Friday, February 28, 2014

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REPENT?

Some Christians believe repentance means simply to “turn around” and go in the opposite direction. But the Bible tells us repentance is much more than this.

The full, literal meaning of the word “repent” in the New Testament is “to feel remorse and self-reproach for one’s sins against God; to be contrite, sorry; to want to change direction.” The difference in meanings here rests on the word “want.” True repentance includes a desire to change!

Moreover, simply being sorry does not constitute repentance. Rather, true sorrow leads to repentance. Paul states, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Paul is speaking here of a sorrow that is without regrets—one that is genuine, that “sticks” in the life of the repentant person. This kind of godly sorrow naturally produces a repentance that includes a hatred for sin, a righteous fear of God and a desire to right all wrongs.

It should not surprise us, then, that Paul preached repentance to believers. He delivered a strong message of repentance to the Christians in Corinth. The Corinthian believers had been richly blessed by God, having sat under mighty teachers of the Word, yet their congregation remained rife with sin.

First Paul testifies to the Corinthians, “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (2 Corinthians 12:12). But then Paul tells them very directly: “I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would” (verse 20).

What was Paul’s fear? It was simply this: “Lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall [mourn] many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed” (verse 21).

This tenderhearted shepherd loved the compromising saints in Corinth. Yet he knew they had been well-taught that a lifestyle of gross sin was wrong. He told them, “When I come to visit you, you’re going to see me hanging my head in grief. My eyes will flow with tears, and my voice will wail in sorrow.

“If I see you continuing to indulge in uncleanness, fornication and lust, I’ll be utterly broken, because the gospel has not done its work in your heart. You haven’t yet repented of your sin. And I will call you loudly to repent!”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST

What gospel did Peter preach to the masses on the Day of Pentecost? The Bible tells us that when the people heard the apostle testify, “They were pricked in their heart, and said . . . Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37-38).

Peter did not tell these people just to “believe and be saved.” Nor did he ask them to merely make a decision, to cast a vote for Jesus. No, he told them to repent first, and then be baptized in obedience to Christ!

What gospel did Paul preach to the pagan Athenians on Mars Hill? He told them very directly, “God . . . now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

These Greek intellectuals had no trouble believing in God. In fact, you could say their very pastime was “believing” in many gods—first this one, then that one. Whenever someone came along preaching a god persuasively, they believed in it. So, they believed—but they did it while living in sin. Simple belief was not enough!

Paul told these men, “No! No! Jesus cannot simply be added to your list of gods. You may believe in them all, but you can’t do that with Jesus. He has come to save you from your sins and He commands all His followers to repent and be cleansed!”

Later, Paul preached the same gospel of repentance to King Agrippa: “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:19-20).

Paul is saying, “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve preached repentance. And genuine repentance proves itself by its actions!”

These passages make clear to us that the apostolic church preached unabashedly the same gospel John and Jesus preached: “Repent for the remission of your sins!”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

PREACHING REPENTANCE

What was the first message Jesus delivered after He emerged from the temptation in the wilderness? Scripture says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

Jesus called people to repent before He even called them to believe. Mark writes, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Christ preached, “Repent first—and believe.”

Elsewhere Jesus says of His mission, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). And He told the Galileans, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

Jesus’ gospel was all about repentance!

John the Baptist also preached repentance, to prepare Israel for the coming of Christ. John’s message to the Jews was simple and straightforward: “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:1-2).

People came from everywhere to hear John preach. And he told them in no uncertain terms: “The Messiah is soon to appear in your midst, so you’d better get ready to meet Him! You may feel excited that He’s coming, but I’m telling you, your hearts are not prepared because you’re still holding on to your sins.

“Outside you appear clean and holy. But inside, you’re full of dead men’s bones! You’re a generation of vipers, snakes, with absolutely no fear of God [see Matthew 3:7-12]. Yet you have no concept that you’re even sinners. I warn you—you must deal with your sin before you can believe on the Savior and follow Him. So, repent, turn from your sin and live in a way that reflects genuine change!”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

IT’S TIME TO ACT IN LOVE

“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

The word “mercy” here is extracted from misericordia, the Greek word for “misery.” The full meaning of this word is: “to take to heart the misery of another, with the intention of giving him comfort and relief.” So being merciful means taking on another person’s hurt!

This is just what our Lord does for us. How many times has Jesus taken on your misery and suffering, giving you comfort, rest and forgiveness in return? How often has He wiped away your tears and spoken a kind word to you when you didn't deserve it? He has done it time after time after time!

How can you not find it in your heart to take on the misery and pain of someone you know is hurting? The Greek word for “kindness” has its roots in these words: “oracle” and “soft touch.” Are you an oracle of hope to your brothers and sisters in Christ, offering them a word of hope from the Lord, with the soft touch of comfort? According to Scripture, all you have to do to be His oracle of love is to represent to others who Jesus is.

