Friday, January 30, 2015

ABOUNDING IN HOPE

Recently, a distraught sister in Christ wrote these words to me: “I am terrified. I think it would be wonderful if a hydrogen bomb fell on us, especially on me and my family. It would all be over for us in such a hurry. We’d be with Jesus! I lost my husband to cancer and one of my two unmarried daughters has health problems and hasn’t worked for two years. I just got out of the hospital and am recovering from a broken back. We have suffered terribly for the past few years. Members of our fellowship are being persecuted, and my friends are all suffering unmercifully. Fear and anxiety are my lot in life. Mr. Wilkerson, we are hurting! Is there no hope for the Bride of Christ?”

This woman is just one among thousands who write us of their despair and hopelessness. We hear from so many who deeply love the Lord but live in situations and conditions that appear hopeless to them. They speak of dead-end marriages and health and family problems, and they use such phrases as: “There is no way out!”
“God doesn't seem to hear me.”

“Nothing ever changes. It just goes from bad to worse!”

“Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. I wish the Lord would come and get me out of this pit!”
It has been said that the only things worse than insanity are despair and hopelessness. But praise the Lord, we serve a God of hope! The Greek word for hope is elpo, which means “to look forward to with pleasurable confidence and expectation.” The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).

Paul introduces an incredible idea: “that you may abound in hope.” He means, “that you may have enough to spare; a supply that is overflowing, excessive, beyond measure!” Some may think, “That sounds like a cruel joke. In my present condition all I want is a ray of hope, just a single evidence of answered prayer. Just one little sign of change!”

But, beloved, God’s Word is true! He is a God of hope—a hope that is excessive, overflowing and beyond measure.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

WALKING IN RESURRECTION LIFE AND POWER

In a weary moment, Jesus stopped to rest at a well, but there was a lost woman who needed help. Once again, He was energized. His disciples came again to find their Master so relaxed, so refreshed! “He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32). That is the secret energy of resurrection life!

Often I feel like a drained car battery. If you forget to turn off the light of your car, all you get the next day is that dreaded noise—urr . . . urr—the empty clinking sound of dead machinery.

I know something is wrong among today’s believers, for we have been promised the very same energizing life of Christ. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11).

How clear it is in Scripture that the Holy Spirit dwells in us to bring forth constant life. God has provided His very energy to come into our mortal bodies and give us physical strength. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened (made alive) together with him” (Colossians 2:13).

Are you full of the Holy Spirit? Then by faith, lay hold of new life and energy! “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits . . . so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2, 5). Titus also speaks of this: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:5-6).

Thank God for the present greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ! Appropriate it by faith—and walk in resurrection life and power!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ENERGIZED BY THE SPIRIT

Jesus has never been more willing to show His power than He is right now because He has never been more powerful than He is right now. Our faith has to go beyond the point of death. It must look into the face of everything that is dead and proclaim, “Jesus never gives up on the dead!” We should never give up on anyone or anything, no matter how hopeless the situation seems.

Notice in the story of Jairus and his daughter (Mark 5:21-43) that the Lord was not interested in showing His power to unbelievers. In fact, He tells them in that room, “No man should know it” (5:43). In other words, “Don't tell them what you saw—the miracle is between us who are in this room.”

Those who hold on in unswerving faith are in for a glorious manifestation of Christ’s resurrection power. Only you and the Lord will know all the intimate workings. He will astonish you; He will thrill you; He will show you His glory!

The present greatness of Christ can be summed up in one powerful verse: “In Him was life” (John 1:4). He was—and is now—energizing life. He possessed life. Jesus was constantly being renewed as He drew on a secret reservoir of that which was never depleted. He never wearied of the crowds pressing in on Him. He was never impatient.

When He called His disciples to come aside for a while to rest, they departed to a quiet place across the lake. But the crowds were waiting there too. Not once did He say, “Oh no! It’s that problem bunch again with their silly complaints and stupid questions. Won’t it ever end?” Instead, He saw the multitudes and was moved to compassion. He was energized by the Spirit and went to work. He had days of toil and nights of prayer—and still He had time for the little children!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

ON THE FAITH SIDE

What a terrible scene occurred at the house of Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue in Jesus’ day. There was confusion, doubt, fear, and wailing when his daughter died.

Mark 5:38-40 reads: “And [Jesus] cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep?The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.”

Beloved, let me tell you why there is so much commotion in your life, so much grieving and mourning. It is because you do not believe that Jesus can resurrect what is dead. You do not believe He knows what He is doing. You do not believe He has a life-giving plan. You think He is too late and that things have gone too far. You can't believe Jesus is still at work—when you have already given up.

