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Devotions

GOD DOESN’T GIVE UP ON US

Claude HoudeJanuary 23, 2016

I grew up in an environment where no one expressed emotion. It was simply a question of survival! When I came to know the Lord, so many things changed. I will be eternally grateful for my first years in the faith and for those who so patiently taught me and guided me in my first steps with God. They are my spiritual mothers and fathers and I love them. However, in the mentality of the evangelical church of that era, the same attitude existed: We don’t talk about problems and pain; lift up your head and walk strong; we can do it, go, go, go! And that attitude, now wrapped in Bible verses, persists: “We can do all things . . . rejoice always . . . in everything give thanks . . . lift your eyes . . . lift up your head . . . you’re a soldier! Up! Up! Up!”

Dear friend, when we stand with our head held high, shoulders straight, and eyes toward the sky, His arms are carrying us. Now don’t miss this. When our eyes stare downward and we are weary and beaten, in the desert, through famines and sorrow, despairing because of what has been lost or destroyed, it is written, “Underneath are the everlasting arms.” “A broken reed He will not throw away” (Isaiah 42:3).

The children who played all day on the banks of the lakes where Isaiah grew up (he is the one who gives us this incredible promise) knew this game. They would pick up a reed ever so cautiously, and as they blew into it, a high pitched, flute-like sound would fill the air as the kids laughed and screamed with delight. If the fragile reed broke, it would become useless, so they would throw it away and pick up another one. But God says, “I will not throw away what has been broken.” In essence, He is saying to you, “If your life has lost its melody, its song, if your prayer or praise is gone, if your silence screams for your altar at night, I will restore you. I will come and nurse the reed for as long as it takes, until you have recaptured your music and your joy before me.” 

God says, “I don’t throw people away; I will not give up on you. Build your altar and I will rebuild you. I will not put out the flame that is still burning.”

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.

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SEEKING GOD IN THE SECRET PLACE

David WilkersonJanuary 22, 2016

The Holy Ghost came to Ananias, a godly man living in Damascus. The Spirit instructed him to go to Judas’ house on Straight Street, lay hands on Saul, and restore his sight. Of course, Ananias knew of Saul’s reputation. Yet, here is how the Holy Spirit recommended Saul to Ananias: “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9:11).

The Lord was saying, in essence, “Ananias, you will find this man on his knees. He knows you are coming; in fact, he even knows your name, and why you’re being sent to him. And he wants his eyes opened.”

When did Saul receive this inner knowing? How did he receive this vision, this pure word from God? It came through fervent praying and supplication. In fact, I believe the Spirit’s words to Ananias reveal what moved God’s heart about Saul: “Behold, he prayeth.”

Saul had been shut in with God for three days, refusing all food and water. All he wanted was the Lord, so he stayed on his knees all that time, praying and seeking God.

When I was growing up, my preacher father taught me, “God always makes a way for a praying man.” There have been periods in my life when the Lord provided indisputable evidence of this. As a young pastor in Pennsylvania, a deep hunger rose up in me that caused me to pray diligently. Something in my heart told me, “There’s more to serving Jesus than what I’m doing. Oh, Lord, I can’t live so far beneath what I read in Your Word. I’d rather die than live as selfishly as I have.”

So I spent months on my knees—weeping and praying for hours at a time—when finally the Lord called me to go to New York City to minister to gangs and drug addicts. That was several decades ago.

I also was on my knees seeking God with tears and loud crying when he called me back to New York to start a church in Times Square. Once again, the Lord said, “David. I want you to have My mind, My concerns.”

If I have ever heard from God, it did not come through Bible study alone. It came through prayer—seeking God alone. If there is any visible measure of Christ in me, it is because of spending time with Him in the secret place.

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SEEKING GOD IN THE SECRET PLACE

David WilkersonJanuary 22, 2016

The Holy Ghost came to Ananias, a godly man living in Damascus. The Spirit instructed him to go to Judas’ house on Straight Street, lay hands on Saul, and restore his sight. Of course, Ananias knew of Saul’s reputation. Yet, here is how the Holy Spirit recommended Saul to Ananias: “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9:11).

