Thursday, July 31, 2014


In Mark 9, a distraught father brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples seeking deliverance. This boy was not simply troubled or rebellious, he was full of evil spirits, and they controlled his every action. This poor boy was considered absolutely hopeless. He was both deaf and speechless, so he spewed out only guttural sounds. His father had to hold onto him continually, because the demons constantly tried to cast him into the nearest river, lake or open fire. It was a full-time job just keeping this child from killing himself and it must have broken his father’s heart.

Now, as the father stood before the disciples, Satan began manifesting in the boy. He foamed at the mouth and rolled on the ground, contorting and gyrating wildly. Scripture tells us the disciples prayed over him—perhaps for a long time—but nothing happened. Soon the doubting scribes crowded around, asking, “Why is the boy not healed? Is this case too hard for your Lord? Is the devil more powerful in this kind of situation?”

But then Jesus came on the scene! The father said, “I brought my son to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him. He’s a hopeless case.” Jesus responded simply, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible” (Mark 9:23). Christ was telling everyone present, “Do you believe I can handle all situations except those under the devil’s control? I tell you, there is no problem, no impossible circumstance that I cannot fix.”

Then, with just one word, Jesus made the impossible a reality: “He rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him” (9:25). At that point, the boy fell to the ground as if dead. But, Scripture says, “Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose” (9:27).

Can you imagine the joy in this scene? That clean, freed boy must have run to his father and embraced him and the father's heart leapt with joy! God had fixed it all.

So, why did the Holy Spirit move Mark to include this story in his gospel? I believe it was so every parent from that moment forward would know God can be trusted to do the impossible with their children. The Lord was saying, “I can restore anything and anyone. If you’ll just believe, all things will be possible to you through Me.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


It is not enough for us to simply believe in God as the Creator, the maker of all things. We also have to believe that He is a God who yearns to do the impossible in our lives. The Bible makes it very clear: If we don’t believe this about Him, we don’t trust Him at all.

In my opinion, no amount of counseling will do a person any good if he doubts God for a miracle. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against Christian counseling. But it is useless to counsel someone who isn’t fully convinced that God can fix his problem, no matter what it may be.

As a pastor who counsels, I know I cannot offer anything to a married couple unless they believe God can save their relationship. Things may appear absolutely hopeless to them; they may have built up years of resentment and bitterness. But they must be convinced God can do the impossible.

I tell such couples right away, “Yes, I’ll counsel you but first I have to ask: Do you truly believe God can fix your marriage? Do you have faith that no matter how impossible things look to you, He has the power to restore your relationship?” Jesus has spoken clearly to each of His children: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

All over this nation, Christians are giving up on their marriages. Even some of my minister friends are divorcing. When I talk with them about their situation, I realize they don’t think their marriage can be healed. They simply don’t trust God to do the impossible for them.

Many Christian spouses who come to see me for counseling have already made up their minds to leave the relationship. The only reason they are there is to get my approval on the direction they have predetermined.

Beloved, no counselor in the world can help you unless you absolutely believe God’s Word that nothing in your life is beyond His ability to fix. Otherwise, your Christianity is in vain—because you believe in God only up to a point. You don’t truly trust Him to be God of the impossible.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


You probably remember the story in Genesis in which God appeared to Abraham. The patriarch was sitting at the door of his tent during the heat of the day when suddenly three men appeared before him, standing under a tree. Abraham went out to meet the men, prepared a nice meal, and then visited with them.

During their conversation, the Lord asked Abraham where his wife, Sarah, was. Then God said something incredible: “Lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son” (Genesis 18:10).

At the time, Sarah was inside the tent, listening to their conversation and when she heard this, she laughed at the idea. “Impossible,” she thought. She was way beyond the age of childbearing, and Abraham was too old to sire a child.
Yet when God heard Sarah's laughter, He said, “Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (18:13-14).

I’m writing this message today because God asks the same question of His children in these present times: Is anything too hard for the Lord? Each of us has to face our own difficult situations in life. And in the midst of them God asks, “Do you think your problem is too hard for Me to fix? Or do you believe I can work it out for you, even though you think it’s impossible?”

Jesus tells us, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Do you believe this word from the Lord? Do you accept that He can perform the impossible in your marriage, in your family, on your job, for your future?

We are quick to counsel others that He can. When we see our loved ones enduring difficult times, we tell them, “Hold on and look up. Don’t stop trusting the Lord. He’s the God of the impossible!”

Yet, I wonder if we believe these truths for ourselves. Sarah, who doubted the Lord, probably would have offered this very counsel to her friends. Imagine that she heard about a godly couple in a similar situation—faithful people who wanted a baby but were too old to bear one. The couple believed God had promised them a child, but now they were growing older. And little by little, they were losing confidence in their dream.

If you asked Sarah what she would say to them, she probably would answer, “Tell them to hold on. They can’t give up hope for their dream. They serve a God who does the impossible and He will fix it for them.”

Yet Sarah had a hard time believing this for herself. And many Christians today are like that. We boldly proclaim God’s power to others, but we don’t believe His Word for ourselves.

