One Who Finally Stands Up

Gary Wilkerson

How do you change the broken and dysfunctional destiny of your family? Has there been a history of various addictions in your family? How do you resist a family ‘legacy’ that has been one of abuse, difficulty, separation, segregation or strife? How is that family turned around?

On the other side, you may be saying, “Well, let me tune out now because I got a good family.” I want to ask you, “How does a really good family turn into a really great family that is a testimony to the things that God would have us live out together?”

My father grew up in a Christian home. His father was a pastor and denominational leader in Pennsylvania. The household he grew up in, as he expressed it to me, was extremely legalistic. His sisters had to wear long skirts. They weren’t allowed to have a washer and a dryer in their house because they believed that would cause sloth.

When my dad was a young pastor shepherding his flock, he realized that he was putting people under a legalistic weight. He decided that not only was he going to become free from that himself, but he was also going to preach to help people break free from that mentality.

He decided he was going to try to understand what the grace of God was really all about; and when he saw it in scripture, he began to rejoice. His heart began to grow wide open to the things of God, and he was like a new man just by learning that you don’t work to earn your salvation. You don’t fear. You don’t drive people to Christ out of fear.

I am so glad that my father broke free of that joyless, legalistic faith so that I could be raised in a household that understands the love of Jesus and the love and grace of God. My children and their children and their children’s children are going to thank God that they had a patriarch who was willing to break this chain. In generations to come, they’ll look back and say, “There was finally a man of God who stood up and said, ‘No more of this. Things are going to change with me in this family.’”

Maybe you will be the one who does this and breaks generations of pain or legalism or addiction for your family. God can accomplish this in your heart and your life.

Diamonds Against Black Velvet

Jim Cymbala

Charles Spurgeon, the great British preacher, once talked about how, when a jeweler is going to show diamonds, he puts the diamonds on black velvet. The contrast of the diamonds with the black velvet brings out the luster of the jewels. Whenever God is going to do something, he picks the most impossible, improbable situations because then, when he’s done, everyone says, “Oh, how great is our God!”

As Spurgeon wrote in his sermon A Wafer of Honey, “Our infirmities become the black velvet on which the diamond of God’s love glitters all the more brightly.”

For us to be effective, especially in our times of trial, God has to use us. We need the Holy Spirit; we’re helpless without him. Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing” (see John 15:5). That’s a hard verse to believe; but without God, we can do nothing. This means that you can be sincere, you can study a lot, you can be zealous, you can have a high IQ and you can still be ineffective for the kingdom of God.

Paul says in his letter to the Corinthian church, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6, NIV). What does that assume, though? That we can be incompetent. When Paul says, “Be strong in the Lord,” (see Ephesians 6:10) what does that assume? You could be weak, otherwise he wouldn’t have given the command in the first place.

You can’t use mental positivism and yell Christian slogans at things and think that it’s all going to work out.

Obviously, we want to be competent ministers of the new covenant. Right now, biblically defined, 7.2 - 9 percent of the population is Christian. If everyone were a competent minister of the good news, we wouldn’t be in this condition. Now we can talk spiritual smack, what our opinions are, about what books we’ve read or what other people are doing wrong.

In the end, Jesus said, "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8, ESV). Without any fruit, stop the talk. At least have the humility to recognize, “I’ve got to go back to the school of Christ and learn how to be fruitful.”

We must call on the Spirit in order to bear fruit and shine against the darkness.

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.

Bold Prayers from Surrendered Hearts

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

What incredible authority we have been given in prayer. How, exactly, do we use this authority? Through Christ’s own name. You see, when we placed our faith in Jesus, he gave us his name.

You can see why the phrase “in Christ’s name” isn’t just some impersonal formula. Rather, it’s a literal position we have with Jesus. That position is recognized by the Father. Jesus tells us, “In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God” (John 16:26-27, NKJV).

Here is why Jesus commands us to pray in his name. He’s saying, “Whenever you ask in my name, your request has the same power and effect with the Father as if it were me asking him.” Likewise, when we lay hands on the sick and pray, God sees us as if Jesus is laying hands on the sick to bring healing.

