Sermons   David Wilkerson Today, Daily Devotions

THE FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM

by Gary Wilkerson | August 17, 2015

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John the Baptist is a biblical example of how to resist worldly distractions and pursue true greatness. He testified, “The friend of the bridegroom . . . rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice” (John 3:29). In Jesus’ day, the supporting role in a wedding was a place of honor and respect. It called for a person of great stature and responsibility.

In that time, the friend of the bridegroom was in charge of the entire marriage event. He invited the guests, planned and organized the wedding ceremony, and hosted and oversaw the reception. He even arranged the honeymoon, going ahead of the couple to make sure everything was in place for his friend and the bride. He also secured their new home, preparing it for the couple to live in. In short, the friend of the bridegroom was responsible for it all. His role was a rigorous work of love and grace, from beginning to end.

John the Baptist was not saying, “Theology isn’t important.” He was saying, “How can you be fixated on minutiae like this if you’re truly focused on the essentials? Jesus is going to give His life as a sacrifice, rise from the grave, and return for a Bride whose faith is spotless and without wrinkle. Can you not see what God is doing in your midst?”

John had good reason for his focus: King Herod’s household had begun calling for his head and he knew he was about to die. John was telling his followers, “I have only a few days left and I want everything I say to be fueled with this urgent message: ‘Turn to Jesus.’ I want my passion to be for the one true thing!”

John the Baptist had one overriding passion, and it is contained in this beautiful verse: “The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete” (John 3:29). Knowing his own time was short, John could rejoice over one thing: Jesus had come to proclaim the kingdom of God!

We all play John’s role in God’s kingdom—paving the way for people to receive Jesus. When that is our singular focus, all else falls into its rightful place. And God promises to empower us in our service to Him. As John the Baptist testified, “He whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure” (3:34).
 

COMPLETELY TRANSFORMED

by Nicky Cruz | August 15, 2015

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God gifted my mother with endless talent and ability, and He wanted to use her to do mighty things for His kingdom on earth—to reach countless souls for Christ, to raise a good family, to be an exceptional wife and mother.

But Satan kept her from discovering her godly purpose. He seduced and distracted her at an early age, introducing her to the world of the occult, shielding her from the truth of God’s Word. By bringing my mother into a dark and evil world, Satan kept her from embracing the blessings that God had in store for her. He bound her, blinded her, and beat her into submission. She lived most of her life in chains—imprisoned by the Evil One, completely unaware of the goodness and mercy of God.

The day my mother broke free from Satan’s curse was the day that she finally began to see what God had planned for her life. She became a different person. Her eyes were opened for the first time, and she could see! She saw the hate and violence that she had lived with, and it was abhorrent to her. It sickened her to think of the way she had treated her family, the love she had withheld, the sin that had held her hostage.

Those beautiful green eyes that once had looked at me with such vengeance and hatred were suddenly filled with love. The tension in her face lifted, and a tremendous peace came over her. Jesus came into her heart and took away every ounce of fear, every hint of hate, every lasting shade of darkness and despair. He changed her completely. Finally my mother was able to embrace her purpose, her calling, her glorious future before God.

For the final twenty-five years of my mother’s life, she lived in God’s blessing and favor. She became the person He had created her to be—a wonderful wife and mother. Everyone she met was blessed by her kindness and her friends didn’t even recognize her. She was no longer the person I had grown up with. Her life was completely transformed by Jesus.

 

Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
 

BINDING UP THE ENEMY

by David Wilkerson | August 14, 2015

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"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). I picture God looking over that banquet hall, declaring, "For many years I called out to Israel, through My apostles. But they refused to hear. Now these guests here in My house have responded to My call. I tell you, they have been chosen. And I won't allow Satan to cut off any one of them from My Body."

We know the devil hasn't yet been cast into his eternal prison. Yet, as we feast at the banqueting table, waiting for the Bridegroom to come, we're given a command. The King has told us to bind up the devil and cast him out of the banqueting hall. In short, we're to rise up and take serious action against Satan's attacks on Christ's Body.

