torsdag 14. februar 2019

What is the fruit of the Spirit?


What is the fruit of the Spirit?

The phrase "the fruit of the Spirit" has caused a great deal of confusion over the years. Perhaps it would be best to begin by explaining what the fruit of the Spirit is not. It is not the result of any effort anyone can make. Not the effort to have faith or to obey or to be loving and kind. The fruit of the Spirit has nothing directly to do with any exertion a believer can make.

The fruit of the Spirit is the natural result of the presence of the Holy Spirit residing in a believer. Philippians 2:13 says, "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Conversely, Isaiah 64:6 says, "all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment…" In and of ourselves, we cannot do good. As Hebrews 13:20-21 says, "Now may the God of peace … equip you with everything good that you may do his will." God accomplishes this as the Holy Spirit indwells believers, changing their character (Philippians 1:6) and manifesting good "fruit." Galatians 5:22-23 lists the characteristics of this fruit.

Love - agape: Agape love is not a sentimental, sweet, affectionate emotion. It is a choice to put others first and to sacrifice ourselves on their behalf (John 15:13). This kind of love can only come through God's power.

Joy - chara: Joy is not happiness; that is, it does not depend on "happenstance." It is independent of our worldly situation. In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul associates complete joy with fellowship and peace in the body of Christ. True joy is the result of a right relationship with God.

Peace - eirene: Peace means everything good within relationships: harmony, friendliness, safety, order, rest, and contentment. First Corinthians 3:3 asserts that the opposite—strife—is from the flesh.

Patience - makrothumia: Patience here does not refer to keeping your temper or waiting out an inconvenience. It actually means longsuffering in the face of persecution or abuse. It brings to mind 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 and Jesus' silence while He was being whipped and beaten (Isaiah 53:7).

Kindness - chrestotes: The Bible never tells us to be "nice." "Niceness" often comes from a fear of what others will think or do. "Kindness" is much harder. It encompasses the moral goodness and integrity required to know the right course of action with the strength to choose it.

Goodness - agathosune: Goodness is kindness with an edge. It is fierce kindness, able to do the right thing even if it's hard, even if it hurts someone. "Good" in the New Testament is nearly always associated with God (James 1:17).

Faithfulness - pistis: Faithfulness in this verse does not mean loyalty or dependability. It means belief in God, acknowledgement of His Word, surrender to Him, and the actions that naturally result from that surrender (Hebrews 11:1). When we possess the Spirit's fruit of faithfulness, we are full of faith/trust in God.

Gentleness - prautes: This word doesn't have a true English translation, although "meekness" is often used. It does not refer to actions or attitudes toward others but to the spiritual condition of submission toward God. It means to accept His correction without disputing or resisting. Much like kindness, gentleness comes from a position of strength. It is submission and grace without concern for one's own rights (Philippians 2:5-7).

Self-control - egkrateia: Self-control can also only be manifested through strength. The root word implies a robust power, mastery, and restraining. Paul's teaching concerning self-control actually scared Felix, the governor he confronted in Acts 24 (see verse 25).

The most important concept regarding the fruit of the Spirit is that it is the Spirit's fruit. We are often admonished to be more loving, to have joy, or to be kind, but we cannot do so without the power of the Holy Spirit in us. It is the Holy Spirit who gives love (1 John 4:7), joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6), peace (Romans 8:6), patience (Colossians 1:11), kindness (2 Peter 1:1-9), goodness (2 Thessalonians 1:11), faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), gentleness (2 Corinthians 10:1), and self-control (2 Peter 1:6). Still, we do have a part. Our attitude and our actions affect how the Holy Spirit works in us. We can quench His power and influence (Ephesians 4:30), or we can share in the work of sanctification (1 Peter 1:15; Hebrews 12:14). The "fruit" of the Holy Spirit is directed and powered by God. If we do not abide in Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to bear fruit in us, we will be clipped off and tossed away just like a shriveled vine (John 15:1-6).

onsdag 13. februar 2019

Accusing God of Child Neglect!

Accusing God of Child Neglect!

By David Wilkerson
June 21, 1993

God has a way of dealing with His children by asking them questions. And He poses these questions in such a way as to expose our very thoughts.
For example: When Elijah was hiding in the cave, the Lord asked: "Elijah, what are you doing here?"
When Peter began walking on the water toward Christ, and doubt caused him to sink in the waves, Jesus asked: "Why did you not believe?"
When Saul, soon to be named Paul, was on the Damascus road, Christ asked him: "Why do you persecute Me?"

