Thursday, June 30, 2016

THE LEAP OF FAITH

It is possible for us to stir and rouse ourselves, so that we ask, “Why am I so fearful? Why am I on this roller coaster of up-and-down despair? Why does the future cause panic in my soul?”

This has happened because we have not fully committed our lives, our families, our health, our jobs, our homes into God’s faithful hands. We have not made the leap of faith that determines, “My Lord is true and faithful. Though I have failed countless times, He has never failed me. Come what may, I will cast my life and future into His care.”

How are we able to do this? By embracing this word He has given us: “Thus saith thy Lord the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again” (Isaiah 51:22). He is saying, in essence, “I am not asleep. I am the same God who opened the Red Sea, who raises the dead, and who has made provision for you. My people are not meant to live in bondage to fear.”

The cup of trembling is removed when we wake up to our need to accept God’s Word. As we take this stand of faith, we will face sudden jolts of fear. But we are to stand up to those fears—to lay hold of God’s promises and be fully persuaded that He is able to keep what we have committed to Him. Then we will drink no more of the wine of despair.

The fact is, the darker the days become, the more God’s people must live by such faith. Otherwise, we make God out to be a liar whenever we panic and fear. As once reported in a story in Newsweek, a teenage girl demonstrated such faith powerfully. A plane flying from Newark to Paris flew into heavy turbulence, and the passengers became panic-stricken and began screaming. Amidst it all, the sixteen-year-old girl sat buckled in her seat, quietly reading her Bible. Later, when she was asked why she wasn’t afraid when everyone around her was trembling in fear, she replied, “My Bible promised me that God would take care of me. So I just prayed and trusted.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

TAKE A STAND

I hear from many believers who have drunk of the cup of despair. They have faced so many traumas and endured so many crises they are now exhausted. They are so weighed down that they think one more worry, one more fear, will crush them beyond hope. They have come to a breaking point, the very end of themselves.

What does God say to such a fearful people who tremble with anxiety? What is His prescription for those whose hearts are failing with fear, whose eyes are fixed on the calamitous things coming upon them? He gives them this word: “Awake! Stand up!” (see Isaiah 51:17). Here is the condition that God puts on us so that He may remove the cup of trembling from our lips: “Get up! Take a stand!”

Beloved, with everything that is coming—with evil men growing more vile and wicked, with economic crises continuing to mount—God’s people need more than uplifting messages. They need more than sermons that pump up a short-lived faith. A man wrote to me, “Your recent messages seem repetitious. They are one message after another trying to encourage despairing believers. It sounds like few know how to lay hold of a faith that doesn’t have to be constantly pumped up. Do they not know their Bible?”

This was God’s very concern about Israel. What was the Lord’s answer to their accusation? He told them, “Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and the son of man which shall be made as grass” (Isaiah 51:12). In other words: “I have put My words in your mouth. I have covered you with My hand. I have pledged that you are My people. But still you won’t be persuaded that I will be faithful to perform the Word I have spoken to you. You still fear men who will fade like the grass.”

Paul preached, “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). All believers are given a portion or degree of faith. And that portion must be built up into an unshakable, unwavering faith. How does this happen? As faith grows, it is strengthened in one way only: by hearing and trusting in God’s Word.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A CUP OF TREMBLING

The Lord never intended for His people to live in panic or trembling in fear. Even in the Old Testament, the Lord had a people who trusted in His promises and were unmoved by the chaos all around them. We see this in the life of the prophet Habakkuk, a man given a vision of “the end” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Habakkuk saw a people in the last days who would wear themselves out pursuing greed and covetousness. According to his vision, a dreadful spirit of violence would prevail in that time (see 1:9). Habakkuk said of it all: “The cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory” (2:16).

We know that a prophet always speaks to his own generation first. Yet, according to Habakkuk himself, this prophetic word is also meant for our generation. He tells us, “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie” (2:3, my italics). Habakkuk was seeing a cup of trembling: “When I heard, my belly trembled . . . I trembled in myself” (3:16).

Here was a godly, praying prophet who for a season was so overwhelmed by awful events that even he trembled. But the Spirit came upon Habakkuk, causing him to prophesy: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” (3:17–19).

God removed the cup of trembling from His servant Habakkuk. And He will do likewise with all His faithful ones today.

Monday, June 27, 2016

THE GOD WHO INTERFERES by Gary Wilkerson

“Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—cried out, shouting, ‘Go away! Why are you interfering?’” (Luke 4:33-34, NLT).

I love this word—interfere—that appears in this translation.

You might want to underline that in your Bible if you have a translation that uses the word “interfere” or, if not, write it down in your notes. The God who interferes—who looks at your crisis, your need—and instead of standing on the sidelines worrying and anxious, He interferes in the problems you have in your life.

