Who tells you that you are unworthy, no good, useless, unusable to God? Who keeps reminding you that you’re weak, helpless, a total failure? And who tells you that you’ll never measure up to God’s standard?
Who tells worship team members they’re not worthy to sing praises in God’s house or musicians they’re not worthy to play instruments of worship? Who tells ushers, elders, Sunday school teachers, volunteers, people in the pew that they are unworthy?
That’s no mystery. We all know where this voice comes from — the devil himself. He wants to keep you convinced that God is angry with you.
The devil, the accuser of the brethren, reminds you of your every sin and failure. He tells you, “God can’t use you until you get this figured out and make yourself worthy.” Do not fall for this lie from the pit of hell.
Many people reading this message have been convinced by the devil that they are unworthy ever to be used of God. Does this describe you? Perhaps you feel unworthy even to be called a child of the Lord. You look at your life and see inconsistency and failure.
Let me confess something to you: I have never once felt worthy of my high calling as a preacher. Throughout my years of service to the Lord, I have been barraged by accusations that I am unworthy to speak for God, to preach, to teach others, to be a leader.
So, the truth is, I am not worthy to write this message and you are not worthy to raise your hands in praise to God. You see, nobody is worthy — not in our human strength and power! But Jesus told us, “I have made you worthy.”
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
God said to Moses when the children of Israel were in Egypt, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea” (Exodus 14:1-2, ESV). God was announcing that He was going to take them to a new place.
God guided them through very rocky areas and as He led them, they could see the Red Sea in the distance. But when they arrived on the beach, they realized they were jammed into a very small space with rocks on one side and water on the other.
Pharoah looked at their location and said with glee, “They are hemmed in with their backs to the wall.” God had led them there but the Israelites certainly were not happy about it.
Has God ever called you to a place that you consider the last place on earth you want to be? Moses, who was not a strong military leader up to this point and had been in only a few battles, was smart enough to recognize their precarious position: “I’m not certain we’re in a good place for a military defense. In fact, we’re trapped!”
Yes, Moses and the Israelites were in a tough place but God was about to get glory out of their situation. God often allows us to get into challenging places because He has a great plan for us. When we think we are trapped with our back to the wall, God is saying, “This is going to work out for My glory.”
Do you feel hemmed in, overwhelmed, hopeless? In this difficult place, take a step of faith and say, “God, I will obey You regardless of the cost.” When that happens, you stand on the edge of seeing God move mightily on your behalf.
You know the rest of the story of Moses and the Israelites: God caused the Red Sea to part and His children marched through on dry land. It was a tremendous victory!
In the Old Testament, where there was no water, there was no life. People died during droughts. Likewise, unless the living water of the Spirit is flowing in us, we and our churches will have an absence of spiritual life and little vitality. Just as in the Mojave Desert, no water equals no life, no growth, and no fruit. We can attend church regularly and have perfect doctrine, but without the Holy Spirit to water us, we will wither and die.
Jesus talked openly about the life-giving properties of the Spirit. “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them’” (John 7:37-38). By “rivers of living water,” Jesus was referring to the Spirit that believers would later receive.
When the Spirit of God comes, we have new life. Without the Spirit of God, we’re left to struggle with our self-effort, which is riddled by moral weakness and sinful tendencies. But when the Spirit comes, we have joy, hope, and power. Notice that Jesus doesn’t refer to a drop of water but to “rivers of living water.” Like a river, the Spirit flows — a force of power that comes into us and then flows out so we can be a blessing to others.
God uses water as a symbol of the Holy Spirit in a slightly different way when He says, “I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily” (Hosea 14:5). We all have witnessed the grass and flowers glistening with tiny drops of refreshing water. By using this metaphor, God is saying He will be like the dew, which settles quietly in the night and coats the ground by morning. Dew can’t form when conditions are too hot or the wind is too strong. Likewise, we can’t be refreshed by God when we’re too busy running around.
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.
God describes Himself this way: “I taught Ephraim [Israel] to walk, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them” (Hosea 11:3).
