Thursday, April 30, 2015

A WORD OF HOPE FOR ALL PARENTS

Scripture makes it very clear that if you raise your children on the authority of God’s Word, they will not depart from that training in their later years. They may veer away from it for a while—even for years—but ultimately it will bring them back to truth. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

The Bible offers a word of hope to all parents who grieve over a backslidden child. Here is a covenant promise that every parent should memorize. It applies both to children who have been lost and to those presently under your care: “Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses” (Isaiah 44:1-4).

This word of promise to Israel is also meant for us today. Its words of comfort are given to all who are chosen (see verse 1)—meaning, all who are in Christ.

The Lord begins by telling us in verses 1 and 2, “I am the Lord who made you, and I know your pain. I am going to help you now. You don’t have to fear.” The word for Jesurun in this verse means righteous one. In other words, God makes these promises to His righteous ones—glorious, binding, covenant promises. The promises are:
  • God will provide water to satisfy our thirst: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground” (verse 3). Has the Lord brought you His thirst-quenching Word? Has He come to you in your dry spells and flooded you with His Spirit? Are you drinking the pure water of His Word?
  • “I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thy offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses” (verses 3-4).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

THE BEGINNING OF REVIVAL

The beginning of true revival comes when a godly company of believers takes on the Lord’s burden for a church or a city trapped in sin. This godly company fasts and prays, pleading with God to begin rebuilding the walls and gates that will protect His people from every enemy.

Once Jerusalem’s walls were rebuilt and its gates set up, gatekeepers and watchmen were appointed to every house. Walls and gates are no good without gatekeepers who know what can or can’t be allowed in. Thus, Nehemiah says, “It came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed” (Nehemiah 7:1).

Notice that these gatekeepers were not strictly priests. They were laymen—musicians, porters, people from all walks of life. And they were instructed: “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them” (verse 3). God was saying to His people, “My house is going to be a place of light, with no darkness allowed in. Let everyone and everything that enters here be an open book, subject to the light of My Word.”

I say to every elder reading this message, including the elders at Times Square Church: Don’t ever allow yourself to be blinded to God’s Word by your close ties to any minister. You have been appointed by God to be a keeper at the gates of His house. And if anyone brings a gospel into your church that is not according to Scripture, it is your duty to lovingly tell that preacher he is wrong.

As gatekeepers, we are to guard the doors of God’s house in humility—through fasting, prayer and loving concern expressed through the fear of God.

Nehemiah said, “Appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house” (Nehemiah 7:3). According to Nehemiah, guardians were to be appointed not just to the gates of the holy city, but to every home as well. In short, the heads of every household—that is, the parents—were responsible for everything that came into their home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

BEGINNING THE WORK OF RESTORATION

The book of Nehemiah offers a vivid picture of what happens to the church in times of ruin and apostasy. When Nehemiah and 43,000 other Jewish patriots returned to Jerusalem, they found the city lying in total ruin. The walls were torn down and the gates removed, so the inhabitants had no protection from their enemies . . . and a whole parade of antagonists plundered the city as they pleased.

These enemies had been given total dominion because of Israel’s backsliding and disobedience to God’s Word. Nehemiah wrote, “Because of our sins: also they [our enemies] have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress” (Nehemiah 9:37).

Jerusalem here is a type of the church of Jesus Christ today. Like the Israelites, many Christians are under sin’s dominion and the iniquity in God’s house has brought on distress and bondage, spreading poison throughout the Body of Christ.

How has this happened? The walls of truth have been torn down—those protective barriers that are erected when believers stand on God’s Word. Because of our sin and compromise, those protective gates are falling, leaving multitudes of Christians open to Satan’s power.

Yet Nehemiah here represents God’s plan of restoration. This man knew that for any true revival to take place, there had to be a safe, protective wall of truth surrounding God’s people.

So, did Nehemiah stride into the wall-less city calling for a revival of supernatural manifestations? No. The only manifestations seen after Nehemiah’s arrival were men and women with picks and shovels in their hands. They were doing the hard work of rebuilding the city’s walls and restoring its gates. And Nehemiah was leading it all.

This work of restoration began the moment Nehemiah took on the Lord’s burden over the ruin in His house. When Nehemiah saw the affliction and reproach God’s people were suffering, he fell to his knees, crying, “The wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3).

What did Nehemiah do next? He fasted and prayed night and day, confessing Israel’s sins. “It came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven” (verse 4).

Monday, April 27, 2015

WHEN THE WINE RAN OUT by Gary Wilkerson

“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you’” (John 2:1-5, ESV).

