Friday, July 31, 2015

THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

There are scores of well-trained ministers today, highly respected men of advanced learning. They've spent years in seminary, studying theology, philosophy and ethics. And they've been taught by gifted teachers, esteemed men who are experts in their fields.

But when many of these trained ministers stand in the pulpit to preach, they speak only empty words. They can tell you many interesting things about the life and ministry of Christ. But what they say leaves your spirit cold. Why? Because they have no revelation of Jesus, no personal experience with Him. Everything they know of Christ has been filtered through the minds of other men. Their insights are merely borrowed teachings.

In Ephesians 4 and especially verse 20, Paul was asking, "How did you learn Christ?" In other words, who taught you what you know of Jesus? Did it come from the many sermons you've heard or your Sunday school classes? If so, that's good. But is that the limit of what you know of Christ? It doesn't matter how powerfully your pastor may preach, or how anointed your teachers may be. You need more of Jesus than mere head knowledge.

Many believers are satisfied with what I call an initial, one-time revelation of Christ's saving power and grace. This is the only revelation of Jesus they've ever had. They testify, "Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior. He's the Lord, the Son of God." Every true believer experiences this wonderful, life-changing revelation. Yet that's only the first step. What lies ahead is a lifetime of deeper, more glorious revelations of Christ.

Paul knew this. He received an incredible revelation of Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul was literally knocked off his horse, and a voice spoke to him from heaven. No person ever had a more personal revelation of Christ than this. Yet Paul knew this was only the beginning. From that moment on, he "determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Thursday, July 30, 2015

AN EVER-INCREASING REVELATION OF JESUS

Consider Cornelius, the centurion. This man was not a preacher or a lay minister. In fact, being a Gentile, he wasn't even numbered among God's people. Yet, Scripture says this soldier was "a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always" (Acts 10:2).

Here was one busy man. Cornelius had 100 soldiers under his immediate command, yet he prayed every spare moment. And one day while in prayer, he heard the Lord speak to him. An angel appeared, calling Cornelius by name. The centurion recognized it as the voice of God and answered, "What is it, Lord?" (Acts 10:4).
The Lord spoke directly to Cornelius, telling him to find the apostle Peter. He gave him detailed instructions, including names, an address, even the words to say. Meanwhile, Peter was praying on a housetop when "there came a voice to him" (10:13). Again, the Holy Spirit gave detailed instructions: "Peter, you're about to hear some men at the door. Go with them, for I have sent them" (see Acts 10:19-20).

Peter followed the men to Cornelius' house for a truly divine appointment. What happened there shook the entire Jewish-Pentecostal church. The Lord opened the gospel to Gentiles. Yet, the hardest thing for the Jewish believers to accept was that God had spoken to a common, untrained Gentile. They could not understand how Cornelius had heard God's voice so clearly, and spoken with such power. It challenged every believer there.

Paul also received a revelation of Jesus directly from heaven. He testified that the things he was shown about Christ weren't taught by any man. Rather, while on his knees in prayer, he had heard the voice of Jesus Himself. "I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:11-12). "It pleased God . . . to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" (1:15-16).

Now, there were great teachers in Paul's day, leaders mighty in God's Word, such as Apollos and Gamaliel. And there were the apostles, who had walked and talked with Jesus. But Paul knew a secondhand revelation of Christ wouldn't be good enough. He had to have an ever-increasing revelation of Jesus—from the Lord Himself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ALONE IN THE DESERT

Tragically, many ministers today preach lifeless sermons. Their messages neither convict of sin nor answer the deep cries of the heart. This is absolutely criminal. Empty philosophies spouted in a time of great hunger will only cause greater sorrow in hearers.

John the Baptist taught, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled" (John 3:29). The literal Greek meaning translates, "The friend of the bridegroom, who abides and continues with him." John the Baptist was telling his disciples, "I've heard the bridegroom's voice and it has become my greatest joy. Its sound fulfills my soul. How was I able to hear His voice? By standing near Him, listening to Him speak His heart."

You may wonder: How did John learn the sound of Jesus' voice? As far as we know, the two only had one face-to-face encounter, at Christ's baptism. And that was a very brief exchange, consisting of only a few words.

John learned to hear the Lord's voice just as Jesus did: alone in the desert. This man had isolated himself in the wilderness from a very early age. He would not allow himself any pleasures of this world, including tasty foods, a soft bed or even comfortable clothes. He had no teachers, no mentors, no books. During those years alone, John fellowshipped with the Lord. And all that time, he was being taught by the Spirit to hear God's still, small voice. Yes, Christ spoke to John even before He came in the flesh.

John learned everything he knew by being in continual communion with the Lord. That's how he received the message of repentance, recognized the coming of the Lamb, perceived his own need to decrease while the Messiah increased. John learned all these things from the Lord. And the sound of God's voice was his joy.

If we give ourselves to this kind of daily communion, the Lord will be faithful to direct out lives, even down to detailed instructions.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

JESUS’ FEEDING TIME

I have been asking the Lord if it's possible today, in this time of grace, to live as He did. Can we be totally dependent on the voice of the Father in glory? Is it possible to hear His direction for our lives day by day, moment by moment? Is there such a walk laid out for us, so we also can say, "I speak only what I hear from the Lord, and do only what I see Him doing"?

