Tuesday, September 30, 2014

THEY TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6, NKJV). Whose world is upside down? It is that religious circle where nobody takes the kingship of Christ seriously.

A minister’s wife here in New York City told me, “Times Square Church has upset just about every charismatic church in the city! You know that, don't you?” I did not know that. I don’t know if, in fact, it is true. But if it is, and if it is because of arrogance in this pulpit or from people going out bragging that this is the only church preaching real holiness, then we would be in great error. But on the other hand, if ministers and congregations are getting “turned upside down” because we preach the uncompromising kingship of Christ—if people are leaving some of those churches because their sin was not exposed and challenged—if people go from here, becoming more like Jesus, walking in His purity—then we are upsetting people for the right reasons!

I can assure you from the Word of God that nothing shakes up or angers dead, compromising churches and preachers more than someone moving in the fullness of Christ—someone who lives and preaches Paul’s demanding gospel of holiness. It’s a reproof! In every church you will find a few “devout” Christians, as Paul called them. But the day you say with Paul, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8) is the day you are marked as a troublemaker! 


“The brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night” (Acts 17:10). Once again it looked as if Satan had won the battle, with Paul and Silas having to sneak out of town in the dark of night. Just imagine the proud boastings of the people on the next Sabbath: “Some revival that was! We were here before they came and we’re here when they’re gone. People just don’t want that kind of preaching around here! Let’s go on with God with no more interruptions from these holiness agitators!” But Paul and Silas had so turned the converts’ eyes off themselves and onto Jesus that they could leave town and the body would still flourish there. Under persecution the church in Thessalonica became so strong in faith that they became a powerful witness to all of Asia. And they became the joy of Paul’s heart!

Monday, September 29, 2014

COVENANT KEEPERS by Gary Wilkerson

The glory of the New Covenant was evident on the Mount of Transfiguration, where Jesus had taken three of His disciples. “Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him” (Matthew 17:1-3, ESV).

The glory was so immense that for a moment a glimpse of heaven broke through to the earthly realm. Suddenly, the disciples—Peter, James and John—saw Moses and Elijah talking with Christ. Peter was so amazed by this that he cried, “We need to build three tabernacles here.” Peter was seeing several covenants of God at once—in Jesus, in Moses and in the prophets.

But God the Father removed Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophets) from Peter’s vision, saying, “My Son embodies all the law and the prophets, the whole of every covenant — all that humankind will ever need. You have one command now, Peter, and that is to focus on Christ. When you love as He loves, with my Spirit in you, you fulfill all the law of Moses and the prophets. The law isn’t the driving force of your life—Jesus is” (see Matthew 17:5).

What a moment of revelation for Peter—and for us today! Fulfilling God’s law is not the reason we read our Bibles or pray. We do it to know our loving Father. Likewise, in the Father’s eyes, all of humankind’s needs are fulfilled completely in Jesus. It is why, as God looks on us today, He does not see people breaking His covenant continually. Instead, He sees in us the marks of His Son and therefore looks on us as covenant keepers! God does not see a list of failures next to a list of good works, with a huge chasm in between. He does not see our works at all. He sees only His Son in us. And as He does, He bestows on us all the benefits of His covenant with the Son. All forgiveness is ours. All peace is ours. All acceptance is ours. All grace abounds to us, regardless of whether we’re up or down, succeeding or failing. His grace to us never changes.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

DANIEL PURPOSED IN HIS HEART by Claude Houde

Daniel “had purposed in his heart not to defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). This was courageous, and it speaks to you and me today. As a teenager Daniel was kidnapped and taken as a captive to a hostile and terrifying land. He was uprooted and torn away from his loved ones, which must have been a traumatic experience that left deep scars. Bewildered, scared and forsaken, he found himself a prisoner in the court of a decadent king. The immoral and cynical monarch renamed him “Belteshazzar,” which meant “Bel will reign over me; Bel, I will follow and honor.” Bel was an idol of that era, the object of demonic and disgusting worship and idolatry.

The king ordered Daniel to completely conform to the philosophy, mentality, and practices of the court and the country. He was thrown into a sewer of immorality, lust, cruelty and violence, but Daniel was a man of great faith. By His Spirit, God had engraved a mission, a vision and different values on Daniel’s heart. By faith he would always refuse the name Belteshazzar. Chapter after chapter, we see him resolute, supernaturally empowered to resist, allowing no one to change what he was called to be and the One for whom he stood. The name “Daniel” means “God will be my judge.”

Dear reader, this resolution is for you! If tragedy, injustice or life itself has tried to “brand a name” on you, you can and must resist by the power of God and by faith. You can reply to the enemy of your soul and destiny by simply saying that, “God is my judge, my source, my future, my hope and my power. He has not spoken His last words yet!”

