Thursday, October 31, 2013

THE SPIRIT OF JEZEBEL

The spirit of Jezebel hates God’s prophets and godly prophecies. "And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time" (1 Kings 19:1-2).

Christians bound by the Jezebel doctrine have no regard whatsoever for God's holy prophets. They sit coldly, as Jezebel did, unmoved while Ahab went into detail of the miraculous display of supernatural authority on Mount Carmel. But Jezebel was not impressed. All it did was turn her resolve to stone.

So it is now. The teachers of the Jezebel doctrine and those like Ahab who are its victims are not open to Holy Ghost conviction or to the message of repentance and holiness. They hear it and then go their way, more determined than ever in their doctrines. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

The surest sign of a false teacher and a Jezebel doctrine is the putting down of prophetic warnings and the refusal to hear about judgment. They call it gloom and doom. They laugh, mock and ridicule. Jeremiah says such shepherds are blind and dumb and the Lord told them to obey: "But they harkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward" (Jeremiah 7:24).

Those who teach the Jezebel doctrine claim to be prophets, but there is a test of true and false prophets. Jezebel prophets prophesy good things only, just peace and prosperity. "I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you" (Jeremiah 23:14-17).

Those with the spirit of Jezebel do not turn people from wickedness. They speak of dreams and act foolishly in the pulpit. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

THE GREATEST DECEPTION

The greatest deception in the modern church is the matter of using God's Word to put a badge of approval on covetousness. On the surface, the Jezebel doctrine works (see 1 Kings 21:14-16). It got Ahab what he wanted. He possessed his rights because when a man was stoned for high treason against the king, all his possessions reverted to the king.

Naboth the Jezreelite had told Ahab that he would not give him the inheritance of his fathers because the Lord forbade him to do so.

“And [Ahab] laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? . . . Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vinyard of Naboth the Jezreelite" (1 Kings 21:4-7).

Listen to the doctrine of Jezebel: "You are king, number one, and you have rights. Let nothing stop you from getting what you want." She said to Ahab, "Be happy! I'll get it for you." That is the false gospel in a nutshell. "Don't sweat it. Don't feel sad or condemned by those desires that eat you up. I'll get it for you." Like the deceptive methods Jezebel used, these doctrines twist and misuse Scripture.

But Ahab could not enjoy what he received because of a pesky prophet of God. "And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab . . . in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? . . . In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood. . . . And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord" (1 Kings 21:17-20).

Imagine Ahab walking about his new possession, saying, "Isn't life sweet? Ah, Jezebel. I may not agree with all her methods, but she certainly gets it done." But dogging his every footstep was the prophet Elijah.

So it is today. God has sent prophets, crying aloud, confronting the Jezebel doctrine of materialism, making it uncomfortable for Christians to enjoy their playthings and acquisitions. They have sold out. They cannot see it, but sin is behind all this. Every time I cry out against the prosperity doctrine, I sense the spirit and power of Elijah upon me. You are going to hear more and more exposing of this Jezebel doctrine. Everywhere, prophetic voices will be heard loud and clear, crying out, "Sin! You possessed by selling out to sin." 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

THE DANGER OF HOLDING ON TO SECRET SIN

Three distinguishing marks of the Jezebel doctrine were all found in the Jezebel of the Old Testament, the mother and embodiment of false doctrines. Jesus made her name synonymous with false doctrine, any doctrine that teaches that something evil can be good, that the profane can be pure.

In Hebrew, Jezebel means "chaste, virtuous, without idolatry." Imagine! The most ungodly, idolatrous, scheming, hateful, woman in all the Bible called virtuous, without sin. Something very bad is named good. And, ironically, even "chaste"?

How did she become chaste? “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel . . . and went and served Baal, and worshipped him" (1 Kings 16:30-31). Ahab means "one stamped with the nature of his father." Jezebel represents false doctrine and Ahab is its victim. The Bible states that it was not enough that Ahab had a heart bent toward sin, idolatry and compromise. He brings into his life a satanic influence that will confirm him in his sin. "But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up" (1 Kings 21:25).

The message is that the tendency of Christians who hold to secret sin and lust is to embrace and become married to a false doctrine that will only excite and confirm them in their sins. The last thing Ahab needed was a Jezebel. She brought out the worst in him, magnified it and destroyed him. So it is with false doctrine. If there is any sin, lust or worldliness in you, the last thing you need is a doctrine that will bring out your worst.

When David sinned with Bathsheba, he did not need a false prophet with a soothing message to tell him how much God loved him. He needed the uncompromising prophet Nathan, with a pointed finger, crying out, “Thou art the man.”