I know the joy that comes from being shut in alone with Christ. It comes from worshiping Him, ministering to Him, waiting upon Him to reveal His heart. I call this Jesus' feeding time. I sit in His presence, listening for His still, small voice. And He speaks to me, teaching me, ministering to me by His Holy Spirit, showing me things I could never learn from a book or another person. His truth comes to life in my spirit. And my heart leaps within me!

Of course, I haven't arrived. This kind of occasional experience still hasn't become a way of life for me. So, I've been asking the Lord, "Is the wholly-dependent life possible? Or is it just wishful thinking? Am I dreaming of something that's impossible to fulfill?"

I believe most of us live way beneath the privileges we have as children of God. For example, I read of Elijah standing before the Lord and hearing His voice. I read of Jeremiah standing in God's presence, hearing His counsel. He cries, "Who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word, and heard it?" (Jeremiah 23:18). I read a similar cry from Isaiah: "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21).

Why wouldn't God speak in our generation, when there's so much fear and uncertainty? The world is in turmoil, searching for answers. Why would the Lord be silent now, when we need to hear His voice more than ever?

Monday, July 27, 2015

STAYING IN CHRIST by Gary Wilkerson

Was the Father true to His terms of the Covenant? Did He lead and guide Jesus as promised? Did His Spirit hover over His Son, giving Him encouragement and consolation? Did He bring Him through all His trials and usher Him home to glory victorious? Yes, absolutely! And the Father has pledged an eternal oath to do the same for us.

Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (verse 16). Christ was saying, in essence, “Father, sanctify them through Your truth. Make them holy and pure and keep them from the wicked one. Be with them through all their temptations. Let the promises You gave Me be theirs, as well.”

By keeping the word of His Covenant in love, the Father’s glory was displayed to the world: “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (verses:22-23).

The next time you struggle with a besetting sin, you may hear an accusing voice: “You’ve gone too far and sinned too often. God has turned you over to a reprobate mind. You’re unclean, unholy, no good, a disgrace to the gospel. You’ve driven the Holy Spirit from your life completely.” When this happens, remind God, the devil and yourself: “I am one in covenant with the Father and Son. Jesus co-signed the covenant with His own blood, and the Father promised to keep me through all my trials. He’ll hold my hand no matter what comes and will never remove His love from me. He’ll lead me to victory!”

By revealing His covenant to us, God wants to remove any doubts we have about His ability to keep us. It’s as if He is saying, “I’m going to treat you as though you have no faith at all. I’ll make such a strong oath to you, you’ll have no choice but to believe in Me.” We are to stay in Christ—abide in Him, trust Him, depend on Him. If we do this, we will surely see His glory!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

STANDING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD by Claude Houde

The book of Acts describes Stephen as a man “full of peace, joy, wisdom, grace and the power of the Holy Spirit” (see Acts 6:5, 8). One day, as Stephen was sharing his faith in Christ to a group of people in a public square, tragedy struck. Religious fanatics, in a cowardly movement, picked up stones to literally stone Stephen to death.

Stephen was stoned for having “built an altar” before God, for having served suffering widows, and for publicly sharing his faith in Christ. The Bible allows us to catch in this moment a brief and ever so intense glimpse into eternity. As this crowd of religious fanatics rushed madly toward him, stones in hand, Stephen pronounced these words of peace and forgiveness as he knelt before his murderers, but even more, before his God: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and do not charge this crime upon them. Forgive them, oh God” (see Acts 7:59-60).

Where does this peace, this magnificent grace came from? It was as if the stones that were tearing Stephen apart were, in fact, only striking the envelope of his body as his spirit was already transported to another Kingdom. Stephen saw something glorious.

The veil opened for an instant, allowing us to see in. “Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes toward heaven and said: ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man [Jesus], standing at the right hand of God!’” (Acts 7:56). This is the only place where Christ is found standing in heaven but there are many references to the resurrected Christ sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Ephesians 1:20).

Some might say, “So what?” It is, however, extremely significant. The seated position represents the fullness of authority and the finality of Christ’s victory over sin, death and all of His enemies. The victory is eternal, the sacrifice perfect, and the resurrection absolute, total and complete. It announces the finished triumph of Christ against all of humanity’s foes. He is seated because all of our enemies are under His feet!

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Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A FRESH WORD FROM GOD

Scripture tells us that on occasion “as many as touched him were made whole" (see Mark 6:56). Yet, at other times, He didn't heal because of people's unbelief. How did Jesus know when to heal and when not to? He had to hear the still, small voice of His Father giving Him a word of direction. And He gloried in hearing His Father's voice.

The same is true of our calling. We know all the things Scripture requires of us: we are to love one another; pray without ceasing; go into the world and make disciples; study to show ourselves approved; walk in righteousness; and minister to the poor, sick, needy and imprisoned. Yet, we are also to do certain other things that aren't mentioned in Scripture. We face certain needs in our daily walk, whether through crises or other situations. In such moments, we need our Father's voice to guide us, speaking to us things not outlined in His commandments. Simply put, we need to hear the same voice of the Father that Jesus heard while on earth.