The word “compassion” means “being affected, touched by the misery of others, and determining to do something about it.” This doesn’t mean approaching someone in sin and telling him, “I’ve got a word from heaven for you, brother. You’ve got sin in your life!”

If he has sin in his life, he already knows it! And he would probably answer you with Jeremiah’s cry: “Please, don't deal with me in anger, or you’ll reduce me to nothing. I’m already down far enough. Don’t reduce me any further!”

If you have had a revelation of the Lord’s glory, you know what it means to taste His love, mercy and forgiveness. And you are being changed by that glory. Now, Jesus says, take that glory and shine it on the world around you. It is time to act in love, as your Lord has continually done for you!

Monday, February 24, 2014

SIT DOWN AND BEHOLD by Gary Wilkerson

Ezekiel was a great prophet who moved mightily in the Spirit. In Ezekiel 37, God gave him a vision that I believe holds a timely message of spiritual awakening for the dry church of today.

Like most Old Testament prophets, Ezekiel served Israel’s king. This often meant traveling with the king’s army and witnessing the horrors of war. Ezekiel saw a lot of carnage no person should ever have to see. Yet he beheld a vision that surpassed anything he had seen before. This vision was from the Holy Spirit and Ezekiel testified, “The hand of the Lord was upon me” (Ezekiel 37:1).

In this life, we are going to witness a lot of difficult things. Several weeks ago I prayed with a mother whose 22-year-old son had died suddenly—a young man I had known since he was two. Year after year, I see marriages fall apart. I observe drug addiction destroying young lives in their prime. As I drive to my office each day, I think of the 80 percent of our city’s population who do not know Jesus.

When God created humankind, He did not intend for us to experience the sinful things that befall us. Yet, even as we witness tragedy, we rest in God’s hand as Ezekiel did—and the Bible says no power can pluck us from it. This truth must be established in our hearts. If we are to do battle with the dark forces that come against our families, our young people and our communities, we have to know we are constantly protected and watched over.

God told Ezekiel, “Sit down and behold what I want to show you. I am about to perform an amazing work, yet you won’t be able to grasp it with your human understanding. You need My Spirit to reveal to you what I am going to do.”

The Hebrew word for “sit down” in Ezekiel 37 is the same word found in Luke 24:49, when Jesus instructed His disciples, “Stay [sit down] in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” The meaning in both instances is, “Lay down your plans and strategies. Then wait on Me to fill you with My power.”

I am convinced the church today desperately needs to hear this word. How often do we plan seminars, concerts and conferences — events that won’t make a difference unless Christ breathes life into them? Only when the Holy Spirit fills us will we have something real to give.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

IT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE by Carter Conlon

In Matthew 4, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. He had been without food for forty days when Satan came to Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matthew 4:3). In other words, “If You are God’s Son, must You go through hardship? You shouldn’t have to suffer and be deprived. Just command these stones to be turned into bread.”

But Jesus replied, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In other words, “I have been sent on a mission by My Father, and I am going to fulfill it. It doesn’t mean that I will always be comfortable. But I have a word from the Father that I am going to finish this journey in victory, and many are coming with Me.”

Many people in our generation have looked for an easy journey and attempted to use the power of God to turn every stone into bread—to make every hard place easy. But Jesus told His disciples, “What man is there of you, if his son asks for bread, will he give him a stone?” In other words, God will give you what you need to get you through every difficulty you face. You don’t have to figure a way out of your dilemma or try to use the power of God to make all the hard places easy.

Jesus continued, “Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent?” This is an incredible statement, for the Father sent His Son to become a fisher of my soul and of yours, and consequently to call us into His work to become fishers of men. This was the redemptive purpose of God in the earth, and it involved a cross—being rejected, enduring the ridicule and scorn of people who were opposing their own salvation. Yet the serpent had come to Jesus in the wilderness saying, “Here are all the kingdoms of the world. All You have to do is bow before me and acknowledge that God’s ways are not the only ways. Just bend Your knee and circumvent the cross—go around the hardship and I will give it all to You right now.”

Now if you ask for a fish, the Father is not going to give you a serpent. You may be asking, “Lord, I don’t want to be just a light testimony of who You are in my generation. Will You make me a fisher of men just as the early church was?” And unlike the serpents who are trying to tempt much of the church of this generation to go a different way, God is not going to come to you and say, “No, life is meant to be easy. You don’t have to suffer for the cause of Christ.” Instead, He will promise to see you through every difficulty that may arise as you walk with purpose in this generation, and He will see you through to a victorious end.