Those who preach the doctrine of Christ show the people the difference between evil and good. There is no mixture from their lips. "And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean" (Ezekiel 44:23).

We have an entire generation of mixed-up kids who cannot even recognize evil when they see it. False prophets have deceived them. They call it good when purple-haired rockers, dressed as sadomasochists, strut and gyrate sexually in the pulpit. We are told that sex outside of marriage is good as long as you are in love and as long as you truly respect the other person. False prophets have become the defenders of sin.

Monday, October 28, 2013

TRUE PENTECOST by Gary Wilkerson

In Acts 11, we read of a historic change in the church that came through unnamed, Spirit-empowered believers. These were the first to take the good news of Jesus beyond the barriers of Judaism to the Gentiles: “There were some of them . . . who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11:20). I love the phrase “some of them” used here. These faithful, unnamed believers had no idea of the crucial part they played in history.

Pentecost isn’t just an event that occurred 2,000 years ago but a living phenomenon still happening around the world. Somewhere at this moment small groups of people are crying out to God—and His Spirit is falling on them, empowering them to be His witnesses to an unsaved world.

Pentecost is happening right now in Varanasi, a city in northern India I visited not long ago. Less than one percent of the population had been churched when a young Christian woman arrived there a few years ago. She began leading people to Jesus one by one, and those converts began leading others to the Lord. This young woman didn’t keep Pentecost to herself and now there are thousands of dynamic believers in the region with a powerful witness for Christ. There are others just like her all over the world—Christians who cry out to the Spirit to take the Father’s love further.

On several occasions my father, David Wilkerson, told me about what grieved him most when he pastored a small Pennsylvania church in the 1950s. It was a Pentecostal church, so the services followed a certain course. Sister So-and-So played the organ and the congregation sang some traditional songs. Someone stood up and delivered a message in tongues, followed by another who provided the interpretation. Dad then preached. Afterward, he offered a prayer and people came to the altar crying for the Holy Spirit to come down. Then everyone went home.

This church had no outreach, no ministry of mercy. Very few people were brought to Christ during the few years my father pastored there. These were Christians who sought Pentecost for themselves but never knew the Pentecost God had in mind for them. My father’s heartbroken prayer said it all: “Lord, if this is Pentecost, I don’t want it. If it’s about having a ‘bless me’ club week after week, I’ll have nothing to do with it.”

It was out of his desire for true Pentecost that Dad stopped watching television and spent time praying instead. The rest is history. These decades later, his book The Cross and the Switchblade has sold multiple millions, with over 1,000 Teen Challenge Centers around the world working to rescue the lost and broken. All of these works proclaim God’s active power today through the Holy Spirit.

Friday, October 25, 2013

THE DOCTRINE OF JEZEBEL

Read Revelation 2:18-29 and you will see that Christ warned the church against the doctrine of Jezebel. "Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols" (Revelation 2:20). The Greek word here for Jezebel is a synonym for a “false teacher.” She clearly represents false doctrines. Jesus clears it up by continuing, "As many as have not this doctrine" (Revelation 2:24).

Here is a group of God's people, full of good works and charity, having a form of faith and patience. But with all that is good and commendable, something very dangerous is going on, something so seductive that Christ warns He will send judgment and make them an example to all the churches. Certain members of the church were selling out to Satan. Their good works, charity, service, faith and patience were overshadowed by a seduction of false doctrine. They were under the spell of a false teaching, a teaching that came disguised as the true Word but was, in fact, evil.

It is dangerous to sit under wrong teaching and Christ does not take this matter lightly. His eyes are piercing the Church, and He has come to warn, expose and save His people from this terrible seduction. Where you go to church, who you are listening to, the teaching that has your heart is very, very serious.

The mark of a seduced Christian is that he is "carried about" seeking some new, different, strange teaching. The Bible warns, "Be not carried about with different and strange doctrines" (Hebrews 13:9). This is speaking of running from place to place, seminar to convention, church to church, having no roots. The ears of such people are always itching to hear something new, something sensational, something entertaining, something pleasing to their flesh. We get them at Times Square Church: gadabouts, human tumbleweeds riding the winds of doctrines. They resemble the Athenians who "spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing" (Acts 17:21). Paul warned Timothy, "They will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (2 Timothy 4:3).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DOWN AND DISCOURAGED

Feebleness, brokenness, trouble, mourning—all these things brought low David's spirit. He felt dry, without direction, as if he had learned nothing over the years. "As for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me" (Psalm 38:10). David was saying, "I've lost my spiritual understanding. I can't reach God as I used to!"

