Friday, November 29, 2013

GOD MEANS WHAT HE SAYS

Do you sit under strong preaching that lovingly exposes your sin? If so, do you allow that word to convict you? Or, do you go right back to your sin without grieving at all?

If you are rejecting the warnings of the restraining Holy Ghost—disobeying God time after time, without any heart-grief—then you are being recruited for the cult of Antichrist. The devil is silently initiating you into his “mystery of iniquity” and when the promising, miracle-working Antichrist comes along, you will be swept up in his lies and given over to a delusion!

Listen to what Paul says about compromising believers who refuse to love and obey God's Holy Word: “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

Here are the ominous results of not believing and acting on God's truth:
  1. The heart becomes hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 
  2. Satan works on the hardened heart to justify itself, so that it is relieved from all fear of penalty. 
  3. The believer becomes blinded by the lie that says there are no wages for sin and no Judgment Day, and that he can get away with his lustful pleasure. 
  4. The believer falls prey to doctrines of demons, thinking evil is good and good is evil. 
  5. He eventually drifts so far from Christ and the truth, he becomes blinded to who the Antichrist is—and he ends up worshiping and serving him as a god. 
  6. On Judgment Day, God will say to such a person, “Depart from Me, you worker of iniquity!” 
Beloved, it does not have to be this way for any of us. God has made a covenant promise to remove all delusion from us and give us victory over sin, through the power of Christ’s cross. All He asks is that we declare war on our sin, saying, “I won't make peace with this habit. I refuse to abide it. Deliver me, Father, by Your Spirit.” When He hears this prayer, He will send such Holy Ghost power and glory from heaven, the devil will not stand a chance!
Pray right now that God implants in you a great reverence for His Word. Ask Him to help you be disciplined in your reading of the Scriptures and ask the Spirit to help you take to heart what you read and believe that God means what He says!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

TO THOSE WHO DON’T OBEY



Throughout Scripture, God gives us a clear picture of how important it is to obey His Word. We see one such example in the life of King Saul. God gave Saul clear, specific commands through the prophet Samuel: “Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (1 Samuel 15:3).

Did Saul obey this command from the Lord? Scripture tells us, “Saul smote the Amalekites . . . and he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive. . . . Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them” (verses 7-9).

God had spoken to Saul in crystal-clear terms. Yet after Saul went into battle, he obeyed the Lord only in part. Rather than destroying everyone and everything, he spared King Agag and he even kept some of the spoils of battle.

Samuel was stricken with grief at this. He told Saul, “The Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?” (verses 18-19).

At this point, Scripture gives us a grievous, chilling word: “Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments” (verses 10-11).

Does this describe your life? Has God told you in no uncertain terms to deal with a certain habit in your life, yet you keep clinging to it, refusing to cut it off? His Spirit may be speaking to you right now in a kind, wooing voice, saying, “Your sin stands between us, interrupting our communion. I can no longer bless you while you persist in it. Trust My Spirit to help you, My child.”

Samuel told Saul, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (verse 23). God rejected Saul for his disobedience.

God is telling us through this passage that He means what He says. He is saying, “I’m showing you how I feel about your obedience to me. I want all of your heart, not just a halfhearted obedience!”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FLIRTING WITH SIN

The wicked have always been “destitute” of the truth—despising it, trampling it, mocking it with disdain. I saw an example of this recently in The New York Post, as one writer confidently declared, “Science has now replaced faith.”

Paul's greater concern was always for those who had known the way of truth, confessing their faith in Christ, yet continued to flirt with sin. Paul wrote of those who attempt to hold the truth in unrighteousness—an act that enrages God. “Who changed the truth of God into a lie . . . for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections” (Romans 1:25-26).

Others, held in bondage by their lustful pleasures, turned to false teachers to try to find peace. They ended up accepting “damnable heresies . . . and many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:1-2).

All of Paul’s messages on apostasy and the Antichrist were aimed at such carnal Christians. They were not meant for the idolaters of Rome, the heathen of Greece, the pagan tribes in unknown places. Paul’s message was one of great importance to the church and he wrote it to be read in churches, directly to believers!

You see, Paul was calling God’s people everywhere to love the truth—to search it out, study it and obey it. He wrote, in essence, “Let the truth be your guide and do not turn aside from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see it, ears to hear it, and a heart to love it. Otherwise, you will open yourself to deception and end up believing a lie. Satan will be able to initiate you into the cult of Antichrist!”

If you do not believe this, simply recall the Scriptures. The Bible says that in the days just prior to Jesus’ return, Satan will bring such an overwhelming flood of seduction that he will attempt to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. It will not matter how long a Christian has walked with Jesus; he will face temptations he has never had in his life. Even the strongest believer will be tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness and mistrust His Holy Word.

“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

THE SPIRIT OF LAWLESSNESS

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

The Greek word Paul uses for iniquity in this passage means, literally, “lawlessness.” Therefore, the mystery is one of lawlessness, meaning that multitudes are going to act without law or restraint.