These questions were penetrating. They were designed to make the people think, to look deep within their hearts. And today, God still uses questions to get right to the heart of matters with His children. The Lord often speaks to me with a question. In fact, not long ago, I shared with our church a question God had posed to me: "David, is your God an idol?" I wondered what the Lord was asking. And I had to search my heart deeply to find out what He was getting at.
I soon realized the question had to do with whether I pictured the Lord as alive - as truly hearing and answering prayer - or as one who doesn't see or hear. Was He to me no more than wood or stone, like any other dead idol? Or did I really trust Him to hear and answer my prayers, as a living, caring Father?

In recent weeks, as I sought the Lord for this message, another question popped into my heart. The Lord asked me this: "David, do you accuse Me of child neglect?" I was astounded at the very thought! Then the Spirit whispered to my soul: "You are My child - I am your Father. Yet do you doubt Me? Do you accuse Me in your mind of neglecting you, of not hearing your sincere cries?"
Again I had to search my heart before answering. And the Lord quickly brought up a number of other questions - all of them dealing with accusing God of neglect!
Now, we Christians rarely verbalize our doubts and unbelief. We never say to others that the Lord has neglected us - that He has been silent to our cries, He has not heard our prayers, He has not been working in our behalf.
But the fact remains - we do think such thoughts! These questions and doubts exist deep within us. They are things we feel when God seems to be absent from our lives.

I believe God gave me this message because the Spirit wants to deal with each of us about trusting in Him fully. Our glorious worship in church, our heartfelt praise, our daily Christian walk - all are in vain if we think for a moment that God has neglected us in any area of our lives!
Let me share with you some of the questions the Lord has put to me recently. If you can settle these three questions in your soul, you will be quickened in your faith and confidence in the Lord:

1. Does God Have the Answer to Every
Question and Every Need in My Life?

Any believer who wishes to please God with his prayer life must first settle this question: "Does God have all I need? Or do I need to go elsewhere for my answer?"

This appears to be a simple question - one that shouldn't even need to be asked. And most Christians would immediately answer, "Yes, of course I believe God has all I need." But the simple fact is, many are not fully convinced!

We say we believe it. We sing hymns and preach about it. But when a crisis hits and God doesn't seem to answer, we don't really believe He has what we need! Paul states: "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). The Lord has a storehouse of abundance with which to meet our every need!

Why did the troubled woman in Jesus' parable keep bothering the unjust judge, saying, "Give me justice!" It was because she knew that he alone had the power and authority to solve her problem. She could go to no one else!
Oh, if we only had such an inner knowledge that God alone has all we need! We would never turn in vain to any other source. The Lord is a just and holy Judge - and He has all the wisdom, power and authority to solve any problem we face.

God spent forty years trying to convince Israel they would never lack anything - that He would be their constant source and supply: "For the Lord thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing" (Deuteronomy 2:7).
God was saying, "There is no scarceness, no shortage with Me. I have all you will ever need!"

"For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land... a land wherein... thou shalt not lack any thing in it... When thou hast eaten (thou shalt be full)" (8:7-10). Today, the Lord has brought us into our Promised Land - Christ! Jesus is to us an abiding place where there is never any lack. He represents the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Now, if you do not believe that, then you are saying that the Old Testament provided something better than we have now in Christ. You are saying that under the Law the people had a bounty and a fullness - but in Christ we have less!

Indeed, Old Testament believers had the shekinah glory of the Lord. But God says He has provided something even better for us - and that is the very presence of Jesus Himself. He is constantly present in us!
The Bible says of Moses' time: "Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.... (They) delighted themselves in thy great goodness" (Nehemiah 9:21,25).

I ask you - do you delight in the Lord's goodness to you? Or do you whisper within your heart, "God hasn't been good to me. My prayers aren't being answered. So many things have been left hanging...."

Dear saint, if God could take 3 million Jews through the wilderness, don't you think He can take care of you? Or do you think He is more faithful to the Law than He is to grace? Do you marvel at the way He took care of Israel, and yet you look at yourself and say, "Poor me!" That is accusing God of child neglect!

Israel never was convinced they would have all their supply if only they would trust God completely. These were not a holy people. They were impudent, disobedient, idolatrous. Moses told them, "Ever since I've known you, you've been bent on backsliding!"