We are every bit as guilty as those scoffers were. We too cry out to God in our trouble, demanding that He answer us before it’s too late. Then, when the answer doesn’t come, we turn into mourners. We tremble before the power of the devil, as if demons have won the victory—as if Jesus has lost and the devil has won!

Things often go from bad to worse, and finally we say, “That’s it! It’s too late. For some reason or another, the Lord is not going to rescue this situation.”

It is not enough to love, serve, and worship Him only up to the point of hopelessness. What about trusting Him now that all hope is gone? When it looks as if you will never land a job? Or when things pile up on all sides—when it appears humanly impossible to go on?

If Jesus walked into your present situation, what would He find? How would you react to Him? Would you still grieve? Would your heart still be in turmoil? I hope you would say to Him, “Lord, it looks hopeless. I was about to give up, but You are the same today as You were at the house of Jairus. You can bring life out of death and You heal this problem.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

I’D RATHER HAVE JESUS by Gary Wilkerson

Here is the promise of all promises: “I will never leave you and I will never forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). The promise is just simply J-E-S-U-S. Jesus is my promise and the core of all my promises.

It’s like that old song, I’D RATHER HAVE JESUS.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.

I’d rather have Jesus! If we will comprehend the central, singular, soul-conviction that the promises of God are encapsulated in Jesus, then everything else is diminished. Nothing can compare with this one promise! If you have Jesus, then the response to all His other promises will be, “That’s good! I believe that. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for letting me drink from this cup.” Everything pales in comparison to the fact that I get to know Him. I get to walk with Him. I get to love Him. Jesus’ presence is central, better than any other promise any of us could possibly have and He is free for the asking. He is saying, “Just call on My name and I will come.”

If you will just come to Jesus, He will become illuminated in your life. He will become first and be your everything. People who have that centrality of focus on Jesus Christ are the people I see walking in the fullness of their promises. And people who lose sight of Jesus and begin to emphasize the promises more than Jesus begin to struggle. They start to drift and their journey stops because they are not finding the fullness of life that is found in Jesus Christ.

I covet a lot of things for you because I love you. I covet ministries for you that go beyond your wildest dreams.

As the Bible says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added unto you” (see Matthew 6:33).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

WE REFUSE TO STAY IN HARAN by Claude Houde

In Genesis 12:1, God called Abraham to “come out of his father’s house.” It is only by reading carefully and understanding the previous chapter and its contextual specific narrative nature that we are able to get the full significance and momentous depth of the call. Genesis 11 reveals to us that Abraham, his father and their entire clan had left Ur in Chaldea for Canaan. Canaan represents, symbolizes and typifies the land of promise, destiny, fulfillment, and the accomplishment of the fullness of blessing God had intended. In fact, it speaks of all God is and wanted to be in their lives—and in ours. The journey was harsh, long and exhausting. They were hit with tragedies, threats and traumatizing experiences. Loved ones passed away, and as they walked through these valleys of grief, the Promised Land seemed far away.

They stopped in a place called Haran, a city located approximately 600 miles west of the Euphrates River in Northern Syria. They had traveled over two thirds of their journey when they stopped there, physically exhausted, but also weary spiritually. The word “Haran” means “a dry place, a place of little fruit.”

Abraham and his father were on their way to Canaan, the place of blessing and fullness. Jesus makes the same promise to us: “I have come that you may have life and that you may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). It is interesting to consider the Greek word “zoe” that is used when speaking of the life Christ offers and has in mind for us. The word expresses the notion of “being complete, being fulfilled, bearing abundant fruit, true happiness and fulfillment.”

Please understand the correlation. Abraham, his father and family were on a journey to Canaan, but they tragically stopped in the place of little fruit. They should have been pressing forth, moving forward, persevering to fullness and abundance, but they settled for mediocrity.

Faith cries out, “I refuse to die in the place of small fruit! I refuse this small existence with small worship, small sanctification, small change, small transformation and small faith.” I have heard the fierce and passionate cry of men and women, leaders and pastors of every color from many nations declaring, “We refuse to die in Haran!” God calls us to “come out of our father’s house.” That is what He did with Abraham and that is what He is doing with you and me.

__________ 

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, January 23, 2015

DO NOT BE AFRAID, ONLY BELIEVE

A grieving father named Jairus came to Jesus to ask for the healing of his dying daughter: “There cometh . . . one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, and besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him” (Mark 5:22-24).

This man Jairus represents most of Christianity. We know Christ is our only hope, and in our crisis we run to Him, fall at His feet and seek His mercy and help. Jairus had a good measure of faith. He asked Jesus to “come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live” (verse 23). This was an affirmation of true faith: “Lord, all she needs is You. You have all power! You can keep her from dying!”

