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Devotions

Fragile Earthen Vessels

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

One of the most encouraging scriptures in the Bible is “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, NKJV).

Paul goes on to describe those earthen vessels as dying men, troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down. Even though they never gave into despair, those men being used by God were constantly groaning under the burden of their bodies, waiting anxiously to be clothed with new ones.

God mocks man’s power. He laughs at our egotistical efforts at being good. He never uses the high and mighty. Instead he uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise. “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Wow! Does that ever describe me. Weak, foolish and despised thing. A thing not very noble, smart or mighty. What insanity to think God could use such creatures! Yet that is his perfect plan and the greatest mystery on earth.

God has determined to accomplish his goal here on earth through men with many weaknesses. Abraham had weaknesses: He lied, and he almost turned his wife into an adulteress, but Abraham “…believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3). God calls us in our weaknesses, even when he knows we’ll do it wrong. He puts his priceless treasure in these earthen vessels of ours because he delights in doing the impossible with nothing.

Emotions Used for Good or Evil

Gary Wilkerson

We were created to be emotional beings. We weren't created with just a brain. We were made to have fully rounded emotions. Everything we have that is created by God is, or rather was, inherently good. So our emotions were put into us by God, but they have been corrupted in some ways by the fall.

Part of the challenge is figuring out when our feelings are sinful and when they aren’t. It’s tempting with some feelings to say, “Oh, all of this type of emotion is bad.” One example would be jealousy. We look at that and think, “Don't ever be jealous”, but God is jealous. God told the people of Israel, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6, ESV).

You know, if a man is not in some ways jealous over his wife, that’s a problem. If she's spending too much time with another man and they're starting to connect in ways that is improper, the husband should be jealous. He should go in and correct that unrighteous situation. So our emotions can come from a godly place, but they can be infected by sin or used by the enemy.

There is a proper time for our emotions. We’re told that there’s “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). The Bible also teaches us how to how to process our feelings when it says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

How do I enter God’s courts with praise, holiness and honesty in my emotions? We should ask the Spirit to guide us and give us wisdom so our emotions glorify God.

All You Need Is Love?

Claude Houde

On June 25, 1967, the Beatles sang the song “All You Need Is Love” for the first time on television in a live broadcast. It’s estimated that between 400 and 700 million people heard this ode to love and peace that day. Soon, thanks to the global success of the song, the American hippie movement adopted it as their official anthem. Protestors sang it during the countless demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

From cover to cover, the Bible also speaks of love, from the infinite love of God to Christ who commands that we love our neighbors. Love is mentioned more than 300 times in the Bible: 131 times in the Old Testament and 179 times in the New Testament. The Bible is God's love letter to mankind.

Yet it is written in Proverbs, “Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established” (Proverbs 24:3, NKJV). Love is fundamental in relationships, but it’s not sufficient on its own. We love, but we need more. To truly strengthen our families and friendships, we need the wisdom of God.

I like this parallel that Solomon draws between the project of strengthening relationships and that of building a house. It is true that our loved ones are an extraordinary blessing, but we must build our connections one brick at a time, one day at a time. To undertake and succeed in this project, we need the advice, direction and wisdom of God and his Word. Because if love rhymes with happiness and blessing, it can also mean hurt and brokenness. Whatever your family or friend situation, I encourage you to read, study, understand and apply the Word of God. You will draw from it divine resources, clear directions, liberating truths, courage and essential knowledge.

Whether you are a single mom or a senior, God has a Word for you today. Whether you are single or in a relationship, whether you are a traditional, blended, immigrant or multicultural family, God has a direction for you. He has a hope to whisper to couples who are suffering from infertility or who are in marital distress. God wants to breathe new courage into your relationships. Do not deprive yourself of the Word that God has for you today.

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.

The Hermit Crab’s Life

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

King David, the author of so many psalms, grew weary of his struggles. He was so tired in soul, so embattled and beset by troubles, that all he wanted was to escape to a place of peace and safety. “My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. …So I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest. … I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.’” (Psalm 55:4-8, NKJV).

A lesson from nature reveals what happens when we trade the good fight for an easier way and walk away from our struggle. I recently read a biologist’s study on crabs, creatures that live in a rough, dangerous environment among jagged rocks. Crabs are dashed about daily by waves and attacked on every side by creatures from deeper waters. They battle continually to protect themselves, and over time they develop a strong shell and powerful instincts for survival.

Amazingly, some in the crab family give up the struggle for life. Searching for a safe haven, they take up residence in the cast-off shells of other ocean creatures. These crabs are known as hermit crabs. Settling for safety, they retreat from the battle and escape into secondhand houses that are ready-made.

Hermit crabs’ “safe houses” prove to be costly and ruinous. Through their lack of struggle, crucial parts of their bodies deteriorate. Even their organs wither due to lack of use. Over time the hermit crab loses all power of motion, as well as vital parts needed for escape. These limbs simply fall off, leaving the crab out of danger but useless to do anything except exist.

Meanwhile, crabs that continued the struggle grow and flourish. Their five pairs of legs become meaty and strong from resisting the powerful tides. They learn to escape from their predators by skillfully hiding among rock formations.

This law of nature also illustrates the law of the Spirit. As believers, we get tossed and pounded by wave after wave of difficulties. We face vicious predators in Satan’s principalities and powers. As we fight on, we grow stronger. We come to recognize the devil’s wiles when he employs them against us. We discover our true refuge, the “cleft in the rock,” by trusting in Jesus. Only then are we truly safe in the midst of our battle.

Are You among the 7,000?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

We know that all through the Bible, the number seven is associated with God’s eternal purpose. Therefore, I believe that when God said to one of his prophets, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18, NKJV), he was simply denoting everyone who made up his remnant. The people he sets aside for himself could number 70 or 7 million. What matters is that they are wholly given to him.

So, what are the characteristics of this remnant? Here are three defining marks.

  • An unchangeable commitment to cling to the Lord. Every remnant believer has made a single-minded choice to swim against the tide of evil. At some point, you have to make a commitment, declaring, “I don’t care what others say or do. I am the Lord’s. I won’t give in to the wicked spirit of this age.”

  • A willingness to identify with the poor. While society’s trend is to associate with the rich and successful, you align yourself with the suffering class. Scripture clearly states, “Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18)

  • A reliance on hope. The 7,000 mentioned in 1 Kings endured because of their hope in a coming day of deliverance. Likewise, the church’s blessed hope is the soon return of Jesus. With one trumpet blast, all wickedness will end. Our Lord will do away with all killing of babies, all blatant perversions and all ethnic genocide.

Do these three marks characterize you as a part of God’s holy remnant? If so, God boasts of you, “This one has given his heart to me. He is focused on me. He is wholly mine!”

We are to evangelize, minister and work while it is still day. We are also to live in the hope that King Jesus is coming and that he’s bringing a new world with him. One day, he will rule from his eternal throne. This is the great hope of the 7,000.