|by David Wilkerson | March 7, 2013|
Jeremiah prophesied that all shepherds who refuse to seek God in prayer will fail: "For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered" (Jeremiah 10:21).
The scene Jeremiah described is exactly what we are seeing today in the church. Many shepherds have become lazy and neglectful. They see their calling as only a job—a paycheck. They lean on the arm of their flesh instead of seeking to know God's heart through prayer. They have lost all power to feed and keep the sheep in order, and the sheep are being scattered.
The unity that once kept churches strong is now being broken up. Jeremiah said of his day: "My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken; my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains" (10:20). The cords he spoke of, the binding power of God that kept unity among the people, had been obliterated. The flock was scattered and there was such uncleanness among the priesthood, no one dared go near the holy things of God. No priest was worthy to touch the holy curtains.
I want to address those who seek after God: Do you have a closet of prayer? To have a "secret closet" means simply to be shut in with God anywhere, anytime, giving quality time to seeking Him and calling on His name (see Matthew 6:6).
"Prayer closet" also means "prayer habit." Do you have a daily practice of getting alone with God? “Practice” means disciplining yourself to come before God, having a heart that says, "I must get alone with God—I must talk with my Father today!"
Sometimes my secret closet is alone in my car. It is often my study at home or on the streets of New York City. A few weeks ago it was a Florida beach, where I walked for hours, shut in with God.
The kind of prayer I am talking about has to do with intimacy with God—aloneness with Him. Jesus warned against hypocrisy in prayer. He drew a dramatic distinction between those who seek God in the secret closet, and those who pray so they can be seen by others as holy.
|by David Wilkerson | March 6, 2013|
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6).
When Jesus speaks of going into a secret closet to seek the Father, He is talking about something much greater than a physical closet. The Old Testament tells us God divided His people into two categories: those who regularly seek Him in their secret place of prayer, and those who do not.
When God became angry with Israel over their idolatry, Moses pitched his prayer tent outside the camp. Scripture says, "It came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp" (Exodus 33:7). In the midst of all the idolatry taking place in Israel, God’s people still took time to seek the Lord. This seeking remnant knew they had to go outside the camp lest they, too, fall into the apostasy sweeping over the people.
Centuries later, the people under King Asa understood why God blessed and prospered them and kept them at peace with all their enemies: "Because we have sought the Lord our God . . . he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered" (2 Chronicles 14:7).
At one point during Asa's reign, an army of one million Ethiopians came against Israel. "And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said . . . O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa . . . and the Ethiopians fled. . . . They were destroyed before the Lord" (verses 11-13). When Asa was attacked, he fell on his face and turned to God in prayer—and God answered with victory.
Shortly after that triumph, however, Azariah the prophet came to Asa and said: "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" (15:2). In other words: "If you stop seeking after God and calling on His name in all you do, He will forsake you."
Every time Israel sought the Lord after that, God blessed them: "When they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them" (15:4). Israel enjoyed rest when they sought God in prayer and He always delivered them and gave them order and strength.
|by David Wilkerson | March 5, 2013|
A close friend said something to me on the phone that took me by surprise. I felt it was cutting and I resented it deeply. I didn't hang up on him but I cut the conversation short and he knew I was truly provoked.
That conversation lit a fire under my flesh. I was disturbed, hurt, and agitated. Anger, indignation and grief began to pour out and, in short, I began to stew about it.
I paced around my study, trying to pray but I was so bothered and troubled I could hardly focus on the Lord. I prayed, "God, my close friend put me down and there was no reason for it. It had to be the devil trying to provoke me. I don't have to listen to that!"
I allowed these thoughts to simmer for about an hour. Then, finally, I came to a boiling point and cried out, "Lord, I'm really steamed about this!"
That's when I heard God's still, small voice, saying, "David, put out that flame right now. You're stewing in your own juices of hurt, anger and hatred because you've been deeply hurt. But what you're doing is dangerous and you dare not continue."
I learned long ago that when the Holy Spirit speaks, it pays to listen. I repented on the spot and asked His forgiveness. Then I sat down and began thinking: "What was it that so provoked me? And why did I keep simmering inside? I can't stay mad at this friend. We've been close for a long time and I know I'm going to forgive him. Why am I so upset?"
Suddenly, it hit me. The simmering inside me was not the result of that hurtful conversation. I was angry because I had allowed myself to be easily provoked again. I was troubled and agitated at myself because I had quickly fallen back into an old habit I thought I had conquered.
The fastest way to "put out the flame” is to trust in Christ's forgiveness. And He is ready to forgive at all times. "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee" (Psalm 86:5).
|by Gary Wilkerson | March 4, 2013|
Every follower of Jesus has a certain hunger in his heart. It is a passionate zeal to be holy before God—free from sin, victorious over flesh, pure and spotless before the Lord.
