Wednesday, October 31, 2012

HIS POWER TO DELIVER

The Assyrian army had surrounded Jerusalem. At that point, King Hezekiah decided, "We are not going to lean on the arm of flesh this time. We are going to do it all God's way!"

The king humbled himself and sought God in prayer: “And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord” (Isaiah 37:1). Hezekiah confessed, "Lord, I know I have nothing of myself to give You except my faith. I am helpless in my own strength to fight Sennacherib. We're surrounded by our enemies. Please, give us Your direction!"

Hezekiah knew that Isaiah would have God's word of guidance, so this time he sent his envoy to the prophet. These men said to Isaiah, "The children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth" (verse 3). In other words: "This time we want to do everything God's way but we have no strength left. What should we do?"

Isaiah had God's word for them: "Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard. . . . I will cause [Sennacherib] to fall by the sword" (verses 6-7). God was saying, "Any enemy of yours is an enemy of Mine now because you have turned the battle over to Me! If anyone talks against you, hurts you or abuses you, it is an attack against Me. I will take care of that enemy, whether human or demonic."

"He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it" (verse 33). God says, "Others may be falling all around you, but that doesn't mean a thing. You are walking in covenant with Me and I have promised to do battle against every enemy that assails you."

What a wonderful picture God has given of His power to deliver us from our enemies. The enemy may shoot fiery arrows at us, but they will not strike. Satan may noisily attack us with a huge army of lusts and temptations, but in the end he will turn and run. God has declared, "I will defend every child of Mine who believes in Me enough to lay down his own sword."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

WOE TO THEM THAT GO DOWN TO EGYPT

"Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!" (Isaiah 31:1).

The prophet Isaiah warned Israel that there was no possibility of victory for them if they attempted to fight their adversary in their own strength. Isaiah 31 paints a perfect picture of the futility of trying to do battle with the enemy in our human ability. I believe this chapter is a type and shadow of the ineffectiveness of our attempts today to defeat lusts, habits and besetting sins by relying on human ideas and aids.

At the time Isaiah wrote this message of warning, King Sennacherib and the Assyrian army had already marched through Judah. They had captured most of the cities in their path, and now they planned to besiege Jerusalem. In Hebrew, the word Sennacherib means "successful" and Assyria means "sin on the increase." Put together, these two words provide an image of an evil enemy who was having great success against God's people.

Indeed, Assyria represents every demonic, lustful spirit that comes against us. And Sennacherib is the devil himself, convinced he will succeed in defeating us and bringing us into despair. I believe God wants to show us through this chapter how the devil and his demonic hordes are bringing waves of temptations against the church, with increasing intensity and much success.

This chapter is also an example of how sin will increase in the last days. Scripture says that society will wax worse and worse (see 2 Timothy 3:13), and the church will be inundated with deceptions and doctrines of demons. I believe we are seeing that happen right now. Demonic hordes have infiltrated all media and every form of technology, flooding our culture with sensuality, nudity, and perversions of all kinds. As prophesied in Revelation 12:15, Satan has "cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman."

Monday, October 29, 2012

THERE IS NOW A NEW COVENANT by Gary Wilkerson

“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:12-14, ESV).

What a sacrifice! God now says the covenant is not like the covenant made with the angels. It is not like the covenant made with Adam — and Adam failed. Nor is it like the covenant of circumcision — where the children of Israel failed. It is not like the covenant made with the Law of Moses and it is not like the covenant of the high priestly sacrifice. God says that this is a new covenant made through His Son, Christ Jesus. It is a better covenant, a more excellent covenant, a holy covenant. It is Christ’s covenant coming to bring us into new life, new creation. He is taking out the old and making all things new.

This is not a covenant based on our works. It is not a partnership with God. It is not God dealing with His people on mutual terms of performances. It is not God saying, “I will perform this if you will perform that.” Instead, God said, “Have you had enough of these old covenants? Are you weary enough now of failing?” Are you tired and frustrated of trying in your own moral power to show how holy you are before God? Are you tired of seeing yourself as equal with God, as if God could bring His bargain to the covenant and then you could bring your bargain and stand on equal ground?