Jesus interferes with the satanic plans that are formed against you. If it weren’t for the interference of Jesus, Satan would have free access to you. The power of sin and sickness and tribulation would have such freedom in your life that you’d not be able to stand. But Jesus loves you, Jesus cares for you, and when Satan comes with his intended plans to throw you off, He interferes.

“No,” He says. “No, this is not going to happen! I’m going to cause this brother, this sister to stand.”

When you are afraid, when you feel like you are going to fail, when the intentions of the evil one are coming at you from all around, be assured that Jesus will interfere. He’s going to bring things to an end.

Jesus interfered with this demonic man, and there’s so much that He wants to interfere with in your life. Maybe you’re walking in willful disobedience and rebellion to God. His grace is going to interfere and call you back. Maybe you’ve become lukewarm and you have a half-hearted faith. Jesus wants to interfere with that and draw you back. Maybe your concern is a family member and you feel that it’s hopeless; you don’t see any way possible for breakthrough. Jesus interferes in all these things.

So Satan is coming at you—just like we read about Jesus at the side of the cliff, intending to throw Him off. There’s an intended plan by Satan against your life and Jesus comes and interferes with it. You can say, “Praise God” to that if you want, because that’s extremely good news.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

ARE WE SINGING LOUDER? by Claude Houde

As we pray, “Lord, increase our faith,” I ask you to allow God to light a flame in your heart. Abraham, our model of faith, went to rescue a people who were being held captive by a merciless enemy (see Genesis 14:11-16). The text speaks to us of “ruthless conquerors who took everything for themselves.” But one survivor, a victim, fell at Abraham’s feet and forced him to make a decision.

No matter where you are, those who suffer are knocking at the door of the church. There is a modern Church that has chosen to be blind to the suffering that surrounds it. This indifference is an affront to the very nature of God. This Church is obsessed with its own blessings, needs, worship, services, theology and experiences with God, and has a strong tendency to remain “among our own, among Christians.”

In one of his books, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian, told this story that shook me profoundly because it is a true picture of the modern Church. Bonhoeffer was a pastor during the Second World War, at a time when the Nazi holocaust took the lives of six million Jews. History shows that most of the German pastors and priests tolerated or tried to ignore the Nazi insanity and murderous racism that eventually led to the genocide. The Church finally woke up when it was too late. Pastor Bonhoeffer spoke out against the regime of the Third Reich, was thrown into prison, and ultimately was put to death for his courage and convictions.

Bonhoeffer wrote of a conversation he had with a fellow pastor shortly before he was arrested. The pastor confided in him, “It was horrible. Our church is right beside the railway tracks. We can hear the trains going by carrying Jews toward the camps. At first it was rare, but now they go by several times a day. One Sunday several weeks ago, something terribly embarrassing happened. We were right in the middle of our service and the noise from the trains was deafening. Then, just as we were singing worship songs, we heard people crying out, ‘Help us! Help us!’”

Bonhoeffer, horrified, asked him, “Well, what did you do?” The pastor answered, “For a moment I wasn’t sure what to do, but then I told the church congregation, ‘Brothers and sisters, let’s sing louder!’”

Are we, too, “singing louder” so we won’t hear the cries for help so near to us?

__________
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. 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, June 24, 2016

IN DREAMS AND VISIONS


In nations everywhere, Christ is revealing Himself to multitudes in dreams and visions. People in Arab nations, China and India are reporting their experiences with Jesus in dreams. It is even happening here in New York City.

One of our security men here at Times Square Church was once New York’s third-ranking high priest in Santeria devil worship. His territory was the Bronx, and his apartment was filled with human bones. He had sold himself body and soul to Satan. But this man’s heart was stirred by the Holy Spirit and he became restless. One night he challenged Jesus, “If You are stronger than the devil I serve, show me in a dream tonight.”

That night in a dream, the man saw himself on a train bound for hell. It passed through a tunnel and on the other side stood Satan. The devil told the man, “You have been faithful to me. Now I’m taking you to your eternal resting place.” Then suddenly, a cross appeared. At that moment, the man woke up.

He came out of that experience on fire for Jesus! Ridding his apartment of every trace of evil, he dedicated his life to the Lord. Today, he is a sweet, devout man of God and is active in our church. I stopped him recently and told him, “I see Jesus in you.” He answered, “Brother Dave, you don’t realize what those words mean to me after twenty-five years of serving the devil.” His miraculous new life had all come out of that God-given dream.

Dear saint, the day is coming when the whole world will see Jesus. The apostle John envisioned “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9–10).

This is not a little remnant, but an innumerable multitude and they are all worshiping the Lord. Praise God for that promised day!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A WAKE-UP CALL TO THE CHURCH

How is the last revival going to happen? It requires something powerful, something world-shaking to precipitate it. Isaiah tells us this shaking will happen in one day. In chapter 47, he says the spirit of Babylon must be dealt with. Throughout Scripture, Babylon has always represented a spirit of prosperity, ease and pleasure and the Babylonian spirit is the same in every age.