Yet when they called out, God came and answered their cry! He had mercy on them! I ask you - will He not all the more hear the cries of those who have left their idolatry and love Him passionately?
You have to be convinced - your answer is all in Him! It is not in something you can do, or in some friend or support group. It is beyond all you know of things on this earth! Scripture says we are to be "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

If you don't believe that - if you are not convinced the Lord has everything you need - then you charge Him with being an unfit Father! You are saying He has no right to raise a child. You accuse Him of having all power and authority to provide for you - and hiding it all from you!
No matter what your problem is, no matter what your confusing maze may be - if you will simply wait on Jesus humbly, He will speak. He will give you all wisdom and knowledge, sufficient for your trial. He has always made a way through for those who trust in Him fully And He will do it for you!

2. Does My Father See What I Am
Going Through - and Does He Care?

This is another simple question -yet I believe it is not being answered honestly by most Christians.
God is asking, "Do you truly believe I see exactly what you are enduring right now?" Perhaps as you read this message, you are going through something that calls for Him to act on your behalf. The very nature of your problem demands an answer.

Beloved - do you believe God monitors your every move, as a father does his infant child? Do you know in your heart He is interpreting every thought you think? Do you believe He is at work - bottling every tear, hearing every sigh, hovering over you as a loving, caring Father? This is exactly the way the Bible describes Him!
"The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.... The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles" (Psalm 34:15,17).
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7).
Do you believe God is absolutely, totally aware of your every thought, grief, pain, trial, financial burden, family problem - and that He wants to see you through them all?

The psalmist tells us, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him" (Psalm 103:13). The Hebrew word for "pity" here means "to fondle, cuddle, love, be compassionate." Scripture is saying the Lord cuddles in His arms those who fear Him! God puts His arms around you, He strokes your cheeks, He holds you to His breast. He says, "I know your thoughts, your concerns, every battle you must face. And I care!"
David said: "O Lord... Thou hast known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before... "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee" (Psalm 139:1-5,17-18).

David is saying, "God knows all about me. He sees my every move, even my thoughts. Everywhere I turn, there He is!"
Think of it. No matter what you are going through, no matter how you feel, the Lord sees it all! He feels the very feelings of your infirmities. He knows every move you make - all you say and do.
And yet, all the time. He thinks precious thoughts about you! He says, "My thoughts of you are so powerful and so many, they are more than the sands in the sea!"

Many Christians go through life thinking God is angry with them. They think they can never please Him. How wrong they are! David was not a perfect man, and yet he was able to say, "How precious are Thy thoughts unto me, O God!" Dear saint, God is not mad at you right now. No - He is thinking precious, cuddly, loving thoughts about you. He knows the way you feel - and He cares!
He is saying, "Yes, you're going through a great trial - you're being tempted and tossed. But you're My child I will never allow the enemy to ensnare you I'm going to bring you through!"
Now, there is a third question you have to answer:

3. Is God Willing to Come Forth to My Help?

Do you believe God is willing to come quickly to you to solve your problem?
Here is where many Christians fail They know God has all they need - they admit He cares. But they are not convinced He is willing to come quickly to help them.

When God does not answer their cry right away, they imagine hindrances and inner blockages in themselves. They think of all kinds of reasons why the Lord must not be willing to come to their aid.
No - that is accusing God of neglecting His child!

On Mount Carmel, Elijah accused the pagan god Baal of child neglect:
"And they...called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered... "
"And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked,
"And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner till the blood gushed out upon them.... [But] there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regardeth" (1 Kings 18:26-29).
Hear these words again: "There was no voice... no answer... no one to pay attention or regard... "

This is exactly how we accuse God of child neglect! We pray, we cry aloud to God - but we go our way not believing He has heard us! We walk away from the Lord's presence - away from church, away from the secret closet - wondering if He has even paid attention!

No! The Lord is always ready to hear and answer our cry for help. I love what David said of Him:
"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee... In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me" (Psalm 56:5, 7).
David said, "My God is ready and willing to answer me in the very moment I cry out to Him! I don't stop and contemplate my trouble. I don't grieve over it or try to figure it out. I go to my Lord and cry, 'Help!"'
That is all God is waiting for - your heartbroken cry, uttered in child-like faith!

