Monday, September 1, 2014

KEEPING OUR EYES ON JESUS! by Gary Wilkerson

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV).

We can be hindered in our race of faith by “sin which clings so closely.” As we run the race of faith, the enemy will stick his foot out to make us stumble. This often happens after our greatest times of victory. One moment we think, “God is on the move! Now I’ll see His promise come to pass,” but then our situation turns in the opposite direction, tripping up our faith. We’re left thinking, “Lord, I thought this was my breakthrough. Now things are worse than ever.”

So, where is our hope? We find it at the verse’s end: “Let us run with endurance the race [God has] set before us” (12:1). Though our circumstances cause us to doubt and we are easily tripped up by sin, the race we’re in is about endurance. We are instructed to endure by keeping our eyes on Jesus. Our race isn’t about mustering up enough faith—we can’t muster anything on our own. We must look to Jesus to supply us with faith, for He is “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (12:2).

What a wonderful thing: Christ initiates faith in our hearts! Long before He called us to run our particular race, the thought was in His mind, “I want to see this done.” He initiated faith in us and set us on a race to see His purposes accomplished.

Tell me, what has happened to the faith God planted in your heart? Do you feel it has died? Are you weary after stumbling so many times? Friend, do not despair! God has promised to initiate faith in you, and that includes reigniting the faith you have known. “So then faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, ESV).
If your promise has not yet been fulfilled, be assured that God is at work “perfecting your faith.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

MY BAGS ARE PACKED

This is no time to be settling down to a life of ease. We must live in a stirred-up state. “And it shall come to pass at that time [before judgment], that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil" (Zephaniah 1:12). “Settled on their lees” means they are unconcerned. “Lees” are sediment of wine settled at the bottom of the barrel. Many Christians have not wanted Holy Ghost stirrings. They now sit back, taking it easy, and letting all the dirt settle in their hearts. Some have left Times Square Church because it is too intense; there is too much stirring up of the heart. They have gone on, looking for a place where there is no stirring. They say, “I can’t take the pressure, the strong preaching. You call for too much heart-searching.”

I say to you, a true Holy Ghost church will be the candle of God, searching through the city, making it very uncomfortable for those who have settled down. God’s Word calls it “being emptied from vessel to vessel” in Jeremiah 48:11-12: “Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.” These people refused to get involved. They preferred quiet, peace, and undisturbed prosperity, refusing to be probed, convicted, or stirred.

If we knew how close we are to our Lord’s return—how close to fiery judgments—we would thank God for His stirrings in us. We would be poured out in every meeting, getting rid of the dregs. We would thank God for ministers of the gospel who keep provoking us to walk in righteousness and who flood our souls with the convicting, piercing Word of truth. On Judgment Day, we will be eternally grateful to God that we were awakened by the trumpet messages that brought us to repentance and the true fear of God.

My bags are packed! I’m ready and longing to see Jesus face to face.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WATCH AND BE SOBER

God is calling His people to watch and be sober as the day of destruction nears. “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). Paul exhorts the brethren, “Ye . . . are not in darkness. . . . Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (5:4-5). What he is saying is this: “What is to this world a tragic night of darkness and fiery destruction is the dawning of a new day to you who watch and are sober!”

As surely as we are not of this world, we are not destined for darkness and destruction, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:9).

The increasing intensity of labor pains means something glorious to Christ’s Bride—we are one crisis closer to home! It is the world’s countdown to destruction but it is our countdown to glory! It is their appointment with wrath and our appointment with resurrection! While they weep and gnash their teeth, we will rejoice and shout for joy! Those who are the children of this gross darkness, this night of destruction, are drunken and asleep: “For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night” (5:7). “Let us who are of the day be sober” (5:8). This has to do with any kind of earthly intoxication. “To intoxicate” means “to excite the human spirit to a point of frenzy.” This is a powerful warning to us from the apostle Paul. He is warning us not to get excited over earthly things on the eve of destruction—not to become intoxicated (high) over anything but Christ.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). We must occupy until He comes and remain diligent in all things. But, above all, we must be sober and watchful. The word “sober” here means “discerning, cautious.” In other words, don’t let anything take your heart. Do not get too involved, too excited, or too wrapped up in things of this life.

Be warned! Right now you may be drinking the devil’s wine of distraction—the wine of busyness. The Bible warns that Satan will attempt to deceive, if it were possible, even the elect. I have often wondered how that could be possible. I believe it is not by adultery, pride or evil habits but by letting something worthwhile take the heart—by using what is legitimate to obsess and consume all one’s time.