Thursday, January 31, 2013

BRING NO BURDEN THROUGH THE GATES

"And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain forever" (Jeremiah 17:24-25). I believe this entire passage is prophetic of Christ and His church!

We know that Christ is the seed of David. And we know He sits as King on David's throne. But who are the kings and princes Jeremiah describes here, the inhabitants of Jerusalem riding on horses and in chariots?

We are those people and we have been given an incredible promise: By taking all our burdens to the burden bearer, we will live in peace forever, free of all bondage. Indeed, Jesus’ command to lay our burdens on Him is not an option. We are to do it as a matter of trust in Him.

"If ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched" (verse 27).

The prophet is saying, "If you will not obey God's command to stop carrying your burdens, you'll end up being consumed by them." Tragically, this describes many believers today. Some can hardly sleep at night because they never stop thinking about their problems. They turn things over and over in their minds, wondering, "Where did I go wrong? How can I make things right?"

When they wake up, their minds go straight to their burdens—in the shower, while getting dressed, then at the breakfast table. By the time they walk out the front door, they're so burdened down they can't even smile.

Such Christians never know even an hour of rest in Jesus—rest that He freely gives!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SIGNATURE JUDGMENT

I believe God has provided us with a very specific promise for the hard times that are coming. It was given to Abraham and his seed as an oath.

“The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (Luke 1:73-75).

God has sworn to deliver us from every enemy, every fearful thing, so we can serve Him all the days of our lives without fear. Beloved, hunger is an enemy. Nakedness and poverty are enemies.

This oath from God must be the foundation of our trust in every crisis, calamity and fearful time. Memorize it! Let it be your holy argument at the throne of grace!

In Psalm 121 David has provided us with one of the most powerful Holy Ghost arguments ever given to man. The entire psalm tells us that all our help comes from the Lord alone. Psalm 124 is yet another holy argument, your specific promise to enable you to build special trust.

Right now America is under a "signature judgment" of God. Signature judgments bear a special mark of God in that they mirror the sins committed against Him. As these judgments take place before our very eyes, our only answer is to have Jesus as our shield. Run today to meet Him in the secret closet of prayer. Let your roots go down deep into Him and know that He will keep you in all circumstances.

Take hold of the following special promises in readiness for any and all calamities we may face:

"Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness. . . . He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. His heart shall be established, he shall not be afraid" (Psalm 112:4, 7-8).

"And he shall judge the world in righteousness. . . . The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee" (Psalm 9:8-10).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

OUR FATHER’S PROVISION

In my lifetime I have never talked to as many frightened people as I have in the past three months. America is downright scared!

Builders, Wall Street professionals, retailers, executives, lawyers, small business owners are all saying the same thing: “It's worse than most people know. And it's going to get worse!” We are racing toward very hard times.

No one likes to hear these kinds of reports; in fact, they can be very depressing. But the Puritans had a saying: "Our affections bribe our discernments." We all love America and our way of life, but unless we face the truth that hard times in this nation are upon us, we will never have the trust and confidence we are going to need.

Rest assured, none of this is taking Jesus by surprise. He saw it all coming. He who has numbered every hair on a person’s head and counted every fallen sparrow knew beforehand what His followers would face in the last days.

He knew where every dollar in the federal budget would go—and that your rent and taxes would escalate. He knew about every job layoff His children would face, about all your bills, even the number of children you have. There is not one thing our blessed Savior did not know when He told us very specifically in Matthew 6:25-33: "Don't give these things a second thought. Your heavenly Father knows all about your personal needs and He will take care of you!"

You wonder how a Christian in need can give no thought to his physical condition and I say that we cannot shrink from Jesus' promise to us. His very words are eternal: "I say unto you. . . ." In fact, you can take those very words to the throne room of God and say to Jesus, “These are the red letter words: ‘I say unto you, give no thought to your needs!’”

No matter how many banks close or how long the unemployment lines grow, our Lord will be feeding the fowl of the air, dressing the lilies of the fields, and supplying the daily needs of an ocean full of fish! “Your heavenly Father feedeth them” (Matthew 6:26). Not one creature will suffer without our Lord knowing it.

Hard times will never stop our Father’s provision: “Are ye not much better than they? . . . Shall He not much more clothe you?” (Matthew 6:26, 30).

