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Devotions

Dealing with Failed Expectations

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)February 21, 2020

Some believers harbor resentment toward God, which can be very dangerous. Sadly, a growing number of ministers are becoming increasingly disillusioned, burned out, even angry with God, and are walking away from their calling. While this is hard to understand, many of them reason, “I was diligent, faithful — I gave it my best — but the harder I worked, the fewer results I saw. My congregation was not appreciative and all my prayers seemed in vain. Now I'm taking a step back so I can try to figure things out.”

The Bible gives us an example of a missionary who grew disheartened when things didn’t go as planned. “The word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Ninevah, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3:2). He had disobeyed this command once before with dire consequences (remember the story of Jonah and the whale?) but this time he obeyed and preached the message God had given him.

Jonah expected the city to be destroyed and so he waited for it — but nothing happened! Why? Because God had mercy and changed his mind: “God saw their works … and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them” (3:10). In other words, the people of Ninevah repented and God showed them mercy and grace.

Jonah was grieved and disappointed because things hadn’t gone as planned. Also, his pride was wounded and this wounded spirit eventually devolved into rage.

God understands our pain and confusion; after all, our cry is a human one. Remember, the Lord has only good things in mind for you and he will heal you of all bitterness as you seek his face. Truly “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Hallelujah!

 

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At Peace in the Storm

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)February 20, 2020

God promised the prophet Zechariah that in the last days, he would be a protective wall of fire around his people: “‘For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her’” (Zechariah 2:5). Likewise, Isaiah testifies: “There shall be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain” (Isaiah 4:6). 

These promises are meant to comfort us before a great storm comes in the final days. Indeed, Jesus says this coming storm will be so frightful that people’s hearts will fail them as they see it developing (see Luke 21:26).

Now, if Jesus says this storm is going to be ferocious, we can be sure it will be an awesome moment in history. Yet, the Bible assures us God never sends judgment on any society without first revealing to his prophets what he plans to do: “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

This is a marvelous expression of our Lord’s great love for his people. Just prior to an impending storm of judgment, he always commands his prophets to warn the people to return to him: “I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions … through the witness of the prophets” (Hosea 12:10).

Always keep in mind that God lovingly calls his people back to himself in order to protect them in times of storm. Our nation has turned far away from God. Just look at the abortion rate, the conditions in the schools, the addiction and blasphemy and immorality present in our society.

How do we emulate Jesus’ attitude in these troubling times? The secret: Jesus kept the Father always before his face! David speaks prophetically of Christ: “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken” (Acts 2:25). The literal meaning here is, “I was always in his presence, beholding his face.”

Beloved, if we're going to face the coming storm, then we need to be prepared so nothing disturbs our spirit. And the only way to do that is to spend time in the father's presence, beholding his face. We have to be shut in with him - on our knees — until we're thoroughly persuaded he's at our right hand!

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Simmering Bitterness

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)February 19, 2020

Americans seem to have a habit of using cooking terms to describe emotions. For example, an upset person is described as steamed and an angry person is referred to as being boiling mad.

Think of the angry, accusing words that Joseph’s brothers leveled at him. Satan prompted those words because he wanted Joseph to hold on to bitterness and spend years stewing in the juices of anger, revenge and hatred. Thank God, Joseph laid it all down — he didn’t allow it to simmer!

Are you stewing or simmering over some hurtful thing said or done to you? Is the flame of anger still burning, bringing you to a slow boil, and yet you refuse to shut if off? If so, you are in danger of boiling over. Too many Christians have no life at all because they hold on to a simmering bitterness, letting the emotion stew.

The Word of God warns against harboring bitterness: “Pursue peace … lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:14-15). A bitter person will not listen to counsel; a bitter Christian will not even heed God’s Word. Why? Because anger blinds the heart to truth.

Beloved, the leaven in your heart is hard at work right now. You may not be stoking the fires in the oven. But, eventually, the leaven will cause a rise. And, in a single moment of rage, it will bring forth the bread of iniquity!

This describes the lives of many Christians today. They've got a little leaven in their heart - some small anger or hurt they've never dealt with - and they won't face it and repent. Instead, they simply turn a blind eye to it. They may believe their heart is clean, innocent. They may even testify, "I have nothing against that person. I'm not stewing over anything."

But the leaven of bitterness is still at work in them - reaching into every area of their life. And the time will come when it will surface again, rising up like leavened bread - because it hasn't been dealt with!

The Holy Spirit will empower you to turn off the fires of agitation that trouble you. Trust in Christ’s forgiveness and let him enable you to overcome every hindrance to fulfillment and maturity in him.

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The Danger of Neglecting Prayer

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)February 18, 2020

Christians seem to have a hard time praying. They spend their days worrying, fretting, because they don’t have an answer to their problems. They talk to friends, seek out counselors, read self-help books, listen to podcasts, almost anything to avoid getting on their knees before God. But the Word is clear that we are to go to God first: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

David boasted, “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3). He was saying, “I’ve proven you, God! In all my trials, I turned to no one else. I sought only you and you heard me, answered me, and gave me strength for the battle I was facing.”

 Additionally, “The Lord … hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).

These are but a few of the promises given as evidence of God’s care. How could any Christian miss them? Yet, when it comes to prayer, the Bible gives us more than promises; it also gives us warnings about the danger of neglecting prayer: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). The Greek word for neglect here means “showing little concern; to take lightly.”

The context of this verse is a discussion of the things related to our salvation — and prayer is obviously one of those. God is asking, “How will you know and recognize my voice in dark days if you haven’t learned to hear it in your secret closet?” It’s hard to understand how God’s own people — who are under constant attack from hell, facing trouble and temptations on all sides — can go week after week without seeking him.

Some Christians need to change their priorities. They find time for visiting with friends, washing the car, shopping, dining out, watching sports — the list could go on and on — but they simply don’t make time to pray. Their lives would be so much richer and more effective in every way if they would put Jesus at the very top of their list.

“Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:10). I encourage you to go to your secret place of prayer regularly and seek him with all your heart.

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Victory Over Raging Storms

Gary WilkersonFebruary 17, 2020

We know that Jesus won the victory for us at Calvary when he defeated death, Satan and the power of sin. The question remaining for believers is, “Now what? I know Jesus won my victory on the cross, but where is his victory for the conflict raging in my life right now?”

When Jesus became your Savior, he made you a new creation but although you were changed, the world remained the same. And because of this, there are powers that align themselves against you — the world, the devil and even your own flesh — warring against your spirit.

Some battles are external, such as attacks on our marriage, our finances, our children. Other battles are internal, such as worry, depression, anxiety.  “Can my marriage survive?” “Will my child ever come to the Lord?” “Am I even worthy to call myself a Christian?” All these pressures push us toward doubt and despair, causing us to wonder if God is in all that is going on in our daily lives.

We may take a stand against Satan and draw a line in the sand, as it were, but not see any progress. That’s what happened to Israel as they faced the Philistines. “The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them” (17:3). Saul lined up all his men to stop the Philistines’ advance, achieving a kind of standoff. But did that stop the enemy? Not at all. In fact, the Philistines brought out an even greater weapon in the person of Goliath.

We all know the story of Goliath, the giant who taunted Israel’s mighty warriors until they were dismayed and filled with shame. Satan uses the same tactics against us, trying to intimidate and shame us until we say with the young conqueror, David: “The Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s” (17:46-47). There was no sword in David’s hand but his gigantic enemy didn’t have a chance because the battle was the Lord’s!

Jesus triumphed on the cross and your victory is secured! God will do battle for you as you trust him.

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