in need of prayer for the upcoming pastors/ministers' conference in Colorado Springs on September 25-27, 2012

In this season of unrest and uncertainty in world, Pastors are needing sound guidance from the Lord as never before.

Won’t you please pray for…
· Pastors and ministers to be encouraged in their commitment to Christ in these perilous times
· A prevailing presence of the Holy Spirit throughout the conference
· A time of rest and refuge in Christ for those who labor on the front lines
· A powerful anointing on all of the speakers (Pastors Gary Wilkerson, Jim Cymbala, Carter Conlon, Teresa Conlon, Tim Dilena and Claude Houde)

“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ…” (Col 4:2-3a)

Thank you

http://expectconferences.org/conference/2012-colorado-springs-pastors-conference/

Friday, September 21, 2012

IDOLS OF PRIDE AND JEALOUSY


Anyone who holds fast to a sin will never accept truth when he hears it. Why? Bcause every sin carries with it a lie that will be accepted as truth.

When the Holy Spirit convicts a believer of a particular sin or habit, He comes again and again with loving warnings. God's Spirit is tender, patient, loving — and He will wait for a believer to respond before He brings discipline. He will continually hammer that person's compromise with His loving conviction.

When all the wooings and warnings of the Spirit are ignored and sin takes root, the penalty is chastisement and, finally, judgment. God will allow blinding of the eyes and hardness of the heart until it becomes impossible for the habitual sinner to see his own depravity. Eventually, the hardness of his heart becomes impenetrable.

Saul's heart was under the dominion of the idols of pride and jealousy. Pride continually rose up in this man, making him jealous of David and anyone else who walked in holiness, and his heart was overcome with idolatry.

Here is the sad testimony of this idolatrous king: "And Saul answered, I am sore distressed . . . God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams" (1 Samuel 28:15). Saul could weep, seek out prophets, and pray for dreams, but the Lord answered, "No, Saul. I'm not talking to you anymore, because your heart is captivated by an idol."

The book of Jeremiah tells us that Ephraim fell under the Lord's severe chastisements because of sin. But Ephraim repented, turning away from his idols and smashing them. Here is that man's testimony: "Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed" (Jeremiah 31:19).

Do you understand what Ephraim is saying here? In essence, it is: "When I had idols [sin] in my heart, I went to the Lord for instructions. But I couldn't get a word from heaven. I didn't hear anything from God until I repented and smashed my idols to bits. Then I got clear instructions!"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BECOMING A GIANT WITH GOD


“Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8).

You must consider your daily appointments with God more sacred and important than appointments with any other people — no matter who they are.

How embarrassing it must be for heaven to see the way we Christians fail to highly regard the majesty of our God, the King of Glory. We are often flippant in the way we keep Him waiting. And at the drop of a hat, we will suddenly cancel plans to meet with Him in His courts, all for the most trifling thing!

Can you imagine someone keeping the Creator of the universe waiting while he lingers to view his favorite TV program? Yet that is what many of us do! Even worse, we often do not bother to show up in God's presence at all. It is not that we forget our appointment with Him but we willfully refuse to appear before Him!

Isaiah lamented, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3). When I allow interruptions to come between me and my appointments with the Lord, I am hiding my face from Him and not appreciating Him as I should.

The truth is, it is impossible to waste time when you are seeking God in prayer. Furthermore, outside the secret closet, the praying man or woman accomplishes more in less time, with less hurry and less effort and sweat.

The most effective work for God we will ever do is on our knees. While the prayerless run helter skelter, to and fro, attempting great things, the praying Christian is hard at work moving kingdoms, shattering strongholds, doing great things and, in the process, becoming a giant with God.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A CONSPIRACY OF INTERRUPTIONS


All hell quakes at the effectual, fervent prayer of a single believer. The powerful praying of just one intercessor sounds like raging thunder in the caverns of the damned. Not one inch of space in hell remains unaffected by a believer who denies himself, takes up his cross, and follows Christ with his whole heart.

Yet, we must remember: The soul that cries out with agonizing yearnings for depth in Christ will become the central focus of Satan's conspiracy of interruptions.

