Claude Houde

The Bible clearly paints a picture, infinitely tender and personal, reminding us that God always “hears our weeping” (Psalm 6:8). Some translations from the Hebrew text render it, “He counts or will receive or know each one of our tears.”

This altar of faith that we are called to build, as winds of uncertainty, anger, fear, anguish and doubt roar their threats at us from all sides, is sometimes one of the hardest altars to build. It is a single mom looking at her son today, scary, distant and angry, while it seems that only yesterday he was so loving and affectionate. She lies on her bed at night asking herself, “Who is this monster, so arrogant and mean, wearing my son’s clothes? Why? How can I raise a son without a dad in our home?”

It is you and me, struck down by illness, hearing the doctor speaking dreadful words of cancer that turn into a blur of fear and panic. It is a single person, surrounded by her married friends and their children, drowning in loneliness, asking, “When, Lord? Why?” It is the businessman who gave it everything he had for years, his best, his all, now facing bankruptcy. He feels lost, useless, so powerless and a total failure.

This faith that walks in the valley of the shadow of death pushes forward and treads on paths “tourists at the cross” don’t dare to walk on. No, at this very place, you will find true Christians. A passionate pastor who dies a thousand deaths as he sees his church sinking into an ugly division. A man or woman of faith abandoned and cheated on, cut to the bone by a divorce that will not be repaired. The fracture of soul is so violent that this person truly feels as if she will limp for the rest of her life.

There is a faith that can and will rebuild, restore and even resurrect. Abraham lost his altar (see Genesis 12). There was a famine in the land, and the words of Scripture lift a truthful, yet painful, veil from covering what truly happened to him.

Dear reader, the Bible is an implacable mirror of truth and its purpose and vision is to save your life (see James 1:23-25).


Gary Wilkerson

John 6 contains one of the hardest passages for me in all of Scripture because it speaks of followers who end up rejecting Christ and turning away. It is a scene in which people literally left Jesus in droves (see John 6:66).

Jesus had just miraculously fed a crowd of thousands. The people were amazed and thrilled by what he had done, ready to follow this wonder-working Messiah. But when he challenged them about what they were really after, they scoffed and left by the masses.

Underlying this passage is a question for anyone who would follow Christ: “Who is in charge of your life, you or Jesus?” Do we allow God to have total direction of our lives? Or do we try to determine for ourselves what God wants of us?

Every Christian faces this question early in his or her walk with the Lord. From the outset, a battle takes place in us, a clash of two warring cultures. First, there is the outer culture of the world, which constantly urges, “How can you benefit from this?” Then there is the culture of God’s kingdom, which asks, “How can you serve the Lord and your neighbor?”

Jesus had already preached that the kingdom of God was at work in the world: “The kingdom of God is near” (Mark 1:15, NLT). In other words: “The kingdom of God is present among you.” Most of Christ’s listeners that day had the world’s mindset. They were driven mainly by what they could gain for themselves. When Jesus came along offering blessings, they flocked to him, saying, “Sure, if you’re going to provide me with everything, I’ll follow you. If you’ll heal my sick family members and answer my prayers, yes, absolutely, I’ll be your disciple.”

But what happens to our faith commitment if these things don’t come to pass for us? How committed to Jesus are we when we realize he’s not just our “assistant” in life? The same people in this scene who were quick to follow Christ were just as quick to reject him. Disappointed, they left, giving up on him.

Jesus knew this would happen. That’s why on the heels of performing a great miracle for those multitudes, he confronted them: “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs” (John 6:26, NLT). Is the same true of us today? Do we follow Jesus mainly because of his blessings or because he is Lord?


David Wilkerson

Perhaps right now you’re suffering an excruciating trial. Yet, you know the reason behind it isn’t that God is dealing with sin in your life. So you wonder why the Lord is allowing you to endure such awful pain.

It could be that the furnace of your affliction is meant to bring you into a life-changing revelation. This is exactly what happened with Job. In the midst of his suffering, Job made an incredible discovery: Despite his pure knowledge of God, he didn’t truly know the Lord. He confessed, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

At the time Job experienced this trial, he was at least seventy years old; he had known about God all his life. At some point, Job had erected an altar to the Lord, where he spent many reverent hours praising and worshiping God. For years, God had taught him about His ways and mysteries. Job had been taught about the Lord’s consolations, His holiness, His character, His nature, His wrath, and he had learned about the majesty of God’s power and wisdom.