Maybe your “name,” life history and reality can be described by words such as: abused, forgotten, loser, criminal, unfaithful, in bondage, a failure, divorced, suicidal, tragedy, deception or suffering. These tragic experiences and seasons in your life have made you the person you are today. I want to say to you, as I gently lift your chin and look you in the eyes, “God has a message for you today, wherever you are in the world. You can make a decision and come to God in faith with a resolution.”

I understand that we are often products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of our past. By crying out to God in faith, releasing your life into His hands every day and receiving His Spirit who makes all things new and possible, you can put to death what has been your past, and stop tendencies and habits that you will no longer allow to limit or define 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, September 26, 2014

ONE UNCOMPROMISING WORD

“They came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and . . . reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (Acts 17:1-3). Leaders of the synagogue at Thessalonica had probably conducted quiet meetings for years, undisturbed. They diligently taught Scripture and seemed very holy in outward appearance.

Then Paul, the troublemaker, came on the scene and in just three weeks of preaching the kingship of Jesus, he turned that whole area of Thessalonica upside down. He knew from experience that only a few devout ones would listen to Christ’s demanding word and that the majority would not give up their hard-shelled religious traditions. He also knew they would be filled with envy and hate toward anything that disturbed their way of doing things. Paul declared that the preaching of his gospel caused contention: “We were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention [opposition]” (1 Thessalonians 2:2).

What caused this violent opposition? Paul and Silas were not loud or provocative nor were they robbing churches. 


Later, in a letter to those in Thessalonica who went on with the Lord, Paul wrote, “For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile . . . not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness. . . . But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children . . . we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear unto us” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-8). These religious people who for years had acted so demure and God-loving were now enraged. They became an angry mob, assaulting the house of Jason and troubling the people and rulers of the city (see Acts 17). The cause of all this contention was this one uncompromising word: “There is another king . . . Jesus” (Acts 17:7).

Thursday, September 25, 2014

BOLD AS A LION!

I preach a great deal on prayer because I believe in the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous. But praying alone will not shake a city!

Elijah was a man of powerful prayer, but it was more than his prayer that shook Ahab’s kingdom and enraged Jezebel. He actually called the false prophets to Mount Carmel and challenged them. Jezebel had slain God’s prophets and led Israel into apostasy and the horrible idolatry of Baal worship—and no one had challenged her! Even though seven thousand believers had not bowed, they were silent, unknown, and afraid. So along comes Elijah, whom Ahab called “the troubler of Israel!” (1 Kings 18:17). Elijah ended up at the Brook Kishon with a sword in his hand, slaying hundreds of Baal’s false prophets “in the name of Jehovah.”

Elijah was not a gentleman with the devil and his crowd. While “they leaped upon the altar . . . Elijah mocked them” (1 Kings 18:26-27). The church of late has cowered before the powers of darkness due to the lack of holiness, for the Scripture tells us, “The righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). Some will say, “But Jesus was meek! He never opened His mouth or resisted when they took Him to be crucified.” But that was because the hour of darkness had come, the hour He was to be given into the hands of the enemy. He was not silent in the temple when He drove out the money-changers. He was not silent when He called religious leaders serpents—blind guides—whited sepulchers—a generation of vipers (see Matthew 23). He even told some boldly that Satan was their father!

Many churches today are full of silent, gentlemanly diplomats who do not want to make waves. Nobody wants trouble! So the devil’s kingdom goes unchallenged. We have more than enough smiling, mousy Christians! I heard the raging of a man who said to me, “Let’s you and me make a bet—any amount of money! You people in the church can’t stop anything. You’ll get a little publicity, but nothing ever changes. You can’t shut anything down. You’re powerless.” He was speaking of abortion and I could detect the mocking of Satan in his voice. It was a dare! It was as if to say to all Christians, “You’re all spiritual wimps. You won’t last—you’ll give up when the opposition comes. You’ll just run back inside your safe walls and hide.”

No! “The righteous are as bold as a lion.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

GOD WILL STAND BY YOU

“At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God . . . and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison was shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed” (Acts 16:25-26). The jailer, seeing what had happened, fell down before Paul and Silas, saying “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

Those city officials and religious leaders went to bed thinking, “We did it! That’s the last we’ll hear of those vagabond troublemakers. We really shut them up!” But what a commotion the next day! I can imagine soldiers knocking on the doors of the mayor, city council members, and the religious leaders, telling them, “Quick! Get down to city hall. We’ve got a big problem!” In a state of shock, the officials probably responded, “What? An earthquake? The prison doors opened and the prisoners’ chains all fell off and they didn’t even try to escape? The jailer joined their faith?”

The city leaders were really afraid because it was a crime to beat Roman citizens (Paul and Silas were both Romans). “What do you mean they won’t budge from our jail? They demand what? For us to come down and apologize and escort them out of jail?”