I know just how David felt. I have led evangelistic crusades in which thousands at a time have come to Christ. I have helped lead multitudes of drug addicts and alcoholics to deliverance in Jesus. My life has been full of many rich blessings. But often, within days of these events, I have become overwhelmed with discouragement and ended up thinking, "Lord, I haven't accomplished anything for You!"

That's the work of Satan's spirit of discouragement. It makes us a target for the powers of hell within moments of our greatest spiritual victory!

This heavy, demonic spirit laid David so low that he was dumbfounded in God's presence. He said, "But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs" (verses 13-14).

The Hebrew meaning of this last phrase is "a man who has no more answers or arguments left." David was saying, "Lord, I'm too discouraged to even lift my hand up to you. I can't pray, because I'm too confused to speak. I'm drained and empty. I have nothing to say."

David voiced the universal cry of the righteous soul that endures an attack of discouragement: "I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me" (verse 17). The word "halt" here in Hebrew means "fall." David was telling God, "I'm not going to make it, Lord. I'm at my absolute end and I'm about to fall!"

We can talk to God all we want about our feelings of failure. We can tell Him about our despair over our sins and foolish mistakes. But we are never to entertain the thought that He has abandoned us.

David is our example of someone who became discouraged but kept his faith. Even at his lowest point, David would not allow himself to wallow in unbelief. He cried, "For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God" (Psalm 38:15).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A GOOD WORD

Our Lord has a wonderful plan for every child who loves Him and no satanic attack against His children can ever alter those plans. God knows the sorrows, struggles and pain we may be facing today, but He also knows the glorious things He has laid out ahead of us. He knows the revelation we'll receive, the usefulness we'll enjoy, the fruit we'll see, the joy and peace we'll possess. He has a "good word" for all who love Him!

"God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:10). The Lord desires to show us His "good word" about what He has prepared for us, and His Spirit is the messenger who bears that good word. The Holy Spirit will give wings to our drooping spirits with God's revelation to us and we will fly as eagles out of Satan's snare!

Listen to these wonderful words from Isaiah:

"Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:28-31).

The work of the Holy Spirit is to encourage us and our work is simply to trust Him to fulfill what the Father has sent Him to do.

Go to your secret closet right now, even in your discouraged state, and quiet yourself before the Lord. Even if you don't have enough strength to speak, you can reach out to Him in spirit with this prayer:

"Lord, I know Your Spirit abides in me and I know You have sent Him to comfort me, strengthen me and reveal the mind of Christ to me. So I turn to You right now in simple, childlike faith. Speak comfort to my heart because I have no strength left. Lift me up and lead me."

You are not going to faint! You are going to come out of your trial victorious, because your faith will have been tested and tried as gold. You will see the Lord fulfill every promise He has made to you! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

IN TIMES OF DISCOURAGEMENT

The first thing the Holy Spirit often does in times of discouragement is bring to your remembrance the precious promises of Jesus. He has done this with me as He flooded my soul with promises from God's Word. "Your life isn't over,” He assured me. “You don't know it, but the best is still ahead of you." The work of the Holy Spirit is to undo the lies of the enemy and bring encouragement from on high!

Multitudes of Christians enter God's presence every day expecting to be reproved by Him. How that must grieve our Lord. When we go to prayer, we ought to be prepared to hear a good word from our loving Father. For years every time I entered my prayer closet, I expected to hear a rebuke from the Lord. Thank God, He has taught me a better way.

On the other hand, there are entire denominations that avoid any mention of holy reproof. They say very little about sin because they want to preach only positive, upbeat messages. In the process, they ignore all the convicting, life-giving reproofs spoken by Christ and the New Testament writers. Such churches claim to preach a gospel of love, mercy and grace. But, sadly, they misuse God's grace, turning it into a license to sin.

I realize I am not writing this message to that kind of people. Rather, I'm speaking to overcoming Christians who avoid sin as one way of loving the Lord. I'm speaking to those who enjoy intimacy with Christ because they hunger and thirst for Him constantly. If this describes you, and you're downcast and depressed, please know it is happening because you are under attack for loving Jesus!

Be assured that all who wait on the Lord will receive His glorious promises:

"Since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him" (Isaiah 64:4).

"As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). 

