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Devotions

Remembering the Lord’s Work

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

How quickly we forget God’s great deliverances in our lives. How easily we take for granted the miracles he performed in our lives. The Bible tells us over and over, “Remember your deliverances.”

We’re so like the disciples. They didn’t understand Christ’s miracles when he supernaturally fed thousands with just a few loaves and fishes. Jesus performed this miracle twice, feeding 5000 people one time and 4000 the next. A few days later, Jesus was warning the disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees. They thought he said this because they’d forgotten to bring bread for their journey. Christ answered them, “Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?” (Matthew 16:9-10, NKJV).

According to Mark, Christ was overwhelmed by how quickly his disciples had forgotten. Jesus said, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?” (Mark 8:17-18).

What do these passages tell us? It’s clear that none of the disciples stopped to consider what was happening as those miraculous feedings took place. Try to picture these men walking among the crowds carrying their baskets, passing out loaves and fishes that multiplied miraculously before their eyes. You’d think those disciples would have fallen on their knees crying, “How is this possible? It’s simply awesome. It’s totally beyond human explanation. Oh, Jesus, you truly are Lord.” I imagine them urging the people they served, “Here, feast on miracle food. Jesus has provided it.”

The disciples saw these miracles with their own eyes, but somehow the significance didn’t register with them. Likewise, you and I forget God’s miracles in our lives. Yesterday’s deliverances are quickly forgotten amid the crises of today. However, consider Moses’ exhortation to Israel after the miracle of the Red Sea: “Moses said to the people: ‘Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt…for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place.’” (Exodus 13:3).

May we join the psalmist in saying, “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all your work, and talk of your deeds” (Psalm 77:11-12).

A Seat for You in Heaven

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The parable of the prodigal provides a powerful illustration of the acceptance that comes when we’re given a heavenly position in Christ. You know the story. A young man took his inheritance from his father and squandered it on sinful living. Once the son had became completely bankrupt morally, emotionally and physically, he thought of his father. He was convinced he’d lost all favor with him.

Scripture tells us that this broken young man was full of grief over his sin and cried out, “I’m unworthy. I’ve sinned against heaven.” This represents those who come to repentance through godly sorrow.

The prodigal told himself, “I will arise and go to my father” (Luke 15:18). He was exercising his blessing of access. Are you getting the picture? This young man turned from his sin, left the world behind and accessed the open door his father had promised him. He was walking in repentance.

What happened to the Prodigal Son? “When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). What a beautiful scene! The sinful son was forgiven, embraced and loved by his father with no wrath or condemnation whatsoever. When he received his father’s kiss, he knew he was accepted.

A great blessing becomes ours when we’re made to sit in heavenly places. What is this blessing? It’s the privilege of acceptance, as Paul wrote, “He made us accepted in the beloved [Christ]” (Ephesians 1:6, NKJV). The Greek word for “accepted” means highly favored. That’s different from the English usage, which can be interpreted to mean “received as adequate.” This signifies something that can be endured with an attitude of “I can live with it.”

That’s not the case with Paul’s use of the word. His use of “accepted” translates as, “God has highly favored us because of our place in Christ.” Because God accepted Christ’s sacrifice, he now sees only one corporate man: Christ and those who are bound to him by faith. Our flesh has died in God’s eyes. How? Jesus did away with our old nature at the Cross. Now when God looks at us, he sees only Christ. In turn, we need to learn to see ourselves as God does. That means not focusing solely on our sins and weaknesses but on the victory that Christ won for us.

The True Battle We Face

Gary Wilkerson

Put yourself in Paul’s shoes for just a minute. Somebody arrives to give you a report; maybe it's Timothy or Titus. Paul asks, “What do the people of Corinth think of me anyway?” They tell him, “They think your letters are weighty.” Maybe Paul thinks, “Wow, that's cool. They kind of like me.” The review doesn’t stop there, unfortunately. Apparently, people in the Corinth church were saying, “‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.’” (2 Corinthians 10:10, ESV). Basically, they were saying that his letters were forceful, but he was unimpressive in person, and his speaking amounted to nothing.

