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Fanned into Flame

Gary WilkersonJune 29, 2020

When it comes to our walk with Christ, the Bible shows us there is a crucial difference between a spark and a torch, which we can see when we examine the lives of Saul and David. Saul had amazing experiences with God, moments that ignited in him a great zeal and provoked him to action. “Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry. He took two oxen and cut them into pieces and sent the messengers to carry them throughout Israel with this message: ‘This is what will happen to the oxen of anyone who refuses to follow Saul and Samuel into battle!’” (1 Samuel 11:6-7).

After each of Saul’s many moments of anointing in his life, he drifted from his passion for the Lord. One well-known instance of disobedience is when God commanded Saul to slay Agag, the enemy king he had captured, and to destroy all the spoils of battle. But Saul spared Agag and kept some of the spoils and in so doing, quenched the Holy Spirit’s work in his life (see 1 Samuel 15:8-10).

On the other hand, we see David raised up to be Israel’s next king. As his reputation for bold obedience grew, so did the fruit of his obedience, which made Saul jealous. At one point Saul intended to kill David and trapped him in a cave. Yet the Lord was gracious, stopping Saul before he could execute his plan. Simply put, Saul was bent on backsliding but the Lord’s mercy returned to him repeatedly.

David had the same spiritual experiences that Saul did, yet the spark that David received was fanned into a flame. “As David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on” (16:13). The phrase “from that day on” shows the difference in David’s and Saul’s lives. Once David received a spark from God, he guarded it, stoked it and fueled it. He determined, “I want this spark to increase into a burning flame for the Lord.”

Pray with me today, “God, thank you for touching me with the Holy Spirit. Anoint me with power to reach out to those around me and grace to show forth the compelling love of Jesus.”

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Learning to Soar by Walking First

Tim DilenaJune 27, 2020

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, KJV).

This is one of the most amazing verses in the Bible, and we read it all wrong. We fixate on “they shall mount up with wings as eagles” and skip over the walk and run portions. But flying like an eagle is not our goal. Actually, most days we may not feel like flying — but we can take one step at a time with our Savior.

Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Notice he says, “walk” in the Spirit, not fly in the Spirit. We don’t start out at a sprint or in the air as the eagle.

Christianity is a walk of faith, not a run of faith. It may sound boring but it’s effective. “For we walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Walking means doing basic, simple things to honor God — things such as deciding to pray, going to church, telling your loved ones you love them, making breakfast for your family, picking up your Bible to read. Every act of obedience is a step and every step will turn into your Spirit-walk.

When you take one small step of obedience, God blesses it. You may not feel like raising your hands in worship to the heavenly Father but you put forth a little effort because you love him — and God does the rest. You may not feel like being kind or reaching out to someone, but you do it because you have compassion and want to please Jesus.

Paul instructs us to take just one step at a time. Put one foot in front of the other and these steps become our walk. Those who walk are the ones who last. Those who try to run and fly usually tire out and are never seen again. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian, said it well: “One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.”

Today, determine to let God lead you step by step as you pursue your walk with him. Walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7); run the race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1); and then soar like an eagle (Isaiah 40:31).    

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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Obtaining Joy in the Darkest of Times

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)June 26, 2020

“The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:11). In this passage, Isaiah is telling us that in the midst of the dark times to come, some of God’s elect are going to awaken and lay hold of the Spirit of Christ. When they do so, the Holy Spirit will cause a spirit of joy and gladness to reside in them so deeply that no condition, circumstance or person will be able to steal their joy.

There may be no joy in our wicked society, among the ungodly, or even in dead, formal churches. But Isaiah speaks a word of hope to the righteous: “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My law” (51:7). God is speaking here to all those who know and obey him.

We who know Christ’s righteousness are not to live as those who are without hope. We have been blessed with both the love and fear of God, and his will for us in the darkest times is to obtain his joy. Even as we see judgment falling around us, we are to sing, shout and rejoice — not because judgment has come, but in spite of it.

God reminded his people, “[I] made the depths of the sea a road for the redeemed to cross over” (51:10. He was saying, “I’m still the Lord, the worker of miracles, and my arm is still strong to deliver you.” So, what does God want his people to know in light of this truth? He says it all in one verse, Isaiah 51:11:

  • “So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing.” In other words, “I’m going to have a people who return to me with trust, faith and confidence.”
  • “With everlasting joy on their heads.” The joy of God’s people won’t be just for a Sunday morning, or a week or a month. It will last even to the very end.
  • “Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” This doesn’t mean all our suffering will end but it means our trust in the Lord will put us above every pain and trial. 

God looked down through the ages and said, “I’m going to have a people who will obtain joy.” You can lay hold of it and it will be yours — forever!

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Full-Time Ministry to Jesus

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)June 25, 2020

God desires every believer to be involved in full-time ministry — but what is full-time ministry? It doesn’t simply mean pastoring a church, traveling as an evangelist or going to a foreign land as a missionary. Scripture says we are all called as priests unto the Lord; in the Lord’s eyes, full time ministry is ministry unto him.

You won’t need human applause, a plan, an assignment, or involvement in some great work. The only ministry that satisfies your soul is your prayer and worship to the Lord because you know that all ministry flows out of ministry to the Savior. When you’ve given yourself completely to a single thing — ministering unto the Lord — then you're ready for what God sees as full-time ministry.

In the coming days, passive, lukewarm believers will experience a searing of their conscience. This won’t be a hardening against God; they’ll hold a form of godliness and believe they’re safe, but the time will come when they have no feeling whatsoever. And, in turn, they’ll have no fear, shock or concern for eternity. They’ll stop growing in Christ and become easy targets for Satan.

Paul describes what happens to those who refuse to grow up in Christ: “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:18-19). In short, such people become casual about the things of God and ignore all calls to wake up and seek him.

I urge every young believer: if you’ve grown lukewarm and apathetic toward Jesus, wake up! Don’t let the fire of the Holy Spirit go out of your life. Seek the Lord and become a full-time minister unto him, pursuing him with all your heart. In so doing, you’ll have the power of Christ to face the days ahead with confidence and peace.

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Responding to God’s Judgement

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)June 24, 2020

“A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8).

Of all the Old Testament prophets, Amos speaks most clearly to our times. The prophecy he delivers zeroes in on our generation as if it were ripped from today’s headlines. Indeed, Amos’ message is a dual prophecy, meant not only for God’s people in his day but also for the church right now, in our time.

Amos described God as a roaring lion, ready to strike Israel with judgment. The Lord was using Amos to awaken Israel with the message that God was about to send judgment on his people because of their overwhelming evil and corruption.

The Lord never judges a people without first raising up prophetic voices to warn them. “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (3:7). As Amos saw the cloud of judgment gathering, he was compelled to speak: “If the trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid?” (3:6). Amos’ message here is chilling: “God has sounded a trumpet of warning to his people but no one is alarmed.”

Sadly, too many Christians have become biblically illiterate, open to great deception, and our nation has become pleasure-mad. But God still has a holy, separated remnant, those who aren’t caught up in worldly pursuits; they’re brokenhearted before the Lord and have a holy reverence of him.

Think about the events unfolding in our nation at this moment. Few want to hear a message having to do with judgment even though our nation is filled with fear. People are even saying, “I can’t handle any more.” But the Lord speaks when he will and his Spirit provides us strength to hear his Word, as delivered by his anointed servants. Our Lord will faithfully empower his people to endure whatever may come.

So, what are believers to do? Heed Amos’ warning and follow his message: Seek the Lord with all your heart; allow yourself to be judged by his Word; and confess and forsake your sin. Then God will bless you with discernment and you can walk in total assurance of his presence and safety.   

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