Yet, this lawlessness is not simply a rebellion against the rule of man. It is not about rebelling against civil authority or committing robbery, rape or murder. These things do provoke God's wrath, but the mystery of lawlessness goes much deeper. It is an outright rejection of the truth that is in Christ, a casting aside of God's Holy Word and rebellion against the restraints of Scripture!

This spirit of lawlessness is rampant in our nation today. It is the force behind the legislation that seeks to banish God from our society and the same spirit that Satan used to deceive Eve when he told her, in so many words, “God is easy; He won’t punish you for disobeying. You can eat the fruit and indulge your lust and you won’t have to pay for it!”

Today Satan is using this same lie to convince masses of believers that they can indulge their sins without paying any penalty. It is a demonic scheme to pervert Christ’s gospel of grace and turn it into a message of licentiousness. Tragically, many lukewarm Christians are succumbing to this spirit of lawlessness.

Paul says the Antichrist will rise to power because people will be blinded and deceived by their own sin: “After the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

Satan will deceive masses of people by convincing them of a subtle but powerful lie, just as he convinced Eve: “God doesn't punish sin!”

Paul says this deception will come “with all deceivableness . . . because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (verse 10). He then adds, “For this [reason] God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (verse 11).

The apostle is saying, “Those who refuse to obey or respect God's Word will fall under a powerful delusion. At first they will wink at their sin and justify it. But soon they will actively seek out a message of easy grace. They will invent a grace that is far beyond what God intended. His grace never leads to license—it always leads to repentance.”

Monday, November 25, 2013

COWBOY BOOTS by Gary Wilkerson

“Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6, ESV).

Several years ago I was serving as an assistant pastor at Times Square Church in New York City. Previously, while living in Texas, I had bought a pair of genuine Texas cowboy boots—and they were fine boots! I was wearing them in my office when a homeless guy walked in. He had been drifting and hitchhiking across the country and he had an attitude.

“I don’t know why I’m here,” he said. “All you churches are the same. You spend your money on buildings and you rich pastors have all these cars and stuff.”

Then he looked down and said, “Look at you. You have those nice cowboy boots and I have these torn up, old canvas shoes.”

“Do you like these boots?” I asked. And before he could answer, I didn’t even think twice. I just took off my boots and gave them to him—and then I walked home without any shoes.

About six months later I received a phone call from a friend who pastors in Greensboro, North Carolina. “Gary,” he said, “you’re not going to believe this. I have a guy sitting here in my office who says that six months ago you gave him a pair of cowboy boots. He can’t forget you or your church. He has been hitchhiking around the country for six months and while he walks, he keeps looking at those boots and thinking about the love of Jesus.”

This man walked into my friend’s church and said, “Hey, this pastor in New York City gave me these cowboy boots. I went to a church called Times Square Church and he was one of the assistant pastors.”

Steve asked, “Was his name Gary?”

“Yeah, that’s the guy. His name was Gary.”

My friend Steve said to the man, “Well, for six months the Holy Spirit has been after you. Are you ready to give your life to Christ?”

The man responded, “That’s why I’m here. I came into this church to give my life to Jesus today.”

I want to encourage you—even if you feel like you’re in a famine—look for opportunities. Are you in a famine in your marriage? Look for an opportunity to serve, to love, to bless your spouse. Are you in a famine with your children? Is there division and turmoil? Look for an opportunity to love, to serve, to order your household according to the ways of the Lord.

Do you have financial difficulties? Look for a way to be a blessing to others in the midst of the famine and you will find the windows of heaven open. God will pour out rich blessings on your life.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

CASTING OUT FEAR by Carter Conlon

The fear of man finds its fuel source in our sin nature. It all began when Satan was no longer content to be a worshiper in heaven—rather, he longed to be worshiped. That lust in his heart led him to think outside the parameters that God had established for him. When he came to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he subsequently sowed that fallen nature into the human race—a desire to live and think independently of God, ultimately wanting to be as God.

With that sin nature now entrenched in humanity, the next step was the innate desire to be worshiped—and so fallen man began to turn to one another for approval. That is why we tend to be so greatly affected by other people’s opinions of us; why our whole identity suddenly hinges on whether we are a success or failure in other people’s eyes. In fact, this lust for the praise of man has driven many to industries where they can live in a realm of applause and accolades. Although they may realize the trap of it by the time they reach some pinnacle of adoration, they nevertheless become addicted to men’s approval and can no longer live without it.

Consider how tragic it would be to stand before the Lord one day and have somebody we once knew look us in the eye and say, “You knew the truth. You knew there was a heaven and a hell! I know I was nasty, but why didn’t you open your mouth and tell me anyway? You knew I was going to go here and you knew my children would end up here. Why didn’t you speak to me?”
Sadly, the only reason any child of God would have is: “I longed for your favor more than the favor of God. I wanted you to like me. I didn’t want you to laugh at me; I wanted your praise.” What a trap it is when we love the praise of men more than the praise of God!

According to Paul, the only way to escape this snare of the fear of man is by calling out to God, knowing that He has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind (see 2 Timothy 1:7). God alone can give us the ability to escape being governed by the praise or the criticism of people. Furthermore, the Scriptures tell us that “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). The love of God will not only drive out fear, but it will compel us to go back to those who are living without God in order to do them good, irrespective of their response toward us.