Monday, October 21, 2013

CLOTHED WITH POWER by Gary Wilkerson

I thank God His promise to “clothe His disciples with power” (see Luke 24:49) did not stop with the church of Acts. Yet, in a sense, that is just where it has stopped for many in the church today. We assign God’s power to preachers, leaders, broadcasters, authors, anyone with a “platform.” But is God at work in the pews? Is the Spirit’s power working through every believing man, woman and child the way the Lord intended? If we have been saved, then we are meant to be filled with the power of God to do the works of God.

Here is how it happened in Acts: “There arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1, ESV). According to this verse, the apostles stayed in Jerusalem. But all the other believers were scattered throughout the region. “Those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ” (Acts 8:4-5, ESV). And so the new power to minister was unleashed.

Let me add that the man named Philip mentioned here was a layman. Signs and wonders followed this man as he preached. Demon-possessed people were delivered. Disabled people were healed and leaped for joy. Later, when Peter came to Samaria to witness these works, he saw that “there was much joy in that city” (8:8). An entire city was touched by the joy of God! That’s quite an impact made by a single layperson.

Next we see Ananias, a follower of Jesus who lived in Damascus. We aren’t told much about Ananias but we know that he was filled with the Holy Spirit—and he had a tough job ahead of him. God called him to witness to Saul, the famous Christian-hunter, who at the time was raging against the church. Ananias was being called into the line of fire and he knew that if he wasn’t hearing God correctly, he could be killed.

Ananias had to overcome a very real fear for his life but he did it by being overcome with God’s love. Suddenly, Ananias was filled with compassion for a man who had proclaimed himself the mortal enemy of every Christian. So he went in faith—and the story of Saul’s conversion is well known. His transformation into Paul—the most famous follower of Jesus of all time—may be the most important conversion in history. Paul not only got saved but he wrote a major portion of what became the New Testament. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

EVERYTHING YOU NEED

"The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).

I experienced a particularly heavy attack of discouragement at a certain point in my life. It happened when I was as close to Jesus as at any other time. One morning, as I was preparing a sermon, I was overcome by an intense despair. It came out of nowhere, weighing me down. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't shake it.

As I sat at my desk with my Bible open, I tried to continue working on the sermon but I couldn't get anywhere. Suddenly I was bombarded with doubts about my ability to put together a true message from the Lord. My mind was flooded with horrible thoughts that told me, "You don't understand Paul's writings. You haven't grasped the ‘old man’ and ‘new man’ concepts. You don't comprehend ‘dying to sin’ when sin still exists. How dare you presume to preach God's Word?"

I sat there for three hours, determined to dig out a message but nothing came. By mid-morning, all the words on the pages of my Bible seemed to run together. My mind was confused and my spirit was dull, unable to hear anything from the Lord.

I sank deeper into despair and became convinced I had nothing to give the people in our church. So I closed the Bible and left my study.

As I walked around the house, my discouragement only grew. I tried to figure out why it had come upon me in the first place, but I didn't have a clue. Finally, I went into my prayer room and sat on the floor. I couldn't even muster up a word to say to the Lord. Instead, I cried out to Him from my spirit: “Lord, I don't know what to do. I feel so down I can't even reach out to You, yet I know I've never loved You more than right now. Please help me."

When the devil comes with his spirit of discouragement, he bombards you with one lie after another. By the time he's finished, you're crying, "Oh, God, I'll never make it!"

This is just what the devil did to me. While in prayer, I endured his bombardment of hellish lies for about half an hour. Then God's still, small voice broke through to my spirit with these loving and compassionate words: "David, you're greatly loved. Don't worry, My hand is upon you. You are under severe attack, but do not fear. You don't need any strength of your own for this battle—I have everything you need!" 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

UNDER ATTACK

When you are under attack from the enemy's spirit of discouragement, you will not feel like praying. But you still must go to the secret place and be in Jesus' presence. Do not worry about trying to pray your way out of despair. This is the time for God's Spirit to go to work in you to lift you out of the pit.

When you go to the Lord, be honest with Him about how weak and helpless you feel. Let Him know, "Jesus, I'm dry. I have no strength left. If I'm ever going to get out of this depression, You are going to have to make it happen."

In such low times, the Lord is very patient with us. He does not expect us to exert some intense, fervent effort in prayer. He knows our condition, and He sympathizes with us. Just sit in His presence and trust His Spirit to do in you what He was sent to do. It doesn't matter how cast down you are, He will never forsake you!

We have the notion that every time we fail the Lord, the Holy Spirit flits away like a bird because He is grieved. But how could God's Spirit abandon me when I need Him most? If He leaves me whenever I fail and fall deep into discouragement, how can He be my Comforter?

Jesus promised us, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever . . . I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:16, 18).