"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord" (James 1:6-7).
The Bible says that under bondage in Egypt, "Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God... And God heard their groaning, and God remembered... And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God took notice of them" (Exodus 2:23-25).
God did not answer Israel because they were worthy. On the contrary, the Lord had much to teach them. No - He heard them because they earnestly cried - and He took notice and heard their cry!
Just before Moses died, he reminded the people of God's faithfulness to come forth at their cry:
"And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: and when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression:
"And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders" (Deuteronomy 26:6-8).

The Israelites, as backslidden and idolatrous as they were, simply cried out to the Lord. And God is saying to His beloved children today, "You can call upon Me, you can cry out to Me - and I will hear!"

Are you afflicted? Bound? Troubled? Needing deliverance? Cry aloud - with faith! God is ready to deliver you with wonders by His mighty arm!
You can sum up the history of Israel in these few verses:
"And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God... (But) when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer..." (Judges 3:7,9).

God's people repeatedly forgot Him. But when they cried out He came!
Indeed, Samuel chided Israel by reminding them of how their fathers had cried out to the Lord:
"And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord... but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies... And the Lord sent Jerub-baal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe" (1 Samuel 12:10-11).

God always sent deliverance! No matter how badly the people had sinned against the Lord, no matter how terribly they forsook Him - in the very moment they cried out to Him, God went to work to save and deliver them!
Dear saint, do you believe God has turned a deaf ear to your cries? Do you believe He was willing to hear the cries of a stubborn, backslidden Israel who hardly ever trusted in Him fully - and yet He will not hear the sincere cry of a blood-bathed, believing child?
Never! No matter what you are facing, He will not allow Satan to overcome you! He has put a wall of fire around you. He is ready to come to your aid at a moment's notice!

David Cried to the Lord Often - and He Was Delivered
Out of All His Troubles and Every Snare of the Enemy!

David tells us why God answered him: "He brought me forth also into a large place; He delivered me, because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:19).
"Delight" here means "to take pleasure or joy." David was saying, "I bring pleasure to God. He delivered me simply because He takers pleasure in me!"
Yes - and, beloved, He takes pleasure in you and me as well!
You see, we who trust in the Lord are His holy Zion, His holy remnant. Remnant means, simply, "those who call on the Lord from a pure heart," They are those who have been called out of a lazy Christendom and are totally devoted to Jesus.
To the chosen of Zion, God says: "Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee" (Isaiah 62:3-4).

Why does God come to my rescue, so willing to deliver me? It is because He delights in me! I am a pleasure to Him. He enjoys my friendship!
A precious young man told me: "I have never been convinced that I've truly been accepted by the Lord. I seldom feel good enough for God - like I just don't I measure up. I keep trying to appease Him by doing something good for others. So many Christians feel this way! Over the years I have known many old-time Pentecostal people who never had assurance in the Lord. They felt unworthy, unclean, unloved. They never believed they were a delight to the heart of God.
So they were always trying to work something in their lives to please Him. If they failed in one area, they did three things in another area to try to make God happy.
Beloved, this can never be! When you come to Jesus, you can't make up anything to Him. No - He makes it all up to you. That is who He is! He says, "I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you" (Joel 2:25).
No matter what your failure or shortcoming - God makes it all up to you!

God's Children Are Tattooed
Into the Very Palm of His Hand!

This is one of my favorite Scriptures:
"Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, o mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.

"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me" (Isaiah 49:13-16).

God says I am engraved in the very palm of His hand! The Hebrew word for "graven" means "tattooed" - that is, indelible, unerasable. He cannot stretch out His hand without being reminded of me!

Dear saint, I want to assure you: You may go through trials and sufferings. You may be far from what you wish to be in the Lord. But you can know one thing more than anything else: You are a delight to Him!
I write to you now with a confidence and knowledge in my heart that, although I have not arrived, He has made me a part of His remnant. I believe with all my heart I am a royal crown, a diadem in His hand, a delight to His soul. He is not mad at me - He delights in me!

Listen to this wonderful promise:
"I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; and thou hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room...
"Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!" (Psalm 31:7-8,19).
Can you call that child neglect? Never!
God has given you all you need to be free and victorious. He sees your condition - and He cares. He cuddles you as you call on Him. And He is ready to come forth to help you in the moment you call on Him.
Rejoice in the Lord - for you are a delight to His soul! Hallelujah!

Accusing God of child neglect

tirsdag 12. februar 2019

A Place Called Wits' End!

A Place Called Wits' End!

By David Wilkerson

April 24, 1995

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.

