Sermons   David Wilkerson Today, Daily Devotions

CROSSING THE BORDER

by David Wilkerson | December 18, 2014

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As we see in Ruth 1, Naomi, Orpah and Ruth reach the border between Moab and Judah and there they face a decision. Will they follow the move of God’s grace over into the fullness of Christ? Their names give you a clue: Naomi means grace; Orpah means stiffnecked; and Ruth means friend, companion.

A confrontation takes place at the border when Naomi decides to test Orpah’s and Ruth’s commitment and resolve. For them, the decision to go will require more than emotion, more than words. They must choose either to go back or to go on—with no promise of reward and a clear vision of the high cost ahead.

Rather than preaching prosperity, ease, and success, Naomi presents to them a picture of suffering and poverty. There is no promise of earthly goods, only a walk of faith. In fact, she encourages them to return to their own mothers’ houses (see Ruth 1:8-9).

Both Orpah and Ruth remain steadfast at this point: “They lifted up their voice, and wept. And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people” (Ruth 1:9-10). You already know from Orpah’s name that, in spite of her river of tears, in spite of all her strong words about going on, she will drop out and go back to her idolatry. Outwardly, however, she is broken and tender, and seems to be part of this move back to God.

I believe Naomi could see into Orpah’s heart, into her struggle. She probably thought to herself, “Poor child! She thinks she wants the Lord’s fullness, but she is still charmed by this world. She would be miserable if she went on, because she’d always be looking back!”

So Naomi says, “Go your way!” Orpah must have reached a decision in her heart, “I’ll go back to Moab and serve God—my way! I’ll still love these precious saints, but I’ve got to get on with my life. I’m not ready to give up my past.”

The Bible says, “They lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law” (Ruth 1:14). An original manuscript adds to the sentence, “and went back.”

Some of you reading this now are about to kiss your brethren good-bye. Something in your heart is pulling you—a circle of special friends or old loves. But as Naomi said of Orpah, “Thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods” (Ruth 1:15), likewise, an idol has your heart—something from your past that you can’t release!
 

THE END OF A FAMINE

by David Wilkerson | December 17, 2014

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In Ruth 1:6 we read, “The Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.” The word came to Naomi that the famine in Judah was over—that once again God had visited His people with plenty of bread and blessings. Memories of past blessings flooded Naomi’s soul, and she began to yearn for the holy place. She was sick of Moab and its idolatry and death. So “she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return . . . wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was . . . and they went on the way to return” (Ruth 1:6-7).

Naomi’s daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, said good-bye to parents, friends, and family. They told their lifelong loved ones they would be gone for good, that they were going to Judah—a place where God was “visiting His people.”

Today, once again the Lord is visiting His people! Once again a famine has ended! Here at Times Square Church and in other churches around the world, the pure Word of God is going forth. When the Lord visits His people, He “gives them bread.”

During this last famine of the Word, while others fled to today’s Moab—worldliness, lethargy, coldness, pleasure, and success—a holy remnant has persevered. They endured the self-exaltation of TV evangelists, the sordid sensuality that swept into God’s house, the foolishness in the pulpit, and the mockery of backslidden Christians.

They prayed, fasted, and interceded. And now the Lord has heard their cry and is visiting His people. Why is Times Square Church packed with hungry seekers? Because word has gotten out that God is here! People are hearing that a word from God is flowing. The same is true in other places, as the news spreads that a visitation of God is taking place. The famine is over! God has sent bread from heaven and if you haven't yet tasted it, then get out of Moab and go back to where God is visiting His people!

This is what Naomi and her two daughters did. Their departure for the border of Judah represented a move toward the Lord. They were being drawn by the Spirit of God, attracted by the news of His visitation.

Today, in the same way, in the Spirit I see untold thousands heading home, back to the fullness of Christ—away from the hype, the emptiness of the gospel of ease and prosperity, the double standards and half-heartedness.
 

THE BOOK OF RUTH

by David Wilkerson | December 16, 2014

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The Book of Ruth is a wonderful story of a converted heathen maiden who won the heart of her earthly lord. I believe it is a prophetic story, a message that speaks powerfully to us today. For we win Christ in the same way that Ruth won Boaz!