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Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. A strong, compassionate leader, he is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world.

Friday, November 22, 2013

HINDRANCES TO THE MANIFESTATION OF THE LIFE OF CHRIST IN US

If your hindrance is ambition, God may open to you a tremendous door of opportunity. It might be the biggest, most ambitious project of your life and God will allow you to step into it thinking, “This is it! I finally got my big break.”

Then the Lord will allow the whole thing to fall to the ground. You'll end up standing amid the ruins of your dream, crying, “Lord, I thought this project was Your will. I thought it had Your blessing. I prayed to You faithfully about it, and You brought me this far. How could You allow it to fail so miserably?”

The failure of your project is meant to be a death to everything that hinders the Christ-life from being manifested in you.

Your hindrance could be the incredible revelations you receive from God's Word. You may ask, “How can fresh revelation ever be a hindrance to a lover of Jesus?” One day you may be reveling in new truths being opened to you, profound doctrines you have never seen before. Your confidence is growing, because you consistently apply every new revelation to your walk with the Lord.

Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, your soul is stricken with dryness. Soon your joy and assurance give way to a sense of frailty and uselessness. An unexplainable depression fills your soul, and each day becomes a burden to you.

The Scriptures that had come so alive in your heart now seem like a closed book. Instead of receiving revelation, you wonder if you'll ever learn anything again—but the problem isn't your intellect. Your dryness is meant to hasten your death to all confidence in your flesh. It's a death to your tendency to glory in the revelation you are given, rather than getting your joy from Christ.

The fact is, revelation tends to produce pride. This is the very reason God gave Paul a thorn in his flesh. He was restraining Paul from glorying in his many great revelations. God wanted His faithful servant to remain humble in all things.

This whole process of having to endure “death situations” can seem cruel. Without question, it is one of the most painful aspects of our walk with Jesus. But if we allow death to finish its work in us, Christ's own resurrection life will flow freely out of us. If, on the other hand, we resist death's work, we will not ever have Christ's life in us! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

THE LIFE OF JESUS

The apostle Paul says, “I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death [handed over to death]: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9).

Simply put, when godly saints full of the Christ-life are led into death situations, it's never a private matter. Scripture says we are on display to three different intelligences: angels, devils and humankind.

At times you may feel all alone in your struggle, but you are not involved in some secret battle taking place in a dark corner. On the contrary, three realms are watching you with great interest. Devils are watching you, angels are watching you, and people are watching you. And they are all wondering, “How is this servant of God going to respond to his trial?”

What are such spectacle-trials all about? Why must we go through these deaths? What is in us that God is after? Our heavenly Father knows that certain unredeemed areas in our lives hinder the full manifestation of Christ's life in us. He knows our stumbling blocks, our fears, our ambitions, our lusts—everything that blocks a full shining forth of Jesus. So He allows us to be put into “death situations” to rid our hearts of these hindrances.

If your hindrance is a fear of man, God may lead someone into your life whose presence paralyzes you with fear. Everything that person says or does adds to your fear, until it becomes unbearable.

I have seen such fear cause physical pain to God's saints. Some have ended up hyperventilating over the "hard person" in their life, literally losing their breath. Why does God allow such a man or woman to become involved in your life? It happens because your loving Father is handing you over to death. He's telling you, “Your fear of man hinders the precious flow of the Christ-life in you, thus it cannot produce life in others. This fear in you must end. You have to die to it!”

Your cry to Him may be, “Lord, get me out of this!” But God responds, “No I'm going to let death do its work. I have arranged all of this so the life of Jesus might be manifest in you!” 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

HANDED OVER TO DEATH DAILY

The godly apostle Paul was full of the Holy Spirit and revelation knowledge. He prayed fervently and walked daily in intimate communion with Jesus. Yet he admitted he was continually buffeted, defamed, despised and reviled. He was gossiped about, his character was attacked, and his name was reproached.

Paul suffered so much so often, even his spiritual children wondered why he constantly faced trouble and persecution. Every time they saw him, his face was bruised, his bones were broken, or his body was covered with marks. Of course, this hurt Paul deeply. Here was a powerful, sincere preacher of God's grace and deliverance and everywhere he turned, he was reviled and defamed.

The apostle said he had one friend left, Onesiphorus, who “was not ashamed of my chain [bonds]” (2 Timothy 1:16). Paul said of his friend, “This man is not ashamed of my imprisonment. He knows better than to think there's some hidden sin in my life!”

Paul also said he was encouraged by a group of believers who “had compassion of me in my bonds” (Hebrews 10:34). He was saying, “These people feel what I'm feeling.” They stood by Paul in his trials because they themselves had been “made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions . . . whilst ye became companions of them that were so used” (verse 33). These believers had become the apostle's “companions in afflictions” because the same thing that was happening to Paul had happened to them!