A pastor wrote to me, saying, "My greatest battle is not with some secret sin of the flesh but with maintaining a consistent life of prayer and study in God's Word! Satan rarely tempts me with sexual sin, but he gets me so busy with the daily affairs of life that my times for prayer and study are crowded out. I don't allow this to happen intentionally but I get caught up in all kinds of projects and interruptions. This cycle is repeated over and over and Satan is robbing me of my time with God."

Like millions of other sincere Christians, this dear pastor is the victim of a demonic conspiracy of interruptions. And the devil's chief target in these attacks is the secret closet of prayer. So, how does the devil keep believers out of this fearsome, secret place? Does he entice with erotic images, soothing thoughts of escape through alcohol or drugs, or dreams of fame and prosperity?

No, never! The devil knows that the person in union with Christ will not be tempted by such vulgarity. Instead, the old fox seeks to interrupt and hinder a believer's every attempt to enter the presence of God and study His Word.

Communion in prayer and the study of God's Word cannot be optional. Your thought should not be merely that you ought to pray but that you cannot survive without prayer. Job declared, "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12).

Only when prayer becomes important enough will you make the time to do it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD!


In Pharaoh's court stood Jacob — an old man of 130 years of age — and Joseph, his lost son, rushed to embrace him. As it turned out, Joseph was second in command over all of Egypt. Everywhere Jacob went with his son — in the palace, through the streets in his chariot — people bowed to Joseph in respect and awe (see Genesis 46 and 47).

When Pharaoh asked Jacob how old he was, he answered, "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been" (Genesis 47:9). The Hebrew reads, "Few and sorrowful have my days been." In short: "I've seen a lot of suffering."

Yet, was it worth it? Yes, absolutely! Jacob and his family had been delivered from the famine. All seventy members of his clan were now safe from harm, planted in the richest farmland in Egypt. Jacob's son was on the throne and they had all the food they could eat.

Jacob — a man with a contrite heart — could look back and say, "When my brother Esau threatened me, it seemed my life was over but God brought me out. My Lord was there the whole time. When Laban tried to destroy me, God blessed and delivered me. Furthermore, the Lord delivered my wife, Rachel, and my family from the perils of idolatry.

"I was victorious over all my enemies. None of them ever rose up to challenge me. I lived to see my seed multiply and prosper — the beginnings of a great nation. I lived to walk in the midst of my grandchildren, even my great-great-grandchildren. And now my sons will be the patriarchs of Israel, leaders over their own tribes. Not a word God told me in the beginning has ever failed. My Lord has kept His every word to me."

And, beloved, so will He be with us today!

Monday, September 17, 2012

STEPPING OUT IN FAITH by Gary Wilkerson


A short time ago I shared the first part of the story of when the Lord led my wife and me to London to plant a church. When we thought we might have to cancel our plans because we had nowhere to live, God miraculously provided a home through a businessman we met while on a missions trip to South Africa.

We had thought there was no hope, that we were not going to be able to make it and we would have to cancel our plans. But then we met this businessman. Only our God could orchestrate it so that a couple from New York would go to South Africa to find a place to live in London.

We moved to London and a few days after we arrived I took my son to a park near the house we were living in. As I pushed him on the swing set, I prayed, “Lord, You called us here to plant a church. Thank You for the house but I don’t know anybody here and I don’t know where to start the church.”

An older man walked up to the swings with his granddaughter. He turned to me, introduced himself, and asked me what I was doing in London.

“I’m a pastor,” I responded, “and we’re here to start a church.”

“I’m a pastor, too, and that’s my church,” he said, pointing to a beautiful, big church down the street named Holy Trinity Brompton.

I told him the story of Teen Challenge and Times Square Church and what we were now doing. The pastor invited me to his home later for tea and as we visited, he said, “I’ve been praying all afternoon and the Holy Spirit has put this strongly on my heart. We have a coffeehouse in an area where young people are into drugs and the party scene, and they are coming to Christ but there is no church. We have been praying that we could plant a church there but we have no pastor. Would you be willing to help us start this church? And would you be its pastor?”

I had been worried, but God had everything under control! The truth is, if we do not step out in faith, if we are not willing to risk, we will miss God’s best.