When the devil's heavy spirit of discouragement settles over your life, you may be so distraught you cannot even whisper a prayer. But even so, you can talk to Jesus in your spirit. Just tell Him softly, "Lord, help me. This attack is too much for me. I can't do anything but sit here in faith. I am trusting your Spirit to drive it out of me.” 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

THE FIERY TRIAL

In his times of discouragement, David could not figure out why he was so cast down. He asked, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?" (Psalm 42:5). Yet his questions were not doubts about God. David actually begins the psalm by expressing his deep thirst for the Lord: "As the hart (deer) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" (verses 1-2).

In the midst of his discouragement, David cried out for a revelation of the Lord. He was saying, "God, there's never been a time when I have loved You more, so why am I suffering such overwhelming discouragement?"

At times David experienced despair and depression because of his sin. He endured the Lord's chastening for his pride when he numbered his fighting men, which was against God's law. And he felt the pain of God's rod when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged to have her husband murdered. His heart broke over the judgment he brought upon his family because of these sins.

Many believers today are depressed because the Holy Spirit has wanted to bring them into victory, but they resisted. They have chosen the way of the flesh, and that always leads to pain and discouragement.

However, I am addressing repentant believers here, those who seek God with all their hearts. These faithful servants are gripped by a different kind of discouragement, the kind that comes upon them suddenly, out of nowhere, for no apparent reason.

When the attack comes, do not think it is unusual. God allows this kind of fiery testing with all His saints. Peter writes, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (1 Peter 4:12).

If this is true of you, you can be absolutely sure you are under attack. Satan has sent a cloud of discouragement to overwhelm you. It has been the enemy's weapon of choice for centuries against God's elect but He always has the victory! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

THE SPIRIT OF DISCOURAGEMENT

"I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. . . . I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. . . . My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. . . . I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs" (Psalm 38:6, 8, 10, 13-14).

As I read this psalm, I imagined David slumped in despair. Perhaps what troubled him most was that he couldn't understand why he was suddenly cast down so low. This man hungered for the Lord, pouring out his heart daily in prayer. He revered God and wrote psalms extolling His glory. But now, in his depressed state, all he could do was cry, "Lord, I'm at the end of my rope and I have no idea why this is happening!"

Like many discouraged Christians, David tried to figure out why he felt so empty and broken in spirit. He probably relived every failure, sin and foolish deed in his life and thought, "Oh, Lord, have all my reckless acts left me so wounded that I'm beyond hope?"

Finally, David reasoned that God must be chastening him. He cried, "O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure" (verse 1).

Let me point out that David isn't writing just about his own condition in this psalm. He is describing something that all devoted lovers of Jesus face at some point in their lifetime—being under an attack from a plaguing spirit of discouragement, which comes straight from the bowels of hell. No Christian brings it on himself, nor does the Lord send it, and such an attack usually has nothing to do with any specific sin or failing by the believer.

Very simply, the spirit of discouragement is Satan's most potent weapon against God's elect. Most often, he uses it to try to convince us we've brought God's wrath upon ourselves by not measuring up to His holy standards. But the apostle Paul urges us not to fall prey to the devil's snare: "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11). 

Monday, October 14, 2013

NOW THAT THE VICTORY IS WON by Gary Wilkerson

As Christians we know that Jesus won the victory for us at Calvary. He defeated death, Satan and the power of sin. The question remaining for believers is, “Now what? I know Jesus won my victory on the cross, but what about my present conflict? Where is His victory for the battle raging in my life right now?”

It’s an important question—and the Word contains an answer for every Christian. It begins with this scene: “The Philistines gathered their armies for battle . . . at Socoh, which belongs to Judah” (1 Samuel 17:1, ESV). This image presents a spiritual truth that never changes: The forces of darkness are arrayed against God’s people.

When Jesus became your Savior, He made you a new creation—and although you changed, the world did not. Because of this, there are powers that align themselves against you: the world, the devil and even your own flesh, which wars against your spirit.

Sometimes your battles with these forces are external—attacks on your marriage, your finances, your children—and sometimes they are internal. We are nagged by worries: “Can my marriage survive this long, cold silence?”

“Will my child ever give his life to the Lord?”

“Am I even worthy to call myself a Christian?” All these pressures push us toward doubt and despair, causing us to wonder, “Where is God in all this? I can’t see Him beyond my daily battles.”

At times we cry, “Enough!” and draw a line in the sand. We tell ourselves, “I’m tired of being beaten up by the enemy.” But the devil keeps crossing that line. This happened to Israel as they faced the Philistines. “The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them” (17:3). Did that stop the enemy? Not at all. The Philistines brought out a greater weapon in the form of Goliath, a giant of a man.

