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Devotions

Knowing Our Shepherd’s Voice

Gary WilkersonJuly 27, 2020

“The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep … The sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:2-3, NLT).

We all need guidance for decisions in life, yet in a world as chaotic as ours, getting good guidance isn’t always simple or easy. Jesus makes it clear that it’s different for his children, however. “His sheep” know his voice and “come to him.” The picture he gives is that of a good shepherd providing oversight and care for his own sheep.

Does that suffice for the hard decisions we all have to make? “Whom do I marry? What vocation do I pursue? What is my purpose in life?” Such questions are fraught with tension.  

As our Shepherd cares and provides for us, our enemy, the devil seeks to steal from us. Satan is bent on destroying our precious faith and Jesus describes him as a thief who sneaks into a pen: “Anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! … The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:1, 10).

A hindrance every Christian encounters is the alluring gospel of a false teacher. Jesus teaches, “[My sheep] won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice” (10:5). Such “strangers” look, sound and dress the same as any good pastor but the gospel they preach gradually leads people away from Christ’s rich, satisfying “good pasture” to the destruction of their souls.

It is essential that we learn the voice of our Good Shepherd and be able to distinguish it from the voices of false shepherds. And the only way to detect the counterfeit is to intimately know the original. This comes only by feeding on the meat of our Shepherd: “So faith comes by hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:17).     

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When the Insignificant Leads to Victory

Tim DilenaJuly 25, 2020

We all know the story of David — the young shepherd who became a hero when he defeated the Philistine giant named Goliath. David was the youngest son of Jesse, whose three oldest sons were serving in King Saul’s army. Their father Jesse sent David out to the battlefield to check on his brothers and take some provisions to them.

“Take these ten cuts of cheese to the commander of the unit. See how your brothers are doing and bring back news of them. Now they are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. So David got up early in the morning … and went” (1 Samuel 17:-20, AMP).

David’s father asked him to do something small and he obeyed, never imagining that this insignificant task would lead to a great victory for himself, for the Israelites and for God. David was bold and he ended up killing Goliath, who had been taunting the men of Israel relentlessly — a feat that would define his life (read the full story in 1 Samuel 17:23-51).

Think of it. The Holy Spirit was not moving on David to take cheese to his brothers, he went because his father told him to. David was making a cheese delivery, a menial act of service, when he was supernaturally positioned for the destiny God had planned for him.

Hudson Taylor, British missionary to China, said, “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing.”

Your entry ramp into your destiny starts with humble tasks that may not even match what you want to do. You must pass the humility test. Many people are never selected to fight the giant because they didn’t want the cheese assignment!

Go from the beginning of the Bible to the end and over and over you’ll find the stories of men and women with servant hearts, minds and spirits who made the world a much better place:

Moses didn’t say, “I don’t do deserts.” Ruth didn’t say, “I don’t do mothers-in-law.”

Noah didn’t say, “I don’t do boats.” Mary didn’t say, “I don’t do virgin births.”

Paul didn’t say, “I don’t do letters.” Jesus didn’t say, “I don’t do crosses.”

Be the believer who does the seemingly insignificant act of service on your way to finding your destiny in Christ. Deliver the cheese!

After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.

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How Forgiveness Reveals a Transformed Heart

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)July 24, 2020

Most of Jesus’ parables relate to him and his church. In Matthew 18 he describes a king who calls his servants to account. Evidently, the king was dealing with servants who had been exposed for committing crimes and the servant in greatest debt was one of the first offenders to be brought before him. In some way, this man had managed to fall into tremendous debt, owing the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars. When he was called to account, “he was not able to pay” (Matthew 18:25). So the king commanded that he be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he possessed.

This servant immediately cried out, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all” (18:26). The man had nothing of value to exchange for his criminal act — so he fell on the mercy of his king. “Give me some time. I can make up for my sin and satisfy all your demands.” But the truth was, this servant couldn’t possibly pay for his crime.

“Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt” (18:27). And then we find that the servant wasn’t repentant at all, he was merely trying to play on the king’s feeling, seeking his pity. The king knew this, but he had compassion because of the awful sickness that plagued this man’s mind and heart.  