The Word says that every single covenant God made long ago had one purpose — to show us the inability of our moral fiber, our inability to be covenant keepers on equal ground with God (Hebrews 1:1). It finally drove us to the point — as God does through the law now, even in the New Testament times — where we say, “I cannot do this myself. Nothing in my hand I bring to you, Lord. Without You taking both parts of the covenant, Your side and mine, without You fulfilling Your promises Yourself and fulfilling my promises for me, I cannot stand.”

There is now a new covenant!

Friday, October 26, 2012

GOD’S PROTECTIVE POWER

Isaiah uses the image of birds to illustrate God's protective power over His people: "As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it" (Isaiah 31:5). The Hebrew meaning of this verse is, "As the hen birds flutter over their young, so shall Jehovah, God of hosts, spread out His wings over Jerusalem."

God was telling Israel, "If you want to be protected from the onslaught of the enemy, then hide under My wings. I will secure you, covering you the way a mother hen covers her chicks. You do not have to live in fear of your enemies any longer!"

Let me ask you: Are you in great warfare right now? Are you facing an enemy that is too powerful for you? If so, how do you expect to remain pure, faithful, Christlike, while others around you are falling left and right? How will you gain victory over your lusts and temptations when Satan comes against you like a roaring lion?

God asks simply that you lay down your sword and trust Him to take up His sword on your behalf. He wants you to come to the point where you say, "Lord, I know the battle is not mine anymore. I have failed so many times. Now I come to You in simple faith. Help me, God.”

The Lord is urging you: “Cling to Me in the midst of your battle. Your victory is all a matter of faith in My power and willingness to deliver you. When the enemy has overwhelmed you, come to Me and pour out your soul. Seek Me with all your heart and I will do battle for you.”

The battle is never ours. It is always the Lord’s.

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day” (Psalm 91:4-5).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

NOT BY MIGHT

Many Christians today quickly turn to manmade things in an attempt to achieve victory over the flesh, just as Israel did. One glaring example is the vast number of self-help books found on the shelves of Christian bookstores. Literally thousands of books promise surefire ways of improving, appeasing and subduing our flesh. Indeed, everywhere we turn we are offered fleshly options to all our needs. Churches promise anointed revival meetings where all our spiritual needs are fulfilled by a prayer or a touch. Evangelists offer instant deliverance, instant healing, instant words from God.

The truth is, God gave Israel the option of choosing Him or the flesh in the midst of their situation. He said, "Go ahead and exercise your own will. Dig deeply into your inner man, study your books, plan your strategies, do everything you know how to do. But you will still be leaning on the arm of the flesh. None of your efforts will bring you one moment of victory."

The more I study God's Word, the clearer it becomes to me: All human striving for deliverance from sin is doomed to fail. God will let us go through the wringer time after time, until we are totally convinced we must die to all efforts of the flesh.

When Israel attempted to defeat their powerful enemy through human power, God immediately denounced the effort: "Both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen [helped] shall fall down, and they all shall fail together" (Isaiah 31:3). God's Word declares in very clear language that all victory depends on Him alone. Only He has the power to deliver us from our enemies.

You may have a godly will, a solid moral background, an unpolluted mind. In fact, you may be one of the cleanest people walking this earth, but the Bible says that none of your human gifts or abilities will ever work against the devil. You will always fail by your own efforts.

If you are in the midst of an overwhelming struggle, you must learn the word God gave to Zechariah: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord" (Zechariah 4:6).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

FINDING THE KEYS TO VICTORY

As I studied the New Covenant, its glorious truths leapt out of God's Old Testament dealings with Israel. Paul states, "All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). I sensed the Lord asking me, "David, do you want the keys to victory? Do you want to know how to overcome sin, flesh and the devil? Do you want to know how to do battle with the enemy? Then go to my Old Testament and you will learn from the examples there. I have recorded them all for you, so you can learn the lessons of godliness."

On the night of Passover, not a single Israelite was in danger from the death angel who swept through Egypt. Every man, woman and child of God rested safely and securely under the blood covering that was spread on the doorposts of their homes (Exodus 12). This picture of safety represents the protective power of our Lord's blood over His children today. As Christians, we are to be a believing, trusting people who have the blood of Christ sprinkled on the doorposts of our hearts.

Israel's trust in the blood of the slain lamb accomplished many things in the lives of the people. It not only protected them from the death angel, but it also brought them out of Egypt and delivered them from the bondage of Pharaoh. Yet, there were other enemies from which Israel needed deliverance. Likewise today, our trust in the blood of Christ is about much more than obtaining salvation for eternity. It also involves relying on God's power to deliver us from every stronghold of the enemy.

