|by David Wilkerson | October 3, 2013|
Moses sought God for a continual manifestation of His presence: "That I may know thee . . ." (Exodus 33:13). And God answered him, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest" (verse 14).
Moses' request would be quite enough for most believers. We all want the presence of God—leading us, guiding us, empowering us, blessing us. Really, what more could any believer desire? Yet having the assurance of God's presence was not enough for Moses. He knew there was more and he cried out, "I beseech thee, shew me thy glory" (verse 18).
God did show Moses His glory. But it did not appear in some luminous cloud or in an earthshaking demonstration of power. No, God expressed His glory in a simple revelation of His nature: "The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (Exodus 34:6-7). God's glory was a revelation of His goodness, mercy, love and compassion!
I have heard many Christians say, "Oh, how the glory of God came down in our church last night! There was such incredible praise, and people were slain by the Spirit." But that isn't proof of a manifestation of God's glory. It has nothing to do with God beyond human emotions. It doesn't include a revelation of who He is!
Some may argue, "But what about the disciples' experience on the Mount of Transfiguration? Wasn't that a manifestation of God's glory? There was an overpowering light and the miraculous appearance of Moses and Elijah."
But God's glory was not in Moses or Elijah or in the spectacular light. Rather, His glory was in Jesus: "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. . . . Behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matthew 17:2 and 5).
God was saying, "Here is my glory personified—in Christ!" Indeed, Jesus is the fulfillment of all God said He was to Moses: gracious, merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression of sins. And now the Lord was saying, "Here is a living picture of My glory. It is all embodied in My Son!"
|by David Wilkerson | October 2, 2013|
When Israel was in the wilderness, God showed His presence to them through a cloud. This cloud was the manifestation of God's promise to be with His people. It came down and covered the tabernacle night and day and acted as their guide for every undertaking. When the cloud moved, they moved, and when it stayed, they stayed. The people did not have to hold committee meetings to try to figure out their direction or future. They put their confidence in that visible cloud of God's presence.
Today, that same cloud of His presence hovers over your secret closet of prayer. It waits every day to envelope you in its peace. It will lead you, empower you and give you peace. And it will give you detailed guidance for your home, work and relationships.
Your secret closet can be anywhere—in the shower, on the bus or subway, or during your commute to work. You can shut out everything and say, "Lord, I've got half an hour right now. I love You, Jesus, and worship You. This is my closet time with You!"
It's a wonderful thing to be shut in with God, developing a consistent prayer life. God promises that as you become a seeking, praying servant, His presence will break forth in your life, closing and opening doors and working His divine order all around you. Yet something even greater than this will happen: God's presence will lead you into a revelation of His glory!
There is a difference between God's presence and His glory. Most Christians know His presence—His great works in their lives—but few know His glory. In Exodus, we are given a glimpse of this difference: "Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:34).
The apostle Paul writes that all believers’ bodies are the tabernacle of God: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Like the Israelites who lived under the cloud of God's presence, we are constantly under the covering of God's grace. Yet, what is the difference between beholding God's presence and beholding His glory?
|by David Wilkerson | October 1, 2013|
God makes certain, special promises to those who determine to seek Him with all their hearts. One such promise is a covenant of His presence.
However, this covenant is strictly conditional. Scripture makes it clear that if we abide by the rule of this covenant, we will enjoy the incredible blessing of God's presence in our lives. And this does not refer only to issues of salvation. It speaks of being such seekers after God that His awesome presence is poured out on us and it is seen and known by all.
God revealed this covenant of His presence through an unnamed prophet who delivered a message to Eli, the high priest of Israel. At the time, Eli was backslidden. The Lord had been speaking to him, warning him against allowing sin and compromise. But Eli had ignored all of God's words. Now this unnamed prophet said to Eli, "The Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed" (I Samuel 2:30).
