Remembering the Lord’s Great Works

Claude Houde

Before we pursue new ‘revelations’ or search for new direction for our lives, we must first remember what God has already done for us. I believe this is one of the most powerful tools used by the Holy Spirit to inspire the pen of Paul the apostle and to strengthen his soul as a prisoner. There, isolated at the bottom of his gloomy and unsanitary Roman cell, in brutal living conditions, everything seems to have forced Paul to compose the first lines of his ‘epistle of potential’ by speaking about his pain.

Everything seemingly should have pushed him to first share the difficulties he was going through, his own doubts or even his bitterness toward those who had abandoned him. However, Paul began his letter by giving thanks to God and speaking of his joy. How? What is his secret?

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5, ESV).

Inspired and encouraged by the Spirit of God, Paul made a decision to show courageous and radical faith, which transcended all the circumstances of injustice that could have suffocated him and reduced him to horror and frustration over his suffering as a prisoner.

This dynamic of faith must become the routine first step in our journey toward the discovery of what God wants to cultivate in us. Paul remembered everything God had already done for him. He recalled the beginning of the extraordinary work in Philippi under his ministry, ten years previously. By choosing to act in this way, Paul renewed his soul and remembered once more the unchanging faithfulness of God.

God was faithful yesterday, and he will be faithful again today and tomorrow. It is a daily and renewed decision that can release within us an unsuspected potential for peace and joy.

We must daily develop this ability to encourage our soul and strengthen our spirit by reviewing the goodness of God. We do this by remembering his faithfulness, love, patience, provision, power, what he has done for us, who he is, his interventions, protection, sovereignty and ability to transform grief into joy. O my soul, bless the Lord and remember all his benefits!

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.

Tame Your Tongue

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8, NKJV). In his epistle, James is talking about the tongue of a believer. He is issuing a call to the church to gain control of their tongues before they are destroyed by them. You may ask, “How serious is this matter? Can an ‘unruly tongue’ really be that sinful?”

A loose tongue renders our religion worthless! It can make your spiritual activity useless in God’s eyes. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26).

The reference here to those “among you” means people in the church, not drug addicts or street people but those members of the body of Christ who appear pious and spiritual. They are active in the work of the Lord, but their tongues are out of control. James is zeroing in on those who seem to be holy, gentle and nice yet who move about the church, their job or family with acid tongues, telling tidbits of gossip or listening to it with a willing ear. They murmur and complain, and God says their religion is in vain.

Beloved, I do not want to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and hear him say, “David, you did mighty works in my name. Yes, you preached to countless thousands and won many to the kingdom. However, it was all for nothing! Many uplifting words came out of your mouth, but there were also bitter, envious words. You took my warnings on this matter of the tongue too lightly.”

You may speculate, “Surely God isn’t so unloving that he would discount my spirituality because I said something uncharitable.” I am speaking here of Christians who speak against God’s people without blinking an eye. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Called into the Fellowship

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Paul the apostle wrote, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9, NKJV). This single verse opens us up to a truth that can see us through every storm of life. Here is a simple truth that can keep our hearts at rest when all things around us are shaken. Here is the Word of God that can keep us from the fear that now grips the whole world.

The truth is that we learn God’s faithfulness by answering our calling to stay in fellowship with Jesus.

We are not called to trust our own intellect. We are not called to trust in flesh or men or anything that is of this world. Jesus calls to us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Christ alone is our peace, confidence and contentment. I have experienced such great contentment when I see by faith my Lord in glory loving me, calling me into his sweet presence, telling me he is all-sufficient. I do not have to beg, plead or fear. The more I keep looking unto Jesus in all things, the more I know he is pleased, because without faith it is impossible to please him.

Sadly, many who truly love Jesus often panic in times of crisis, and they worry and fret. They spend time trying to figure out ways to escape or endure their trial. They do not heed his call to “come and dine” with him. I am not talking about spending one hour or so each day in prayer, I am talking about focusing on him all through the day. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). This is simple, quiet conversation, just talking to him, becoming more acquainted with him, so that in crisis times we need not rush in consternation to a prayer closet and wail out for help like a stranger.

He hears all cries, loud and soft, and he will always answer us in his faithfulness.

Standing on Dry Ground

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God insists there must be “dry ground” on our way through the Red Sea. He told Israel, “[You] shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea” (Exodus 14:16, NKJV). Amazingly, God uses this phrase four times, telling his people, “You will go over on dry ground.”

We see this phrase again when Israel was poised to enter Canaan. They crossed over Jordan on dry ground on their way into the Promised Land.

Simply put, dry ground is a path. If you are on it, you are going somewhere. You are not losing ground or going backward; your dry ground is the Lord’s plan, his work in your life, his miracles to perform. You are moving toward a revelation, a new victory in Christ, toward something greater.

Scripture proves this. Note where Pharaoh and his army lost their battle: on God-given dry ground that was suddenly flooded by the sea. Dry ground is the exact place where the devil will come after you. He wants to attack you when you are at your weakest, yet it is on this same dry ground that the Lord removes the “chariot wheels” from Satan’s principalities and powers. “The waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained” (Exodus 14:28).

God is telling us, in essence, “I want you to learn to move on in faith, not according to a vision or a voice, but when you are in the midst of a dry spell. I want you to be confident that when you cannot hear my voice or see ahead, when you are on dry ground, I am leading you somewhere.”

The Lord promises that he will turn our dry ground into springs of fresh water. “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongues fail for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them…. I will open rivers in desolate places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isaiah 41:17-18).

Dear saint, are you dry? God is telling you, “Soon you will see a harvest. Where there once was dry ground, life will spring up at your feet. I have created it! Stand still and see what I will do for you on dry ground.”

God Never Gives Up

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?" (Luke 15:4, NKJV). Jesus is speaking here of a sheep that had been in the fold. Clearly, this represents a member of Christ’s flock, one who has been well fed and led by a loving shepherd. Nevertheless, this sheep has gotten lost, so the shepherd has gone out looking for it.

Note what Jesus says about the shepherd here: “He goes after the one that is lost until he finds it.” God never gives up on anyone who belongs to him and has gone astray. Instead, he goes out to find that sheep, embraces it and brings it back into the fold.

Simply put, you can go so far into sin that you come to very brink of hell, and he will still pursue you. David testified, “If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there” (Psalm 139:8).

We have all heard the expression “hell on earth.” That is what life is like for those who run from God. Their bed in hell is an awful condition. It means to be captivated by sin, drifting so far from the Lord that you eventually fall into a lifeless slumber. This slumber is accompanied by a nagging fear that whispers, “You are going deeper and deeper into hell. You may not ever get back to God.”

Christ’s message to us is “You may have made your bed in hell, but you are not too deep in sin for me to reach you.” We are told specifically by Christ in the parable of the lost sheep, “When the shepherd finds the lost, injured sheep, he carries the wounded creature into his house. when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:6-7).