Please do not mistake me. If you are saved — living under the covering of Christ's blood, secured by faith in His work on the cross for you — that is absolutely wonderful. But what about your ongoing battle with the power of sin that rages inside you? What about your besetting habit? What power do you have to do battle with these enemies of your soul?

The fact is, even if we have been saved and secured by Christ's blood, we are still engaged in a battle with overwhelming principalities, satanic powers, demonic strongholds. We are to claim the power that is available to us through God's New Covenant, but that power comes only by faith!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

THE NEW MAN

God's New Covenant with us can be summed up in one powerful statement. It is His irrevocable promise to deliver His people from the dominion of sin — through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This New Covenant does away with all our puny efforts to please God through our flesh. It is the end of all our striving to overcome sin, whether through determination, strength, reasoning or any other works of the flesh. In short, God's New Covenant takes the pressure off of us and places it all on Him.

Through this covenant, the Lord says, "I will no longer ask you to bring Me a godly heart. Instead, I will remove your heart of stone and put in you a new heart, one that has a desire for Me. I will cause you to will and to do My good pleasure, through the power of My Spirit" (see Ezekiel 11:19-20).

In simple terms, the New Covenant is the end of the "can do" man in us who says, "I can do it all in my own strength. If I just spend enough time in prayer and Bible study, if I just think through my problems, I'll be able to make changes in my life."

God's New Covenant says goodbye to this old "can do" man and introduces the "new man," who says, "I can't do anything in my own strength but I can do everything through the power of the Holy Spirit."

One of the most important things I have learned from my study of the New Covenant is that it is the secret to having an overcoming life in the last days. As the time of Christ's return draws near, the devil is going to let loose wild, demonic powers against God’s people such as the world has never seen.

We see this happening already within the walls of the church. Satan has infiltrated God's house with subtle lies, false doctrines, demonic teachings. Sadly, undiscerning Christians are swallowing it. Multitudes of deceptions and heresies are swirling through the church and I ask you: How will believers be able to stand in such times?

The Lord answers us by promising to take on the problem Himself. He assures us, "Don't be afraid. I will take this matter into My own hands and empower you against every onslaught of the enemy through My New Covenant with you."

Monday, October 22, 2012

I WILL BE THEIR GOD by Gary Wilkerson

“And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul” (Jeremiah 32:38-41, ESV).

Do you remember when you raised your hand in third grade and asked, “Teacher, can I go to the bathroom?” What did the teacher reply?

“Of course you can, but the correct question is, MAY I go to the bathroom?”

In this verse God uses the words, “may not.” It is a declarative statement: “You may not do it!” He is saying, “I am going to put My law in you that you may not break covenant with Me.”

I love that He calls this an everlasting covenant. If I could impart one thing into your life, it would be this message of understanding, walking in and enjoying the reality that God’s covenant with us is an everlasting covenant.

Can this New Covenant be broken? God says through the prophet Jeremiah: “Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar — the LORD of hosts is his name. If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever” (Jeremiah 31:35-36, ESV).

When will the New Covenant promise be broken? When the stars refuse to shine, when there is no longer a sun, and when man can go down to the depths of the core of the earth and measure the stars and the universe. So God is saying, “The New Covenant is an everlasting covenant!”

Friday, October 19, 2012

THE HARVEST OF THE SPIRIT

"He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:5).

Paul says that God measures out the Holy Ghost to us and He does so not according to our works, but according to our faith in Him.

Jesus is the only person who ever had the Holy Spirit without measure. Yet there have been many men and women throughout history who were given a great measure of the Spirit. Such believers have always known they do not have to strive to weep over a lost, broken world, because the Holy Ghost does the weeping in them.

Our part is to pray: "Holy Ghost, You know everyone in my circle of influence who is under conviction because You are the one who convicts them. You see every tear that falls in the quiet of the night and You know everyone who is desperate and crying for help. I am Your instrument. Fill me with Your burden and lead me to those You have prepared."

God wants to empower us for one reason — to get us into the streets, filled with His Word and led by His Spirit. He wants us to be able to speak a piercing, convicting word that has the unmistakable fire of the Spirit!