We know Christ had this kind of exchange with His Father. He told His disciples, "All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you" (John 15:15). He also told the religious leaders, "[I have] told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham" (John 8:40). What did Jesus mean by this last phrase? He was telling Israel's teachers, "I've given you truth directly from God's heart. Abraham couldn't do that."

Christ was saying, "You live in a dead theology. You study the past, honoring your father Abraham, learning rules and regulations for your life. But what I am speaking to you isn't from some remote history. I've just been with the Father and He gave me what I'm preaching to you. He showed me what you needed to hear."

John the Baptist testified against these same religious leaders: "What he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony" (John 3:32). Today, Jesus is speaking to us the same message: "You're satisfied to listen to sermons taken from some reference book. But the Word I want to give you is fresh."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

IN HIS FATHER’S PRESENCE

It was in the hours alone with the Father that Christ heard His voice speak. Indeed, Jesus received every encouraging word, every prophetic warning, while in prayer. He petitioned the Father, worshiped Him, and submitted to His will. And after every miracle, every teaching, every face-off with a Pharisee, Jesus hurried back to fellowship with His Father.

We see this kind of devotion in Matthew 14. Jesus had just received news of the death of John the Baptist. "When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart" (Matthew 14:13). (I wonder if he went to the same desert where John had spent years in meditation and preparation for ministry.)

Jesus was there alone, praying and grieving deeply over John's death. John had been a beloved friend, as well as a respected prophet of God. Now, in fellowship with the Father, Jesus asked for and received grace. And there in the desert, Jesus received direction for the very next day.

Immediately after leaving that place, Christ began to perform miracles: "Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14). That same day, Jesus fed a crowd of five thousand from five loaves and two fishes. Try to imagine what a busy, full, heavy day it was for Him. Later that day, He sent the crowds away.

So, what did Jesus do at that point? You would think He might seek rest or a quiet meal. Perhaps He would gather a few of His close disciples and recount the events of the day. Or, maybe He desired to go to Bethany, to be rejuvenated by the hospitality of the family of Mary and Martha.

Jesus did none of these things, however. Scripture says, "He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone" (Mattthew14:23). Once again, Jesus rushed back to the Father. He knew the only place to recuperate was in His Father's presence.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

STRAIGHT FROM THE FATHER’S HEART

Jesus, in His earthly ministry, had to rely on a daily inner working of the Father's voice. He had to be dependent on the Father at all times in order to hear His voice directing Him. Otherwise, Christ simply could not have done the things He did. He had to hear His Father's voice hour by hour, miracle by miracle, one day at a time.

How was Jesus able to hear the still, small voice of His Father? The Bible shows us it happened through prayer. Again and again, Jesus went to a solitary place to pray. He learned to hear the Father's voice while on His knees and the Father was faithful to show Him everything to do and say.

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).

“Great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed” (Luke 5:15-16).

Picture Jesus facing a major decision, such as choosing His disciples. How did the Lord choose the twelve from the vast multitudes who followed Him? It had to be a momentous decision. After all, these disciples would form the pillars of His New Testament Church. Did His Father give Him the twelve names while He was still in glory? If so, why did Jesus spend an entire night in prayer before naming the twelve?

Luke tells us, "He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12). The next morning, Jesus called out the twelve. How did He know them? The Father had revealed them to Him the night before.

On that same night, the Father gave His Son the beatitudes, those sayings from the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit. . . . Blessed are they that mourn. . . . Blessed are the meek" (see Matthew 5:1-5). Jesus had received it all straight from the Father's heart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

LEARNING TO WALK AS HE WALKED

Jesus lived His life on earth wholly dependent on the heavenly Father. Our Savior did nothing and said nothing until He first consulted with His Father in glory. And He performed no miracles except those the Father instructed Him to. He declared, "As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And . . . the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him" (John 8:28-29).

Jesus makes it very clear that He was led daily by His Father. His practice of total dependence, always listening to His Father's voice, was part of His daily walk. We see this in a scene from the gospel of John. One Sabbath day, as Jesus was walking near the pool of Bethesda, He saw a crippled man lying on a mat. Jesus turned to the man and commanded him to pick up his bed and walk—and immediately the man was made whole and walked away healed.

The Jewish leaders were enraged by this. In their minds, Jesus had broken the Sabbath by healing the man. But Christ answered, "I only did what my Father told me to do." He explained, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. . . . The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth" (John 5:17-20).

Jesus stated very plainly, "My Father has taught Me everything I am supposed to do." You may wonder when, exactly, God the Father showed Christ what to do. When did Jesus see God working miracles? When did the Father speak to Him about everything He was to say and do?

Did it all happen in glory, before Christ became incarnate? Did the two sit down together before creation and map out each day of Jesus' life? Did the Father tell His Son that on the second Sabbath of the sixth Jewish month He would meet a crippled man by the pool of Bethesda and He should command the man to rise and walk?

