Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NAKED CHRISTIANS

“Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies)" (Exodus 32:25). The Hebrew word used here for naked is para, meaning "to loosen up, expose, dismiss all restraint." It also means "a new beginning." The Israelites were saying, "Things are not happening as they should. We're tired of this battle, tired of waiting on God. And now we're going to enjoy ourselves. Out with the old! We want new freedom, a new start—and we want it now!"

Nakedness in the Bible also has to do with not having one's shield for battle. Every man who did not have his shield was considered naked. These Israelites were literally naked—stripped down and dancing before the golden calf, yet they also had laid down their armor.

Can you imagine their enemies, the Amalekites, looking down on this wild scene from the surrounding mountains? The Amalekites once trembled at the very sight of Israel. God had put a dread in their hearts toward His people but now they saw Israel taking off their armor and stripping off their garments. The Amalekites were mocking and laughing at them: "Look—they're just like us! Their God has no power. They don't trust Him. See? They're throwing off all their strict ways. They want to lust and party and play just like the rest of us. Some holiness! What hypocrisy!"

In that one act of nakedness, Israel belittled their God in the eyes of the ungodly. They made the Lord seen heartless, cruel, uncaring, helpless. They besmirched His honor, His majesty, His omnipotence. They were no longer an example to the world.

That is exactly what we do when we strip off our robes of faith and let go of our confidence in God. Without childlike trust in God, a Christian stands naked before the world, exposed to all doubts, fears and unbelief!

Monday, April 29, 2013

CRAZY FAITH by Gary Wilkerson

Do you sense that God is about to unleash something tremendous in your life? Perhaps He has spoken to your heart, “I have prepared something special for you. Soon you will enter a walk with Me you’ve never known before.” Maybe your life has already been greatly blessed by God. Now the Holy Spirit is saying His longstanding promise is about to come to full fruition—and it will amaze you. If this describes your life right now, I can tell you with the authority of Scripture: Get ready to examine your heart.

This next part is what I call experiencing “crazy faith.” Crazy faith is believing that no matter how good things are, the best is yet to come. It’s a faith that says, “As much as we dream and do big things for God’s kingdom, His vision is always greater.” What the Lord has done in the brief existence of the church I pastor has exceeded my wildest expectations. Not a week goes by without someone giving his or her life to Jesus. Whenever we distribute food to the poor, many of the recipients ask, “Why are you doing this?” We answer, “It’s Jesus,” and they give their lives to Him.

It is all happening miraculously. In three years our church has grown from three couples to nearly 1,500 people on Sundays. New believers are quickly maturing into faithful disciples, growing in their knowledge of God.

God is not just exceeding our expectations, He is showing us what His expectations are, and it is amazing to see. There are still a quarter of a million people in our area alone who do not know Christ, and last year the Lord stirred us to plant two new churches.

Here is the craziest part of all: I believe greater things are yet to come. I’m convinced that God will reveal Himself even more powerfully—not just in salvations but in outreach, in help to the poor, in impact on the city.

Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Of course it does. But now comes the hard part. It is exactly at this point that God asks His people to examine their hearts.

We are aware that our righteousness is as filthy rags, that we need His grace. But the fact is, just when we are poised on the brink of God’s greatest work in our lives, He asks us to reflect on these questions: “Is there anything in my heart that is displeasing to the Lord? Have I neglected to do something He has asked of me?” I want nothing in my life to hinder what God wants to do!

Friday, April 26, 2013

STOP AND LISTEN

I wonder if the Lord ever wearies of His children coming into His presence and never once stopping to listen. Nothing is so empty and unfulfilling as one-way communication. Try listening to someone for a few hours without getting in a word. It leaves you with a feeling of loneliness. The person who "got the load off his chest" goes away feeling better, but the poor listener stands there unfulfilled.

How often have we left our Lord alone in the secret closet, lonely and unfulfilled? We rush into His presence with, "Praise You, Jesus! I love you, Lord! Here's my shopping list and my healing card. Amen." How many times has He been so ready and anxious to open His own heart to speak, when lo and behold, no one was there?