David knew he was no match for Goliath but he also knew that the battle wasn’t 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 . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel . . . For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand” (17:46-47).

Spiritual victory is never our own; it comes from our Deliverer. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

WE CAN HEAR HIS VOICE TODAY

Millions have been converted because one man waited to hear His voice. Saul "fell to the earth, and heard a voice" (Acts 9:4). And when he became Paul, he kept on hearing that voice. The Lord spoke man-to-man with him.

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 and 13).

The door into the kingdom was opened because a man obeyed a voice. We are living in the same New Testament times as Paul and Peter. We, too, must allow His voice to come to us. What God could do with Christians who learn to hear from heaven!

Instead of waiting for His voice to come to us, we run to counselors and Christian psychologists. We run to one session or another, reading books, listening to tapes, longing to hear from God. We want a clear word of direction for our lives and look to pastors to tell us what is right and wrong.

We want a leader to follow, a diagram for the future. But few know how to go to the Lord and hear His voice. There are many who know how to get God's attention, to really touch God, but they know nothing about God reaching them.

"He that hath ears to hear, let them hear" (Matthew 11:15).

God wants to shake the earth once more. "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).

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). 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

BETTER THAN PENTECOST

John the Baptist never made it to Pentecost! He saw none of the cloven tongues of fire and did not hear the mighty rushing wind. He did not see Jerusalem shaken and multitudes converted. But John said his joy was fulfilled! He had heard something better than the rushing wind, better than good reports, better than the sounds of a joyful bride. He had heard the Savior’s voice.

“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled” (John 3:29).

John tasted of the greatest joy a follower of Jesus can know. He said, “I stood still and I heard Him talk to me. His voice made my heart leap as He talked to me personally. I listened to my Lord. And that’s my joy—just hearing His voice.”

John could say, “I loved Him and worshiped at His feet. I told Him how unworthy I was. My joy, however, is not in what I said to Him but in what He said to me. I heard Him speak and I rejoice just in the sound of that voice.”

Some people teach that the Lord no longer speaks to men except through the revealed Word. They cannot believe men can be directed and blessed by hearing that still small voice today.

Jesus said, “My sheep know My voice; they hear when I call and another they will not hear.” But nowadays we are afraid of all the abuses, even though they are not God’s fault. Every fake vision, bogus prophecy, false leading is a direct result of man’s own pride and self-will. Man abuses every gift of God. Nevertheless, He still speaks directly to the hearts of those willing to hear.

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

“Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A LESSON ON LISTENING

God had to teach Elijah a lesson on listening so He took him to the top of Mr. Horeb and gave him an illustrated sermon.

“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13).

When that wind began to howl, I think Elijah thought, “It’s about time, Lord. Blow Jezebel right off her throne and throw her and her sinner friends to the winds. Blow them all away!” But God was not in the wind!

Suddenly, there was a great earthquake and Elijah said, “That ought to scare them good. God will get even. He will shake them right out of their shoes.” But God was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake, a fire! The heavens were aglow with white-hot flames! Elijah said in his heart, “Lord, they didn’t accept the fire that fell on the altar so burn them out! Burn out wicked Ahab! Fry Jezebel. Cause your fire to consume the wicked.” But God was not in the fire!

“And after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it that he wrapped his face in his mantle” (verses 12 and 13).

Can you imagine this? A prophet who was not afraid of a hurricane or an earthquake or heavenly fireworks is frightened by a still small voice! Elijah covered his head with his coat. Why? Had not this prophet talked to God many times? Was he not a great man of prayer? Hadn’t God used him mightily? Yes! But Elijah was a stranger to the still small voice! When he finally allowed that voice to speak—alone, quiet, away from all the power displays—he got the most specific directions in all his ministry.

“Go to the wilderness of Damascus; anoint Hazael king over Syria; anoint Jehu king over Israel; and anoint Elisha to be the prophet to follow you” (see 1 Kings 19:15-16).

How many busy children of God today have never had the voice come to them? They are busy witnessing—doing good—praying for a spiritual awakening—fasting. So intense—so dedicated. Yet, they have heard everything but the voice of the Lord. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A GLIMPSE INTO THE HEART OF JESUS

“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say to him . . . when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?” (Luke 17:7-8).

We have no trouble identifying with the servant in his duty to the master. No trouble in putting on our apron and serving up the Lord a full table of praises—a good feast of worship. We love to feed our Lord! It is our greatest joy, our supreme fulfillment.

