Friday, June 28, 2013

THE LATTER RAIN

Zechariah 12:10 refers to the promised latter rain that will precede the final harvest. The Lord is waiting patiently until His last rain is outpoured because it will produce the final harvest!

In the early part of this century, a Pentecostal movement began in Canada called the "Latter Rain Movement." It lasted perhaps forty or fifty years. Today, only a few "Latter Rain" churches remain. Yet those who were involved in that movement were convinced they were experiencing the Spirit's great, final outpouring. Many said, "This is it!" But the movement dissipated. And other such movements have come and gone also. Why? Because they were not focused on the harvest!

Many so-called Holy Ghost movements vanished quickly because they were man-centered—focusing on gifts, blessings, self-improvement, happiness. Dancing, laughing, roaring, or any other manifestation attributed to the Holy Ghost is all flesh unless it produces a broken heart for the lost and unsaved. If it is truly of the Spirit, it will result in a hunger and inclination to reach a lost and dying world!

Jesus tied the harvest to lost souls when He said, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:38).

Any true outpouring of the Holy Spirit will focus on this prayer of Jesus. And the few revivals documented as genuine all were blessed with great harvests of souls. There is no true revival without a great ingathering of lost souls!

Consider what happened as a result of Joel 2:28. At Pentecost, 3,000 people were saved in one day and souls were added daily afterward. These believers then were thrust out into all the world to witness Christ to the lost.

"Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest" (Isaiah 32:15). Isaiah is saying here, "When the Holy Ghost comes, He produces fruit for the harvest. Lost souls are won in abundance!" 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

THE FINAL HARVEST

"And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil" (Deuteronomy 11:13-14).

The planting and harvest seasons in Israel were just the opposite of ours. The first rains, which softened the ground, fell from October to the end of December, just before planting season. The last rains fell from March through April, just prior to harvest, and those rains ripened the harvest.

It is important to note that these two outpourings always had to do with the harvest: "That thou mayest gather in . . ." (verse 14). And, beloved, if you want to judge any move of the Holy Spirit to discern if it is of God or of flesh, then use this criterion: The Spirit's work is always focused on the harvest of souls!

No matter what kind of manifestations you see in a so-called revival, it is not a true move of God unless it is focused on the harvest. The Holy Ghost rains always fall to produce an ingathering of souls.

God poured out His Spirit in the former rain at Pentecost to prepare and soften the ground for the gospel seed to be sown. Spirit-filled sowers were sent out from the Upper Room that day into all the world—to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

The church has now seen almost 2,000 years of sowing and growing—and it is harvest time! All who have died in Christ up to now represent the firstfruits, or the early harvest. But Zechariah prophesies a final harvest and that is the reason Jesus has not yet come (see Zechariah 12:10). The Lord has been waiting patiently for His final, mighty harvest of the earth!

"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain" (James 5:7).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

PRESERVED AND DELIVERED

"The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever" (2 Timothy 4:18).

The word preserve here means "to guard, protect, keep, make safe, hedge about." God is saying, "I'm going to guard you, protect you, keep you, make you safe, hedge you about so the devil cannot touch you. I Myself will deliver you into My heavenly kingdom."

Do you see what a liar the devil is? He says he is going to get you but all the while, God has promised to keep you!

Not long ago, I had an incredible experience. I had risen early to pray and was sitting in my living room with my Bible. Suddenly Satan began to intrude into my mind. He screamed vile, threatening curses at me: "You are going to be destroyed! You've spent a lifetime serving God for nothing and now I'm going to get you and cast you down in your final years."

I saw before me all the evangelists Satan had brought down in recent years. The devil shouted, "I got all of them and they loved Jesus just as you do. Why do you think you're so special? You're no good, nothing but a liar and a cheat, and I'm going to shut you and your ministry down for good!"

It was the most devastating attack I have ever felt in my life. I was overwhelmed—the attack literally took my breath away! But then the Spirit of the Lord came upon me and I stood up in a holy anger, bound Satan and cast him out of my presence.