If we pray an hour, we talk an hour. If we pray for hours, we talk for hours. If we pray all night, we talk all night—millions of voices talking and praising. All my preaching life has been spent in trying to get people to pray. Now, I see that has not been the problem. The real problem is leaving the Savior in the secret closet, alone, unfulfilled without being able to say a word to us.

We left that closet of prayer having unburdened our hearts. We told Him of our hopes, our dreams, our desires. We left that holy place of prayer with a satisfied mind. Yet, our Lord was still there waiting with keen anticipation, longing to share in that communion. I believe our Lord says, "Yes, yes, thank you for your praise. I accept it. I'm so glad you took the time to be shut in with Me. I have heard your request and the Father will give you the desire of your heart. But please, wait! Don't leave just now. I have some things I want to share with you. My heart is yearning to be unburdened to you. I've bottled your tears, I've soothed your troubled mind. Now, allow Me to talk! Allow Me to tell you what is on My heart"

Our Lord Jesus wants to talk. He wants to tell us what is breaking His heart in our generation. He wants to speak to each child about the beautiful plan He has for all who trust Him, revealing glorious truths. He wants to give guidance for ourselves and help in raising our children; solutions to our problems; new ministries and outreaches that will save the lost; specific words concerning jobs, careers, homes, life partners; truths about heaven, hell and the coming calamities. Most of all, He wants to talk to us about how much He loves and cares for His own

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A DOUBLE-MINDED PERSON

A double-minded person—one who believes the power is equally divided between God and Satan—is unstable in all his ways. That explains why "in time of temptation [some] fall away" (Luke 8:13). They fall back into fear and lose sight of God's mighty power.

Jesus taught us that we are to “watch and pray, that [we] enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). The spirit of God in you yearns to teach you confidence in His power but the flesh seeks to give in to fear. I believe it was fear—not weariness—that put the disciples to sleep while Jesus prayed in the garden. They had just received the news that Jesus would be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men, that Peter would become a traitor, and that they would all be offended and scattered. Suddenly, they forgot all His miracles, His mighty power to heal the sick and raise the dead, His power to multiply loaves and fishes. They were terrified of being abandoned by the Lord. They slept the sleep of doomed men. When Jesus asks us to pray that we not be led into temptation, He is actually saying, "Pray that you learn to trust God's power now, instead of having to go back again and again into the arena of temptation until the lesson is learned!"

The Bible says that God "knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations" (2 Peter 2:9). How? By putting us under fire until we come out singing, "Greater is he that is in [me], than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Until we learn that, we overcome by faith alone!

You do not have to yield to temptation, but at times you may! Even the saintliest of God's people occasionally do. That is why God made special provisions for those who fail. "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1).

Our Lord is not nearly as grieved by our yielding to temptation as He is by our not learning how to deal with it. He is more hurt by the fact we have not trusted His power to deliver. God is hurt not so much by what we do as He is by what we do not do. The overcoming Christian is one whose life confesses, "God has the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen!"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

TWO ABSOLUTES

The longer I live for Christ, the more difficult it is for me to accept easy, cure-all solutions. But in my own struggles, I have found great comfort and help in two wonderful absolutes.

The first absolute: GOD REALLY LOVES ME. God is not in the business of condemning His children, failures or not. He is a loving Father, wanting only to lift us out of our weaknesses.

I caught a glimpse of that love recently while walking in the woods around our ranch. Not once did I stop to consider the birds flying about, free and healthy. But suddenly, on the ground just ahead, a crippled little bird flopped around. Struggling so hard to fly, the baby bird could only flip over helplessly in the dust. I stooped to pick it up. It was then a familiar Scripture came flashing through my mind. "Not one [sparrow] shall fall on the ground without your Father" (Matthew 10:29).

I once thought that verse read, "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father knowing about it." But Matthew's version states, "One shall not fall without the Father."

God is with us, even when we fall. The Father does not fall into our sin, but He does come down to our fallen condition. He does not abandon us on our way down. For, you see, we are that sparrow.