“And they came and [tried to appease] them, and brought them out, and [(begged] them to depart out of the city” (Acts 16:39).

I love it! Here they were, not flaunting their spiritual authority, but merely acting as ambassadors of King Jesus. As they had witnessed Christ’s power being mocked, Paul and Silas now wanted that little prayer group to see how God manifests His power to those who stand up against the forces of hell. They went directly to the house of Lydia—and what a meeting that must have been! I would think Paul told that house group, “See, the devil can rage, the powers that be may threaten, but God has all the power! God will stand by you if you take a stand!”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

WE NEED MORE TROUBLEMAKERS!

I pray that every member of the Body of Christ will become a troublemaker! We need an army of troublemakers so full of the Holy Ghost that they will agitate New York City and every other city around the world; stir up their wicked institutions; challenge the established dead churches; trouble the leaders, the mayors, the city councils, the community leadership! In other words, we need Holy Ghost troublemakers moving in the Spirit, proclaiming the kingship of Christ so effectively that whole cities are stirred.

Paul and Silas were two of the world's biggest troublemakers! The Bible speaks of “men that have [risked] their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy were such men, walking in the power of the Spirit. As seen in Acts 16, when the Holy Ghost forbade them to speak the Word in Asia, they obeyed. When they tried to go to Bithynia and the Spirit would not permit them, they went instead to Troas, under the Spirit's direction.

Paul then had a vision of a man calling them to Macedonia, so they set out immediately to Philippi, the chief city of Macedonia. When they arrived, a young woman who was fortune teller followed them about, crying, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17). After enduring it for many days, Paul “turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour” (Acts 16:18). Suddenly the whole city was in an uproar. This fortune teller apparently had been a big tourist attraction, but now she was healed and praising the Lord!

Paul had upset the status quo. He had challenged the devil who had been having his way for years. The slave owners of the delivered woman then dragged Paul and Silas into the marketplace to stand trial before the city magistrates. The charge was, “These men . . . do exceedingly trouble our city” (Acts 16:20).

We need more troublemakers like this today!

Monday, September 22, 2014

JESUS TOOK OUR PLACE by Gary Wilkerson

When Jesus “took our place,” it involved more than just going to the cross.

Yes, He took our place by standing condemned for our sins, but He also took our place in another respect—as one who walked perfectly in covenant with God. Jesus lived as a man who was sinless, spotless, a keeper of every holy command. And fulfilling the law with perfect obedience, He made the covenant complete. That is incredible news!

Yet here is even greater news: Jesus has not kept the benefits of the covenant to Himself, but shares them with us all. When He stands before the Father, He says, “I’ve brought My friends with Me to share in the blessings of Your covenant. As they stand before You, they stand in Me. So all My righteousness is theirs. Their forgiveness is activated through our covenant, Father.”

Thank God He did not choose us to keep covenant with Him! Yet the Man who has kept the covenant perfectly asks us to join Him in His covenant relationship with the Father. And when we say yes, we walk in Christ’s own Spirit. This is what Ezekiel prophesied when he said, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. . . . And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27, ESV).

Some Christians are overwhelmed at the thought of keeping God’s commands. They think, “I’ve got to read my Bible more, pray more, evangelize more.” If you think that way, you’re not living under the New Covenant—you’re living under the Mosaic Law. It is utter misery because you can never fully keep the law; when you break one part of it, you break all.

When you came to Christ, it is hoped that the revelation of God’s New Covenant set off a light of understanding in you. You didn’t have to be commanded to seek God’s face, to share the good news of Christ with your neighbor, to know freedom in the One who accomplished all for you. His nature began to transform your nature—and you did these things with a heart of joy!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A HEART OF PURPOSE by Nicky Cruz

When God redeems His people, He does so much more than save us; He restores us. Whatever Satan has stolen, God gives back. Whatever time we’ve lost to sin, He reclaims through love. The wounds inflicted upon us by the world are healed by His wonderful grace.

This is the Jesus we worship—the Savior who died so that we can live!

This is the message we bring to a world still bound by sin.

This is the only testimony worth telling—the only thing that really matters!

How can we not shout it from the rooftops? How can we ever slip into moments of apathy after all that God has done for us? How can we not live with uninhabited passion and zeal, knowing what we know, understanding what we understand about Satan and his lies, after experiencing the unconditional forgiveness that Jesus brings?

How can any man keep silent?

Since the day Jesus came into my heart, my obsession in life has been to save lost souls! At that moment, Jesus burned into my heart a soul obsession—a blazing passion for those in need of a Savior. It is a fire that has never waned, never tired, never relented. It is the blood that runs through my veins—that drives me forward, day after day, month after month, year after glorious year. My heart bursts with the message of God’s love and faithfulness, and all I want to do is share that truth with others!