Most Christians know that the wedding at Cana was where Jesus performed His first miracle: “The first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory” (2:11). Christ had just begun His ministry and already had a small following of disciples. Now, by working this wonder, He revealed His glory to the world in spectacular fashion.

Yet, the miracle Jesus performed here also contains deep significance for the church beyond that time and place. Verse 3 contains a powerfully symbolic phrase: “When the wine ran out.” Throughout the New Testament, wine is associated with the manifest presence of God through the Holy Spirit. Paul evokes this when he writes, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18, ESV).

What does it mean for the people of God to “run out of wine”? In this scene, wine was at the center of the wedding celebration, poured out freely to be served to the invited guests. The scene was a picture of a joyful people to whom God’s Spirit flows freely. But a need arose because the wine had run out and the people needed it replenished to sustain their joy.


As Christians, we all have the Holy Spirit present in us. Yet it is also true that we have to be filled with the Spirit continually. Every one of us experiences an ebb and flow in our walk with Christ. The low times do not mean His Spirit has left us, but it does mean we’re called back again and again to quench the deep thirst that the Spirit Himself puts within us. As children of God, we need spiritual food that only He can give—food that empowers us to love others as He loves, to lead a holy life that pleases Him, and to speak His Word with boldness to others.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

FOR SOULS by Claude Houde

We pray, we sacrifice, we fight. For souls!

Nothing is more important! Many believers have abandoned the battlefield for souls because secretly, they are in defeat.

In the Scriptures, the Church is called a body. If one member suffers, all suffer with it. When you hold and cover a hidden sin, you lose something before God. As thousands of believers are silenced this way, the Church can become powerless and unrecognizable. Who you are, what you do when no one sees you, will determine your future.

The words of Abraham to the king of Sodom, the place of fire and destruction, remind us of the reality and seriousness of this implacable war of the secret place. Listen to how Abraham responded to the temptation of the king of Sodom. It can revolutionize your life. He stood before his enemy and said, “I will touch nothing that is of you, not even a thread (see Genesis 14:23).

I want to call you to a radical, liberating and powerful Christian lifestyle, where you discern the nature of spiritual warfare. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places” (see Ephesians 6:12)

“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Many churches and believers today claim to be engaged in “spiritual warfare.” Multitudes of believers are “binding spirits,” identifying strongholds, naming or identifying demonic principalities in a bizarre and mystical mix of noise and bold proclamations of victory. Self-proclaimed “generals” are giving orders and latest “cutting edge” strategies and revelations for guaranteed revival to the throngs of new experts while everybody is rapturously singing and shouting how scared Satan is of them!

Dear reader, allow me a few questions. Where are the souls saved, their lives changed, delivered, purified and transformed? Measurable growth and increase, water baptisms, true prayer and unity? Where are the wisdom, the amazing grace and the fruit of the Spirit shining forth brilliantly in the lives of believers filled with God? Where are the works of mercy and generosity, sacrificial giving to missions, compassion in action for the poor, the Christian commitment where we don’t count our hours and we don’t seek or need any recognition? Where is the victory, the divine protection over the work of the enemy and of flesh?

__________

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, April 24, 2015

WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE

Recently, our ministry received a heartbreaking letter from a prisoner. He wrote:

“Pastor Dave, I’m in prison because of my sexual addiction. I know I wasn’t born this way, but it’s what I’ve become. I have been married three times and I have four children.

“The truth is, I want to stop, yet I don’t. I quit smoking cold turkey and that was no problem but I’ve never been able to stay away from pornography. I truly believe in the healing power of God and I’ve cried and begged Him for help. But I just can’t seem to find the door to escape from my perversion problem.

“My desire to do the Lord’s will is ever with me, yet I constantly push that desire aside and fall back into my lust. I’ve lied to God, promising never to do it again, but I always go back to it.

“I hurt because I know I’ve made the Lord sick. When I go to chapel, I feel two-faced. There are men here who respect me because I’ve given them good advice, but I haven’t kept it myself. I play the piano and sing in chapel, but I don’t feel right—because I’m not right.

“I’d rather die and go to hell than ever bother another innocent person again. But I don’t want to go to hell. I want to serve God, and I want His love. I’m trapped because I hate what I do, yet somehow I love it. I don’t know what to do.”

I said to this young man: “Don't give up hope. God wants to bring healing to you.”

You must believe that nothing in your life is impossible with God. There is no clutch of the devil He cannot break.

So, dear saint, get hold of faith! Believe God to absolutely change and transform your life. If He transformed the demon-possessed man, brought healing to the woman with the issue of blood and to Jairus’ daughter (see Mark 5), He can provide for you. Our God can fix anything. 