Monday, July 28, 2014

HE LOVES TO BLESS YOU by Gary Wilkerson

“And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold” (Genesis 26:12, ESV).

This was the year of famine, a second famine, in fact. There probably was still dust from the previous famine around and yet God told the people to sow a new crop.

Isaac obeyed God even when he didn’t think it was going to work; it just did not make much sense to him to plant another crop. He was radically obedient to God, however, and as a result he reaped a huge harvest of “a hundredfold.”

That is a lot! If I were to see our church grow by 20 percent or my finances grow by 20 percent or if I enjoyed a 20 percent increase in favor in my relationships— well, you see where I’m going with this. How many of you would like to see a 20 percent better marriage, 20 percent better children—meaning that your children behave better—or a 20 percent financial blessing? That would be great, wouldn’t it? But this was not 20 percent or even 100 percent, this was a hundredfold—multiplied one hundred times over. And this came in the midst of a famine!

I assure you that God is not worried about the economy of America. He is not worried about what’s going on in your job or in your household. God has all the ability, the resources, and the power in heaven to be able to meet all your needs according to His riches in glory.

He wants you to know that He has blessed you. That is His heart. Get rid of your concept of a cranky, old-fashioned God up in heaven just kind of waiting for you to make a mistake so He can take stuff away from you. And get away from a “Santa Claus” God, one who checks to see if you are naughty or nice and rewards accordingly. God wants to empower you to be obedient because He loves to bless you.

Time and time again I have seen where God has said, “Do this or that. Trust Me in the midst of it.” You might feel like you are in a famine because you are low on resources. You might think your spiritual life is in a desert place and you may not feel like you have anything to give. You don’t feel adequate to witness to that group or preach to that people or go to that country and be on the mission field. When I feel that way but I go ahead and do what God tells me to do, I always receive a blessing. There is always this glorious outpouring of His graciousness.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

HIS HAND IS BIGGER by Claude Houde

A child stood on the sidewalk in front of a candy store, as if nailed to the ground. Inside was a gargantuan universe of chocolate pastries, and the best and sweetest cookies known to man! The owner of the candy store desperately tried to ignore this penniless little boy with the huge eyes, who was staring at him patiently, not saying a word. After long minutes, the storekeeper grew restless and busied himself, muttering, “I can’t give cookies and candies to just every kid who stops by! This is a business and I have to make a living!”

But a last look at the child proved to be too much. Giving up, the storekeeper motioned to the youngster to come in, and as fast as lightning, the clever boy was inside. The storekeeper removed the lid from the enormous jar filled with the most delectable (and also the most expensive) of all the chocolates. He gestured with his hand, saying “Go ahead, take some.” The boy looked at him with a big smile, but shook his head. The shopkeeper repeated, “Go ahead, I mean it, take want you want! For free!” Again the boy shook his head! The good man then reached into the jar and gave the lad an enormous fistful of delight!

Curious, the shopkeeper asked the boy, “Why didn’t you just take some yourself?” The smart little boy answered triumphantly, “Because your hand is much bigger than mine!”

Dear friend, God’s hand is bigger than ours. His power is sufficient. His mighty omnipotent hand takes our trembling and feeble hand, and supernatural things happen! It is His hand that allows my hand to seize what He has prepared for me.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11, NKJV).

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, July 25, 2014


“And Joseph made haste; for his [heart] did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep” (Genesis 43:30). This is a picture of the heart of our Savior.

After Joseph became governor over Egypt, his brothers were in his house, eating and drinking in his presence. But “Joseph sat by himself, and they were at a separate table” (verse 32).These men were rejoicing in Joseph’s presence without being fully restored, without really knowing him, without a revelation of love and grace.

We can be a praising people who eat and drink in the Lord’s presence but have not yet received a revelation of His infinite love; the sense of being unloved still remains. This is the case of Christians who go to God’s house to sing, worship, and praise and then go home to the same old lie: “God doesn’t show me any evidence that He loves me. My prayers go unanswered. He really doesn’t care for me the way He cares for others.”

Joseph’s brothers had to take one final step before they could be given a full revelation of love. Such a revelation is given to those who are brokenhearted and contrite. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalms 51:17). Joseph’s brothers were not yet brokenhearted.

Joseph commanded his servant to put his personal silver cup into the sack of Benjamin, the youngest brother, as they prepared to return to Canaan. The brothers were hardly on the journey when Joseph’s men overtook them and accused them of stealing the cup. The brothers were so certain of their innocence they said, “With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s [slaves]” (Genesis 44:9). There was no more fight in them. No more pride. They were humbled and broken as they returned to Joseph’s palace.

Then came the revelation of the great love of God. “Then Joseph could not refrain himself . . . and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren” (Genesis 45:1).

The world knows nothing of this revelation of love. God dwells with the humble and the brokenhearted. He delights in His family. Rest in His love for you!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Elijah and Elisha proceeded to Jericho, which means “a place called pleasant.” Yet this city was now barren, dry, utterly lifeless with no trees, no pastures, no fruit. Everything had withered because a stream of poison had infiltrated Jericho’s water supply. This city represents dead, dry Christianity, a church Jesus describes in Revelation this way: “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1).

