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Devotions

The Power of God’s Glory

John Bailey

What changes the world is beholding the glory of God. In scripture, there are a few people who had really intimate revelations of God’s glory. I know that sounds mystical, but it’s not really. Sometimes, beholding God’s glory can be so natural. The Bible shows us this with both people who are actively seeking God and others who aren’t.

When Moses was walking in the desert, he wasn’t saying, “God, I want to see a sign from you!” A burning bush appears anyway, and he has this great revelation from God. Now Caleb and Joshua were seeking God, and they were the only ones to survive the entire desert wanderings and go into the Promised Land. Jesus sought out the apostles who were just going about their daily lives; many people came looking for Jesus because they’d heard rumors about God’s authority in him.

One of my favorite stories is the woman at the well. She absolutely was not seeking Jesus. The woman at the well was born into sin and living in sin, and her life was broken, but Jesus doesn’t say to her, “Well, if you could just keep the law, I’ll work in your life.” Instead, when you read that story, it’s as if Jesus was saying, “Do you see who I am? If you ask me, I will give you living water.” She has this revelation, unsought for, of God’s heart, and she becomes the first missionary in the New Testament.

What you see over and over in scripture is that when people have these intimate moments of seeing the glory of God, there’s a great work that the Lord does in them and through their lives. Moses took the children of Israel out of bondage. Joshua and Caleb took Israel into the Promise Land. The woman at the well brought her town to see Christ. The apostles took the gospel to the known world.

If you ever feel like “I just don’t have a great capacity; I’m too flawed”, one thing that is consistent in scripture is this: God uses a lot of broken people. Every one of us has our weaknesses, but we also have the giftings that God has given us. As we behold God’s glory, as we walk with the Lord, he will bring those gifts into their full use and change the world around us.

The Joy and Pain of God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Many commentators call Jeremiah the weeping prophet, and that’s certainly true of him, but this man also brought us the most joyous promise in the Old Testament. Through him, God gave his people this incredible assurance, “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from me” (Jeremiah 32:40, NKJV).

Now, that’s good news. The prophecy Jeremiah gives is full of mercy, grace, joy, peace and goodness. The personal history behind each of Jeremiah’s words here, though, includes a brokenness far beyond the capacity of any human being.

Jeremiah wrote, “O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because you have heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war” (Jeremiah 4:19) and “Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9:1).

The prophet was weeping with holy tears that weren’t his own. Indeed, he actually heard God speak of his own broken heart. First, the Lord warned Jeremiah that he was going to send judgment on Israel. Then he told the prophet, “I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains, and for the dwelling places of the wilderness a lamentation” (Jeremiah 9:10). God himself was weeping over the judgment to come upon his people, and Jeremiah shared in that lament.

What happens when we share God’s burden of weeping? The Lord shares with us in turn his very mind and thoughts. Jeremiah testified of this. He was given a discerning knowledge of his times that enabled him to see what was coming. “For the Lord of hosts, who planted you, has pronounced doom against you… Now the Lord gave me knowledge of it, and I know it; for you showed me their doings” (Jeremiah 11:17-18).  Any broken, Word-saturated saint will be given a discerning sense of the times but also a joyous recognition of God’s promises.

Precious men of God are privileged to share in the feelings, the joy and pains of the eternal heart of God.

How the Spirit Brings Joy

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The Holy Spirit drives out all fear from us — fear of failing beyond redemption, of being cut off from God, of losing the presence of the Holy Spirit — by implanting his joy in us. We are to go forth rejoicing as David did, because God has assured us that we will prevail.

So few Christians have this joy and exceeding gladness. Multitudes never know rest of soul or the peace of Christ’s presence. They walk around as if in mourning, picturing themselves under the thumb of God’s wrath rather than under his protective wings. They see him as a harsh taskmaster, always ready to bring a whip down on their backs. They live unhappily with little hope, more dead than alive.