In short, Isaiah says there can be no widespread, last revival until the spirit of greed and false security is brought down. We can pray for revival, we can cry out to God to pour out His Spirit, but it is impossible unless the Lord first shakes all things: “Hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me. . . . Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know” (Isaiah 47:8, 11, my italics).

God is not going to overlook sin, but He will strike down the devil’s strongholds. He’s going to sound a wake-up call to His Church with a “sudden desolation.” Indeed, this will be an act of great love on the Lord’s part. He so loves His Church that He refuses to allow ease, pleasure and apostasy to blind and ruin the object of His love.

“Let favor be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord” (Isaiah 26:10). Here is proof that revival is impossible in a time of ease and prosperity. Isaiah says in plain terms, “In a time of blessing, the people will not turn.” Nothing is going to happen until the pocketbook is affected. Only “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

HIS MANIFEST PRESENCE

Many are familiar with the passage where Paul equates marriage to God’s relationship with the Church: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31–32).

Now note what Isaiah says: “Thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Isaiah 54:5). Who is the Maker here? It is Christ, creator of heaven and earth. And Isaiah tells us God is our husband. However, the wife has separated herself from her husband: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

Where do we see this separation today between the Church and God? I see it most obviously in compromised mainline churches. Yet I also see it in the soft-pedaled gospel of post-modern churches. It is evident that there has been a separation from God’s manifest presence. Indeed, it has happened just as Jesus and Paul prophesied. Many have become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God—having a form of religion with no power; despising the gospel of their fathers; tearing down the old moral landmarks; changing God’s infallible Word to suit the times.

I challenge you to go to any city, from church to church of every evangelical persuasion. Try to find one where you recognize the awesome, manifest presence of Jesus, where you encounter His heart-melting conviction. When the Lord is truly present, you recognize it, whether in the singing, the preaching, or the fellowship. Something stirs your soul, and it produces an awe and a reverence. In my experience, this is rarely found.

I am not condemning modern-day churches; God forbid. But may the Lord help us if we don’t have His manifest presence in these last days. And because of the compromise of such churches, He has had to hide His presence from them for a time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

YOU WILL NOT BE MOVED

Everywhere we turn in the last days, we will see God’s glory breaking forth in a last revival. Christ’s Church will stretch beyond all former limitations to spread the good news.

“Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (Isaiah 54:2–3). Simply put, the Church will gain strength and raise up multitudes in Christ.

As we look more closely at Isaiah’s prophecy, we see it is meant not only for the Church Body but also for individuals. I know godly servants, friends of mine, who have laid hold of this prophecy as a personal word from the Holy Spirit. And they have built up their faith by its promises: “Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more” (Isaiah 54:4). Isaiah makes it clear in this verse: God’s Church will not go out under reproach.

Yet just a few verses down, we read this warning to the last-days Church: “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires” (Isaiah 54:11). We are told that we will be afflicted and storm-tossed. Yet we are also promised a foundation made of sapphires. What does this mean, exactly?

When God declares, “I will lay thy foundations with sapphires,” His message is, “When everything in the world is being shaken, you will not be moved. The foundation I’m laying underneath you is as solid as these stones. What I’m doing in you cannot be shaken.”

These sapphires represent spiritual knowledge and wisdom, insights into the very heart of God. We know that those who endure suffering come out armed with greater insights into God’s mercy. You may be tempted, tossed, afflicted and alone, but through it all He is forming underneath you a rock-solid foundation. It is all so that you may comfort others in their trials.

Monday, June 20, 2016

COMING OUT ON THE VICTORY SIDE by Gary Wilkerson

Here’s the really good news! Jesus wants to put in you the same Spirit that lives in Him — the same Spirit that gave Him the power to pass right through the enemy’s plans to cast Him off the edge of the cliff (see Luke 4:29-30).

Perhaps addiction has crushed you; the habits of sin have led you to failure; fear and anxiety have caused you to fall into despair. But when Jesus puts “the same Spirit” within you, you can pass right through and declare, “This thing won’t touch me. I might be in a fire but I won’t be burned. I’m coming out alive. I’m coming out on the victory side. I’m not going to be pushed off into things that God doesn’t have for me. I’m going to stay in the firm place where He has set me.”

You may feel pressure all over you but the Lord has given me a word to give to you. And attached to it is a prophetic promise. I said to the Lord, “I’m going to be very cautious about this because sometimes false prophecies come forth that say everything is going to be rosy and bright.” So I’m not saying that to you. There will be difficulties and pressure. There may be plans formed against you, pushing you toward the cliff, toward the edge, but I have an assuring word for you.