I know a deeply spiritual minister who endured years of satanic buffeting and persecution from other believers. Every time I saw him, he asked me to pray for him about his troubles. I gladly complied but over time, as his trials persisted, I grew bothered. Finally, I asked him point-blank: “I don't understand why you're always so harassed. You're one of the godliest pastors I know. You're intimate with the Lord, always in prayer, continually studying His Word. Why would He allow you to face such constant trouble?”

But now I understand that this godly minister was handed over to death situations daily because he was full of resurrection life. God wanted to use him in a mighty way so He kept handing him over to death in every area of his life. God wanted nothing to remain that would hinder the beautiful manifestation of Christ in him.

Satan was set on destroying Paul because he knew a great manifestation of Christ was about to shine forth in his life! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

DELIVERED UNTO DEATH

The apostle Paul writes, “We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11).

When Paul says, "We which live," he is echoing Jesus’ words from Revelation 1:18: “I am he that liveth.” Paul is speaking here of Christians, those who trust in Christ and have His life abiding in them. Yet, Paul actually is telling us we also have been handed over to death.

That's right, just as the Father handed His Son over to death, He likewise hands over all who are in Christ. God leads each of us by the hand to the very gates of death and says, “Here, death, take this one too. Do what you will with him!” And at that point, God's hand is no longer one of protection. Rather, it ushers us into the very jaws of death.

You ask why God would do this. He does it for the same reason He gave over His own Son to death. He knows that death, pain and sorrow can no longer swallow us up or destroy us because we have within us the life of Christ Himself!

God knows there is no risk for us, just as there wasn't for Jesus. And He has a plan of victory for us, just as He had for His own Son but this victory can only be accomplished in us through death.

Paul warns, “If you have the resurrection life of Christ in you, God is going to plunge you into death every day of your life!”

The apostle adds, “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter” (Romans 8:36). The Greek meaning here is, “Every day we are handed over to death.” In short, Paul is saying, “Every day I face a new death situation.”

Please understand that Paul is not speaking of physical death here but of a kind of death that happens to us daily in our walk with Christ. When he testifies, "I die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31), he is referring to tribulation, distress, persecution, peril, trouble of all kinds.

Paul is saying, in essence, "We who have the Christ-life in us are constantly being given over to one death situation after another. Every day, some new test is thrust upon us. But we have the life of God's Son within us!” 

Monday, November 18, 2013

BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING by Gary Wilkerson

God wants to bless and favor you. He wants to enrich your marriage and your spiritual life. He wants you to be wise and discerning and make astute decisions that lead to blessing in your life.

We need to be careful about the blessings of God, however. Not careful because He blesses us but careful with what we do with those blessings. Many of us receive blessings from God but then we turn them into something selfish.

In Luke 12:16-19 (ESV), Jesus talks about a man who was blessed: “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?”

God is generous and He loves to pour out gifts on His children. The man in this story was blessed abundantly but as we look closely at the contrast in this story, we see that it takes a turn into the wrong direction.

We see that the blessed man “thought to himself.” That is often where the problem begins, my friend. God begins to bless us and we start thinking, “What am I going to do with this?” When we start going down the road of wondering what to do with our resources, selfishness usually follows. Look at the language here: “And he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?”

Whose crops (blessings) are they? They belong to God—everything belongs to God! So this man’s mind was becoming selfish. He was beginning to see the gifts from God, the relationships, the talents, as things that could be used for his own benefit, and selfishness began to permeate the very fiber of who he was.

“And he said, I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”

We must be very careful when we hear preaching about the blessings of God. Our perception of His blessings is vitally important. Do we want to heap blessings on ourselves in order to create a perfect little cocoon for our comfort and enjoyment? Or do we want to look around us and bless others? We are blessed from the very beginning of God’s covenant of blessing with mankind—blessed to be a blessing! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE HIM by Claude Houde

I deeply believe that the sin of unbelief is among the most devastating in modern Christianity. Unbelief spiritually puts us to sleep and binds us little by little, inexorably, year after year, until we accept the unacceptable.

The Kingdom of God worldwide is presently experiencing the greatest spiritual revival in the history of mankind. However, during the same period of time, more than 90 percent of evangelical churches throughout North America and Europe have shown no significant growth. They are reduced to recalling their past awakenings, or desperately clinging to the latest fad promising some breathtaking and instantaneous breakthrough. Please understand me. The revivals in Africa, China, Korea, Latin America, and in countries formally behind the Iron Curtain fill us with joy and praise. I thank God for what He has done yesterday—but I am here today! I must repent (change direction) for the dullness in my faith that has caused me to tolerate the intolerable. It is inconceivable to live in such spiritual drought and accept this dreadful routine while new pages of the greatest soul-winning revival in history are being written before our very eyes around the world.

Unbelief is more serious and devastating than we can understand or fathom. Surrounded by a world filled with immorality, decadence, idolatry and demonic religious rituals, Jesus stood firm and stayed strong. But He wept at unbelief; it literally tore Him up. In the gospels, when dealing with Lazarus’ loved ones, Jesus wept because of their hardness of heart and refusal to trust Him (John 11:33-35). He wept as they refused to believe in His promises of power and resurrection—and He weeps over us today as we sit comfortably in spiritual apathy, as we build up rationalizations and embarrassing pseudo-religious “doctrines,” rituals, and sophisticated explanations that allow us to justify our lives so void of true power and supernatural fruit.