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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, February 21, 2014

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO REPENTANCE?

Whatever happened to repentance? You rarely hear the word mentioned in most churches today. Pastors seldom call for their congregations to mourn and grieve over wounding Christ by their wickedness.

Instead, the message we hear from many pulpits today is, “Just believe. Accept Christ, and you’ll be saved.” The text used to justify this message is Acts 16:30-31. In this passage, the apostle Paul was being held in jail when suddenly the earth shook and all the cell doors opened. The jailer immediately thought all the prisoners had fled, which meant he faced execution. In despair, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself when Paul and Silas stopped him, assuring him no one had escaped.

Seeing this, the man fell down before the apostles and cried out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:30-31).

As we read this passage, it is important to remember that the jailer was on the verge of suicide, with sword in hand. He was already at a point of repentance—on his knees, broken and trembling before the apostles. So his heart was truly prepared to accept Jesus in genuine faith.

In the gospel of Mark, Christ tells His disciples, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). It is clear from what Jesus says here that salvation is found in simply accepting Him and being baptized.

However, Jesus prefaces His statement with this word: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (verse 15). He is saying, in essence, that before people can believe in Him, the gospel must first be preached to them.

And what is this gospel Jesus refers to? It is the gospel that Jesus Himself preached—the gospel of repentance!

Think about it. What was the first message Jesus delivered after He emerged from the temptation in the wilderness? Scripture says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A TIME FOR REJOICING

Adam and Eve brought deceit into their marriage and then compounded their rebellion by hiding from God’s presence. God never hides—only man does. God was vitally involved with that first marriage between the first man and woman and He is just as concerned about every Christian marriage today.

Few marriages can make it if both partners are hiding out from God. Show me a marriage without one partner that is close to Jesus, and I’ll show you a marriage with little chance of survival. At least one of the partners must be in daily consultation with the Lord. It is best when both husband and wife are talking to Him, but if one partner is running from God, it is all the more important that the other be able to run to a secret closet of prayer for help and direction. A praying wife can often save her marriage, as can a praying husband.

Love alone is not enough to keep a marriage strong—only God’s power can do that. That power is at work right now, healing and keeping marriages. Where Jesus rules, the marriage can make it.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy . . . be glory and majesty, dominion and power” (Jude 24-25).

We know that the joy of the Lord is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10), so strong marriages should abound with joy. When a marriage loses its joy, it becomes weak and vulnerable.
Yes, every marriage will face challenges. There may be sickness, financial troubles, misunderstandings or pain, but life goes on. God is on the throne and He has everything under control. I thank God for a partner who loves me and I plan to enjoy every moment of my life and keep the joy flowing. There is a time for weeping but also a time for rejoicing. The good outweighs the bad so look up and live!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

CHURCH STARTS AT HOME

We have seen in Scripture that God’s true Church is wherever believers minister to the Lord—and that ought to be happening in your home. The apostle Paul tells us of Priscilla and Aquila, “The church . . . is in their house” (Romans 16:5).

Many Christians come home to a blaring TV and give little, if any, time to ministering to Christ. They never pray. They never shut themselves into their secret closet to seek the Lord or intercede for their spouses and children. Yet they complain that they can’t find a church.

It does not matter if there is no husband or father in your home to act as priest. You may be a single mother, or a single man or woman. Yet no matter who you are, God says you are a royal priest and you are called to minister to Him.

You may say, “But I’ve already found the right church and I meet the Lord there every week. I hear godly preaching and I enter into wonderful worship. I’m satisfied with my church.”

I rejoice with you over that. But if you see church as being just your local fellowship, then you still have not found the true Church. The God-blessed, righteous Church starts where you live.

If you are not ministering to the Lord in your home, then most likely you are focused only on your own personal needs. And you will not find the right church until you go to your secret prayer chamber. You will find it by giving Jesus quality time—by serving His desire for communion with you!

When your home becomes a church, all your deepest needs will be met—not by human means, but supernaturally by your Father in heaven. Your children's needs will be met, as well, all because the Holy Spirit communes with you in the closet of prayer. Then you can go to any church, no matter how dead it may seem. Why? You do it so that you can connect with other hungry seekers there. He has hungry servants everywhere and He will supernaturally bring you to those who share your hunger to minister to the Lord.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

GOD HIDES HIS FACE FROM WICKEDNESS

God “hides His face” from all foolishness and mockery (see Jeremiah 33:5). Yet He never hides Himself from those who shut themselves in with Him. He told the prayerful Jeremiah, “Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth” (Jeremiah 33:6).

These were amazing words! God was telling the prophet, “Believe it or not, Jeremiah, I am going to heal My people. In fact, I’m going to lead them into abundant peace and truth! I’m about to bring a great cleansing, with new mercies. And My Church will once again be a place of joy and true praises, where all bondages are broken!”

