Joseph and God’s Favor

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Does our heavenly Father favor certain individuals among his children? Doesn’t the Bible say God is no respecter of persons? When it comes to salvation and his wonderful promises, God treats us all alike, but he also puts his special favor on those who respond wholeheartedly to his calling and yield their lives to him entirely!

Job said, “You have granted me life and favor, and your care has preserved my spirit” (Job 10:12, NKJV). David said, “For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor you will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).

Our heavenly Father puts a special garment on those who completely give him their hearts: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).

Joseph responded to the Spirit's call, surrendering all, and as a favor from his father he received a robe that set him apart. However, that favor of his father cost Joseph relationships and brought him rejection, misunderstanding and mockery: “All his brothers…hated him” (Genesis 37:4).

Why did Joseph's brothers turn on him? The key is in verse 11: “And his brothers envied him.” When they saw the robe Joseph wore, they knew it spoke of favor and righteousness. They hated it because it reminded them of the Spirit's call they had rejected. Joseph was a reproach to their halfhearted lifestyle.

You see, Joseph's brothers indulged in petty talk and self-centered living. Their hearts were occupied with lands, possessions, the future, but Joseph's was elsewhere. He spoke of the things of God, of supernatural dealings. God had given him dreams, which in that day was synonymous with hearing the voice of God.

Lukewarm believers around you will want to talk about their cars, houses and jobs, but you'd rather talk about eternal things, about what God is saying to you. Soon you'll become a reproach to their half-heartedness. They will envy you because you represent the call of the Holy Spirit they are tuning out. Yes, Joseph was of a different cloth, and that difference made him hated and envied among his brothers. Beloved, the same will happen to you if you are sold out to Jesus!

God Is Doing a New Thing

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

How often have you heard Christians say, “God is doing a new thing in his church”? The “new thing” may be called a revival, an outpouring, a visitation or a move of God.

Yet very often this “new thing” dies out quickly and disappears. In this way, it proves not to be a move of God at all. In fact, Christian sociologists have tracked many of these visitations and discovered the average life span of such an event is about five years.

I believe God truly is doing a new thing in his church today, but this great work of the Spirit can’t be found in just one location. It’s happening worldwide and characterized by a cleansing. God will not begin a new thing in his church until he does away with the old. This proven biblical principle is found in both Testaments and governs any true move of God. As Jesus put it, he won’t put new wine into old wineskins (see Mark 2:22).

The principle of doing away with the old and raising up the new was first introduced in the Old Testament at Shiloh. During the time of the judges, God established a holy work in that city (see Judges 18:31). Shiloh, where the Lord’s sanctuary stood, was the center of all religious activity in Israel. The name Shiloh means “that which is the Lord’s.” This speaks of things that represent God and reveal his nature and character. God spoke to his people at Shiloh; it was there that Samuel heard God’s voice and where the Lord revealed his will to him (see 1 Samuel 1).

The Lord stopped speaking at Shiloh because the priest had become lazy and sensual, and the city had become corrupt. God told Samuel, in essence, “Shiloh has become so defiled it no longer represents who I am. This house is no longer mine; I’m finished with it.” God lifted his presence from the sanctuary and wrote “Ichabod” above the door, which means, “The glory of the Lord has departed.”

God completely did away with the old but once again, he raised up a new thing. After that, the temple in Jerusalem became known as “the Lord’s house,” and God spoke to his people there.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).

Hungry to Be Holy

Gary Wilkerson

In the mid-1800s, a pastor named Robert Murray McCheyne brought a great awakening to his church in Dundee, Scotland. Although he died at the age of 29, this brilliant young man made an indelible mark on the world in his short lifetime.  One of my favorite quotes of his is “The greatest need of my people is my own holiness.”

We have an overabundance of eloquent preachers, charismatic personalities and high-profile leaders. What we don’t have enough of are holy men and women of God. People need to see more than ministry skill from their leaders. They need to see a godly heart, and a pastor cannot take his congregation into the depths of Christ any further than he has gone first himself.

What is the fruit of a church that has astonishing programs, brilliant leadership, gripping presentations and a beautiful building but has no vision at its core to be a holy people? How can it be effective if its leader does not desire to bow in brokenness and recognize how estranged he and his congregation are from a holy and awesome God?

Our churches are full of frivolity, and we know it, but it is not changing. This is because leaders tolerate it rather than grieve over it, and the church is simply a reflection of what is in the pastor’s heart. Paul said, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers” (see 1 Corinthians 4:15, ESV).  Today he might say, “You have many church experts but few holy men.”

McCheyne’s words are more necessary today than when he first spoke them to a compromised, liberal, nominalist church in Scotland. His example legitimized his words and gave power to his message. His ministry flowed from a life of dedication and purity.

Are you hungry to be a holy man or woman of God? There is only one way to see this happen. It is to lay down human efforts to be righteous and to be fully cloaked with the garments of Christ. This holiness is far more than self-willed negating of sin; it is an absolute surrender to Christ who releases a great and glorious passion for holiness. I don’t want to spend my life trying to wrestle with my old, impure man. I want to see Christ form in me the fullness of the new man he has created.

Drawing Water from Jesus

Mark Renfroe

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were judged as being pious because of their somber dispositions. Some of the Puritans encouraged frowning as an expression of religious seriousness. The truth is that we don’t need encouragement to frown or be unhappy. Life will give us plenty of reasons for that.

In his Confessions, Augustine asked “Is not a happy life the thing that all desire, and is there anyone who altogether desires it not?” He went on to add, “But where did they acquire the knowledge of it, that they so desire it? Where have they seen it, that they so love it?” Augustine’s point was that a desire for happiness is etched into our psyche. We long for it, but we often find ourselves seeking it in the wrong places. Even when we find joy in earthly delights, we discover that they don’t last.

When I think of happiness from a biblical viewpoint, I’m often drawn to Jeremiah. “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13, ESV). There is a sadness in God’s rebuke related to the deceptiveness and destructive nature of sin; it promises what it can’t deliver.

The people of Judah rejected God and chose their own path. Jeremiah equates this to rejecting living, moving water for the stale water of a cistern, and a broken one at that. Sin promises happiness but only delivers hurt. Perhaps you have family or friends who are on this road to disillusionment and dissatisfaction. What do we do? We speak truth when the opportunity is there, but for those closest to us, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I live an attractive life? Do I live a life of rest? Do I seek hope in the living waters of Jesus? Or do I seek hope in that which will always disappoint?”

“As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double” (Zechariah 9:11-12). We are ‘prisoners’ of hope, so are we hoping in the right things? What are you seeking hope in that will never deliver? What cisterns have you built?

May we all return to drink deeply of the living waters of Jesus.

Mark Renfroe and his wife, Amy, have been involved in field missions work for 30 years. Mark served as the area director for Assemblies of God World Missions and currently serves as the chief missions officer for World Challenge.

Believe It or Not

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Believe it or not,
That is the question.
Did Jesus really walk on water?
Heal lepers?
Raise the dead?
Make the blind to see?
Cause the wind and waves to obey?
Cast out devils?
Heal lunatics?
And turn water into wine?
To believe all of that
A man would have to believe in miracles!
Yet a man cannot believe in Christ at all,
Unless he believes in miracles—
His resurrection
And ascension.
He is either dead or alive,
And if alive—
It is a miracle!
And all he ever did was miraculous.
Believe it all.
That is faith!

This faith is often spoken of in scripture. Let the verses below encourage you in your faith walk.

“For whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23, NKJV).

“But 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).

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

“But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

“Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5).

“For assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26).