Does something stir in your soul over the lost? Are you burdened for those in your circle of influence? Or do you focus endlessly on your own needs? If you don't know Christ's heart and have His burden, you can never expect to be used of Him.

For many Christians, the work of eternity may not be in a faraway land but will center on family, friends and coworkers. The requirements, however, are just the same. To reach the lost, we must ask the Lord to move on them with conviction and to prepare our hearts with a timely word.

Fast and pray and then ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to those He has convicted and prepared to hear His Word. Then trust in His guidance and power to do the miraculous!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

THEY BECAME FEARLESS

When the Spirit fell upon His disciples, they became fearless. As they went forth to the temple to witness, the Holy Ghost made their words cutting, convicting — as swords piercing the heart. They preached the gospel with power and authority because they had Holy Ghost fire within them.

Under this anointed preaching, in just a short time some five thousand people were saved. Even priests were converted. And further outpourings happened in nearby villages, in distant cities and even among Gentiles.

The best part of this unbelievable scene is that the church got all of its direction from the Holy Ghost. Nothing happened until the disciples had shut themselves in with the Lord and fasted and prayed. When they did this, the Spirit came and began to direct their every move.

Something else happened that was very important. The disciples were to take the gospel to every nation, every people, yet Jewish tradition forbade them even to touch the clothes of a Gentile. How were they supposed to bring the good news to people with whom they weren't even allowed to associate? It seemed to be an impossible command because even the Jewish converts held to these prejudices.

The widespread proclamation of the gospel began only when the Holy Ghost took over. The Spirit visited Peter during his daily prayer time on a rooftop: "The voice spake unto [Peter] again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common (unclean)" (Acts 10:15).

He told Peter, "Don't dare call unclean what I have sanctified and made clean. Now, go downstairs, because there are some Gentiles knocking on your door. I want you to go with them and preach to them about Jesus!"

The Holy Spirit had solved the prejudice problem overnight. He opened up the Gentile world to the gospel simply by speaking to His followers. It was all clearly directed from heaven!

The powerful first-century believers received all their marching orders from the Holy Ghost Himself: “So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed” (Acts 13:4). They never made a move until they first got alone with God and fasted and prayed. And the Holy Ghost answered them by giving clear direction!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PAUL’S SPIRIT WAS STIRRED

When the apostle Paul looked out at the idolatrous multitudes in Athens, his spirit was moved (see Acts 17:16). Likewise, as I look out my apartment window every evening, gazing upon the masses in Manhattan, I experience what Paul felt. I see many beautiful buildings — from the Midtown skyline to the Statue of Liberty — yet they all appear as tombstones. They are full of the walking dead, multitudes of people dying and going to hell. I have to cry out daily, "Lord, we need You! We cannot do anything to reach these people without Your guidance and power."

Jesus knew everything His church would be facing today, the overwhelming opposition, the many obstacles. And He knew exactly what would happen to our society. He knew there would be a moral landslide, that humanity would wax worse and worse, and that an angry devil would spew out a river of hell against His Church.

Jesus would not have sent out His disciples without their knowing that the power given to them would be more than sufficient to meet every need and opposition. These men who had run in fear when the soldiers came for Him were timid, fearful, unskilled and untrained. Yet Jesus knew that these men — when fully yielded to the Holy Ghost — would work miracles, put demons to flight, and overcome every adversary and challenge.

I believe Jesus' words to His helpless disciples apply to us today: "Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye . . . until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).

Jesus was saying, in essence, "If you try to evangelize in your own strength, you will fall on your face in a short time. I know the battles and obstacles you face and I will give you a power greater than any in the universe. You will be able to stand up to kings, princes, governments with authority over demons and principalities. But you cannot do anything for Me unless you are full of the Holy Ghost.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

BROADWAY DURING RUSH HOUR

As I walked up Broadway during rush hour and looked into the faces of the passing crowds, a thought struck my soul like a thunderclap: “Almost every person passing by is going to hell.”

I realize this may come across as harsh or presumptuous. You might think, “Surely some of those passersby know the Lord. Certainly many in that massive crowd had seen or experienced religion of some kind.”

With every block I walked, I was hit again and again with the thought: “They’re lost. They’re going to spend eternity without Jesus!” Finally, I tried comforting myself with the thought, “But our church has seen thousands of people converted. Times Square Church is one of the largest congregations in New York City.”

