|by David Wilkerson | August 2, 2012|
Every time you show mercy, every time you are kind and gracious to another believer, you are giving comfort.
A man from our church stopped me after a recent service and said, "Brother Wilkerson, let me tell you why I attend this church. My ninety-year-old mother just recently passed away. But for the past four years she was bedfast and I took care of her.
"At the church I used to attend, every Sunday I had to leave service early to go and tend to her. After a while, the pastor got tired of it and before the whole congregation he told me, 'If you're going to go, go now, before I start to preach.'
"Here at Times Square Church, no one has ever said a word to me about leaving early. That may seem like a small thing to you, but to me it's a very big thing. I have not had to explain to anyone here that I was going to leave early to get home and take care of my mother."
Mercy must be shown in the ordinary, day-to-day things. Sometimes mercy can be just a smile that conveys understanding or an arm around someone's shoulder. It can be as simple as a sympathetic countenance or a word to someone who's hurting.
You can never offer mercy if you're constantly thinking of yourself: "God must be mad at me. I'm going to take a fall — I just know it." How can you offer comfort to others when you have not yet learned to draw comfort in God's mercy to you? "That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. . . . whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation" (2 Corinthians 1:4, 6).
Merciful Christians are the Lord's comforters. They can show and speak mercy and lovingkindness because they have experienced the incredible comfort of God's mercy to them.
|by David Wilkerson | August 1, 2012|
Beloved, this message is not meant to rail on you or lecture you. Rather, I believe I have a word of hope for you. Let me explain why you may find it so hard to be the kind, gracious, merciful Christian you want to be.
We find the key in Psalm 119. The psalmist makes a powerful statement here: "Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant" (Psalm 119:76). The meaning here is, "Lord, Your Word tells me I am to be comforted by the knowledge that You are merciful and full of compassion to me. Let me draw comfort from that great truth."
If you were to look up the words "merciful" and "mercy" in a concordance, you would find hundreds of references. God's Word overwhelms us with numerous promises of His marvelous grace, lovingkindness and compassion. He wants to impress upon us that He is merciful, longsuffering and slow to anger about our failures, weaknesses and temptations.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 103:8).
All God's promises of mercy are given to comfort us in our trials. When we fail God, we think He is mad at us, ready to judge us. But, instead, He wants us to know, "I will see you through. Simply repent. I am not mad at you. I am merciful, full of grace and love for you. Draw comfort from this." It is comforting to know that His mercy will never be withdrawn from us. How comforting to know that when we sin or fail, His love toward us grows even stronger.
Unless we draw comfort from the mercy God shows to us, we are in no position to give mercy that offers comfort to others. Only when we experience the absolute mercifulness of God will there be an overflow of mercy to everyone around us. We become merciful people because we ourselves are living in the mercy of God!
|by David Wilkerson | July 31, 2012|
Jesus told a parable about a servant who had been forgiven a great debt (Matthew 18:23-35). This man found grace and mercy with his master but then he took that grace and mercy for granted. Immediately after he was forgiven, he went out and began to choke a man who owed him a small, insignificant amount, demanding, "Pay me what you owe me!" When the debtor asked the man for mercy, the man refused and had the debtor jailed.
Why was this man so judgmental? Why did he lack mercy? It was because he did not consider his own unworthiness. He did not understand how hopeless and exceedingly sinful his own life was. He did not appreciate the danger he had been in, how close to death he had been before he'd been shown mercy. When the master found out what the ungrateful man had done to the other debtor, he had him thrown into jail for life.
While I was working on this message, the Lord stopped me and said, "David, forget your message right now. I want to talk to you about your judgmental spirit, your lack of mercy."
I thought, "Me, Lord? I'm one of the most merciful preachers in America." But He began to review all the things I had said to young preachers, things I had blurted out sharply. Then He reminded me of all the insensitive things I'd said to people who had failed, people I'd given up on.
That session absolutely wiped me out. I wept before the Lord. When I asked God how this could be, He answered, "You've forgotten what I did for you, the incredible mercy I showed you. How many times did I dig you out of something that could have destroyed you? You wouldn't be here without My mercy."
Beloved, before you can offer mercy to someone else, you must look at the pit where you would be without God's mercy. Only then can you say, "Oh, God, I know what You did for me and You can do the same for my friend who is in sin. At one time I was just as wicked in Your sight. I can't judge this friend, because You had mercy on me."
That is where you must begin!
|by Gary Wilkerson | July 30, 2012|
I love the Latin phrase missio Dei — which means “mission of God.”
In the first chapter of Genesis we see that the missio Dei, the mission of God, was to reveal Himself to man, to make Himself known in all His wonderful glory and goodness.
Genesis 2 introduces us to Adam and Eve, whose fall caused that mission to be broken. There was no longer the fullness of revelation that enabled man to see things as they were intended to be seen. Then in Genesis 3 we see Adam and Eve covering themselves in shame and being driven out of the Garden. They were running from God, no longer intimate and walking with Him.