The Lord then gave this glorious covenant promise: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Again in this place, which is desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities thereof, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down” (Jeremiah 33:12). He was saying, “I’m going to establish a multitude of godly priests in cities everywhere. And they’ll serve Me in truth, causing My sheep to lie down in rest!”

In every city and town, whether in the mountains or valleys, the north or south, there would be a "sheepcote"—a pen for the flock—with a shepherd to watch over it. And “the flocks [shall] pass again under the hands of him that telleth them, saith the Lord” (verse 13). This verse speaks of intimate, personal concern for every sheep. God was saying, “These godly priests will care for My people individually!”

The Lord then summed up His blessing of restoration, saying, “Behold, the days come . . . that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah” (verse 14). This “good thing” sounded almost too good to be true. Not only would God cleanse His Church and restore His people but He would provide them with godly shepherds!

Only the Lord Himself could perform such an amazing work. No evangelist, teacher or new movement could accomplish it. It would happen only by covenant promise. I believe God was speaking these promises to Jeremiah about our day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

HE DOES NOT CONDEMN US by Gary Wilkerson

“The accuser of our brethren . . . who accused them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10, NKJV). Satan’s accusations are one thing Jesus came to deal with as our living, breathing covenant. God did not send a theology to crush the lies of Satan—He sent Jesus! The earliest prophecy in Genesis stated that Satan would bruise the Messiah’s heel but Jesus would crush the devil’s head (see Genesis 3:15). Two thousand years ago, Jesus brought that reality into our lives.

Occasionally I wake up in the middle of the night with a free-floating anxiety. It’s as if I have done something wrong but I don’t know what. That feeling comes from the accuser. He whispers, “You’re no good, worthless, a burden to others. Look at your history, how many times you’ve messed up. You’ll never change.” Our relationship with that voice began in the Garden of Eden, but when Jesus came, He declared, “That ends right now.” He adds an amazing reassurance: “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father” (John 5:45, ESV).

Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11, ESV).

It is absolutely essential that we build on the firm foundation of the knowledge that God does not accuse us! This foundation is not based on law or accusations or despair, but on the glorious, gracious action of God Himself. When He hears an accusation against us, He tells Jesus, “Crush it.” In that moment, we will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit saying, “Do not listen to that lie. It has been destroyed on the cross. God does not accuse you, because His Son has set you free.”

We are going to sin—the Bible makes that clear. But when we do, the voice we hear will be the Holy Spirit’s. He brings conviction for our transgressions, yet it is a hopeful conviction, one that leads to joyful repentance and not to despair.

We have been given Jesus and in our time of discouragement, we will hear His voice above all others: “Neither do I condemn you.” May God supply you with His grace to build on that foundation—and rejoice!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

IMITATE THEIR FAITH by Claude Houde

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:7-8, NIV).

I often have tears in my eyes when I meditate on this passage and its ramifications. I solemnly address every parent, pastor, mature Christian and person in a position of influence who is reading these words. Do you realize that this passage states that God's people (our children, family, friends and every precious soul our Lord puts in our path) must be able to look at our faith and trust in God through every trial and storm, in our deepest values, passion, reactions, decisions and true priorities and literally imitate our faith? This unchangeable and remarkable principle means that my life must become a testimony, a proclamation and irrefutable proof that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

God wants my faith and my trust in Him to plead with everyone who is watching my life—and is tempted to drift away—to believe that God is faithful, He never changes, and he who trusts in Him will never be disappointed! God wants your children and mine to testify to their friends that it is “by watching my mom and dad living their faith, day in and day out, through the terrible tragedies and trials of their lives, through every pain and pressure, that I have decided to live for God. My parents’ faith proved to me that God is alive and is the same yesterday, today and forever.”


It is of supreme importance for every believer to realize that he possesses a sphere of influence that is uniquely his. We each have people we can touch or influence, a work to complete or a purpose to accomplish that no one else can. Dear reader, the people God predestined to be influenced by you—the eternal destiny you were called to fulfill—the greatest man of God in the world cannot do! It is your faith that must produce the fruit of confidence in God in the people who surround you.


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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, February 14, 2014

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A CHURCH?

Maybe you are looking for a church that will teach your children on Sunday mornings. Or perhaps you are looking for true fellowship. Maybe you're hungry for good praise and worship. Or you’re trying to meet some other deep need in your life.

Let me give you this word about God’s true Church: The Bible says you have been appointed as a royal priest unto the Lord. That’s right—you are to be a shepherd, a minister, a priest. And the true Church is to originate in your home.