If you trust in Jesus, if you wait upon the Lord, if you will hear His message and not listen to the enemy’s voice, you will pass right through the storm in complete victory. You will pass right through the fire. You will pass through every pressure, everything that comes against you — in the name of Jesus.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2, ESV).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

BELIEVING GOD by Nicky Cruz

God’s covenantal promises are as real and secure as any truth we can imagine. When God makes a promise to us, it is not only certain but irrevocable. And He loves making covenants with His children.

But God’s promises demand action on our part. He doesn’t make covenants with idle, double-minded people. He wants people who will trust Him, obey Him, engage with Him on a daily basis. God wants to speak with us, and He wants us to speak back. To listen, to ask questions, and to answer when He speaks. God isn’t passive, and He doesn’t want passive followers!

If we listen we can hear God talking, trying to engage us. Trying to get a message through and a response back. But so often we miss it. Either we are not hearing, or we don’t believe that God is really interested in talking with us.

When God speaks, He wants us to respond. To do something. To acknowledge His voice and speak back.

And He only speaks to people who are willing to listen.

Too often we spend our days in lifeless, passionless pursuits. We live day to day, aimlessly waiting for God to give us some direction, some guidance, some word of prophecy. We want to follow God, but we have no idea where He is leading us.

I see this every day—in people, in churches, in businesses, in ministries, in every area of life. So many long to hear God and to engage with Him in a covenantal relationship, but nothing ever happens. God’s voice never comes. His leading never becomes clear.

We serve a God of passion—a God of action. A God who longs for servants obsessed with obedience, preoccupied with discovering His will, completely enamored with the thought of living and dying in God’s holy presence!

That’s what God is looking for. And when He finds it, He always takes notice!

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV).

__________
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, June 17, 2016

UNDER GOD’S CONTROL

In these last days, the Lord’s eye is not fixed on world powers but on the church of Jesus Christ. God is not focused on the economy, on the rise of world religions, on the roaring of the heathen. According to Isaiah, the nations are to God “as a drop of a bucket” (Isaiah 40:15). They are all under His sovereign rule and reign.

God knows all about terrorist threats, wars and rumors of wars. His Word warns that the heathen will rage, secular powers will try to outlaw Christianity, and fast-growing, anti-Christ movements will boast they’ll rule the world and destroy Jesus’ followers. The Bible says this about it all:

“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:2–3). In short, “Let’s cast away all moral hindrances, all moral landmarks of the past.”

Here is God’s reaction to these earthly powers and demon-influenced men: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (2:4). No matter how desperate things look, everything remains under God’s full control.

I’m thankful for this word from the Psalms. More and more, we hear reports of secularism wiping out the evangelical church in Europe; of Islam being the fastest growing religion in the world; of homosexuals hijacking entire denominations; of Christ’s church growing so weak it no longer has any impact on society. Yet God’s Word declares, “On Christ the Rock God will build His church.”

“The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Nothing from the bowels of hell can hope to destroy Christ’s church. His eye is always on His people, and through everything He warns Satan and his hordes, “Do not touch the apple of My eye.”

“Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake” (Isaiah 54:15). Do you see what God is saying here? “The devil is going to come at you. Enemies out of hell will gather together against you. But Satan will not succeed.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016

WHAT IS AHEAD FOR THE CHURCH?


What is ahead for the church of Jesus Christ? This is a question of great concern to believers worldwide. As cataclysmic events take place all over the globe, many are wondering, “Is the Holy Spirit going to revive the Church before Jesus returns? Will Christ’s Body leave this world with a whimper or with a shout?”

The New Testament is filled with predictions of a last-days falling away. False prophets will rise up and lead many astray. Wolves will come in sheep’s clothing, bringing powerful deceptions to “deceive, if possible, even the elect of God.” Wickedness will abound, causing once-hot believers to lose their first love. With the flood of iniquity to come, the love of many will grow cold.

Jesus prophesied these very things and His warnings were meant to challenge our faith. As overwhelming iniquity floods the earth, He asks: “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Christ knew everything we would be witnessing today: horrifying school shootings; the rise of militant homosexuality; terrorist acts taking place throughout the world. In the midst of these things, He asks us, “Will you continue to believe, though things wax worse? Will you faint in your confidence when things don’t happen as you thought they would? Or, will you continue to trust in Me?”

Despite the rise in iniquity and the occurrence of great calamities, Jesus knew there would be a great last-days revival. The Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah’s prophecies, and He knew full well about the prediction of a revival as the end draws near.

Isaiah said there would be a great, worldwide awakening just prior to Christ’s return. This prophecy is found in Isaiah 54 and is summed up in these verses: “Thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (54:3).