The king in Jesus’ parable knew just how crushing the consequences of his servant’s sins were. And he could see that if he gave him over to those consequences, the servant would be lost forever. Without forgiveness, he would spiral downward hopelessly and become hardened for life. So the king forgave him and declared the man to be free and clear, releasing him from all debt.

How did the forgiven servant respond to his master’s grace and forgiveness? He went right out and attacked a fellow servant who owed him a small amount of money (18:28-30). What an abominable sin; the blackness in his heart was revealed, even after he had been forgiven.

Are you getting the message? We cannot ever repay God for our trespasses; we must just accept his grace and mercy toward us. And we must be tenderhearted and loving to one another: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

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Turning to God in Your Distress

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)July 23, 2020

Disobedience is walking contrary to God’s revealed Word. Stubborn disobedience brings a spirit of slumber and apathy. We all know the story of Jonah when he was fleeing “to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” God sent a great storm and “Jonah [went] down into the lowest parts of the ship … and was fast asleep” (Jonah 1:3, 5). His disobedience had brought on a fierce storm but he was oblivious to the chaos and pain he was causing and drifted into a spiritual stupor.

The captain of the ship awakened Jonah from his sleep and the crew questioned, “For whose cause is this trouble upon us?” (Jonah 1:8). Jonah urged the crew to cast him overboard, but they ignored him and headed for land (1:13). Their actions said they knew they were on their own.

Jonah was utterly powerless. Even if he was spared from the storm, he was in no condition to prophesy to Ninevah, which had been his original calling (see 1:2). Scripture tells us, “The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (1:17).  Why would a merciful God take Jonah so low? He was in a living hell, but after three days and nights, “Jonah prayed to the Lord his God” (2:1). Why didn’t Jonah pray before this? It was because he was convinced, “I am cast out of Your sight” (2:4). He thought, “I’m a dead man; I can’t go any lower. God has turned his back on me.”

Nothing could have been further from the truth! When Jonah went overboard, the fish was there, ready to swallow him — evidence that the Lord was at work. Satan had succeeded in robbing Jonah of any hope of God’s grace for three days and nights, but the truth was that God was speeding him on his way to Ninevah — his place of obedience. Soon the prophet would be walking in sunlight again, fulfilling his calling.     

The storm you’re in is meant to give you a revelation of God’s mercy and grace. If you’re walking in disobedience, run to him now, quickly repent, and pour out your soul to him. He won’t keep you long in the whale’s belly because he is a loving God who longs to restore you. The intensity of your time “in hell” will speed you on your way to complete victory — so keep your trust in him.

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The Battle for Our Families

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)July 22, 2020

The Bible is clear that in these last days, the church of Jesus Christ faces the wrath of Satan. He is hell-bent on destroying marriages, alienating children, pitting family members against each other with the simple goal of bringing ruin and destruction to every home he possibly can. Jesus referred to this demonic work when he described Satan, saying, “You are of your father the devil … He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).

The tragedies plaguing families today are simply beyond belief. All over the world, the devil is wreaking absolute havoc and he will not stop until he devours every family in his path. Amid all this destruction, Satan has not overlooked Christian homes. Many believing families have been wracked by chaos, sorrow and pain through divorce, rebellious children, and addictions of all kinds.

In any troubled home, someone must get hold of Jesus! When an impossible situation arises, no counsel or medicine can help; a miracle must happen or else it will end in devastation. Miracles come as a result of intercessory prayer, determination and persistence.

When Christ was on the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, “a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed” (Matthew 15:22). Satan had moved into this woman’s house and possessed her daughter. Jesus didn’t answer the woman right away and the disciples even urged him to send her away so she would stop bothering him (15:23). But the woman wouldn’t leave because her daughter’s condition was a matter of life and death to her. She wasn’t going to relent in her pursuit of Jesus and the Lord commended her for it: “‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (15:28).

Beloved, we have been promised all the grace and mercy we need for our crises and that includes every crisis involving our families, saved or unsaved. We have been invited to come boldly to Christ’s throne with confidence! But I can assure you of one thing: good things will never happen if we simply resign them to fate. We must labor in intercession for our family and our loved ones. Make this your prayer: “Lord, whatever it takes, I’m going to do battle for my family as long as I live.”

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