Living in the Middle Ground

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Those who choose to live in the middle ground share certain characteristics. I see those characteristics shown in the two and a half tribes of Israel that chose to stay west of the Jordan. They were Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh. Those tribes’ Hebrew names exposed their sin struggles.

Reuben means “A son who sees!” He was Jacob’s firstborn, but he lost his birthright because he was driven by lust. Jacob described his son Reuben as “Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it” (Genesis 49:4, NKJV). Reuben slept with his father’s concubine, and Jacob, in his dying hour, refused to bless him. Reuben had eyes only for this world with its lusts and pleasures. He was unstable because his heart was always divided, and this spirit was passed on to his posterity. Here was an entire tribe attached to the world and bent on having their own way.

Gad means “Fortune or troop.” Simply put, this means soldiers of fortune or mercenaries. Moses said of Gad, “He provided the first part for himself…” (Deuteronomy 33:21). This tribe was outwardly obedient, “executing the justice of the Lord,” but the overriding characteristic was self-interest. Gad was consumed with its own problems and the need to “make it.” Gad’s philosophy was “I will fight with the Lord’s army; I’ll be obedient and do everything God expects of me. First, though, I need to get myself and my family set up, then I’ll be free to do more for the Lord.”

Manasseh means “To make forgetful.” This was Joseph’s firstborn son, and he should have received the birthright. Even in his childhood, there was a sad trait developing, however, and Jacob saw it in the Spirit. Manasseh would one day forget the ways of his father, Joseph, and neglect the commandment of the Lord.

The same mentality found in them can still found today in those who refuse to pulverize their idols and die to the world. Consider these combined traits of middle-ground Christians. They are unstable as water in spiritual convictions, lukewarm, ruled by selfish needs, neglecting the Word, making their own choices instead of trusting God. They forget past blessings and are unwilling to let go of certain idols, justifying their decisions.

Let us determine to want the Lord’s fullness. God’s desire for you is to enter into a place of rest, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. Let’s follow him with our whole heart.

Seated in Heaven with Christ

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Here’s an incredible promise to God’s people: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3, NKJV).

Paul was saying, “All who follow Jesus are blessed with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, where Christ is.” This promise becomes mere words if we don’t know what these spiritual blessings are. How can we enjoy the blessings that God promises us if we don’t comprehend them?

Paul wrote this epistle “to the saints who are…faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1). These were believers who were sure of their salvation. The Ephesians had been well trained in the gospel and the hope of eternal life. They knew who they were in Christ, and were assured of their heavenly position in him.

These “faithful ones” fully understood that they’d been chosen by God from “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4). They grasped that they were adopted “by Jesus Christ to himself” (Ephesians 1:5). When they heard the truth, they believed and trusted it.

Many forgiven, cleansed and redeemed people live in misery. They never have a sense of being fulfilled in Christ. Instead, they continually go from peaks to valleys, from spiritual highs to depressing lows. How can this be? It’s because many never get past the crucified Savior to the resurrected Lord who lives in glory.

Jesus said to the disciples, “Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:19-20). We are now living in “that day” that Jesus spoke of, and we are to understand our heavenly position in Christ. What is meant by the expression “our position in Christ”?  This position is “where one is placed, where one is.” God has placed us where we are, which is in Christ.

In turn, Christ is in the Father, seated at his right hand. If we’re in Christ, we are actually seated with Jesus in the throne room. This is what Paul refers to when he says we’re made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Yes, Jesus is in paradise, but the Lord also abides in you and me. He has made us his dwelling place.

Seeking the Face of God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

King David knew that there had to be more to knowing God; he sensed there was something of the Lord he hadn’t obtained, and he would not rest until he found it. “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4, NKJV).

In short, he was saying, “There is a beauty, a glory, an excitement about the Lord that I haven’t yet seen in my life. I want to know what it’s like to have uninterrupted communion with my God. I want my life to be a living prayer. Only that will see me through the rest of my days.”

The Lord revealed to David that he could satisfy his longings by reflecting God in his own life. David wrote, “When you said, ‘Seek my face,’ my heart said to you, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’” (Psalm 27:8). God was instructing David, “Learn of me. Search my Word, and pray for understanding through the Spirit. I want your life to reflect my beauty to the world.”