The Holy Spirit actually plants this desire—an innate longing to live uprightly—in the heart of every human being. People of every religion, and even no religion, are moved to live well, do right, love others, be the best person they can be. Some obviously flee that desire and do the opposite, but they are still conscious of a deep desire to do right.
Of course, we all fall short of this desire because of our sinful nature. For nonbelievers, the spirit of this world can darken the mind to any sense of rightness. For believers, failure to live in a way that honors God can crush the spirit.
This desire to live right is behind the meaning of the word righteousness. It means to be in right standing with God—to live with right motives, emotions and behavior—and establish right alignment with His purposes.
To truly be righteous, we have to know what it is and is not. Is righteousness right behavior? No, you can do the right thing while having wrong motives. Some Christians do right things but are motivated by a pharisaical spirit. Their outward behavior is right, but inwardly they are “dead man’s bones.” So, is righteousness the desire or will to be right? No, a lot of people seek righteousness with great passion but fail to attain it.
The Bible describes our righteousness in two words: justification and sanctification. As Christians, we need both in our lives. The first term indicates our position, or right standing, with God. The second refers to our walk with God, our ongoing relation to Him.
If we are not justified, we can never be righteous. We can do good works and spend hours in prayer, but these things will not make us righteous. That is because justification is associated with making things just. For that to happen, God’s wrath against sin has to be addressed. A penalty has to be paid for our sins so that God will pardon them.
We all know Jesus makes this payment (or propitiation) for our sin. His sacrifice on the cross quenched God’s holy wrath toward our sin. Our Savior has met every requirement for us to be accepted fully by the Lord and in right standing with Him once and for all.
|by David Wilkerson | March 1, 2013|
We are not saved by the law but we are convinced and convicted of our sin by the law. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20).
The law was sent "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19). "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).
"The law is holy... and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceedingly sinful" (Romans 7:12-13).
Paul was saying, "I couldn't really confess my sins until I knew they were sins. I couldn't seek after the holiness of God until I saw how far from Him I was. The law hit home to me, destroying my nonchalance about sin. When I saw God's holiness by His commandments, sin became utterly sinful to me."
That is the conviction that drives you straight to the arms of Christ, crying, "Mercy, Lord! I can't save myself, I can't fulfill Your law. I've seen the sin of my heart!"
Faith has been defined as "the flight of a convicted, repentant sinner unto the mercy of God in Christ Jesus." Only the person who has been convicted of his sins by the law of God will "flee to Christ" for refuge.
On the day of Pentecost Peter stood and offered the crowds the gospel of God's grace. But first he put them under the blazing light of the law. He pointed his finger and said, "Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain [Him]" (Acts 2:23). The people were pricked in their hearts, so utterly convicted by the Word of God they cried out, "What shall we do?" (verse 37).
Adam was given the gospel of grace—after his "eyes were opened" (see Genesis 3:7). It was only after he had seen his pitiful condition and the consequences of his sin that God brought to him the message of mercy and hope!
|by David Wilkerson | February 28, 2013|
Justification and righteousness come by faith alone. I am saved by faith, made righteous by faith and kept by faith in Christ's blood. That is the very foundation of the gospel. But not all faith is justifying faith. The Bible clearly speaks of two kinds of faith: one that justifies and another that is of no value—a faith that even the devils exercise.
The book of Acts records that Simon the magician "believed" but his faith was not the justifying kind. "Simon himself believed also: and . . . he was baptized" (Acts 8:13). Simon offered the apostle Peter money to acquire the power of the Holy Ghost but Peter answered, "I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (verse 23). He was saying, "Your heart is still bound by sin."
Peter told Simon that without repentance both he and his money would perish. Indeed, Simon believed but he was not made the righteousness of God in Christ. His faith was not justifying faith, the kind that purifies the heart and brings the righteousness of Christ.
Scripture says many people "believed [in Jesus] . . . when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them... for he knew what was in man" (John 2:23-25). These people had a belief in Christ but it was not the faith of those who receive "power to become the sons of God" (1:12).
Justifying faith is more than a faith of assent; it does more than just acknowledge God. James argued: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2.19). James was talking about a dead, temporary faith, not an eternal one. And Jesus warned about this kind of faith, saying that some believe for a while “[but] have no root . . . and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13).
But there is a justifying faith, one that "purifies the heart" (see Acts 15.9) and "believeth unto righteousness" (Romans 10:10).
In order for faith to be justifying, there must be an accompanying desire to obey and be faithful to God. This kind of faith contains a vital force, a principle of everlasting obedience and love for God.
|by David Wilkerson | February 27, 2013|
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have not understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee" (Psalm 32:8-9).
In these two brief verses God gives us a great lesson concerning guidance. We can build a great faith upon the foundation of knowing that He is willing to lead and guide us in everything.
Yet the Word of God says a person may be a believer who enjoys all the spiritual benefits of being a child of God and yet remain a stubborn mule when it comes to submitting to His ways of guiding and leading. God said of Israel, "Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways" (Psalm 95:10).