Responding to this man's faith, “Jesus went with him” (verse 24). Jesus permitted time to run out because He wanted His followers to have faith in His resurrection power—faith that goes beyond hopelessness, beyond even death! The nominal believers who stood at the little girl’s bedside had this limited faith: As long as there was a little life left, a little hope, Jesus was wanted and needed.

Most likely, these people said to themselves, “Yes, Jesus, we believe You are the great physician, the great healer. Nothing is impossible with You. We know You have all power. But please hurry—because she may die at any minute! Then we won’t need You!”

What kind of faith is this? It is faith only to the point of death, only to the grave. When circumstances look as if all is lost, this faith dies.

As it turned out, the little girl did die. I can see the people taking her pulse and pronouncing her dead. What little faith they had possessed was now gone. Their first order of funeral business was to notify the healer that He no longer was needed. They sent a messenger saying, “Thy daughter is dead; why troublest thou the Master any further?” (Mark 5:35).

These words seemed so final: “Thy daughter is dead!” These words may be ringing in your ears: “Your marriage is dead—don’t bother Jesus!” “Your ministry is dead—don’t bother the Lord!” “Your child is dead in sin!” “Your relationship to that loved one is dead!”

These dreaded words meant absolutely nothing to Jesus. He never gives up on the dead because He is resurrection life! In Greek, the best rendition of verse 36 is, “Jesus, as if He did not hear what was spoken, said to the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.”

Thursday, January 22, 2015

PRESENT DAY RESURRECTION POWER

He who conquers death has all power—and there was no greater evidence of Christ’s power on earth than those He raised from the dead. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth (gives life to) them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (John 5:21). Jesus clearly claimed to have power over death. He even said of Himself, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25), and He proved it!

Do we truly believe Jesus’ words? He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:25-26).

Jesus is not speaking just of the final resurrection; He is describing His present power to raise up all that has died—His present power to flood us with His life. You see, we all have a secret graveyard in our lives, someone or something we gave up on a long time ago. We've buried it and inscribed on its tombstone the date of its death!

A dear acquaintance of ours told us of going to her child’s graduation. Along with all the relatives who attended, her former husband (who had left her years ago for another woman) was going to be there. The marriage itself was beyond resurrection since another woman was now his wife. Yet God made our friend go back to the grave site of that marriage and pray for his salvation—and the salvation of his wife! This woman did not give up on the spiritually dead.

Another dear sister in Christ has a husband who left her years ago. The man is now lost in deep sin. Where once there was a good marriage, a tombstone now stands. She too has had to learn that Jesus never gives up on the dead. It’s not that she wants the man back (indeed, he may never come back); rather, she wants him resurrected from the death of sin. She is not giving up on the dead because we serve a God with present-day resurrection power!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

THE PRESENT GREATNESS OF CHRIST

“Making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:16-20).

Paul’s prayer for the Church was simply this: “May God reveal to you not just the past greatness but the present greatness of Christ.”

The Church has great reverence for the Christ who walked on earth, the Galilean Jesus, the teacher and miracle worker, the son of Mary. We never grow weary of hearing about and telling of the greatness of Jesus of Nazareth—how He chased demons; stood strong against all temptations; opened blind eyes; unstopped deaf ears; caused paralytics to leap; restored withered arms; healed leprosy; turned water into wine; fed multitudes with a few loaves and fishes; and raised the dead!

Yet at some point in history, we put limits on this great, mighty, miracle-working Savior! We developed a theology that makes Him Lord over the spiritual but not the natural. For example, we believe He can forgive our sins; calm our nerves; relieve our guilt; give us peace and joy; offer us eternal life—all in the unseen, invisible world. But not many of us know Him as God of the natural, God of everyday affairs: God of our kids, our jobs, our bills, our homes and our marriages. Paul says we need a revelation of the power that Christ has had since the time He was raised from the dead. Even now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God, possessing all power in heaven and earth: “And hath put all things under his feet” (Ephesians 1:22).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

GOD HAS CONTROL

“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). Everything Satan tries in order to get you down just won’t work! Those big guns aimed at you will melt away in the presence of the Lord.

In the original Hebrew, this verse is translated as: “No plan, no instrument of destruction, no satanic artillery shall push you or run over you, but it will be done away with.” God has promised to wreck Satan’s attack upon you. The reward of those who diligently seek Him is the privilege of becoming more than conquerors. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Roman 8:37).

For 365 years Enoch shook off every fiery dart. He was living in total victory until his last breath. He did not crawl out nor did he limp out—he went out in a blaze of life and glory! “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5).

“In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake” (Isaiah 54:14-15). Where there is righteousness, there is peace. You will be delivered from oppression and fear, for there will be no harm to those who walk righteously. “I have created the waster to destroy” (Isaiah 54:16). Even “the waster” is under the Lord’s control. God has control over all destructive weapons. Our security is in righteousness, in walking with Jesus, and we are to fear absolutely nothing!