In the original language, this verse reads: “I came to them in their despair and tenderly nursed them through foul, rugged places. I held them in My arms as a nurse!” But verse 7 reads, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me.” The word bent here means “hanging in suspense, hanging in doubt.”
Israel was not sure of the Lord’s love and tenderness and God was saying to Hosea, “My people are doubting My love for them because they don’t really know Me.”
It was true! Israel could not believe God still loved them. They were idolaters, backsliders, and doubters who were probably thinking, “We brought God’s displeasure on ourselves by willfully sinning and He will surely judge us.” But God said, “How can I give you up? My heart churns within Me and My sympathy is stirred” (see verse 8).
You may be going through deep waters right now. I don’t mean trials or temptations necessarily, but overwhelming events that you can’t understand. Winds and waves of all kinds are flooding you, things beyond your comprehension, and He wants to carry you through it all and restore you to spiritual health. If all you can believe right now is that He loves you in spite of all your stubborn ways — that is enough!
Listen to His word of comfort and healing for you: “For I will not contend forever, neither will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made” (Isaiah 57:16). The Lord was saying, “If all you saw in Me was anger, your spirit would fail; it would be too overwhelming.” No, He goes on to say, “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him” (verse 18).
These are the words of a God who will never give up on His people!
If you want the peace of God to reign in your life, you must quit several things:
- Stop trying to figure out how God will work things out
- Stop worrying and fretting (Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing”)
- Stop telling God what is right for you
- Stop thinking you are a failure and you can’t please God
One of Satan’s most effective traps for robbing Christians of peace is to convince them they must strive in the flesh to please God. He springs this on me all the time!
Sometimes when I need a quiet place to pray, I drive out into the hills. I was there not long ago, looking out over green fields and forests and enjoying the presence of the Lord. Out of nowhere, the thought hit me that I am not doing anything for the Lord.
“Lord,” I cried out, “I’m just not accomplishing much for Your kingdom. All I do is pray, get messages for sermons, and go to church and preach. The whole world is going to hell and I’m not doing anything for You.”
Have such thoughts ever hit you? You do everything you know to please the Lord yet you still don’t feel holy. I know I didn’t. In fact, I hardly ever feel holy . . . even in my best of times. Even when I’m preaching under the Holy Spirit’s anointing.
You may ask, “You, Brother Dave? At times you don’t feel as if you’re doing much for God?” Yes! The devil comes in and makes us all feel unworthy, unfulfilled, and we lose our peace by giving in to those awful feelings.
Listen to Paul’s prayer for us: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).
Trust in His goodness. Believe in His love and mercy. And don’t accuse Him of being angry or upset with you or of not speaking to you. Let His peace dwell in your heart and over your whole life.
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
When I reread this passage recently, I was struck by something I’d never seen before. Paul is instructing us to stop worrying and go to God with prayer and supplication. Then we are to thank Him for the answer. But Paul says nothing about receiving deliverance, a word of direction, miracles, or healing. Instead, he says that we receive a gift . . . the peace of God.
God answers all our requests and supplication with the gift of His peace: “The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds.” In other words, God’s first answer to our every prayer and heart-cry is His peace!
All praying people have one thing in common: No matter how bad we may feel going into our secret closet of prayer, we come out filled with His peace. God has limited Himself to His own government and it is known as the providence of God. He does things here and there, preparing people’s hearts and orchestrating events, but until His providence works out the answer to our prayer, He says, “I’m not going to give you what you think you need but what I know you need — peace of mind and heart.”
Many of us wrestle with the Lord in prayer. We petition Him with many tears; we pound heaven’s gates; we claim every promise. But as the days, weeks, and months go by, we begin to wonder: “Why won’t you hear me, Lord? What’s blocking my prayer? What have I done to grieve or displease You?”
The fact is, God already has said to us, “Here! Here is My peace and it passes all understanding. Take it and let it rule in your heart while I work all things for your good.”