“With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

HE WILL DO THE IMPOSSIBLE

God can restore whatever has seemed dead in our lives with just a single word. Are you having financial problems, unable to pay your bills? So it was with the Lord’s disciples—and He fixed their situation supernaturally.

When tax time came around, Christ and His disciples had no money to pay the needed amount. So how did the Lord fix the situation? He sent Peter out to catch a fish. Jesus told him he would find a coin in the mouth of the first fish he caught, and that coin would cover their tax bill. “Go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish . . . and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt fine a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee” (Matthew 17:27).

I can only imagine what Peter must have thought; “Tax money in a fish’s mouth? This I’ve got to see. I’ve been a fisherman all my life, and I’ve seen a lot of things inside fish—worms, hooks, seaweed. But I’ve never seen a coin inside one.” Yet, when Peter reeled in the fish, he opened its mouth to find a gleaming coin. The amount was enough to pay their taxes, just as Jesus had said.

Why did the Spirit move upon the gospel writers to record this story? And why did Jesus choose to fix their situation through a miracle? Why didn’t He just take up an offering, or send the disciples out to work for a day to bring in wages for the tax?

I believe Jesus moved supernaturally here because He wanted to prove to His children that He will do the impossible for us. He can fix any financial problem, any family crisis, any overwhelming need. He wanted us to know that He is the same God who fed Elijah with bread delivered by ravens (see 1 Kings 17). He fed a crowd of 5,000 (see Mark 6:34-44) and another crowd of 4,000 (Mark 8:1-9) with a few fishes and loaves of bread. He knows that at certain times in our lives only a miracle will do. And He wants to assure us that He can do the impossible for us, in any situation!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE

Mark 5 tells the story of Jairus, the desperate synagogue ruler who asked Jesus to heal his daughter. The twelve-year-old girl was dangerously near death, and Jairus pleaded with Christ to come to his house and lay hands on her.

Jesus agreed to go with him. But first He stopped along the way to minister to a woman with a blood disease. (This was the woman who was healed when she touched the hem of His garment.) Yet, while Jesus tarried, a messenger came with tragic news: Jairus’ daughter had already died. The messenger told the synagogue ruler, “Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?” (Mark 5:35).

Jairus’ heart was gripped with grief. He thought, “If only we had gotten there on time. Now it's too late. My daughter is gone.” But Jesus assured him, “Be not afraid, only believe” (verse 36).

As the group approached Jairus’ home, they heard sounds of wailing and mourning. It was Jairus’ family and neighbors, grieving over the girl. Picture the contrast in this scene: Here was God in flesh, Creator of the universe, able to perform any work imaginable—yet the people were weeping in His presence. In short, they were testifying, “God can only help as long as there is some sign of hope left. But once all life is gone, there is no need to call on Him anymore. Even He can't restore this kind of situation.”

How many Christians today no longer call upon the Lord because they think their problem is hopeless? Multitudes trust God only to the point that something in their life dies. I’m not referring to the death of a person but rather the death of a marriage, a relationship, a dream, your hope for an unsaved loved one—anything in your life you think is impossible to fix, change or restore.

Jesus rebuked such unbelief. He said to the weeping crowd at Jairus’ home, “Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth” (verse 39). He was stating, “This situation is not what you see or think. You think all hope is gone but I say there will be restoration.” He then went to the little girl’s room and, speaking a mere word, He brought the child to life. “Straightway the damsel arose, and walked” (verse 42).

Why did the Holy Ghost include this story in Mark’s gospel? He did it to show us that nothing is too “dead” or too far gone for Him to restore to life. He is saying, “Put your trust in Me to fix your problem. It’s never too late for Me to work.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

LONGING FOR HIS COMING

In the days to come, you are going to hear incredible messages about loving Jesus. They will sound holy and Christlike, but they will be tainted with an error that will rob the saints of the very thing that produces steadfastness. These messages will lack an urgency for preparation or a longing for His coming! Their preachers will chop away at the glorious truth of this event and get you to look for an earthly kingdom. And if you look eagerly to His coming, you will be labeled an escapist!

There is a new gospel being preached today saying that Jesus comes only to the heart—and that His Second Coming is a special revelation to the mind! He appears only to the inner man!

New Agers advertise that their Christ will appear on TV worldwide. All the world will see His coming simultaneously. As they view this event, they will receive an inner revelation to their minds—a “knowing.”

To some Christians today, this world is not a sinking ship or a world reserved for fire. It is an international capitol building overrun with undesirables whom these believers plan to kick out. They will then take their place, renovating and governing it all themselves. Such thinking is symptomatic of a dying love for Jesus and a clinging to this world! “Beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Peter 3:17). No one can be more spiritually blind than to say, “My Lord delayeth His coming.”