Monday, January 19, 2015

BELIEVE HIM FOR GREATER THINGS by Gary Wilkerson

I was talking to a pastor from Ireland recently who told me about his fears for the upcoming year. While he sees some difficulties on the horizon, I love that he quoted Hebrews 11:1. Have you ever read that? It says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And then he said to me, “Gary, you know the fear is that the things you hope for won’t happen. Right? And that the things that are not seen will remain unseen. That’s what fear is. It’s a conviction inside of you. You think that what you hope for is never going to happen. That is fear and that’s a hindrance to what God wants to do in your life.”

I want to ask you today, before this day is over, to ask God to bring you into such a covenant with Him that His perfect love, His work of grace on your behalf, will cast out all fear. Some of you think that when you receive perfect love you won’t be afraid anymore. No! His perfect love—and His is the only perfect love there is—comes into your heart. You are loved, you are accepted, you don’t need any idols to make you feel good about yourself. Once that happens and you lay down your own agenda, all that’s left for you are the promises of God for your life. Hallelujah—that’s good news!

In Genesis 15:7 (ESV) we see that God brought Abram out from the Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the promise of “this land to possess.” Abram had a long journey ahead of him but he had the promise of God!

When you have a promise of God, it is worth the journey, my friends. When you have the promise of God, He is saying, “Come on, brother. Come on, sister. Come on, daughter. Come on, son. Believe Me! Have faith.” If you’ve never had faith before, have faith in Him this year. If you’ve had faith, increase your faith this year. If you’ve believed God for great things, believe Him for greater things.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A NEW FUTURE by Nicky Cruz

When I first made my commitment to God, I had nothing to give Him but my heart. I was a cocky and socially unskilled gangster. A kid from the streets.

I went to a Bible college in California to straighten out my life, to get away from New York and the gang life. Although I was in Bible college, I never had an interest in becoming a preacher or an evangelist. With my thick Latino accent, I couldn’t imagine God calling me to do such a thing. In fact, I couldn’t imagine Him using me for anything. What good was I? What good could I do for God? I was confused and lost.

One night I was in my room feeling more lost and alone than ever. Lying on the floor, flat on my back and staring up at the ceiling, I began to pray, “God, why do I have to suffer so much? What do You want me to do? I love You, God, but I don’t know what You want from me! Please give me a sense of direction and peace. Please show me what You want!”

For hours I lay on the floor pleading with God to break His silence. Suddenly I felt an amazing calm in my spirit. It came over me like a wave. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I could sense God’s presence and feel Him speaking into my heart. “Nicky,” He said to my spirit, “my son, don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten you. I brought you to this place for a purpose. I’ve separated you from your friends and your past, and now I’m giving you a new future. I have plans for you, Nicky. I need you to trust Me. I’m going to raise you up as an evangelist. I’m going to use you to touch the lives of young people. But you need to have faith. I’ll never leave you. I’ll always be right here by your side.”

I told God how much I loved Him and how much I wanted to serve Him. But the more I talked, the more I sensed Him saying, “Just trust Me, Nicky. Stay faithful and I’ll show you what I want you to do. You need to listen and follow when I lead.”

__________
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, January 16, 2015

REWARDED WITH LIGHT

When you walk with the Lord you will be rewarded with light, direction, discernment, revelation—a certain knowing! As you die to this world day by day, the light will grow brighter. You are headed toward the sun. Zacharias prophesied that Christ came to give light to them that sit in darkness . . . to guide our feet (see Luke 1:79).

Are you under the spell of some kind of darkness or indecision? “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). “Whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46). “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).

You may claim to love Jesus but your life proves you are still walking in darkness—confused, befuddled and foggy! When you are truly in love with Jesus, conversing with Him, He turns up the light. There is no darkness at all in His presence.

The worst possible darkness to mankind is not in the hearts of God-hating Communist leaders or Christ-hating atheists. It is, rather, the horrible darkness that blinds so-called Christians who refuse to walk in the light.

Jesus warned: “Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness” (Luke 11:35). Jesus told the Pharisees that a judgment falls upon those who pervert or refuse the light: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees . . . said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them . . . But now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:39-41).

Like the Pharisees, some Christians think they “'know it,” that they are in the light. They say, “I see.” Or, “I see it as well or better than the pastors or anyone else!” They should look at their life and home, at all the trouble and confusion in their hearts, and admit, “Lord, I don’t see! Show me! Am I blind?”

If we will not open up to true, pure light, then our judgment can only be a false light. Get back to walking with Him, and He will expose all darkness and restore to you His pure light.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

GETTING CONTROL

Those who neglect the Lord soon spin out of control as the devil moves in and takes over. Such a person has a devastated self-image. His or her feelings and thoughts cannot be curbed, and their tongue wags and moves under the power of bitterness and anger.