Still, something nagged at my soul. I had to acknowledge before the Lord, “Oh, Father, I don’t have the burden I once had. I don’t weep the way I did when I first came to New York City!”

In 1958, Gwen and I were living in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, a town of around 1,500. In those days, I would walk into the woods near our home and weep for hours over the souls in New York. I owned a little green Chevrolet, and each week as I drove to the city to minister, I wept during the entire three-hour drive.

Today I preach in one of the most beautiful theaters in the world, the historic Mark Hellinger Theatre. Yet, I wonder how many in our congregation and how many reading this feel the way I felt walking up Broadway. I had to stop and ask myself: “How long has it been since you wept for the lost? Do you still have the Lord’s burden to reach them with the gospel?”

Are you able to work alongside your colleagues, greet your neighbors, talk to your unsaved family members and never once be concerned for their souls? Is your mind occupied with simply surviving — providing for your family? Are you no longer burdened, witnessing, reaching out to the lost and dying world?

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalms 126:5-6).

Monday, October 15, 2012

EVERLASTING COVENANT by Gary Wilkerson

“Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6, ESV).

“I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt” (8:8-9).

God took His people by the hand and led them out of bondage, out of slavery, out of misery. He led them miraculously by opening up the Red Sea into the wilderness and then into the Promised Land. That is a good covenant, but Hebrews says that the new covenant is better and more excellent.

The second part of Hebrews 8:9 tells us: “For they did not continue in my covenant.” That is why a new covenant was needed.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:10-12 ESV).

God says the new covenant is going to be better, more excellent than the old, not like the one He made with the children of Israel in Egypt. He is going to do something different this time; it is not just a covenant He makes but a new power that He gives. The new power will enable us so that we can be almost as faithful as He is in keeping His covenant because He is now living in us. That is the difference in this covenant, the everlasting covenant!

Friday, October 12, 2012

HIS PROMISE IS ALL I NEED

God seals all His promises with an oath and we have the “legal” right to stand on them. God cannot back away from any of His promises or He would not be God. So we can hold to each promise and say, "Lord, I'm going to stand on what You have said.”

You may say, "Wait a minute. Do you mean we're not supposed to commune with the Lord?" I do not mean that at all. But the fact is, our communion with God is not restricted to worship, praise or prayer. We commune with Him by actively leaning on His written, revealed Word and our communion with Him also includes trusting Him.

The Holy Spirit "speaks" mostly by leading us to pertinent Scripture passages, showing us God's mind on any matter and telling us what steps to take. Why should He speak with an inner voice when we will not "hear" His revealed, written voice?

God does not have to tell us everything or reveal all His plans to us. In fact, we can have intimacy with God simply by giving up our efforts to figure out His voice. This kind of intimacy says, "Lord, even if I never hear another word from You, You still give me everything I need. I know You love me. Your Word has come to me and I am going to rest in that."

David is an example of this kind of trust. As this godly man lay on his deathbed, he said: "Although my house be not so with God . . ." (2 Samuel 23:5). In other words: "I have not yet seen the fulfillment of all the words the Lord has given me, yet I have been given a promise that my house will not fall."

David had no prophet standing nearby, telling him these things. He had no dream, no vision, no inner voice speaking to him. Instead, as he faced eternity, he said, "God gave me a covenant promise in His Word. And I'll go into eternity standing on that promise."

David went on in the same verse: "For this is all my salvation, and all my desire." He was saying, in essence, "I can face death now because His promise is all I need."

We may fail in our discernment, our hearing, our decisions, but we can rejoice in our God, who is our strength. We must simply yield, stand still and see His salvation!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

STANDING STILL IS AN ACT OF FAITH

To stand still does not mean to be passive or to rest on fate. Fate says, "Whatever will be, will be." But faith changes everything. Standing still is an act of faith, an active resting on God's promises, a cessation of all questions, doubts and useless strivings.

Ever since I have been in the ministry, a major area of striving for me has been knowing the voice of God. I believe this struggle is common among Christians. We ask, "How can I know if the voice I hear is God's or my flesh?"