Jude said, “Enoch . . . prophesied . . . Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment” (Jude 14-15). Paul said, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

This is not an escapist message. It is a message of comfort! Jesus wants us with Him!

Monday, April 20, 2015

THE FULLNESS OF HIS GRACE AND GLORY by Gary Wilkerson

“We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV). The Greek word for glory here is “doxa.” It’s the source behind The Doxology, the hymn that so many churches sing extolling God’s manifold glory.

“Doxa” is actually John’s translation of a Hebrew word, “kavod,” meaning weighty, substantive, intense, thick. This is what dwells in every follower of Christ: God’s weighty, meaningful, passionate glory. His glory sets you apart—from lightness, from self- interest, from easy believism. That’s how the world knows you exist for God. You don’t serve a Jesus who just wants to make you happy; you serve the real Jesus, the One who has power to transform a life and make it meaningful, purposeful and fulfilling.

All of this opposes the glory of self. “The devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory [doxa]” (Matthew 4:8, ESV). There are many glories in the world that call us to pursue them: reputation, affluence, influence. But the more we seek and receive of those glories, the less we receive of God’s true glory—and the less of His glory shines from our lives.

This pull has crept into the church. Sometimes our worship can lean more toward showy performance and emotional experience than extolling God’s glory and knowing His full, weighty presence. John rightly places God’s glory even before His grace: “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John points out that grace and truth are contained within Christ’s glory; in fact, they proceed from it.

Yet many Christians live as if grace and truth are stopping points, the end-all of our walk with Jesus. They stop at knowing “positional truths,” neglecting to go on in His fullness. But our lives are meant to express Jesus in all His glory—and that requires His transformation of us.

If we think we have it all together—that we have grasped God’s grace fully, that no more is needed—we are stopping short of His glory. Don’t let that happen in your life. Seek the real Jesus in His fullness—and receive the fullness of His grace and glory!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

DETOURS FROM HIS PLAN by Nicky Cruz

Does God really care when we take detours from the path He has set for us?

Many might argue with me on this point, but I’m convinced that God has a specific role set aside for each of us. He has given us unique gifts and talents and desires, and He has created an individual covenant for us that fits those gifts. “For I know the plans I have for you,” God told us through His prophet Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 29:11). Nothing is left to chance when it comes to God. Long before He created us He knew what He wanted us to accomplish. He knew the people that He wanted us to touch and that He wanted to put into our lives to touch us. You and I were created for a purpose, and God’s perfect plan is for us to embrace that purpose.

We all take detours from God’s plan, and we will do so until the day we die. God is patient and faithful just the same. But how much better would our lives be if we strove every day to stay the course that God set before us? How many people could we bless if we allowed God to work through us each day? How much more effective would we be in life and ministry if we only learned to let God set our agenda?

I’m still not sure why God chose to take me as a young Christian and mold me into an evangelist. But this is the plan that He made for me and so I carry it out the best I can.
And what about you? Have you embraced the plan that God has prepared for you? Have you sought out His purpose for your life and then set yourself toward fulfilling it? Or are you living your life by taking one detour after another?

It’s a question that each one of us needs to ask—and one that God is waiting to answer.

__________

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, April 17, 2015

NEVER GIVE UP

“He [Jesus] rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him” (Mark 9:25). After Jesus prayed, the boy fell to the ground as if dead. But, Scripture says, “Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose” (verse 27).

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

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

All over the world today, multitudes of Christian parents agonize because their children are under the devil’s power. In our own congregation, I see the pain of mothers who ride buses upstate to visit their sons in prison. They know the pain of sitting on one side of the thick, glass window, gazing at a boy who once was tender in spirit. Somehow he got hooked on drugs and then attempted a robbery to support his habit. And now he’s in prison, becoming even more hardened. She has prayed for him for years, but now she’s losing hope. She doesn’t think she’ll ever see him change.

Maybe you think your unsaved husband is hopeless, that he’ll never come to Jesus. Or, perhaps you’ve given up hope for your wife, who leaves you at night to go out partying. But no person is ever too far gone for God to fix. I know many Christian spouses who testify today, “I prayed for my spouse for years. Then one day, after I had given up hope, God broke through. He saved and delivered my loved one!”

We must never give up on anyone—because our God can do anything.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

THERE IS NO PROBLEM HE CANNOT FIX

In Mark 9, a distraught father brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples seeking deliverance. This boy wasn’t simply troubled or rebellious. He was full of evil spirits, and they controlled his every action. His situation was well known all over the region, and when parents saw him approaching, they probably rushed their children indoors.