Think of what God was saying: "After forty long years of receiving My tender guidance and miraculous deliverances, they still don’t have the slightest idea of the way I work. They never even try to understand My principles of guidance. To them, My leadings are just a series of unrelated blessings, nothing more than open doors and escapes from crises."
Personally, I am tired of being a mule-headed Christian with no understanding of the principles of God’s leading. I do not want God to say of me, "Yes, David was forgiven. He prayed and I delivered him from trouble, time after time. Indeed, I led him in wonderful ways and My hand was upon him. But in his heart he never had a settled knowledge of My ways."
Beloved, don’t make the Lord be stern with you in His leadings. Don’t be as the mule, without understanding. God does not want to bark directions at His children or have to force us to do His bidding. God wants a people who know Him well enough to move at His slightest urging.
|by David Wilkerson | February 26, 2013|
Suddenly, we are plagued by a sense of unworthiness. We turn inward, thinking, "I did it again! I haven't changed at all. I'll never be Christlike. I still react like a babe, not a mature Christian. Why haven't I changed?"
Beloved, the devil wants you to keep worrying over your shortcomings and lack of growth, thinking the race is impossible, so that you will become discouraged and drop out.
It is certain that we will stumble at times because the race is going to continue until our Lord returns. But we must always get on our feet and continue moving on.
God's Word speaks of overcoming: "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4). "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Revelation 21:7).
To overcome is to "conquer and get the best of all temptations and obstacles." What are our obstacles? They are every new reaction in the flesh, every failure to be Christlike, every uprising of temper, bitterness or agitation.
David wrote, "My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). This man was exposed before the whole world as an adulterer and a murderer. He also wrote, "For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. . . . I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long" (Psalm 38:4-6).
What if David had worried and fretted over his failures? He repented wholeheartedly and therefore he could say, "Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness" (Psalm 30:11).
The fastest way to get rid of "a sense of unworthiness" is to trust in Christ's forgiveness. And He is ready to forgive at all times: "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee" (Psalm 86:5).
|by Gary Wilkerson | February 25, 2013|
I have been burdened for those of you presently going through trials, struggles or turmoil of soul. I want you to know that God sees you exactly where you are and He has not forgotten you; in fact, He has been walking beside you through your situation. He wants you to be aware of His great love for you and then He wants this knowledge to dispel any fear gripping your heart.
We do not need to be afraid to face the valleys in our lives, for God is with us. In the midst of these situations, He asks us to do only one thing: look to Him. He is our rock, our strong tower and our salvation. It is only in Him that we can hope—all other things will fail, but He is sure for all eternity.
Recently at a prison in Louisiana, I was privileged to minister alongside Pastor Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn Tabernacle. While those prisoners are not in an ideal situation, we heard testimony after testimony of lives that have been redeemed. Despite their outward bonds, they are truly living in the knowledge and hope of Christ’s love. Some are even asking to transfer to other prisons where they can share the Gospel. What an encouraging testimony of victorious, faith-filled living!
So, while you face your trial, know that Jesus is your answer. We will have difficulties in this life, but our great hope is in the completed work of Christ on the cross. He has taken all sin, sickness and sorrow upon Himself. He bears it all for us so that we may live a life of victory and hope. This ultimate act of love was made for you in your situation; the Lord wants to show His love and power in your life.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).
|by David Wilkerson | February 22, 2013|
"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. . . . Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously" (1 Peter 2:19-23).
Peter described how Jesus handled every situation in life. When people hurt and reviled Him, He did not fight back or threaten them. When they wanted to argue with Him, He did not get involved. Instead, He simply walked away.
"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps" (verse 21). Peter makes it clear: Jesus is to be our example of behavior.
The apostle Paul adds, "If you don't have charity—that is, the love of Christ—you are nothing." According to 1 Corinthians 13, charity means showing kindness to everyone, with no exceptions . . . having no jealousy whatsoever . . . not boasting or promoting oneself . . . seeking others' interests above our own . . . not being easily provoked . . . not thinking evil of anyone . . . not rejoicing when someone falls, even an enemy.
Both Peter and Paul stated very clearly in these passages: "Our command to you is that there be no fighting back, no revenge, no threatening among you. Instead, commit all your agitations, fears and bitterness to Christ."
Our hearts may answer, "Lord, that's what I want." We may get a few victories under our belt and start to feel confident. Then, out of nowhere, someone says or does something that plunges an ugly, unexpected, acid arrow into us—and we have a quick rush of angry thoughts. Before we know it, we are shooting poisoned arrows back at the one who crossed us.
We realize we failed even though we had tried hard—praying, seeking God, clinging to truth, and enjoying many successes. When the enemy came in like a flood, we completely failed in our effort to be like Jesus.
"Let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). You simply must have patience with yourself and with your growth. After all, the race is going to continue until Jesus returns. Yes, you will stumble, trip and get winded, but if you fail, you will get up and move on.