The phrase "lightly esteemed" has to do with the lifting of God’s presence. This does not mean a person is damned, but rather that he will have to walk in the power of his own flesh. God was telling Eli, "I intended to bless your house, to favor you. But you have scorned me, becoming soft on sin and allowing your lusts to push me aside. Now I will take My presence from you."
Many people come to Christ with a great, initial burst of faith. Yet over time their zeal wears thin, and they begin to neglect the Lord. They “lightly esteem” His commands and turn back to their old, sinful ways. Yet they still believe God's presence remains with them. But that is a lie, a delusion. The Bible makes it clear that if you forsake Him, He will forsake you!
|by Gary Wilkerson | September 30, 2013|
Chapters 1 through 6 of the book of Acts describe one of the most glorious works of God in history. It is an amazing sequence of action-filled events: powerful preaching, mass conversions, miraculous healings. All were the fulfillment of a divine promise foretold by Jesus.
Before His resurrection, Christ instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive the “promise of the Father.” “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, ESV).
That promise began its fulfillment on Pentecost, Israel’s feast of “firstfruits.” The world was about to see the firstfruits of Christ’s labor on the cross for us.
The disciples could not possibly have imagined what God had in mind for them. They probably thought, “Great! This promise means God is about to restore Israel. He’ll free us from the shackles of Roman bondage forever and we’ll be His people again.”
Today I think perhaps the Church would have a similar reaction if we heard the same promise from Jesus. We might think, “When God’s promise comes, our churches will be filled to bursting. The Holy Spirit will move in other cities and people will travel from all over just to get a taste. We’ll be blessed as never before!”
We should want the Holy Spirit to fill our sanctuaries, to bring joy and comfort to God’s people. But when God’s glory comes, it will not be for our benefit alone. Jesus did not say, “When you receive power from on high, you shall be My churchgoers, My Bible studiers, My prayer meeting attenders.” He said, “You will be My witnesses to the ends of the earth.”
God’s power is meant to go beyond the walls of the church to the very farthest reaches of the world. That is what we see unfolding in the book of Acts. When Peter got up to preach to the crowd that had gathered, three thousand were saved. Later, as Peter and John testified throughout Jerusalem, signs and wonders followed in miraculous healings and deliverances.
Yet that was only the beginning! If the work of the Spirit had stopped in Acts 6, all the power of God would have remained in the hands of twelve apostles. Instead, a tectonic shift took place. God said, “My Spirit will no longer move through just a select few. I am going to empower every man, woman and child who calls on My name.”
|by David Wilkerson | September 27, 2013|
God attaches a condition to His presence in our lives and it is found in 2 Chronicles 15. In the previous chapter, King Asa had led the armies of Judah to a great victory over Ethiopia's million-man army. Yet Asa testified that it was God's presence that had scattered the enemy.
"Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. . . . So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa" (2 Chronicles 14:11-12).
As Asa and his armies led the triumphant procession back to Jerusalem, a prophet named Azariah met them at the city gate with this message from God: "Hear ye me, Asa . . . The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God. . . . But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them" (15:2-4).
Here is the secret of getting and maintaining the presence of God in your life. The Lord reminded Asa, point-blank, with no holds barred: "Asa, don't ever forget how you got this victory. You sought Me with all your heart when you were in trouble and I sent My presence to you. It was My presence that put your enemies to chase!"
Now Azariah was telling Asa, "Do you remember what the kingdom was like before you came to power? Everything was out of kilter, with no law, no guidance, no righteous teaching. Everyone was a law unto himself, doing his own thing!"
This is not a complicated theology. Anyone can have the abiding presence of the Lord if he or she will simply seek Him for it.
"[The Lord] will be found of you" (15:2). The Hebrew word for found here is matsa, meaning "His presence coming forth to enable, to bless." In short, this verse tells us, "Seek the Lord with your whole heart, and He will come to you with His presence. Indeed, His presence will be an almighty power that emanates from your life!"
|by David Wilkerson | September 26, 2013|
“For I am the Lord thy God . . . and I have loved thee. . . . Fear not: for I am with thee" (Isaiah 43:3-5).
