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Devotions

Assured of God’s Faithfulness

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

As Jesus stood at the highest point of the temple, Satan whispered to him, “Go ahead. Jump! If you’re really God’s son, he’ll save you.”

“[The devil] said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: “He shall give his angels charge over you,” and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”’” (Matthew 4:6, NKJV).

Do you see Satan’s deviousness in this? He isolated a single promise from scripture, and he tempted Jesus to cast his whole life upon it. He was suggesting, “You say that God is with you. Well, show me the proof. Your Father has already allowed me to harass you. Where was his presence in that? You can prove he’s with you right now by jumping. If God is with you, he’ll provide a soft landing. You can base your confidence on that. If not, you might as well die rather than go on wondering if you’re on your own. You need a miracle to prove the Father is with you.”

How did the Savior respond? “Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”’” (Matthew 4:7). What exactly does Jesus mean here by ‘tempting God’?

The Old Testament provides us with our answer. Over and over the Lord had proved himself faithful to the Israelites. God’s people received visible proof that their Lord was with them, and yet they fell into the same question time after time: “Is God among us or not?” God calls this ‘tempting him.’ Jesus uses this same phrase in his reply to Satan.

As with Israel, God has already given us an entire body of evidence for his presence. First, we have in his Word that contains multiple promises of his closeness to us. Second, we have our own personal history with God that is a testimony of his many past deliverances in our lives. Third, we have a Bible full of witnesses to God’s presence in past centuries.

What does this tell us? It shows us it is a grave sin to doubt God’s presence; we’re not to question whether he’s with us. The Bible is clear: We’re to walk with God by faith and not by sight.

Wrestling with the Flesh

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

As followers of Christ, we are to take God at his word and accept as true what he says about us. This means our ‘old man’ represents someone who still seeks to be seen as right before God because of his own works. Such a man’s conscience continually brings him under guilt, but instead of repenting, he pledges to overcome his sin problem himself. “I’m going to change! I’ll start fighting my besetting sin today, no matter what the cost. I want God to see how hard I’m trying.”

Such a man brings much sweat and many tears to the Lord. He prays and fasts to prove that he has a good heart and to satisfy his own pride. He’s able to resist sin for days at a time, and so he tells himself, “If I can go for two days, then why not four? Why not a week?” By the end of the month, he feels good about himself, convinced he’s working himself free.

Then his old sin resurfaces, and down he goes into deep despair. That starts the cycle all over again. Such a man is on a treadmill, and he will never get off.

Paul tells us that the old man was pronounced dead at the cross. His old man was crucified along with Christ, killed in the eyes of God. Jesus took that old man into the grave with him, where he was forgotten. The Lord says of our old man, “I won’t recognize or deal with such a one. There is only one man I recognize now, one with whom I’ll deal. That is my Son, Jesus, and all who are in him by faith.”

The new man is the one who has given up all hope of pleasing God by any effort of the flesh. He has died to the old ways of the flesh.

This new man leans on the truth of this verse: “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Galatians 3:11, ESV). He believes, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). He may not always feel it or even comprehend it fully, but he won’t argue with his loving Father’s Word. He accepts it on faith, trusting the Lord is faithful to his Word.

Into the Arabian Desert

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

If I seek to please man, I simply cannot be a servant of Christ. If my heart is motivated by the approval of others, my loyalties will be divided, and the driving force behind my actions will be confused. I’ll always be striving to please someone other than Jesus.

A few years after the apostle Paul was converted, he went to the church in Jerusalem to try and join the disciples there, “but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26, NKJV). The apostles all knew Paul’s notorious reputation as a persecutor. “I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, ‘He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy’” (Galatians 1:22-23).

Barnabas helped the apostles get over their fear of Paul, and it might’ve been very tempting for Paul to settle into being a type of celebrity convert, but he decided to itinerate among the Gentiles. Indeed, Paul states, “I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ…. I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood” (Galatians 1:11-12, 16). 