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
This one verse contains an incredible command; the entire body of Jesus Christ has been called by God to let His peace rule and govern our hearts, minds and bodies! The peace of God is to sit as ruler over everything. And if there was ever a time this call needed to be sounded, it is today in this hour of turmoil and confusion!
The Lord commanded the early Church to allow His peace to rule their lives, because He knew what was coming and He wanted to prepare them. In just a few years’ time, they would be persecuted, even tortured. They would face loss of homes, confiscation of all worldly goods, and attacks from vicious men who thought they were doing God a favor by killing them. God foresaw all this and was preparing them. “You must be grounded in My peace in order to get through all the incredible changes ahead.”
A false peace is sweeping through many churches today, a peace that will fail in the troubled days ahead. Moses called stubborn Israel “self-blessed,” meaning self-deceived. He warned Israel that a curse would come upon all wicked, disobedient children of God who walked in idolatry. They would plaster over their sinful ways with a false sense of peace: “When he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart” (Deuteronomy 29:19).
Moses is describing the child of God who decides to satisfy his lust for evil by finding a cozy doctrine that tells him he’s still saved, heaven bound — while still sinning. He says to himself, “I will do as I please and still not lose the peace in my heart.” False peace!
No matter what happens to America or to the nations of the world, no power in hell can rob you of the peace of God through Christ Jesus, which He implants in your soul. God will have His people governed by peace. True peace!
Let the true peace of God rule in your hearts!
Does God give favor, bless abundantly, and lavish His grace on hungry, waiting hearts? The answer is yes — and we find this illustrated in the story of Christ’s birth.
An angel appeared to Mary announcing the amazing event about to take place in her life: “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:26-29, emphasis mine).
Bible scholars say that Mary was very young, a teenager, at the time. Imagine how strange this encounter must have been for her. Here was a simple girl from an obscure village and family, being approached by a massive, fearsome angel standing before her exclaiming, “Greetings, O favored one!”
Then he made an incredible announcement: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (1:30-32, emphasis mine).
Often people trembled in fear when an angel appeared to them but Mary was not afraid, although it is true that she was “greatly troubled” by what the angel said about favor. She lived in a male-dominated society and her life had no real evidence of favor — but a transformation was about to take place in her life and in the world!
You may want to see your circumstances transformed. You may face sickness, a tense marriage, a wayward child, a crushing financial need. Like Mary, you can receive God’s favor, and testify as she did in her song of praise, “I am blessed by the Lord because He sees me at all times, in all my circumstances. He can conceive things I could never imagine.”
“And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). That includes you!
Paul said to Timothy, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).
My word to you today is the same: Stir up the gift of God. When God put His hand on you, He put a deposit of His life within you — the ability to do the supernatural.
So how do you stir up the gift of God? It starts by saying, “Lord, I want it! I want my life to be what You have called it to be. I do not want to simply blend in with this society and ultimately make no difference. I want the power to stand out as a follower of Jesus Christ.”
That has been my prayer over the course of my entire Christian life: “Lord, stir me. Take me to another place: don’t let me become stagnant. Don’t let me live on yesterday’s grace and yesterday’s victory. Today is a new day; there are new people I am going to encounter. Stir the compassion in my heart. Give me the eyes to see people the way You see them. Don’t let me be afraid of people’s faces. You are alive inside me; You gave me Your Holy Spirit; and You left me on the earth for a purpose — so help me to lay hold of the reason I am alive in this generation!”
Remember, the only thing that stops the true child of God is unbelief. And so we must ask God for the grace to honor Him and make full use of the deposit He has given to us. That is how souls will be touched — as they see the reality of Jesus Christ living in us!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
Do you sit under strong preaching that lovingly exposes your sin? If so, do you allow that word to convict you? Or, do you continue in your sin without grieving at all?
If you are rejecting the warnings of the restraining Holy Ghost, disobeying God time after time, then you are being recruited for the cult of Antichrist. The devil is silently initiating you into his mystery of iniquity. And when the promising, miracle-working Antichrist comes along, you’ll be swept up in his lies and given over to a delusion!
