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Devotions

When You Don’t Know What to Do

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Three enemy armies were closing in on Judah, and King Jehoshaphat called the nation together at Jerusalem. Something had to be done immediately. No doubt people expected him to announce plans, a decisive declaration of action, a way to wage war. Instead, Jehoshaphat stood before his people and poured his heart out to God in confession.

Jehoshaphat pointed out that God himself stopped Israel from attacking these nations when they first came into the Promise Land. “Here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of your possession which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chronicles 20:11-12, NKJV).

We are living in a time when everything is getting shaky and insecure, and almost everybody is hurting in one way or another. Hardly anybody knows what to do anymore. Our leaders don’t have the foggiest idea of what is happening to this world or to the economy. The business world is even more confused with economists arguing with each other about what is coming. Psychologists and psychiatrists are baffled by the changing forces affecting people today.

You don’t fold your hands, sitting around at ease and letting God do it all. That is not what it means to keep your eyes “fixed on the Lord.” We look to the Lord, not as people who know what to do but as people who don’t know at all what they must do. All we do know is that he is the King who sits on the flood. He is Lord of all, and we know that even if the world falls apart, he is a rock of certainty. As scripture says, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Our eyes are fixed on a risen Lord. If we do not know what to do, our faith assures us that he knows what to do.

Give Thanks and Be Delivered

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Listen to the words of Jonah: “For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all your billows and your waves passed over me. … The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me. … The earth with its bars closed behind me forever” (Jonah 2:3-6, NKJV).

Jonah had hit rock bottom, entombed in the belly of a whale. He was in a battle for his life and filled with despair, shame and guilt. He was heavy of heart, literally as low as a person could get. He thought God had abandoned him.

So, how did Jonah get out of his pit? “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to you, into your holy temple. …I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving” (Jonah 2:7,9). Simply put, he passed the test! Jonah didn’t receive any word of deliverance. He was in a hopeless situation with everything about him dark and gloomy. He was ready to faint, yet when he came to such a point, he said, “I’m going to thank the Lord!”

In the midst of all his troubles, Jonah entered the Lord’s presence and offered up thanks. God answered, “That’s what I’ve been waiting to hear you say, Jonah. You’ve trusted me in the middle of it all. You just passed the test.”

Scripture says, “So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10). That burdened man must have rolled onto the beach shouting, “I’m free! I’m free!” He probably danced as he pulled the seaweed from his hair because he was already at the altar of thanksgiving.

When you have no place to turn, turn to thanksgiving. Thank the Lord for his forgiveness, for releasing you from all past sins. Thank him for delivering you from the teeth of the lion, for giving you a new home in glory, for all his past blessings, for all his promises, for all that he is going to do. As scriptures says, “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:14-15). In everything, give thanks!

The Abundance of God’s Glory

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God always desires to pour out more of his glory on his people. He longs to do for us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV). This is why he wants a people who have a ravenous appetite for more of him. He wants to fill them with his awesome presence, beyond anything they’ve experienced in their lifetime.

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). To obtain this abundant life, though, we must abound more and more in pleasing the Lord. Paul wrote, “We urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:1) as well as “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

The Greek word for abound means “to exceed, excel, super-abound, to have enough and to spare, over and above, excessive, exceeding abundantly above, beyond measure.” Paul was saying, “God’s glory in your life is going to exceed the little moments you’ve gotten up till now, but your prayers have to be more than just saying a blessing over your meals.”

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). Paul was saying, “To have this abundant life of God’s glory and presence, you must serve him above measure, with a love and commitment exceeding that of lazy, slumbering servants.”

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself” (Ephesians 1:7-9). God wants to mete out to you glory and revelation beyond any previous measure. The Lord is saying, “I’m going to open to you a deeper understanding of my Word. I want to give you revelations of its mysteries.”

Our Hearts Revealed in Psalms

Gary Wilkerson

Not long ago, I was reading this verse and realized something. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16, ESV). I get joy out of God’s Word, even though the process of allowing it to work in me is not necessarily that pleasant.

I believe this is especially true of the Book of Psalms. Some people treat this book of the Bible like poetry and say things like, “How beautiful these poetic songs are!” Other people go into Psalms as an intellectual pursuit or academic research. If we honestly go into Psalms, though, it’s a study of our own hearts. It’s a study of our own relationships and how we’re working with them.

On a personal note, I've noticed that I take pleasure in being in my study at home with my Bible and books. Being created as an introvert means I take great pleasure in being alone. I’m just totally at peace reading in the quiet.

Well, my wife is more social, so she wants to have guests over. If we have company, I’m engaged and happy for them to be there for about the first hour or so. After a while, though, I’ll look at the clock and say, “Shoot, it’s 7 o’clock. They’re still here. I hope they leave soon.” If any of our guests are reading this, bear with me until the end of the story here. I realized as I was reading the psalms that this went beyond just my personality. Isolation and lack of being comfortable in other people’s presence is not okay. I started seeing “Okay, there's something wrong here. I'm hiding from something in my own heart.”

Instead of dealing with some of the painful history I've had in my life, I was repressing it to some degree and then feeling uncomfortable in my own skin and therefore uncomfortable around other people. It was easy to hide, but I was not being relational like the Psalms teach us to be. We’re not just to love God but also to love others as ourselves. If we're truly loving God, we're going to love others. There’s a joy and delight to these commands, even as they do hard work in our hearts.

When We’re Scared and Lying

Tim Dilena

When my youngest one was small, it was one of those Saturdays. We hadn’t gone to the grocery store, so everybody that day was asking, "What are we having for lunch?" Everybody was getting peanut butter sandwiches. That was it. If you're a good parent, that's what you do. So we've lined them up on the table. One child was outside; two kids were in the basement; my youngest, Lauren, was in the kitchen.

I leave to get the other kids, then I came back in the kitchen, and every sandwich had a hole in the middle, a hole the size of a tiny finger, every one of them. I asked, "Lauren, where did those holes come from?”

She immediately said, “Christian did it.”

“Well, Christian's outside. Who put the holes in the sandwiches?”

“Anna and Grace.”

“They're in the basement. They couldn't have done it. Lauren, I’ll give you one more time, and then you're going to get a spanking.” We didn't do timeouts.

Without missing a beat, she said, “Jesus! Jesus came.”

“You're telling me that Jesus came out of heaven to put his finger into everyone's sandwiches then ascended back to heaven?” I just looked at my little three-year daughter and said, “Liar.”

What's crazy is when we get scared, we get dumb; and when we get dumb, we tend to blame Jesus when our trials are really a test that he's bringing us through. You start interpreting ‘hard’ as God fighting against you when it's actually God teaching us something.

Think about this for a second with Job. He just lost 10 children. His home was gone. His prosperity was gone. He had an angry wife. He had nothing, and his body was filled with disease. He was angry at God. He shaved his head. He was made-himself-bald level of angry. On the other side, though, he said, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6, ESV).

Don’t blame God. If you misinterpret the bitter and all you do is pursue after sweet, then life has no meaning. God loves you and says, "Let me take the ingredients from past, present, and future and bring those together.” What he has on the other side of this struggle is something so much greater than anything you could ever create.

After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.