Amazingly, this command is ignored by many Christians. Whenever we see a tenderhearted believer in pain, we think, "I'll offer him comfort. I want to be a listening ear." Or, "I can provide some kind of support. I'll bring him a meal, or offer financial help." These are indeed acts of godly love but often they're not enough.

If we know Satan is speaking lies into someone's life, we're required to do more than merely listen or offer counsel. We're to gather other believers together and take authority over the enemy. Jesus tells us some kinds of demonic oppression "goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21). Thus, with fasting and prayer we are to bind up the enemy. And we are to cast him out of our fellow believer's mind, soul and circumstances.

Are you living under a cloud of despair? Do you know a brother or sister who is downcast, listening to Satan's accusations? I urge you, seek out praying believers in Christ's Body. Go to those who truly know God's heart and let them point out the enemy's lies for what they are.

Scripture says that if one of us hurts, we all hurt. That's why it's absolutely vital that we gather together in Jesus' name, for each other's sake. We are to call on our Savior's authority, bind up the enemy, and cast him out of each other's lives. Then we'll be able to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. That is truly the work of Christ's Body.
 

THE WEDDING FEAST

by David Wilkerson | August 13, 2015

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"Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests" (Matthew 22:8-10).

Since Calvary, the gospel has gone out to all humankind: Jew and Gentile, slave and free, rich and poor, good and bad alike. This is how "the wedding was furnished with guests" (22:10). Please understand, this scene isn't about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. These guests are those who heed the call to receive Christ as Lord.

Think of it. According to Jesus, this Bride is comprised of "as many as they found, both bad and good" (22:10). Such a group includes formerly bad people: addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, murderers, gamblers, drug pushers. Yet it also includes formerly good people, those who once relied on a righteousness of flesh.

Now they all have been changed. They've confessed their sins and been washed clean by Christ's blood.

Typically, we think of wedding feasts as lasting a few hours. In the Jewish culture of Jesus' day, such feasts could last up to seven days. Yet to God, a day is as a thousand years. And in this parable, the feast we are seeing has lasted since Calvary. It has been going on for centuries. And it won't end until the Bridegroom returns.

Dear saint, do you realize what this means? Every day is your wedding day. As a member of Christ's Body, you are a part of His Bride. That means each morning when you rise, you are to put on your white wedding garment. If it becomes spotted or soiled, you are to bring it to His Word to be washed clean. And you are to wear your wedding ring at all times. It signifies your married status, as sealed by the Holy Ghost. Finally, you are to feast on the Bread of heaven: Christ, the heavenly manna.

This wedding feast is taking place every day in Christ’s Body.
 

PARTAKERS OF THE BREAD

by David Wilkerson | August 12, 2015

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Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35).

This bread is what distinguishes us as members of His Body. We are set apart from the rest of humanity because we dine from a single loaf: Jesus Christ. "We are all partakers of that one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:17).

Some Christians, however, don't want to be connected to other members of the Body. They commune with Jesus, but they deliberately isolate themselves from other believers. They want nothing to do with the Body, other than the Head.

But a body can't be comprised of just a single member. Can you picture a head with only an arm growing out of it? Christ's Body can't be made up of a head alone, with no limbs or organs. His Body consists of many members. We simply can't be one with Christ without being one with His Body also.

You see, our need isn't just for the Head, it is for the whole Body. We are knit together not only by our need for Jesus, but by our need for each other. Paul states, "The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you" (1 Corinthians 12:21).

Note the second half of this verse. Even the head can't say to another member, "I don't need you." What an incredible statement. Paul is telling us, "Christ will never say to any member of His Body, 'I have no need of you.'" Our Head willingly connects Himself to each of us. Moreover, He says we are all important, even necessary, to the functioning of His Body.

This is especially true of members who may be bruised and hurting. Paul emphasizes, "Much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary" (12:22). The apostle then adds, "And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness" (12:23). He's speaking of those in Christ's Body who are unseen, hidden, unknown. In God's eyes, these members have great honor. And they are absolutely necessary to the work of His Body.