Elijah had established a school of prophets in Jericho, and when he and Elisha visited the school, some of the young, upstart prophets approached Elisha, asking, “Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?” (2 Kings 2:5). Elisha quickly cut them off, telling them, "Be silent! Of course I know it.”

This generation of ministers would be sent out across Judah and Israel to minister to society. But clearly something was missing in them: the power, anointing and authority of the Holy Spirit. The next day, these same ministers would be begging Elisha to let them go look for Elijah's body, in case the Holy Spirit dropped him off some mountain or into some valley. They were totally ignorant of the ways and workings of the Holy Spirit. They could witness, preach, and speak of miracles but they had not experienced God’s power for themselves.

It appears that Elijah suggested, “Elisha, you’re looking at the next generation of ministry. Why don’t you settle here and teach these ministers the ways of the Spirit? You’re just the man to awaken this dead, dry church.”

But Elisha knew what would happen if he pastored these ministers. They would remain enamored of Elijah’s powerful ministry and constantly barrage him with questions about it. “How many hours a day did your master pray? What methods did he use? What doctrines did he preach?” Elisha would end up spending all his time recounting the past. And these young ministers would spend all their energies trying to be just like Elijah, hoping to recreate his miracles—yet without the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.

The church today has fallen into the same snare. We study past movements and revivals, looking for keys, trying to discover methods to bring down fire from heaven. Ever since I can remember, the church has been crying for an old-fashioned, Holy Ghost revival. Yet this all stems from a desire to see God recreate something he did in the past.

Elisha knew he could not impact anyone in this dead, dry church until he received his own touch from God. He could not rely on Elijah’s great works. He was telling Elijah, “I respect the faith of my forefathers, the spiritual giants of the past. But I know the Lord wants to do a new thing. And I must have a greater touch from him than anything seen before.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


We may wonder why Elijah wanted Elisha to accompany him to Bethel (see 2 Kings 2:1-4). Surely it wasn't just a sentimental journey for Elijah, one last trip down Memory Lane. No, this wise, old man wanted to teach Elisha—as well as us today—the need for more of God's power and anointing.

Now, as they walked through the streets, Elijah probably noticed his servant's horror and indignation at the totally backslidden society. Elijah himself had faced mockers and scoffers in his own day, on Mount Carmel. But he knew it would take even greater supernatural strength to face this new generation. These young people were far more hardened and godless than the idolatrous priests he had battled.

I believe it was at this point that Elijah decided to test his servant. He most likely suggested, “Elisha, why don’t you settle here and pastor these people? You have a sure calling, and you’ve been well trained. You could help restore Bethel’s great heritage.”

As Elisha surveyed the situation in Bethel, he knew he was not ready to stand up against the wicked spirits there. He realized what Elijah had known all along—he needed the Holy Spirit to do a greater, more powerful work in him before he could face down the evil in such a wicked city. So he told his master, “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee” (2 Kings 2:6). Then, Scripture says, “They went on” (same verse).

I believe Bethel represents the kind of evil society our own nation has become in just a generation’s time. We too live among scoffers and mockers—sensual people given over to lust, idolatry, homosexuality. And this present generation is worse than any Elijah or Elisha ever faced. Those holy prophets saw children mocking, scoffing and blaspheming but America's children are murdering one another. Young children are killing without any guilt or sorrow, cutting down parents, classmates, innocent strangers.

I don't wish to make a broad, sweeping judgment against all youth. I know there are many godly teenagers in this society who are on fire for Jesus. I thank God for every young person who takes a stand for Christ in these wicked times.

Yet, this evil day demands that God’s people obtain a double portion of His power and authority in order to be able to reach this lost generation. It is going to require a measure of anointing such as we have never seen in all of history. It demands that a holy remnant rise up and cry with Elisha, “Oh, Lord, more is needed.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Elisha went back to Bethel, the corrupted society with a lost generation of youth. And as soon as he arrived, he was mocked:

“He went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head. . . . And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and [mauled] forty and two children of them” (2 Kings 2:23-24).

What an awful scene. You may think, “How cruel that God would allow little children to be attacked by bears.” But the words “little children” here are a poor translation. In the original Hebrew this phrase reads “young men.”

Did Elisha cause their deaths in a selfish fit of anger for being taunted? No. This godly man was moving under the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. The fact is, those mocking young men had committed an unspeakable sin. Let me explain.

Undoubtedly, the boys had heard about Elijah's translation into heaven. Yet now, by taunting Elisha with the cry, “Go up, baldy,” they were ridiculing the work of the Spirit. They did not accept the truth of the Spirit's holy work and their actions toward Elisha were an act of mockery against Him.

For many years God was patient with the fallen church in Bethel. Multitudes flocked there to worship at an altar of accommodation, and the Lord sent many prophets, including Elijah himself, to speak warnings. But a time came when God no longer tolerated the city’s idolatry and wickedness. So he called for judgment, sending onto this wicked scene a man with a double portion of the Holy Ghost. Elisha moved with authority in Bethel, preaching judgment against their sin.