"Devil, you're a liar and the father of all lies!" I rebuked him with God's Word—and God's Word delivered me from all fear!

Beloved, God wants to do the same for you. Will you let Him? Listen again to God's Word to you: "He preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked" (Psalm 97:10). The Lord will guard you, protect you, keep you, put a hedge all about you—until the day Jesus returns!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EARNESTLY DESIRING THE END

Believe it or not, Peter says we are to earnestly desire the end of the present world. You may say, "That sounds morbid!" Yet the apostle writes that we are to anticipate the dissolving of this evil age: "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat" (2 Peter 3:12).

Now, this does not mean that when destruction comes we are to shout happily, "Look, it’s all burning!" No, Peter's words here are meant to sustain us. Whenever we become discouraged in this life, we are to rejoice: "It's all going to go up in smoke anyway!"

This truth also is meant to "stir us up" about the kind of people we are to be. "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness" (2 Peter 3: 11).

When you read these words about a great fire coming and a bright, new world where righteousness will reign, do you rejoice? Perhaps, instead, you cry: "Oh, God, I believe what Your Word says. I believe one day You are going to send Your fire to melt down this sin-cursed world. And I believe a new, holy world is coming. But I don't believe I measure up with all holy conversation and godliness! I don't feel I meet the standard Peter writes about. And I'm afraid I won't make it.”

Beloved, I have glorious news for you: I can show you, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that God greatly desires to preserve you for His coming world. You need His life-giving truth in your heart to sustain you when the enemy comes against you like a flood.

Here is what the Lord has pledged to do for you:

"The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore" (Psalm 121:7-8).

"For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever" (Psalm 37:28).

"He preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked" (Psalm 97:10).

"I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Monday, June 24, 2013

SIDELINE FAITH by Gary Wilkerson

If you are a Christian who chooses to sit on the sidelines of faith, going to church for comfort only, you will not get much resistance from the enemy. But if you are determined to live for Jesus—if you have a vision for the hurting, the lost and Christ’s body—Satan will throw his entire arsenal at you. Your journey will be fraught with trials and perils that shake your soul.

Paul’s journey to Rome, as described in Acts 27, illustrates how some of us react to Satan’s buffetings. As the ship carrying Paul completed the first leg of the journey, we read: “Because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix . . . and spend the winter there” (Acts 27:12, ESV).

Paul was against this decision, not just because it took them out of the way to reach Rome but because the Spirit warned his heart about it. At the time, though, it seemed the most convenient decision to make. Later, the ship ran into serious trouble, nearly costing everyone’s life.

I point this out because when some Christians encounter the enemy’s resistance on their mission, they decide to “go to Phoenix for the winter.” Granted, all of us need vacations to refresh our spirits from constant ministry to others’ needs. But I’m referring to something different—to a condition of the heart that says, “Take your mission a bit easier. Pull back and cruise a little.”

When Christians do this, they are soon off course entirely. Their mission is no longer Christ but, rather, taking care of the ship—and that means steering it away from storms. In effect, they withdraw from the resistance that is thrown at them.

These believers don’t know it, but they have been robbed of their high calling. That is no small thing in God’s eyes. If I am sailing toward Phoenix instead of Rome, it means nobody is going to Rome with the mission God gave to me. A ship is being maintained and kept in working condition—but, ironically, the mission for that ship is not being fulfilled.

Comfort and rest are not the point of the kingdom. Kingdom living says, “My life is not my own—I have been bought with a price. Jesus guides me in everything and He supplies me with the grace to accomplish it, no matter what resistance may come.”

Friday, June 21, 2013

HEAVEN IS NOT A RETIREMENT CENTER

You may be wondering, "Lord, why is my job so upsetting to me? Why do I always feel like an outsider? What's wrong with me?"

There is nothing wrong with you. God is at work! He is keeping you sick and tired of this dying world. He is saying, "You can't get too involved in 'making it' here because it is all going up in smoke. Set your affections on things above—on the new world that is coming.”