I believe with a number of Bible scholars that Isaiah’s prophecy has a dual application. It speaks not only about natural Israel after captivity in Babylon, but also about the spiritual Israel that was to come: the Body of Jesus Christ, the Church of the New Jerusalem. Paul quotes from Isaiah 54 when he refers to the “Jerusalem which is above . . . the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26). Paul saw Isaiah’s prophecy as directed “to the children of promise,” those in Christ by faith.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ARE YOU READY?

What did Jesus mean in Matthew 24:49 when He spoke about the evil servant who would “drink with the drunken”? Jesus isn’t just talking about alcohol here. The Bible mentions many ways of being drunk: with fury, with bitterness, with bloodthirstiness. The main alcohol in our society—the sedative that most people drink from today—is prosperity. And Christians indulge freely in this drink.

Jesus is warning us, “What happens to you once prosperity grips you? Your heart gets wrapped up in material goods. Suddenly, you lose your awareness of My coming. Your life spins out of control, because you no longer have a moral compass. And you begin doing anything you can to get what you want. You become a drunkard, stoned on prosperity.”

Note the judgment Jesus describes for such hypocrites. “The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (24:50–51).

Are you ready? Have you begun to love the thought of Christ’s appearing? Paul says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8, my italics). James urges us likewise: “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8). “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).

Finally, Paul writes, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:11–15).

I pray to become the kind of shepherd Paul describes. Yes, I’m looking for my Master’s return. And, like the apostle, I can say with confidence, “I’ve got a crown waiting for me, because I love His appearing. I am ready. Come, Lord Jesus!”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

BUT KNOW THIS

When Jesus uses the phrase, “But know this,” in Matthew 24:43, He is telling us, “You dare not ignore this word.” Then He offers the following statement: “If that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; [he] shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken” (Matthew 24:48–49).

Luke 12 identifies this servant as the same one who at one time faithfully served “meat in due season” (Luke 12:42). This servant started out right and he was destined to be rewarded as a keeper of the Lord’s goods. But now he has changed dramatically. He is found striking those around him and getting drunk with the drunken.

Something took place in this servant’s heart—a change perhaps unseen, but one that affected his attitude. What happened? What was this change? Jesus tells us that he said in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming” (24:48).

The Greek word for smite in verse 49 suggests repeated blows. In other words, this servant had fallen into hypocrisy. I see him as one who provokes his wife, curses freely, listens to dirty stories, gossips. How does he come to this? He convinces himself that his master isn’t coming back anytime soon. When he reasons to himself, “My lord,” he is speaking of a different lord entirely, not his righteous Master. He has conceived a Jesus of his own making, a Christ of another gospel.

This type of servant doesn’t preach his new attitude. Rather, the change has taken place in his thinking. He doesn’t have to broadcast his belief that the Master has delayed His coming. He is simply living out that belief and that makes all the difference.

Do you wonder why so many churches today are filled with unprepared, indulgent pleasure seekers? Do you wonder why so many Christian couples divorce at the slightest provocation? It isn’t because their pastors are teaching them to live that way. No, it’s because many shepherds do not believe Christ is coming in their generation. And the people merely follow the shepherd.

Monday, June 13, 2016

STANDING YOUR GROUND by Gary Wilkerson

“When they heard this, the people in the synagogue [where Jesus had been speaking] were furious” (Luke 4:28, NLT).

Let’s take a moment to talk briefly about why the people here became so angry.

When Jesus stood up in the synagogue, He began to speak about Elijah. He said that in Elijah’s time the heavens were closed for three and a half years, during which time there was a famine. But Elijah came to only one woman and she was not an Israelite, she was a foreigner.

Then Jesus went on to use another example, the lepers in Israel. Elisha went to heal only one person, a man from Syria whose name was Naaman. After hearing Jesus relate that story, the people were so furious that they grabbed hold of Him and took Him outside the city.

“Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff” (Luke 4:29, NLT).

If you are a Christian but are not aware of this tactic of Satan, you need to be. He intends to try to push you over a cliff. He intends to take your finances and get you so distraught, so worried, so fearful that he almost flings you down onto the ground where you crash and burn.

If your marriage is stressful and you feel pressured there, the enemy is not content to just cause your union to be less than fruitful. He wants to get in and take you to the very edge, to the place where he can throw your marriage off to where it no longer exists.

The good news is that the edge of the cliff, falling off the cliff, is not the destiny of God’s people. You were called to the high ground. You were called to stand your ground in the holy place where God has you. You were called to stand and not be condemned by Satan. You are not to believe the lies of the enemy about your life.

Verse 29 says the people intended to push Him over the cliff, but look at what verse 30 says: “But he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.”

