Friday, January 20, 2017

UNSETTLED ISSUES

The Bible addresses our efforts to please Him in our flesh: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3). Trying to establish our own righteousness is actually our flesh at work!
Trying to please God in our human power robs us of our joy and peace with Him. Any victories will be short-lived and we will fall into temptation again. The enemy will keep harassing us and a conversation with him might go something like this:
Satan whispers, “What about the sin you indulged in just yesterday? You are guilty!” 
“No,” you answer, “I’ve already asked forgiveness for that. It’s all under the blood and I’ve asked God to make me hate that sin to keep me from doing it again.”
“But you are still tempted.”
“True, but Jesus made a way of escape for me. His Word says I will be able to bear the temptation and He will deliver me” (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).
Satan persists, “There are still unsettled issues in your life.”
When the accuser brings up “unsettled issues” — some war that still rages within you — you can answer with this passage of Scripture: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight” (Colossians 1:21-22).
Even when we fail Him, God loves us; He seeks us out and reconciles us to Himself. He loves us even when we struggle and through Christ He makes us to be at peace with Him.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

USELESS STRIVING

We can all say, “I am redeemed by the blood of my Savior, but I have not yet fully attained.” We sing and shout praises to our God and yet many of us still continue to strive to please Him.
You may win an occasional victory and feel so good about it. You tell yourself, “I did it. I knew if I put my mind and heart to the matter, I would get the victory.” Your tendency is to feel proud about what you’ve done and then go around judging others who aren’t victorious.
When I was younger, if I needed victory over something, I would convince myself, “I’m going to do this if it kills me.” And it seemed like it almost would kill me! A month or two might go by and I would think, “Those covetous thoughts are gone now. I’m free!” But it always proved to be a partial victory and discouragement would set in.
“Oh, God,” I would cry, “I’ve begged You to deliver me but You haven’t. These feelings are still in me.” And then I would blame God.
What was happening? I was so busy striving in the flesh to be righteous that I lost my understanding of true righteousness — the only righteousness acceptable to the Father — that of His Son, Jesus. When we stand before the Father, He accepts us only through Christ, through His righteousness and victory. 
You may wonder, “What must I do?” First, refuse to listen to the devil’s lies. Second, stand on your spiritual feet and start declaring, “By faith in the blood of Jesus, I receive the righteousness of Christ.” Then rejoice!
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). Redemption simply means “set free” and we have been set free by Jesus’ precious blood. We can stand against every accusation and say, “Satan, you’ve accused me for the last time. My Bible says I am redeemed because I believe in what Jesus did for me at the cross.” 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

YOU CANNOT QUALIFY YOURSELF

When Satan tries to convince you that you are unworthy to walk with the Lord and serve Him, you know it is not true. However, you may have a hard time being fully assured that He has made you clean and fit to stand before Him and faithfully serve Him. But the Word of God says that He has!
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:10-14, KJV).
The Greek rendering of Colossians 1:10-14 is: “The Father has made us fit, worthy, qualified in character, good enough to be partakers in the inheritance of the saints of light.”
What Jesus did on the cross qualified you for eternal inheritance, and if God has qualified you for eternal life, then He has made you fit in character, as well. You could take a leave from ministry or service for a time, trying to make yourself fit for Him, but you could never do so. God will not accept anyone’s righteousness — except that of His own Son, Jesus Christ.
You will never be able to obtain the righteousness of Christ by working for it, so just believe and trust God for it. It comes to you by faith. You see, not only are you saved by faith but you are also sanctified by faith, justified by faith, healed by faith, kept by faith.
All this happens by believing in what Jesus has done for you.   

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

“YOU’RE UNWORTHY” — THE DEVIL’S LIE

Who tells you that you are unworthy, no good, useless, unusable to God? Who keeps reminding you that you’re weak, helpless, a total failure? And who tells you that you’ll never measure up to God’s standard?
Who tells worship team members they’re not worthy to sing praises in God’s house or musicians they’re not worthy to play instruments of worship? Who tells ushers, elders, Sunday school teachers, volunteers, people in the pew that they are unworthy?
That’s no mystery. We all know where this voice comes from — the devil himself. He wants to keep you convinced that God is angry with you.
The devil, the accuser of the brethren, reminds you of your every sin and failure. He tells you, “God can’t use you until you get this figured out and make yourself worthy.” Do not fall for this lie from the pit of hell.
Many people reading this message have been convinced by the devil that they are unworthy ever to be used of God. Does this describe you? Perhaps you feel unworthy even to be called a child of the Lord. You look at your life and see inconsistency and failure.
Let me confess something to you: I have never once felt worthy of my high calling as a preacher. Throughout my years of service to the Lord, I have been barraged by accusations that I am unworthy to speak for God, to preach, to teach others, to be a leader.
So, the truth is, I am not worthy to write this message and you are not worthy to raise your hands in praise to God. You see, nobody is worthy — not in our human strength and power! But Jesus told us, “I have made you worthy.”
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). 