You answer, "But what a waste. I'm so full of energy. I have talent, ideas, a sharp mind, a desire to accomplish much. Yet I feel stifled, stymied. It's so frustrating.”

I have good news for you: When it all ends and your scoffing friends are cut off—their work melted to nothing, their careers dissolved, their money burned—your work is just about to begin.

You see, heaven is not a retirement center. Rather, our eternal home is a place of great action, full of new horizons and incredible plans. God is going to fully use all your gifts, talents and desires there. He is not going to waste a thing He has given you. On the contrary, your gifts will be magnified many times over. He is going to use you for His glory in eternity!

Jesus gives us several hints as to what this experience will be like:

"Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods" (Matthew 24:46-47). The Greek word for ruler here suggests "an eternal appointment." We are going to be appointed by God as keepers over His goods throughout all eternity!

"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things" (Matthew 25:21).

"And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities" (Luke 19:17).

Eternal appointments . . . ruling over His household . . . ruling over His goods . . . ruling over cities. We are going to rule and reign with Jesus in His kingdom—as kings and priests!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

STIR UP OUR MINDS

"This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance" (2 Peter 3:1). Peter’s message about the end of the present world and the beginning of the new earth is meant to stir up a hope in us and keep us from being anchored to this world.

This is the truth meant to "stir up our minds": "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved" (2 Peter 3: 11). All that people hold precious, all that they labor a lifetime to keep and enjoy, is going to dissolve in a sudden burning!

Try to imagine it: All Wall Street firms, all corporate offices, all banks, all computer headquarters—gone! The United Nations will vanish. State and federal capitol buildings will burn to oblivion. Fort Knox and all its gold will disappear. There will not be any more manufacturing plants, skyscrapers, bridges, tunnels, airplanes, trains. There will not even be any ashes left! God's Word clearly says that all these things "shall be burned up . . . dissolved" (verses 10-11).

The Greek word for dissolved here means "to loosen, break up and melt down." In other words, God is going to break up the party! He will pry people loose from everything they lust after and then melt it all in intense heat!

I want to share with you a truth that will help you understand why the secular workplace will never fully accept you if you are devoted to Jesus. It doesn't matter where you work—at a bank, in a school, cleaning the streets, wherever—you probably experience much rejection, condescension and misunderstanding. You receive little or no credit for what you do. You are persecuted, ridiculed, talked about behind your back. And you realize you will never be "one of the guys" or "one of the girls." So you never feel comfortable or truly secure. Why is this so?

It is all the Lord's doing! He permits it so you will not become hooked on this transient, passing world. Many Christians get too comfortable in this world and end up turning away from the Lord. Prosperity, acceptance and recognition capture their hearts and minds.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

THE DAY OF THE LORD IS COMING

When the day of the Lord comes, none of the following will be allowed to enter: "The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars" (Revelation 21:8). In fact, all of these "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (same verse).

Think of the horror of the New Age deception! Millions of people today are totally convinced they will take part in a new world order. They believe that soon they will finally have peace and be fulfilled; that all guilt, fear and condemnation will vanish; that sin will no longer haunt them; that they will be able to freely indulge in homosexuality and fornication with no penalty, disease or retribution. They assure themselves, "Away with born-again religion! Away with all the condemnation that causes people to feel bad about themselves. We're going to have a new world where we can do as we please. No one will bother us or upset us."

They are about to face a tragic awakening. When they find themselves in a godless hell, a mocking devil will gleefully proclaim, "Welcome to your New Age. Welcome to your new world order!"

It is no wonder hell will be a place of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. There the lie will be exposed—in an eternal furnace of fire. Suddenly the damned will cry, "I've been deceived! The New Age that I was convinced was coming is an everlasting hell!" And the horror of the deception will continue to grow in intensity throughout all eternity.

Multitudes in America are turning to the occult: Hollywood executives, Wall Street tycoons, Broadway actors, government leaders, people from all walks of life. They are embracing the New Age's false gospels: Scientology, channeling, satanism, voodoo, astrology, all kinds of demonic religions of the east. They are blind, deceived—believing a lie!