The Lord was saying, in essence, “Ananias, you will find this man on his knees. He knows you are coming; in fact, he even knows your name, and why you’re being sent to him. And he wants his eyes opened.”

When did Saul receive this inner knowing? How did he receive this vision, this pure word from God? It came through fervent praying and supplication. In fact, I believe the Spirit’s words to Ananias reveal what moved God’s heart about Saul: “Behold, he prayeth.”

Saul had been shut in with God for three days, refusing all food and water. All he wanted was the Lord, so he stayed on his knees all that time, praying and seeking God.

When I was growing up, my preacher father taught me, “God always makes a way for a praying man.” There have been periods in my life when the Lord provided indisputable evidence of this. As a young pastor in Pennsylvania, a deep hunger rose up in me that caused me to pray diligently. Something in my heart told me, “There’s more to serving Jesus than what I’m doing. Oh, Lord, I can’t live so far beneath what I read in Your Word. I’d rather die than live as selfishly as I have.”

So I spent months on my knees—weeping and praying for hours at a time—when finally the Lord called me to go to New York City to minister to gangs and drug addicts. That was several decades ago.

I also was on my knees seeking God with tears and loud crying when he called me back to New York to start a church in Times Square. Once again, the Lord said, “David. I want you to have My mind, My concerns.”

If I have ever heard from God, it did not come through Bible study alone. It came through prayer—seeking God alone. If there is any visible measure of Christ in me, it is because of spending time with Him in the secret place.

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RELIGIOUS AMBITIONS

David WilkersonJanuary 21, 2016

“If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4-6).

Paul was a man who could say, “I once was somebody. All my peers, including my fellow Pharisees, looked up to me. I was a Pharisee among Pharisees, climbing the ladder, and I was considered a holy man, a powerful teacher of the law. I had a reputation in the land and was blameless in the eyes of the people. But when Christ apprehended me, everything changed. The striving, the competing—everything that I thought gave my life meaning—was surrendered. I saw that I had missed the Lord completely.”

Paul had once thought his religious ambitions—his zeal, his competitive spirit, his works, his busyness—were all righteousness. He had thought it was all for God’s glory. Now Christ revealed to him that it was all flesh, all for self.

Therefore, Paul stated, “I laid aside all desire for success and recognition and determined to be a servant.”

“Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (1 Corinthians 9:19).

Paul saw that Jesus took upon Himself the life of a servant. He was the very Son of God, yet with a servant’s heart. Likewise, Paul knew that he also had been made a son of God, by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. But, like Jesus, he also desired to be a son with a servant’s heart. So he determined to become a bondservant to Christ and His Church.

Beloved, I, too, know that I am a son of God. Yet, like Paul, I also want the servant heart of Christ. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Having the mind of Christ means going beyond theology. It means submitting our own will to take on Jesus’ concerns.

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RENEWING THE MIND

David WilkersonJanuary 20, 2016

When Paul states boldly, “I have the mind of Christ,” he is declaring, “I too have made myself of no reputation. Like Jesus, I have taken on the role of a servant” (see Philippians 2:7). And Paul asserts that the same holds true for every believer: “We [all can] have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

You may wonder: When and how did Paul actually take on the life of a bondservant? How could a man such as this, a former persecutor of believers, a killer at heart, ever have the mind of Christ?

Paul could pinpoint exactly when it happened. Acts 9 describes how and where his decision took place: in Damascus, on a street called Straight, in the house of a man named Judas.

At the time, Paul was still known as Saul. He was on his way to Damascus with a small army, intending to take Christians captive, bring them back to Jerusalem, and imprison and torture them. But Jesus appeared to Saul on that Damascus road, blinded him, and directed him to go to Judas’ house on Straight Street. “And [Saul] was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink” (Acts 9:9).

In those three days, Saul’s mind was being renewed. He spent the entire time in intense prayer, reconsidering his past life. And what he saw of it, he began to despise. That’s when Saul became Paul.

This man had been very proud. He had been full of misguided zeal and sought the approval of other high-minded religious men. But then, he said, “Christ came and revealed Himself in me, and I renounced my old ways. No more man-pleasing, no more following religious trends. I became Christ’s.”

“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

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