Monday, January 28, 2013

FAVOR FOR A LIFETIME by Gary Wilkerson

Does God give favor, bless abundantly and lavish His grace on hungry, waiting hearts? The answer is yes—and we find this illustrated in the first chapter of Luke.

An angel appeared to Mary to announce the amazing events about to take place in her life: “The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:26-29, ESV, emphasis mine).

Bible scholars say Mary was very young, probably a teenager. Imagine how strange this encounter had to be for her. Here was a simple girl from an obscure village and family, and an angel stood before her: “The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus’” (Luke 1:30-31, ESV, emphasis mine).

Mary seemed uncertain about what she was hearing, which is easy to understand. Living in a male-dominated culture, she had little influence and probably few expectations for her life. She would have all the privileges of being a good wife and mother but nothing beyond.

A lot of us are like Mary. We would like to see our circumstances transformed. We want to see our sick relative healed. We long for our troubled child to find purpose in Christ or our tense marriage to be restored to its former joy. Like Mary, we think, “Lord, my life doesn’t reflect Your favor at all. I need You to bring Your light into it.” How would we feel if we heard a voice from heaven telling us, “You have God’s favor”?

Be encouraged! God is actually looking to favor you—especially if you will cry out with Mary: “Lord, I want to see You glorified in my life!”

Friday, January 25, 2013

DO NOT RELAX YOUR PRAYER VIGIL

God wants to make sure your heart is set on persevering, no matter how long His answer takes. Jesus gave us a parable to prove that He waits on us to determine not to give up. It is the parable of the distressed widow who kept coming to the judge and requesting justice (see Luke 18:2-8). The judge finally granted the widow’s request only because he did not want to be worn down by her constant pleading. "Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me" (verse 5). Jesus added, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily" (verses 7-8).

You say, “But doesn't Jesus seem to be speaking a paradox in this passage? First He says God ‘bears long with us’ and then He says He ‘will avenge us speedily.’”

Most of us misinterpret the passage completely. Jesus isn't speaking of delaying a long time—not at all! He says God wants to speedily answer us but God is "bearing something" that calls for patience on His part. He is saying, “I will put up with this thing I see in your heart. I will bear with you until you are willing to lay hold as you should for the answer.”

As I look back at some of the things I have persevered in prayer for, I see the Lord saying, "I'm holding up the request to you, like a mirror. And through this, I am going to show you what is deep in your heart."

I have seen doubt . . . fear . . . unbelief . . . things that have made me throw myself at Jesus' feet and cry, "Oh, Lord, I'm not interested in the answers anymore, but only in getting this spirit out of me. I don't want to doubt You."

The hardest part of faith is the last half hour. When it looks as if God will not answer, we give up and go on to something else. We think we are surrendering to God's providence, depending on His sovereign will. We say, "Well, God, You must not have wanted it after all."

No! That is not what God intended. When you are praying the obvious will of God—salvation of family, for instance—you have every right to hold on and never give up until Jesus answers.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

YOU ARE BEING TESTED

Rest assured that if you are trying to walk righteously before the Lord, you are being tested. In fact, the deeper your walk with Christ, the more intense your testing will be. Scripture makes this clear:

"The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. . . . Now when they shall fall, they shall be [helped] with a little help. . . . And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed" (Daniel 11:32-35).

A great time of testing is coming upon "those of understanding." Just who are these who will be tested? They are the righteous, those who do exploits for the Lord, who walk with God and have the wisdom of Christ.

Right now, you may be asking, "Why am I being tested? Why is this happening to me?"

Remember your school days? When a test in school was given, it revealed how much you had actually learned of what you had been taught. Yet Paul spoke of a different school, one where we are "learning Christ" and are "being taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus" (see Ephesians 4:20-21). If you belong to Jesus, you are in His school. You may have thought you had graduated, but that will not happen until you are in glory.

When I was in school, I hated "pop quizzes," unannounced tests. Yet the Lord has told us to be ready to be tested at any time, and these tests will continue until Jesus returns. All who love the Lord are going to go through fiery trials and be purged of all that is not like Christ, in preparation for the wedding of the Lamb.