What did Paul mean by this? In Galatians 1:17, he explains, “Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia.” What he is saying here applies to all who desire to have the mind of Christ. “I didn’t have to read books or borrow men’s methods to get what I have. I received my ministry and my anointing on my knees. I went into Arabia and the desert to have Christ revealed to me. I spent precious time there, being emptied of self and being taught by the Holy Spirit.” 

This by no means justifies those who are arrogant, lone-ranger believers. We know Paul had a servant’s heart. He had emptied himself of self-ambition and completely relied on Christ.

When your mind is set on knowing and pleasing Christ, you will not place the approval of human teachers over the instructions of the Holy Spirit. Avoid following other believers rather than the Lord. Only then will you maintain a clear vision of God’s calling on your life.

Unrelenting Passion to Seek God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

In chapter nine of Acts, we’re told that the Holy Ghost came to a godly man named Ananias. The Spirit instructed him to find a man named Saul, lay hands on him and restore his sight. Ananias knew of Saul’s reputation. He believed this was going to be dangerous, but here is how the Holy Spirit recommended Saul to Ananias: “Behold, he is praying” (Acts 9:11, NKJV).

The Lord was saying, in essence, “Ananias, you will find this man on his knees. He knows you are coming. He even knows your name and why you’re being sent to him. He wants his eyes opened.”

When did Saul receive this inner knowing? How did he receive this pure word from God? It came through fervent prayer and supplication. In fact, I believe the Spirit’s words to Ananias reveal what moved God’s heart about Saul: “Behold, he is praying.” Saul had been shut in with God for three days, refusing all food and water. All he wanted was the Lord so he continued on his knees, praying and seeking God.

When I was growing up, my preacher father taught me, “God always makes a way for a praying man.”

There have been periods in my life when the Lord has provided indisputable evidence of this. I was called to preach at eight years of age when the Holy Spirit came upon me. I wept and prayed, crying out, “Fill me, Lord Jesus.” Later as a teenager, I prayed until the Spirit came upon me in divine intensity. As a young pastor, a deep hunger rose up in me. Something in my heart told me, “There’s more to serving Jesus than what I am doing.” I spent months on my knees, weeping and praying for hours at a time, when finally the Lord called me to go to New York City to minister to gangs and drug addicts.

If I have ever heard from God—if I have any revelation of Christ, any measure of the mind of Christ—it came not through Bible study alone. It came through prayer. It came from seeking God in the secret place.

Do you want a fuller measure of the Spirit and God’s presence? Seek his face in prayer. Seek him unrelentingly and passionately. Through fervent prayer and supplication, you will find God’s mind and will for your life.

Testing the Limits of Grace

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents” (1 Corinthians 10:8-9, NKJV).

What does Paul mean here when he speaks of “tempting Christ”? Simply put, tempting the Lord means putting him to the test. We tempt him whenever we ask, “Just how merciful will God be to me if I move forward into this sin? How long can I indulge my sin before his anger is stirred? I know God is merciful, and this is an era of grace with no condemnation toward sinners. How could he possibly judge me, when I’m his child?”

Multitudes of Christians casually ask the same question today as they toy with a wicked temptation. They want to see how close they can get to hellfire without facing the consequences of sin. All the while, such believers are casting off conviction from God’s Word. They’re tempting Christ.

Any time we go against truth that God’s Spirit has made clear to us, we’re casting off Paul’s warning: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Ask yourself if you are testing the limits of God’s precious gift of grace. Are you asking Christ to indulge your sin in the face of your outright rebellion? You may say to yourself, “I’m a New Testament believer. I’m covered under the blood of Jesus. God won’t judge me.” By continuing in your sin, you are treating Jesus’ great sacrifice for you with utter disregard. Your present willful sin is putting him to open shame, not just in the world’s eyes, but before all of heaven and hell (see Hebrews 6:6).

Paul describes a way of escape from all temptation: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Dear believer, don’t flirt with sin and tempt God. Our escape is a growing knowledge and experience of the holy fear of God.