This poor boy was considered absolutely hopeless. He was both deaf and speechless, so he spewed out only guttural sounds. He foamed at the mouth like a mad dog, and physically he was skin and bone, emaciated by his awful struggle. His father had to hold on to him continually, because the demons tried to cast him into the nearest river, lake or open fire, wanting to kill him.

I wonder how many times this father had to leap into a pond and drag his son out to resuscitate him. It had to be a full-time job just keeping his child from killing himself. Imagine the number of scars and burn marks on that boy’s torn body. I am sure the father’s heart was broken daily to see his son in that condition, with no one able to help.

Now, as the father stood before the disciples, Satan began manifesting in the boy. He started foaming at the mouth and rolling on the ground, contorting and gyrating wildly. Scripture tells us the disciples prayed over him—perhaps for a long time—but nothing happened.

It must have seemed like an impossible situation. Soon the doubting scribes crowded around, asking, “Why is the boy not healed? Is this case too hard for your Lord? Is the devil more powerful in this kind of situation?”

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE

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

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

Couples must believe that God can save their relationship; otherwise, my counsel is in vain. Things may appear absolutely hopeless to them; they may have built up years of resentment and bitterness. But they have to be convinced God can do the impossible.

I tell such couples right away, “Yes, I’ll counsel you. But first I have to ask: Do you truly believe God can fix your marriage? Do you have faith that no matter how impossible things look to you, He has the power to restore your relationship?”

Some answer, “But you don't know what I’ve been through with my spouse. I’ve been wounded deeply. My hurt is beyond what you could ever imagine.” This kind of response tells me they have bought the devil’s lie. He has convinced them that their situation is hopeless. Yet Jesus has spoken clearly to every one of His children: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

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

We do not really believe in God unless we believe He is the God of the impossible!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

THE LORD IS ABLE

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

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

At the time, Sarah was inside the tent listening to their conversation. And when she heard this, she laughed at the idea. “Impossible,” she thought. She was way beyond the age of childbearing, and Abraham was too old to sire a child.

Yet when God heard Sarah’s laughter, He said, “Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (verses 13-14).

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

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

We are quick to counsel others that He can do the impossible. When we see our loved ones enduring difficult times, we tell them, "Hold on and look up! The Lord is able—don’t stop trusting Him. He’s the God of the impossible.”

Yet, do we believe these truths for ourselves? I wonder.

Monday, April 13, 2015

WE ARE HIS by Gary Wilkerson

John and his brother James were disciples of John the Baptist, the fiery prophet with a national following. Working in their father’s fishing business, the rough-and-tumble brothers acquired the nickname “Sons of Thunder.” In other words, they didn’t back down from much.

I’ve known some “sons of thunder” in my time. The wonderful ministry Victory Outreach reaches a lot of people from rough backgrounds, saints who might stay rough around the edges after they’ve come to Christ. It’s as if some of them go from gang life to being in God’s gang—unintimidated, speaking their minds, preaching boldly.

That was James and John. Even after following Jesus for some time, they wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy those who rejected the gospel. Decades later, in writing his gospel account, John spoke of a transformation that took place within him. He now saw himself as “the beloved disciple,” no longer the tough guy. He was telling the Greeks that Jesus was not just truth for head knowledge but truth for transformation of the heart.

Do you find yourself filling your head with knowledge about Jesus, yet you sense your heart isn’t being changed? Are you annoyed that your life is no different from day to day by the work of His Spirit in you? Jesus has come to transform you by His presence. In that sense, the real Word is not just information but the living God who dwells within you.

Jesus is also the real light who illuminates, revealing all truth. Carter Conlon, pastor of Times Square Church, tells of an encounter he had at a conference where he preached passionately on the holiness of God. After his sermon, he sat down next to a man who said, “I don’t agree with anything you preached.” When Carter asked why, the man said, “My God would never raise His voice with me.” Puzzled, Carter mentioned the biblical passage where Jesus took a whip into the holy temple to drive out the moneychangers. The man responded, “Yes, He did that, but that’s not who Jesus is now.”

Carter thought for a moment, then asked the man, “Tell me, friend—did your father yell at you growing up?” At that, the man dissolved. “My dad yelled at me all the time,” he said through tears. Carter ministered grace and truth to the man, ending by saying gently, “There is no such thing as ‘my God.’ There is only one God, and He can’t be yours or mine. We are His.”

Saturday, April 11, 2015

THE LIMITS OF TEACHING by Jim Cymbala

Let me make a bold statement: Christianity is not predominantly a teaching religion. We have been almost overrun these days by the cult of the speaker. The person who can stand up and expound correct doctrine is viewed as essential; without such a talent the church would not know what to do. The North American church has made the sermon the centerpiece of the meeting, rather than the throne of grace, where God acts in people’s lives.