David often spoke of being tested and tried: "I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness" (1 Chronicles 29:17). "Thou has proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress" (Psalm 17:3).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

RIGHT ON TIME!

Years ago, after walking the streets of New York City—worn out, tired in soul and body—I developed mononucleosis. I ended up in the hospital for six weeks and developed a growth in my throat. I could not swallow and sometimes I couldn't even catch my breath. My weight soon fell to less than 115 pounds. Since I could not travel, all the income to the ministry quickly dried up and it looked like the end of Teen Challenge!

I remember the night I cried out in desperation, "Lord, I give up! Teen Challenge is all Yours. I am just going to trust You. If You want the ministry’s doors to close, that's Your business. But, please, God, get this thing out of my throat!" Within an hour I coughed up a fleshy growth the size of a large walnut.

I left the hospital in a day or two and soon got my strength back. And I discovered that while I was away, Teen Challenge had survived! I do not know how the Lord did it, but while I was ill, the staff began to trust the Lord instead of looking to me. And that's what God was trying to accomplish!

Beloved, your troubles are not unforeseen accidents. No matter what you are going through, no matter how deep your hurt, God is right on target and right on time.

You may think the devil came in and interrupted God's plan for your life, saying, "Let me at him." But no, that is not the case. It does not matter if you did something stupid or careless. If you have repented, the Lord can harness everything meant for evil and turn it around for good.

Don't focus on your past mistakes—get your eyes off the monsters. God promised to restore to you all the years the cankerworm has eaten. Encourage yourself with these words and let them become your life and hope: "My God can do anything. He has not forgotten me. No one can change His plans. No matter how bad things look, He has everything under control!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

IT RAINS ON THE JUST AND THE UNJUST

I would be lying if I told you that Christians will observe sorrow, trouble, unemployment and depression on all sides while they themselves remain safe within a cozy cocoon of health and wealth. The Bible says God causes the rain to fall on both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Job was holy—yet he suffered! But just as God brought Job out of his affliction, so He will bring us out even though we, too, will go through the fire.

Hundreds of ministers are meeting to pray in different cities, and the same confession is heard: "Never have so many been so deeply tested. Satan has come like a flood, with trouble, hardship, deep sorrow and pain befalling the godly."

Satan was Job's troubler and he is your troubler. Could it be that he has stood again before God and issued a great accusation against the last-days church? He might have challenged God, "It is the last hour, but You have no true church. You have no spotless bride. There are no wise virgins; in fact, most of them are asleep. Look at them—materialistic, self-centered, grasping for riches and the good life. Listen to their teachers telling them they need not suffer, that all things are theirs for the asking.

"Take down Your wall of protection, God! Let me put them to the test. You won't even have a holy remnant left. I'll take away their employment. I'll smite them with sorrows. I'll pour out a spirit of fear and despondency, and flood them with temptations. You will see this last, pampered generation fold. There are no Jobs in this church. They are spiritual wimps!"

Beloved, this is why the Scripture says, "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Revelation 12:12).

In the midst of your trial, some of you already have adopted the despairing language of Job. Your heart cries out, "God, what did I do wrong? I don't understand why this calamity has fallen on me when I loved You most, my walk was holy, my heart pure, and my spirit was longing after You. It seems like the closer I draw to You, the deeper I fall into trouble and the more sorrows come.”

We do not realize how important it is to God that we trust Him through all the floods of trouble that come upon us from hell. You see, the devil cannot touch you or test you unless God first lets down the wall and allows it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

IS THIS THE GENERATION?

The whole world is frightened, perplexed and confused. Even the saintliest Christian must be wondering about all the prophetic events rapidly unfolding. I know that believers all over the world are asking themselves a question that I, too, am pondering: Are we in the last decade of human history? I do not know, but one thing is sure: We have seen an acceleration of world events. Suddenly, without warning, the Iron Curtain fell. Almost overnight, Eastern Europe was free. Seemingly in a flash, the Soviet Empire—once threatening the United States—was brought to the brink of disintegration and utter turmoil.

Could it be that in the same sudden manner, the antichrist world leader will be revealed? Could it also be that God has come to the end of His patience with the sins of North America, as happened with Sodom and Gomorrah?