Sometimes we recognize His great love only when we hit bottom. You will have won a great victory if you can be convinced God loves you even in your wounded, crippled condition. Our strength is renewed by His everlasting love. Just rest in that wonderful love. Don't panic. Deliverance will come.

The second absolute: IT IS MY FAITH THAT PLEASES HIM THE MOST! "Without faith, it is impossible to please him" (Hebrews 11:6). God counts our trust as righteousness. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

I may not understand why He sometimes seems to take a long time to intervene, but I know He will keep His word to me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

RECEIVING THE BLESSING OF THE CROSS

God delights in using failures—men and women who think they can do almost nothing right. A woman wrote to me recently saying, "My marriage is failing. I seem to do everything wrong in raising my children. I feel like I'm not worth anything to anybody. I've not been a very good wife, mother or Christian. I've got to be the world's worst failure."

She is just the kind of person the Lord is looking for—people who know that if anything good happens through them, it must be because of God. All the hotshot Christians who go about bowling people over with their great abilities never impress God. God looked down on a scheming, base, weakling of a man called Jacob and said, "Fear not, thou worm Jacob . . . I will help thee . . . behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth . . . thou shalt rejoice in the Lord" (Isaiah 41:14–16).

Men often use God to achieve fortune, fame, honor and respect. Talent, personality and cleverness are used to advance God's kingdom, but He is not impressed. His strength is perfected in our weakness, our inability to obey His commandments in our own strength.

God calls us to a life of holiness and separation. He tells us we can be free from the bondage of sin. His Word comes to us with some impossible challenges: "Resist the devil. Walk in the Spirit. Come out from among them. Love your enemies. Leave behind all your fears. Put down your lustful desires. Let no sin have dominion over you."

When you think honestly about how little you can do on your own to fulfill these challenges, you realize how very weak you are. Your heart begins to cry, "Lord, how can we do such great, holy things?" That is when our Lord takes over! He comes with such a comforting message: "Lay down your weapons. Quit trying to be so self–sufficient and strong. I am your weapon and your strength. Let Me do what you never can do. I will give you My righteousness, My holiness, My rest, My strength. You cannot save yourself or please Me in any way other than by receiving the blessings of the cross by faith. Let Me be in charge of your growth in holiness."

Monday, April 22, 2013

THERE WAS NO SWORD IN THE HAND OF DAVID by Gary Wilkerson

“David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. . . . When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way” (1 Samuel 17:50-52).

When David slew Goliath, the tide turned so dramatically that Israel put the stumbling Philistines to flight. Most important in this passage is one short phrase: “There was no sword in the hand of David.” God proved Himself faithful through David’s trust—and that filled every Israelite soldier with faith. All mockery and shame were gone, and the Israelites’ confidence returned—a confidence that their God would do battle for them.

The profound effect of seeing God’s power work on our behalf is that our confidence is renewed to enter the fray. The battle is Christ’s, who calls to us, “Come see My hand of victory. I have cut off the head of your accuser!” We are now empowered to follow, saying, “Lord, You haven’t abandoned me. You allowed all of this—every setback, even the taunts. And You did it in mercy so that I might believe You.”

Still, many of us wonder, “When will the Lord move on my behalf?” The answer to that is, Jesus has already moved! Your victory was secured 2,000 years ago on the cross. His triumph on the cross is the same victory that puts to flight every giant in our lives. Your marriage may be suffering, but Christ has defeated the powers of darkness arrayed against you and your spouse. Your finances may not be in order, but your Lord has prepared for you a future and a hope. Your children may not lead the godly life you envision for them, but Jesus has purchased their salvation. We may have battles on many fronts, but Christ has secured our victory.

Are you now able to see your foe defeated? Think of all the accusing voices you hear. You can answer them all: “This is the end for you, devil. Jesus’ victory has put you to flight. My victory is already sealed and won. Whenever He chooses, my Hero will demonstrate that victory, and the world will behold Him in all His glory. All will know that the battle is not with the sword and spear, but with the Lord.”