If only we would fall in love with Jesus—walk and talk with Him—He would soon reveal to us that Satan has no dominion over us. We would quickly allow Him to control us. Then we’d be chasing demons, making the devil flee, putting thousands to flight, standing up by faith against every fear, every lie, everything that comes at us from hell. “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall no hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18).

Paul gives a warning to “silly women” who won’t lay down lust: “They which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (2 Timothy 3:6). Women who won’t pay the price and walk with Jesus, who won’t take godly reproof, admit their sins and repent, will go after a teacher who will pray over them—then prey upon them! And believe me, these “house-creepers” are ever with us. They have eyes that hunger for women and make promises to them, saying, “Come to our meetings—you’ll get freedom!" No, you will not! You will end up a captive, twice bound, and those men will go right to your wallet!

But you can get control. You can get back to a diligent, loving, close walk with Jesus. Instead of seeking only your own comfort, try comforting Jesus: “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 69:20).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

THE REWARD OF HIS PRESENCE

God reached down and translated Enoch in answer to his faith. Enoch could no longer bear to stand behind the veil—he just had to see the Lord! He prayed, believing that God would answer his cry to be in His actual presence. He was so “out of it” here on earth that he said to God, “Come! There’s nothing left for me here.”

Think of how Christians are squandering what they call “faith.” Theirs is all centered on self—their needs, their wants, their plans. And they often get what they want, but it only makes them more miserable. Where are the Enochs who spend their faith believing to be translated out of the devil’s darkness and into the hands of God’s dear Son?

Enoch had no Bible, no songbook, no teachers, no indwelling Holy Spirit, no rent veil with access to the Holy of Holies. But He knew God! Without the reproof or prodding of a prophet, without the example of others, Enoch set his heart to follow the Lord. Why is it so hard today with all the helps, the convictions, the prophetic warnings, the pleadings of the Holy Ghost? Is it not a rebuke to us that Enoch rose above his wicked day and walked with God despite so little help? Today there are multitudes who can’t walk with Him in victory despite all the help God has given them!

Enoch believed God was a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him! “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). How do we know Enoch believed God was a rewarder? Because that is the only faith that pleases God—and we know that Enoch pleased Him!

God is a recompenser, a God who pays well for faithfulness. How does the Lord reward His diligent ones? It has been my experience that when I walk arm in arm with Jesus, so in love with Him, rewards break out on all sides. Everything I do or have is blessed: my wife, children, friends, ministry. There comes a life of Christ within that flows like a mighty river. Yes, we’ll have trials and tribulations. But through it all He rewards us with manifestations of His presence.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

THE LACK OF VICTORY

One of the great tragedies of this generation—and one of God’s greatest griefs—is that so many Christians are not truly happy! The lack of victory in Christ is appalling! So many are hot, then suddenly cold. One week they are high, the next week low. 'They can’t cope with fear. Depression runs over them like a steamroller.

Some marriages run hot and cold. One day all is well with husband and wife and then the next day they are miserable. Some days they can’t even talk to one another. They think, “Well, that’s the way marriage is supposed to be. You can’t expect to be happy and loving all the time!”

Paul warns of Christians who need to “recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:26). This describes many Christians perfectly. Satan moves in and out of their lives at his own will! They have no power or authority to stop him at their heart’s door.

Some of you reading this may be caught in a devilish snare. Paul said it is because you are opposing yourself (see 2 Timothy 2:25). To “oppose yourself” means that you have set yourself up to be trapped. You refuse God’s way of deliverance and victory. You have opposed His way—and set up your own way. That’s why you’re ensnared!

So many have not known victory in Christ. Yet is this what Christ died for? To raise up children who are under the power of the devil’s will? “Give your heart to Jesus, but your will to the devil.” Is this the Christian testimony to the world? Never!

You can blame your unhappiness on poor health, being misunderstood, or having an uncaring mate, boss or friend. In fact, you can blame it on anything you choose. But the truth is that there is no excuse for a Christian to live as a slave to the devil. If the devil plays on your emotions and you are getting worse, not better; if your problems are getting bigger; if fear is rising and joy is dissipating; sadness is setting in—it means you are a captive to the enemy of your soul and are being manipulated by him!

You must recognize the trap you’re in and seek to be released. If you have been serving the Lord for more than a few months, you should be growing daily in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Your spiritual victories should be sweet. You should be assured of His constant presence.

Monday, January 12, 2015

THE SETTLERS by Gary Wilkerson

“Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there” (Genesis 11:31, ESV).

I don’t know what kind of man Terah was since very little has been written about him. We do know that Ur of Chaldeans was kind of an up-and-coming land. It was a place where prosperity had just begun to sweep through the land.