From the Garden of Eden to the book of Revelation the Bible reveals the mission of God, showing us clearly what God’s purposes are for His people.
When the church doesn’t understand the mission of God — when it becomes diminished, ignored and perverted — the church loses its power. When the mission of God is set aside, the church becomes introverted and takes on a form that God didn’t intend for it. Then the church continues building on itself, becoming a type of the Tower of Babel that just keeps going up until its weight causes it to crumble.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem.” Is that really what He said? No! He said, “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end [uttermost parts] of the earth” (ESV). He knew that this mission of God was meant to bless those in Jerusalem but then it should spread to others.
If you limit the mission of God to being only what He has blessed you with, you will shortchange your own blessings. You will block the flow of what God has for you because His blessings are meant to come to you and then flow through you to others, to the world.
|by David Wilkerson | July 27, 2012|
I remember as a young evangelist preaching at a crusade before 5,000 people in Los Angeles. At least 2,000 of those people were Christian hippies. They had just been born again and were brought out of the hippie culture. Many of these young people lay sprawled before me on the floor, barefoot, wearing long hair and tattered clothes.
That night I was dressed in a spiffy blue blazer with a sharp tie, the latest bell-bottom slacks and shiny shoes. When I took the stage, I started railing on those kids. I said, "Some of you look awful. Put on some decent clothes and get a haircut before you come back tomorrow night!"
Backstage after the service, I was met by a delegation of those long-haired, young hippie Christians. One of them ran his fingers down my fashionable coat collar and said, "What a beautiful suit." Then he looked up at me and said, "Brother David, we couldn't see Jesus tonight."
"Why not?" I asked.
"Your clothes got in the way," he replied. I had considered them to be too dressed down — and they had considered me to be too dressed up.
Those kids were not making fun of me. They were sincere. They wept as they told me, "We believe you're a man of God, but you're missing something." I know now that it was mercy I lacked. I never railed on that subject again. God taught me a hard lesson, one I pray remains in my heart.
Let me say this: Many Christians think it is enough to be pure and sanctified. We think that is the number-one issue and that all we need to do is abstain from evil, come out from the world and remain clean. As long as we don't smoke, drink, fornicate or commit adultery, we think we are pure.
No one has preached stronger messages on holiness and purity over the years than I have. But according to James, purity is merely the first matter of concern: "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17). Yes, first we are to be clean. But mercy, grace and kindness are to follow.
|by David Wilkerson | July 26, 2012|
"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
"Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Luke 6:35-37).
You probably remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah related in Genesis. Two angels, appearing as men, approached the gates of Sodom. Most likely they were dressed just as any ordinary person.
Abraham's nephew Lot sat at the city gate, possibly in some official rank (he may have been one of the city elders who welcomed visitors).
Let me ask you: Why did God send angels to rescue Lot and his family? We know that Lot and his daughters ultimately were saved out of Sodom, but his two sons-in-law and wife were destroyed. Why was Lot saved? Why did God send angels to literally pull this man out of destruction?
Was it because of Lot's morality? Was it because God saw something great in him? No! The answer is very simple: "The Lord being merciful unto him . . . brought him forth, and set him without the city" (Genesis 19:16). God was being merciful to Lot.
I see Lot as a type of remnant believer in these last days, living in a wicked society about to be judged. Right now America is ripe for destruction; indeed, our nation is already under judgment. And Lot represents the righteous remnant church in the midst of it, for the Bible calls Lot a righteous man (see 2 Peter 2:6-8).
Yet, if God's church today is righteous, it is only because of the blood of Jesus Christ, and not because of any goodness or morality the Lord has seen in us. It is only out of His sheer mercy that He came to us and pulled us out of judgment, even when we hesitated to leave our sins. The Lord, being merciful to us, brought us forth and has set us outside this doomed society. We deserve to be consumed but He has had mercy on us.
|by David Wilkerson | July 25, 2012|
I have a word from the Lord for many who read this message: There is a powerful promise in God's Word that you must lay hold of right now. I believe that if you act on this promise from Him, you will witness a great, new kind of victory in your life.
The promise is: "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4:8). But now you must read the rest of the verse: "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded."
This is a great promise of victory over all sin. Yet you cannot produce this victory yourself. You can't cleanse your own hands or purify your own heart. No, James is saying, "If you want clean hands and a pure heart, if you want victory over guilt, temptation and every evil pursuer coming against you, you must draw near to God and believe He is near you."
It all hinges on the nearness of God. Simply draw near to Him, believe He is near you, and He will take care of all the enemies in your flesh.
You may ask, "But how do I draw near to God?" The answer is very simple, even childlike: Just go to the Lord and talk to Him — anytime, anywhere, all day long. In the shower, on the way to work, on the job, everywhere, talk to Him, drawing near in full assurance of faith.
Years ago I worked with the late Kathryn Kuhlman. That dear woman of God used to work seventeen hours a day. I often wondered, "When does she ever have time to shut herself in her secret closet and pray?"