Friday, April 19, 2013

THIS IS THE VICTORY

“This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Have you failed? Is there a sin that easily besets you? Do you feel like a weakened coward, unable to get the victory over secret sin? But with that weakness in you, is there also a consuming hunger for God? Do you yearn for Him, reach to Him? That hunger and thirst is the key to your victory. That makes you different from all others who have been guilty of failing God. That sets you apart. You must keep that hunger alive. Keep thirsting after righteousness. Never justify your weakness, never give in to it, and never accept it as a part of your life.

Faith is your victory. Abraham had weaknesses; he lied, almost turning his wife into an adulteress. But Abraham "believed God, and it was counted unto him as righteousness." God refused to hold his sin against him—because he believed!

Sure, you have failed. Maybe yesterday—or even today! But do you believe Jesus has the power to ultimately free you from sin's power? Do you believe the cross of Jesus means sin's bondage is broken? Do you accept the fact that He has promised to deliver you from the snare of Satan?

Let me tell you exactly where I believe the victory lies. Let your heart accept all the promises of victory in Jesus. Then let your faith tell your heart, "I may not be what I want to be yet but God is at work in me, and He has the power to loose sin's hold on me. It may be little by little, but the day will come when faith will conquer. I will not always be a slave. I am not the devil's puppet and I will not be his victim. I am a weak child of God, wanting the strength of Jesus. I am going to come forth as pure gold tried in the fire. God is for me! I commit it all to Him who is able to keep me from falling and present me faultless before the throne of God—with exceeding great joy."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

HIS PRICELESS TREASURES

God has determined to accomplish His goals here on earth through men with weaknesses.

Isaiah, the great prayer warrior, was a man just like the rest of us. David, the man after God's own heart, was a murdering adulterer who had no moral right to any of God's blessings. Peter denied the very Lord God of heaven—cursing the One who loved him most. Abraham, the father of nations, lived a lie—using his wife as a pawn to save his own skin. Jacob was a conniver. Adam and Eve turned a perfect marriage arrangement into a nightmare. Solomon, the wisest man on earth, did some of the most stupid things ever recorded in history. Joseph taunted his brothers in almost boyish glee—until the games almost backfired on him. Jonah despised the mercy of God toward a repentant people and wanted to see an entire city burn to justify his prophecies against it. Lot offered his two virgin daughters to a mob of sex–crazed Sodomites.

The list goes on and on—men who loved God, men who were greatly used by God, almost driven to the ground by their weaknesses. Yet, God was always there saying, "I called you; I will be with you. I will accomplish My will—regardless!"

One of the most encouraging Scriptures in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 4:7: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." Then Paul goes on to describe those earthen vessels—dying men, troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down. And even though never forsaken or in despair, those men used by God are constantly groaning under the burden of their bodies, waiting anxiously to be clothed with new ones.

God mocks man's power. He laughs at our egotistical efforts at being good. He never uses the high and mighty but, instead, uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise.

"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not . . . that no flesh should glory in his presence" (1 Corinthians 1:26–29).

God puts His priceless treasures in earthen vessels because He delights in doing the impossible with nothing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM

“But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:24-27).

The disciples were so swamped, so suddenly overwhelmed, the very thought that Jesus was nearby watching over them was absurd. One probably said, "This is the work of Satan. The devil is out to kill us because of all those miracles we've had a part in." Another said, "Where did we go wrong? Which one of us has sin in his life? God is mad at somebody on this boat!" Another could have asked, "Why us? We're doing what He said to do. We're obedient. Why this storm all of a sudden?”

And in the darkest hour, "Jesus went unto them." How difficult it must have been for Jesus to wait on the edge of the storm, loving them so much, feeling every pain they felt, wanting so much to keep them from getting hurt, yearning after them as a father for his children in trouble. Yet, He knew they could never fully know or trust Him until the full fury of the storm was upon them. He would reveal Himself only when they had reached the limit of their faith. The boat would not have gone down, but their fear would have drowned them more quickly than the waves beating on the ship. The fear of drowning was from despair—not water!

"And when the disciples saw Him . . . they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit [ghost]" (Matthew 14:26).

They did not recognize Jesus in that storm. They saw a ghost—an apparition. The thought of Jesus being so near, so much a part of what they were going through, did not even enter their minds.