"They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end" (Psalm 107:23-27).

In this psalm, the place called "wit's end" is on a ship's deck in a storm-tossed sea. Giant waves carry the ship up to the heavens, then drop it down to the depths. Powerful winds toss it back and forth so that none of the sailors can find their "sea legs." They stagger across the deck like drunken men.
The ship's sails are tattered and ripped, and wave after powerful wave crashes onto the deck. The sailors have to struggle just to hold on. It looks like it's all over for them, and they're in total despair. They are helpless - vulnerable to the power of the elements, unable to stop the storm, powerless to save themselves.

These sailors have come to a place called "wit's end." It is a condition that afflicts all Christians at one time or another. This phrase means simply, "having lost or exhausted any possibility of perceiving or thinking of a way out." In short, it is the end of all human ability and resources. There is no escape - no help, no deliverance, other than in God Himself!

Perhaps You Have Already Arrived at "Wit's End"!

Like the sailors aboard the ship, you have simply been going about your business, moving on in your walk with Jesus. Then one day, out of nowhere, a storm hit - and waves of trouble came crashing down on you from all sides!

Life's troubles seldom come one at a time. They're like the waves in a storm - coming one after another, fast and furious, mounting higher and higher. It's as if the sun has gone down, the air has turned cold and icy, and the winds of trouble have begun beating down. Like the sailors in Psalm 107, your "...soul is melted because of trouble..." (verse 26). (The Hebrew word for melted here means "fainting with fear.")

I must note: God Himself has initiated this storm! "...For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind..." (verse 25). He's the One who brought the sailors to this place. He's the One raising the wind, stirring up the waves, tossing the ship. It is all His doing!

Yet this can be a great encouragement to our faith whenever troubles hit us from all sides. We have the knowledge that all troubles and storms in life have been ordained by God, for those who walk in righteousness. They aren't caused by the devil or some particular sin. Rather, the Lord has brought us to wit's end - and He has a purpose in it all!

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:12).
God is not surprised by your ordeal. In fact, it is happening because He wants to produce something in your heart - to reveal His glory in you.

Yet you may feel it is absolutely the worst storm in your life! Your trial may be a financial struggle, business troubles, slander, family problems or a personal tragedy. You go to bed at night with a restlessness inside, a cloud hanging over you. When you awaken, the dull ache is still with you. And it keeps hanging on until one day you wake up crying, "God, how much more do I have to endure? How long will You allow me to go through this? When will it all end?"

When did the storm stop for the sailors in Psalm 107? When did God bring them into their desired safe haven? According to the psalmist, two things happened:
  • First, the sailors came to their wits' end, giving up on all human hope or help. They said, "There's no way we can save ourselves. Nobody on earth can get us out of this!"
  • Second, they cried to the Lord in the midst of their trouble - turning to Him alone for help!
"Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven" (Psalm 107:28-31).

If you are a true child of God - if you're set on allowing Him to mold you into the image of His Son - then your battle won't stop until you give up trying to figure it all out and throw yourself completely into God's care. Until He has accomplished His eternal purposes in you, your troubles will only continue to rage!

Right now, you could be keeping your storm raging, your troubles piling up. You could be missing the calm that God wants to bring to you. How does this happen?
It happens when you keep questioning the Lord in the midst of your crisis; when you keep murmuring and complaining; when you phone a friend whom you think has the answer for you; when you turn to counselors, psychologists, lawyers, experts; when you go to a Christian bookstore and buy stacks of self-help books and tapes; when you keep looking for that one secret, that one plan, to deliver you from your trouble.

Beloved, you're only prolonging your trial! It sounds simple, but from the very beginning, God has been wanting our childlike trust and confidence. And you're only keeping the storm raging and the waves piling up when you refuse to cry out, "Lord, I'm in a mess - and the only way out is You!"

God Keeps Bringing Us to Wit's End
Until We Learn To Trust Him Completely -
No Matter How Hopeless Things Appear!

We see this happen time after time with the children of Israel in the wilderness. Again and again God brought them to wit's end - to test them, to see if they would trust Him. But each time they refused!
First the Lord brought them to a place called Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. He had shut them in - the sea in front, the mountains on both sides, and Pharaoh behind. God had actually led them to a place of human hopelessness - to wit's end!