This was not merely a call to prayer; David would have already been praying several times a day. In fact, David’s prayers were what created this passion in him to know the Lord. No, this call from God was to hunger for a lifestyle that totally reflects who Jesus is.

At Calvary, God took on a human face. Jesus came to earth as a man, God in flesh. He did this so he could feel our pain, be tempted and tried as we are. Scripture calls Jesus the exact likeness of God. He is the same essence and substance of God the Father (see Hebrews 1:3). To this very day, Jesus Christ is the face of God on earth. Through the Cross, we have the privilege of “seeing his face.”

Today, when God says, “Seek my face,” his words have greater implications than at any other time in history. With all that is going on in the world around us, how should we respond? When David was surrounded by a host of idolaters, God said, “Seek my face.” We also obey this command that we may be like Jesus, and those who seek the true Christ will see him in us.

When God Establishes Our Steps

Gary Wilkerson

When somebody says, “I'm going to be a millionaire to prove that I'm worth something” and they actually manage it, that can be incredibly dangerous.

Sometimes achieving our aspirations can be more difficult to overcome than grief or failure because then pride can enter into us. We start to think things like “Wow, I was looking for love, and I found it. I was looking for success, and I found it. I'm successful, loved and well-adjusted!” Pride enters into the picture and becomes a stronghold.

There are people who can even become like that while they’re doing ‘good Christian’ works. Those works are not born out of grace. They're not born out of love. They're born out of a sense of “I've got to make something happen so I can feel good about myself. I will take control of my life. I will relieve the pain in my life. I will make sure that my plans work out well.” When Satan puts that lie of self-sufficiency in your heart and you begin to believe it, pride starts to grow very quickly. Usually this manifests when you develop a strategy to make life work out in your favor.

Scripture tell us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12, ESV). God in his mercy will sometimes allow our strategies to fail and our plans to fall through in order to save us. When that happens, we’ve got to sit down and say, “Okay, I'm going to ask God to tear down this lie that says I can chart my own life’s path. I’m going to grasp the truth that seeking autonomy or security apart from God only causes more pain.”

If you want to determine whether or not you’re falling into this mentality, ask yourself these questions: Are you growing in Christ? Are you finding yourself more free than you've ever been before? Do you find yourself walking in the joy of the Lord like you never have before?

We will find true peace and freedom when we embrace the truth of “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:8-9).

What Crosses the Oceans

Claude Houde

In 1942, Navy Signalman 3rd Class Elgin Staples was serving on the USS Astoria as they supported the landings that were being made on Guadalcanal. They fought well into the night. A brilliant beam cut across the water, and a Japanese cruiser’s spotlight illuminated Staples and his crewmates. The fight was on. At approximately 2 a.m. on August 9th, one of Astoria's turrets was hit and exploded, flinging Staples and many others overboard. More than 200 men aboard died. Badly injured by shrapnel in one leg, Staples only managed to stay afloat thanks to his inflatable life belt.

In the early morning, after long hours of treading the Pacific’s dark waters, Staples was rescued. He began examining the life belt that had helped to save his life and realized with surprise that it had been manufactured by the Firestone plant in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He also noticed an unusual set of numbers stamped on the belt.

He returned home and was telling his mother about the whole incident. She was particularly interested because she worked at the plant. Staples grabbed his belt to show her. In a later interview, he said, “She leaned forward and taking the rubber belt in her hands, she read the label. She had just heard the story and knew that in the darkness of that terrible night, it was this one piece of rubber that had saved my life. When she looked up at me, her mouth and her eyes were open wide with surprise. ‘Son, I’m an inspector at Firestone. This is my inspector number,’ she said, her voice hardly above a whisper. We stared at each other, too stunned to speak.”

Through this beautiful true story, I would like to tell you that whatever ocean shakes your child — mental, physical, emotional or spiritual health disorder, addictions or revolt — God hears your prayers. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:16-18, ESV).

God’s arm will be able to reach your child wherever they are today. Don't stop praying, believing and hoping. Your prayers cross even oceans.

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.