The danger we all face is not being able to see Jesus in our troubles. Instead, we see ghosts. In that very peak moment of fear, when the night is the blackest, the storm is the angriest, the winds are the loudest, and the hopelessness so overwhelming, Jesus always draws near to us to reveal Himself as the Lord of the flood—the Savior in storms.

"The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever" (Psalm 29:10).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

WE CAN HEAR HIS VOICE TODAY

Millions have been converted because one man heard His voice. Saul "fell to the earth, and heard a voice" (Acts 9:4). And when he became Paul, he continued to hear the voice of the Lord. He knew his Shepherd's voice.

Peter allowed the Savior's voice to come to him. "Peter went up upon the housetop to pray . . . and there came a voice to him (Acts 10:9, 13). The entire Gentile race was welcomed into the kingdom, along with the house of Cornelius, because a man obeyed His voice. We, too, must allow His voice to come to us. "Today if ye will hear His voice . . ." (Psalm 95:7). What God could do with Christians who learn to hear from heaven!

Instead of waiting for God’s voice to come to us, we run to counselors and psychologists, read books and listen to tapes, hoping to hear from Him. We want a leader to follow, a plan for the future, a clear word of direction. But few know how to go to the Lord and hear His voice.

God wants to shake the earth once more. The whole universe is ready for Holy Ghost convulsions! "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven" (Hebrews 12:25-26).

He has promised, "Once again My voice will be heard. Those who hear will shake the earth. Heaven and earth will be moved. By the hearing of My voice, whatsoever is loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

To the last church, the Laodicean church, the Lord cries, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).

That is the last call of Christ to the church. "Open up. Let Me into your secret closet. Talk with Me and let Me talk with you. Let's commune. That's how I will keep you from the hour of temptation that is coming on all the world."

Monday, April 15, 2013

“CHRISTUS VICTOR” by Gary Wilkerson

“Christus Victor” is the Latin phrase the early church fathers used to describe Jesus and His atonement. Roughly translated, it means, “Our victory is not in ourselves, but in Christ.” If we defeat an enemy when the odds are fifty-fifty, we are tempted to think, “I won the battle.” But when our enemy is nine feet tall; when we have rebuked him but he comes back stronger; when we have exhausted all our resources; when we have thrown up our hands and said, “I can’t do this,” then God says, “I have you right where I want you.”

Usually Old Testament stories are taught to children not as spiritual truths but as moral instruction. For example, the lesson of Jonah is usually presented as, “Don’t disobey God or you’ll get into deep trouble.”

Most of us were taught the story of David and Goliath in Sunday school and the lesson is, “Be brave and courageous.” The trouble with this interpretation of David’s story is that we are teaching our children to do something they are unable to do. There was not a single Israelite soldier who could have survived a hand-to-hand fight with Goliath. That battle was beyond even the bravest man.

Likewise, when we are in a spiritual battle, bravery and boldness are not sufficient. David knew he was no match for Goliath. In fact, he wasn’t even a soldier yet; he was too young. The only thing David was armed with when he showed up at the battlefront was bread and cheese for his brothers. Yet the difference with David was that he knew the battle was not his but God’s. When he heard Goliath’s taunts, he testified:

“This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand” (1 Samuel 17:46-47).

Spiritual victory is never our own—it comes from our Deliverer. In this story David is a picture of our Deliverer, Christ. He cuts through all our anguish and despair with an authority no demon can stand up to. Goliath had no chance that day, for one reason: The battle was the Lord’s.

Friday, April 12, 2013

BEARING FRUIT

There is a portion of Scripture that convicts me deeply. Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. . . If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (John 15:2, 6).

I have read and re-read these powerful words of Christ, and I cannot escape their convicting power. The Holy Spirit has impressed upon me the importance of understanding these words, "My Father is the husbandman . . . every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away."

This matter of Christians bearing fruit is not optional with God. He watches over His vine and all the engrafted branches with great jealousy and concern, patiently waiting for the branches to bring forth fruit. He stands beside it with pruning knife in hand, lovingly watching for the slightest evidence of corruption, blight or disease which could hinder growth. God expects fruit from every branch. Without fruit, it is impossible to honor and glorify Him or be a true disciple of Christ. Jesus said: "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" (John 15:8).