Listen to what Paul says about compromising believers who refuse to love and obey God’s holy word: “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12).
Here are the ominous results of not believing and acting on God’s truth:
- The heart becomes hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
- Satan works on the hardened heart to justify itself, so that it is relieved from all fear of penalty.
- The believer becomes blinded by the lie that says there are no wages for sin and no Judgment Day.
- The believer falls prey to doctrines of demons, thinking evil is good and good is evil.
- He eventually drifts so far from Christ and the truth that he becomes blinded to who the Antichrist is — and he ends up worshiping and serving him as a god.
- On Judgment Day, God will say to such a person, “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity!”
Beloved, it doesn't have to be this way. God has made a covenant promise to remove all delusion from us and give us victory over sin. All He asks is that we declare war on our sin, saying, “I refuse to make peace with this habit. Deliver me, Father!” When He hears this prayer, He will send such Holy Ghost power and glory from heaven, the devil won’t stand a chance.
Pray right now that God will implant in you a great reverence for His Word. Ask Him to help you be disciplined in your reading of the Scriptures. And ask the Holy Spirit to help you take to heart what you read— to believe that God means what He says.
Throughout Scripture, God gives us a clear picture of how important it is for us to obey His Word. We see one such example in the life of King Saul, to whom God gave clear, specific commands through the prophet Samuel. “Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (1 Samuel 15:3).
God had spoken to Saul in crystal-clear terms and yet, after he went into battle, he obeyed the Lord only in part. Rather than destroying everyone and everything, he spared King Agag — and he even kept some of the spoils of battle (see 15:7-9).
Samuel was grief-stricken at this. He told Saul, “The Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?” (15:18-19).
At this point, Scripture gives us a grievous, chilling word: “Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments” (verses 10-11).
Does this describe your life? Has God told you in no uncertain terms to deal with something and yet you keep clinging to it? Right now, His Spirit may be speaking to you in a kind, wooing voice, “Your sin stands between us, interrupting our communion. I can no longer bless you while you persist in it. Trust My Spirit to help you. Lay it down now, My child."
God is telling us, “I want all your heart, all your love — not just half-hearted obedience!”
The wicked have always been destitute of the truth — despising it, trampling it, mocking it with disdain. I saw an example of this in The New York Post, as one writer confidently declared, “Science has now replaced faith.”
Paul’s greater concern was always for those who had known the way of truth, confessing their faith in Christ, and yet flirted with sin. “Who changed the truth of God into a lie . . . For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections” (Romans 1:25-26).
Others, held in bondage by their lustful pleasures, turned to false teachers to try to find peace. They ended up accepting “damnable heresies . . . and many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:1-2).
All of Paul’s messages on apostasy and the Antichrist were aimed at such carnal Christians. They weren’t meant for the idolaters of Rome, the heathen of Greece, the pagan tribes in unknown places. No, he meant for them to be read in churches, directly to believers!
You see, Paul was calling God’s people everywhere to love the truth — to search it out, study it and obey it. He wrote, in essence, “Let the truth be your guide! Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see it, ears to hear it, and a heart to love it. Otherwise, you’ll open yourself to deception and end up believing a lie. Satan will be able to initiate you into the cult of Antichrist!”
The Bible says that in the days just prior to Jesus’ return, Satan will attempt to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. It won’t matter how long a Christian has walked with Jesus, he will face temptations he has never had in his life. Even the strongest believer will be tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness and mistrust His Holy Word.
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
The Greek word Paul uses for iniquity in this passage literally means lawlessness. Therefore, the mystery is one of lawlessness — acting without law or restraint.
Yet, this lawlessness is not simply a rebellion against the rule of man. It’s not about rebelling against civil authority or committing a violent crime. These things do provoke God’s wrath, but the mystery of lawlessness goes much deeper. It is an outright rejection of the truth that is in Christ — a casting aside of God’s Holy Word and His commands.
