Remember Your First Love

Gary Wilkerson

Deuteronomy chapter 6 opens with an incredibly important prayer that Moses taught the Israelites. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, ESV). 

Moses had been leading the nation in the wilderness for 40 years by this point. He’d seen the burning bush, then God sent him to the Israelite elders to declare, “The great I Am is here. God is going to move mightily, and your 400 years of captivity and slavery is coming to an end.  As soon as I go to Pharaoh and talk to him, I’ll tell him ‘to let my people go.’ God is on the move!”

Can you imagine this man whose heart’s desire was to see the children of Israel set free from bondage, and instead they complained against God? After that, everyone was sent on a decades long trip through the wilderness. If that didn’t make Moses tempted to be cynical about both people and God, I don’t know what would.

The Israelites complained against God and doubted his promises a lot. I don’t know what kind of family you come from, but if you spend a lot of time in a family that is full of doubt and negative talk, that’s going to wear off on you. That’s when you have to do what Moses did. You have to get away from the crowd and get alone with God and pray, “Protect me in that place and in all of the places where I could be filled with these voices of unbelief.”

When we get in this place of closeness with God, away from the cynical voices, our heart will begin to be filled with joy. We must remember who God is in all of his holiness, and then we will remember our love for him. This is part of what Moses is teaching the next generation in this prayer.

When we purposefully remember God’s nature, the faith that remains in us will begin to be built up in our lives, and we will begin to see once again a confidence in the Lord. It’s this confidence that releases the outpouring of God’s blessing.

Character to Meet the Call

Keith Holloway

In chapters 14, 15 and 16 of Judges, we’re shown how Samson lived his life. Now he knew that he was set apart by God for specific work. The way he lived, however, shows that he struggled with character.

When we go to Hebrews, we see “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions” (Hebrews 12:32-33, ESV).

Samson knew full well that he had a holy calling on his life. He is named in the “Hall of Faith” because he knew that he didn’t have any strength of his own to accomplish these great feats. Despite this, he lived loosely.

There is no evidence in the four chapters about his life that he prayed, except once right before he died. He didn’t settle any disputes between people; he didn’t engage with any rulers; he didn’t lead Israel into battle.

Instead, Samson lived a self-indulgent lifestyle, often revolving around a woman. During his wedding, he killed thirty men and took their clothing to fulfill a bet. He seemingly abandoned his wife, and when he discovered that she’d remarried, he burned several of the Philistines’ fields. Then we find him with his head in Delilah’s lap. The Philistines captured him, cut his hair and put his eyes out. God, in his grace and mercy, still gave Samson supernatural strength once more to defeat Israel’s enemies.

This is the same with us. Who among us has a perfect record? God gives us grace and mercy in our time of need. I believe there was so much more that God wanted to do with Samson’s life, though, if only his character had come into alignment with his calling. His story is a warning for us to be mindful of how we live our lives.

Is your character developing according to your natural self? Are you gratifying your own impulses and desires? Or are you allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you with the character of Christ? Are you producing the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23)?

We will never completely fulfill God’s purpose for our lives until we become men and women of prayer who seek the will of God wholeheartedly. Oh friends, I pray that our characters grow toward the holy calling of God in our lives.

The God Who Is Near

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

When the Lord takes up residence in us, he brings with him all his power and resources. Suddenly, our inner man has access to God’s strength, wisdom, truth, peace, everything we need to live in victory. We don’t have to cry out to him to come down to us from heaven. He’s already in us. Paul tells us just how powerful we are in Christ.

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19, NKJV).

What an amazing passage. Paul lists but a few of the incredible treasures the Lord has made available to us. Indeed, all of God’s riches are available to us in Christ Jesus. 

Some Christians have created an image of a self-centered God whose only pleasure is in receiving praise. May that never be said about our Lord because that isn’t at all why he has come to abide in us. He has come to show us that he’s a God who is not far off. The Lord wants us to know he isn’t just out in the dark expanse of the cosmos somewhere. He doesn’t flit in and out of our lives at will. No, he’s very present in us, and he never leaves his abode in us.

This is how Jesus could tell his disciples, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (Mark 11:22-23).

When the Father made his dwelling in our temple, he brought to us a strength in our inner man, a deep rooting and grounding in love, as well as access to ask him for all things. He has made all things possible through his divine power at work in us.

Where Does God Dwell?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

After Jesus was taken up to heaven, the apostle John received a magnificent vision of glory. He said, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (Revelation 21:22-23, NKJV). In other words, the only temple in heaven is Jesus himself.

Now that God’s temple is in glory, sitting at his right hand, where does the Lord dwell on earth? We know that no building can contain God. As God himself says, “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you will build me? And where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1). Paul echoes this in the New Testament, “God, who made the world and everything in it, since he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24). If we look for God’s dwelling place in some building, we’re not going to find it.

Paul gives us our answer: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Lord lives and rests in the bodies of his created humankind.

Once we place our belief in Jesus, we become God’s very dwelling place. This was demonstrated most visibly at the Upper Room. The Holy Spirit fell on the disciples there, filling them with himself. He claimed their sanctified bodies as God’s temple where the Father would come and live. The Spirit would help them to mortify and destroy the works of their sinful flesh, and he would give them power to live victoriously. Their bodies became God’s temple, a dwelling place not built with hands.

Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). In other words, you belong to God, and he wants you to be his resting place.

Dear believers, give God glory by opening up your heart to the truth that you are his temple on earth.

The Promised Possession of God’s People

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

In a confusing and contradictory-seeming passage, God gave the Old Testament patriarch Abraham the land of Canaan “for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8, NKJV).

You might think while reading this, “How could God promise Abraham’s descendants a permanent homeland? Surely Abraham must have known that the land in front of him wouldn’t last into eternity.” The New Testament even tells us that the world will be destroyed by fire, burnt completely out of existence, after which the Lord will bring about a new heaven and earth. Was this promise of an “everlasting possession” to Abraham some kind of trick? It couldn’t be a mere piece of real estate. How could that be eternal?

The fact is that this land of promise was symbolic of a place beyond the earth. I believe Abraham knew this in his spirit. The Bible says that as Abraham moved about in Canaan, he always felt alien. “By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).

Abraham’s heart longed for something beyond the land itself. He could see the true significance of the land blessing, and he realized, “This place isn’t the real possession. It’s just an illustrated sermon of the great blessing to come.” Abraham grasped the true meaning of the Promised Land; he knew Canaan represented the coming redemption of God’s people, the safe haven that the Lord would invite his people into one day. Jesus himself said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). 

The Holy Spirit enabled this patriarch to see down through the years to the day of Christ. He knew that the meaning of his Promised Land meant a place of total peace and rest, and this place of rest is Jesus Christ himself.

The Lord Jesus is our promised possession. We are his, but he is ours as well, and God invites us to obtain our everlasting possession by simple faith.