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Devotions

The Lord’s Chastening Love

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Because God loves you, he will work to cleanse you. You may feel God’s arrows in your soul because of your sins, but you can call upon his chastening love. You will not feel his wrath as the heathen do. The Lord’s rod of discipline will be applied by a loving hand.

Perhaps your suffering comes from making wrong decisions. How many women are suffering because they married men whom God warned them not to marry? How many children are breaking their parents’ hearts? Many times this happens because of the parents’ own past years of sin, neglect and compromise. When you have arrived at this lowest point, you can seek the Lord in repentance and faith.

When you cry out to God, he pours his strength into you. “In the day when I cried out, you answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul… Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me; you will stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; your mercy, O Lord, endures forever” (Psalm 138:3, 7–8, NKJV).

Christians struggle most to accept the suffering of the righteous. Up to the time of Christ, the Jews associated prosperity and good health with godliness. They believed that wealth and health were because God was pleased with you. Likewise, there is an erroneous doctrine today that says, “If you are in agreement with God, you will never suffer! Just call out to God, and he will come running and solve everything immediately.”

This is not the gospel. The heroes listed in the Hall of Faith all walked closely with God; they still suffered stoning, mocking, torture and violent deaths (see Hebrews 11: 36–38). God wants to plant something in our hearts through our trials.

The Lord wants us to be able to say, “Lord Jesus, you’re my Protector. I believe you rule over the events of my life. If anything happens to me, it’s only because you allowed it. Help me understand the lesson you want me to learn. I trust that you may have some prepared glory and eternal purpose in this that my finite mind doesn’t understand. Either way, I’ll say, ‘Jesus, whether I live or die, I am yours!’”

Letting God Search Our Hearts

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Do you know it is possible to walk before the Lord with a perfect heart?

To come to grips with the idea of perfection, we first must understand that perfection does not mean a sinless, flawless existence. No, perfection in the Lord’s eyes means something entirely different. It means completeness, maturity.

If you are hungering for Jesus, you may already be trying to obey this command of the Lord. It is possible, or God would not have given us such a call. Having a perfect heart has been part of the life of faith from the time God first spoke to Abraham. “I am Almighty God; walk before me, and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1, NKJV).

The Hebrew and Greek meanings of perfection include “uprightness, having neither spot nor blemish, being totally obedient.” It means to finish what has been started, to make a complete performance. John Wesley called this concept of perfection “constant obedience.” A perfect heart is a responsive heart, one that answers quickly and totally all the Lord’s call. The perfect heart cries out with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).

God does indeed search our hearts; he said as much to Jeremiah. “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10).

Those who hide a secret sin, however, do not want to be searched or convicted. The perfect heart yearns for more than security or a covering for sin. The perfect heart wants the Holy Spirit to come and search out the innermost man. A true child of God wants him to shine into their life and dig out all that is unlike Christ. They seek to be in God’s presence always, to dwell in communion with God. Communion means talking with the Lord, sharing sweet fellowship with him, seeking his face and knowing his presence.

The Lord’s heart-searching is not vindictive but redemptive. His purpose is not to catch us in sin or condemn us, but he wants to prepare us to come into his holy presence as clean pure vessels.

The Pearl of Great Price

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The gospels give us a great insight into Christ’s parables: “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable he did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: ‘I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.’” (Matthew 13:34–35, NKJV).

To many Christians today, the parables sound very simple. Many believers skim over the parables quickly. They think they see an obvious lesson and quickly move on. They dismiss a parable’s meaning as not applying to them.

According to Christ, though, each parable holds an incredible secret. There’s a hidden, kingdom truth in every parable Jesus told. That truth is discovered only by those who diligently seek for it. The Bible states clearly there are secrets of the Lord. “His secret counsel is with the upright” (Proverbs 3:32). These secrets have been unknown from the foundation of the world, but Matthew tells us they’re buried in Jesus’ parables. These hidden truths have power to truly set Christians free. Despite that, few believers are willing to pay the high cost of discovering them. Consider with me one of the Lord’s parables.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13:45–46).

Jesus is the pearl of great price. He’s of incalculable value because the merchant sells all his other possessions to gain him. Christ is the treasure chest in the field. In him, I’ve found all that I’ll ever need. No more trying to find purpose in ministry. No more looking for fulfillment in family or friends. No more searching for ways to please people.

I give up my filthy rags of self-reliance and good works. I lay aside my worn-out shoes of striving. I leave behind my sleepless nights on the streets of doubt and fear. In return, I get adopted by a King. This is what happens when you seek the pearl, the treasure, till you find him. Jesus offers you everything he is. He brings you joy, peace, purpose and holiness.

Victory Over Your Besetting Sin

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

When King David was right with the Lord and in good fellowship, none of his enemies could stand before him. When David sinned and became estranged from the Lord, his enemies grew bold and triumphed over him.

After one of his greatest victories, David’s sin of adultery immediately followed. This great man of God, basking in the glory of a great victory, began to lust after Bathsheba. He killed her husband Uriah and committed adultery with her. “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27, NKJV). The Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David. The prophet did not come to counsel David on how to handle his guilt and condemnation. Rather, Nathan got right to the heart of the matter. “You have despised the commandment of the Lord. You have done evil in the sight of the Lord. You are guilty of secret sin.”

Ultimately, David fled into the wilderness. He was a weeping, barefoot, cowardly man, shorn of his power and courage because of sin.

Sin causes Christians to become craven cowards who live in humiliating defeat. They can’t stand up with courage against sin because of the secret sin in their own lives. They excuse the sins of others because of the disobedience in their own hearts, and they can’t preach victory because they live in defeat.

I have no simple solutions. I do know there is much comfort in the Bible for those who are fighting battles between the flesh and the spirit. That said, many Christians today haven’t had the fear of God planted in their hearts. The writer of Proverbs declares, “In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil” (Proverbs 16:6). The ‘fear of God’ referred to here indicates much more than reverential awe and respect. We can’t receive the full revelation of God’s truth until his fear is deeply rooted in us. All revelation is tied to his holy fear.

I’m convinced that without the fear of God, we cannot experience lasting deliverance from sin. Embrace the holy fear of the Lord, and don’t allow sin to steal your power in the Spirit!

Leaving the World a Better Place

Gary Wilkerson

Solomon, one of the wisest men in the world, wrote, “This, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 5:16, NLT).

You can read that verse two different ways. Somebody comes into the world, but when they leave the world, they are no better off. They have not learned or grown. They have not lived a life for the benefit of others.

Paul wrote about this kind of person to Timothy. “Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, ESV). That’s a person who leaves this world no better off than when they came into it.

A second way you can look at this is when you die, you’ve not left the world a better place. Your life has not been meaningful in a significant way to change where you serve or work. Your family, friends, community and church are not worse off without you. None of us wants to live either one of these types of lives, so what’s the solution? What do we need to do to avoid having this kind of terrible epitaph on our lives?

When it comes to leaving an impact on the world, nothing changes lives more than genuine generosity. Giving is at the core of the gospel. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

A radically giving love is at the core of God’s actions. We rejected God, and he still sacrificed himself to make a way for us to know his love. If we’ve been touched by that love, we should want more than anything to introduce others to that love and mercy. I want to let other people know about that kind of hope. I want to live larger than my own little story.