Whenever I face a critical need that requires an answer, I turn to the Lord in prayer. I cry out, "Father, Your Word says You speak to Your people. Please, God, speak to me. Give me Your direction!" And then I quote Scripture promises:
  • "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). 
  • "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). 
  • "[My] word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart" (Deuteronomy 30:14). 
Indeed, a still, small voice often comes to us and as God begins to speak, we suddenly have a great sense of peace and calm. The voice is comforting, soothing, and we leave our prayer closet feeling wonderful. But sometimes the word we hear in prayer does not come to pass and we realize we have heard another voice — not Christ's. In such a case, it was either the voice of our own desires and ambition or the voice of our flesh.

Paul says, "There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification" (1 Corinthians 14:10). There are many voices, including a voice of the flesh, a voice of the will, a voice of ambition — and they all scream for our attention.

No matter how much we pray or how close we are to the Lord, we all are fallible and make mistakes. Our flesh still has a voice and at times it will get in the way.

Let me tell you how God brought me through this test of faith. I am convinced God prearranges and sets up all my circumstances. He has promised, by covenant, to lead me and guide me by His Spirit and to keep me from falling. So, now I pray in faith, believing His word to me and I stand still and wait for Him to act.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I WILL FIX MY EYES ON YOU!

After Samuel anointed Saul as king, he escorted him to the edge of the city and said, “Stand thou still a while, that I may show thee the word of God" (1 Samuel 9:27). Imagine! Israel's king was commanded to stand still rather than act.

Samuel was saying, "Saul, I have just anointed you, and already your mind is racing. You're thinking, 'What is God doing? How can I know His voice, His will?' Stop striving, Saul! Do you want to hear from God? Then stand still and listen and I will give you God's word."

This perfectly illustrates the principle I want to emphasize here: The word of the Lord — the voice of direction and deliverance — is given to those who stand still before God.

Judah was being invaded by a coalition of mighty armies and Scripture says that King Jehoshaphat "feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah" (2 Chronicles 20:3).

The people began to pray, “In thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? . . . For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee" (verses 6, 12).

Once again, we see that there is nothing wrong with being afraid. God is longsuffering toward us, and He does not hold our fear against us. In fact, we are to pray the same prayer that Jehoshaphat prayed: "Lord, I'm frightened! The enemy is coming in like a flood, and I don't know what to do. But I know that You have all power and might, so I will do nothing, Lord, except pray. I will fix my eyes on You."

The Spirit commanded: "Be not afraid nor dismayed . . . for the battle is not yours, but God's. . . . Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you" (verses 15-17).

The phrase set yourself means "take your position; do not waver in this matter." In other words: "Take a position of faith. Be convinced that it is the Lord's battle to fight — not yours!"

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

STAND STILL AND WAIT

God speaks to His people by the voice of His Spirit: "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).

The voice of His Spirit comes to us primarily through the Scriptures. He may open up a biblical passage that will be the key to our deliverance. But before we can hear His voice of direction, God requires something of us: We are to stand still and wait for Him to act.

This word is not a suggestion but a commandment. It is the secret to our total victory and deliverance. Indeed, the Lord commanded His people to stand still on many occasions.

In Joshua 3 we read of another crossing Israel had to make, at the Jordan River. God instructed the people: "When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan" (Joshua 3:8). Then the Lord added: "As soon as the soles of the feet of the priests . . . shall rest in the waters of Jordan . . . the waters of Jordan shall be cut off . . . and they shall stand upon an heap" (verse 13).

God was saying, "When you get to the water, plant your feet in it and just stand there. Be still, rest. Just wait for Me to act and I will part the waters for you!"

The Hebrew word for stand still in this passage means "stop all activity, cease all striving." Yet, how many Israelites obeyed when they came to the Jordan? As they stood with their feet in the water, many must have thought, "How do we know this is going to work?"

Some might have been tempted to build some sort of pontoon bridge and try to get across on their own ingenuity. But that would have been in vain.

God did act on that occasion — He parted the waters. Israel's act of obedience was accompanied by faith — and God answered their faith!

Monday, October 8, 2012

GOSPEL COMMUNITY by Gary Wilkerson

The Holy Spirit has called us to be a “gospel community.” Many churches are trying to have community but they do not have authentic biblical community because the gospel is not functioning within their fellowship. They do not know how to truly love one another because they are trying to have community without the Word of God.

In Luke 8 we read: “Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.’ But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’” (Luke 8:19-21, ESV).