But we have difficulty with the last part—the Lord’s part. “And afterward, you shall eat.” That is too much for us to comprehend. We do not know how to sit down after we have served Him and allow Him the same joy we experienced in serving Him! We rob our Lord of the joy of ministering to us.

We think our Lord gets enough pleasure from what we do for Him, but there is so much more. He responds to our faith; He rejoices when we repent; He talks to the Father about us; He delights in our childlike trust. But I am convinced that His greatest need is to have a one-to-one personal communication with those He left here on earth. No angel in heaven can meet that need. Jesus wants to talk with those on the battlefield.

Where did I get such a notion that Christ is lonely and has a desperate need to speak? Well, let’s look at the day He was resurrected. Two disciples were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, very grieved about their departed Lord. But then when He drew near, they did not recognize Him. He wanted to talk; He had so much to say to them. “And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. . . . And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:15 and 27).

There could have been no finer experience for those disciples (see verse 32): “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us?” We think of the joy of the disciples but what about the joy of Jesus? I see a resurrected Lord, tears streaming down His glorified cheeks, with a heart filled with joy. He was fulfilled, His need had been met. I see Jesus overjoyed. He had ministered. In His glorified form, He had experienced His first two-way communion. He had poured out His lonely heart and it had been touched. His need, too, had been met. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

HOW TO WIN OVER TEMPTATION

Power to bear up and resist temptation does not come from stuffing our minds with Scripture verses, in making vows or promises, in giving ourselves over to a great spiritual cause, or even in spending hours in prayer and fasting. These things are all commendable and normal for Christian growth, but that is not where our victory lies.

The simple secret to bearing up under any temptation is to break the fear of Satan’s power. God does not give us the spirit of fear; that is of Satan only. But man is afraid of the devil—frightened of demons. He is afraid of failure; afraid that inner desires will erupt and control his life.

Bcause man is afraid he cannot quit his sin, he is crediting Satan with power he does not have. Man cries out, “I’m hooked. I’m bound and in the devil’s power. The devil makes me do it!”

Fear has torment! As long as you are afraid of the devil, you can never break the power of any temptation. Satan thrives on fear and Christians who are afraid of the devil have little or no power to resist.

It is all based on a lie, the lie that Satan has power to break down Christians under pressure. Not so! Jesus came to destroy all the power of the devil over His blood-washed children. I often wonder why God allows spiritual people to be so tempted. Why doesn’t He remove all temptations instead of “making a way of escape that we may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13)? The answer is simple. Once you learn how powerless Satan is—once you learn he cannot make you do anything—once you learn God has all power to keep you from falling—you can “bear up” under anything Satan throws at you! You can go through it without fearing you will fall!

We are not delivered from temptation, but from the fear of the devil to make us yield to it. We will keep on being tempted until we come to the place of “rest” in our faith. That rest is the unshakeable confidence that God has defeated Satan, that Satan has no right or claim on us, and that we will come forth as gold tried in the fire. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

THE FULL REVELATION

Why did Moses so desperately seek a vision of God's glory? I believe the reason is found in this verse: "There I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory" (Exodus 29:43). The word sanctified here means "made clean." God was saying: "Moses, as you and the people worship Me, I will meet with you and give you My presence. And when I reveal My glory to you, it will cleanse you."

This is one of the most powerful verses in all of Scripture. It offers hope to everyone who struggles with a besetting sin and yearns to be free and clean. God pledges, "Your temple will be made clean by a revelation of My glory and that revelation is available to you right now in My Son, Jesus Christ!"

We find this revelation of Christ only as we come to the Scriptures! Paul says that as we allow God's Word to reflect to us an ever-increasing revelation of Jesus, we will be changed from glory to glory: "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

This revelation of God's glory will provide keeping power for our lives: "Upon all the glory shall be a defence" (Isaiah 4:5). In other words, God's glory will keep us clean in our worst hour. Satan may lie to us, "You're defeated! You're a cheat, a liar, an adulterer." But we can answer, "No, devil. I have a High Priest and I am cleansed by a vision of His glory!"

When God revealed to Moses all these things about His nature, He also gave him the full revelation that He "will by no means clear the guilty" (Exodus 34:7). Azariah prophesied to King Asa in his most prosperous hour, "The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you" (2 Chronicles 15:2). In other words, "If you despise God's glory, if you excuse your sin and neglect the Lord, He will not cleanse you!"