Yet, when Job’s mind-boggling crisis came upon him, he wasn’t able to see the Lord at all. Instead, God became to him nothing more than a vague theological term. The Lord who had been so much a part of his everyday life now seemed absent from everything Job was going through. Suddenly, God seemed like only a series of sermons, a dead word, a knowledge without any power or life behind it.

I believe this is what the Lord wanted to bring to the surface in Job’s life all along. You see, our loving Father wants His children to know Him more deeply than we can merely through worship services, Bible study or prayer meetings. He wants us to know Him intimately, in every aspect of our lives—and that includes during our deepest trials and sufferings. Our Lord longs to be more than a God of some dead-letter theology; He wants us to know Him as a Father who is all-knowing, ever near to us, holding everything in total control, in the very hollow of His hand.

Our present sufferings produce one of two things in us: either hard-heartedness and a spirit of unbelief, or a glorious vision of God’s control over everything concerning us.


David Wilkerson

The church of Ephesus described in Revelation 2 had lost the presence of Christ in their midst. I see a parallel in the world today. Some of the hardest people I’ve known are those who’ve worked for welfare departments and social agencies. These were sincere, dedicated workers but the suffering they witnessed daily became just too painful for them to face. The same thing can happen to Christians. Ministers and lay servants alike see so much pain and sin in the people they minister to, they can grow hard. That’s just what Jesus was saying to this pastor at Ephesus: “You once were so tender with others. You had such a love for people, and you listened to them. But now you turn a deaf ear. You sit with them, but you’ve hardened yourself to their cries. You’re doing ministry on a treadmill, with no life. I have no choice but to remove My presence from you.”

Spiritually hungry people won’t stay where Jesus’ presence is not evident. They’re desperate to know His nearness and when they don’t experience it, they go somewhere else to find it. I receive many letters with the same complaint: “I can’t find a church that’s alive with the Lord’s presence.”

I’ve witnessed the tragic backsliding of many Christians who’ve felt this way. They never find a church so they end up sitting at home and watching preachers on TV. They never get any meat in their spiritual diet and over time, a coldness sets in. Soon they’ve abandoned church altogether. They neglect the assembling of the brethren, which Hebrews warns against (see Hebrews 10:25) and they become totally indifferent to Christ and His presence.

I tell you, God won’t hear any excuses from such people. Jesus can be your all-in-all if you continue your personal communion with Him. No matter what condition your church is in, you are to be diligent in giving Him precious time. You must drink deeply of His presence if you want His Word to come alive to you.

In light of Revelation 1-3, every believer must ask himself: “Have my good works—my Bible studies and my service—robbed me of time with Jesus? Do I still hunger for Him as I once did? Or have I lost something?”


David Wilkerson

The problem with the church in Thyatira was a flirtation with seductive, devilish ministries. Imagine the pastor’s reaction when he read these words: “Unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire” (Revelation 2:18).

The letter continues with a commendation: “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first” (2:19). Once again, Christ is saying, “I know your deeds. Your love, faith, service and perseverance are greater now than when you began.” Best of all, the Lord tells them, “I know you love Me.” He doesn’t reprimand them for a loss of intimacy with Him.

But then we read these piercing words: “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (2:20).

Who, exactly, is the Jezebel mentioned here? Jesus is speaking of false shepherds. He’s reproving the pastor in Thyatira for tolerating covetous ministers who seduce His people. The Jezebel reference here indicates more than just ministers who are covetous. These false shepherds actually invent schemes to carry out and fulfill their lusts. Simply put, the name Jezebel is a byword for all that’s evil and detestable in the eyes of the Lord.

What a perplexing picture we’re given. These are people who love the Lord, devoted men and women of God. They’ve persevered, they’ve given faithfully, and they love Jesus. How could these believers be attracted to false prophets? How could they ever be seduced by wicked ministers whom God despises?

All through the gospels, Jesus warns of false shepherds who come seeking to devour, deceiving many. Yet I’m shocked by the lack of discernment in multitudes who abide their false gospels. Has this happened to you? Does your soul feed on some TV gospel that’s actually demonic? Do you drink in a message from prosperity preachers that appeals to your lusts and takes the last dimes of the elderly?

Jesus admonishes those who’ve faithfully stood against Jezebel ministers: “That which ye have already hold fast till I come” (2:25). He’s saying, “You’ve learned true discernment. You won’t let yourself be twisted by every wind and wave of doctrine. So, for now, just keep holding on. Don’t allow yourself to be deceived. That’s all I ask. I won’t put any other burden on you until I come back” (see 2:24)