Frightening bankruptcies in our savings and loan organizations, mounting national debt, diseases and nationwide plagues—are these all signs that our country is entering the corridor of a divine curse as outlined in Deuteronomy 28? Read what God does to the nations that sin against the light. You can see it happening right now!

Are we already in the early stages of the biggest depression in our history? The Great Depression of the 1930s has been regarded as the worst ever, but many economists believe we are on the brink of a depression that will make our worst look tame by comparison.

Is God even now beginning to cut off our supply of bread? Is He bringing ruin upon us, as He did upon Jerusalem and Judah because of their sins? In Isaiah 3:1-6, you will find that God does cut off bread and massive unemployment results. When judgment fell in Zion, "there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast" (Zachariah 8:10). Will there be massive unemployment as God judges America's sins?

There is a sense of danger in the air; every situation seems volatile. There is a feeling that the world is on a course from which there is no turning back. There is talk of wars, race wars, holy wars. Israel is feverishly preparing for war as never before, gearing up for a final conflict.

Is this the day that Jesus predicted when men's hearts will fail from overwhelming fear as they behold the frightening things happening on the earth? Could it be we really are the generation that will behold the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ? Have we come to such a point in human history that it can now be said, "This generation shall not pass away till all these things come to pass"? Will it indeed happen in our time?

Friday, January 18, 2013

LAYING DOWN YOUR BURDENS

Laying down your burdens requires a powerful act of determination and a kind of spiritual surgery that only the Holy Spirit can perform.

We see this illustrated in the book of Nehemiah. At the time, the Israelites had faithfully and diligently rebuilt Jerusalem's gates. But once the gates were back in place, the people completely overlooked the Sabbath observance. Every week, long lines of laden-down animals passed through Jerusalem's gates, going to and from the city market bearing merchandise.

Nehemiah was angered when he saw all this activity on the Sabbath (see Nehemiah 13:15). He warned the people to lay down all their burdens and honor God's Sabbath, but when they would not listen, he stepped up the level of his appeal: "Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day?" (verse 17). He was saying, "I chided them, preached to them, warned them. But nothing worked."

Finally, Nehemiah had had enough so he took drastic action: "And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day" (verse 19).

Nehemiah put sentries at the gates. But even then the burden-bearing people would not be deterred. They camped out all night long, carrying their burdens around as they waited for the gates to open (see verse 20).

Beloved, your burdens will always be camping outside your mind, waiting for an opportunity to jump right back in. You may lay them down at night, but in the morning, there they'll be, the same old worries and concerns waiting for you to pick them back up.

So, what did Nehemiah do to stop all the burden-carrying? He said, "Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? If ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath" (verse 21).

When Nehemiah came to end of his endurance, he threatened force. And, beloved, that is just what we are to do to keep all burdens outside the gates of our minds. Like Nehemiah, we are to cry out from our soul, "This isn't God's way! I live in the day of Sabbath rest yet my soul is anything but at rest. All my cares and worries come and go as they please. I must take dominion over these burdens, at any cost!"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

NOT EASILY PROVOKED

The clearest evidence that Christ resides in you is if you possess this fruit: "Charity . . . is not easily provoked" (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

The Greek word for provoked is "paraxuno," which comes from a root word meaning "acid" and "quick or sudden." It also has an additional root meaning of "one close by." Put together, these meanings become very significant: To be provoked is to fly off the handle with acid remarks, to have a temper tantrum—and to aim it at someone who is close to you.

In short, the Bible is saying, "If you are in Christ, loving unconditionally, you will no longer be easily provoked. And your greatest tests will come from those closest to you: your spouse, your children, your friends."

I ask you: Do you have a short fuse? How easily does your temper flare? If you are in Christ, a voice will rise up in you when you're angry, crying out, "Lord, help me! Holy Spirit, calm me down!"

Just a few days before I wrote this message, I had to practice what I am preaching. My wife, Gwen, said something that unwittingly pushed a button inside me. She didn't mean it as a putdown but I took it that way, and it set me off. I quickly got hot under the collar and out of my mouth spewed a stream of acid remarks, heated, angry words, each one a putdown.

Gwen tried to apologize (for something she hadn't even done) but I turned my back on her and went to my study. I sat for an hour in the dark, complaining to the Lord: "God, she hit me where I'm sensitive and it hurt. I had to respond!"

