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Devotions

The Need for Christian Fellowship

Jim CymbalaAugust 10, 2019

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

It is a blessing to worship together with other believers. Singing songs to the Lord, hearing his precious Word expounded, lifting our voices in prayer with other Christians, loving and being loved — these are the means the Lord uses to strengthen our hearts.

In Paul’s day there were people who shunned public worship for one reason or another. Likewise, their modern counterparts have little desire to be in God’s house with his people. This is a bad thing, no matter what the rationalization. When a believer begins to attend church less frequently or only sporadically, it could be a sign of spiritual trouble. There are a lot of rationalizations; “I work so hard that I’m just too tired.” “We need more family time.” “I can worship God in my kitchen.” Or the ever-popular, “The church is filled with hypocrites.”

Do not let disappointment or church politics keep you from experiencing spiritual renewal. Folks who have little appetite to be with other believers have, in fact, little appetite for Christ. To be a healthy part of the church body always implies two things: a desire to stay connected and the humility to admit our need for other believers. If the apostle Paul asked for prayer and longed for fellowship with believers, we should, too. We all need the encouragement of brothers and sisters in Christ to help us along our way.  

Attending church regularly is not a matter of legalism but spiritual logic, especially as we see “the Day” approaching. Soon Jesus will come again and all the cares of life that bog us down will disappear in a millisecond. What matters most is our faith in Christ, our growth in grace, the fruit we produce for his glory, and the fulfillment of his will for our lives. Much of our spiritual development happens as we interact with other members of the body of Christ on a regular basis, so be diligent in gathering together with fellow believers. 

Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.

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Kept by the Power of God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)August 9, 2019

There is a thrilling Old Testament story that best illustrates what it means to be kept by the power of God. We find it in 2 Kings 6.

Benhadad, king of Syria, declared war on Israel and marched against them with a great army. As his forces advanced, he often called his war counsel into his private chambers to plan the next day’s strategy. But the prophet Elisha, moved by the Holy Spirit, kept sending word to the king of Israel, detailing every move of the enemy troops. On several occasions, the Israelites escaped defeat because of Elisha’s warnings.

Benhadad was furious and he called his servants together. “Show me this traitor! Who is revealing our plans to the king of Israel?” “One of his servants said, ‘None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak” (2 Kings 6:12).

Benhadad immediately dispatched forces to capture Elisha. They went to Dothan by night and surrounded the city, intending to take the old prophet by surprise. But Elisha’s servant awakened early and saw that “there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots.” Terrified, he ran to Elisha and asked what they should do. “[Elisha] answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16-17).

Elisha, like the psalmist, could stand in the midst of crisis and say with absolute assurance, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Psalm 3:6).

Let your prayer be that of Elisha: “Lord, open my eyes that I may see the mountains filled with horses and chariots of fire — the Lord of hosts!” Beloved, there is hope! The Lord of hosts is with us. He alone is our keeper. He will not let his children slip or fall. We are held in the palm of his hand. Be assured that he is with you to protect, guide, and refresh you in a new way today.

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You Are Loved and Accepted

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)August 8, 2019

Jeremiah was a thundering prophet of the Old Testament. Every word he preached was like a sword cutting into the flesh. He angered politicians and church leaders so much they threw him into prison.

But all the time, this weeping prophet looked forward to a day when God would visit his people and change their hearts. Jeremiah knew that God pitied His people and loved them with an everlasting love.

As predicted in Jeremiah 24, Christ was sent by the Father to fulfill the New Covenant. He sealed the agreement with His very own blood and put it into effect the day he died. This means God is not dealing with our generation as he did with Jeremiah's. We have new agreement based on better promises. Jeremiah's message of Law has been fulfilled now in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And what a difference between the thunder of Jeremiah, and the mercy of Jesus.

In our Lord’s final hour, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father about his disciples. Remember, Peter would betray him within hours, Thomas would doubt him, and all the disciples would forsake him and return to their homes. But Jesus would not condemn them, as we see in this fantastic prayer in John 17:

“[Father], You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word … I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them …They are not of this world … The glory You gave Me I have given them … You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17: 6, 8, 16, 22-23).