The Bible says every believer has been called to a godly Zadok priesthood: “But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God: they shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge” (Ezekiel 44:15-16).

You do not have to go to Bible school or have an ordination paper hanging on your wall in order to be part of God’s royal priesthood. Everyone who has been washed in the blood of Jesus has been raised up as a priest unto the Lord.

I grew up in a family that observed what used to be called “family altar.” My father believed that the verse in Hebrews commanding Christians not to forsake corporate assembly was meant for families as well. Therefore, we were not to miss the family altar.

If my siblings and I were out playing with our friends when it came time for family altar, we always came in when our parents called out, “Prayer time!” Everyone in the neighborhood knew the Wilkersons were going to the altar!

My father happily took on the role of priest and shepherd in our home. But what about you? Have you searched your heart about being a priest to your family?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

WHERE ARE ALL THE GODLY SHEPHERDS?

God told the prophet Jeremiah, “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me” (Jeremiah 33:22). He was saying, “I give you this covenant promise that I’m going to increase the holy priesthood that will shepherd my multiplying flocks.”

You may wonder, “Where are all the godly shepherds the Lord promised us? Where are they pastoring? Are you saying we can find their righteous churches in any city, town or village? There aren’t enough Bible schools and seminaries in the world to even begin to fulfill this incredible prophecy. I know the Lord is raising up a host of godly young ministers but surely they are few and far between.”

How will God do this? We find the answer in the book of Revelation: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Revelation 1:5-6). God has made us all His priests! Everyone who has been washed in the blood of Jesus is a member of His royal priesthood.

The apostle Peter echoes this in 1 Peter 2:5: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). God has called us to be priests who minister to Him.

You see, the Lord’s concept of “church” is much different from ours. We think of church as being a ministry to people. It is a place where all the needs of God’s people—spiritual, physical and emotional—are met. Of course, that is all part of what makes up a church. But the true Church, according to Scripture, begins with ministry to Jesus Christ. His concept of the Church is anyplace there is ministry to Him.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

“In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 33:15). What are the “days” God is talking about here? He’s speaking of the time when the vision would be fulfilled—and the “righteous branch” is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ!

Beloved, God has fulfilled this vision through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has established His Church, and its name is not Baptist or Pentecostal or any other name but simply “The Lord our righteousness” (verse 16).

Yet here is the most wonderful news of all. God said this Church “shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honor before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it [make for them]” (verse 9).

The literal meaning of this last phrase is, “They shall quiver and be startled, full of the awe and fear of God.” God was saying, “I’m going to do something so amazing, so clearly full of My abundant peace and truth, that people will tremble with fear!”

Yet, what would cause this fear and trembling? Would it be a harsh message of judgment? The preaching of the law? An expression of God’s wrath? No! All fear and trembling would come through a revelation of God’s goodness, and an expression of His unmerited blessing, providing His people with an abundance of peace and rest.

When the Lord promised to be His people’s righteousness through faith, did the Israelites suddenly begin to walk carelessly, lowering His standard of holiness? No, not at all. Rather, His promise of peace and rest would cause them to tremble in fear.

We see a picture of this holy trembling in Mark 4. When a storm threatened the disciples’ very lives, Jesus rebuked the wind and sea, saying, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). How did the disciples react to this? Scripture says, “They feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (verse 41).

Why did these men “fear exceedingly”? It was because He settled the storm and brought peace and calm. In short, they trembled at the goodness that Christ showed His faithless, undeserving followers.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

FINDING THE RIGHT CHURCH

There is one complaint I hear consistently from Christians all over the world: “I can't find a good church anywhere! I need a place where my family can be ministered to—where we can hear a true word from heaven, and where my children can grow up knowing true righteousness. But I just can’t find that kind of church!”

If you are having trouble finding a good church, I have both good news and bad news for you. First, the bad news: You’ll never find the right church—the righteous, God-blessed church—until you start looking for it in the right place.

Now, here’s the good news: God clearly shows us in His Word where to find this holy, blessed church. In fact, I hope to show you specifically where you can go to find it.

The prophet Jeremiah found the right church “while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison” (Jeremiah 33:1). While the godly prophet Jeremiah sat in prison, Jerusalem, which represented the center of worship for the Old Testament Church, lay in ruin. At one time it was a hallowed place—filled with the glory of God—and was served by holy prophets and sanctified priests.

But Jerusalem became full of sickness and death, peopled by false prophets and the spiritually dead. Had you been one of the holy remnant at that time, you would not have been able to find a single righteous house of worship or even a godly shepherd. Everything once holy and blessed had been brought to devastation.

