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).
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!
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.
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!
If you want the peace of God to reign in your life, you must quit several things:
Stop trying to figure out how God will work things out
Stop worrying and fretting (Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing”)
Stop telling God what is right for you
Stop thinking you are a failure and you can’t please God
One of Satan’s most effective traps for robbing Christians of peace is to convince them they must strive in the flesh to please God. He springs this on me all the time!
Sometimes when I need a quiet place to pray, I drive out into the hills. I was there not long ago, looking out over green fields and forests and enjoying the presence of the Lord. Out of nowhere, the thought hit me that I am not doing anything for the Lord.
“Lord,” I cried out, “I’m just not accomplishing much for Your kingdom. All I do is pray, get messages for sermons, and go to church and preach. The whole world is going to hell and I’m not doing anything for You.”
Have such thoughts ever hit you? You do everything you know to please the Lord yet you still don’t feel holy. I know I didn’t. In fact, I hardly ever feel holy . . . even in my best of times. Even when I’m preaching under the Holy Spirit’s anointing.
You may ask, “You, Brother Dave? At times you don’t feel as if you’re doing much for God?” Yes! The devil comes in and makes us all feel unworthy, unfulfilled, and we lose our peace by giving in to those awful feelings.
Listen to Paul’s prayer for us: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).
Trust in His goodness. Believe in His love and mercy. And don’t accuse Him of being angry or upset with you or of not speaking to you. Let His peace dwell in your heart and over your whole life.
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
When I reread this passage recently, I was struck by something I’d never seen before. Paul is instructing us to stop worrying and go to God with prayer and supplication. Then we are to thank Him for the answer. But Paul says nothing about receiving deliverance, a word of direction, miracles, or healing. Instead, he says that we receive a gift . . . the peace of God.
God answers all our requests and supplication with the gift of His peace: “The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds.” In other words, God’s first answer to our every prayer and heart-cry is His peace!
All praying people have one thing in common: No matter how bad we may feel going into our secret closet of prayer, we come out filled with His peace. God has limited Himself to His own government and it is known as the providence of God. He does things here and there, preparing people’s hearts and orchestrating events, but until His providence works out the answer to our porayer, He says, “I’m not going to give you what you think you need but what I know you need — peace of mind and heart.”
Many of us wrestle with the Lord in prayer. We petition Him with many tears; we pound heaven’s gates; we claim every promise. But as the days, weeks, and months go by, we begin to wonder: “Why won’t you hear me, Lord? What’s blocking my prayer? What have I done to grieve or displease You?”
The fact is, God already has said to us, “Here! Here is My peace and it passes all understanding. Take it and let it rule in your heart while I work all things for your good.”
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
This one verse contains an incredible command; the entire body of Jesus Christ has been called by God to let His peace rule and govern our hearts, minds and bodies! The peace of God is to sit as ruler over everything. And if there was ever a time this call needed to be sounded, it is today in this hour of turmoil and confusion!
The Lord commanded the early Church to allow His peace to rule their lives, because He knew what was coming and He wanted to prepare them. In just a few years’ time, they would be persecuted, even tortured. They would face loss of homes, confiscation of all worldly goods, and attacks from vicious men who thought they were doing God a favor by killing them. God foresaw all this and was preparing them. “You must be grounded in My peace in order to get through all the incredible changes ahead.”
A false peace is sweeping through many churches today, a peace that will fail in the troubled days ahead. Moses called stubborn Israel “self-blessed,” meaning self-deceived. He warned Israel that a curse would come upon all wicked, disobedient children of God who walked in idolatry. They would plaster over their sinful ways with a false sense of peace: “When he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart” (Deuteronomy 29:19).
Moses is describing the child of God who decides to satisfy his lust for evil by finding a cozy doctrine that tells him he’s still saved, heaven bound — while still sinning. He says to himself, “I will do as I please and still not lose the peace in my heart.” False peace!
No matterwhat happens to America or to the nations of the world, no power in hell can rob your of the peace of God through Christ Jesus, which He implants in your soul. God will have His people governed by peace. True peace!