If this were so, none of us could relate. Such an arrangement would have no relevance to our daily walk with the Lord. Yet, we know Jesus came to set a pattern for us to follow. After all, He came to earth to experience everything we do, feeling all our feelings and being touched with our pain and infirmities. In turn, we are to live as He lived, walk as He walked.

Monday, July 20, 2015

WE GET ALL THE BENEFITS by Gary Wilkerson

As we reread the gospels, we see that everything Jesus did on earth was for the purpose of fulfilling the terms of the covenant He had made with the Father. He went after lost sheep; opened the eyes of the blind; raised the dead; opened the prison doors; spoke words of eternal life; performed miraculous works; cast out devils; and healed all manner of infirmities. In every verse of the gospels, Jesus was fulfilling the things the Father had sent Him to do.

Through it all, Jesus appropriated His Father’s covenant promises to Him: “My God shall be My strength” (Isaiah 49:5). “I will put My trust in Him” (Hebrews 2:13). The Father’s faithful words kept Jesus through His agonizing death: “I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:5-6).

When Jesus uttered His final prayer, we see once more the open-covenant dealings between Father and Son: “Now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). And before He returned to glory, Jesus reminded the Father of His part in the covenant: “Father, the hour is come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You. . . . I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (verses 1, 4).

What does all of this have to do with you and me? It’s a picture of God’s love for His beloved creation! He formed this covenant because He was unwilling to lose a single child to destruction. Jesus is saying here, “Father, I have fulfilled My part of the covenant. I have brought about the redemption of humankind, and I have made Your Body one. Now let’s talk about what is going to happen to My seed, all who believe in Me.”

In short, God gave His Son, the Son gave His life, and we get all the benefits. “His seed also I will make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. . . . My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that is gone out of My lips” (Psalm 89:29, 34).

Saturday, July 18, 2015

THE BLESSING OF THE LORD by Nicky Cruz

God forgave David his sin, but look at the blessings David forfeited by falling. Look at what he gave up for his affair with Bathsheba, the hidden cost he paid for detouring from the path God laid before him. “I appointed you king over Israel,” God said to David, “and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more” (2 Samuel 12: 7-8).

God was waiting in the wings with blessings that David hadn’t even imagined, blessings that He longed to shower upon His servant. Blessings that may have been greater than all the things He had ever done for David in the past. Yet because of his sin, David would live and die never knowing what they were. “And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more,” God said.

Nothing pleases God more than showering His children with wonderful blessings. Heaven is filled with glorious mercies just waiting to be released on servants who remain faithful—servants who embrace the covenant that God has created for those who stay true to the will and purpose that He sets before them. And those blessings aren’t reserved just for kings and warriors, but for you and me. For anyone who calls God “Father.”

But how and when those blessings come remains entirely up to us. It is our obedience that releases them from God’s hand and brings them into our lives. We can live in God’s will and experience His mercies each day, or we can walk our own path and forfeit them.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
 

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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, July 17, 2015

THE ROCK OF AGES

The book of Daniel gives us a prophetic look at how the war of the last days is going to end. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, and Daniel interpreted it:

"Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image . . . whose brightness was excellent . . . and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay" (Daniel 2:31-33).

The king had dreamed of a huge image in human form, bright, shining and terrible. Its entire body was made of sturdy metal. Yet its feet were made of clay. Daniel pointed out that this image represented the kingdoms of the world, and the clay signified the weakness of the last world powers. These kingdoms would become less bright and terrible as the end approached. Then Daniel continued:

"Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then . . . [the] pieces. . . became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away . . . and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth" (2:34-35).

The stone Daniel describes here is none other than Jesus Christ. He is the Rock of Ages and He is coming down out of heaven to smash all earthly empires. When the world sees this happen, our Lord's divinity will be undeniable. Every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

We are not going to bring down terrorists with our weapons, bombers or missiles. We can't rid the world of such vile wickedness by human might. God says the Kingdom of His Son will finally break and consume all evil empires. Yes, there will be justice. But it will come from the heavenly Father above.

What a day it is going to be when all the world's terrorists wake up before the Judgment Seat of Christ. They'll think, "We were promised paradise for our sacrifice. We were told we would have beautiful women, and luscious food and drink, for all eternity." But they will suddenly realize that the very name they tried to wipe out completely now stands before them as their Judge.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

SIMPLICITY THAT IS IN CHRIST

"I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity [the utter exclusiveness] that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Paul warns us not to be corrupted away from "the simplicity that is in Christ." The Greek word for simplicity in this verse means singleness, exclusiveness. In other words, "Christ is not a complex entity. The truth about Him is very simple: Jesus is God. He is divine, born of a virgin, crucified and raised from the dead. But I'm afraid you're being corrupted away from this single, exclusive truth."

Paul then warns of ministers who preach a different Jesus: "If he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him" (11:4). Paul was telling the Corinthians, in essence, "You're listening to another gospel, not to the gospel of Christ. You're hearing about another Jesus, not the One who saved you. And I fear you're going to be corrupted by this different Jesus, who isn't the real Christ at all.
"You don't know it, but you're being led away from the divinity of Christ. And I can't believe you put up with it! You're bearing with these teachers who are corrupting you. You don't even test what they say to see if it's scriptural. Right now, you're losing your discernment. You're sitting under a demonic gospel, with another Jesus being exalted. And you don't know where it's leading you."