Saturday, June 11, 2016

TEMPLES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT by Jim Cymbala

As Christians, our lives have been purchased for a price, and we now belong to God. The price was the blood of Jesus Christ, which He shed on the cross. Just as Israelites in the Old Testament belonged to God through covenant, Christians belong to God through the salvation we have experienced. We are God’s people now. We belong to Him—rescued out of the clutches of sin, guilt and condemnation, and adopted into His family. In this case, being bought and owned by someone isn’t a negative thing; it’s a beautiful thing.

God saved us for the purpose of making us human temples, inhabited by His Spirit. During Old Testament days, God dwelt within the inner room of the temple—a place called the Holy of Holies. That’s where He made His home. When Paul said Christians were the “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19), the word he used for “temple” was not the word used for the outer rooms of the Old Testament temple. It was naos, which referred to the inner sanctum, the place where there was a visible manifestation of the shekinah glory of God.

That indwelling of God through the Holy Spirit makes Christianity different from any other religion on earth. Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism—none of these religions claim that their god inhabits their followers. The leaders of those belief systems may try to proselytize with their doctrine, but the gospel of Jesus Christ is different. Faith in Jesus makes us walking miracles who have been changed through the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

God’s plan in redemption was that we should live life full of the Holy Spirit. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The metaphor here is that we might be filled with the Spirit to the point where He overflows—spilling out unto others with love and grace.

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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.

Friday, June 10, 2016

BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Are you looking and yearning for His coming?

I would never do anything to cause a fellow believer to doubt his or her readiness. Most people reading this message can probably say, “Yes, I’m ready. I’ve repented and confessed my sins, and I’m forgiven. I have put my trust in Jesus’ righteousness and if He comes right now, I know there will be no condemnation toward me. I know in whom I have believed. I’m sure I am His.” I would say the same things about myself.

Yet, in re-reading Christ’s warnings, I came across something I can’t shake off. Jesus commands, “Watch therefore” (Matthew 24:42). Then He says, “But know this” (24:43). In other words: “If you’re going to be ready—if you’re to be watchful, as I would have you be—there’s something you must know.”

Jesus then describes a man who thought he was prepared but wasn’t. This man’s house was “broken up” (24:43). Next, Jesus describes a person who was truly prepared (24:45–47). Finally, He gives an awful warning about evil servants who will be cast into a hypocrite’s hell (24:48–51).

The servant who is truly prepared is likened to the head of a household who provides meat for those under his rule. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season” (24:45). Jesus tells us this servant’s reward is to be made a ruler over his master’s goods (see 24:47). Evidently, the servant’s “giving of meat in due season” is of great importance.

Who are the rulers over households that Jesus refers to here? This speaks of parents. It also includes pastors, who rule over “the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). So, how does a parent offer “meat in due season”? In biblical terms, meat represents God’s Word. The Greek meaning here also suggests nourishment, from a root word meaning “to bring up.” Next, the phrase in due season means “at the right time.” Christ is saying, “Blessed are those parents who nourish their children with God’s Word. They raise them with biblical admonition, while there is time, before it’s too late.”

Thursday, June 9, 2016

CHRIST WILL GATHER HIS BRIDE

Jesus spoke of a great and sudden disappearance of people from the earth. “In that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Luke 17:34–36). Jesus’ disciples asked, “Where will these people be taken?” He answered, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together” (17:37). He was saying, “I am the Head of the Body and the Head is going to be united with the Body.”

Some scholars say the people taken up are sinners being swept away to judgment. But Scripture suggests otherwise. Isaiah speaks of eagles in reference to the Church: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Also, God said to Israel, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19:4).

In Matthew, Jesus speaks of the elect being taken up by God: “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31). Paul makes this clear, stating: “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).

As dramatic as this great event will be, Jesus’ point was that it will happen on an ordinary day. It will be like those past days of judgment, in Noah’s and Lot’s societies. Men and women will be at their jobs, going about their day as usual. Then everything will happen suddenly, in a mere moment. Paul says: “We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).

It will be a day like any other. All of humankind will be unaware, but then, in a single moment, Christ will gather His Bride.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

IN THE DAYS OF NOAH

Jesus tells us that immediately prior to His coming back, society will be just as it was in the days of Noah (see Matthew 24:38-39). Notice that Jesus doesn’t mention a single sin in this description. We all know it’s not a sin to eat or drink proper beverages, or to get engaged or be married. Nor is it a sin to buy, sell, plant or build. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things and Jesus isn’t condemning these activities. Rather, He’s showing us these everyday happenings, as if to say, “That’s what life will be like when I return. It will be like any other ordinary day, when people aren’t expecting something to happen.”

So, what is Jesus saying about these ordinary scenes? Simply put, He is describing people who had determined to reject God’s warnings of judgment. Remember, Noah prophesied to his society for a hundred and twenty years, warning that total destruction was coming. But, as Scripture says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

This is exactly what is happening today. There has been a frenzy of buying and selling, eating and drinking, planting and building. Multitudes are obsessed with personal gain, and they turn off any negative message that might hinder their pursuits.

