Precious Jewels

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Listen to this prophesy from Isaiah.
“O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
Your gates of crystal,
And all your walls of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.
In righteousness you shall be established;
You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
And from terror, for it shall not come near you”
(Isaiah 54:11-14, NKJV).

What an amazing prophecy. The “colorful gems” mentioned in verse 11 are jewels. If you know much about jewels, you know that a diamond was once a piece of coal that has been worked on for years by the elements. God’s Word is telling us, “Your afflictions are meant to change you into something beautiful, something precious to me.”

The “pinnacles [windows] of rubies [agates]” mentioned here are a type of quartz made transparent by fire. The windows aspect has to do with eyes or vision. God is saying that trusting him through your afflictions will give you clear vision and discernment. It will allow you to see into the unseen with crystal clarity.

Many scholars believe the phrase “gates of crystal” reads more accurately as “gates of pearl.” Pearls are formed from a grain of sand in the belly of an oyster. The grain grates and irritates the oyster until the animal injected fluid around it, and it becomes a pearl. Think of all the irritating friction in your life. What is God doing? He is making a pearl. Every pearl is a memento of suffering. 

I believe Isaiah is talking about the beauty of Jesus Christ in this passage. In other words, when affliction is allowed to accomplish its work, it brings about a people who shine forth the beauty of Christ’s character. It makes us more and more like Jesus.

Your Deliverance Is at Hand

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God had given Moses and Israel ironclad promises of deliverance, so Moses went to the people with the good news. He performed signs for them, and scripture says they believed. “Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. And Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. Then he did signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel and that he had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped” (Exodus 4:29-31, NKJV).

It was a time of hope and rejoicing. Everyone cried, “Hallelujah! We are finally free. God has heard our cry, and our bondage is over. Praise to him!”

What happened next? Things only got worse. Israel’s bondage became absolutely unbearable. They were given no straw for making bricks, and they endured heavy beatings from their taskmasters. Pharaoh raged at Israel’s leaders, “Get out of my sight. Back to work.”

Moses could not believe this terrible turn of events. He cried out, “Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Why is it you have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have you delivered your people at all” (Exodus 5:22-23).

You must understand that the devil knew Israel’s deliverance was right at the door, so do you think he was going to sit by and not make one last attempt to wear out God’s people? The worsening of Israel’s condition wasn’t God’s doing. Rather, it was Satan rushing about madly, hurrying his work before the hour of deliverance came.

Likewise, whenever the devil sees you driven to your knees, he knows your deliverance is at hand, and he is not going to sit by in those final moments before victory comes. Instead, he will intensify your temptations. He will enflame people against you and send lying spirits to falsely accuse you. He will lie to you that God has taken his Holy Spirit from you, that you are paying for past sins. He will try to flood you with all kinds of guilt and condemnation.

If you are praying but things are only getting worse, start rejoicing because your deliverance is at hand!

God Hears Our Cries

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Afflictions teach us to bend our knees, to cry out to the Lord in all our problems and troubles.

“I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (Psalm 119:75, NKJV). David is saying, “Lord, I know why you afflicted me. You saw that when all was going well, I went astray, becoming careless, so you allowed trouble to come upon me. You knew it would drive me to my knees and bring me back to brokenness. My affliction was evidence of your faithfulness to me!”

I know many people who have had to battle awful bondages in their lives against drugs, alcohol, cigarettes; and temptation rages every day. I say to all such people, “God cares. He knows the misery you go through, and he alone has the power to deliver you.” 

The Lord does not constantly hover over you, saying, “You’re miserable because of what you did. You failed me, and now you’re paying the price.” No! You do not serve such a God; you serve a loving Father who feels your grief the moment you first feel it. No matter how you got into your affliction, God hurts with you, and he wants to deliver you.

You may think God is not helping you at all; but the very moment he heard your cry, he went into action. Let me prove it to you. “So God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” (Exodus 2:24-25). The word acknowledged here means “He began to act.” God heard their cry and began taking action on their behalf.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17). Whenever you fall on your knees, God immediately goes to work on your behalf.

The First and the Last

Gary Wilkerson

Jesus told a parable that makes a lot of people upset to this day. He described a vineyard owner who was hiring people throughout the day, but here’s the catch: the owner gave the people he hired at the end of the day the same wages as those who worked all day (see Matthew 20:1-16). We get upset reading this story. Why? Because it isn’t fair.

The story ends with Jesus saying, “‘Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:15-16, ESV). We really struggle with this kingdom principle. We feel like we deserve more than other people — Most of us wouldn’t say we’re the best, but we all feel better than at least a few other people out there — because we’re smarter than them or work harder or whatever.

Then God turns around and blesses someone who isn’t “as good” as us. We get angry with God. We feel like we have to fight for blessings.

Look at the story of Jacob and Esau. As they were being born, Jacob grabbed his older brother’s heel. Even then he was wrestling for a double portion by pulling his brother down. Think about the promise God had given Jacob’s mother, though. “Two nations are in your womb…the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23). If Jacob had succeeded, he would’ve served Esau. Have you ever thought about that?

That’s what happens to us when we try to elbow our way to the front. When we wrestle our way into a position of power and authority over others, we end up hurting ourselves.  

You’ve probably heard the parable of the prodigal. The younger son wasted all of his inheritance then came back, and his father showered blessings on him. The older brother got mad because it isn’t fair. What did the father tell him? “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours” (Luke 15:31). God is telling us, “Just trust me. I have blessings for the younger brother, the lesser ones; but older brothers, I have enough blessings for you too.” God has more to give to us than we even have the ability to receive.

The Simple Gospel of Christ

Joshua West

The letter of 1 John was written to a group of believers who found themselves in a difficult climate. As Christianity spread, it was met with opposition from a religious culture that was very inclusive. The Greco-Roman world was ‘open’ to many different philosophies and had a pantheistic point of view where all beliefs and ideas could be meshed together.

Christianity is monotheistic and very exclusive. Now, exclusive doesn’t mean you aren’t welcome because of your ethnic background or history. No, not at all. Rather, Christianity makes a declaration that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that the revelation we receive in scripture is all we need for a life in God. It’s a very plain and simple declaration, and it can’t be merged with any other religion. Either it’s completely true, or it’s utterly false. 

Those in the early church who had come to saving faith in Christ had the temptation to try to merge their new beliefs with their culture’s idols. John was writing and speaking out strongly against those who were preaching false messages that the tenets of Christianity could be blended with the culture’s beliefs. He made this point through the staggering juxtaposition between light and darkness. 

If you’re in a dark room and someone lights a match, that light is undeniable. It will never be confused with the darkness. 

What Christianity claims cannot be confused or mixed with anything else in the world. 

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7, ESV). 

We brought sin on ourselves, but we will one day be resurrected into a restored world because of what Jesus did on the cross. This is the great hope we have in Christ and his message. There is no other way. 

Joshua West serves as the Church Leadership Network Director at World Challenge helping equip and empower pastors all over the world. Joshua’s desire is to raise up ministers who will correctly and boldly preach the word with passion and integrity. The point of all his work and writings is to preach the gospel, glorify God and to teach sound doctrine.