My message to you here boils down to this single verse: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Jesus' statement here is absolutely exclusive. No Muslim, no Hindu, no Jew, no Gentile, nobody can come to the Father by any way except Christ.

Just as Jesus asked His twelve disciples, He asks us today: "Whom do men say that I am?" (Mark 8:27). The disciples answered, "John the Baptist: but some say, Elias [Elijah]; and others, One of the prophets" (8:28). But Jesus' real question to His followers came next: "He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?" (8:29).

Our answer must be the same as Peter's: "Thou art the Christ" (8:29). May this be our confession before the whole world, now and forever.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SATAN'S "LOVE TRAP"

When the devil's one-world church finally trumpets its message throughout the earth, millions of lukewarm Christians will be deceived. They'll reason, "This all-church union must be okay. Its leaders talk so much about Jesus. Anybody who speaks of Jesus this much has to have a legitimate Christian faith."

They couldn't be more wrong. The very mantra of Satan's devilish union will be, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." Today, evangelical leaders are already asking, "Why can't all groups be one in Jesus? After all, Jews acknowledge Jesus as a prophet. Muslims see Him as a good man and a great teacher. Even Sikhs and Hindus respect Jesus."

Let me stop here to make something clear: I'm thankful for the national unity that rose from the tragedy of September 11, 2001. I'm grateful that Americans of various faiths were able to stand together as a nation united and I prayed that that unity would remain long after our grief subsided.

But the unity of religions we are about to see will involve something much different. What I foresee is contained in Jesus' prophecy, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?" (Matthew 7:22).

Almost all religions perform exorcisms. And certain churches claim great successes in exorcizing demons. But many such churches do their exorcisms, teachings and good works in a different Jesus' name. As Christ points out, these people will claim at the judgment, "Lord, we did all these things in Your name. We were Jesus people." But the Lord will answer, "Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (7:23).

Jesus will tell them, "I don't know you and you certainly don't know Me. I was the living Son of God, but you told everybody I was just a man. You tried to take away the power of My gospel. You've got the wrong Jesus. Now, depart from Me for you have no part in My Kingdom."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

THIS FINAL WAR

The issue at the center of this war is the divinity of Jesus. Is He the Christ, the only begotten of the Father, God in flesh, the Savior of the world? Or, was Jesus just another prophet who went about doing good? Was He an ordinary man, not divine, not the resurrected Savior who sits with God in glory?

The apostle Peter testified to the exclusiveness of Christ: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Peter makes it absolutely exclusive: no other name under heaven provides eternal salvation. Jesus alone is the Messiah, the divine Son of God. And He will not share that glory with any other entity.

Likewise, Paul declares, "What is the exceeding greatness of his 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, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Ephesians 1:19-21). Paul then adds that Jesus is the exclusive head of all things: "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body" (verses 22–23).

Paul also points out that one day every creature will acknowledge Jesus as Lord exclusively: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).

Every tongue in creation is going to testify, not that Mohammed is Lord, nor Allah, nor any of Hinduism's million gods, but that Jesus Christ is the one and only Lamb of God. That is the issue at the heart of this war. Yet, don't be mistaken: The final war isn't over a name. It's over the divinity of Jesus, the resurrected Lord.

Monday, July 13, 2015

BRING THEM HOME TO GLORY by Gary Wilkerson

The heavenly Father wasn’t willing to lose His beloved creatures to the powers of hell so He formed a rescue plan for us. “Thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people” (Psalm 89:19). The Father said to His Son, “Humankind is going to grow weak and miserable because of their sin, helpless to find their way back to Me. I appoint You as My holy one to help bring them back into My favor.”

We hear the Son’s own covenant words: “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). Everything Jesus did on earth was in fulfillment of His terms of the covenant: “I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49).

The Bible states these terms clearly. Jesus was to divest Himself of all heavenly glory, taking on a human body: “[He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). He was to endure reproaches and suffering, “a man of sorrows” acquainted with grief. He was to grow up undesirable to the world: “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). After all this, He was to submit Himself into the hands of wicked men, and in great agony lay down His life as an offering for humankind’s sin. In making atonement He would have to endure God’s wrath for a season.

God then laid out the type of ministry His Son would undertake to redeem humankind. He told Jesus, “Your ministry is going to be that of a priest. I’ve known all My children from the foundation of the world, and now I give them as a flock for You to shepherd.” Jesus testified on earth, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

Finally, the Father instructed His Son, “If You choose to go, these works will be required of You: Preach good tidings to the meek; bind up the brokenhearted; proclaim liberty to the captives. Open prison doors to those in bondage; bear with the weaknesses of the frail; bear tenderly with the ignorant; supply their shortcomings with Your strength. Feed the flock; carry them in Your bosom; gently lead the young; lend Your strength to the weak. Guide them all with Your counsel; promise to send them the Holy Spirit to carry on the work of their freedom; and bring them home to glory with You” (see Isaiah 61:1-3).