My friends, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever and there is no favoritism with our God (see Hebrews 13:8 and Acts 10:34-35). He is immutable (He never changes), omnipotent (there is nothing He cannot do), absolutely just and totally committed and desirous of doing in your life, your city, your church what He is so majestically and so supernaturally doing all over the world. Between us and the limitless greatness of His power stands the gulf of unbelief. That is why we cannot live another day without crying out: Lord, increase our faith! 



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Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

RESURRECTION LIFE

As Jesus lay silent in the grave, Satan and his hordes gloated. They thought they had won an irreversible victory, but all along, God's foreordained plan was being put into operation—a plan for resurrection life!

The Lord sent His Holy Ghost down into the very bowels of death and there the Spirit quickened Jesus’ body, raising Him from the dead. Out of the grave stepped our blessed Savior, right through the thick stone, and He emerged with this testimony:

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18). Christ is saying here, “I am the one who has eternal life! I was dead, but I'm alive, now and forever. I hold the very keys to life and death in My hands!”

The moment Jesus walked out of death's prison, He became the resurrection and the life. He did this not only for Himself, but for all who would believe on Him from that day on. He has brought forth to us a resurrection life totally beyond death's power! Thus, there is no longer any reason for a Christian to fear death or to see it as an enemy. Our Lord has conquered it completely: “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death” (Acts 2:24).

If you have received Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then He resides in you as a mighty power of resurrection life. The same resurrection power that brought Him up out of the grave will sustain you as well. “Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). You have within your being all that is in Christ, a powerful life force that Satan cannot destroy!

“I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:14-16).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

HANDED OVER TO DEATH

On the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter declared to the crowds in Jerusalem, “[Jesus of Nazareth], being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:22-23).

What did Peter mean by saying this? One Greek dictionary translates his words this way: “Jesus was handed over to enemies, given over to death according to the predetermined plan of God."

What a strange, incomprehensible act by a supposedly loving heavenly Father. God deliberately handed over His Son to death! It was as if He purposely led Jesus into the hands of His worst enemies and said, “Here's My Son—do with Him what you will.” Then He stood by, doing nothing to stop His Son's wicked enemies from killing Him.

What kind of predetermined plan was this? Why would God hand over His own beloved Son to death? Peter gives us the answer in the very next verse: “Because it was not possible that he should be [held] of it (death)” (Acts 2:24).

God knew it was impossible for Jesus to be held permanently in death's grip. So there was no risk for Him in handing His Son over to death because He knew Jesus would come out of the grave a glorious victor over death—raised up by the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit!

It is important, however, to understand the times in which Peter spoke these words. Up until Calvary, death was a very fearful thing to humankind. It was still the devil's domain, under his rule and lordship, and therefore an enemy to be feared.

God knew this power of death had to be broken and that is why He handed over His Son to death.

“That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). God wanted to remove death's sting, to break Satan's power over death once and for all, so He allowed Jesus to go down into death in order to swallow it up. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

BELIEVE HIS WORD

If you wonder why you keep falling—why you continue to feel weak and powerless, doing the very thing you hate—it may be because you have not fully trusted in God's glorious promises.

God made many promises to Abraham, promises to be his shield and his reward, to defeat all his enemies, and even perform miracles for him—such as giving him a child in his old age. Abraham believed these promises and God said his faith was credited as righteousness.

Likewise, the moment we give up fighting our spiritual enemies in our own strength and start settling in our hearts that God is able to perform whatever He promises, we will see the beginning of our righteousness.

God helps us in this by sending His very own Spirit to take up residence in our hearts. The Holy Ghost is the power of God, and that power declares war on all demonic powers: “The Spirit [fights] against the flesh” (Galatians 5:17).

The Spirit declares, “This is now My dwelling place, devil. You no longer rule here and your battle is no longer against My child. You're up against Me now and I'm going to foil your schemes and fight you on every front. This child is now the temple of the Holy Ghost!”

Walking in the Spirit is not complicated. It is simply believing what God has said: “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (verse 16). Simply put, “Trust in the Holy Ghost! Believe in His pledge to take up your cause and walk in the power of His promise to fight for you!”

God's Word gives us an ironclad promise that is a sure cure for all mental anguish:

“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

Do you see what God is saying? His Spirit does all the work in you! He will cleanse you and give you a new heart and then He will bring you into obedience. Your part is to believe that He will keep His word—with unwavering faith!

Trust your problems, your future, your life and your sins into the hands of almighty God.





Dear Friends:

Just a few days ago Typhoon Haiyan brought devastation, destruction, and death to thousands in the Philippines. We grieve with those who have lost loved ones, homes, and are now trying to find hope in the midst of a battered life.

World Challenge has longstanding relationships with many pastors who are present to these very pressing needs. These pastors are able to distribute food, medicine and water to those who have lost all. As Christ’s church we can be the loving hands that bring the hope of Jesus in these difficult circumstances.