We say, “But, Jesus, don’t you see what is in Peter’s heart? He’s going to betray you! And Thomas is full of fear and trembling. How can you pray for them to be loved when they’re so weak?”

Oh, yes, their sin grieved Jesus but the New Covenant was being ushered in and it would feature forgiveness, mercy and grace. “I will forgive their iniquities; I will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah, under the Old Covenant, preached, “Your sins have cut Him off from you,” but Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Things are different now. Sin is still hated by God, but we have a living Savior, seated at the right hand of the Father, still praying for us. Jesus is trying to say to us, “You do not need a thundering Jeremiah to keep you from sin and the world. You need only to accept me, repent, and draw closer to me. No condemnation. No fear. Simply love me completely and you will forsake all your sins.”

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A Cry is Rising

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)August 7, 2019

God wants to break through to his people. As Scripture predicts, the devil has come down with great wrath, knowing his time is short. Right now, God’s people need a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit; a supernatural touch even greater than the one at Pentecost. The cry that is called for today was heard in Isaiah’s day: “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! … For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:1, 4).

On the Day of Pentecost, the 120 disciples gathered in the Upper Room. They had come together as one body for one purpose: the hope of seeing Jesus’ promise fulfilled: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Their cry was the same as in Isaiah’s day: “Lord, rend the heavens and come down. Let all opposition, human and demonic, melt at your presence, so the lost may be saved.” And we know what happened! The Holy Spirit fell, with visible fire appearing on the disciples’ heads. They emerged from that room forever changed and thousands of lives were transformed as a result.

Consider what God was doing in that moment. All around the world there was great darkness, yet God’s focus was on 120 humble, praying saints gathered in a small, rented room. And now, today, God is preparing a people who have stirred themselves to lay hold of him. In small churches and gatherings all over the world, a cry is rising and it is getting more intense: “God, tear open the heavens and come down. Send your Holy Spirit fire and manifest your presence.”

The only thing those 120 disciples in the Upper Room had to hold onto was a promise from Jesus that he would come. And he did come, with power unseen in all of history. Likewise today, all we have to hold onto is a promise from our Lord. He pledged to all who would follow him, “I appoint unto you a kingdom” (Luke 22:29).

Right now, the Lord is hearing his people’s cry, all over the world. As the Spirit falls and stirs our hearts, let this be our cry also: “Behold, Jesus is coming. Let us go out to meet him!”

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Do You Believe God Will See You Through?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)August 6, 2019

The most important question facing God’s people in these last days is this: “Do you believe God will see you through? Do you believe he can do all that is necessary to answer your prayers and meet your needs?” This is the same question our Lord asked the two blind men who begged him for mercy and healing. “‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said, ‘Yes, Lord.’ … And their eyes were opened” (Matthew 9:28-30).

The Lord asks you, me, the church, “Do you believe I am able to direct and guide you and perform my perfect will in your life? Do you believe I am still at work on your behalf? Or do you harbor secret thoughts that I have forsaken you and let you down?” God is not primarily interested in our doing some great work for him; rather, he desperately wants us to simply trust him.

Some restless Christians want to “forsake all and get into some kind of full-time ministry.” In fact, some are actually selling their homes and businesses and packing the family off to some poverty-type ministry without a true directive from the Holy Spirit. Occasionally God is in such plans, but in most instances, he is not.

Beloved, God does not want anything you possess; he is not after your house, your land, your car, or any other worldly possession. No! He wants your trust and he longs for you to be firmly established in your confidence in him.  He desires your obedience, and the Word of God is clear that he will be pleased with nothing short of your faith.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).  Stand still and trust in the Lord, fixed and established in your confidence in him. In so doing, you will enjoy rest, peace of mind and freedom from fear. What joy to have the assurance that you are pleasing him with your trust.  

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