Saturday, July 11, 2015

GOD’S MIGHTY PEOPLE by Jim Cymbala

The list of David’s mighty warriors in 1 Chronicles 11:22 introduces us to Benaiah, whose exploits included overcoming two of Moab’s best men. He also killed a lion in a snowy, slippery pit. Perhaps most amazingly, he took on an Egyptian tall enough to be a starting forward for the Chicago Bulls. This seven-and-a-half-foot giant wielded a spear with a shaft as sturdy as a lead pipe while Benaiah had only a wooden club.

Even so, Benaiah “snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada. . . . He was held in greater honor than the Thirty” (1 Chronicles 11:23-25).

It was not a Ph.D. degree that brought honor to a person in those days. Honor did not necessarily flow to the person with money or leverage or media access. Honor came as a result of doing exploits for the king.

Who is doing exploits for God today? Where is the enemy being driven back? That is the great yearning of all spiritually minded people. They are not enchanted with polished sermons and slick organizational technique. Where are the mighty men and women anointed by God to truly make a difference?

I think I know at least one of God’s mighty people. Rina Gatdula, a Filipino lady, is like a sister to my wife, Carol, and me. God sent her in the early days of the Brooklyn Tabernacle with a valiant spirit that proved to be a tremendous blessing. When our ushers were intimidated by the occasional drunk or hostile person who wandered in, Rina would confront them with a head-on fearlessness granted by the Holy Spirit.

Although not especially gifted as a public speaker, she had a ministry of prayer and intercession that helped to carry us through many battles. Whether it is the need for a larger building or the need for a backslider to return to the Lord, she has the spirit of Benaiah. She will not let go of God when needy people come to the altar seeking help. She knows the fine art of “praying through” with people; many have found deliverance in Christ because she has stood with them at the throne of grace.

Today Rina travels among the churches the Brooklyn Tabernacle has begun, both in this country and overseas, reminding them of the exploits they can do through God. She always seems to spark a spirit of prayer. Whether in Harlem, San Francisco, or Lima, Peru, she is a living example of a heroine of faith.

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Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson and a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge throughout the world.

Friday, July 10, 2015

GOD SENT WAKE-UP CALLS

The Lord's first wake-up call to Israel came in an invasion by Assyria. This archenemy attacked two Israelite provinces, Zebulun and Naphtali. Fortunately, the attacks were limited to these two points, and the damage was minimal. Yet God was clearly speaking to His people. The Lord's chosen nation lost their sense of security and missed the message God was speaking.

Israel then received a second wake-up call and this one was very severe. Two nations whom Scripture calls the "enemies of Israel"—the Syrians and the Philistines—combined forces for a sudden attack. According to Isaiah, this attack came from both "before, and . . . behind" (Isaiah 9:12). This means the invaders came from the east and the west, surrounding Israel. And their sudden attack was totally devastating.

After the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, most Americans were asking: Where was God in this sudden invasion? What were His people to make of the disaster that had come upon them? Isaiah tells us God was faithful to speak to His people in Israel’s day: "The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel" (Isaiah 9:8). God spoke a clear word and He sent the message to the whole nation.

Beloved, this verse tells us something very important at our own time of devastation. It says simply, "God always sends His word." Never in history has the Lord left His people clueless in a time of calamity. He has never abandoned us and forced us to figure out things on our own. He always provides a word of understanding.

Even now the Lord is raising up godly watchmen to speak for Him in these times. These shepherds are grieving, weeping and repenting as they seek God's face. And I believe they're hearing and understanding the Lord's message behind the present events. Moreover, they're not afraid to proclaim dire warnings, because they know they've heard from God. They're compelled to speak of His purposes behind our calamities.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

WE MUST NOT MISS THE MESSAGE

Ministers and theologians everywhere are saying, "God has nothing to do with disasters. He wouldn't allow awful things to happen." Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. This kind of thinking is causing our nation to rapidly miss the message God wants to speak to us through tragedy.

The fact is, we have to have a word from God. Like many pastors, I've wept and grieved over awful calamities. I've sought the Lord in prayer and through His Word. And I want to tell you, I've experienced a grief that's even deeper than the mourning for innocent people dying. It's a grief that says if we miss God's message, if we turn a deaf ear to what He is loudly proclaiming, then much worse is in store for us.

The prophet Isaiah speaks directly to what we've experienced. If you object to using the Old Testament for examples, consider Paul's words on the subject: "All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). Paul makes it clear that the examples of the Old Testament reveal just how God moves in times like ours.

At the time that Isaiah prophesied, God had been dealing patiently with Israel for about 250 years. The Lord had sent "light afflictions" upon His people, calling them to repentance. He was trying to woo them out of their brazen idolatry and back into His blessing and favor.

All the prophets throughout the years had spoken to Israel the same essential word: "Humble yourselves." Scripture says, "They served idols . . . yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes" (2 Kings 17:12-13).