Had the Israelites simply believed one promise God had made to them, they could have been free from all worry and fear. God had told them:
"...the Lord thy God bare [carried] thee...the Lord your God...went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents shew you by what way ye should go..." (Deuteronomy 1:31-33). God was saying, in other words, "I will go with you! I will carry you as a man carries his son. I will walk before you and find places for you to pitch your tents. Wherever the cloud I have provided for you stops, that's where you are to stop."

It happened that the cloud stopped between Migdol and the sea - a place of total befuddlement, of wit's end! There was no way Israel could figure their way through the Red Sea. And now Pharaoh's army was fast approaching.

Are you in a hard place right now, with a storm brewing? I ask you: How did you get there? Do you think the devil put you there? My answer to you is this: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord..." (Psalm 37:23). No matter what storm you're going through, no matter how black things seem, God has put you in that place - at wit's end!

Please understand: God is never caught by surprise. He doesn't have to ad lib His divine direction whenever troubles befall us. He doesn't flip some cosmic coin to determine His actions on our behalf. No - long before Israel left Egypt and arrived at Migdol, God's plan for them was already set. He had already commanded the winds to blow at a certain hour, to wall up the Red Sea. He had known all along exactly what He was going to do!

Likewise today, God has a plan to bring you out of your storm. In fact, He devised that plan long before your trouble even started. Yet He will hold it back to the very last moment, waiting for you to trust Him. He wants to see if you'll put your life into His hands and say, "Live or die, I will trust the Lord!"

Israel failed this test. They became fearful, fainting at wit's end. Yet God still did for them what He had planned all along. He delivered Israel with a mighty miracle. But the result was, the people sang their song of faith on the wrong side of the Red Sea. Had they simply believed God's promise - "I will go before you and carry you as a man carries his son" - they would have passed the test!

If you panic at wit's end as Israel did - fainting, accusing God of not caring - He nevertheless will move in at the last moment and deliver you. But, afterward, He will take you into another wit's-end experience - because you did not come through the last one trusting in Him!

Indeed, just three days after their Red Sea deliverance, Israel was back in the middle of another big crisis. The people were hot, exhausted, overcome by thirst. Their scouts now came back crying, "There is water ahead at Marah, but we can't drink it. It's too bitter!"

Scripture makes it very clear: It wasn't the devil who had led Israel to this testing place. It was the cloud that had led them here. Once more, the people were at wit's end. And what a wailing went up from the camp - what awful accusations against Moses and God: "You've brought us here to die!"
Did God know these waters at Marah were bitter? Of course He did! But He had a plan. There was a certain living tree near that bitter pond, and He would use it to purify the waters for Israel.

I wonder - how many years before had God planted that tree in that spot? And how many times had the hot sun beaten on that tree to wither it? How many worms had tried to kill it? How many passersby had tried to cut it down? I tell you, nobody could have touched it - because God had a plan for it! He said, "One day My children are going to come here, and these waters will need to be purified. I have a plan to deliver them - and it's going to involve this tree!"

Of course, this tree in the desert represents the Cross. And, beloved, God has already planted a tree of deliverance for you! He knows exactly what to do about your problem, and the exact hour He will do it. All He wants from you is a quiet trust. He wants you to say, "My God is with me. He knows the way out of my trouble!"

Wit's End Is a Place of Suffering, Pain and Insecurity!

We see this illustrated in Israel's experience at Rephidim:
"And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin...according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink....
"And...the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me" (Exodus 17:1-4).
God had led Israel to the driest place in the whole wilderness. It was a testing place - with no stream, no well, not even a trickle of water. Most baffling of all, Israel was led there "...according to the commandment of the Lord..." (verse 1).

God Himself had allowed His people to grow thirsty: "And the people thirsted there for water..." (verse 3). Babies were crying, children wailing, grandparents suffering parched throats. Parents looked at their families and thought, "In a few days we'll all be dead." So they turned in anger to Moses, crying, "Give us water to drink!" They were still depending on man - on the flesh!
I want to stop here to point something out. First, God took Israel to Migdol by the sea, to test them - and they failed to trust Him there. Next, He took them to Marah, where He had another plan of deliverance - and they failed the test again. Now He brought them to Rephidim for more testing.
Do you see the pattern? If you don't learn to trust the Lord in simple, childlike faith when you're being tested, He will bring you back to yet another testing ground. You'll go from one test to another!
Israel was in just such a place once again. They were hot, thirsty, angry. But God already had a plan! He wasn't going to let them die. He had chosen beforehand to have them walk up Mount Horeb to a reservoir of water that He had prepared long before. And that source would last not just a day, a week or a month - but thirty-eight years!