Nowhere in Scripture are you going to read specifically of the gospel of fellowship, or small groups, or counseling, or worship. So, you may ask, what is it? I believe Jesus was giving us the definition of a gospel community here in Luke.

Jesus was saying, “My community is not made up of the crowd surrounding Me nor of just My mother and brothers. My true gospel community, My brothers and sisters, are those who hear, who know, whose lives are invested in the Word of God. The members of My community hear the Word and they do it.”

True gospel community is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It means doing the Word of God together. It means hearing God’s Word, loving one another, and helping others when they are not living according to the Word. It is a group of people who build their lives around hearing the Word of God, understanding what this Word is speaking, and knowing the Holy Spirit who empowers this written Word.

Jesus is always the center, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is everything in our gospel community and must always hold the preeminent place as we grow together in Him.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I WILL STRENGTHEN THEE

I want to talk about bondage to sin — that is, your battle with the flesh. Under the New Covenant, God will allow situations to show you how wholly dependent you are on Him to deliver you through faith.

God will never lead you into temptation but He will allow you to come to your wits' end. If you have a besetting sin, Satan will come against you continually with his lies: "You’re too weak! You're never going to make it."

You hear the rattling of chains as Satan tries to bind you to your habit once more and you wonder, "Lord, how will I ever get up from this? I've gone down so low!"

What can you do? You know you can't outrun the enemy and you are no match for him in a fight, so you cower before him, trembling in fear.

You may say to yourself, "I'll just go back to my old ways. At least I'll be spared from all this spiritual warfare. It's too much for me!" But you know you can't go back to your old master. If you turn back now and desert Christ, it will cost you your life.

Many Christians become caught in the hellish cycle of sinning and confessing, sinning and confessing. They run to friends, counselors, anyone who will listen to them as they cry and pray. Such believers will do everything except stand still and trust the Lord to bring their deliverance.

The Old Testament gives us example after example of how we have no power in our flesh to fight spiritual battles. Our old man is utterly weak and powerless but we have a new man inside us. This new man understands there is no human way out, that God has to do all the fighting. We resist the devil not in our strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is revealed in us by faith alone.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee” (Isaiah 41:10).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

THE LORD SHALL FIGHT FOR YOU

As the Egyptians quickly approached the Israelites, there was no place for them to run. The mountains on both sides were bare, with no trees or caves to hide among. And the sea hemmed them in on the other side. It was an impossible situation! Scripture says that at this point, "The children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord" (Exodus 14:10).

Try placing yourself in their situation. Your family is gathered around you: children, grandparents, other relatives. Suddenly you hear the rumbling of chariot wheels, the rattling of sabers, and the fierce war cry of a murderous, bloodthirsty army. Wouldn't you be afraid?

The truth is, God is patient with us when the awful flush of human fear overcomes us in a sudden crisis. Our Lord is not a hard taskmaster and He knew this would be a frightening experience for Israel. In fact, He would have been pleased with a prayer such as, "Lord, we're afraid! Yet we know You always have been faithful to deliver us. When we were in Egypt, You delivered us from the death angel and from all the plagues. We know You have the power to deliver us out of this crisis as well. Father, we commit our lives into Your hands!"

But was this Israel's cry? No! Scripture says, "They said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? . . . It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness" (verses 11-12).

They were being sarcastic, almost to the point of blasphemy. This certainly was not the cry of faith!

Are you facing your own crisis right now? You may ask, "What am I supposed to do in such a crisis? What happens when I'm overcome with fear because everything is coming down around me?"

Here is how God answered Israel when they faced their crisis: "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord . . . The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" (verses 13-14). The Lord was saying to them, "The first matter you must deal with is your fear! I will fight for you and I will save and deliver you. Let that promise be your strength and drive out all your fear!"

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

THE CRISIS AT THE RED SEA

The Old Testament lists many times of testing for God's people. Perhaps the greatest example was the crisis at the Red Sea. This crisis was completely arranged by God, set up by His very own commands to Israel. Scripture says that it was God who hardened Pharaoh's heart, caused the Egyptians to pursue Israel, and allowed the Egyptian army to overtake them by the sea.

God told the people to camp between Migdol and Pihahiroth, a location situated between two mountain passes, with the sea bordering a third side (see Exodus 14). The only possible route of escape was back into the wilderness and that was blocked by Pharaoh's approaching army. The Israelites were horrified at their situation but their God had led them there!