But God's chosen nation rejected His call to repentance. "They would not hear, but hardened their necks" (17:14). These people mocked the prophets who called them to humility. And, instead, they "followed vanity, and became vain . . . and they left all the commandments of the Lord their God . . . and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord. . . . Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel" (2 Kings 17:15-18).

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

FULLY PREPARED

I want to be a soldier who is fully prepared for the battlefield. I know that victory is won long before the battle begins. It's won in boot camp, in training and conditioning. When the enemy suddenly comes at me, I'm going to need all available ammunition, and that ammunition is supplied by the powerful Word of God as I hide it away in my heart. So, the next time the devil attacks, I'm confident I'll have reserves to draw on. I'll have won the battle alone with God, prior to the battlefield.

Are you a committed soldier, believing that God is equipping you even now? If so, then you're fulfilling three requirements:

1. You're a diligent reader of God's Word.

As you study Scripture, you're beginning to understand how much God loves you. If you're not convinced of His absolute love, you won't be able to handle any crisis that comes. And you become convinced of His love only by devouring His Word.

2. You're cultivating intimacy with God daily, through time in quality prayer.

Our Lord wants us to cry out to Him in our times of crisis. But prayer during our hardships isn't enough. We have to seek our Father in good times as well. Our faith isn't meant to be merely situational. It has to come from a developing relationship with the Lord.

3. You're trusting that God won't allow you to face any trial without making a way for you to endure it.

Should a great trial come upon you, you don't have to worry whether you'll be strong or faint. Our Father gives grace when it's needed. And if you've developed a close, intimate relationship with Him, He'll pour His enduring grace into you when you need it.

God invites you to enter into His rest—today.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ENTERING GOD’S REST

To enter into God's rest, we must renounce our own efforts and sweat. Faith alone admits us into this perfect rest: "For we which have believed do enter into rest" (Hebrews 4:3). Simply put, we are to set our hearts to believe that God is faithful to deliver us in every circumstance, no matter how impossible it may seem.

"For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his" (Hebrews 4:10). When we are at rest in Christ, we no longer try to put on a brave face in times of trouble. We don't pump up some phony acceptance of our crisis. And we don't worry that we might cave in to fear and begin questioning God's love. In short, our "works mentality" has ceased to drive us. Now we've learned simply to trust the Lord.

How do we develop such trust? We seek the Lord in prayer, meditate on His Word, and walk in obedience. You may object, "But those things are all works." I disagree. They are all acts of faith. As we observe these disciplines, we are trusting that the Holy Spirit is at work in us, building up a reservoir of strength for our time of need. We may not feel God's strengthening going on inside us, or feel His power being built up in us. But when our next trial comes, these heavenly resources will become manifest in us.

This is the foremost reason I seek the Lord diligently—fasting, praying, studying, looking to obey His commandments through the power of the Holy Ghost. It's not because I'm a minister who wants to set an example. I do these things because I know I still have many trials ahead of me. As long as I'm serving the Lord, the devil will never give me rest. I'm going to face intense warfare, surprise attacks. And, in spite of all the victories and peace I have already experienced, I'll always need heaven's resources to help me endure.

Monday, July 6, 2015

TAKING HOLD OF THE NEW COVENANT by Gary Wilkerson

“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Psalm 89:34). The term “covenant” plays an integral part in the Christian faith. Yet I have never heard a preacher or teacher adequately describe the significance of “covenant” in a Christian’s life. The Bible itself is divided into two Covenants (or Testaments), Old and New. Throughout the Old Testament, God makes one covenant after another with humankind. What are all these covenants about? More importantly, what do they have to do with us today?

A covenant is an agreement or pledge between two or more parties, like a contract. It contains terms or duties each party must perform to fulfill the agreement. Such covenants are legally binding, and once they are finalized each party can be penalized for not fulfilling its respective terms.

In creating the New Covenant, God puts His amazing love for humankind on full display. Yet the church has been blind to this incredible doctrine for decades. As a young Christian I was taught that “covenant theology,” focusing on the New Covenant, was a licentious doctrine. The prevailing thought was that the New Covenant is so marvelously freeing that people might misuse it, indulging in permissive lifestyles.

Yet the more I understand the New Covenant, the more I’m convinced we need its assurance in these perilous last days. Its pledge has the power to release in God’s church all the overcoming strength we need to be more than conquerors in any situation.

The New Covenant is a formal contract between Father and Son. And today we, the seed of a spiritual Israel, are brought into this covenant by faith. “Now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Hebrews 8.6).

“My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him” (Psalm 89:28).

Saturday, July 4, 2015

REFUSING TO BE DENIED by Carter Conlon

The Bible tells the story of a man who went to his neighbor late at night and asked for bread because a visitor had just arrived and he had nothing to feed him.

“And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. And I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needs” (Luke 11:7-8).

Importunity means that he simply would not go away. Today it would be the one who prays, “I know this generation needs bread, but I don’t have a sufficient supply. My knowledge is not good enough; my strength will fail me. My compassion is too meager; my courage is conditional. I don’t have the measure of the Holy Ghost that I need in order to make a difference in this generation. But I know that You have it, and I am not leaving until I get it!” That is the kind of prayer God is looking for!