How would you like to have your livelihood, your whole life, be spoken about that way? You're loving God, working in your ministry and serving others; then the report about you is “You're not very impressive.”

Paul had the opportunity to let that lie get into his soul. He could have given up and said, “Wow, I've been working so hard and trying to bless these people, and I guess I just don't have what it takes.” Or he could’ve gone the other direction and said, “You know what? I refuse to believe that lie. When I come to you, I'm going to make sure you see how bold and how impressive I can be. I'm going to prove to you!”

It's tempting to have one of those two responses. We either give up and abandon God’s call, or we fight back. The second one sometimes feels more holy, but what are we really doing then? We’re taking on human anger, trying to resolve Satan’s lie with our own strength.

Paul didn’t do either. He understood the truth, that he was not called to fight back in the flesh. He wrote, “’Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18). Paul knew that trying to commend himself or fix things in his own strength would never work. He understood the reality of our struggles in life. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).

How to Recognize the Born Again

Jim Cymbala

When a baby is born, the baby's usually screaming and crying. A newborn wants the mother's milk, and if it's uncomfortable, it'll cry even louder. These are not signs of trouble. The nurses don't worry when the baby is hungry, crying, wants to be cleaned or wants mom. Those are signs of health. If the baby is not screaming, not hungry, doesn't want his mother and just lays there quietly, they call in doctors and experts because something's wrong.

No one has to teach a newborn to cry for food. No one teaches a baby to want the mother. That's the instinct of life.

The same holds true spiritually. When you're born again, your soul begins to hunger for the Word of God. No one has to teach you to long for the Lord. This beautiful happening was described in the early church. “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42, ESV). Why? Because the new life inside of them created a hunger and thirst for God’s presence and instruction.

There's the first snapshot of the church. They were truly born again. How do we know that? How do we know in general when people are born again? People come to the church; they may even come to the altar, but how do you know when they're really converted? Well, you'll know them by their fruits. There is a new instinct in these believers; they want to hear the Word of Christ.

The problem today is that instead of the church converting the culture, the culture is converting the church. This is why some churches have secular music on before services. People try to rationalize it by saying, "You got to meet people where they are.” Even dubious language is used by ministers under the justification of "Well, you got to keep it real and use curse words.”

God has been building his church for 2000 years, and no one's ever had to do those things to reach the lost and ignite this hunger for God in people’s souls. All we need is for the gospel to be delivered by people who believe in that message and who carry the love of Christ for the lost in their heart. The simple gospel spoken with the power of the Holy Spirit is enough to change any life. The Spirit awakens a hunger in the hearts of every believer.

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.

Firmly Setting Our Faith

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I am convinced people lose hope because they’ve first lost faith. They have heard many sermons and read many books, but they see examples all around of shipwrecked faith. Christians who once espoused the gospel are now giving up their trust in God. Where do people turn for hope? The Spirit once said to me, “You have to anchor your faith. Set your heart to trust God in everything, at all times.”

To “set” our faith means to “stabilize, set down roots, lay a foundation.” Scripture says it is within our power to do this. James writes, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7, NKJV). In this passage, the Lord lays the whole responsibility on the believer.

God is telling us, in essence, “When the world looks at my people in these days of trembling and anxiety, they have to be able to see faith. While everything is shaking, faith is what must remain solid and stable. So anchor your faith. Christian, take a fixed position. Never give up that position.”

I’m convinced that the world doesn’t need more sermons on faith. They need to see an illustration, the life of a man or woman who’s living out their faith before the world. They need to see servants of God go through the same calamities they’re facing and not be shaken. David described this when he spoke of “those who trust in you (the Lord) in the presence of the sons of men” (Psalm 31:19). He was talking about believers whose strong trust in Christ is a beam of hope to those in darkness.

When you determine to set your faith on Christ, you are going to be severely tested. Once, when I was in the process of laying my burdens on the Lord and setting an enduring faith, I received a phone call with news that shook me. For a moment, a flood of fear swept over me. Then the Holy Spirit gently whispered, “Don’t give up your faith. I’ve got everything under control. Just stand steadfast.” I will never forget the peace that flooded through me at that moment. By day’s end, my heart was full of joy.