Too many young ministers today are relying on the same fleshly methods that the fallen church in Bethel did. They are bringing into God's house the very music that first incited rebellion and sensuality in this nation. They are polling a sin-saturated society to learn how they can lure nonbelievers into a church building. And instead of offering worship, they are staging skits, parties and rock concerts. They are attempting to entertain the youth rather than confront their sins and emptiness with the simple, pure gospel. And the church faces the same spirit of mockery Elisha faced.

Monday, July 21, 2014

UNSEAL MY LIPS by Gary Wilkerson

David writes, “Then I will teach your ways to [sinners], and they will return to you. . . . Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you” (Psalm 51:13, 15, NLT).

When God sparks a fire in us it is not meant for our benefit alone. It is meant to set us ablaze with zeal for the lost in our nearby communities and around the world. If we allow this flame to burn within us, it will compel us to take the good news beyond our church walls. We’ll realize, “This fire burning inside me will not be quenched. Woe is me if I keep it inside!”

We simply cannot contain our zeal when we have been personally cleansed by God and filled with a persistent hunger to have His life dwelling within us. This makes us want to shout His praises to the world. Some of the best Sunday worshipers I know are those who cry out, “Thank You, Jesus, that today my coworker is sitting next to me in the pew experiencing Your amazing love.”

If we do not have this kind of fire, it will not matter how powerful our church services are. Heavenly flames could rest on our heads and we could all fall on our faces in awe, but those things alone do not show the power of Pentecost. As long as revival is contained in church, it probably isn’t revival. If there is a true fire burning, it will move us to create a fire in our city. Our prayer has to be, “God, if You are going to touch me with a spark, then cause me to speak to sinners. Anoint me to teach them about Your love. Send me into the byways with the compelling love of Jesus.”

If the fire of God’s Holy Spirit is operating in your life, you can know your life is no longer a spark but a torch.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).

The first time vocalist Steve Green sang at Brooklyn Tabernacle, we gathered in my office with the associate pastors to pray just before the meeting began. We prayed in unison that God would come among us that day.

When we opened our eyes, Steve had an odd look on his face. “What was that vibration I just felt?” he asked. “Is there a train that runs near here, or was that really . . . ?”

I explained that, as far as I knew, the rumble wasn’t caused by the power of the Holy Spirit; rather, it was the passing of the train in the subway that runs directly beneath our building.

For the early church in Jerusalem, however, the shaking they felt was nothing short of Spirit-induced. In that prayer meeting God’s power came in a fresh, new, deeper way. These people had already been filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), but here they sensed a new need and God met them with a new infusion of power.

Our store of spiritual power apparently dissipates with time. Daily living, distractions, and spiritual warfare take their toll. In the words Paul used in Ephesians 5:18, we need to “be always being filled with the Spirit” (literal translation).

Whether we call ourselves classical evangelicals, traditionalists, fundamentalists, Pentecostals, or charismatics, we all have to face our lack of real power and call out for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. We need the fresh wind of God to awaken us from our lethargy. We must not hide any longer behind some theological argument. The days are too dark and dangerous.

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, July 18, 2014


After receiving a touch from God, Elisha went forward with his own faith, and his first stop was Jericho (2 Kings 2:15). The college of fifty prophets meeting there immediately recognized God’s touch on him, saying, “The same spirit that was on Elijah is now on Elisha.” It was obvious to all that this hidden servant was moving in a deeper power and authority of the Spirit.

The young prophets told Elisha, “The situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is [bad], and the ground barren” (2:19). They were saying, “There’s poison in the water, and it’s killing everything.” Yet, apparently these fifty men of God were powerless to stop the poison from bringing death to Jericho.

According to Isaiah, this “pleasant place” represents the ministry: “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant” (Isaiah 5:7). Also, water here represents the word of God.

Do you see the picture? The poisoned waters of Jericho signify the polluted word being preached from the town’s pulpits. These men of God had never dealt with their own sins, so their sermons were full of poison from corrupted hearts. And their lifeless, flesh-oriented lectures were causing spiritual death among the people.

What was the cure for the poison in Jericho? It was to purify the water supply—and that is just what Elisha did. He took a clean vessel, filled it full of salt, and poured it into the fountainhead of the city’s water. Soon all the waters were cleansed, and life sprang up all around.

Of course, the salt Elisha used represents the gospel of purity and holiness. And the clean vessel he used represents ministers who have been cleansed by Christ's blood and sanctified by the Spirit’s purifying fire, prepared to preach a pure gospel. Beloved, clean, pure vessels who walk in holiness and preach a pure word with fresh anointing can stem the evil tide in God’s house.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


One of the last things Elijah did before he was taken up to heaven by God was to ask Elisha what he could for for him. When Elisha responded that he wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit to be upon him, Elijah told Elisha that he had asked a hard thing.