Someone once asked me, “What is the greatest miracle you’ve ever seen?” I didn’t even have to stop and think before answering, “When God reaches into a heart of sin and replaces it with love—that is God’s greatest miracle.” I see it happen every day, and each time it is as real and powerful to me as the day I experienced it myself.

__________

Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run

Friday, September 19, 2014

THE JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD ARE TRUE

David's love for the Lord never grew cold because he had respect for every word. “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:9-11). “By them thy servant is warned.” Who is going to warn all those deluded sheep whose shepherds do not tell them the truth? They call this doomsday preaching negative, false prophecy but David and the prophets called it all sweet honey!

The sweetest, most merciful thing God is doing today for His people is to once again send fearless prophets and watchmen to awaken the church and instill the fear of God. How sweet the sound: “Flee the wrath of God.” Honey! “Without holiness no man shall see God.” Honey! “Except ye repent, ye shall die in your sins.” Honey! “The earth and also the works therein shall be burned up!” Honey! I trust you can say with Jeremiah, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jeremiah 15:16).

Jesus warned, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). This speaks of those whose love never decays, but rather grows and perseveres through all trials. Timothy ties it to our attitudes toward sound doctrine: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine . . . and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). A great resistance to pure, uncorrupt doctrine is coming in these very last days. Sound doctrine conforms hearers to godliness but many will not put up with it—they won’t endure it. There will be a widespread rejection of holiness preaching and prophetic warnings (see 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Thousands of Christians will be so cold at midnight that not even the falling judgments will move them back to God. Jeremiah mourned for his people: “Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction” (Jeremiah 5:3). We have this warning from Peter: “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18). Do not be led away by sin or false doctrines or by anger at the Word!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

HONEY FROM HEAVEN

We must learn to accept every word from Him as honey from heaven. You can measure any believer’s love for his Lord by how much he respects every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. A preacher once said, “I can’t serve a God of wrath! I will preach nothing but encouragement—no reproof. God is love! Enough of all those lamentations and woes!” This man knows nothing of God’s honey.

The Lord instructed Ezekiel: “Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. . . . I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. . . . But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee. And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; and he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe” (Ezekiel 2:1, 3-4, 8-10).

God’s woes were honey to the prophets. “Be not thou rebellious.” How could Ezekiel be rebellious? By not preaching the truth about judgment that God had given him. “An hand was sent unto me.” This was the hand of God! God’s hand held out a scroll, inscribed on both sides with “lamentations, and mourning, and woe”—all written by the finger of God. What was Ezekiel to do with these very hard words of God? He was told to eat them! To satisfy his belly with them! “Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness” (Ezekiel 3:1-3).

This was food from heaven, manna dipped in honey! “Fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee.” Bowels represent the heart and “eat it” means to take it to heart, heed it! “Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.”

Jeremiah said that all the prophets of old warned of judgment and woe. “The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence” (Jeremiah 28:8). All the prophets lived by every word out of God’s mouth—the sad word, as well as the glad word. They took it all in as honey!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

THE PREPARING OF ZION

Peter was given awesome warnings to stir up pure minds, to bring to remembrance the warnings of the prophets (see 2 Peter 3:1-2). Peter went on to say, “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying [teaching, preaching], Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Peter calls these scoffers liars! Things have not continued being “business as usual” from the beginning of creation! These preachers are willfully ignorant of God’s past dealings of judgment. “They willingly are ignorant . . . that . . . the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:5-6).

This is a serious charge by Peter! He is saying, “They know there was once a preacher of righteousness named Noah, who warned of judgment for a hundred and twenty years. They know that God has already shown the world that He will judge wickedness and violence. They know God sent a raging flood and destroyed all that breathed on the earth!” We have teachers and false prophets who know that the Bible is full of warnings, full of examples of how God judges sin (e.g., the destruction of Sodom), but they willingly ignore it all. Why? Because they are walking after their own lusts! Their desire for acceptance or popularity has made them willingly blind to all God’s righteous judgments.

These preachers are preaching the very opposite of the message of Peter and the apostles. Peter warned, “We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Peter 3:13-14).

Why have we been spared until now? For the same reason God waited patiently for a hundred and twenty years in the day of Noah. “When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was [being prepared], wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:20). The Lord gets no pleasure out of the death of the wicked. Even now, He is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

God is waiting now for the preparing of Zion, His holy people of the last days. He is pouring out His Holy Spirit, calling out a people wholly given to Him, without spot or wrinkle and blameless.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WHAT COUNTRY ARE YOU OF?

According to God's Word, Christians are to live every day as if “the end of all things is near.” We are to be looking for His coming, awake and diligent, as servants waiting for their master to return from a long journey. We should rejoice that we will be leaving this earth to put on our new bodies. We should always long to be with the Lord.

In Peter’s epistle he warned, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:10-13).