As Jeremiah looked upon this awful scene, his heart was crushed. He became so focused on the ruin around him that he lost sight of God’s covenant promises to His people. He could have continued in despair, wasting his days brooding and sinking further into hopelessness. He might have thought, “It’s no use; God has hidden His face from us. There is no true house of worship left!”

But suddenly, the Lord spoke to the prophet, saying, “Get on your knees, Jeremiah! Set your heart to pray to Me. You believe there is nothing left of My Church but I’m going to show you the mighty things I have planned for My people” (see 33:3).

If Christians today want to find the right church, they must begin with prayer! No one is ever going to find God’s true Church by jumping on a bus, train or plane and racing around the world in search of it. We simply can’t get to His Church by any modern conveyance. The only reliable map is our secret closet of prayer!

Monday, February 10, 2014

THE BLESSING OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE by Gary Wilkerson

Christ delivered the beatitudes to a fractured, hopeless body of believers: “Blessed are you who are broken, who mourn, who are poor in spirit. You are blessed right now, not because you’ve done anything to earn it but because I am with you” (see Matthew 5:2-11).

What a revelation! We are blessed simply because Jesus is with us. The blessing of Immanuel—“God with us” (Matthew 1:23)—takes on a whole new meaning in light of Isaiah’s prophecy: “I will . . . give you as a covenant to the people . . . to apportion the desolate heritages” (Isaiah 49:8, ESV). The blessing of Christ’s presence was going to silence all our accusing voices.

This silencing happened literally in the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). The religious leaders brought her to Jesus and demanded that He also accuse her but secretly they had another reason for bringing her before Jesus. They wanted to accuse Him!

Have you ever heard Christians accuse God of something? I hear it from people all the time in my pastoral counseling: “God isn’t working in my life. I pray faithfully but He doesn’t answer. I’ve done everything I can, but He still hasn’t set me free.” This is exactly what Satan wants us to do: accuse God in our hearts. It creates an endless cycle of bondage.

Jesus answered the adulterous woman’s— and His own—accusers: “He stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her’” (John 8:7, ESV). God was no longer the One being accused. Jesus had turned the spotlight where it belonged: on their own sin. They responded by “[going] away one by one” (8:9).

Note what Jesus then said to the woman: “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” (8:10). The King James Version translates this verse, “Where are those thine accusers?” This is exactly what Jesus says to us today: “Where are your accusers? Where are the voices that say, ‘You’re sinful, hopeless, a failure’? They’re gone! I am your righteousness now and I have silenced them all.”

When these voices continue to scream and shout in our ears, we will hear another voice above them all: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27, ESV). Christ’s voice will speak to us, “I have silenced your accusers.” His truth cuts through all clamor and din with His peace, which passes all understanding.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

LORD, HELP! by Jim Cymbala

David Jeremiah, my longtime friend from Shadow Mountain Community Church near San Diego, has preached several times at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Immediately after being diagnosed with cancer, he called to ask us to pray. Several months later he returned to visit us during an outreach meeting we held at Madison Square Garden arena. Later he preached at one of our Sunday services. The whole congregation was delighted to see this wonderful Christian brother for whom we had all interceded.

Moved by the love and thanksgiving his appearance produced, David later remarked about it from our pulpit: “I called here as soon as I learned of my sickness because I knew of your emphasis on prayer. In fact, someone just greeted me in the lobby and remarked, ‘Pastor Jeremiah, we really cried out to God on your behalf.’ That is why I called you. I knew your praying wouldn’t be just some mechanical exercise but a real calling out to God with passion for my need. And God brought me through the ordeal.”

That is the literal meaning of the Hebrew word used countless times in the Old Testament when people called upon God. It means to cry out, to implore aid. This is the essence of true prayer that touches God.

Charles Spurgeon once remarked that “the best style of prayer is that which cannot be called anything but a cry.”

Isn’t that what God invites us to do all through the Bible? “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). God is not aloof and He is not disconnected. He says continually through the centuries, “I’ll help you, I really will. When you don’t know where to turn, then turn to Me. When you’re ready to throw up your hands—throw them up to Me. Put your voice behind them, too, and I’ll come and help you.”


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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, February 7, 2014

THE REVELATION OF GOD’S GLORY

Once we receive the revelation of God’s glory, we cannot continue in our old ways of treating others. That must all change.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

God is telling us through Paul, “You have seen My glory, and you know My nature and character—that I am gracious, ready to forgive. Now, I want you to express to others who I am!”

Even though Moses had this revelation of God’s glory, at one point he misrepresented it to the people. He grew impatient with Israel over their disobedience and he angrily struck a rock with his staff, as if to say, “You stiff-necked bunch of rebels!”