Yet, who exactly would this task be hard for? Would it be hard for God? Would it be hard for Elijah, a man who had raised the dead and called down fire from heaven? No, it was going to be hard for Elisha! This was something he would have to obtain for himself because Elijah did not have the ability to empower his servant with a portion of the Spirit residing within himself. Only God can impart His Spirit to man.

But Elijah replied, “Nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so” (verse 10). It is important to note that the words “when” and “am” in this verse do not appear in the original Hebrew. They were inserted later into the text of the King James Version. Thus, I believe Elijah was saying to Elisha, “If you see me as being taken from you.”

Elijah was saying, “The Holy Spirit cannot do a special work in you as long as you are still leaning on my memory. You have to consider me gone. You don't need me, Elisha. Turn to the Lord, whose Spirit also worked in me, and He will answer your cry.”

The moment Elisha saw his master whisked away in the heavenly chariot, he assumed his responsibility to carry on God’s work to his generation. And as he stood at the Jordan River and struck the water, the words he cried out were, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (2 Kings 2:14). The young prophet was saying, “Lord, all my spiritual forefathers are dead and gone. And this awful hour requires even more than You have given so far. Work again, Lord, this time through me. I have to be empowered with more of Your Spirit.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


As the old prophet Elijah pondered his last days on earth, he decided to visit the towns of Bethel and Jericho. He invited his servant, Elisha, to go along with him, and the pair set off for what I see as a “teaching journey.” After visiting both towns, they arrived at the banks of the Jordan River. Elijah took off his mantle—a wide, loose-fitting garment or gown—and smote the water with it. Supernaturally, the waters parted, and the two men crossed over on dry ground (see 2 Kings 2:8).

Why did Elijah insist on miraculously passing through the river? The Jordan was not a deep, wide river, and Scripture gives no evidence that it was swollen. And further, there were fifty strong, young prophets on the other side who could have built a raft for them in a matter of a few hours.

I believe Elijah sought to teach his successor that the miracle crossings of the past—from Moses, to Joshua, to the present day—were all ancient history. He wanted to challenge Elisha, as if to say: “When you start your own ministry, and you preach that God is a God of miracles, you have to testify of what He has done for you personally. I’m going to be gone soon, Elisha, so tomorrow when you return to this river, I want you to go back across the way you came. Believe God for the miraculous in your own life.”

Many of us don’t have faith to believe God for our own miracles today. We spend our time poring over the incredible wonders in Scripture, yet all along God wants to tell us, “I have something even better for you. I want to do miracles in your life—to change your home, fix your marriage, save your unsaved loved ones. You are going to face your own Red Sea, your own Jordan River, and I want to part those waters for you.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Second Kings 2 contains one of the most spectacular passages in all of the Old Testament. This chapter tells the miraculous story of the aging prophet Elijah and his servant Elisha. When we pick up the narrative, God had informed Elijah that his ministry on earth was over. Now he was to cross the Jordan River and go to a certain place where a heavenly chariot would pick him up and translate him to glory.

When Elijah and Elisha reached their destination, Elijah turned to his servant and said: “Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee” (verse 9). Without hesitation, the younger man answered, “I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me” (same verse).

At first glance, Elijah appeared surprised by Elisha's response, saying, “Thou hast asked a hard thing” (verse 10). But Elijah went on to instruct Elisha that he must watch carefully what God was about to do so that he would not miss it and go home disappointed.

As the men walked along, suddenly a chariot appeared out of heaven and separated them. In a flash, Elijah was taken up in the chariot—and Elisha witnessed the whole scene! He cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces” (verse 12).

Elijah was gone but his mantle had dropped to the ground. When Elisha saw it, he ripped off his own clothes, tore them into pieces and placed Elijah’s mantle on his back. And when he returned to the Jordan, he removed the mantle and struck the water with it, just as his master had done. Immediately the waters parted, and Elisha walked over on dry ground. Thus began the young prophet’s own remarkable ministry.
The events in this chapter are absolutely incredible. Yet what does this passage have to say to us today? I believe God has given us an unmistakable lesson here, with a clear, simple meaning: God wants to do greater things with each succeeding generation. And each new generation must seek the Lord for its own experience of the Holy Spirit and its own imbuing of power from Him.

Monday, July 14, 2014


The psalmist David writes, “Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11, NLT). We know that God is omnipresent, but His manifest presence is something else altogether. It is the reason why so many worship services open with choruses imploring the Holy Spirit to come down and make His presence known. David is saying here, “Lord, I need Your presence, not just today but tomorrow. I don’t want it to diminish because I don’t want to return to my lukewarm ways. Please, God, don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me. Stay with me once I finish worshiping You.”

We all know what this is like. At church and in our fellowship with others, we may know God’s manifest presence. Inner sparks fly, bringing a sense of fresh, new life and we weep for God to stir us that way every hour of the day. Yet the spark wanes as days pass and we are bombarded by job demands, family obligations, and bills that consume and overwhelm us.

I fall into this cycle every September at our ministry’s EXPECT Conference. I am moved and inspired by the godly leaders who speak here, their powerful messages driving me to my knees. Yet last September I made a bold prayer to God: “Lord, if You are not going to sustain the spark, don’t give me one.”