This spirit of lawlessness is rampant in our nation today. It is the very force behind the legislation that seeks to banish God from our society; the same spirit that Satan used to deceive Eve when he told her, in so many words, “God won’t punish you for disobeying. You can eat the fruit and you won’t have to pay for it!”
Satan is using the same lie on Christians today; day after day, he convinces masses of believers that they can sin without paying any penalty. It is a demonic scheme to pervert Christ’s gospel of grace.
Tragically, many lukewarm Christians are succumbing to this spirit of lawlessness. Paul says the Antichrist will rise to power because people will be blinded and deceived by their own sin (see 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
Satan will deceive masses of people, just as he did Eve, by convincing them of a subtle but powerful lie: “God doesn’t punish for sin!”
Paul says this deception will come “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (verse 10). He then adds, “For this [reason], God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (verse 11).
The apostle is saying, “Those who refuse to obey or respect God’s Word will fall under a powerful delusion. At first they’ll wink at their sin, justify it. But soon they’ll actively seek out a message of easy grace. In fact, they will invent a grace that is far beyond what God intended. His grace never leads to license and always leads to repentance!”
“Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6, ESV).
A drifter, homeless and confused, was directed into my office when I served as an assistant pastor at Times Square Church in New York City years ago. He wasn’t interested in making conversation until he looked down and saw my fine, genuine Texas cowboy boots.
“I don’t know why I’m here,” he spat out. “You preachers are all the same, spending money on big buildings and fancy cars. And look at those boots!”
After he made that last remark, he looked down at his beat-up, ripped canvas shoes and shuffled his feet self-consciously.
“Do you like these boots?” I asked. And before he could answer, I removed my boots and gave them to him. And, yes, I walked home shoeless. Then forgot the incident.
About six months later, a pastor friend, Steve, called from Greensboro, North Carolina.
“Gary, you’re not going to believe this, but there’s a guy in my office who says you gave him a pair of cowboy boots. He’s been hitchhiking around the country and he says that every time he looks at those boots, he thinks about Jesus.”
That young man wandered into my friend’s church (obviously led by the Holy Spirit) and said he wanted to know more about Jesus. You can imagine the joy that brought to my pastor friend! But Steve was forthright with him.
“For six months the Holy Spirit has been after you. Are you ready to give your life to Christ?”
“That’s why I’m here!” And he was born again right then.
I want to encourage you to look for opportunities, even if you feel like you’re in a famine. Is your marriage in a famine? Look for an opportunity to serve, to love, to bless your spouse.
Are you in a famine with your children? Is there division and turmoil? Look for an opportunity to love, to serve, to order your household according to the ways of the Lord.
Are there difficulties in your finances? Look for a way in the midst of the famine to be a blessing to others and you will find the windows of heaven opening.
God pours out rich blessings on those who give —cheerfully.
“Before his translation [Enoch] had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:5-6). What was it about Enoch that pleased God so much? It was that his walk with God produced in him the kind of faith God loves.
Throughout the Bible and all of history, those who walked with God became men and women of faith. If the Church is daily walking arm-in-arm with God, continually communing with Him, the result will be a people full of faith.
Some conduct faith seminars, distribute faith tapes, quote faith scriptures — all trying to produce faith. And it is true, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Roman l0:17). But Jesus is the Word. “The letter killeth,” Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 3:6. Without intimacy with Jesus, the letter produces a dead, selfish, demanding emotion that is not faith at all — and God hates it. Faith comes by hearing His Word and walking close to Him. Not by talking without walking! This intimate walk with God is missing from the Church today. Faith is really knowing who God is, becoming familiar with His glory and majesty. Those who know Him best, trust Him most.
Show me a people walking closely with Him, hating sin, becoming detached from this world and getting to know His voice, and you will see a people who will not need much preaching and teaching about faith.
Enoch’s walk with God would not have been worthwhile unless it produced a corresponding faith that was constantly growing. “By faith Enoch was translated” (see Hebrews 11:5). What an incredible truth! All his faith was focused on one great desire of his heart: to be with the Lord!