Please pray and please give. Should the Lord put on your heart to give through World Challenge, rest assured that 100% of your donation will go directly to these people. To donate, please visit http://worldchallenge.org/donate and select "Typhoon Haiyan Relief" as your gift designation. Thank you for your immediate attention in this crisis.

With you in Christ,
Gary Wilkerson 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

DELIVERED UNTO DEATH

The apostle Paul writes, “We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11).

When Paul says, "We which live," he is echoing Jesus’ words from Revelation 1:18: “I am he that liveth.” Paul is speaking here of Christians, those who trust in Christ and have His life abiding in them. Yet, Paul actually is telling us we also have been handed over to death.

That's right, just as the Father handed His Son over to death, He likewise hands over all who are in Christ. God leads each of us by the hand to the very gates of death and says, “Here, death, take this one too. Do what you will with him!” And at that point, God's hand is no longer one of protection. Rather, it ushers us into the very jaws of death.

You ask why God would do this. He does it for the same reason He gave over His own Son to death. He knows that death, pain and sorrow can no longer swallow us up or destroy us because we have within us the life of Christ Himself!

God knows there is no risk for us, just as there wasn't for Jesus. And He has a plan of victory for us, just as He had for His own Son but this victory can only be accomplished in us through death.

Paul warns, “If you have the resurrection life of Christ in you, God is going to plunge you into death every day of your life!”

The apostle adds, “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter” (Romans 8:36). The Greek meaning here is, “Every day we are handed over to death.” In short, Paul is saying, “Every day I face a new death situation.”

Please understand that Paul is not speaking of physical death here but of a kind of death that happens to us daily in our walk with Christ. When he testifies, "I die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31), he is referring to tribulation, distress, persecution, peril, trouble of all kinds.

Paul is saying, in essence, "We who have the Christ-life in us are constantly being given over to one death situation after another. Every day, some new test is thrust upon us. But we have the life of God's Son within us!” 

Monday, November 11, 2013

YOU ARE BLESSED by Gary Wilkerson

“In [Isaac’s] offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge” (Genesis 26:4-5, ESV).

Obeyed is a key word here in this passage because obedience brings blessing. You take a step of faith and say, “God, this is hard, and I’m not even sure I can do this.” But you step into it and say, “God, I’m going to obey” and when you do that, the windows of heaven will open to you. Grace empowers us to do what God calls us to do.

We are called to be holy people—to be set apart—to be reverent to the Lord—to obey His commands. Disobedience often robs us of the favor and blessing and completeness of the work that He wants to do in our lives.

No matter what God tells you to do, obey Him. If He tells you to give, obey Him. If He tells you to go, obey Him. If He tells you to stay, obey Him. Do not live by what you want to do, live by what God wants you to do and you will find blessings coming to you, on you, around you. Things that you touch will be blessed by the Lord.

“And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold” (verse 12). We see that Isaac planted and reaped a great harvest. God is not anxious or upset about the economy of America. He is not worried about what is going on in your your job or in your household. Why? Because He has all the ability, all the resources, all power in heaven to be able to meet all your needs according to His riches in glory.

God wants you to know that He is blessing you. That is His heart. Get rid of this notion of a cranky, old-fashioned God up in heaven just waiting for you to make a mistake so that He can take stuff away from you. No! God wants to empower you to be obedient because He loves to bless you. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

CATCHING FIRE by Jim Cymbala

Upon my return from a short, restful trip, I greeted the people of my congregation with something important on my heart.

“Brothers and sisters,” I began, “I really feel that I’ve heard from God about the future of our church. While I was away, I was calling out to God to help us—to help me—understand what He wants most from us. And I believe I’ve heard an answer.

“It’s not fancy or profound or spectacular. But I want to say to you today with all the seriousness I can muster: From this day on, the prayer meeting will be the barometer of our church. What happens on Tuesday night will be the gauge by which we will judge success or failure because that will be the measure by which God blesses us.

“If we call upon the Lord, He has promised in His Word to answer, to bring the unsaved to Himself, to pour out His Spirit among us. If we don’t call upon the Lord, He has promised nothing—nothing at all. It’s as simple as that. No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in, the future will depend upon our times of prayer.

“This is the engine that will drive the church. Yes, I want you to keep coming on Sundays—but Tuesday night is what it’s really all about.”

A minister from Australia (or perhaps it was New Zealand) happened to be present that morning—a rare occurrence. After I introduced him and invited him to say a few words, he walked to the front and made just one comment:

“I heard what your pastor said. Here’s something to think about: You can tell how popular a church is by who comes on Sunday morning. You can tell how popular the pastor or evangelist is by who comes on Sunday night. But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to the prayer meeting.”

And with that he walked off the platform. That was all. I never saw him again.


__________


Jim Cymbala began Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson and a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge throughout the world. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

THE LORD’S PLAN FOR US

The Lord's plan for us has always been simple. He has said, “You don't have to fear any power that comes against you. I'll act as your defender at all times. If you will simply trust My sworn promises, casting yourself into My care by faith, I will be almighty God to you. I will conquer all your enemies and cast them down before you. You’ll be victorious, more than a conqueror—living out your days in peace, with no fear!”