I was tired of the roller coaster, of being sparked without a flame to sustain it, of being on a mountaintop one week only to descend to drudgery the next. So I asked, “God, whatever flame You spark in me, let it grow more and more intense. Give me a loyal spirit, as David said. If you give me a spark, turn it into a torch!” God has sustained that flame these past months. The church I lead now has a pastor who burns with prayer for his people. I may not be able to take everyone to coffee or play golf with them, but I have a loyal spirit that intercedes for them day and night to see their lives become all they can be for Jesus.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


The Scriptures tell us that Hannah, in her most desperate hour, finally “vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head” (1 Samuel 1:11).

That was what God was waiting for! You see, oftentimes when we receive an answer too quickly, our human tendency is to take the answer home. Sure, we may testify of how God was faithful and blessed us, but ultimately we will take the blessing and consume it on ourselves. That is why God often must wait until we come to a point of desperation just as Hannah did—a place where we purpose in our heart to take that answer and give it back to the Lord for His glory.

At the time, Hannah had no idea that this holy desperation was what God was producing in His own people as His answer to the peril her country was facing. What she did know, however, was that there would be a cost accompanying her vow. Imagine how difficult it must have been, knowing that the priesthood was completely backslidden and the nation was in declension, to still choose to bring her son—the desire of her heart she had prayed for so long—and commit him to the temple.

I can picture what Hannah’s neighbors must have been saying as she left for the temple that last time with her little boy. “What in the world are you doing, Hannah? God finally answered your prayer and gave this child to you!” It is the same thing that you and I will fight along the way—the false reasoning; the advice of those who would never walk such a journey.

Somehow Hannah had the sense to know that the life Christ blesses us with is not for ourselves but rather for others. It was something she realized back in the temple when she first made that vow to the Lord, promising to bring back to Him the life He would give. In fact, it was at that point that Hannah went away with her countenance no longer sad (see 1 Samuel 1:18).

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, July 11, 2014


Pastors have written to me expressing their concern for parishioners who are giving up. “Good, honest Christians are so overwhelmed by guilt and condemnation that it causes despair. When they can’t live up to their own expectations, when they fall back into sin, they decide to give up.”

Growing numbers of Christians are at the breaking point. Few Christians would even dare to entertain thoughts of quitting on their love for Jesus, but in despair they consider giving up on themselves.

Some ministers today preach only a positive message. To hear them tell it, every Christian is getting instant answers to prayer and receiving miracles; everybody is feeling good, living well; and the whole world is bright and rosy. I like to hear that kind of preaching because I really desire all those good and healthy things for God’s people. But that is not the way things are for a great number of very honest, sincere Christians.

No wonder our young people give up in defeat. They can’t live up to the image created by the religion of a carefree, rich, successful, always positive-thinking Christian. Their world is not that ideal; they live with heartbreak, hour-by-hour crises, and family problems.

Paul talked about trouble: “We were pressed out of [burdened beyond] measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8).

Positive thinking will not make these problems go away, and “confessing” that these problems do not exist does not change a thing. What is the cure? Here are two absolutes that have brought me great comfort and help:
  • God loves me. He is a loving Father wanting only to lift us out of our weakness. 
  • It is my faith that pleases Him most. He wants me to trust Him. 
“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies” (Psalm 18:1-3).

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Our great Shepherd loves every sheep who has gone astray because of testing, trials, hurts and wounds. We never dare to accuse our Shepherd of abandoning us because He still walks beside us and watches over us at all times.

Right now you may be waging a losing war against some sort of temptation or trial. Whatever your struggle, you have determined not to run away from the Lord. You refuse to give yourself over to sin’s grasp and, instead, you have taken God’s Word to heart.

Yet, like David, you have grown weary and come to a point where you feel absolutely helpless. The enemy is flooding you with despair, fear, lies.

Your testing may become even more mystifying and unexplainable. But I want you to know that no matter what you are going through, the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to you Jehovah Rohi, the Lord your Shepherd. You have a Shepherd who wants to imprint His love upon your heart.

Jesus assures us, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). And our heavenly Father—Jehovah Rohi, the Lord our Shepherd—has revealed Himself to us in Psalm 23. He tells us, “I know you by name, and I know what you are going through. Come, lie down in My grace and love. Don’t try to figure everything out, just accept My love for you and rest in My loving arms. Yes, I am the Lord of hosts and the majestic and holy God. I want you to know all of these revelations about Me. But the one revelation I want you to have right now is the revelation of Jehovah Rohi. I want you to know Me as your loving, caring Shepherd. And I want you to rest assured that I will bring you through all your trials, in My tenderness and love.”

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so I know the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


To be a member of God’s true Church, you must be known by the name of Jehovah Shammah—Hebrew for “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). Others must be able to say of you, “It’s clear to me that the Lord is with this person. Every time I see him, I sense the presence of the Lord. His life truly reflects the glory and presence of God.”

If we are honest, we must admit we do not sense the Lord’s sweet presence in each other very often. Why is that? Christians spend their time involved in good religious activities—prayer groups, Bible studies, outreach ministries, home groups—and that’s all very commendable. But many of these same Christians spend little if any time at all ministering to the Lord, in the secret closet of prayer and study.