This passage holds profound meaning for us all. Paul is telling us, "It doesn't matter how poor your self-image may be. You may think you're not measuring up as a Christian but the Lord Himself says, 'I have need of you. You're not just an important member of My Body. You're vital and necessary for it to function.'"
 

MEMBERS OF HIS BODY

by David Wilkerson | August 11, 2015

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The apostle Paul instructs us, "Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (1 Corinthians 12:27). He says more specifically, "As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members . . . being many, are one body: so also is Christ" (12:12).

Paul is telling us, in essence, "Take a look at your own body. You have hands, feet, eyes, ears. You're not just an isolated brain, unattached to the other members. Well, it is the same way with Christ. He is not just a head. He has a body, and we comprise its members."

The apostle then points out, "We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5). In other words, we are not just connected to Jesus, our Head. We are also joined to each other. The fact is, we can't be connected to Him without also being joined to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul drives this point home, saying, "The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Simply put, we are all fed by the same food: Christ, the manna from heaven. "The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world" (John 6:33).

Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life . . . I am the living bread which came down from heaven . . . he that eateth me, even he shall live by me" (John 6:35, 51, 57). The image of bread here is important. Our Lord is telling us, "If you come to Me, you will be nourished. You will be attached to me, as a member of My Body. Therefore, you will receive strength from the life-flow that is in Me." Indeed, every member of His Body draws strength from a single source: Christ, the Head. Everything we need to lead an overcoming life flows to us from Him.
 

MEASURING GREATNESS

by Gary Wilkerson | August 10, 2015

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John the Baptist would not let himself be distracted from leading a life of great consequence.

The gospel of John tells us, “A discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness — look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him’” (John 3:25-26, ESV). John’s followers were speaking of Jesus. Evidently they had theological concerns about Him. Maybe they had heard about His miracle at Cana and thought He had mishandled the cisterns.

John wasn’t going to be distracted by the debate. He knew that something greater than doctrinal sticking points was at stake. He answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). In other words: “Can someone work a miracle like this if he hasn’t been sent by God? That kind of power comes only from heaven.”

What John says next is powerful: “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ . . . He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:28, 30). John’s focus in life was clear; his holy calling was centered completely on Jesus. For that reason John the Baptist was known as a great man.

The problem for many of us today, in our success-driven culture, is that we seek great things for ourselves. Well-intentioned ministers seek to build a Twitter following. Christians want to be heard even if it means having fifteen seconds of stupidity on YouTube. We may convince ourselves we are pursuing things for God, but is Jesus really our focus? Without rigorous examination of our hearts, we won’t be able to discern whether we are pleasing our Master or following an inner longing for validation.

The prophet Jeremiah addressed this question directly: “Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go” (Jeremiah 45:5). Jeremiah makes clear that God’s measurement of greatness is much different from the world’s. Note that he doesn’t say, “Do not be great. You’ll get spiritual brownie points for false humility.” No, as Jesus Himself says, greatness is measured in how well we serve others.
 

BRAVE FOR GOD

by Jim Cymbala | August 8, 2015

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“So David went on and became great, and the Lord of hosts was with him” (1 Chronicles 11:9, NKJV).

The mighty warriors of 1 Chronicles 11 helped David conquer a new capital for his kingdom, a story told in verses 4-9. The modern nation of Israel has made a big celebration of the 3,000th birthday of this city, Jerusalem, as the center of Jewish life.

It was not an easy prize. The Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem flatly told David, “No way. This is a tough, fortified city, and you won’t get inside.” In fact, 2 Samuel 5:6 records their insult: “Even the blind and the lame can ward you off.”

So it is with every attempt to do something significant for God. It is never simple. Whenever God stirs us to establish His kingdom in a new place, the enemy is sure to taunt us. The devil always tries to convince us that we’ve tackled too much this time and we’ll soon be humiliated.

But David and his warriors pressed on. They would not be turned back. In fact, David made an unusual offer: “Whoever leads the attack on the Jebusites will become commander-in-chief” (1 Chronicles 11:6). This meant being the first to head uphill against well-armed soldiers perched atop thick walls, just waiting to rain down arrows and rocks. David’s young nephew Joab, however, seized the opportunity to perform this exploit. He broke into the city first, and thus he became David’s leading general for years to come.