A godly woman wrote to me about a conversation she had with an elderly Jewish woman. This Holocaust survivor told her, “What is happening in America today reminds me of what happened in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. All the warnings were ignored. I was only a child, but I still remember the huge parties that continued into the night even after Hitler started jailing Jews and shipping them off to the gas chambers.

“I remember the older Jews saying, ‘It can’t happen here, not in an educated, civilized society like Germany.’ Just a few weeks later, those same people were being pushed like cattle into rail cars headed for the concentration camps. They had thought the good times and prosperity would last forever.”

The warning cry has once again gone out to the Lord’s Church: “Jesus is coming! The Bridegroom is on His way. Adorn yourself, and be ready to go out to meet Him. Look up, for redemption is nigh!” Yet, even so, Jesus warns that people will ignore the call. They will be going about their business, giving no thought to His coming, ignoring all the prophetic signs. This premeditated apathy will be the very sign that He is coming!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

COME, LORD JESUS!

We can be sure God is going to judge the wicked—without question a payday is coming. When that time arrives, all mockers, God-haters and wicked people will be called to give an account. The books will be opened and every vile deed will be made manifest, revealing all that these evil ones did against God’s authority. Their deeds will be judged severely, and the wicked will be cast out of God’s presence eternally.

Jesus assured His disciples, “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7). He was saying, “Yes, God will one day deal with those who have mocked, persecuted, jailed and killed His people. The cry of the persecuted church has been heard and He will avenge them speedily.” Yet, Jesus then asks in the next sentence, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (18:8).

Christ’s question at the end of this passage signals His greatest concern. He is saying, “When I come back, I’ll be looking for a people who have believed My promise to return for them. The question is whether those people will be ready and waiting for Me. Will they be weaned from this world, yearning for Me to take them home as My Bride? Will they be spotless, or soiled with the spirit of the age? Will I arrive to find them crying, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’?”

“Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

Jesus did not give us the date of His coming, but He did tell us what society would be like then. He goes on to describe what the prevailing conduct of humankind will be like when He returns.

“As in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (24:38–39).

Monday, June 6, 2016

THE LOVE THAT JESUS DESCRIBES by Gary Wilkerson

“These things I command you, so that you will love one another” (John 15:17, ESV).

What does it look like to carry out the kind of love Jesus describes? The Apostle Paul helps by showing what happens when we don’t live out this kind of love. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul lays out two types of sin. On the one hand he identifies gross sins, the kind we associate with outward behavior, such as sexual sins or substance abuse. But he also lays out a second type of sin—relational sin—and shows how it is just as deadly and destructive. Relational sin affects our souls to depths we never could imagine. It has an awful effect not only on our witness to the world but on the deepest parts of our being, and spreads to those around us.

Paul brings this to light in the Corinthian church by pointing out a glaring problem: the divisions among them. “I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder” (2 Corinthians 12:20). Note the final word in this list: disorder. This is an indication that relational sin is at work.

Each one of the things Paul lists here has to do with failing to love as Christ loved. In these terms, it’s easy to see how love can’t be just a sentimental gesture. It is a battle to be fought, and the weapons we bring are forgiveness, grace, mercy and justice.

One of the Corinthians’ conflicts involved the teaching they would accept. Some said they would follow only Peter’s direction, while others followed Paul. Paul had to tell them, “I can’t address you as mature people while you’re in this condition. It’s carnal. You’re reasoning through your flesh.”

The Greek word Paul uses for flesh indicates the skin or fatty tissue of the body. But, of course, Paul is describing the condition of their soul. He’s telling the Corinthians they’re caught up in an earthbound way of living rather than walking out the Spirit-filled life.

But as Jesus and Paul both point out, refusing to love at even the most mundane level can have huge consequences, leading to grief, alienation and regret. Strife in a relationship usually ends up affecting a larger circle of friends or family. In turn, that can extend to an entire community, as Paul showed was happening among the Corinthians. To love as Jesus loves, even in what seems like a small matter, isn’t a choice—it’s a spiritual discipline.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

HE IS OUR STRENGTH by Carter Conlon

You and I live in a time of much uncertainty about tomorrow. We do not know what the future holds for America’s economy or that of other nations. You may have a job today, but there is no guarantee that you will still have it next year or even next week. Yet, thank God that we as believers in Christ have been given an incredible promise of provision—particularly in a time when provision seems so scarce. Consider the words of King David in Psalm 37: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (37:25).

I can personally attest to the truth of this verse, having witnessed the tangible provision of God coming into the lives, families and homes of those who have made the choice to walk in the righteousness of Christ.

Psalm 37 continues, “He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed. Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore. For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His saints; they are preserved forever” (37:26-28).