Jesus continues the telling of this story: “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9-10).

How many receive? Everyone! Not just a few superstars, not just the occasional Elijah or Elisha—everyone! And that means you!

Keep in mind that the Lord is not referring to a casual asking. When the 120 disciples went into the Upper Room, they were not casually asking God for His Spirit. They were well aware that stepping outside and facing the hostile crowd could result in death. Nevertheless, they also knew that Jesus had given them a promise that they would be His witnesses—and so they began to pray, refusing to be denied.

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Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. A strong, compassionate leader, he is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world.

Friday, July 3, 2015

LIVING IN GOD’S REST

My wife, Gwen, was thirty-four years old the first time cancer was found in her. We were devastated when we got the news. We had just moved our family to New York so that I could start a ministry to street gangs. Now, as I walked the streets preaching to gang members and addicts, I had to fight back tears of anguish and fear. But the Lord continually reassured me, "I am faithful, David. I won't abandon you or your loved ones." God walked with me through that frightening ordeal with cancer, and every one that has followed.

Yet, the Lord doesn't want our victory to be merely a one-time experience. His goal isn't for us to emerge from a crisis, saying, "Thank God, I kept my faith through that." Yes, you may have made it through that one. But, like victorious Israel at the Red Sea, another trial will eventually come and it may be a different kind of test altogether.

Living in God's rest is a way of life. He wants us to be maintained by His peace and confidence in all our trials, knowing our high priest is touched by the feelings of our infirmities.

Don't misunderstand: I'm not talking about achieving some state of nirvana. Many New Age teachers claim that the only way to endure future crises is to harden your heart now and kill off all your love. In short, if you simply stop caring for people, you won't be hurt. Therefore, you should steel yourself against life's calamities.

Yet God is never glorified when His servants numb themselves out. That's not what His rest is about at all. It's about learning to trust His promise to be faithful toward us in all things.

I am a father of four and a grandfather and I can honestly tell you, there's never been a moment when I could stand by and watch any of my offspring hurting without wanting to enter into the suffering with them. At such times, I have done everything in my power to heal and deliver them. I ask you: How much more does our heavenly Father love us, walk with us in our trials, and long to heal our hurts?

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11).

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A PLACE OF PERFECT REST

There exists a place in Christ where there is no anxiety about the future. In this place, there is no fear of sudden calamity, of affliction, of unemployment. There's no fear of man, of falling, of losing one's soul. This place is one of total confidence in God's faithfulness. The writer of Hebrews calls it a place of perfect rest.

Such perfect rest was offered to Israel. But the people's doubt and unbelief kept them out of God's rest: "They to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 4:6). The Israelites lived in constant fear and dread, always waiting for the next crisis. As a result, they were desolated in their trials.

If Israel had entered into this rest, God's work in His people would have been complete. But because they didn't, the Lord continues to search in every generation for a people who will enter: "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9).

God is telling us, "This offer of rest is for you—today. There still exists a place in Me where all doubt and fear no longer exist. It is a place where you will be prepared for whatever may come." Thus, His Word urges, "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it" (Hebrews 4:1).

Today, multitudes of God's people know nothing of this rest in Christ. As they read the awful reports in the daily news—reports of tragedies, calamities, deaths—they are filled with fear and dread. Their constant prayer is, "Oh, God, please don't take one of my loved ones. I could never handle the grief."

Yet, if you're at rest in the Lord, you won't succumb to such fear. You won't panic or fall apart when you're hit by some unexpected crisis. And you won't lose hope, accusing God of bringing on your troubles. Yes, you will endure the pain that is common to every human being but you will be at rest in your soul, because you will know that God is in control of everything concerning you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

GOD’S KEEPING POWER

The world longs to see a testimony of God's keeping power. And it will keep asking us until Jesus comes, "Oh, Christian, I see you serving God faithfully. You fast, pray and testify of His glory and power, yet now you're in the trial of your life. Tell me, has your God sustained you through this ordeal? What is your testimony now that you're in the lions' den?"

You can imagine Darius' joy when he heard Daniel's voice, crying, "O king, live forever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me" (Daniel 6:21-22). Daniel was alive and well. Yet, I don't believe this godly servant slept calmly through the night. He was no superhuman, any more than we are today. And our God doesn't expect us to act unnaturally when we face such crises. Our feelings of trepidation during such moments are normal.

In my opinion, Daniel watched and prayed all night. Every time a lion yawned and bared its teeth, Daniel must have silently cried out, "I'm still trusting, Lord. I believe you're going to shut that animal's mouth." He held fast to his faith and Scripture tells us, "No manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God" (Daniel 6:23).

One man trusted God before the eyes of men and an entire kingdom was impacted. The Bible states: "King Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth . . . I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions" (Daniel 6:25-27).

Do you see what Darius was saying here? He was extolling God, not just for His natural wonders, but because He had delivered Daniel from death. This pagan king had to see just one believer who truly believed what he preached and, in turn, he declared, "I saw a man who maintained a testimony of his God. He never doubted. And the Lord delivered him from the powers of hell."