I ask you: Are you living out your days without fear—with a calm spirit and a peaceful mind? Most of us do not live even a fraction of our time that way. We go in and out of our moments of peace, but we do not fully enter into God’s rest.

If you are troubled, perplexed, distressed over a besetting sin, you have to understand that God is not mad at you! He does not want to discipline or judge you. On the contrary, He yearns to infuse you with His omnipotent power!

God says essentially the same thing in all of His covenants: “I'm looking for a people who will believe I will deliver them from all their enemies!” “The covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies” (2 Kings 17:38-39).

In the Old Testament, those enemies were heathen nations—Philistines, Moabites, Hittites, Jebusites, Canaanites. All these evil powers sought to destroy God's people and place them back in bondage.

Today our enemies exist in the spiritual realm—demonic powers, fleshly lusts, evil desires. And in the New Testament, God repeats His pledge to His people:

“I am going to be God to you and you are going to be My son, My daughter. In fact, you will be My child from now through all eternity. Therefore, remember the covenant I have made with you. You shall not fear any man or power, but only Me. I will deliver you out of the hands of all your enemies, including demonic harassment, clinging lusts, dominating habits, all besetting sins” (see Hebrews 8:10). 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

THE SEED OF ABRAHAM

There is victory available to us over all the things that trouble our minds. It is wrapped up in a covenant God made years ago with Abraham and his descendants:

“That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (Luke 1:71-75).

God's oath to Abraham and his children is crystal clear: He will deliver us from all our enemies, so that we can live without fear—untroubled and at rest—every day of our lives!

Beloved, this covenant applies to every one of us living today. According to Paul, all who have received Christ as Lord by faith are “Abraham's seed.” “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Romans 9:8). “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).

So, how can we lay claim to this covenant promise? Abraham asked a similar question of the Lord when he saw no release from his dilemma. He asked, “What will you give me, Lord, seeing that I have no child?” Here was God's answer: “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1).

The Lord told him, “Abraham, I'm going to give you Myself—and that is all. I will be your defender and your great reward because I am who I am. You need never fear another enemy as long as you live, because I will be God to you!”

The Lord gives us a glorious promise just like this one in His new covenant when He says, “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:10). Indeed, from the very beginning of creation, through all of Scripture, we hear God making this plea to humankind: “I want to be God to you!” 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

GODLY SORROW

I believe we can know our true spiritual state by how troubled we become over our slightest sin against our Lord.

Some Christians only grieve over what they consider the “big sins”—adultery, drug abuse, drinking, cursing. But the truly spiritual person knows that no sin is small in God's sight and so he grieves every time he gossips, tells a dirty joke or has a lingering evil thought. He knows these things spring from his heart, the very center of his being.

You can disobey God in such “small things,” excusing yourself and forgetting all about them. But if you do, you will never mature in Christ. Your righteousness is measured by your unwillingness to accept anything that grieves your blessed Savior.

Not long ago, I said something very un-Christlike to my wife. My words were totally uncalled for, and I immediately fell under conviction. I knew I’d wronged her, so I asked her forgiveness; then I hugged her and told her I loved her.

But my mind was still troubled. I thought, “How could I be capable of something so unlike Jesus? After all, I've never been closer to the Lord. I've never prayed more than I have in the past year. I must be utterly wicked to have such a crude thing spring out of my heart.”

In that moment, the enemy whispered to me, “That little slip-up was no big deal. It was such a small thing.” But the Holy Spirit immediately rose up in my heart to refute the devil's voice. He reassured me, “David, the very fact you’re grieving over this sin is proof I’m at work in you. The more you grieve over even the smallest transgression against My love, the closer you get to victory.”

God sent His Spirit to us to wage war against our flesh and its desires and lusts. So, if you aren't troubled when you fail—if you are able to shake off your sin with no sense of guilt, sorrow or regret—then the Holy Spirit is not in you doing warfare.

“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner” (2 Corinthians 7:9).

If you are being convicted by even the lightest transgression, you are close to true victory. He is winning the battle in your heart by producing a godly sorrow that leads to true repentance. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DO NOT BE TROUBLED

A troubled mind is one that suffers from continual discontentment. It is pressed down, disturbed, restless, fretting about the future and the past, as well as present circumstances. I am convinced there are more troubled minds today than in any past generation.

Apparently many lovers of Jesus are just as troubled in mind as the masses of unbelievers. I see evidence of this in some of the letters our ministry receives. Scores of believers lie awake at night, troubled and distressed. They go to church hoping to experience some kind of release from their burdens but once they leave the service, their troubles return.

Jesus warned that in the last days people’s hearts would be troubled by all the crises taking place in the world.

“There shall be . . . distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).

Jesus said the events coming upon the world would be so frightening, people would literally drop dead from heart failure.

Years ago a letter came from a preacher in his nineties. He remembers the immorality of the 1920’s that brought judgment on America through the Great Depression. He has witnessed two World Wars. He has seen transportation change from horse-drawn carriages to space shuttles, and communication change from crackling radios to the Internet. In short, he's seen it all.