Yet God was waiting for a response of faith from Israel. He was saying, "I have taken you through all of these things, but you've refused to learn. Will you trust Me now? How many more problems do I have to allow in your life before you'll trust Me?"
Many Christians are being tested and tried right now through unemployment. They have sent out resumes in every direction, but weeks roll by and nothing turns up. They've used up all their savings, and now they're surrounded by creditors. Their situation looks totally hopeless. There is pain and suffering involved; it is never easy.

Others have jobs but are underemployed. They don't earn enough to make ends meet. Many working young people have had to move back in with their parents. And thousands of single mothers are scraping by on a tiny income.

Numerous business owners are barely surviving. Many have trouble sleeping at night because the business world is so crazy, with skyrocketing taxes, increasing regulations, shaky profits. The competition is growing, and they have exhausted all their ideas and alternatives. Now they lie awake worrying about what to do.

These suffering, anxiety-ridden people come to church and raise their hands in praises to the Lord. They put on big smiles and hug each other. Yet they are going through awful pain and insecurity. They are troubled - completely at wit's end!
I ask you: As God's children, do we have no option but fear - sleepless nights, endless days of questioning God, living in utter turmoil? Consider Israel: Was their fretting and grumbling the only response possible? Was it simply human for them to react as they did, out of concern for their families?

Let me answer these by asking another question: Hasn't God always known what He was going to do in each of these cases? Hasn't He always had a plan?
Think about it: Didn't God already plan to have the winds open the Red Sea? Didn't He already preserve a tree at Marah that would heal the waters? Didn't He already choose a rock on Mount Horeb, out of which He would supply Israel's water for decades?
Our loving, heavenly Father would never lead His children into a dry desert only to let them die of thirst - especially when He has a reservoir stored in a nearby rock! God has always had a plan for His people. And He has a plan for you right now, to deliver you from your present trouble.
There is no problem you have that He can't unravel!

Let me show you why God had to bring Israel to the brink of disaster before He miraculously met their need:

God Brought Israel to Wit's End
to Try to Induce Faith Through the Miraculous -
And It Didn't Work!

I want to talk to you about the limitations of the miraculous. Many Christians travel thousands of miles each year to witness supernatural works - miracles, manifestations, signs, wonders. Yet, ironically, these sign-seeking addicts never develop a lasting faith - because miracles rarely produce that. Instead, they always need a bigger, more spectacular miracle.

Nobody had ever seen as many supernatural works as Israel. God provided miracle after miracle for them - and yet each work left the people as faithless and unbelieving as at the first! You'd think that the ten plagues on Egypt would have produced faith in the Israelites. When Egypt was afflicted with flies, there were none to be found in Israel's camp. When Egypt fell under total darkness, there was no darkness in Israel. Yet none of these miraculous plagues produced faith of any kind!
Even after God opened the Red Sea, Israel's faith lasted only three days. Scripture says:
"...they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea" (Psalm 106:7).

The psalmist is saying here: "They even doubted God at the Red Sea - the place where He performed His greatest miracle!"

The elders who watched Moses strike the rock at Marah saw water come flowing out. Indeed, all of Israel drank to the full - and yet that miracle didn't produce any faith! Then God sent hordes of quail to Israel. Hundreds of thousands of birds fell from the sky into the midst of their camp, and the people cooked them for meat. Yet still they had no faith! The next morning, when Israel came out of their tents, the ground was covered with manna, miraculously sent from heaven. Yet even this didn't produce faith!

On the contrary, after all these glorious miracles, God's children wrung their hands in despair, crying, "...Is the Lord among us, or not?" (Exodus 17:7). In other words: "Is God even with us? How could He be leading us when we have so much trouble?"
Israel had received forty years of miracle food, miracle water, a miracle cloud by day, miracle fire by night, miracle protection, miracle clothes that never wore out. Moses told them:
"...These forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing" (Deuteronomy 2:7).  And yet still they doubted Him. In fact, all but two of those who had witnessed these miracles died in the wilderness - in total unbelief!

We are so like Israel. We want God to speak a word, grant us a miraculous deliverance, quickly meet our needs, remove all our pain and suffering. In fact, you may be saying right now, "If God would just get me out of this mess - if He'd give me this one miracle - I'd never doubt Him again!" Yet, what about all the miracles He has performed for you already? They haven't produced in you any faith to help you in your present trouble!

