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Hope in a Time of Spiritual Decline

Gary WilkersonAugust 10, 2020

Teachings about divine authority — God’s power — abound in the church today. When I hear such discourse, I immediately think of Elijah. This prophet lived in a period much like ours, one marked by spiritual decline, when honoring God was at an all-time low.

Elijah’s life illustrates the divine authority God wants to endow us with, especially in these times. There was strife in Israel in Elijah’s time, with God’s people divided into two kingdoms — Samaria in the north and Judah in the south. The Samaritans’ faith became corrupted because they allowed other religions to mix with Judaism. Ahab, the noted king behind all this, took God’s ways lightly: “As if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam” (1 Kings 16:31).

Under Ahab’s rule, the people sinned freely and felt no conviction over it. The Bible says Ahab committed more evil than any king of Israel up to that time. “And Ahab … did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him” (1 Kings 16:30).

We are also living in a time of great spiritual decline. It is happening because Satan knows his time is short — and he is using every weapon possible to chip away at divine authority, not merely in cultural expressions but in the heart of every Christian.

In this time of great compromise in the nation and in the church, you may wonder how you can have an effect on the world around you. But do not forget who you are in Christ! It does not matter what your background is, who your parents are, what sort of degrees you may have. God has a role for each one to play in this darkening generation. You have been called to bring hope and life to the lost and doubting, especially in this hour.

Elijah was an ordinary man who accomplished supernatural works of God (see James 5:17-18). He was already qualified to do what God asked of him because he had a history with his Father. Likewise, devote yourself to a quiet and diligent pursuit of God in order that you will be ready when he calls you to step forward and join his army to bring about change in these last days.   

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Your Supernatural Capacity for God’s Work

Claude HoudeAugust 8, 2020

The Bible teaches us that true faith hopes against all hope, calling into existence what does not exist, bringing life where there is death. God wants to supernaturally grant us spiritual and divine insight so that we no longer look at people, circumstances and situations as we did before. He wants us to see with new eyes, by faith, supernaturally, as He sees. “For God does not look as men look, for man looks at the outward, at what meets the eye, but God looks at what is invisible. He looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

An amazing and revealing encounter between Jesus and Peter illustrates this truth brilliantly. Peter walked three years with Jesus. He seemed to be a man capable of the best and the worst, alternating between the divine and the diabolical with frightening instability. As Jesus announced His death and resurrection and the scattering of the disciples immediately following His arrest, Peter boldly exclaimed, “Even if all the others forsake You, I will stay with You, even to my death!” (see Luke 22:33). 

As Jesus looked at Peter and heard his audacious statement, He discerned two destinies, two plans and two very distinct paths over the life of His disciple. The words that He spoke to Simon Peter are a balm on the wounds of the hearts of those who are trapped in the grip of discouragement or who have lost their vision. Our Lord spoke prophetically to Peter and He is also speaking to us, calling our name: “Simon, Simon! Satan had desired to have you, to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail and when you come back, you will strengthen your brothers” (22:31-32).

Peter denied Jesus and repented with bitter tears. Jesus possessed the redemptive capacity to vividly see the worst in Peter but also to pray for him and to supernaturally foresee that barely fifty days later, on the day of Pentecost, Peter would stand in the midst of an agitated and tumultuous crowd and speak words that would literally give birth to the Church!

Just as with Peter, Jesus sees where you have been, where you are presently and what you can become by faith in Him. He knows what has been prepared for you in the invisible realm and He wants you to learn to see yourself, as well as others, through that dimension of faith.

Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.

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Are You Walking in Repentance?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)August 7, 2020

Jesus’ church is a place where sinners repent of sins, with their heart and their mouth. Indeed, the apostle Paul attests: “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:8-10).

Simply put, we are brought to salvation through our open confession of repentance. Jesus states, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). And, he says, repentance is how we’re healed and restored: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).

Beloved, this is good news! Jesus is telling us, “In my church, everyone is healed through repentance. It doesn’t matter who you are — the physically broken, the mentally ill, the spiritually sick. Everyone must come to me the same way and all find healing.”

Repentance was at the heart of the very first sermon after Christ’s resurrection when Peter told the crowds gathered at Pentecost: “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you … you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:22-23). When the people heard this, they fell under powerful conviction. The preached Word pricked their hearts, because the Holy Spirit had come in all his power. And according to Jesus, that’s precisely the Spirit’s work. He said the Holy Spirit comes to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).

The crowds were so stirred when they heard this that they couldn’t move. Suddenly, before them were the very issues of life and death. When they cried out to Peter and asked what they should do, he answered, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins … Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:38, 40).

As Christians, you should be immensely grateful for the presence of the Holy Spirit as you allow him to do his true work in you. Jesus wants you to walk in his peace as you live out repentance.

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Called, Tested and Purposed by God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)August 6, 2020

The apostle Paul says of God, “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Simply put, every person who is “in Christ” is called by the Lord. And we all have the same mandate: to hear God’s voice, to proclaim his Word, to never fear man and to trust the Lord in the face of every conceivable trial. Indeed, God’s promises apply to all of his servants. That is, we don’t need to have a message prepared to speak before the world. He has pledged to fill our mouths with his Word at the exact moment it’s needed. But that will happen only if we trust him.

Paul tells us that many are appointed as preachers, teachers and apostles, and that they’re all going to suffer for that reason. He counts himself among those: “I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things” (2 Timothy 1:11-12). He was saying, in effect, “God has given me a holy work to do. And because I have that calling, I’m going to suffer.”

Scripture shows that Paul was tested as few ministers ever have been. Satan tried to kill him time after time. The so-called religious crowd rejected and ridiculed him, and at times even those who supported him left him abused and forsaken. But Paul was never confounded before men, nor was he ever dismayed or put to shame before the world. And, interestingly, he did not burn out. On every occasion, he had an anointed word from God to speak, just when it was needed.

Paul could not be shaken — and he never lost his trust in the Lord. Instead, he testified, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (1:12). Simply put, “I have committed my life fully to the Lord’s faithfulness. Live or die, I am his.”

Beloved, you may be facing battles and the heavens may seem as brass to you. But the Holy Spirit is faithful to restore you and raise you up. He will see you through every dark night, so don’t let the devil break you down!

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Learning to Speak Well of Others

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)August 5, 2020

 “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness” (Isaiah 58:9).

The reason we pray, fast and study God’s Word is to be heard in heaven. But the Lord attaches a big “if” to this. He declares, “If you want me to hear you on high, then you have to look at the issues of your heart. Yes, I will hear you — if you quit pointing a finger at others, if you stop speaking about them disrespectfully.”

It's a great sin in God’s eyes for us to speak in ways that tarnish someone else’s reputation. Proverbs tells us, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold” (22:1). A good reputation is a treasure that is carefully built up over time. Yet we can quickly destroy it with a single defaming word from our mouth.

David made a conscious determination to watch his tongue: “I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress” (Psalm 17:3). “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Again, David exhorts, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). 

You may wonder, “Is it really possible to control the tongue, to purpose not to sin with the mouth?” Again, David answers with this testimony: “I said, ‘I will take heed my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me’” (Psalm 39:1, KJV). He is saying, in essence, “Every time I mount a horse, I have to put a bridle in its mouth. And as surely as I do that with my horse, I have to do it with my tongue.”

Beloved, not one person reading this message is too holy to heed it and make a change. We have all misjudged people, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and spoken in ways we should not have. But there’s good news! If you repent before the Lord, in his love and graciousness he will give you a renewed heart and strength to put away all evil speaking.

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