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Devotions

Divine Purpose and Definition

Gary Wilkerson

John Piper wrote about what he considered to be one of the most damning, disruptive and culture-changing sentences in the history of the Supreme Court. This one little sentence came from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1992, and he said, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning of the universe, and of the mystery of life.”

For us to uphold that ideology, God must be excluded from the conversation.

Saying that any person gets to define what the universe says about their existence and to self-engineer their identity is an attempt to take God out of the picture because he defines who we are. “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27, ESV).

As Alexander MacLaren, a preacher from the 1800s, wrote, “A man fancies himself showing off his freedom by throwing off the restraints of morality or law, and by ‘doing as he likes,’ but he is really showing his servitude. Self-will looks like liberty, but it is serfdom…. Will and consciences are meant to be guide and impel us, and we never sin without first coercing or silencing them and subjecting them to the upstart tyranny of desires and senses which should obey and not command.”

Every single person instinctively knows God’s righteousness, justice and truth, even if we rebel against this knowledge. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

We have work that God has arranged for us. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

We are built for an eternal purpose. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We have been given a divine definition, duty and destination from our Father. We must not forget that, no matter what sins we fight against in our hearts.

He Who Watches Sparrows

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33, NKJV).

The Greek word for confess in this passage means covenant, assent or agreement. Jesus is speaking of an agreement we have with him. Our part is to confess him, or represent him, in our daily lives. We are to live by his promises of protection and personal care for us, and we are to testify of his marvelous blessings by how we live.

Confessing Christ means more than believing in his divinity. The Bible says even demons believe this and tremble at the knowledge (see James 2:19). So what does Jesus mean when he says we are to confess him before men?

What had Christ just told his listeners before the passage in verses 32 and 33? He had said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will” (Matthew 10:29). Jesus was telling them, “Think of the millions of birds throughout the earth. Now think of all the birds that have existed since Creation. To this day, not one bird has died or been snared without your heavenly Father knowing it.”

He then pointed out, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). Christ was emphasizing, “God is so great, he’s beyond your ability to comprehend. You’ll never be able to grasp how detailed his care for you is.”

Jesus concluded by saying, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31), then he sums everything up by saying, “Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). He is saying, “Think about what I’ve just revealed to you about the Father’s all-seeing, all-knowing care. You’re to confess this truth to the whole world. You’re to live, breathe and testify, ‘God cares for me.’”

Believe in the Father’s love for you, and accept his intimate care for you. Lay down all your fears and doubts. Confess to everyone, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches over me.” Live before men with the faith that God hasn’t overlooked you.

Can We Thrive without God’s Law?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Most of America knows that the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the Ten Commandments are no longer required to be displayed in any government courthouse. This landmark decision has been covered exhaustively by the media, but what does the ruling mean?

A courthouse is where laws are enforced. The Ten Commandments represent God’s moral law, which never shifts or changes. It is as fixed as the law of gravity. If you defy that law, it’s like stepping off a high building. You can deny that the law affects you, but there are consequences to be paid. The Ten Commandments are eternal laws designed by God to keep society from destroying itself.

Despite this, many sand-blasting companies have ground away those Commandments, as well as God’s name, wherever they were engraved in courthouse marble or concrete.

What a telling picture of the state of our society. These unchangeable laws were originally engraved in stone by the finger of God. Now they are being erased from stone by the law of man.

Some Christians are saying, “What’s the big deal? We are not under the law. Why should this be an issue?” No, we are not under the Hebrew law, meaning the 613 additional commandments added by Jewish rabbis. But every Christian is under the authority of God’s moral law, which is summed up in the Ten Commandments.

Other believers claim, “We don’t need these displays of the Commandments. All that’s really necessary is for us to have them written in our hearts.” That’s not what God’s Word says. Consider the very visible presence God intended for the Commandments as they were delivered to his people.

“These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

If you don’t want God in your midst, he doesn’t simply go away. The Bible offers warning after warning on this matter. Why did God judge Noah’s generation by sending a flood? It all happened because of lawlessness.

We must pray for people to turn back to the Lord and honor his law once more.

Our God-given Escape Plan

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God’s Word tells us in no uncertain terms, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, NKJV).

Here is the truth, plain and simple. Without the holiness that’s imparted by Christ alone—a precious gift we honor by leading a life devoted to obeying his every word—none of us will see the Lord. This refers not just to heaven but to our present life as well. Without holiness, we won’t see God’s presence in our daily walk, our family, our relationships, our witness or our ministry.

It doesn’t matter how many Christian conferences we attend, how many sermons we listen to, how many Bible studies we are involved in. If we harbor a cancerous sin, if the Lord has a controversy with us over our iniquity, then none of our efforts will produce godly fruit. On the contrary, our sin will only grow more contagious and infect everyone around us.

Of course, this issue goes beyond all lusts of the flesh all the way to a corruption of the spirit as well. Paul describes the same destructive sin in this passage when he says, “Nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:10).

Christ has promised to keep you from falling and to give you sin-resisting power if you simply believe what he has said. It is all a matter of faith. Believe him for this godly fear. Pray for it and welcome it. God will keep his word to you. You cannot break free from the death-grip of besetting sin by willpower or by any human effort alone. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

Dear saint, will you allow the Holy Spirit to deal with all the lusts you may be harboring? Will you instead seek the escape that God has provided for you?

I urge you to cultivate a holy fear and trust in these last days. It will keep you pure, no matter how loudly wickedness rages around you. It will enable you to walk in God’s holiness, which holds the promise of his enduring presence. Amen!

Rooting Out Cynicism

Gary Wilkerson

I have a friend that I’ve known for 20-something years, and he had an amazing ministry. It was growing rapidly. He bought an office building and was adding on to that. People were coming to Christ. He had open doors to preach around the country.

Around this time, some of his prayers seemingly began to go unanswered. He was hoping for certain things to take place in his ministry, and they didn’t. After that, he and his team started having some difficulties. His newsletter following was dropping off, and then the giving for his evangelistic association began to dwindle. He was receiving fewer and fewer invitations to speak around the country. 

Instead of saying “God, you build up, and you tear down. It’s your ministry, whatever you would have for it”, he started to become bitter. Every time I would meet with him for lunch, I could see this shift in him. 

Eventually, my friend left the ministry altogether, and he left it beaten, discouraged and hurt. He tried to mask it with humor, but he had become so cynical that it was difficult to be around him. He’d moved from believing God would do great things to almost believing in nothing from God anymore. He’s not the only one, though. To varying degrees, many of us have allowed disappointment and cynicism to creep up in our heart. 

That bright fire of belief that we once held in our heart has been diminished. The confidence in a God who moves mightily and can raise you up has been weakened. We must remember what Jesus promised us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV).

When we are beaten down and feel a seed of cynicism taking root, we should turn to this verse: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

We must not allow bitterness against God to choke his plan in our lives. We must remember his promises and encourage one another to never give up.