The apostle Peter tells us the truth about the coming new world and what it will be like. He says the present world is going to dissolve; it is headed for a fiery meltdown that God Himself will bring about. Indeed, the Lord will unleash His reserved fire, to purge both the heavens and the earth:

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A NEW WORLD IS COMING

The Bible says that in the last days scoffers will appear, mocking the message that Jesus Christ is going to return to set up a new kingdom. Mockers are saying, "Where is Jesus? I don't see any evidence that He is coming. Everything continues as it has from the beginning!"

If you were to try to convince these scoffers that Jesus is coming to purge the earth with fire and set up a kingdom of eternal righteousness, they would call you insane. Many ridicule the very idea of a second coming of Christ. Yet, without batting an eye, these same mockers turn around and claim that a "new world order" is coming!

Such scoffers have bought into a lie from hell. Satan always manufactures a counterfeit just before the real thing comes. You see, he knows King Jesus is about to return and that His new world is at the door. The devil wants to keep his own children deceived by promoting a fantasy world, with every false hope. So now he has concocted a new, demonic doctrine of a coming New Age to keep people from accepting the reality of the coming Christ!

This most recent New Age counterfeit first appeared as the Age of Aquarius. The eleventh constellation was to move into a final, New Age kingdom, which would be known as the "new world order."

New Agers say this new world order is just about to dawn. They predict a catastrophic calamity will occur and a new world order will arise out of the chaos, ushering in a society of love, understanding and world peace. All diseases will be cured. Wars will cease. Poverty will be no more. And the only Christ that will exist will be a Christ-consciousness—a worldwide mindset of brotherhood. Self-love will be king, and pleasure will be the focus of all.

I have bad news for all such New Age scoffers. I am sorry but you have been hoodwinked by the devil. There is no such thing as the fantasy world he is pushing on humankind in these last days.

Oh, there is a new world coming, all right, but it isn't a "new world order" or a New Age. Rather, every kingdom of this world is soon to become our Lord's and all His enemies will become His footstool. Christ is coming back to establish His holy kingdom, and scoffers will not have any part in it: "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).

Monday, June 17, 2013

THE WINDS WERE AGAINST US by Gary Wilkerson

By the time he sailed for Rome (Acts 27), the apostle Paul had already led a full life of ministry. This man had accomplished incredible things, yet he still had a burning passion to pour out his life for the gospel.

Paul had been called by God as an apostle and had overseen churches throughout Asia and some parts of Europe. Yet he was also an evangelist and apologist who made the case for Christ before courts and kings. Paul had sacrificed all to serve in his Spirit-directed missions. Now he determined, “I want to take the gospel of Christ to the very epicenter of the world. I have set my vision on Rome, to preach to Caesar himself!”

Paul was so intent on this that he gambled with his own life to see it fulfilled. He was in prison at the time and had an opportunity to be released but he bypassed his release in exchange for the chance to appear before Caesar, to whom he appealed his case. If Paul lost, he could lose his life. It was a choice he made solely for the gospel’s sake (see Acts 25:1-12).

In his journey to Rome, Paul was taken aboard a ship that soon ran into resistance: “The winds were against us” (Acts 27:4). This was an obstacle of nature, but Paul might easily have seen it as a spiritual roadblock. The fact is, if you have set your face like a flint with a gospel vision, all hell will break loose against you.

That phrase could be used to describe Paul’s life to that point. He had endured many tribulations, from shipwrecks to beatings to assassination plots. Paul was able to endure it all because his mind was always set on his mission: living, preaching and serving Christ. You can endure a lot of suffering when your heart is set on a purpose, but if your heart is set on comfort, you cannot endure any suffering at all.

The Bible makes clear that we are called to proclaim the grace of God to a fallen, sinful world. We are called to love one another and worship together in true gospel community. We are called to minister to the poor, and by doing all these things we bring the light of Christ to a world in darkness. In short, we are called to deliver God’s love to others through our words and actions, that the world might be changed.

