Monday, May 25, 2015

CLEANSING THE TEMPLE by Gary Wilkerson

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross would be sufficient for all time. His saving, forgiving, cleansing power and victory are available to every person in every era, from the most devout believer to the most hardened sinner.

Even as a young boy, I understood my need for Christ’s gift of salvation. I knew that when I accepted Jesus, His saving work on my behalf had been achieved once and for all. But not long after I accepted Him my anger erupted at one of my siblings, as happens so often among kids. Suddenly I was aware that I needed Jesus’ cleansing blood in my life all over again. I felt utterly lost, wondering whether my salvation was real.

Eventually I learned that I needed not only Christ’s salvation but His cleansing power in my life daily. Jesus demonstrated our need at the Last Supper when He took a towel and basin and began washing His disciples’ feet. Peter puzzled over this symbolic act, saying, “Lord, if You’re going to wash my feet, why not clean my head too?” (see John 13:9). Jesus answered, in essence, “Peter, you’re going to be saved by My blood. But you still live in a dirty world, and as you walk through it you’ll get dust on your feet. You’re going to need Me to wash your feet just as much as your heart.”

It’s true that Jesus has made us new creatures, having justified us once and for all. But as we walk through the mire of a dark and evil world, we can’t avoid picking up flecks of its anger, lust and hardness. Jesus says to us, just as He told Peter, “If your life is going to be pleasing to Me, I have to rid you of these things daily.”

To walk in His holiness, we must realize that Jesus wants to drive things out of our lives. In Matthew 21:12-13 when He ran the moneychangers out of the temple, He was ridding the church of a certain callousness that had overcome them. It wasn’t so much the exchange of money that upset Jesus; that practice had existed for years, as a convenience to faithful believers who traveled great distances to Jerusalem. What upset Jesus more was the focus on commerce, which had overtaken people’s passion for God. In their hearts, a house of prayer had been turned into a house of trade.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

THE SONS OF SCEVA by Claude Houde

“A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!’ Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, ‘I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?’ Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.

“The story of what happened spread quickly all through Ephesus, to Jews and Greeks alike. A solemn fear descended on the city, and the name of the Lord Jesus was greatly honored. Many who became believers confessed their sinful practices” (Acts 19:13-18, NLT).

What a story! We see in it, clear as day, a picture of thousands of churches, ministries and believers today. Notice a few characteristics of the sons of Sceva. They had a religious background, a second-generation tradition with a history of rituals and religiosity. They had standing and reputation in God’s house, for they were sons of the High Priest. They knew the Scriptures, and they had learned well the jargon of spiritual warfare.

But they were pathetic parakeets repeating the words, intonations, and prayer formulas while having no true communion and relationship with God. They had the lingo down pat, but there was no victory, no true supernatural authority. They knew how to keep up appearances, but had no power, no divine capacity to deliver; they were just a pale imitation with illumination. They wanted to cast out demons but they had not developed their relationship with God in the secret place. The result was dreadful and dangerous.

Are you thirsting for an anointing of freedom, authority and victory? Do you burn with the desire to walk by the faith which “gives life to what was dead”? Cry out with me, “Lord, increase my faith.” There is no limit to the delivering power, protection and strength that will be yours if you stand against the enemy with faith that says, “To men this is impossible; but to God all things are possible” (see Matthew 19:26).

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Claude Houde, lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada, is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.

Friday, May 22, 2015

GOD’S PLANS FOR YOU

As the New Covenant was being made, the heavenly Father and His Son foresaw that many would neglect Christ. These people would grow lukewarm or cold, eventually falling away. So, the Father and the Son made an agreement: If any sheep got lost or went astray, Jesus would go after it and bring it back to the fold.

The truth is, dead humanity can be brought back to life by a fresh flow of healing waters. “These waters . . . go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed” (Ezekiel 47:8). When God’s healing waters begin to flow, green things start springing up all around—a blade of grass here, a small plant there. Soon an entire garden is thriving.

Dear saint, God still yearns over you and He still has plans for you. In fact, you can start your life over today. He promises to restore everything that has been eaten and wasted from your life, no matter how long it has been. “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25).

You can still be His habitation, still learn His secrets and receive His revelations. Here is your way back: Acknowledge that you have neglected Him. Admit you’ve been too busy, with time for everything but Him. Confess you have not listened when He has called you. “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:14).

Cry out to Him now: “Oh, God, heal me. Awaken my soul. Shake me out of this slumber. I want to change. I know you have to do the work in me, Lord. I long for Your fresh touch.”

Jeremiah shows us God’s heart toward a people who neglected and forgot Him: “Return, thou backsliding Israel . . . and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord . . . Only acknowledge thine iniquity . . . turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you . . . and I will heal your backslidings” (Jeremiah 3:12-14, 22).

God is saying to you, “My child, for a while I was angry with you. I gave you over to your emptiness and loneliness. But now I’m going to restore to you everything the devil has destroyed.”