Now he writes that the wickedness taking place in our nation today grieves him more than any he has ever witnessed. He can hardly take it all in, he says, because it is happening so fast, and the depths of depravity are beyond comprehension.

Yet Jesus gives us a word of reassurance in spite of everything we see taking place. He commands, “See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6). He is telling us, “Let none of these bad things I'm warning you about trouble your mind!”

Monday, November 4, 2013

A NEW CHAPTER by Gary Wilkerson

There are 28 chapters in the book of Acts, but for centuries God has been writing another chapter through tens of thousands of His disciples. Their names are not Philip or Tabitha or Timothy. No, today they have names like Jenny, Jimmy and Jonathan.

Jenny, a red-haired Australian, attends our church in Colorado Springs. She has the most fun laugh you’ve ever heard—and she’s crazy for the gospel. Every day she and her husband see God’s power move on the people they encounter.

Then there is a disciple named Jimmy, with whom I have ministered alongside for decades. Few people evangelize the way Jimmy does. Recently, when he led someone to the Lord, he suggested, “Let me lead a Bible study in your house.” Soon more people in that neighborhood were coming and getting saved. Jimmy did the same thing in another neighborhood. And then another. Bible studies are popping up all over the city because of one radical Christian who believes in the Spirit’s power to move hearts supernaturally.

Jonathan is a thirteen-year-old disciple in our church who prays with the authority of a lifelong missionary. His prayers bring adults to their knees because he has the sound of a broken and contrite heart. Jonathan hungers to see God save the lost, and his spiritual hunger is infectious.

The disciples I am describing are twenty-first century Christians who have been given first century power. Likewise, you and I are called to be equipped by the Spirit of God to do the work of God. I believe it is time for many in the church to no longer be mere hearers of His Word but also doers. Bible studies and prayer groups are good, of course. But it is one thing to know about Jesus and His glory and quite another to have His Spirit living inside us so that we minister as He did. The Holy Spirit has come to live in us so He can accomplish His purposes through us.

I urge you to pray with me: “Lord, may I be strong in learning Your Word—and may I be equally strong in doing your Word. Bring Pentecost here today, Lord! Amen.”

Saturday, November 2, 2013

IN PERILOUS TIMES by Carter Conlon

In the days when I was a police officer in Canada, the law was that it was a crime to do something that would cause harm to another person, but neglecting to do something that resulted in another person’s harm was equally criminal. Take a moment to think about that in light of the numbers of people in our generation who are about to perish without God. So many are living under the illusion that mankind can pursue his own objectives, follow his own reasoning, and still manage to arrive at some utopian end. Yet, in reality, the end that awaits those who choose to live without God is one of such terror that our minds cannot even begin to comprehend it.

You and I are aware of the reality of heaven and hell, and we also know that in between the two stands a Savior. We know the truth because the truth has set us free. The truth has made us into new creations and continues to usher us into greater measures of strength and freedom every day as we sincerely follow Christ. We do not hold to a mere concept about God, we have the living reality of God inside of us. And so the question arises: Why is it that we, knowing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so often remain silent?

The Root of the Problem

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:7-8).

Paul identifies the root of this problem of remaining silent as fear or more specifically, as I see it, the fear of man—a fear of retaliation and rejection. It is not debatable that we are going to experience rejection when we choose to stand for what represents God in a godless hour. Yet just as Paul warned Timothy, we are not to back away in the face of difficulty. God is willing to give us the power we need to partake of the inconvenience, the rejection, the scorn, the retaliation—these “afflictions” of the gospel.



_________


Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed to the office of Senior Pastor in 2001. A strong, compassionate leader, he is a frequent speaker at the pastors’ and leaders’ conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world.

Friday, November 1, 2013

AHAB’S COVENANT WITH THE WORLD

At one time Ahab did repent at the preaching of Elijah: “And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me?" (1 Kings 21:29). From that day on he could look back and say, "Repentance? Yes, under the preaching of that great prophet of God, Elijah." But to Ahab it was a one-time experience, not a daily walk. The problem was that he had become a friend and brother to the world. Brother, meaning "affinity, one just like me, one I respect." He was in covenant with what God had cursed. Ahab claimed to love the truth, but deep inside he hated reproof.

Many today say, “We want only the truth. Preach it like it is!” But in their hearts they are saying, "Too much gloom, it’s too hard. I can't stand anymore of this."

Ahab was blind to the terrible fact that he was being guided by a lying spirit. This lying spirit caused Zedekiah, a false prophet, to boast that the Spirit of God was upon him (see 1 Kings 22:24). Ahab was now fully persuaded he was hearing God's voice and that he would come back victorious.

Christians bound by the Jezebel doctrine are 100 percent sure they are right. They cannot see the deception. Ahab did not go up thinking, "The four hundred are false; they have no word from God.” No, he went up fully convinced—fully deceived—totally seduced.

Why do some Christians fall into deception? "Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?" (Jeremiah 7:8-10). There is the answer. A clinging to some pet sin, some secret idol in the heart. A justifying of sin, a brotherhood with the world. Then they come to God's house boasting, "I'm not convicted." This is an open invitation to lying spirits.