God didn’t take kindly to that at all. Once He reveals to you His glory—His kindness, goodness, grace and mercy—His patience will not endure your misrepresenting His glory to others. Now Moses had misrepresented that glory to Israel and as a result, Moses—one of the meekest, godliest figures in the Old Testament—was kept out of God’s fullness. He wasn’t allowed to enter the Promised Land!

We find another illustration of this in one of Jesus’ parables. He speaks of a servant who was forgiven a great debt by his master. The master showed this man incredible kindness, grace and forgiveness. Yet, no sooner was this servant forgiven than he found a man who owed him a small debt and he began choking the debtor until he paid up. The very one who had experienced great love and forgiveness showed no mercy in return.

Jesus is saying in this parable, “You’re misrepresenting the love of the Father! He has given you a touch of His incredible glory through His kindness and the forgiveness of your sins. Yet, now that you’ve seen His glory, you are misrepresenting it to the world.”

This is summed up in Paul's command, “Be merciful to others, even as he has been merciful to you.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

THE FULLNESS OF THE GLORY OF GOD

The radiance that emanated from Moses’ face and heart was the result of his having seen only a little of the fullness of God’s nature (Exodus 34:29). Even so, when the Israelites saw the change in Moses’ countenance, they knew he had had a supernatural experience. His sister, brother and the others exclaimed, “This man has been face to face with God. He has gone beyond” (see Exodus 34:29-35).

Today, we have something far more glorious than even Moses had. We actually touch and handle God’s glory. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (1 John 1:1).

John is saying here, “God revealed the fullness of His glory to us in Christ. We saw His glory embodied in a person and we talked with Him. We even touched Him!”

Today we not only see the fullness of the glory of God but it now abides in us. His glory shines forth in our hearts: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Paul is saying here, “Jesus Christ, God in flesh, embodies all that God is. And since we know God is goodness, love, mercy, grace and long-suffering, we also can be assured that this is the nature of Christ. Since Jesus lives in our hearts, we know that the glory of God isn’t merely out in the cosmos somewhere. No, the fullness of His glory is in us, through the presence of Christ!”

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). Who is this grace? It is Jesus Christ—full of mercy, kindness, love!

“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (verse 12). Paul is telling us, “This grace that abides in you is the revelation of the goodness of Christ. And if you will abide in Him, His revelation will instruct you in holy living!”

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

MORE AND MORE LIKE JESUS

“The children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him” (Exodus 34:35). A person’s countenance is the outward expression of what is in his heart. When the revelation of God’s glory was made real to Moses, it changed his very look!

Paul testified, “It pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him” (Galatians 1:15-16).

Paul was saying, “I have within me much more than some doctrine somebody thought up, more than just a head knowledge of Christ. I have a revelation of who Christ is—a revelation of His grace, mercy and love. And this revelation has become the very source of all I am and do. It’s the very essence of my life!”

The revelation of God’s glory is indeed wondrous. Yet many have turned that very revelation into a license to sin. Jude describes people “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

According to Paul, such people sin “that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1). They are saying, in essence, “If God loves to express Himself through mercy and forgiveness, then I’m going to give Him every opportunity. I’m going to sin and let Him keep loving me, so that grace will flow. What a testimony to the world that will be. I’ll be an object of all that love coming down from heaven.”

Such people are easy to spot. Their countenance gives them away. Isaiah spoke of Israelites who “provoke the eyes of his glory. The [look] of their countenance doth witness against them” (Isaiah 3:8-9). The prophet was saying, “Your sin witnesses against you in your very look. Whatever is in your heart is going to reveal itself in your countenance.”

On the other hand, even the rankest of sinners can tell when you have “been with Jesus.” How can they tell? You look like no one else to them! They say, “You’re different. You carry yourself with a humble assurance and nothing about you seems hidden. You’ve got no secretiveness and you don’t seem to carry any grudges or bitterness. If you did, I’d know it. Your life is an open book!”

Sin, however, wears a certain look. No smile can cover it up and its voice has the sound of emptiness—the echo of a sounding brass, a tinkling cymbal.

Those who have appropriated the glory of God are being changed every day. Their countenance is becoming more and more like that of Jesus!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVETH

At times during my years in ministry, I have been overwhelmed by enemies who have risen up against me. In those times, I felt the discipline of the Lord like a rod on my back. I remember one period in particular, when I was being slandered on all sides. Other ministers asked me, “David, I’m hearing questionable things about you. Are they true? Is all this stuff about you coming from the devil, or is God trying to speak to you?”

Even that question offended me and I became totally overwhelmed by the emotional pain of it all. I grew physically exhausted from the ongoing battle and could barely face going to church to preach. One morning my wife literally had to lift me up from my chair in my study. About halfway to church, I told her I couldn’t go on. I could no longer face another person in our services wondering if I was a phony.