Friday, June 14, 2013

GOD IS AT WORK

A key message for believers today is that God has the future all preprogrammed. He knows the exact moment Christ will return, and the final Tribulation, the Judgment and the Battle of Armageddon are all on His calendar.

The God who controls all of heaven and earth said, "The nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance. . . . All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing" (Isaiah 40:15, 17).

God wants us to keep working until the return of Christ. That simply means that we are to work as though the end will never come, and live as though it were coming tomorrow.

God is still keeping count of the hairs on our heads. He is still counting the sparrows that fall, still hearing petitions before they are asked, and still answering before being called. He is still giving abundantly more than we can ask or think. So why be afraid? (See Matthew 6:25-34.)

Prepared Christians, wake up! Everything is under control, and God is at work! He is saving, healing, baptizing, and getting His house in order. To fear is to blaspheme. We are commanded to encourage ourselves in the Lord and to begin to sing and rejoice as we see the final hour approaching. Someone may ask, "But how can I rejoice when I see this old sin-cursed world falling apart?"

My answer is the Bible answer: "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain . . . waiting for the adoption . . . the redemption" (Romans 8:22-23).

A woman in labor may scream because of pain, yet in her heart she rejoices because of the new birth taking place. The kingdom of God is coming. The kingdom of Satan is falling. So the Christian can say with confidence, “God has everything under control!”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

UNDER HIS CONTROL

Men's hearts are failing them for fear over the things happening on this earth (see Luke 21:26). Even devout Christians are getting caught up in this wave of fear and anxiety about the future. People are afraid the ship is sinking. Mankind is yearning for security.

Does it all sound scary? Certainly everything appears to be falling apart, as far as the natural eye can discern. In his honest moments, even the skeptic must admit that something apocalyptic is taking place in the world.

Along with a vision of calamities, God has given me a very special message of hope for all true believers. I desperately questioned God about all the things I saw coming. I asked Him to show me how Christians can do all they have to do in a limited time when so many are going into hiding. How can Christians keep fear out of their hearts? How can they face all the news reports and anticipate all the calamities and disasters without being afraid for their homes and children? Do they abdicate and turn this old world over to the devil and let him have his way? Do they pay off all their bills, salt away some reserves in the bank, then just try to ride it out while hoping that a better day will come? Do they buy a farm or a piece of land and flee to the country, hoping they can escape the coming tragedies? Do they let their motivation die and surrender to fear? Do they abandon all their dreams and ambitions and become as hermits?

Dear friend, hear what the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Just five little words, but so powerful that they awakened in me a glorious new hope and faith. Those five little words are: God has everything under control.

That is right, everything is under control! You and I, and everything that touches us, are under His control. No matter how things look in this drunken world, all things are still working together for good to everyone who loves God and are the called according to His purpose (see Romans 8:28).

The future looks evil and foreboding, but David said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” Psalms 23:4). The message for believers today is that the future is under His control, so we need not fear.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

EMERGENCY PLANS FOR CRISIS!

No matter how unsettled the world becomes, God's people can relax and keep their joy flowing, because our Lord has promised special protection when it is most needed.

Didn't God have an emergency plan for the children of Israel during the worldwide famine? He sent Joseph ahead to Egypt and promoted him to prime minister. He filled the warehouses with enough grain to last out the raging famine and then transported his people within walking distance of those storehouses and fed them to the full.

Didn't God have emergency plans for Elijah? While his nation reeled under the impact of an economic collapse and food was scare because of severe famine—and a wicked king had a ransom on his head—God put His emergency plan for Elijah into effect. He hid him by a quiet brook and fed him by having a bird deliver his food. The survival plan also included a mysterious barrel of grain that never ran out.

What about Noah? What a detailed survival plan God had for him and his family—an ark that floated him and his family safely above all the death and destruction of a worldwide flood!

And Lot? God actually sent angels to personally pull him and his children out of the doomed city of Sodom. God's hands were tied until Lot was safely out of the suburbs. It was more than a loss of his job, more than a collapse of the economy, more than a downfall of the government. It was total annihilation of his society—but Lot was delivered safely.