What God is telling us here is so simple: "Take time to get to know My Son! Search My Word and seek Me in your secret closet of prayer. Then, as you abide in My presence, your eyes will begin to open to My glory. It is all revealed in Christ—the full revelation of My love, grace, mercy, kindness.” 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

THE MANIFESTATION OF HIS PRESENCE

Moses sought God for a continual manifestation of His presence: "That I may know thee . . ." (Exodus 33:13). And God answered him, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest" (verse 14).

Moses' request would be quite enough for most believers. We all want the presence of God—leading us, guiding us, empowering us, blessing us. Really, what more could any believer desire? Yet having the assurance of God's presence was not enough for Moses. He knew there was more and he cried out, "I beseech thee, shew me thy glory" (verse 18).

God did show Moses His glory. But it did not appear in some luminous cloud or in an earthshaking demonstration of power. No, God expressed His glory in a simple revelation of His nature: "The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (Exodus 34:6-7). God's glory was a revelation of His goodness, mercy, love and compassion!

I have heard many Christians say, "Oh, how the glory of God came down in our church last night! There was such incredible praise, and people were slain by the Spirit." But that isn't proof of a manifestation of God's glory. It has nothing to do with God beyond human emotions. It doesn't include a revelation of who He is!

Some may argue, "But what about the disciples' experience on the Mount of Transfiguration? Wasn't that a manifestation of God's glory? There was an overpowering light and the miraculous appearance of Moses and Elijah."

But God's glory was not in Moses or Elijah or in the spectacular light. Rather, His glory was in Jesus: "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. . . . Behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matthew 17:2 and 5).

God was saying, "Here is my glory personified—in Christ!" Indeed, Jesus is the fulfillment of all God said He was to Moses: gracious, merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression of sins. And now the Lord was saying, "Here is a living picture of My glory. It is all embodied in My Son!" 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

THE CLOUD OF HIS PRESENCE

When Israel was in the wilderness, God showed His presence to them through a cloud. This cloud was the manifestation of God's promise to be with His people. It came down and covered the tabernacle night and day and acted as their guide for every undertaking. When the cloud moved, they moved, and when it stayed, they stayed. The people did not have to hold committee meetings to try to figure out their direction or future. They put their confidence in that visible cloud of God's presence.

Today, that same cloud of His presence hovers over your secret closet of prayer. It waits every day to envelope you in its peace. It will lead you, empower you and give you peace. And it will give you detailed guidance for your home, work and relationships.

Your secret closet can be anywhere—in the shower, on the bus or subway, or during your commute to work. You can shut out everything and say, "Lord, I've got half an hour right now. I love You, Jesus, and worship You. This is my closet time with You!"

It's a wonderful thing to be shut in with God, developing a consistent prayer life. God promises that as you become a seeking, praying servant, His presence will break forth in your life, closing and opening doors and working His divine order all around you. Yet something even greater than this will happen: God's presence will lead you into a revelation of His glory!

There is a difference between God's presence and His glory. Most Christians know His presence—His great works in their lives—but few know His glory. In Exodus, we are given a glimpse of this difference: "Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:34).

The apostle Paul writes that all believers’ bodies are the tabernacle of God: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Like the Israelites who lived under the cloud of God's presence, we are constantly under the covering of God's grace. Yet, what is the difference between beholding God's presence and beholding His glory?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

WITH ALL THEIR HEART

God makes certain, special promises to those who determine to seek Him with all their hearts. One such promise is a covenant of His presence.

However, this covenant is strictly conditional. Scripture makes it clear that if we abide by the rule of this covenant, we will enjoy the incredible blessing of God's presence in our lives. And this does not refer only to issues of salvation. It speaks of being such seekers after God that His awesome presence is poured out on us and it is seen and known by all.

God revealed this covenant of His presence through an unnamed prophet who delivered a message to Eli, the high priest of Israel. At the time, Eli was backslidden. The Lord had been speaking to him, warning him against allowing sin and compromise. But Eli had ignored all of God's words. Now this unnamed prophet said to Eli, "The Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed" (I Samuel 2:30).

The phrase "lightly esteemed" has to do with the lifting of God’s presence. This does not mean a person is damned, but rather that he will have to walk in the power of his own flesh. God was telling Eli, "I intended to bless your house, to favor you. But you have scorned me, becoming soft on sin and allowing your lusts to push me aside. Now I will take My presence from you."

Many people come to Christ with a great, initial burst of faith. Yet over time their zeal wears thin, and they begin to neglect the Lord. They “lightly esteem” His commands and turn back to their old, sinful ways. Yet they still believe God's presence remains with them. But that is a lie, a delusion. The Bible makes it clear that if you forsake Him, He will forsake you!