The Lord’s presence simply cannot be faked. This is true whether it applies to an individual’s life or to a church body. When I speak of God’s presence, I am not talking about some kind of spiritual aura that mystically surrounds a person or that comes down in a church service. Rather, I am talking about the result of a simple but powerful walk of faith. Whether that is manifested in a Christian’s life or in an entire congregation, it causes people to take note. They tell themselves, “This person has been with Jesus,” or, “This congregation truly believes what they preach.”

It takes much more than a righteous pastor to produce a Jehovah Shammah church. It takes righteous, shut-in people of God. If a stranger comes out of a church service and says, “I felt the presence of Jesus there,” you can be sure it wasn’t just because of the preaching or the worship. It was because a righteous congregation had entered God’s house, and the Lord’s glory was abiding in their midst.

In Acts 4:13 we read about Peter and John when they were taken before the High Priest and other rulers: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


The Bible says, “When [the prodigal] was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. . . . The father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry” (Luke 15:20-23).

I believe the Prodigal Son came home because of his history with his father. This young man knew his father’s character—and apparently he had received great love from him. He must have known that if he returned, he would not be upbraided or condemned for his sins.

Notice how the Prodigal’s father received him in spite of his pitiful condition. The young man was intent on offering a heartfelt confession to his dad. Yet, when he faced his father, he didn’t get a change to fully confess because his father interrupted him by running up to him and embracing him.

The young man was able to blurt out only the beginning of his speech, saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son” (Luke 15:21). But his father didn’t wait for him to finish. To him, the young man’s sin had already been settled. The father’s only response was to issue an order to his servants: “Put a robe on my son and rings on his fingers. Prepare a feast, because we’re going to celebrate. Let everyone rejoice—my son is home!” The father knew his son’s heart and he knew he had fully repented.

Sin was not the issue to this father. The only issue in his mind was love. He wanted his son to know he was accepted even before he could utter a confession. And that is the point God wants to make to us all: His love is greater than all our sins. “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

Monday, July 7, 2014

A SPARK by Gary Wilkerson

A spark is temporary, lasting only a brief second before going out. Yet the purpose of a spark is to ignite things, get something started. For example, a spark is needed on a gas grill to start the flame that does the cooking. But a spark in itself isn’t a fire; it won’t cook the meat.

In order to live in the fullness that God intends for our lives, we need a flame that is fueled continually by the oil of God’s compelling grace. David’s life shows us the difference. He had the same spiritual experiences that Saul did, being touched and anointed by God’s hand. Yet the spark that David received was fanned into a flame. “As David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on” (1 Samuel 16:13, NLT). This last phrase—“from that day on”—shows us the difference in David’s and Saul’s lives. Once David received a spark from God, he guarded it, stoked it and fueled it. He determined, “I want this spark to increase into a burning flame for the Lord.”

When God’s spark comes it may soothe us, but it is also meant to create a fire that refines. The flame of His holiness cleanses us of things that do not belong and as it burns away the dross of sin, it causes us to hate our compromise. It also stirs in us a passion to be holy, so that we say as David did, “Lord, I want to be clean before You and have a right spirit.”

Many Christians resist this. Conviction can lead to change, and we may not be willing to change some of our habits or things we covet. David addresses the resistance of his own heart, pleading, “Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you” (Psalm 51:11-12, NLT).

Note David’s emphasis on obedience in this verse. The apostle Paul could have disobeyed God’s direction and gone his own way in missions. In fact, he was chomping at the bit to take the gospel into Asia, but he speaks of being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go there. Paul knew that if he proceeded on his own, he would grieve the Holy Spirit. He still would have been saved and loved by God, but he would have quenched the Spirit’s power to move in his life.

That’s exactly what happened to King Saul. As he kept disobeying, the power of God’s Spirit to use him kept diminishing. After a while, Saul no longer heard God’s voice or felt the stirring of His Spirit because he had never allowed the initial spark to fan into a cleansing flame.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

I am writing this article in January. We are beginning the year with a time of forty days dedicated to prayer and fasting. Thousands of people from our church and around the world, through the Internet, join us each in their own way as men and women, couples, young and old alike come to our church to pray in dozens of prayer gatherings so that each believer may begin the New Year with a renewed and refreshed resolution and resolve before God.

In Quebec, as in many other places in the world, the beginning of each year is often a time for commitments and resolutions. In our province there is an amazing “folklore” of New Year resolutions. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television shows publish lists and suggestions for all kinds of resolutions and “New Beginnings.” For example, thousands make the resolution to lose weight and to sign up at a gym. I work out regularly, and have done so for more than twenty years, and every January brings about the same phenomenon: a new crop of power athletes who make their way to the gym. They show up in their designer sneakers and outfits, they have the “eye of the tiger,” and they usually enter with check in hand to pay for a one-year membership.