In God’s eyes, our problem is trust. Jesus settled our sin problem once and for all at Calvary. He doesn’t constantly harp on us, “This time you’ve crossed the line.” His attitude toward us is just the opposite. His Spirit is constantly wooing us, reminding us of the Father’s loving-kindness even in the midst of our failures.

When we become focused on our sin, we lose all sight of what God wants most: “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV). This verse says it all. Our God is a rewarder, and he’s so anxious to shower us with his loving-kindness that he blesses us way ahead of schedule.

This is the concept our heavenly Father longs for us to have of him. He cherishes those who trust in him, as scripture proclaims, “Now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).

The Lord says, “I want to assure my children that my Son’s cleansing blood has covered them, and I have prepared a place for them.” His Spirit in us whispers this promise to our hearts and fills us with joy.

An Overcoming Love from Heaven

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“Thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head” (Psalm 21:3, KJV). At first glance, this verse by David is a bit puzzling. The word ‘prevent’ is usually associated with a hindrance, yet the biblical word for “prevent” signifies a completely different meaning. It means “to anticipate, to precede, to foresee and fulfill in advance, to pay a debt before it is due.” Furthermore, in almost every instance, it implies something of pleasure.

Isaiah gives us a glimpse of this kind of pleasure. It comes from God anticipating a need and fulfilling it ahead of time. “It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24, NKJV).

This verse provides us with an incredible picture of our Lord’s love for us. Evidently, he is so anxious to bless us, so ready to fulfill his loving-kindness in our lives, that he can’t even wait for us to tell him our needs. So he jumps in and performs acts of mercy, grace and love toward us. That is a supreme pleasure to him.

David was essentially saying in Psalm 21, “Lord, you pour out blessings and loving kindness on me before I can even ask. You offer more than I could even conceive of asking.” David is referring to some awesome work that God performed for him in the spiritual realm. It’s something that gave David victory over his enemies, answers to prayer, overcoming power and unspeakable joy. Once David poured out his heart, he discovered that God had already made provision to defeat his enemies.

David laid hold of these promises, and the first thing he did was to take his eyes off the oncoming enemy. Now he was no longer weeping about being in trouble, trying to grasp why the struggle had come. Instead, he basked in the revelation of God’s loving kindness: “He also brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19).

This is what God intends for every one of his children when the enemy comes upon us like a flood. The Lord “prevents” us with his love. In other words, he says to us, “You may be wounded, but I have already made you victorious.”

Are You a Merciful Person?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Are you a merciful person? Most of us would answer, “I think I am merciful. I feel the pain of my hurting brothers and sisters in Christ, and I try to help them. I do my best to assist my neighbors in need. When people hurt me, I forgive them and don’t hold a grudge.”

I believe all true Christians have a good measure of mercy for the lost and hurting. I thank God for that. The sad truth, though, is that God’s Word exposes in many of us deep roots of bias. There are many people to whom large numbers of Christians limit God’s mercy. I think of prostitutes who work in godless brothels, people dying by the thousands with AIDS, homosexuals who endure endless heartaches and mental anguish in the trials of their lives and people who drink themselves into oblivion to try to cover their pain.

From what I read in scripture, my Savior would never turn down the desperate cry of a prostitute, homosexual, drug addict or alcoholic who has hit rock bottom. His mercies are unlimited; there is no end to them. The Bible clearly states, “Great are your tender mercies, O Lord; revive me according to your judgments” (Psalm 119:156, NKJV) and “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:8-9) as well as many other passages that talk of God’s mercy.

Therefore, as his church — Christ’s representative body on the earth — we cannot cut off anyone who cries out for mercy and deliverance.

We may not even be aware of these inner biases until suddenly they’re in our face, confronting us with the truth about our hearts. As you consider this in your own life, I ask you again, are you a merciful person, tender and loving? Ask those around you — your family, coworkers, neighbors, friends of a different color — and see how they respond.

Christ promised his followers, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:6-8). Let us make those blessings ours and show God’s mercy to the world.