This is also why we’re to come boldly to the throne of grace: to receive. We are to pray with confidence, “Father, I stand before you, chosen in Christ to go forth and bear fruit. Now I make my request that my joy may be full.”

I hear many Christians say, “I asked in Jesus’ name, but my prayers weren’t answered.” These believers state, “I tried to claim the power in Jesus’ name, but it just didn’t work for me.” There are many reasons why we don’t receive answers to our prayers. We may have allowed some sin in our lives, something that defiles our union with Christ. These become roadblocks that dam up the flow of blessing from him. He won’t answer our prayers until we’ve forsaken our sin.

Perhaps the blockage is due to lukewarmness or halfheartedness toward the things of God. Perhaps we’re being stifled by doubt, which cuts us off from the power in Christ. James warns, “Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6–7).

God knows our hearts, and he knows when we’re undecided in our commitment to his Son. He reserves the power that’s in Christ for those who surrender to him wholly.

Giving God Everything We Have

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“Therefore the Lord will wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore he will be exalted, that he may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you” (Isaiah 30:18–19, NKJV). Isaiah was saying, “If you’ll just wait on the Lord, if you’ll cry out to him again, and return to trusting him—he’ll do for you everything I’ve said and more.”

God can merely speak a word, and the enemy will falter before us. “For through the voice of the Lord Assyria will be beaten down, as he strikes with the rod” (Isaiah 30:31). Beloved, there is no matter our Father can’t solve, no battle he can’t win for us with a mere word from his lips. Isaiah says “the breath of the Lord” will consume everything in our way (see Isaiah 30:33).

Despite this, the process of trusting God in all things isn’t easy. I sought the Lord about a situation concerning our church building here in New York City. I told God, “I trust you about this, Father. I have sought you about it, and I will be at peace about it.” Here is how he answered me. “David, I’m amazed that you can trust me with your real estate, finances and other material things, yet you still won’t trust me with your physical well-being.”

I’d been very aware of my age. I’d been overly concerned about what would happen to my family after I’m gone. Now the Lord’s convicting words hit me like a thunderbolt. I’d put every material concern into his hands but not the eternal concerns. I realized, “Lord, you want me to trust you with everything, don’t you?”

Yes, dear saint, he wants it all, your health, your family, your future. He wants you to entrust him with every matter. He wants you to live in quietness, confidence and rest.

Go to your secret closet and get alone with the Lord. Bring everything to him. He has promised, “You’ll hear my word behind you, telling you which way to go. This is the way. Now, walk in it.”

The evidence of faith is rest. Trust faith results in peace of mind. True faith entrusts all things into his hands.

How Big Is Your Jesus?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

John 14 contains two magnificent promises. First, Jesus states, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father. And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12–14, NKJV). Jesus makes it plain and simple in the last verse: “Ask anything in my name, and I’ll do it for you.”

Two verses later, Jesus promises, “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; but you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16–17). Here Christ is saying, “I’m going to give you the Spirit of Truth, and his power will abide in you.”

These are two incredible promises from Jesus. Yet, notice the one verse that’s sandwiched between them: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Why does this statement appear here?

Christ is telling us, “There is a matter of obedience connected to these promises.” In short, both promises have to do with keeping and obeying God’s Word. They were given to be fulfilled, so that nothing would hinder us from claiming the power that is Christ.

I’m convinced that asking little or nothing in Jesus’ name is a reproach to him. Year after year, many Christians settle for less and less. Finally, they settle for salvation only. They have no expectations other than making it to heaven someday.

Have you come to the end of your expectations for Christ? Do you expect nothing more than to be saved by his power and grace? Does ‘your Christ’ end at just enough strength to make it through another day? Does he end for you at a place of occasional peace and joy in a life lived mostly under Satan’s harassment? All of these passages in God’s Word persuade me that ‘my Jesus’ is no bigger than my requests. Sadly, many believers make Christ look insignificant and powerless by their unbelief.

Beloved, I don’t want Christ to be limited in my heart. Instead, I want every devil in hell to know how big my God is by how big my requests are. I want more out of Christ. I want him to be bigger than ever in my life.