The Jewish faith in Jesus’ day was dominated by rabbis—teachers of the Law. Their doctrine was thorough. Jesus told them “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40, italics added). They knew the written Word of God very well, but not the living Word, even as He stood before them.
The Scriptures are not so much the goal as they are an arrow that points us to the life-changing Christ.

Unfortunately, the rabbis never did realize who was among them. In the last few days before His crucifixion, Jesus wept over the city as He said, “You did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44).

It is fine to explain about God, but far too few people today are experiencing the living Christ in their lives. We are not seeing God’s visitation in our gatherings. We are not on the lookout for His outstretched hand.

The teaching of sound doctrine is a prelude, if you will, to the supernatural. It is also a guide, a set of boundaries to keep emotion and exuberance within proper channels.

But as Paul said, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). If the Holy Spirit is not given an opening among us, if His work is not welcomed, if we are afraid of what He might do, we leave ourselves with nothing but death.

__________

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, April 10, 2015

GOD IS ON OUR SIDE!

The majestic Lord, who has all power and might, is on our side! This is what Jesus has been trying to show His children all along. He says, “If you can, comprehend the greatness of God and the fact that He is on your side!”

“When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me” (Psalm 56:9).

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? The Lord taketh my part with them that help me” (Psalm 118:6-7).

The Holy Spirit has given us Psalm 124 as an antidote against fear and worry:
If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:

Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
God wants us to be bad-news-proof! “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings [bad news]: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid” (Psalm 112:7-8).

“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid . . . thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken” (Proverbs 3:24-26).


Trust God with all your heart. To have freedom from fear and worry is to rest confidently in the Lord of Hosts. Rest in the very One who created you!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

CONFESSING CHRIST AS ALL-SUFFICIENT

“Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:31-33).

For years I quoted this passage in my citywide crusades! I said it at the altar call to provoke people to come forward and confess Christ. But trusting God is so much more than making a public confession: “Jesus, forgive my sins. I believe in You!” Well-meaning millions have made that kind of “confession” and yet it did not stick.

The key to understanding what Jesus is saying is in Psalm 31:19. “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou has wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!”

This “confession” is something the world must see and not just hear! “And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3).

We often talk about “witnessing for Jesus,” and we picture it as street preaching, passing out tracts, and telling friends and strangers that Jesus loves them. Beloved, that is only part of it!

The world is not looking for more doctrinal proof of the reality of God! It is not looking for greater proof of the resurrection or better arguments about creation. The world is looking for Christians who can stand up to every crisis, fear, trouble and difficulty and remain calm and at rest in the midst of it all. The world needs to see God’s children trusting wholly in their Lord.

The world must be able to point to a Christian and say, “There goes one who is not a complainer! He doesn’t fret or fear or run in times of trouble. He isn’t worried about tomorrow! His faith holds at all times!”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

GOD’S THOUGHTS ABOUT HIS PEOPLE

David said, “Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to usward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered” (Psalm 40:5).

God spoke to the Israelites in Babylonian captivity: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God thought of you before you were born! He thought of you when your life was breathed into a cell . . . when you were still in the womb!

“Thine eyes did see my [unformed] substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written . . . when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16).

We accept that He cares for our body, but He goes much farther—counting every hair, bone, muscle, cell, fiber. He is aware of every tear you have shed—He has counted and bottled them all. “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle; are they not in thy book?” (Psalm 56:8). I can’t comprehend it all. He counts my hairs; He counts my tears and He bottles and saves them. Think of it—not a wasted tear of sorrow, joy or repentance.

He thinks of us when we lie down in bed and when we rise. He thinks of us with every step we take. He knows and understands every thought we think. It is written, “Jesus perceived their thoughts” (Luke 5:22).

Heaven is populated with highly intelligent, created beings—angels, seraphim, cherubim and the four-and-twenty elders. They are witnesses to the faithfulness of our God. They know of all the promises He has made to us concerning His attention toward every detail. They hear Him tell of His minute, total provision to keep and watch over us! All of heaven praises God, throwing their crowns at His feet, which is proof that they behold and believe in His faithfulness.

God can be trusted to do all He said He would!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

NO TIME TO RELAX

Some of you reading this devotional have taken a vacation from “fighting the good fight.” You are weary of heart and have said to yourself, “I’ve got to ease up or crack up! I’m not going to love the Lord any less and I’ll stay faithful. But I must follow my heart and my heart is telling me to relax.”