Abram was born in this land that was becoming wealthy. It was a land with a great future and great promise that it would be a good place to live. But for some reason Abram’s father decided he needed to leave. We don’t know if it was because of an ambition to go somewhere new or to build something new.

Genesis 11:31 says, “Terah took” and “took” in the Hebrew means “to grasp.” It was kind of a gritting of the teeth and a clenching of the fist and saying, “I will take hold of my future. I will make my future what I want it to be.” And there is something very dangerous in that. There was no indication that God had given him a promise about the land of Canaan but instead he had this self-ambition.
The outcome of this grasping kind of lifestyle is always the second word we will look at in this passage “they settled there.” For some reason when Terah got to Haran he just paused—he settled.

Have you ever done that? “The journey is too much for me. The pressure, the intensity, always having to try to push this stone up a hill.”

Whenever you start something in the flesh, you end up doing what Terah did. He settled in Haran. There is no worse way to spend your life than settling for mediocrity. Nothing is further from God’s agenda for your life than for you to start on a journey and all of a sudden just give up.

Whenever we start grasping for ourselves, taking for ourselves, trying to become rich, trying to become famous, trying to become successful in our own energy—we will always end up “settling.” Why? Because you’re only halfway to where you set out to go.

“But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

Saturday, January 10, 2015

WITH SIGNS FOLLOWING by Jim Cymbala

It takes more than academic rigor to win the world for Christ. Correct doctrine alone isn’t enough. Proclamation and teaching aren’t enough. God must be invited to “confirm the word with signs following” (see Hebrews 2:4). In other words, the gospel must be preached with the involvement of the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.

The apostles prayed for God to do supernatural things. They wanted people to know their belief was more than positional or theoretical. There was power in this faith. “O God, stretch out your hand—work with us in this.” They wanted a faith that was obviously alive, a faith based not just on the cross but also on the empty tomb. The cross, as poignant as it is, is understandable from a human perspective: an innocent man was murdered by crooked politicians and religious leaders. But the empty tomb—what can you say? Only a supernatural God could accomplish that.

In too many churches today, people don’t see manifestations of God’s power in answer to fervent praying. Instead, they hear arguments about theological issues that few people care about. On Christian radio and television we are often merely talking to ourselves.

What we are dealing with today is an Old Testament “vow religion” comprised of endless repetitions and commands to do the right things. Modern preachers, like Moses, come down from the mount calling for commitment. Everyone says yes but then promptly breaks the vow within two days. There is little dependence on God’s power to make an ongoing difference. There is little calling upon God to revolutionize us in a supernatural way.

Jesus is saying today, as He said to the church at Sardis, “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. . . . But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief. . . . He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:1-3, 6).

I am not advocating melodrama or theatrics that work up emotion. But I am in favor, as were the apostles, of asking God to stretch out His hand and manifest Himself.

__________
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 and longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson, Cymbala is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge throughout the world.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A FAITH THAT PLEASED GOD!

“Before his translation [Enoch] had this testimony, that he pleased God!” What was it about Enoch that pleased God so much? It was that his walk with God produced in him the kind of faith God loves. These two verses cannot be separated: “Before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:5-6).

Throughout the Bible and all of history, those who walked with God became men and women of faith. If the Church is walking with God daily, continually communing with our Lord, the result will be a people full of faith—true faith that pleases God.

Some conduct faith seminars, distribute faith tapes, quote faith Scriptures—all trying to produce faith. And it is true, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Roman l0: 17). But Jesus is the Word. “The letter killeth,” Scripture says (2 Corinthians 3:6), and without intimacy with Jesus, the letter produces a dead, selfish, demanding emotion that is not faith at all—and God hates it. Faith comes by hearing His Word and walking close to Him. We should always be “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). This intimate walk with God is missing from the Church today. Faith is really knowing who God is. It is becoming familiar with His glory and majesty. Those who know Him best, trust Him most.

Show me a people walking closely with Him, hating sin, becoming detached from this world and getting to know His voice, and we will see a people who won’t need much preaching and teaching about faith. You won’t need “ten steps” on what faith is and how to get it. True faith comes out of the very heart of Jesus. And it will be His very own faith—not ours—that grows within and emerges from our hearts!

Enoch’s walk with God would not have been worthwhile if it had not produced a corresponding faith that was constantly growing. “By faith Enoch was translated.” What an incredible truth! All his faith was focused on one great desire of his heart: to be with the Lord!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

HE WAS NOT EARTHBOUND!

Elijah and Enoch, the only two prophets to be translated, had something in common. They both hated sin and cried out against it. They walked so closely with God that they could not help sharing His hatred for ungodliness.

The undeniable effect on all who walk with God is a growing hatred for sin—and not only hatred, but separation from it. If you still love this world and are at home with the ungodly, a friend to those who curse Him, then you are not walking with God. You are sitting on the fence, putting Him to open shame.

“Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). We know from Hebrews that this speaks of Enoch’s translation, the fact that he did not taste death. But it also means something deeper than that. “He was not” as defined in Genesis 5 also means “he was not of this world.”

In his spirit, in his senses, Enoch was not a part of this wicked world. He was taken up in his spirit to a heavenly realm. Each day as he walked with the Lord, he became less attached to the things below! Day by day, year by year, he was going up, heading home, getting closer to glory. Like Paul, he died daily to this world. Yet Enoch undertook all his responsibilities. He cared for his family, worked and ministered—but he was not earthbound! None of the demands of this life could keep him from his walk with God. Every waking moment his mind went back to Him. His heart was attached to God with what seemed like a huge rubber band. The more you stretch a rubber band, the quicker it springs back when you let it go. Enoch’s heart always “sprang back” to the Lord.

As mankind grew more ungodly all around him, as men changed into wild beasts full of lust, hardness and sensuality, Enoch became more and more like the One with whom he walked.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

WHEN THINGS FALL APART

In this day, many Christians are running for the hills to hide from the mounting calamities. So-called prophets are telling people to come to their safe havens. Christian Jews are being warned to get back to Israel to escape the financial collapse anticipated in America.

I know where I want to be when things fall apart. When the financial market crashes, I want to go back to Wall Street where I was during the crash on October 19, 1987. I want to be there like a modern Enoch, walking and talking with God, without fear—a peaceful, fearless witness, preaching Jesus to a people whose world has collapsed.

Jesus said, “Go ye!” not “Hide ye!” I want to be where the Holy Ghost is and you can be sure He will be on the frontlines of the battle, calling the troubled and fearful to Himself.

Enoch saw this world as ungodly. His own society was wicked, and as he looked down through all of history to the very last days, all he could say was, “Ungodly! Ungodly!” Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15).

Are you walking with the Lord? Then you must see the world as Enoch saw it: ungodly and full of the spirit of antichrist and hard speeches against your God. How can you be a part of what is ungodly? How can you associate with those He is coming to judge? He is coming with ten thousands of His saints to judge a sinful, lost world. Which side are you on?

If you are arm in arm with Jesus, talking with Him, listening to Him, then you will hate this ungodly world system. You will take His side against those who talk against Him. You will hear Him say, “He that is a friend to the world is an enemy to me” (see James 4:4).

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

WALKING WITH GOD

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:5-6).

The original Hebrew meaning for “walked” implies that Enoch went up and down, in and out, to and fro, continually conversing with God and growing. Enoch’s father, Jared, lived to be 962 years old and his son Methuselah lived to be 969. But Enoch lived 365 years—or a “year” of years! For 365 days every year for all his years, he walked arm in arm with the Lord. The Lord was his very life!

Enoch learned to walk with God in the midst of a wicked society, yet he was an ordinary man. He “begat sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:22) and was involved in everyday life with a wife, children, obligations, and the same burdens we carry. He walked with God while raising his family and providing for them.

Those who walk with God are translated out of Satan's reach, out of his kingdom of darkness and into Christ’s kingdom of light. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossian 1:13). We are translated out of the devil’s snare and into the very heart of Jesus. The Greek word for “translate” here suggests that Christ personally comes and carries us away from the devil’s power and sets us in a heavenly place. But God translates only those who walk close to Him as Enoch did. Those who are held captive at Satan’s will cannot be taken up and delivered from darkness. You truly are not saved until you firmly set your heart on walking with God. You can claim to be saved and to love Him; you can tell the world you belong to Him; you may even pray, weep and read His Word. But unless you walk every day with Him, you will never change. You will fall deeper and deeper into bondage.

Monday, January 5, 2015

SOMETHING OF GRACE WAS MISSING by Gary Wilkerson

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:3-4, ESV).

Paul was urging Timothy to stay in Ephesus even though it appears that he frowned on that idea. The reason Timothy may not have wanted to stay is because of problems the Ephesian church was facing. The people appeared to be living in self-righteousness—trying to look good and appear righteous. When you are self-righteous, however, often you are deceived and this can lead to you becoming greedy and ambitious.

At this very time there was a famine in Macedonia. There was also a famine in Jerusalem and extreme poverty. While Macedonia and Jerusalem were struggling, apparently the economy in Ephesus was good. They had a lot of resources but they were clinging to them for themselves.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17-18: “Charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”

Look at Paul’s first word—charge—which means to “command or give strict orders.” In some translations it says, “Command those who are rich in this present age to be generous.” Why would Paul say something like this—to command people to be generous, to no longer cling to things for themselves? It sounds legalistic and it is—because it’s the Law. The Law shows us where we are off grace, where we are wrong. The command that Paul said Timothy should give to the Ephesians was not to get them just to give an offering but to get them to see that something of grace was missing in their lives.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

GOD’S WAYS ARE HIGHER by Carter Conlon

“And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee? And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master” (1 Samuel 20:35-38).