In the original Greek, verse 11 best reads, “In light of everything being dissolved, what country are you of?” Are you of this earth, which will dissolve and melt away? Or are you a citizen of heavenly Zion, the city whose builder is God? Peter is saying that this knowledge God gives you of the destruction of the present heaven and earth ought to encourage you to holy living and to holding this world very lightly. Peter then goes on to say that we are not to dread the coming destruction, but we should look for it, anticipate it, and keep our garments spotless! “Seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (3:14).

If Peter were resurrected and visited America today, he would be appalled by all the sugar-sweet, [cotton-candy] preaching of the pillow prophets! He would ask, “Why aren’t they warning their people of the coming destruction? God gave me this message directly from the Holy Ghost! Why don’t they believe it? Why aren’t they provoking them to holy living with these warnings? Don’t they know Jesus gave the same warning when He said, ‘The sun [shall] be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).

Monday, September 15, 2014

A PERFECT COVENANT by Gary Wilkerson

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17, ESV).

I’ve always wondered about one phrase in this verse: “He had to.” This passage refers to Jesus, of course. Why would Jesus have to do anything? He’s God. We read that He chose to come to earth, chose to heal, chose to love everyone around Him. So, why does this say He had to do what He did—becoming flesh and serving as a living sacrifice for our sins? Couldn’t He just as easily have declared from heaven, “I’ll send angels to bring redemption to humankind”? Here is one of the few instances in Scripture where the Lord is engaging in a commanded endeavor. Why?

We all know that under the New Covenant our sins are covered by Christ’s gift of grace. So, what is a covenant? It is an agreement between two or more parties where each is required to fulfill certain terms. There are many kinds of covenants, including a marriage covenant, where two people become one entity. Legal contracts are covenants for businesses when, for example, two owners merge their efforts so that both sides benefit. Peace treaties between nations are covenants, where warring sides agree to cease hostilities and benefit one another in other ways.

Throughout the Bible we see God making covenants with His people. In each case He says, “Here is what I’ll do on my end. And as you keep your end, here are the blessings and benefits that will come to you.” God has always kept His end of these covenants yet man has never been able to. He has continually failed to uphold His end in every covenant.

The Lord foresaw all this and from the very beginning He made plans to put into place a perfect covenant that could not be broken. He would enact a covenant like none before it, one with a unique provision: a surety that neither side would ever break the covenant.

He did it by making covenant not with man, but with a Man—Jesus. Many Christians think the New Covenant is exclusively an agreement between God and man but it is not— it is a covenant between the Father and His Son. Christ was who God chose to make this covenant with—not Adam, not Noah, not you, not me.

Jesus Himself is the guarantee that the covenant is being kept. Every other man would fail at this but Jesus keeps the covenant perfectly. That is our surety!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

DEEPER, NOT WIDER by Jim Cymbala

The things of God have a circumference and they are preserved in a written body of truth. Like a bottomless well, no one has ever fathomed the depth of God’s truth.

To go into the power of the gospel—or prayer, or the Holy Spirit, or divine love—is to plunge ever deeper and deeper into God’s well. Every man or woman used by God has gone down into this vast reservoir.

The tendency today, however, is to merely splash around in truth for a while . . . and then jump outside the well to the surrounding soil. “Look at this—God is doing a new thing!” people proclaim. In six months or so, of course, the novelty wears off and they jump again to a new patch of grass. They spend their whole lives hopscotching from one side of God’s well to another, never really probing the depth of the living waters inside.

Inside the well there is no cause for leaving or jumping out. Who will ever fathom the fullness of the love of God? Who will ever exhaust the richness of His mercy to fallen human beings? Who will ever understand the real power of prayer?

Especially since the 1960s, fads have come and gone in the North American church, only to be replaced by newer fads. Leonard Ravenhill, the revival-minded preacher and author from Britain, told me shortly before he died, “People say the church today is ‘growing and expanding.’ Yes, it’s ten miles wide now—and about a quarter-inch deep.”

If we venture into a gymnasium we are likely to run into men who look like superstars in their expensive sneakers. The only trouble is, they can’t get the ball into the hoop. They have all the latest gear, but they can’t play basketball.

As God’s people, we have all the equipment we need—it has been around for two thousand years. He has given us everything necessary to put points on the scoreboard and win victories in His name. So let us move forward with full confidence in what we have received.

Nothing about God will change. Tomorrow He will be no more anxious to help us, our families, our churches than He is right now. If we simply avail ourselves of His promises, we will see Him do things we could never ask or think, just as He did in the New Testament.

__________
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, September 12, 2014

THE SPIRIT WILL RAISE UP A STANDARD

Those who don't pray, who are not ready, will not stand in the coming day of judgment. They will be overpowered by demon hordes! In Revelation 6:17 this question is asked, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Every child of God who is shut in with Him during the indignation will stand. “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). “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” (Jude 24).