Monday, January 16, 2017

ON DRY LAND by Gary Wilkerson

God said to Moses when the children of Israel were in Egypt, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea” (Exodus 14:1-2, ESV). God was announcing that He was going to take them to a new place.
God guided them through very rocky areas and as He led them, they could see the Red Sea in the distance. But when they arrived on the beach, they realized they were jammed into a very small space with rocks on one side and water on the other.
Pharoah looked at their location and said with glee, “They are hemmed in with their backs to the wall.” God had led them there but the Israelites certainly were not happy about it.
Has God ever called you to a place that you consider the last place on earth you want to be?  Moses, who was not a strong military leader up to this point and had been in only a few battles, was smart enough to recognize their precarious position: “I’m not certain we’re in a good place for a military defense. In fact, we’re trapped!”
Yes, Moses and the Israelites were in a tough place but God was about to get glory out of their situation. God often allows us to get into challenging places because He has a great plan for us. When we think we are trapped with our back to the wall, God is saying, “This is going to work out for My glory.”
Do you feel hemmed in, overwhelmed, hopeless? In this difficult place, take a step of faith and say, “God, I will obey You regardless of the cost.” When that happens, you stand on the edge of seeing God move mightily on your behalf.
You know the rest of the story of Moses and the Israelites: God caused the Red Sea to part and His children marched through on dry land. It was a tremendous victory! 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

RIVERS OF LIVING WATER by Jim Cymbala

In the Old Testament, where there was no water, there was no life. People died during droughts. Likewise, unless the living water of the Spirit is flowing in us, we and our churches will have an absence of spiritual life and little vitality. Just as in the Mojave Desert, no water equals no life, no growth, and no fruit. We can attend church regularly and have perfect doctrine, but without the Holy Spirit to water us, we will wither and die.
Jesus talked openly about the life-giving properties of the Spirit. “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them’” (John 7:37-38). By “rivers of living water,” Jesus was referring to the Spirit that believers would later receive.
When the Spirit of God comes, we have new life. Without the Spirit of God, we’re left to struggle with our self-effort, which is riddled by moral weakness and sinful tendencies. But when the Spirit comes, we have joy, hope, and power. Notice that Jesus doesn’t refer to a drop of water but to “rivers of living water.” Like a river, the Spirit flows — a force of power that comes into us and then flows out so we can be a blessing to others.
God uses water as a symbol of the Holy Spirit in a slightly different way when He says, “I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily” (Hosea 14:5). We all have witnessed the grass and flowers glistening with tiny drops of refreshing water. By using this metaphor, God is saying He will be like the dew, which settles quietly in the night and coats the ground by morning. Dew can’t form when conditions are too hot or the wind is too strong. Likewise, we can’t be refreshed by God when we’re too busy running around.

Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

GOD WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON YOU

God describes Himself this way: “I taught Ephraim [Israel] to walk, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them” (Hosea 11:3).
In the original language, this verse reads: “I came to them in their despair and tenderly nursed them through foul, rugged places. I held them in My arms as a nurse!” But verse 7 reads, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me.” The word bent here means “hanging in suspense, hanging in doubt.”
Israel was not sure of the Lord’s love and tenderness and God was saying to Hosea, “My people are doubting My love for them because they don’t really know Me.”
It was true! Israel could not believe God still loved them. They were idolaters, backsliders, and doubters who were probably thinking, “We brought God’s displeasure on ourselves by willfully sinning and He will surely judge us.” But God said, “How can I give you up? My heart churns within Me and My sympathy is stirred” (see verse 8).
You may be going through deep waters right now. I don’t mean trials or temptations necessarily, but overwhelming events that you can’t understand. Winds and waves of all kinds are flooding you, things beyond your comprehension, and He wants to carry you through it all and restore you to spiritual health. If all you can believe right now is that He loves you in spite of all your stubborn ways — that is enough!
Listen to His word of comfort and healing for you: “For I will not contend forever, neither will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made” (Isaiah 57:16). The Lord was saying, “If all you saw in Me was anger, your spirit would fail; it would be too overwhelming.” No, He goes on to say, “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him” (verse 18).
These are the words of a God who will never give up on His people!