Bearing fruit has everything to do with pleasing God—fulfilling our mission in Christ— and with having our prayers and petitions answered. Jesus said, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you" (verse 16).

Actually, bearing fruit concerns what we are becoming, rather than simply what we are doing. I am bearing fruit when there is nothing hindering the flow of the life of Christ into me. That is what Jesus meant when He said, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:3). He is saying, "Because you believed My word—trembling over it, letting it reveal every hidden secret, bringing to light every dark thing, allowing the Word of God to purge you—the hindrances are all gone!”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

Those who submit to Christ's lordship have an increase of strength and knowledge of Him. They literally gain a new mental and physical strength. They do not faint along the way because Jesus pours His own strength into them as they go.

"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness" (Colossians 1:9-11).

God will keep those who submit to His lordship blameless to the day of Christ's coming. If we submit to Jesus—doing as He commands, not leaning on our own understanding—we will never lack anything. He will supply everything we need to please Him. The Lord Himself will hold and keep us blameless to the very end!

"That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1Corinthians 1:5-9).

We are to entrust our lives into Jesus' care. It then becomes His responsibility to hold and keep us: "The Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil" (2 Thessalonians 3:3). He says, "If you keep Me enthroned on your heart, I'll keep you blameless until My coming. I'll keep you from falling!" "Commit the keeping of [your] souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (1 Peter 4:19).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

JESUS IS KING OF MY LIFE

Perhaps you are saying, "I want Jesus to be king of my life. I want to do everything He commands me!" Let me show you two of the wonderful blessings that come to all who enthrone Jesus as king of their lives.

First, Scripture says if you will submit yourself to Jesus, waiting to receive His counsel and direction, you will partake of His holiness. "We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:9-10).

Paul commands us to come to Jesus, asking Him to give us dominion over all our sins and fears: "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:13-14).

God is saying, "If you want to know abundant life—true, full life—then submit yourself to Me and I will give you life without fear, guilt or condemnation!"
Second, those who submit to Christ's lordship will walk in peace—without fear or anxiety. "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. . . . Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:74-75, 78-79).

What a wonderful promise! If we will yield our lives to Him, He will shine His light into our darkness and guide us into peace and rest. You can tell when a person has enthroned Christ in his heart. Such a life produces a peace that passes all understanding and you can see that peace in the person's face and demeanor.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

BOLDNESS TO ENTER IN

Hebrews 10 contains an incredible promise. It says God's door is always open to us, giving us total access to the Father:

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:19-22).

A few verses later, we are warned that the day of the Lord is fast approaching: "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" (verse 25). God is saying, "Even now, as the time of Christ's return draws closer, you must seek My face. It is time to go into your secret closet and get to know Me!"

I believe we are already seeing signs that we are close to a meltdown of our financial system; violence and immorality are on the rise and our society is pleasure mad. False prophets—"angels of light"—have deceived many with their doctrines of demons. And at any time we can expect to see the hour of tribulation, which will cause men's hearts to fail with fear. Yet, before all this happens, the writer of Hebrews says:

"Don't let the truth slip away from you! Stay awake and alert. You have an open door into God's holy presence, so go into Him with full assurance of faith, making your petitions known. Christ's blood has already made the way for you and nothing stands between you and the Father. You have every right to enter into the holy of holies, to receive all the help you need!”

Monday, April 8, 2013

WALK IN THE SPIRIT by Gary Wilkerson

Most of us would admit we rarely feel God’s grace at work in us. That’s why we are prone to doubt that His presence abides in us. Paul addresses this dilemma for us in Galatians when he writes, “I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16, ESV).

It sounds simple enough but we tend to take Paul’s counsel here as a hard command to be obeyed. We grit our teeth and say, “I will walk in the Spirit today.” Then once we stumble, we think we are not “being spiritual” so we try even harder. Suddenly we are under the law again because we have turned to our fleshly ability, rather than trusting that we are already in the Spirit.