David penned these words during a time of great wickedness. Those who desired to follow God were becoming anxious and perhaps even angry, much like we see happening in our day. Nevertheless, David knew that wickedness always leads to a destructive end, and he encouraged the people of God not to lose heart in the midst of such a difficult season. “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a native green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; indeed I sought him, but he could not be found” (37:35-36). In other words, though the wicked seem to have the upper hand in almost every area, the season of wickedness will soon be over.

David continued, “Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off” (37:37-38).

And so we are reminded that no matter what is happening in the world around us, as we live for God and put our trust in Him, we will find Him to be our strength and our deliverer!

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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.

Friday, June 3, 2016

HE IS LONGSUFFERING

The Apostle Peter tells us there’s a reason Jesus hasn’t returned yet. He writes, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering . . . not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Our Lord is abundant in patience toward the ungodly.

Personally, I am amazed at God’s patience with us in this generation. The moral slide is grievous even to secular observers. Even if you try to keep a clean conscience, your mind is saturated with reports of the evils happening every day. Some things are so vile as to be incomprehensible: murders in schools, child abuse, militant homosexuality, unspeakable atrocities.

Often our hearts cry out, “Lord, when will there be justice? When will You bring evildoers to judgment?” We wonder why God waits so long to deal with the unspeakable wickedness so rampant today. We picture the scene when evildoers finally kneel before the Lord, facing His holiness.

But Peter says Jesus isn’t focusing on judgment right now, even for the worst of sinners. Rather, our Lord is preoccupied with mercy. He is longsuffering toward the worst of evildoers. And He’s waiting to show mercy to every unrepentant sinner, wooing and pursuing them.

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (3:11–14, italics mine).

We can spend our days preoccupied with signs of the times, in the Middle East, or elsewhere. But God says, “Look to your own heart. Be sure you’re diligent to keep My Word.” Paul adds, “Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). He then warns us not to judge others, and to be careful not to become a stumbling block to a brother and cause him to fall.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

A dear Christian woman in Louisiana wrote to our ministry: “Last Sunday, our pastor asked for testimonies of what God had been doing during the week. His own five-year-old son stood up and said, ‘I had a dream last night. Jesus told me He is coming soon.’” The Holy Spirit used that child to remind God’s people of a glorious truth.

Sadly, the present generation knows less about the return of Christ than any generation in the past. Jesus’ coming is seldom preached in churches anymore. Indeed, multitudes who call themselves Christians don’t want to hear about the subject. Why?

Life is good for most people, including Christians, and the focus is on how to keep the good times rolling. Just as Lot’s wife, many are possessed by what they own. They have become addicted to the things of this world, and in their minds Jesus’ coming would be disruptive.

I have heard churchgoers mock the possibility of Jesus’ “anytime return.” They scoff at the idea He could come back soon. Indeed, there is a doctrine that states our Lord won’t return for thousands of years. The idea is that the Church will be given all that time to evangelize the world and set up a new order before Christ comes back to reign as King.

The Apostle Peter addresses these things, saying, “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3–4).

Peter speaks a pointed word to all such willfully ignorant people: “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IN THE SECRET PLACE

How does the Lord bring us comfort and peace in times of affliction? He leads us to the secret closet of intimacy with Him. Jesus reminds us that it is there that the Father touches us personally: “When you pray, go into your closet and shut the door. Pray to your Father, who sees you in secret and He will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6, my paraphrase).

Recently a dear friend of mine—the bishop over the Pentecostal movement in Hungary—was tragically killed in a freak accident. His cooking grill caught fire and he was badly burned. He was treated and thought to be okay, but a few days later he died suddenly from blood clots that had formed.

Friends around the world are standing with his widow in prayer and support. Yet true comfort for her will come from above. No psychologist can help her through her deepest pain. The Comforter is faithful to meet her in her secret place with Him.

I realize I can’t personally reach the thousands of hurting believers who write to us. We received a letter from a pregnant wife who is married to a pastor. She has just discovered that her husband is a pedophile. She writes, “I don’t know what to do but I believe I have to divorce my husband. I don’t want him molesting our child.”

There is one thing every hurting brother and sister can do: Take it all to Jesus, get shut in with Him and find comfort in His presence. The Lord says, “I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul” (Jeremiah 31:25). How does God do this? He meets each one there in the secret place: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

Do you see the importance of setting your heart to pray in a secret place? It is not about legalism or bondage, but about love. It is about God’s goodness toward us. He sees what’s ahead and knows we need tremendous resources, daily replenishing. All of that is found in the secret place with Him.

You may think you don’t know how to pray but you can begin by simply praising Him. What matters is that you are there by faith, by obedient love, and your Father will see you there. He will reveal His love to you in secret, and He will reward you openly with the fruit of His kingdom. The Holy Spirit will pray through you and give you expression.