“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19). At times you may be unexpectedly attacked. You will be basking in the light, rejoicing, thanking Him, when out of nowhere you will be overwhelmed. It could be your temper because Satan will provoke you. It could be fear that comes in a sudden, unexpected flood. It may be sickness, knocking you down and robbing your strength. It could be an old lust you thought was conquered; you didn’t seek it but there it is! Or it might be the blues, depression. You don't even know what’s causing it, but suddenly you’re flooded with it.

But with David we can say, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me” (Psalm 142).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

LIKE DEW FROM HEAVEN

By searching the prophets we can find out where we are in prophecy. We are found in Isaiah 26 and in Deuteronomy 4:30-31, which reads, “When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forsake the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.” These verses are for the latter days—our time!

America was founded as a land for the upright. God favored us and showed us His goodness, but our nation does not recognize God’s power and His work on our behalf. Because of this, God is going to send swift judgments: “With my soul have I desired thee in the night [last days]; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9). A night of judgment has come in Isaiah’s prophetic vision and a people see this night of darkness falling. They turn to the Lord to seek Him with all that is in them.

God is raising up a praying, travailing remnant. “Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26:17-19). Here is a woman “crying out of her pains.”

That woman is the live church coming out of a dead church! There are hundreds of you. For the past few years there was something trying to be born—a crying out of spiritual pain. You wanted to be released, so you went here and there, seeking deliverance but got only winds of conflicting doctrines. Yet your heart was awakened and you were resurrected! “Thy dead men shall live.” You awoke and now you sing a new song, “Thy dew is as the dew of herbs.” There is glory from the Lord on you, like dew from heaven, because of the light. “Dew of herbs” is translated, “born out of supernatural light.” God brought you into the light of His glorious Word. You are awake and you sing because you’ve been raised from the dead—with a fresh light of His Word every day, like dew.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

GOD IS CALLING A REMNANT

The prophets of the Old Testament foretold that in the last days, as calamities fall, God will call away a remnant to be shut up with Him. One of the prophets, Daniel, understood God’s divine time clock for his day because he had studied the prophets of the past. “I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:2-3).

By studying the prophecies of Jeremiah, Daniel discovered that the seventy years of exile for Israel were about over. Jeremiah 29:10-11 says, “For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (NKJV).

Why wasn’t Daniel rejoicing? Why didn’t he grab the promise by faith and just rest? Why did he start weeping, praying and fasting, and sitting in sackcloth? Because he found that there was also a condition for all this goodness happening. Yes, God promised to deliver, to do them good, but there stood verses 12-14 in the same chapter: “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me, and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity.”

Sin, or being disinterested, can thwart God’s promises. Daniel discovered from Moses’ warning in Deuteronomy that Israel would be scattered because of sin but he also noted the promise that she could be delivered. “But if from [captivity] thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

POWER IN PRAYER

God is eager to show us that we have power in prayer!

“And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand” (1 Kings 18:42-44).

Elijah was human and was affected by the same things we are—the same fears, longings, hopes, despair and needs—yet his prayers got results! God is showing us here what to do in every crisis: Run to Him! Get in earnest! Pray doors open and shut! Elijah prayed earnestly and he kept praying and waiting until the Lord answered. Seven times he sent his servant to look over the horizon for just one little sign.

Today, after one or two prayer sessions, we give up and get angry with God. We say, “It didn't work for me. I prayed and my husband and I are still having problems. I still don't have what I need.”

It is obvious that people do not pray because they don’t think it works. They don’t know what persevering in prayer means, going back like Elijah time and again with your head to the ground. We call this “laying hold of God.” In the Old Testament it is called “wrestling with God.” Jacob’s prayer was, “I won’t let You go until You bless me” (Genesis 32:26, NAS). The waiting, the delays, are for a purpose: to conform us to Christ. You can’t spend a lot of time in His presence without getting to know Him. The longer the answer is delayed and the more effectually you pray, the more important He becomes and the less important the answer becomes. One way or the other, you win!

Monday, September 8, 2014

FACING DIFFICULT DAYS by Gary Wilkerson

“Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, ESV).

Paul is speaking here of dedicated churchgoers but describes them as having only a form of godliness. Paul said these Christians were “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (3:7). In other words, they listened to all gospel teachings but never took them to heart. That made them powerless, Paul said, because they “opposed the truth” (3:8).

We may never face the same trials that the New Testament believers did, but God still gives us New Testament power. We’ll surely face trials of our own because we are not immune to what is coming on the world. But those hardships can produce in us a power like we have never seen before.

That is why we can’t afford to be normal in our faith any longer. Think about the fast-growing number of nonbelievers in our world. Each one represents a soul headed to hell, someone for whom Jesus died. Those numbers alone call us to rise above “normal” Christianity, to proclaim Christ’s gospel without fear or hindrance. That requires His power, which cannot be achieved or obtained on our own merits—it is received only through His grace.