Beloved, your timing could not be worse! Spiritual relaxation or letting up is the final spring in the devil’s trap. You are choosing midnight to go on vacation. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:11-12).

If the night were far spent and the day of the Lord near when this was written, then how much nearer must it be now! There can be no relaxing in this last-days warfare. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Satan will not relax; he will increase his efforts. We dare not sleep!

All through the New Testament, God is calling us to be awake, to be vigilant and aware, and to put on the whole armour. We are not to sleep as others, but we are to be looking for and hastening the day of the Lord.

Relax in this war, and you are dead. Relax, and you are going to be caught in the devil’s trap. That call to relax is right out of hell! It is the siren call of Satan himself. Be warned because it is high time to awaken!

“Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the [traps] of the workers of iniquity” (Psalm 141:9).

Monday, April 6, 2015

THE MYSTERY REVEALED by Gary Wilkerson

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John’s main audience for his gospel was the Greek culture. That’s why he immediately identified Jesus as “the Word,” referring to the Greek term logos. Greeks had been examining this concept of logos for centuries, an idea that spoke of wisdom; knowledge; reason; the meaning of life; the philosophy of human existence.

Now John challenged them: “Do you really want to know the meaning of life, to understand all human purpose on this earth? The logos you search for is found in the literal Word of God—His Son, Jesus. Christ is the logos everyone hungers for! You seek knowledge, but logos— real, knowable wisdom and life—is fully expressed in Jesus.”

When I was about twelve I overheard a newspaper reporter interviewing a Teen Challenge resident. She asked him, “What’s different about this program? What does it offer that you wouldn’t find at a secular treatment center?” The young man answered, “We get the Holy Ghost in the morning, Jesus in the afternoon and the Father at night.” That response may sound canned today, but it didn’t forty years ago. I remember the young man’s excitement as he told the reporter, “Teen Challenge is all about God. Only He can set me free this way. Only He can give me purpose and hope and make me happy. Lady, this is real!”

That’s the very word John used to describe Jesus to the Greeks: real. “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9, ESV). From the Greek, John uses the word “alethinos,” meaning “real.” The Greeks thought “logos” was unknowable, but John told them, “God isn’t hiding Himself. He came to earth to live among us. The mystery of God has been revealed to you in Jesus!”

How exactly is this mystery revealed? Jesus chooses to make Himself known to the world through His people. When John says Christ comes to dwell in us, the verb He uses means “tabernacle.” Jesus “tabernacles” in us, just as God did in the Old Testament—His glory descending from heaven to dwell among His people. He chooses to make His home in us, making us—both individuals and congregations—the dwelling place of His glory.

This was a core truth for my father, David Wilkerson, who often said, “I don’t want a visitation from God. I want a habitation.” That truth came straight from John, who told the Greeks, “The logos is more than information, more than mental assent to an idea. It is God Himself coming to dwell within you!”

Saturday, April 4, 2015

LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY by Carter Conlon

Have you ever felt that something is missing in your prayers—that somehow they are not as deep or as effective as they ought to be? After all, there is a great difference between prayer that is driven by human effort and prayer that is divine and truly lays hold of God. For example, consider the prayer of the famous Scottish reformer, John Knox, who stood on a mountaintop and cried, “God, give me Scotland or I die!” Before long, people began to come out into the streets under the conviction of God.

I want to pray that kind of prayer! I want something that goes beyond merely coming into God’s presence every day with a list: God, bless my home, bless my finances, bless my mother, bless my father, bless my children. I want to pray prayers that will move men toward God; prayers that will bring the Church of Jesus Christ back to life! I want the kind of prayer that God instructed Ezekiel to pray: “Call out to the breath of God to breathe upon these dry bones and raise the dead back to life” (Ezekiel 37:9). Those are the type of prayers I want to pray!

We see in the Scriptures that Jesus’ own disciples had a similar yearning. One day as Jesus was praying, their hearts were stirred. “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).

Keep in mind that the disciples were no strangers to prayer. They had seen Jesus pray and miraculously multiply loaves and fishes. Some were even with Jesus as He prayed on a mountaintop and they saw His countenance completely transfigured. Without a doubt, the disciples themselves also prayed as they personally walked with Jesus. However, this time they saw Jesus go into a certain place to pray, and it caused them to conclude that there was still something they had to understand about prayer. I can picture the disciples getting together and nudging each other, “You ask Him!” “No, you ask Him!” There was something in Jesus’ prayer that made it evident that prayer was much deeper than they had experienced up to that point.

“Lord, teach us to pray!” one of His disciples finally implored Him. So Jesus began to teach them, saying “When ye pray, say, Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil” (Luke 11:2-4).