Paul proved God's emergency contingencies over and again. This apostle was shipwrecked, chased by thieves, imprisoned, accused of treason, plotted against by assassins and yet, in every crisis, God had a contingency plan for deliverance.

We, too, have an emergency plan for survival—designed specifically for each believer.

Let there be no question about it. God will see us through every crisis. No crisis Satan can throw against the children of God can bring them down. Not depression, not famine, not a job loss, not sickness or suffering of any kind. God will deliver His children and there is not one single reason to fear. “Take therefore no thought [do not be anxious] for the morrow” (Matthew 6:34).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

ABSOLUTE ACCESS

Every four years, America inaugurates a president to what is called "the most powerful office on earth." His signature is law. He commands the world's most powerful army. But the power he holds is nothing compared to the power Jesus has given to you and me.

We have absolute access to the very presence of the Creator, the living God! "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way . . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:19-22).

The word boldness in this verse means "to act openly with confidence or to secure publicity." Beloved, that "publicity" is for the devil's sake. It means we can say to every demon in hell, "I have a right by the blood of Jesus Christ to walk into the presence of God and talk to Him—and He to me!"

Do you believe you have this right, that God is willing to come out and meet you? Let us draw near to Him with a heart full of the assurance of faith! We do not come by the blood of a bird or goat or bull but by the blood of our Lord Jesus.

"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:12-14).

Nothing thrills the heart of God more than having His children come to Him in boldness, without timidity. He wants us to come, saying, "I have a right to be here. And even if my heart condemns me, God is greater than my heart" (see 1 John 3:20).

Monday, June 10, 2013

TRULY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE by Gary Wilkerson

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV).

What an amazing God we serve. He says, “When you come to My house on Sunday to be filled with My glory, it won’t start fading on Monday. It won’t be weakened by Tuesday so that you have to yearn for next Sunday. My glory resides in you at all times, and it isn’t fading—it’s growing!”

This message is not for just a small portion of the body of Christ. It is truth to all who follow Jesus, from the weakest to the strongest, from the youngest to the oldest. The promise of God to fill us with His glory is “yes and amen” to every believer.

As Paul declares, His manifest glory brings freedom from bondage to sin, from despair and defeat, from lukewarmness and apathy (see 2 Corinthians 3:17). We are being transformed by His glory into His own image. That is the kind of glory that causes people to rush to God with unashamed hunger.

It is time for us to put aside everything that veils God’s glory in our lives. Does anything in your heart hinder God’s glory from drawing others to you? Are you burdened by habitual patterns of sin? Does slander, bitterness or unforgiveness reside in your heart?

It does not have to continue. The veil of fear that Satan has placed over you will not work anymore. His lie that you are too weak will not hold power over you. God says His glory rests on weak, earthen vessels. It shines through people who are brokenhearted, whose lives are in turmoil. When our Lord manifests His glory, He transforms defeat into victory, fleshly weakness into heavenly strength.

Believe His word to you: “You don’t have to lead a defeated life. You don’t have to live without a testimony. I will manifest in ways that will astound you. Lost people are going to be drawn to Me through your life. And when this happens, they will say, ‘Truly the Lord is in this place.’”

Friday, June 7, 2013

A REMNANT PEOPLE

In every generation there is a remnant that runs after Jesus with passion and thanksgiving. I believe the Samaritan leper ran back to Jesus because he was not bound by forms and rituals (see Luke 17:11-19). He did not have to "unlearn" it all. You see, the other nine had been raised orthodox, their minds trained from childhood in ritual and ceremony, and they were still bound by their tradition. But once the Samaritan saw the whole religious system, he cried, "No way!"

He witnessed the phoniness of the religious leaders and churchgoers. He saw Pharisees robbing widows and taking away their homes. He saw priests bribing and being bribed. He saw the temples filled with money changers, turning God's house into a den of thieves. He saw scribes making rules for others that they never lifted a finger to observe themselves.