I have paraphrased Leonard Ravenhill many times but this comment of his bears repeating: “Christianity today is so subnormal that if any Christian began to act like a normal New Testament Christian, he would be considered abnormal.”

Tell me, are you not only hearing God’s Word but doing it? Or is there a disparity between Christ’s power and your life? Pray with me: “Lord, I’m tired of settling for normal Christianity. Merge my life with Your heavenly power. I am an empty vessel—fill me with Your power! Whatever it costs, Lord, lead me where You want me to go.” Pray this and you will see His power released in your life!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

WE MUST PRAY by Carter Conlon

The book of Judges describes a time when Israel, God’s own people who were called to be a supernatural testimony in the earth, began to deal deceitfully with His presence. They refused to walk honestly with God and grew casual in their worship of Him, if not casting off the worship of God altogether.

Dealing deceitfully with God will always result in powerlessness, which eventually gives way to the enemies of that society. By enemies, I am referring to those who do not know God, who have no desire to know Him, and who do not want anyone else in relationship with Him. You and I are living in a day very similar to that period of time in the Old Testament.

It was during harvest season that Israel’s enemies, in this case the Midianites, came to devour everything that was being gathered by the people of God (see Judges 6:2-3). They intended to bring the Israelites to an impoverished place so as to render them unable to fulfill their God-given purpose on the earth. Knowing that they were far outnumbered by the enemy, which the Scriptures actually describe as being so numerous that they covered the earth like the sand, the children of Israel began to cry out to the Lord—as is beginning to happen in our day.

God hears the cry of the single mother whose children are out on the streets; the cry of the father who doesn’t know how he is going to provide for his family. He hears the cries of those who read the news and see the horrific crimes that are becoming a daily occurrence in this generation.

My dear friend, we must pray! The day and hour demands that those of us who still know the mercy of Jesus Christ begin to plead for this country. I believe that only a grassroots awakening of God’s people can offer a season of reprieve from the very dark days just ahead of us. How wonderful it would be if the record of heaven stated that 2014 was the year in which you and I began to pray for the people of this land with a faith and intensity only God could have given us!

__________
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, September 5, 2014

WE HAVE POWER IN PRAYER

Many Christians seldom pray, because they’ve been taught to “take everything by faith.” We preach faith here in Times Square Church, but not to the exclusion of prayer. We teach obedience, repentance, the Word, faith, and prayer! It is said, “Why pray? Why plead with God when He has already promised it? If He knows what we need before we ask, why keep asking?” Some even teach, “If you ask when He has already promised, that is unbelief. Just claim the promise and then rest; there’s no need to pray over it.”

Abraham had the promise of becoming a mighty nation locked up securely; God had already made him this promise: “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it. . . . And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth” (Genesis 13:15-16). God had promised to bless those who blessed Him and to curse those who cursed Him. Abraham had so much faith that God accounted it to him as righteousness: “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Here is a man of God, secure in God’s promises and full of faith; yet he ran to the altar over and over again to pray (see Genesis 12:8 and Genesis 13:4). So we see that neither his faith or God’s promises superseded prayer.

Moses, too, valued his intimacy more than any blessing. Look at him standing on top of the hill with his arms being held up to God by Aaron and Hur! God had already promised that the Amalekites would be defeated and Israel was promised victory. Yet, Moses goes up the hill to call on God with upraised hands. “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi” (Exodus 17:15).

We are atheists in this matter of prayer compared to the early church. Many today look upon secret prayer as hard work and boring, so they do it only occasionally. Can you imagine a husband and wife living in the same house, hardly ever speaking and yet in public speaking as if they were intimate? So some treat our blessed Lord! Prayer, hidden secret prayer, is the mightiest weapon God has given His people; yet it is neglected, disdained, and seldom used.

God is eager to show us that we have power in prayer. He gives us this glorious reminder: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

SPECIFIC WORDS FROM GOD

Peter was praying on a rooftop (Acts 10:9) and several miles away another man, Cornelius, also was praying. “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter. He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do” (Acts10:1-6). What detailed instructions!

Meanwhile, Peter had a vision. “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. . . . Go with them . . . for I have sent them” (Acts 10:19-20). Peter went to the house of Cornelius and met a praying man. “And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard. . . . Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts 10:30-33). The Holy Ghost was so specific He even gave both names: “Call Simon, whose surname is Peter” (verse 32).