__________ 

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, April 3, 2015

A SYMBOL OF GOD'S CARE FOR HIS CHILDREN

Hair! Every hair on our heads is counted by our Father in heaven. Between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs blanket the human head. God made hair on our heads for insulation during summer and winter, not just for appearance. Our eyebrows keep sweat out of our eyes, and eyelashes protect our eyelids when dust or tiny insects get too near. Tiny hairs in the ears and nostrils filter incoming air of particles.

If we could know what an awesome creation a hair is, how full of life, we would never doubt that God numbers what He has created.

It’s no wonder David said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14).

In Matthew 10:28-33, Jesus was teaching the disciples not to fear. He had created every sparrow, formed every human body and numbered every hair. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth . . . All things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). But the disciples still did not understand. Oh, how Jesus must have longed to take them into such intricacies of how He made the wings and bones of the sparrows and how He designed the hair. No mere carpenter could figure it all out for it was so fearful and amazing!

He could have said, “Peter, what if I told you that you have 127,550 hairs on your head? Now, since you know I have numbered every hair on your head, won’t you trust Me with every detail of your life? Won’t you believe that I know every step you take?”

“Not one sparrow falls to the ground without the knowledge of your Father in heaven” (see Matthew 10:29). Knowing this, will you now be “careful for nothing”? Will you now trust Him to take care of all your needs? Will you now give no thought to what you shall eat or drink? Will you now believe that your heavenly Father knows what you need and will gladly supply it? Will you now trust Him to house you, feed you, clothe you?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW

While walking up a country road in New Jersey, I had a good talk with my Lord. “Lord, I can't live with fear and worry of all kinds. I want to face whatever the future holds with rest, joy and simple trust!”

The Holy Spirit quickened to me: “One of the keys to freedom from all fear and worry is found in the word sparrows. Remember that I told you, ‘One of them [sparrows] shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered’” (Matthew 10: 29-30). It sounds so elementary, so very simple—but what Jesus tells us here is very profound.

In the Old Testament, King David could boast, “[He] delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). How did David find such freedom from fear? By obtaining a vision of the greatness of “Him who made heaven and earth.” When David had his eyes on the Creator of all things, he discovered how big God is!

I want to be like David—an example of a shepherd who has learned how to be free of fear and worry, able to lead a people into that same freedom.

I did a study on sparrows and began to get a revelation of David’s immense Creator God who was interested in every tiny detail of His creation!

Sparrows! Like all birds, sparrows are wonderfully made. Their thin, small bones are strong and specially equipped for flying. Modern science still cannot copy the intricate wing system that allows them to migrate two and three thousand miles. Each sparrow has from 1,300 to 2,600 feathers. How intricate and detailed they are! Our Creator God designed them perfectly. He designed every bone, every feather—and He counted every one of them.

Most sparrows build their nests in the ground and during Christ’s time they were trapped with trip nets into which they fell while preparing their nests. In Jerusalem Jesus saw sparrows being sold on a skewer, two for a penny. They had all been trapped with trip nets because Jews could not eat those that died by themselves.


Of these birds Jesus said, “Not one of them was trapped without My Father's knowledge.” He knew where each one of them was until its little lungs took its last breath. He fed them. He knew every sparrow—even those on the skewers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

THE SNARE IS BROKEN

Paul introduced the possibility of falling into a satanic setup in his letters to Timothy. He understood the dangers of a satanic trap or snare: “Lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7). But he also gave a recovery from that satanic trap: “That they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:26).

The Greek word for “snare” used in both of these Scriptures means a setup, the preparation of a noose for the neck. It refers to a well-conceived trap. “The proud have hid a snare for me . . . they have set [traps] for me” (Psalm 140:5). It is clear that Satan is building a gallows.

Years ago The New York Times had a front-page picture of a fallen evangelist in handcuffs. He was weeping! Incoherent! Chained! Satan had set a trap, a well-conceived, well-planned snare for this brother.

I don’t care who you are, how holy and pure you are, how long you’ve walked with God, or how old or young you are. I don’t care how much you insist you couldn’t do anything like that—beware! The devil is out to trap you, too. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10).

Do you know that all of us have the capacity to fall just as low, just as far into horrible sin with all its deception, cover-ups, lies and uncontrollable lusts?

When I saw the fallen evangelist’s picture I did not ask, “How could he do such foolish things with his eyes wide open?” Instead, I wept, saying inwardly, “Lord, that could have been me! We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”


Looking back I can see where the devil laid numerous well-planned and intricate traps for me because he wanted to destroy me. I can say with David, “Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped” (Psalm 124:7).