Yet as I tried to pray, the heavens were as brass. The next morning, as I took out my Bible to begin my daily study, the pages fell open to 1 Corinthians and my eyes fell on this verse: "Charity . . . is not easily provoked”

Suddenly, I was looking into the mirror of God's Word and I saw the face of a preacher who was easily provoked! My heart was smitten, and I cried out, "Oh, Lord, that's me. God, forgive me!"

Immediately I called out to Gwen to come into my office. When she entered, somewhat bewildered, I could only point to the passage and say, "Honey, read this. It describes me, doesn't it? I'm too easily provoked. Gwen, please forgive me!"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

LONGING FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD

Have you been longing and yearning for the coming of the Lord? Do you yearn for the day when He will appear?

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).

This world is not our home. But I ask you: Are you putting down roots or are you pulling up roots, praying that Jesus will keep your heart awake?

Have God's enemies become your enemies? Are you engaged in the battle against those who oppose God? Have you taken up His fight against the flesh, the world and the devil?

Yes, Jesus said we are to love our enemies but what about His enemies, those who hate Him, refuse His grace and mercy, and defame His name and drag it through filth? We are not to hate men but we are to hate the sin that is in their hearts and the demonic powers that rule them. We are to hate the wickedness that is in the world!

Have you made a habit of forsaking the house of God? "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

It is no accident that the very next verse in this passage refers to "willful sinning" after the truth has been revealed. “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).

It is a proven historical fact: People become most careless and neglectful just prior to judgment and calamity.

If you have judged yourself and come up short, then from your heart pray this: “Jesus, I need to be forgiven. I confess all my sin. I’ve neglected You, Lord. I have not put You first but from this day forward I make You my life—my everything!”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

JOY AND CONFIDENCE ON THE DAY OF JUDGMENT

"And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:32-34).

On the day of judgment the first thing on the Judge's agenda will be to separate His sheep from the goats. He will not allow His righteous ones to be numbered with the transgressors.

The Bible is very clear that those who have been abiding in Christ and looking for His appearing will have boldness and confidence on that day:

"And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming" (I John 2:28). "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17).

How can you have such boldness—such joy and confidence—on the day of judgment? It comes only through knowing the Judge as your friend, brother, redeemer-kinsman, high priest, advocate, intercessor, Lord, the love of your heart—your very life!

If you know in your heart you are not ready to stand before Jesus—and that time is coming very soon—then you have to answer for what I have written here. This one message is enough to damn you to eternal hell if you reject it. It will stand as a witness on judgment day.

Have your interests—your work, your possessions or even your ministry—become more important to you than the Lord's interests? Have you neglected your family? Are you satisfied because you go to church on Sunday and say, "I've done my part for God"? God's Word to you is clear: It is not enough!

If you have judged yourself and come up short, then pray this from your heart:

"Jesus, I need You. I need to be forgiven and loved by You. I confess all my sin and stubbornness. I've neglected You, Lord. I've not put You first and from this day on, I make You my life, my everything.

Monday, January 14, 2013

DISCOURAGEMENT by Gary Wilkerson

Discouragement can hinder but it can never halt God’s plan for victory. Gideon fought against 100,000 enemy soldiers with his band of 300 and won such a massive victory that only 15,000 of the enemy were left. After the victory some of his brethren asked him, “‘What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?’ And they accused him fiercely” (Judges 8:1, ESV).

The people of Gideon’s own nation questioned his leadership, his decisions, his motives and his actions. Some of our most disheartening, soul-wrenching struggles often are not out in the battlefield of life but are in the fellowship of believers. Sometimes our own brothers and sisters hurl accusations at us and seem to find much to complain about. We expect such things from our enemies but we can be caught off guard and surprised when one of our own brethren fiercely accuses us.

Gideon was not discouraged, distracted or diminished in his faith, however, when he was questioned—He stayed in the battle! I love what he did: “And he said to them, ‘What have I done in comparison with you?’” (8:2). Gideon was saying to his accusers, “What are my victories compared to yours?” Instead of getting upset and into a fight with them, Gideon did what Nehemiah had done when he was building the wall and his enemies said to him, “Come down here. We need to discuss what you are doing.” Nehemiah responded to his enemies, “I don’t have time to discuss what I’m doing; I’m too busy doing it” (see Nehemiah 6:1-9).