Finally I cried out, “Lord, what have I done to deserve this? Where is my sin?” Then God directed me to this prayer of Jeremiah: “O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:24).

These words from Jeremiah became my daily prayer throughout that severe time of testing: “Lord, chasten me and judge me if you must. But, please, don’t do it in anger! If I hear one more wrathful word, it’ll destroy me. Please don’t reduce me to dust, Lord. I’m low enough!”

Whenever I uttered this prayer, the Lord answered me, “David, if I choose to correct you, it’s because I love you. This test is not about My judgment at all. I am merciful and loving toward you, so stand still and see My glory!” This knowledge of His glory carried me through to a place of total rest—and God vindicated me on all sides.

Beloved, once you have this revelation of God’s glory, you need never again fear that He will correct you in anger. He carries His rod in a tender, loving hand. He will discipline you, but only in gracious compassion. He will never hurt you or cast you aside. Should this not cause our hearts to melt before Him in worship?

“For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:12).

Monday, February 3, 2014

JESUS IS THE COVENANT by Gary Wilkerson

Isaiah was speaking of Jesus when he prophesied these words: “Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you AS A COVENANT TO THE PEOPLE, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages” (Isaiah 49:8, ESV, emphasis mine).

As the church of Jesus Christ, we celebrate Isaiah’s prophetic announcement every Christmas. The prophet declares that God is about to send His Son as the answer to every cry and prayer. Yet there is more embedded in this verse than we usually associate with the story of the baby in a manger. We are told that Jesus was being sent in human form to unveil God’s covenant with man: “I will . . . give you as a covenant to the people.”

When God gave us His New Covenant, He did not set up a new system with a new set of rules. Instead, He sent us a person, Jesus, as the covenant.

The Old Covenant was a set of rules based on conditions. It stated, “If you do this or that, then God will give you life. But if you don’t, you will miss God’s blessing.” Of course, the people constantly fell short of God’s standard. They were unable to keep His law, which was holy and pure, and as a result, their lives were dogged by guilt, shame and despair.

Somewhere along the line we decided that God’s Old Covenant needed to be tweaked. But Jesus didn’t come to modify a Covenant; He came as the Covenant. He didn’t come to show us the blessings of grace; He is the blessing of grace.

Throughout church history, men like Luther and Wesley have emphasized how important it is for God’s people to understand the New Covenant. They saw it as a matter of rightly dividing God’s Word—grasping what is law and what is grace. If we fail to comprehend this one matter, they said, we are doomed to a lifetime of despair. Luther and Wesley knew this to be true because they had experienced that despair for themselves.
Here is the difference: Under the New Covenant, God’s law was no longer an external standard to strive for. Instead, His law would be written on our hearts through the Holy Spirit: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5, ESV). We are filled with the Holy Spirit—the very life of God Himself—to help us obey His Holy Word. Christ loved us and gave Himself for us that we might have this newness of life.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

ASK NOW! by Carter Conlon

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Interestingly, near the end of His life on earth, Jesus also said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). Notice that Jesus was speaking to His disciples at the Last Supper, so to hear that they had asked nothing until this time must have been somewhat perplexing to them. After all, the very essence of discipling is a master/student relationship—one of asking and receiving. The fact that the disciples left their nets and began to follow Jesus was the basis of the relationship. They asked, and He answered and gave them what they needed.

What Jesus was actually telling them, however, was that an unprecedented time of hardship was imminent. You and I know that Jesus was about to be taken captive and as a result, all the disciples would flee. He was essentially saying, “You are going to be afraid, and a sense of loss and sorrow will try to fill your hearts. But I will be with you to give you an inner strength only available to those who are willing to do My work in the earth.” You will see this thought very clearly presented to the disciples in portions of chapters 13 through 18 in the gospel of John. “As you walk in the pathway that I have prescribed before you as My Body, you are going to have hope, vision, and joy. Up to this point you have not asked for what is really yours. But now, if you are willing to ask, you will receive all that you will need.”

In Matthew 25:4-8, Jesus gave an illustration of the day of Christ’s return. The five wise virgins took oil in their lamps, but the five foolish virgins had no oil. When the crisis hit, the foolish said to the wise, “You seem to see something that we don’t see. You stand here saying, ‘Behold the Bridegroom,’ yet we see nothing but darkness and calamity. Give us some of your oil!” Yet, tragically, they asked too late.

Beloved, it is very hard to get the resources that Christ is willing to give once the calamity hits. Remember Noah’s day! Before the floods came, God closed the door of the ark and sealed Noah and his family inside. Imagine when the rain started and people outside began banging on the door. They could not enter because the ark had been closed—the time of asking was over; the time of getting needed strength was past.

Ask Jesus now for the things that you need!


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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.