Then I realized that she always seemed to be muttering to herself. She was praying! She prayed as she drove her car, as she rode in elevators. Everywhere she went, she always talked to the Lord.
One day she told me, "David, the Bible says to pray without ceasing. I talk to the Lord all day long. He's just as real to me as you are. I don't have to run somewhere to try to get in tune with Him, because we talk all the time. We're friends."
Beloved, God is always there for you. I believe in secret-closet praying, but your secret closet can be on the subway, in your car, anywhere you shut yourself in with Him.
Here God’s promise to you, if you will practice drawing near to Him all day long:
"Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God” (Psalm 68:1-2).
|by David Wilkerson | July 24, 2012|
Let me show you what I mean by the confrontation of the cross.
Consider a man who is fed up with his sinful habit yet he continually falls deeper into its clutches. He has promised himself a hundred times he will never do it again — and, for a while, he submerges the temptation and enjoys a measure of freedom. But later it comes back with greater force.
This man has covered up his sin, lied about it, cheated because of it — and it has brought him great sorrow. He no longer enjoys it, but he can't quit. He just keeps going back.
The man knows he will have to stand at the judgment seat one day and he goes through life fearing exposure and scandal. His sin has drained him, shackled him, deceived him. It has brought him down to a weariness in which he can hardly exist — he's at the end of his rope.
In this sad, weary, worn-out state, the Holy Spirit brings the man this word: "There is a way out for you. There is a place of victory, peace, joy, newness of life. Accept Christ's call to run to Him and find rest. Go to the cross of Jesus Christ."
Beloved, when you kneel at the cross, you will not hear an easy, soft word, at least not at first. Even though the cross is the only door to life, you are going to hear about death — death to every sin.
At the cross, you face the crisis of your life and that is what is missing in so many churches. The preaching of the cross brings about a crisis of sin, of self-will. It will speak to you with loving, but firm, words about the consequences of continuing in your sin: "Deny yourself. Embrace the death of the cross. Follow Me!"
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
|by Gary Wilkerson | July 23, 2012|
When Jesus says in Revelation 3:15, “I would thou were cold or hot,” He is saying that He does not want us to be lukewarm. Some translations say, “I would rather you be hot or cold but not lukewarm.” That little phrase “I would rather” is the difference between someone who is against you and someone who is for you.
If anyone is going to say “I would rather” about things in my life, I want it to be Jesus. When He says, “I would rather you be on fire for God,” you can be assured that He is releasing an all-out campaign, pulling out all available resources of heaven, on your behalf to turn your lukewarmness to fire — to bring you back!
We see Jesus say in verse 16, “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will . . . .” I love the fact that Jesus said, “I will . . .” because He could have said “I have.”
It is good news for lukewarm people that He is planning ways to bring them back into the fire of God. It is good news because even though He despises that taste in His mouth, His love is grand. The wrath-quenching love of the Lamb of God has been so poured out upon us that even when we are far from what He desires us to be, He hasn’t spit us out.
The early church fathers called this the forbearance of God. What is forbearance? It is God’s patience and bearing with us even in our lukewarmness. He doesn’t love your lukewarmness but He loves you. His grace, His plans, His power all are available right now to recapture your heart as you respond in obedience to Jesus Christ.
Jesus also said to the lukewarm, “I’m standing at the door of your heart and I’m knocking . . . and if any man opens the door, I will come in to him” (see Revelation 3:20).
|by David Wilkerson | July 20, 2012|
When Samuel anointed David to be Israel's king, the young man was given a new heart: "Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward" (1 Samuel 16:13).
David became a man who was godly, wise, loved and full of the fear of God: "And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him" (18:14).
David was a man of much prayer. He praised the Lord as few people ever have, blessing the heart of God with his songs and psalms. Nobody could have been more intimate with the Lord than David.
David was also a man of great faith. He went on to slay Goliath and become a mighty warrior for Saul. Women sang of his exploits on the battlefield. God's Spirit clearly was upon this man, and the Lord obviously had a plan for his life.
But then Saul came after David with wrath, and David had to flee. He took 400 of his men and fled to the hometown of the giant Goliath, whom he had slain. Talk about an unfaithful act. David had not asked the Lord about this move. On the contrary, he had decided to put his life in the hands of the king of Gath, seeking refuge from him. But in Gath, hostile whispers rose up, "Isn't this the man people sing about? Hasn't he killed thousands of Philistines?" (See 1 Samuel 21:11.)
David was taken to the king. He knew he was trapped, in trouble, so he pretended to be mad, raving incoherently, scratching the walls, spittle running down his beard. He hoped that somehow his "insanity" would deliver him from the clutches of King Achish.
What a poor testimony this was before all his men. Achish looked at David and said, "This man has lost his mind. Get him out of here!"
David was unfaithful at that moment but God was still faithful. He didn't write David off. While David was acting foolishly, God's eternal purpose for him went onward. Saul's kingdom was growing weaker every day and God was moving everything into place to ensure David's blessing.