Let me point out something here: God could have arranged to knock the wheels off the Egyptians' chariots at any time in the wilderness, stranding them and starving them to death. But, instead, He waited until they were between the walls of the separated sea.

God also could have sent the supernatural cloud down upon the Egyptians' camp to confuse them. Those soldiers would have run around in the confusing mist for days. But, instead, He chose to send the cloud behind the Israelites as protection.

Or, God could have sent a single angel to slay the entire Egyptian army in the blink of an eye. In fact, He could have chosen to destroy them at any point. But the Lord did not do any of those things. Instead, He squeezed Israel into a tight, alarming situation, a crisis that was impossible to escape by human means.

I believe the Lord had two purposes in allowing this impossible situation for His people:
  1. He was determined to annihilate Israel's enemies; never again would they have to look over their shoulders in fear. God was saying, in essence, "I'm going to strew your enemies' bodies along the shore so that you can see every one of them dead. Then you will know I have all power!" 
  2. God wanted to provide an opportunity for His people to put their lives in His hands — to stand still and trust Him to give them direction. 
How do we know God arranged this frightful situation to test His people? His own Word says so: "Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no" (Deuteronomy 8:2).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

STAND STILL!

The three most common words heard among Christians in times of crisis are: "Lord, do something!" It is against our nature to stand still and do nothing when we face perplexing trials. In fact, waiting patiently for God to act is probably the most difficult thing about the Christian walk. Even devoted believers panic when the Lord does not move according to their timetable.

We constantly give God deadlines and time limits. We cry, "Lord, when are You going to do something about this? If You don't act now, it will be too late!" But God is never too late. He always acts according to His schedule, not ours.

Our God is always searching the earth for those who will trust Him in every crisis, trial and hopeless situation. Indeed, He often leads us into situations that are critical and difficult in order to test us. He wants to see if we are willing to stand still and wait for Him to bring supernatural deliverance.

The Bible states very clearly: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way" (Psalm 37:23). The Hebrew word for ordered here means "prearranged, step by step, fixed, ordained by God."

This means it is God, not the devil, who leads us into difficult places. We may cry, "Lord, why are You allowing my crisis to continue?" But the truth is, not only does He allow our trial, but He does so deliberately — for a purpose. And that is hard for us to accept.

God allows these hard things in our lives in order to produce faith in us. He is shaping us into godly examples of faith, to be His testimony to a faithless, ungodly age.

I firmly believe every step I take is ordained by our heavenly Father and He would never lead me to the brink of a difficult situation only to abandon me. He would not say, "Okay, David, I've directed you up to this point. Now you're on your own."

No! God is absolutely faithful to His children, in every crisis. He is always asking us, "Will you be one I've been searching for, one who will not panic, who will not charge Me with forsaking, abandoning and hurting My children? Will you stand still in your crisis and trust Me to see you through?"

Monday, October 1, 2012

THE HARDEST PART OF FAITH by Gary Wilkerson

When I was a boy my father taught me one of the best faith-lessons I have ever learned. “Son, the hardest part of faith is always the last half hour. When you feel like giving up; when you feel that your life is off track; when you don’t hear from God anymore, just hold on — because the last half hour is the hardest part of faith.”

Have you ever driven on a long journey? You go hundreds of miles and the trip is going just fine. Finally you see a sign that says your destination is just 30 miles down the road. That last 30 miles can seem almost as long as the 500 miles you have just traveled. The last half hour of a journey is sometimes the hardest because you’re almost there and you have to hold on just a little longer.

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36, ESV).

I know some of you feel like giving up but I want to encourage you to hold on just a little longer. You feel like the dream is not going to come to reality but God is saying to you, “Just hold on, child. Hold on, church. Hold on a few more minutes. Hold on a few more weeks — because your victory is just around the corner!”

I cannot tell you how many people I have met who had a word from God but the answer was slow in coming, they abandoned hope and now are living a life of mediocrity. If they had held on just a little longer, all the things God had spoken would have come true. But they have withdrawn from faith; withdrawn from valor; withdrawn from vision and purpose. They are living a life of quiet desperation because they no longer trust God or believe Him for great things. They are moving in their own strength without the power of God.

Do not give up hope. God is saving the best for last!