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Devotions

SOMETHING OF GRACE WAS MISSING

Gary WilkersonJanuary 5, 2015

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:3-4, ESV).

Paul was urging Timothy to stay in Ephesus even though it appears that he frowned on that idea. The reason Timothy may not have wanted to stay is because of problems the Ephesian church was facing. The people appeared to be living in self-righteousness—trying to look good and appear righteous. When you are self-righteous, however, often you are deceived and this can lead to you becoming greedy and ambitious.

At this very time there was a famine in Macedonia. There was also a famine in Jerusalem and extreme poverty. While Macedonia and Jerusalem were struggling, apparently the economy in Ephesus was good. They had a lot of resources but they were clinging to them for themselves.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17-18: “Charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”

Look at Paul’s first word—charge—which means to “command or give strict orders.” In some translations it says, “Command those who are rich in this present age to be generous.”

Why would Paul say something like this—to command people to be generous, to no longer cling to things for themselves? It sounds legalistic and it is—because it’s the Law. The Law shows us where we are off grace, where we are wrong. The command that Paul said Timothy should give to the Ephesians was not to get them just to give an offering but to get them to see that something of grace was missing in their lives.
 

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GOD’S WAYS ARE HIGHER

Carter ConlonJanuary 3, 2015

“And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee? And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master” (1 Samuel 20:35-38).

Consider for a moment David’s journey leading up to this difficult point in his life. It must have seemed an ordinary day as he tended his father’s sheep out in the field. All of a sudden he was called inside to meet with the prophet Samuel, who took a vial of oil and anointed David to be the next king of Israel. Before taking the throne, David began to win some marvelous victories in secret, followed by an incredible victory in public against a giant called Goliath. David’s heart must have burned within him as he walked in an anointing that produced such faith and boldness in his life.

Shortly after, Saul took David in as his attendant, and David began to worship the Lord with songs that drove the darkness out of Saul’s life. David continued to fight the battles of the Lord, all the while experiencing the supernatural power of God, as seemingly no enemy could stand against him. Eventually, however, Saul’s heart turned against David for no apparent reason other than envy—which brings us to our passage in 1 Samuel. Saul’s son, Jonathan, says to David, “I am going to talk to my father. Hide out in the field, and I will come back and shoot an arrow. If I say to the lad with me, ‘The arrow is beyond you,’ that means you must flee, for harm is determined against you.”

Here is how I see this situation: God was trying to speak to David, but David was only partially listening. The Lord was telling him, “I have a plan for your life that will fulfill all the desires I have placed in your heart. A transition is coming from a system that failed under Saul’s leadership to something that will usher in a season of renewal in Israel, and you are going to lead it. But until that day comes, I am going to take you through some dark places. You must follow Me through these mountains and valleys—even though you will not be able to understand them fully.”

That is what I believe to be the deeper meaning behind “the arrow is beyond you.” It is a sign and a reminder from God that His ways are higher than ours, and all He asks is that we follow Him!

 

Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. A strong, compassionate leader, he is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world.
 

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A GREAT SHOUT

David WilkersonJanuary 2, 2015

At times we must be still and know that He is God. Sometimes the Spirit brings forth sweet, melodic love songs to Jesus. But throughout God’s Word, whenever He brought victory over enemies, the people always lifted up a great shout, a loud noise of praise to the Lord. On the seventh day that Israel marched around Jericho, this commandment circulated: “All the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat” (Joshua 6:5). “And the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat” (Joshua 6:20).

In Ezra we discover that another great shout took place when the temple foundation was laid. “When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord . . . they sang together . . . in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord. . . . And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord . . . So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off” (Ezra 3:10-11,13). The Hebrew word used for “shout” here means “split the ears.” The weeping of the Israelites was so joyful and the praises so loud that they “split the ears!” Some people say they can’t stand noise and shouting in church. But hear this: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

God wants us to know His Word on this matter. The Psalms command us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. “Noise” in Hebrew, suggests thunder, sparks, fire. “Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands” (Psalm 66:1). “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob” (Psalm 81:1). “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise . . . with trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. . . . Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together” (Psalm 98:4, 6, 8).

God’s people know exceeding great joy whenever the presence of Jesus has been revealed. If we will not shout His praises, the trees will do it for us. At Time Square Church we sing this song: “Lift up your heads, don’t be afraid! Sing till the power of the Lord comes down!” That power is His presence!
 

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AN EXUBERANT AND EXCEEDINGLY GREAT JOY!

David WilkersonJanuary 1, 2015

“Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance” (Acts 2:28).

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was like day to day—His heart, His attitude? Did He look crushed by all the burdens He carried? Did He weep? Was there a solemn heaviness in His presence?

He did weep, and He did carry heavy burdens. In Gethsemane He sweat drops of blood, and at other times He groaned and sighed over unbelief. But the Word of God makes it clear that Christ was full of joy and gladness.

“For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be [troubled]: therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad” (Acts 2:25-26). In speaking this to the Council of the Jews, Peter quoted a prophecy from Psalm 16. It was a vision of Christ, Who would have a rejoicing heart, a tongue speaking gladness and a countenance full of joy because of the presence of His Father.

We are to rejoice, be glad and full of joy for the same reasons Jesus was joyful. The first reason for His joy was that He knew it was impossible for death to hold Him. And so it is for us! This knowledge destroys the wicked doctrine that says Jesus was put into the devil’s hands and had to fight His way out of hell. Jesus knew on earth that death could not hold Him—and so do we!
Second, the Lord is at our right hand in all our troubles. We can rest hopefully and expectantly, knowing He is beside us at all times.

Third, “Thou will not leave my soul in [death]” (verse 27). We will rise to new life in a new body, in a new world.

And last, His very presence floods us with joy! How can we do anything but shout and be glad when we have been delivered from hell, promised eternal life, given His assurance in all troubles here on earth, and have His presence manifested before us?
 

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POWER FOR TODAY

The apostle Peter was made of flesh and blood, just like the rest of us. Yet he wielded spiritual authority over the devil. He said to the lame man at the temple gate, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6), and the man was healed. The religious leaders of the day recognized this power in Peter and asked him, "By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" (4:7).

Nowhere does the Bible suggest that this same power isn't meant for us today. When did the Lord ever say to His Church, "I've helped you so far. Now you're on your own"? What kind of God would empower His people in the wilderness when they needed it—would empower Israel's kings, prophets like Elijah, the crowds at Pentecost—and then withhold it from his last-days Church, when we need it more than any generation?

According to Scripture, Satan's power has increased in our day: "The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Revelation 12:12). Why would God permit Satan to attack a weak, powerless church that has no defense? His people have never lost access to His divine power.

Unfortunately, a number of Christians have a skewed idea of spiritual authority. This is especially true in charismatic circles. I know of a series of "power" conventions, where preachers lay hands on people to endow them with an anointing of spiritual authority. Yet, when the recipients return home, their efforts against the devil still fail miserably. They end up asking the same question the disciples asked Jesus: "Why couldn't we cast out these spirits?"

You can't obtain supernatural power simply by having someone lay hands on you. It isn't a gift, it's a way of life, of walking with Jesus. And not everyone who asks for such authority will suddenly be changed into a spiritual powerhouse. The fact is, God entrusts His divine authority only to what Peter calls the "hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible" (1 Peter 3:4).
 

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