Paul says, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (5:18). In other words, the Spirit of God abides in you, giving you access at all times to His grace, which empowers you. When Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit,” he means, “Walk under grace, not the law.”

Paul then shows us the result of a walk in the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (5:22-23). Take note: These things do not come about because of what we do. They are the fruit of the righteousness God has put in us—the result of His work in us.

You may not feel very loving at times, but love is in you because God put it there. You may not feel joy and peace, but God has implanted both deep within you. His Spirit is at work in you every hour of every day, to His great glory and to your deep blessing.

In one of the most amazing passages in Scripture, Paul gives us God’s response to the human condition: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. . . . There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:25, 8:1-2).

Friday, April 5, 2013

THEY DON’T BELIEVE GOD HEARS THEIR PRAYERS

Some believers get discouraged over unanswered prayers and, finally, they simply give up. They think, "Prayer doesn't work for me and why should I pray if it doesn't work?"

The Israelites in Isaiah's time had the same attitude. Isaiah wrote: "They seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness . . . they ask of me . . . they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge (notice)?" (Isaiah 58:2-3).

These people were saying, "I love God. I do right and avoid sin, and until recently, I've been faithful to seek Him in prayer. But, you know what? He's never answered me. So why should I continue afflicting my soul before Him?"

James writes that God doesn't answer the prayers of those who ask for things simply to satisfy themselves: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3). In other words: "You're not asking for God's will. You're not ready to submit to whatever He wants. Rather, you're trying to dictate to Him those things that will satisfy your own heart."

Our God is utterly faithful. Paul writes, "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4). He is saying, "It doesn't matter if you hear a million voices crying, ‘Prayer doesn't work. God doesn't hear me!’ Let every man be called a liar because God's Word stands. He is faithful to hear us!"

Jesus said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew 21:22). Simply put, Christ is saying, "If you truly believe, you will be willing to wait and expect an answer from your heavenly Father. No matter how long it takes, you will hold on in faith, believing He will answer."

"Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!" (Psalm 31:19). "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing" (34:10).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

PERVERTED PRIORITIES

Christians who neglect prayer have perverted their priorities. Many believers pledge to pray if and when they can find the time. Yet each week, seeking Christ becomes less important to them than washing the car, cleaning the house, visiting friends, eating out, going shopping, watching sports events. They simply don't make time to pray.

People were no different in the days of Noah and Lot. Their top priorities were eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying, and caring for their families. They had no time to listen to messages of God's coming judgment. And so no one was prepared when judgment fell!

Evidently, nothing has changed over the centuries. For many Christians today, God remains at the bottom of the priority list; at the top are income, security, pleasure, family.

Beloved, the Lord does not want your leftovers—those little bits and pieces of time when you have only a moment to toss up a quick prayer request. That isn't a sacrifice of prayer.

The prophet Malachi writes: "If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 1:8).

Malachi is saying, "You're bringing just any old farm animals to sacrifice in God's presence—careless, thoughtless, secondhand gifts. Try giving those kinds of offerings to your governor and see what happens!"

God expected His people to go through their flocks carefully, examining every animal, and choosing the most perfect specimen for sacrifice to Him. Likewise today, God expects the same from us. He wants our quality time—unrushed. And we are to make that time a priority!

I once met with the pastor of one of America's largest churches. This man was one of the busiest ministers I had ever seen. He told me without apology, "I have no time to pray." Yet, what he really meant was, "I don't give any priority to prayer." When I visited his church, I sensed no moving of God's Spirit in the congregation. In fact, it was one of the deadest churches I had ever preached in. How could there be any life if the pastor didn't pray?

No Christian will set aside time to pray unless it becomes his first priority in life—above family, career, leisure time, everything. Otherwise, his sacrifice is perverted!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

INEXPENSIVE LOVE

When I use the word "lukewarm" to describe a person's love for Jesus, I don't mean he is cold toward the Lord. Rather, I mean his love is "inexpensive"—not costly. Let me give you an example: When Jesus addresses the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2, He first commends them for all they have done. He acknowledges that they have labored hard in the faith—hating sin and compromise, refusing to accept false doctrines, never fainting or giving up when persecuted, always taking a stand for the gospel. But, Christ says, He holds one thing against them: They have forsaken their fervent, expensive love for Him! "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love" (Revelation 2:4).