The Bible says that Gideon and his 300 men “. . . came to the Jordan and crossed over . . . exhausted yet pursuing” (Judges 8:4). Gideon chose to get back into warfare with the enemy. He crossed over to the other side of the river and got back into the battle God had called him to fight. When you live out the mission that God has called you to; when you are not discouraged and dissuaded by what others say about you; when it is your holy ambition to do what God has called you to do—that becomes your victory.

Stay focused on your battle, stay focused on your calling, and God will give you the victory!

Friday, January 11, 2013

THE UNPROFITABLE SERVANT

The "unprofitable servant" is the one who "hid" his talent. Too lazy to invest his life and time in God's interests, he became "slothful" in the things of God. This was the busy man or woman who came to God's house once a week to maintain a semblance of religion.

Here is what the Lord will say of haphazard, halfhearted service to Him:

"Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not. . . . Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with [interest]. . . . Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:26-27, 30).

What weeping and wailing there will be when the unprofitable servant's book is opened. The Judge will show the world how much time and effort he spent making money, seeking personal security, building up bank accounts, fretting, ignoring family, forgetting God and forsaking the assembly of believers.

On that day God will bring forth the record of every neglected church meeting, every lazy and self-centered activity. Then, right before this servant's eyes will appear everything he spent his lifetime accumulating: houses, cars, furnishings, boats, clothes, jewelry, stocks and bonds.

A spark from the Judge's eye will ignite everything like a hydrogen meltdown. An angel will be standing before the Judge and his hands will hold a mound of dust. The Lord will turn to the unprofitable one and say, "This is what your lifetime of business amounted to. I needed you and called you, but you neglected Me. You gave Me so little of your time until finally you pushed Me out of your life completely. You wasted your life for a handful of dust. You were warned that it would all burn as grass in an oven!"

Oh, what regret there will be on that day for one who has no time for God now! He attends the obligatory Sunday morning service with his wife and children because it is "the American way." But he has no heart for God!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

WITNESSES

On judgment day the Judge, Jesus Christ, will call forth His witnesses and these will testify either for you or against you.

The first witness is the Word of God itself: "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).

For every sermon or gospel song ever heard, every Bible verse or tract ever read, account must be given. Jesus says, "Every word I have spoken to you will judge you on that day. My Word will be the witness!" Witnesses shall arise, such as the men of Nineveh, the men of Sodom, and the queen of Sheba.

Jesus says, "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it" (Matthew 12:41-42).

When you stand before the Judge and your book is opened, vast multitudes of Ninevites will step forward. Those who died in the holocaust of Sodom and Gomorrah will come forth, as will those of Tyre and Sidon. These wicked ones will gather round, incredulous as they hear the list of all the opportunities you had to receive the Word of God: Bibles, radio, TV teachers, witnesses, friends, family.

They will cry out, "This man's judgment ought to be worse than ours. How could he reject so many opportunities and deny such powerful light? We had no Bible, no constant reminder, no second opportunity. But he had all this!"

Jesus says Sodom would have repented if they had heard a fraction of the gospel preaching you have heard: "For if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day" (Matthew 11:23).

Preachers and pastors will be called forth as witnesses. "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations" (Matthew 24:14).

We shepherds will have to stand and bear witness that you were in attendance in the house of God. You heard the witness of the gospel preached. And we must affirm before the Judge of all people every truth you heard—either for you or against you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

THE BOOK OF LIFE

God has recorded every passion and motive of every person—every single thought, word and deed. The motives of the Christian are entered in a "book of remembrance," which is the Book of Life, and on the day of judgment, Christ is going to remember all who are in this book.

"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord . . . heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord. . . . And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him" (Malachi 3:16-17).

If you love Jesus with all your heart and are cleansed by His blood, then your name is written in His book of remembrance. This message should not produce fear; in fact, it should bring great rejoicing to your heart as you see all that God has planned for those who love Him!

There are books but then there is “The Book.” The Bible says each life has its own book, a record of an entire lifetime on earth:

"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. . . . And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened . . . and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged according to their works" (Revelation 20:11-13).

The wicked and ungodly will be judged by everything written in those books—one by one—before the Judge of all!