Consider for a moment David’s journey leading up to this difficult point in his life. It must have seemed an ordinary day as he tended his father’s sheep out in the field. All of a sudden he was called inside to meet with the prophet Samuel, who took a vial of oil and anointed David to be the next king of Israel. Before taking the throne, David began to win some marvelous victories in secret, followed by an incredible victory in public against a giant called Goliath. David’s heart must have burned within him as he walked in an anointing that produced such faith and boldness in his life.

Shortly after, Saul took David in as his attendant, and David began to worship the Lord with songs that drove the darkness out of Saul’s life. David continued to fight the battles of the Lord, all the while experiencing the supernatural power of God, as seemingly no enemy could stand against him. Eventually, however, Saul’s heart turned against David for no apparent reason other than envy—which brings us to our passage in 1 Samuel. Saul’s son, Jonathan, says to David, “I am going to talk to my father. Hide out in the field, and I will come back and shoot an arrow. If I say to the lad with me, ‘The arrow is beyond you,’ that means you must flee, for harm is determined against you.”

Here is how I see this situation: God was trying to speak to David, but David was only partially listening. The Lord was telling him, “I have a plan for your life that will fulfill all the desires I have placed in your heart. A transition is coming from a system that failed under Saul’s leadership to something that will usher in a season of renewal in Israel, and you are going to lead it. But until that day comes, I am going to take you through some dark places. You must follow Me through these mountains and valleys—even though you will not be able to understand them fully.”

That is what I believe to be the deeper meaning behind “the arrow is beyond you.” It is a sign and a reminder from God that His ways are higher than ours, and all He asks is that we follow Him!

__________
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, January 2, 2015

A GREAT SHOUT

At times we must be still and know that He is God. Sometimes the Spirit brings forth sweet, melodic love songs to Jesus. But throughout God’s Word, whenever He brought victory over enemies, the people always lifted up a great shout, a loud noise of praise to the Lord. On the seventh day that Israel marched around Jericho, this commandment circulated: “All the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat” (Joshua 6:5). “And the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat” (Joshua 6:20).

In Ezra we discover that another great shout took place when the temple foundation was laid. “When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord . . . they sang together . . . in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord. . . . And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord . . . So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off” (Ezra 3:10-11,13). The Hebrew word used for “shout” here means “split the ears.” The weeping of the Israelites was so joyful and the praises so loud that they “split the ears!” Some people say they can’t stand noise and shouting in church. But hear this: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

God wants us to know His Word on this matter. The Psalms command us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. “Noise” in Hebrew, suggests thunder, sparks, fire. “Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands” (Psalm 66:1). “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob” (Psalm 81:1). “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise . . . with trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. . . . Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together” (Psalm 98:4, 6, 8). God’s people know exceeding great joy whenever the presence of Jesus has been revealed. If we will not shout His praises, the trees will do it for us. At Time Square Church we sing this song: “Lift up your heads, don’t be afraid! Sing till the power of the Lord comes down!” That power is His presence!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

AN EXUBERANT AND EXCEEDINGLY GREAT JOY!

“Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance” (Acts 2:28).

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was like day to day—His heart, His attitude? Did He look crushed by all the burdens He carried? Did He weep? Was there a solemn heaviness in His presence?

He did weep, and He did carry heavy burdens. In Gethsemane He sweat drops of blood, and at other times He groaned and sighed over unbelief. But the Word of God makes it clear that Christ was full of joy and gladness.

“For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be [troubled]: therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad” (Acts 2:25-26). In speaking this to the Council of the Jews, Peter quoted a prophecy from Psalm 16. It was a vision of Christ, Who would have a rejoicing heart, a tongue speaking gladness and a countenance full of joy because of the presence of His Father.

We are to rejoice, be glad and full of joy for the same reasons Jesus was joyful. The first reason for His joy was that He knew it was impossible for death to hold Him. And so it is for us! This knowledge destroys the wicked doctrine that says Jesus was put into the devil’s hands and had to fight His way out of hell. Jesus knew on earth that death could not hold Him—and so do we!
Second, the Lord is at our right hand in all our troubles. We can rest hopefully and expectantly, knowing He is beside us at all times.

Third, “Thou will not leave my soul in [death]” (verse 27). We will rise to new life in a new body, in a new world. And last, His very presence floods us with joy! How can we do anything but shout and be glad when we have been delivered from hell, promised eternal life, given His assurance in all troubles here on earth, and have His presence manifested before us?