Recently, two precious men of God from the Zulu tribe in Africa visited Times Square Church. An incredible revival is taking place among the 8 million Zulus today, and God is doing miraculous things among them. For example, more than ten cases have been documented of the dead being raised.

Yet that is not what these men wanted to talk about. Rather, what has impressed them most about the revival are the "overcomer Zulus" - those who take a stand for Christ, burning witchcraft books and witnessing boldly even though they're being tested and tried severely. These people were once evil, with murderous spirits - and now they're being transformed into the image of Jesus!
I believe the greatest sign or wonder to the world in these last days isn't a person who's been raised from the dead. No, what truly makes an impact on the mind and spirit of the ungodly is the Christian who endures all trials, storms, pain and suffering with a confident faith. Such a believer emerges from his troubles stronger in character, stronger in faith, stronger in Christ.

I recently read of a foggy little town of 4,000 people in Hungary with an alarming suicide rate. The newspaper headline read: "Suicide Stalks Isolated Village." Residents there have committed suicide in every conceivable manner. One man tossed himself into an abandoned well. Another hanged himself. Some people have overdosed. Others cut their wrists, swallowed pesticides, jumped in front of trains. Entire families have taken their lives, from teenagers to grandparents.
The town is Asotthalom, one hundred miles south of Budapest, and it is a desolate, lonely place. A doctor named Ulloh runs a psychiatric clinic there, and he told a reporter, "Some people call the road here the 'narrow road to the cursed place.' ...It is ingrained in the people that God doesn't very much like us."

Beloved, that is the destructive power of unbelief! There is no worse despair than to believe God has it in for you. This was Israel's problem, and too often it is ours as well. We have an unspoken sense that all our suffering and troubles are the result of God's displeasure with us!

When You Are at Wit's End, One of Two Things Will Happen to You. 

Every Christian emerges from wit's end either trusting in man, or trusting fully in God - that is, either cursed or blessed. Which way will you respond in your time of trouble?
Jeremiah writes: "Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit" (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

The first person Jeremiah talks about here doesn't wait for God to move. He takes matters into his own hands - making his own plans, turning to people he thinks have clout, taking shortcuts. He is always scheming, planning, manipulating. His philosophy is, "It's not what you know that counts, it's who you know." And he's forever looking for that special "who" to solve his problems!
Scripture says a spiritual dryness sets into this person's life: "...he shall be like the heath ,[shrub] in the desert..." (verse 6). He looks barely alive - with no fruit, no wellspring of life. He's always on the brink of dying! "...he...shall not see when good cometh..." (same verse).
He never partakes in the joy of being delivered by God's hand. And everything he thinks looks good turns into misery. He is isolated, existing only in "...parched places..." (same verse). He keeps withering away - sweating it out, always frantic.

But consider the one who trusts God in the hard places, at wit's end:
"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord" (verse 7).
This Christian is "planted." He has roots, stability, a reservoir of Living Water. He is always "spreading out," fruitful and green with fresh life. Scripture says
"...he...shall not be careful [fearful]in the year of drought..." (verse 8).
When things get hot and bothersome, he won't be afraid!

This person says, "Jesus, I give up looking to any person to bring me out of my trial. I turn to You alone! You're my only keeper, my only hope. I look to You to bring me out of this!" The Lord desires this kind of faith from us in everyday matters. You may object, "But, Brother Dave, I'm still unemployed, still having trouble." Yet I have to believe God's Word: "Trust Me, and you'll be blessed!"

You may answer, "But I don't know what I'm going to do. The storm is still raging. It looks so hopeless. I don't see any sign of help or deliverance!" To all these things God still says, "Trust Me, My child - and you'll be blessed!"

It doesn't matter whether your trial is with your family, with your business, or with putting food on the table. If you put your total trust in His Word and His faithfulness, God has promised to bless you - and He cannot lie! When the heat comes, you won't even be bothered. When the wind comes, you'll stand strong - because you will have learned to trust Him in spite of all unnerving circumstances. You'll be a green tree bearing the abundant fruit of confidence - and everyone around you will be given hope and encouragement as they behold your quiet trust.

God, help us all to surrender our wills, our personal agendas, when we come to this place called wit's end. May it become a place of renewed faith and trust in our loving Father. Amen!

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