The Old Testament stories of Abraham, Joshua and all of Israel are meant to encourage and exhort us to seek God’s presence in our lives. We can thank God for what His presence did for them and yet each of us has a powerful testimony of what God's presence has done for us: guiding our lives, opening doors, moving obstacles, melting hearts, making us fearless.
I have seen this proven true in my life. You may say, "You're just boasting!" No, the fact is, God's presence has been with me in spite of myself!
When we started Times Square Church in New York City, the presence of Christ emanated from us in all we did. I remember walking into a famous Broadway producer's office in search of a theater to use as a church. This man's secretary and staff scoffed at me; their words and attitudes assured me, a lowly minister, I would not be able to get an appointment. In fact, I thought I might even get kicked out. But then the producer came out of his office and when he saw me, he invited me in!
Over the next several weeks, the producer and I got to know each other. At times he would look across his desk at me and say, "I don't know why I'm spending so much time with you. My schedule is absolutely full." But whenever I walked into his office suite, his secretary pushed me past all other visitors, saying, "Go right in, Reverend, he's waiting for you!"
Eventually, this man sold his flagship theater to us to use for Times Square Church. Even as he was signing the documents of sale, he said, "I don't know why I'm doing this!" It was only God's presence that moved him to sell that building to us. Just a few years after the deal was done, he and his attorneys were begging to buy it back!
I saw God change the hearts of others as well. The man who owned the building next to ours refused to sell it to us as an annex. But over time he became a friend of mine, and eventually he sold us the building. All along, he kept telling me, "Somebody up there is working for you!"
That is the power of the presence of God. And every Christian can testify in the same way: "God's presence with me has done great things!"
|by David Wilkerson | September 25, 2013|
Consider these Old Testament examples of the blessings that God's presence brought to the lives of His followers:
- God's presence was so evident in Abraham's life, even the heathen around him recognized the difference between their lives and his: "Abimelech . . . spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest" (Genesis 21:22). This heathen king was saying, "Abraham, there's something different about you. God guides you, preserves you and blesses you wherever you go!"
- God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when His presence was with him: "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage" (Joshua 1:5-6). When God's Spirit is present with us, we can be strong and courageous and no enemy can harm us!
- God told Gideon: "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. . . . Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel" (Judges 6:12, 14). The phrase "thy might" in this verse refers to verse 12 that says, "The Lord is with thee." Do you see what God is saying? "Gideon, there is a might in you so powerful that it can save Israel. And that might is My presence!" Scripture reveals Gideon to be a coward, so why did God call him a "mighty man of valor"? Because he wanted to prove to Gideon what an ordinary person can do when the Lord's presence is with him!
- God warned Jeremiah that the whole nation would turn against him and reject his prophecies. Yet He promised, "They shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee" (Jeremiah 15:20). God was saying, "It doesn't matter if the whole country turns against you, Jeremiah. All that matters is that My presence is with you. Be confident I am with you!"
- God told Isaiah of a special promise He makes to those He loves: "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God . . . and I have loved thee. . . . Fear not: for I am with thee" (Isaiah 43:1-5). God was saying, "With My presence abiding with you, you can go through any flood or fire and survive. Yet you won't merely survive. You'll be blessed and favored through it all, because My presence is with you!"
|by David Wilkerson | September 24, 2013|
Scripture provides endless examples of how the presence of God empowers His children to live for Him. One of the most powerful of these examples is found in the life of Moses.
Moses was convinced that without God's presence in his life, it was useless for him to attempt anything. When he spoke face to face with the Lord, he said, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence" (Exodus 33:15). He was saying, "Lord, if Your presence is not with me, then I'm not going anywhere. I won't take a single step unless I'm assured You are near!"