Scripture says every person will have a resurrection body at that time. The sinner will have a body "fitted to destruction" (Romans 9:22). But the godly will be given a new body, likened unto the Lord's! And when the judgment is over, the Lamb will rise up from His throne and lead His flock into eternal paradise.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A FAITHFUL SERVANT

The apostle Paul was one of God's most faithful servants. I believe there were three important motivations behind Paul's faithfulness: hope, love and fear.

Paul had a blessed hope of eternal life that motivated him to faithfulness. He also had a great love for Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:14 he says, "The love of Christ constraineth us," which means it compelled him to remain faithful to God. But Paul's faithfulness also was motivated by something else: the reverential fear of the hour when he would stand before the Judge of the world on judgment day!

Today, the vast majority of Christians possess only the first two motivations. Virtually every believer claims to have the hope of eternal life. And many say in all sincerity, "I know I love Jesus with all my heart."

Yet the truth of a coming day of judgment is the very thing that produces serious, godly believers. Those who put it out of mind are usually cold, careless and indulgent. But the fact remains that, sometime very soon, every person who has ever lived will be gathered to the place of judgment to be judged by Jesus Christ: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:10). "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12).

At this very moment, legions of angels stand ready for Jesus' command to gather from the corners of the earth both the wicked and the righteous: "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity" (Matthew 13:41).

All the rich, famous and powerful of all ages will be brought to stand before Him: "And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men . . . hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us, hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17).

Monday, January 7, 2013

A GOSPEL OF POWER by Gary Wilkerson

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a gospel of evangelism alone but of sanctification. The power that saves us is the same power that keeps us and we need to walk that out in fear and trembling. We need to learn the weapons of our warfare and begin to grow and mature.

I say all that but I also have good news for you. There is a power available, a work of the Spirit, that is profound, glorious, dynamic! When the Spirit of God comes into the hearts of believers who stand firm in their foundation and faith, they grow in maturity. A release of power comes in them that heals the inside and closes the door to the outside. I love what Nehemiah, who is a type of the Holy Spirit, says to those trying to gain entrance to Jerusalem.

“But I warned them and said to them, ‘Why do you lodge outside the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you’” (Nehemiah 13:21, ESV).

I picture Jesus standing at the door of my life! When Satan comes to buffet me, Jesus is standing between me and the enemy, saying, “I warned you once. Back off! You are in the wrong place. You’ve started something you can’t finish. You are dealing with somebody bigger than you.”

I picture the power of God on the wall of my life. On the inside I am clean but I hear these things lodged on the outside crying out, “You can’t stay clean.”

But I can stay clean because I have Jesus on the wall of my life, saying, “Who do you think you are, Satan? What have you to do with my son, my daughter, who is covered by the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and sanctified and made holy? Who are you to speak these vile things?”

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Jesus has caused us all to be overcomers in Him!

Friday, January 4, 2013

SPECIFIC PROMISES FOR SPECIFIC TIMES

All Christians have a general trust in the Lord. We stand on a few promises that apply to the whole body of Christ, such as:

"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).

"All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11).

These well-known promises have brought great comfort and blessing to God's people worldwide for many centuries. Yet, beyond these general promises, God gives us specific promises for special times, hard times. We must know them and bring them with us when we come boldly to His throne of grace.

The Puritans, who were mightily blessed of God, said every promise of the Lord is a holy argument. They believed a Christian should not come before the Lord with just a general faith.

When God tells you to come boldly before the throne of grace, to receive mercy and grace in your time of need, you cannot have just a general idea of why you are there. You cannot just say, "Okay, Lord, You know my heart. Give me whatever You see fit."

That may sound good but God has specific promises for specific times in our lives. He wants us to lay hold of these promises with our hearts so that we might stand strong and assured as we reason with Him. He wants us to stand before His throne having perfect consolation, absolute assurance and no doubts whatsoever!

Maybe the reason you are not hearing from God is that you have given Him a general faith without being specific with Him. God says, "Come, bring forth your strong reasons (see Isaiah 41:21). Why should I do this for you? Why should I bless you?" He knows why, of course, but He also wants you to know why!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I WILL RESTORE TO YOU

“I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten" (Joel 2:25). The New American Standard Version says, "I will make up to you for the years . . . eaten."