That is not how we select leaders in the church today, is it? We go by resumes, seniority, image, education, and a half-dozen other human criteria. By contrast, David looked for bravery and boldness in the real world of battle.

If we are courageous enough to go on the spiritual attack, to be mighty men and women of prayer and faith, there is no limit to what God can accomplish through us.

 

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 and a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences sponsored by World Challenge throughout the world.

 

 

OUT OF THE BELLY OF HELL

by David Wilkerson | August 7, 2015

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"Out of the belly of hell cried I" (Jonah 2:2). Why did the Lord take Jonah so low? He was in the belly of a living hell, suspended in darkness, hanging between life and death. Why would a merciful God put a servant through this? I believe Jonah's story shows us how God deals with disobedient servants.

Jonah was in this hell for three days and nights. Yet, in all that time he never prayed. The storm hadn't brought him to his knees and neither did his brush with death in the whale's belly. Only after three days and nights do we read, "Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly" (2:1).

Why didn't Jonah pray before this? It was because he was convinced, "I am cast out of thy sight" (2:4). He described God as having mercy for Nineveh, but Jonah couldn't believe for the same mercy for himself. He thought, "I'm a dead man. I can't fall any lower. God has turned His back on me. He hates me for what I did."

Nothing could have been further from the truth. When Scripture says, "The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah," the word for prepared means enrolled. God had picked out a huge whale and put an urgency in that creature. So when Jonah went overboard, the fish was there, ready to swallow him. The Lord was still at work.

The truth was, God was speeding Jonah on his way to Nineveh. Soon the prophet would be walking in sunlight again. He would preach boldly in the streets as a chosen messenger.

What did God intend through Jonah's belly-of-hell experience? For a season Jonah knew what it was like to feel dead. He couldn't pray. God had hidden His face, and the prophet had no one to turn to. Hell for Jonah wasn't the seaweed sweeping over him, or being pounded back and forth. It was the sense that God had lifted His hand from his life.

It was all meant to test Jonah in his disobedience. God wasn't demanding, "Now will you obey Me, Jonah?" Rather, He was asking, "Whose word will you believe in this awful hell, Jonah? Mine or the devil's?" Finally, we read, "Then Jonah prayed" (2:1). "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee" (2:7). Jonah rushed back to God's loving arms. Then he testified, "Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice" (2:2).
 

A REVELATION OF GOD’S NATURE

by David Wilkerson | August 6, 2015

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How could such a prayerful man as Jonah drift away from his calling and fall into disobedience? It begins with a partial, incomplete knowledge of God's nature.

Jonah was given a powerful revelation of God's grace and mercy. He testified, "I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil" (Jonah 4:2).

Jonah claimed this revelation was the reason he ran away: "Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish" (4:2). By his actions he was saying, "Lord, You so easily forgive all who repent. Every time you pronounce judgment, You are overcome with mercy. I know You're not going to judge Nineveh. As soon as I prophesy, they'll repent, and You'll pour Your grace on them."

Do you see the problem with Jonah's reasoning? He is describing only a partial revelation of God's nature. And he is accusing God of being soft on sin. Of course, God is everything Jonah describes here: longsuffering, willing to forgive, ready to pour out abundant grace. I thank God for this marvelous revelation of His nature. It has been the most life-giving truth I have ever known. I love preaching mercy to God's people.

But the Bible also speaks of God's holy, righteous nature. "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness" (Roman 1:18). Surely Jonah knew this side of God. How could he neglect it?

I believe Jonah had no understanding of the fear of God. If you think of God only as merciful, you will find it easy to disobey His Word. You'll believe He esteems His warnings lightly, that He doesn't mean what He says. I believe this was the root of Jonah's disobedience.

Such fear has to be sought diligently. And it must be implanted in us by the Holy Spirit: "If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God" (Proverbs 2:4-5). Like God's mercy, the fear of God is life-giving: "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death" (Proverbs 14:27).
 

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