He saw all the whitewashed fronts, the false faces and double standards, and said to himself, "This is the blind leading the blind and it's not for me. I want the real thing."

As he headed toward the village with the other nine—back to the priest, to church, society, and the good life—he stopped and thought: "Wait a minute! I remember what it was like when I had it all—money, prestige, security. I was miserable! My so-called friends all rejected me at the first sign that I might have leprosy. I was empty—bound by sinful habits, full of hate and bitterness. It was a living hell. Why should I go back to that?"

Then something in his heart began to burn: "Look at me. I'm clean. Jesus healed me. The church can wait; my family and career can wait. I'm going to Jesus! I want to get to know the One who healed me!" He came to the same conclusion all remnant people come to: "There is nothing out there that I want. It's all vanity! I'm going to Jesus and He will be my reality!"

Thursday, June 6, 2013

MORE OF CHRIST

"Go . . . to the priest . . . for a testimony unto them" (Luke 5:14). For years to come, the ten lepers who were healed could have had a powerful testimony, spending their lives talking about how Jesus merely spoke a word and healed them: "I was once a leper! I was all alone with no hope—filthy, lost, dying. Then Jesus came along and cleansed me. I've been healed now for twenty-five years and I praise His name!"

That all sounds wonderful. But the problem was, they were talking about a Man they did not know, witnessing to the power of a Savior they knew nothing of. They only saw Him afar off. They could tell you what He looked like, what He talked like, how He walked, but they never got near to Him and His heart.

One of the great sorrows in all my years of ministry has been to witness the burnout of former addicts and alcoholics who had been miraculously delivered from lives of terrible sin and crime. Many of them were called of God to preach but churches and pastors kept asking them to come and give their spectacular testimonies. They were cajoled and encouraged to give the gory details of their past.

Now, years later, many of these former addicts are telling the same story: "Fifteen years ago I was a pimp. I lived with prostitutes and went to jail twenty times. One day somebody told me about Jesus—and I was cleansed and made whole!"

Beloved, hundreds of such precious converts are now burned out, backslidden and shipwrecked! They have none of the character of Christ, no relationship with God, because they are living on a past, one-time experience. They never returned to Jesus, never got to know Him or go near to His heart!

Many people have asked why Times Square Church does not have converts from our outreaches come and testify each week. Indeed, these men and women have some of the most incredible testimonies you have ever heard. But we want more for them than to end up with an old, worn testimony. We want them to go on with Jesus, to be able to stand and tell about a fresh, daily walk with Him, about what He is doing for them today!

We want them to have more of Christ!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GET TO KNOW JESUS

After meeting the ten lepers (see Luke 17:11-19), Jesus and the apostles probably had something to eat and were far up the road beyond the village.

Suddenly they heard a racket behind them and when they looked back, they saw a man running toward them, shouting and waving his arms! One of the disciples said, "It's one of those ten lepers from the village." As he neared, they heard him shouting, "Glory to Jesus! Praise You!"

It was the Samaritan leper! When he came up to Jesus, he fell prostrate at His feet and broke out in praise and thanksgiving! Out of his innermost being poured adoration for the Son of the living God: "You're the Son of God! Glory!"

Jesus looked down at him and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?" (Luke 17:17). He was asking, "Why only you? Where are your friends, the others I healed?"

Beloved, that is the question Jesus is still asking today! Of the many multitudes He has cleansed and made whole, only a remnant are drawn back to Him! So where are all the others? They are in the same place the nine healed lepers ended up: lost in the church, swallowed up by religion.

I believe in the Bible's statistics. And if the statistic from this story in Luke's gospel is accurate, ninety percent of those who are touched by Jesus end up going back to some dead, dry church. They never get into Jesus—because they get lost in religion.

The nine lepers were anxious to get on with their lives, back to their families. They said, "I want my self-respect back. I want to go to the synagogue again and study about the coming Messiah!"

You may say, "What's wrong with all that? Isn't a man commanded to provide for his household? And doesn't David speak of meditating on the deep things of God? Aren't Christians supposed to be motivated to work diligently, to do exactly what the nine lepers did? And didn't Jesus tell them to go directly to the priest?"