A friend of mine who owns a fitness center explained to me once that he knows very well the number of people who join up in January will cause such an increase in volume, and demand for
equipment and space that his gym can never meet it. However, there is an inescapable and invariable fact that he can always count on, year after year: over eighty percent of those who paid their one-year fee in full will have vanished from the gym before Easter. They will torture themselves for a while, ache in places and with muscles they never knew they had, and then succumb to junk food and the tyranny of life as a couch potato with the remote control as their best friend.

In the spiritual realm, every day is an opportunity for new beginnings. The very essence of our God is that His mercy is new every morning. All His power, His goodness, and His desire of peace and fulfillment for us, as well as the limitless fullness of His redemption, burst forth afresh, totally new and available on a daily basis!

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, July 4, 2014


“Which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:28-30).

Christ knew many of His followers would not have what it took to see them through. He knew they would turn back and not finish the race. I believe this is the most tragic condition possible for a believer—to have started out fully intending to lay hold of Christ, to grow into a mature disciple and become more like Jesus, and then to drift away. Such a person is the one who laid a foundation but could not finish because he did not first count the cost.

What a joy it is to meet those who are finishing the race! These believers are growing in the wisdom and knowledge of Christ. They are changing daily, from moment to moment. Paul says to them encouragingly, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). It is not heaven these believers seek, but Christ in His glory!

I know that some who read this particular message are in the process of pausing or taking a step backward. It may seem like a small step, but it will cause a swift descent away from His love. If this is true of you, realize that the Holy Spirit is calling you all the way back—back to repentance, self-denial and surrender. And at this very moment, time is a big factor. If you ever intend to lay hold of Christ, do it now—see it through!

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Spending time in the presence of the Lord produces a manifestation of Christ to a lost world.

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not. But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).

Paul is speaking here of a visible expression. A manifestation is a “shining forth” designed to make something clear and understandable. In short, Paul is saying that we are called to make Jesus known and understood to all people. In your life and mine, there should be a shining forth of the very nature and likeness of Christ.

Paul takes this concept of manifesting Christ even further. He says that we actually are God’s letters to the world: “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men. Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). Our lives are letters written by the Holy Spirit and sent out to a lost world. And we are being read continually by all those around us who observe our lives.

How exactly do we become God’s letters to the world? It happens only by the work of the Holy Spirit. At the moment we are saved, the Holy Spirit imprints in us the very image of Jesus and He continues shaping this image in us at all times. The Spirit’s mission is to form in us an image of Christ that is so truthful and accurate, it will actually pierce people’s consciences.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


In 1 Samuel 9 we read that Saul’s father sent him to find some runaway donkeys. Taking a servant with him, Saul searched throughout the land until he became discouraged and was ready to give up the hunt. Then his servant told him about the prophet Samuel, who might be able to tell him where the donkeys were.

Samuel was a man of God, a type of the Holy Spirit, who knew the mind of God. He had more on his mind than just direction for Saul because he knew God had chosen Saul to play a part in heaven’s eternal purposes!

The first thing Samuel did when Saul arrived was call for a feast (see 1 Samuel 9:19). This is exactly what the Holy Spirit desires of us: sitting at the Lord’s table and ministering to Him—having quality time alone, hearing His heart.

Samuel asked Saul to clear his mind so they could commune together (1 Samuel 9:20-25). Samuel was saying, “Don’t focus on getting direction now—that’s all settled. There is something more important at hand. You must get to know God’s heart—His eternal purposes!”

After that night of communion, Samuel asked Saul to send his servant out of the room, so that they could have an intimate, face-to-face conversation (see 1 Samuel 9:27; 10:1).

Do you see what God is saying here? “If you really want to walk in the Spirit—if you really want My anointing—you need to seek more than direction from Me. You need to come into My presence and get to know My heart, My desires! You see, I want to anoint you—to use you in My kingdom!”

Beloved, forget direction—forget everything else for now! Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you the deep, hidden things of God. Stand still in His presence, and let Him show you the very heart of the Lord. This is the walk of the Spirit in the highest form.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


In Psalm 46:1 we read: “God is . . . a very present help in trouble.” Our God is present now! He was our help in ages past but He is a very present help now, today—in the midst of any and all troubles.

“Therefore will not we fear” (46:2). We have no need to fear because our God is a consuming fire, a defender and shield for His children.

“God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). He is altogether faithful and true to His Word.

“God is in the midst of [His temple]; she shall not be moved” (Psalm 46:5). My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit—and He says He is in the midst of that temple. Christ Himself makes His abode, His dwelling place, within my heart and I cannot be moved or shaken! “The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved” (46:6). Let the heathen rage, let all the kingdoms of the earth be shaken and moved. Our God will completely destroy all demonic attackers.

“He maketh wars to cease . . . he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear . . . he burneth the chariot in the fire” (46:9). He is my army against my enemies, against those who make war against me. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. . . . This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17).

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (46:10). I will rest completely in the knowledge that He is God. He is my God, my Redeemer, my Defender—the sovereign Lord over all by affairs. I am surrounded by His presence in the pavilion of His love and I will stand firm and behold His majesty and glory!

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust. . . . I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:2-3).