Moses knew it was God's presence in Israel that set the people apart from all other nations. And the same is true of the Church of Jesus Christ today. The only thing that sets us apart from nonbelievers is God's presence “with us”—leading us, guiding us, working His will in and through us.
Moses did not care how other nations received their guidance, formed their strategies, ran their governments or directed their armies. He said, "We operate on one principle alone. The only way for us to be guided or governed, to make war and survive in this wasteland, is to have the presence of God with us!
"When the Lord's presence is in our midst, no one can harm us. But without Him, we are helpless, reduced to nothing. Let all the nations of this world trust in their mighty armies, their iron chariots, their skilled soldiers, their new weapons. We will trust in the manifest presence of our God!"
God answered Moses' bold statement: "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest" (verse 14). What an incredible promise! The Hebrew word for rest here is "a comfortable, quiet repose." God was saying, "No matter what enemies or trials you face, you will always be able to find a quiet rest in Me!"
Think about this: If a church has the manifest presence of God in its midst, there will not be any hustle or bustle, sweating or striving. The worship meetings will not be hurried along, with three songs, an offering and a short sermon. Instead, there will be a calming peace, a quiet rest—and everyone who walks through the doors will sense it!
|by Gary Wilkerson | September 23, 2013|
“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11, ESV).
Do the following words appeal to you? Life—joy—unselfconsciousness—delight—boldness—liberty. Can you imagine having this kind of enjoyment in your service to Christ? How can you obtain such empowering joy?
It will not come through works of righteousness. We do not have the power to be righteous on our own. We may do our best, strive our hardest, and sincerely offer to God all we have and all we are, but it still amounts to no more than filthy rags. “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6, ESV).
Freedom comes through Christ’s righteousness alone. When His righteousness becomes ours, we are set free from striving. His Spirit is in us, releasing us from the law of sin and guilt and making all things new. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2, ESV).
That freedom is everything! It means liberty to carry out the godly responsibilities He calls us to do. Suddenly we are able to witness with abandon. We have a boldness that is not of our own making. Grace flows through us rather than a deadly, binding legalism.
There is only one way to walk in the freedom and joy Christ has won for us: by accepting His gift of righteousness. Doing this means embracing grace, not works. It does not mean shirking our responsibilities; on the contrary, coming under the covering of His grace is the only way to take on real responsibility. We cannot accomplish anything in His name otherwise!
“For you were called to freedom” (Galatians 5:13, ESV).
|by David Wilkerson | September 20, 2013|
The Bible says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Will the present recession turn into a deep, long depression? Is this the economic storm so many ministers and economists have been warning of? Or is this merely another short-lived adjustment of the economy?
Frankly, not one human on earth knows. Economists give terribly conflicting forecasts, and so-called "prophets" are sending out all kinds of confusing warnings.
Several years ago hundreds of worried Christians wrote to me about a prophecy that said most of Florida would be inundated by a tidal wave. Many Christians slipped out of Florida on the predicted date for a so-called "vacation"—just in case the prophecy was right. Florida is still with us!
No one knows when, how, or where God will send judgment. The times and seasons are all in His hands. God has dealt with me personally about using dates, names, or places and when I disobey God on this matter, I end up speculating rather than truly prophesying. All true prophecy must offer hope and comfort to God's people who live by faith.
Where do you live? In an earthquake zone, maybe near a fault line? Do you live in a sprawling suburb that seems less secure as the days go by? No food stored up? No gold bars or coins to hedge against inflation? Nothing to fall back on if the economy collapses? Nothing to live on if you lose your job? Do you feel left out when others around you boast about their plans for the future?
Do not panic! You have all you need if you will believe in our Lord's promise of protection. Every child of God has an ironclad contract of survival. The more I read the words of Jesus, the more I believe He is asking for our childlike trust in Him to keep us safe in every situation.
My advice is to stay put and quit listening to voices that speak warnings contrary to Scripture. "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33).
"Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken” (Proverbs 3:25-26).