Yes, that is all true—but it all becomes meaningless if you do not first get to know Jesus!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

SHOUTS OF JOY

As Jesus passed between Samaria and Galilee on His way to Jerusalem, He approached an unnamed village. Outside that village, ten lepers were encamped in terrible squalor and shame. Evidently, nine of these lepers were Jews, and one was a Samaritan. The Jews of that day did not even touch Samaritans, let alone live with them, but the common distress of these ten had brought them together in a shared misery. Homeless outcasts, they were forced to live in an isolated camp outside the village.

Lepers were required by law to stay at least 200-300 feet away from others. When people walked by them, they had to cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" These men begged, scrounged, and ate food that others would not even look at. They probably lived out of the garbage dumps.

Scripture presents the leper as a type of sinner living in shame—debilitated and wasted by sin's terrible effects.

I do not know how these ten lepers ever heard about Jesus. Perhaps a vagabond leper had passed through and told them of the miraculous healings Jesus had performed for lepers in other towns or villages. In any case, they somehow knew Jesus would be passing by and they were waiting anxiously to see Him!

I have often wondered if, when they saw Jesus and the apostles coming down the road, they started waving their stump arms. Did they point to missing limbs? Did they wave their dirty rags of clothing? We do not know how they got His attention, but when Jesus came within earshot, they cried aloud, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

They were not asking for money or for heaven when they died. They were crying for mercy! It was as if they were pleading, "Jesus, how can You look upon such a pitiful sight and not have mercy?" I am sure Jesus did not wince or turn away for even a moment. He looked them right in the face and with great compassion said, "Go shew yourselves unto the priests" (Luke17:14).

I believe life, health and strength immediately flowed into all ten of these men. One after another, they looked at their hands, at each other's faces, and saw their scaly, ashen skin beginning to change. Healthy-looking flesh was being restored to their limbs, their faces. They were being healed!

Do you remember the hour Jesus had mercy on you, how clean and alive you felt? Did you shout because you felt His cleansing power? Did you feel new life in you? These men had to feel that life! You can be sure that some kind of thrill went through that group, and they let out shouts of joy!

Monday, June 3, 2013

FILLED WITH GOD’S GLORY by Gary Wilkerson

“How do I get filled with God’s glory?” Many in the Old Testament asked that question and Moses uttered this very cry. The King James Version renders Moses’ anguish most clearly: “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory” (Exodus 33:18). This “beseeching” implies a pleading, a groaning in the soul, an expression of a need that simply had to be filled.

God must have been pleased by Moses’ request, because He agreed to reveal His glory. He instructed Moses to hide behind a rock and peek out briefly as He passed by, because He knew even Moses could not behold the brilliance of His glory. So Moses beheld God’s glory in small part—yet that ray of glory affected him powerfully.

Most of us have been taught that after Moses descended, he had to place a veil over his face because it shone so brightly. Yet Scripture actually says, “When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face” (Exodus 34:33, ESV). It was after Moses spoke to the people that he covered his face. What was that about?

Paul explains this in Second Corinthians: “Moses . . . put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end” (2 Corinthians 3:13, ESV). Paul’s bold statement that a form of God’s glory actually comes to an end was referring to the glory on Moses’ face. Even the brilliant glory of God’s presence would eventually fade.

Yet, Paul says, there is a type of God’s glory that does not fade away. “If what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory” (3:11). Paul is speaking here of God’s glory as embodied in Jesus Christ alone. “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face” (3:12-13). Because of Christ’s glory, we are emboldened in a way that even Moses wasn’t! Paul explains: “When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (3:16-18).

In Christ, we have within us a glory that does not fade. Our boldness exceeds even that of Moses because it is empowered by Christ’s own Spirit. The glory of the Lord was on Moses from his time in the Lord’s presence but it is different for us. Because of Jesus, God’s glory in us never stops working. It continually transforms us “from one degree of glory to another.” We have a permanent, unchanging, unfading glory!