All through Acts we read these words, “God said to them . . . The Lord said . . . The Holy Ghost said . . . The angel said. . . .” Heaven was not closed. They received the clear mind of the Lord, very practical, detailed and clear. But the word from heaven came only after much prayer, after being shut up alone with God in secret.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SEEKING THE FACE OF THE LORD

The book of Acts is the account of holy men and women seeking the Lord’s face. From beginning to end, it tells of how prayer moves God. Whether in the Upper Room, in prisons, in some secret house hiding from authorities, or in Simon’s house on a street called Straight— they prayed! In the morning and sometimes all night, they prayed without ceasing. Cornelius prayed always and Peter prayed on rooftops. By the seashore, in the temple, or in the desert, they called upon the Lord continually. They spent hours and days shut in with God, until they received dear, detailed guidance. And what incredible specifics God gave them.

Ananias was a man of God, a disciple given to prayer. “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight” (Acts 9:10-12).

Listen to the detailed instructions God gave him; He named the very house, the householder's name, and the man he was to pray for. Then God said, “He knows you are coming; he even knows your name. And he knows what you will do when you walk into his room, because I told him everything!” Why did the Lord tell this new convert such intimate details? Because he prayed! For three days Saul fasted and prayed. It was not, “Lord, what can You do for me?” Rather, it was, “Lord, what will You have me to do?”

Had Saul been saved in our time, he would have been caught up in our world of hype with a media blitz, a best-selling book, and invitations to give his testimony to churches everywhere. Like Saul, many are miraculously saved but, unlike him, they are soon living in confusion, not knowing what to do. God said to Saul, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6). God was saying, “Go pray! Seek My face and learn to wait on Me.” No direction came until he had spent three days in prayer. But something powerful happened during prayer: Saul got to know the Lord’s voice and learned to depend on His leading. Although just a newborn believer, he was already being clearly led by God. He needed no counselor or prophet to show him what to do; he needed no one to give him a word of knowledge. Why? Because the Lord said, “I will show him” (Acts 9:16).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

MORE OF JESUS

I can’t read the book of Acts without feeling ashamed. The apostles lived and ministered in the realm of the miraculous. Even laymen such as Stephen and Philip, men who served tables, were mighty in the Holy Ghost, working miracles and stirring entire cities. Angels appeared to them, unlocked their chains, and walked them out of high security prisons. They had mighty visions, clear and detailed.

Peter was so full of the Holy Ghost that the sick were brought into the streets on beds and couches so that his shadow would fall on them for healing (Acts 5:15). Cripples were healed and went leaping through the temple, and miracles are recorded: “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).

Why are we not living today in such a realm? God has not changed; we have! The same Lord is with us; we have the same promises; and God is more than willing to do it again. But regrettably, there is an idea today that we don’t need the miraculous. It is said, “This generation has a greater revelation; it’s more educated, more knowledgeable. We are not to expect the Lord to work like that today, as that was only necessary to establish the church.”

My answer to that is, if miracles were needed to establish the church, they are even more needed in the closing of the church age. Evil men have waxed worse and worse as sin has abounded many times over. Seducers have increased, violence has broken out beyond control, and hell has enlarged its borders. Satan has come down with great wrath. As doctrines of demons come in like a flood, apostasy grows worse.

We are in the great falling away. Abortion has filled the land with blood-guiltiness. Our youth are out of control with cocaine, crack, heroin and alcohol spreading throughout schools, devastating and killing, turning teenagers into sick, crazed thieves and murderers. New diseases are spreading death worldwide.

We need more of Jesus, more of His saving, healing power, than any past generation! The apostles knew the cost of the miraculous and eagerly paid it, but we have not been willing to pay the price.

Monday, September 1, 2014

KEEPING OUR EYES ON JESUS! by Gary Wilkerson

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV).

We can be hindered in our race of faith by “sin which clings so closely.” As we run the race of faith, the enemy will stick his foot out to make us stumble. This often happens after our greatest times of victory. One moment we think, “God is on the move! Now I’ll see His promise come to pass,” but then our situation turns in the opposite direction, tripping up our faith. We’re left thinking, “Lord, I thought this was my breakthrough. Now things are worse than ever.”

So, where is our hope? We find it at the verse’s end: “Let us run with endurance the race [God has] set before us” (12:1). Though our circumstances cause us to doubt and we are easily tripped up by sin, the race we’re in is about endurance. We are instructed to endure by keeping our eyes on Jesus. Our race isn’t about mustering up enough faith—we can’t muster anything on our own. We must look to Jesus to supply us with faith, for He is “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (12:2).

What a wonderful thing: Christ initiates faith in our hearts! Long before He called us to run our particular race, the thought was in His mind, “I want to see this done.” He initiated faith in us and set us on a race to see His purposes accomplished.

Tell me, what has happened to the faith God planted in your heart? Do you feel it has died? Are you weary after stumbling so many times? Friend, do not despair! God has promised to initiate faith in you, and that includes reigniting the faith you have known. “So then faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, ESV).
If your promise has not yet been fulfilled, be assured that God is at work “perfecting your faith.”