Somehow amid all their good works, they left behind their loving, disciplined walk with Jesus. And now He tells them, "You have left your first love and forsaken the costly discipline of coming into My presence to commune with Me."

Please note: Jesus is speaking here of believers who started out with a burning love for Him, not to cold, nominal Christians who never loved Him in the first place. He is saying, "It's possible for someone who once had a heart of love for Me to let his zeal become lukewarm, seldom praying at all."

Think about how insulting this must be to Christ, our Bridegroom. What kind of marriage can there be when a husband and wife have no private times of intimacy? And that's just what Jesus is talking about here. He wants moments with you all to Himself!

It does not matter how loudly you praise the Lord in church, how much you say you love Him, how many tears you shed. You can give generously, love others, hate sin, rebuke wrongdoers, but if your heart is not being continually drawn to Christ's presence, you have lost your love for Him.

All our works are in vain unless we return to our bright, burning love for Jesus. We have to realize, "Loving Jesus isn't just about doing things. It involves the daily discipline of maintaining a relationship, and that will cost me something."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

WHY IS IT HARD FOR CHRISTIANS TO PRAY?

Scripture makes it clear that the answer to everything in our lives is prayer mixed with faith. The apostle Paul writes, "Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). Paul is telling us, "Seek the Lord about every area of your life and thank Him ahead of time for hearing you!"

Paul emphasizes that we are always to pray first and not as a last resort—going to our friends first, then to a pastor or counselor, and finally ending up on our knees. Jesus tells us, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). We are to go to the Lord first!

Our ministry receives heartrending letters from multitudes of broken Christians. Families are breaking up; people who walked faithfully with Christ for years are living in fear and defeat. Each of these people has been overcome by something—sin, depression, worldliness, covetousness—and year after year, their problems seem to get worse.

Yet, what shocks me most about their letters is that very few of these Christians ever mention prayer. They turn to tapes, books, counselors, call-in radio programs, therapies of all kinds, but rarely to prayer.

Why is it so hard for Christians to seek God for their desperate needs when they are in times of crisis? After all, the Bible stands as one long testimony that God hears the cries of His children and answers them with tender love.
  • "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry" (Psalms 34:15). 
  • "The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles" (verse 17). 
  • "This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him" (1 John 5:14-15). 
  • "All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew 21:22). 
These promises are overwhelming evidence of God's care.

Monday, April 1, 2013

HE MADE YOU NEW! by Gary Wilkerson

Have you been set free? You probably think, “Of course! I’ve been washed, redeemed, made holy by Jesus, and I live for Him. ”

Now here’s a follow-up question: Does your everyday life reflect the glorious freedom you have just described? Would your friends, your spouse, your children say you’ve been set free? Or are you like multitudes of Christians who feel they are on a spiritual seesaw? Is your walk with Christ continually up and down, seemingly spiritual one moment and carnal the next?

We accept by faith the great truths about Jesus’ work for us—salvation, redemption, sanctification, deliverance. Yet for many of us, these are “spiritual truths” that exist in another world. We sing and rejoice at church each week over what Jesus has done for us—but is His gift of freedom a reality in our daily lives?

At times we all struggle to remain pure in thoughts and actions. Maybe this week you said something unkind to your spouse and you have been stewing, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be a blessing in my marriage?”

Whenever we fail in our walk with God, we wonder, “Has God really set me free?” Perhaps at times you even question your salvation. Friend, that isn’t freedom. So what does it mean to really be set free in Christ? The first evidence of this comes from Jesus, who says, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? . . . Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:27, 33, ESV).

Christ offers the same words to all of us who fret about our spiritual lives: Do not be anxious! It does not matter how broken down you feel about your walk with Him. He declares, “You are a new creation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). The moment you chose to follow Jesus, He made you new—and that never changes. Even when you think you have strayed too far, Jesus says the opposite: “Don’t be anxious. I have provided everything for you to have fellowship with Me.”