This promise is incredible! We want to make up those lost years when we weren’t following Him, to make amends and repay Him! But He says, "Wrong! You cannot repay Me for a single wasted hour. Walk before Me in righteousness now and turn from your sins, and I will make up all the losses, whether they were yours, your family's, or Mine!"

To repentant sinners the Lord declares, "Fear not . . . be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things" (Joel 2:21). You need not be ashamed of your wasted years. God is going to remove from you the evil army, and you will eat and be satisfied. You will never again be ashamed (see Joel 2:19-20, 26-27).

You were born for His eternal purposes. He planned for you a life of satisfaction, joy and usefulness in His kingdom but then sin entered, and God's plan for your life was interrupted. The devourer moved in and years were wasted, lost.

But now, in Christ, all is new—even the calendar! The Lord goes back to the day the locust came, and He removes all those wasted years and starts counting again from the moment you repent. All those blessings you missed were stored up. All the joy, peace, revelation and usefulness that you thought were dead and gone forever were actually kept by the Lord.

In hell, the damned may be haunted with a vision of what their lives could have been. Some may see what they lost. But this is not so for the repentant. All will be restored. They need never again say, "Oh, what I missed. What I could have been. God had so much for me, but I blew it." No! God can restore all the wasted blessings.

The Lord desires to pour out on us all the blessings and joys in Him that we missed earlier. Yet He does not make it all up with outpourings alone. The outpourings become overflowings! "And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil" (Joel 2:24).

There is such power in repentance. It brings back to us all that the cankerworm destroyed. God resurrects it all!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

MANY ARE SUFFERING TODAY

I know my family and I are not the only ones suffering and enduring great afflictions. I receive many heartrending letters from godly Christians who are going through the greatest testing they have ever known.

Never have so many come down with cancer. Never have there been so many hurt by divorce, with mates abandoning homes and giving up on marriages. Never have so many been burdened down with financial problems. Never has there been such a time of trial, confusion, pain, and deep hurt. God's most beloved children are going through refining fires. While it is true that "many are the afflictions of the righteous," it also is true that "the Lord delivereth him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19).

I have been praying, "God, You told us to come boldly to Your throne of grace to obtain mercy to help in our time of need. We desperately need Your mercy."

Is there hope for any of us in these trying times without mercy from the Lord? What do we do as believers when the enemy comes in like a flood? Why do those who are so deeply devoted to Christ have to endure such unusual testing?

I do not have all the answers. I know that the righteous suffer and I know that many godly people reading this message are hurting and may be wondering why they must endure so much pain. I also know that when you take your place in the holy of holies, you discover testings unknown to those in the outer court.

The daily news is filled with horror and violence but do not for a moment let that mar your vision of a glorious church rising up in the midst of the ruin and confusion to take dominance and authority.

A holy, forgiven, rested body, holding to Christ the head, is being revealed in clearer measure. This victorious body is coming into sharp, well-defined view, flexing its spiritual muscle, threatening the very powers of Satan.

The prognosis for the body of Christ is unbelievably glorious and nothing this ungodly world does can adversely affect it or change its purpose!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

ALL THAT IS EARTHLY IS BEING SHAKEN

In a dream I saw an army that refused to break rank—for in the midst of all the wickedness and cruel violence that was around them, they were unperturbed. They were going down into the livings waters of praise and worship and coming out on the other side of the river with perfect peace and rest. They are the redeemed of the Lord who have been given a peace that passes all understanding.

"The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psalm 37:11).

Joel saw an army of mighty men and said, "They shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks" (Joel 2:7).

God's people will not break rank nor run in fear, because they know they are secure under the precious blood of the Lamb. They know that in spite of all the violence and wrath of men, the body of Christ on earth is in excellent health and is growing stronger every day.

While all that is earthly is being shaken, and world governments are spinning out of control, the true church of Christ is solid and unmovable.

The specter of devastating violence and potential destruction has robbed mankind of peace and security—while at the same time God is bringing His people into their greatest hour of rest and safety. While the ungodly cry for peace and safety and never find it, God's chosen are now possessing great peace and perfect security.

God's people who rest in Him can say with David the psalmist, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 124:2-8).