But this story is more than just historic! Paul writes: “Now all these things happened unto them for examples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

The story of Ruth begins with these words: “There was a famine in the land” (Ruth 1:1). Thus the Israelite Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, fled Judah for Moab. Elimelech died there, and Naomi’s two sons married heathen wives, Orpah and Ruth. They remained in Moab for another ten years.

But Moab was a place of idolatry—the congregation of the wicked, the seat of the scornful. Moab himself, after whom the region was named, was born of an incestuous relationship between Lot and one of his daughters. In fact, the name “Moab” stands for fornication. It was he who seduced Israel in the wilderness, after which 24,000 died from a plague. God forbade the Israelites to marry Moabite women, “for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods” (1 Kings 11:2).

In the spirit realm, this very same thing happens when a famine of God’s Word occurs: God’s people turn toward the world, yield to the seduction of idolatry, and mix with the ungodly. This kind of famine drives believers elsewhere to find something to satisfy their inner needs.

Christians today grow cold and backslide because they are not receiving true spiritual food. They go to church, but the cupboard is bare. The preaching they hear is shallow—no meat, no living water—just entertainment. Starvation abounds right in God’s house!

This is why our churches are being overrun with adultery, divorce, rock and roll, unbiblical psychology, a New Age gospel—with our young people using drugs and becoming promiscuous. The famine in the church has driven them to Moab, the place of idolatry. And Moab is a place where young men die, just as Naomi’s sons had died in Moab!
 

HE SAYS YOU ARE BLESSED

by Gary Wilkerson | December 15, 2014

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Many Christians won’t admit it, but deep down they believe God’s grace is too good to be true. They think it buys them too much freedom so they hold on to their sense of works because they are convinced it is the only thing that will keep them on a righteous path.

Paul anticipates this thinking, which ends in dead works: “Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you” (Romans 6:15-17, NLT).

What is the teaching Paul refers to here? It is that we are now owned by the grace of Jesus Christ! Thus, we no longer continue sinning as we did before, because that is no longer our identity: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Finally, Paul says, “My dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God” (Romans 7:4).

The new life we have been given—the life of Christ Himself—resurrects us to serve Him in freedom, peace and joy. Unshackled from exhausting works of obligation, we now can shout with David, “Lord, I delight to do Your will!” And we can’t help but witness about Jesus to a world that is hungry, desperate, starved for His grace. In a word: Grace produces results!

Friend, you can’t wring life out of something that’s dead. Only Jesus has the power to resurrect our old, dead man into new life. That kind of grace is incomprehensible, so far beyond our understanding that we will never fully grasp it in this life. Likewise, we’ll never be able to attain it on our own. As Paul writes, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Note that last phrase: You are known completely by the Lord—even amid your messed-up life of mourning and brokenness—and He says you are blessed. You see, the new life you have isn’t the result of attaining but of receiving. So, will you lay down your scales and walk in the new life Jesus has graced you with? He has already spoken His blessing over you . . . so receive it!
 

THERE WILL COME A DAY

by Jim Cymbala | December 13, 2014

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There will come a day, the apostle Paul says, when all our “work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward” (1 Corinthians 3:13-14, NIV). The gold, silver and precious stones will endure while the wood, hay, and straw will go up in smoke.

Paul doesn’t say that the quantity of our work will be tested. He says nothing about attendance goals. Instead, everything will focus on the quality of our work.

Warren Wiersbe (former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago and speaker on the Back to the Bible radio broadcast) made an interesting observation about this passage to the Brooklyn Tabernacle staff. “What’s the difference between these materials, besides the obvious—that one group is fireproof while the other isn’t? I think it’s significant that wood, hay and straw are abundant . . . right outside your door, or only a few miles away at most. Any forest, any farmer’s field has an abundance of these. But if you want gold, silver and costly stones, you have to dig for them. You have to pursue them with great effort. They are not just lying around everywhere. You have to go deep into the earth.”

To me, these words are profound. Spiritual “construction” that uses wood, hay, and straw comes easy—little work, little seeking, no travail, no birthing. You just slap it up and it will look adequate—for a while. But if you want to build something that will endure on Judgment Day, the work is much more costly.

On that day it won’t matter what your fellow Christians thought of you. It won’t matter what the marketing experts advised. You and I will stand before the One whose eyes are “like fire.” We won’t soften Him up by telling Him how brilliant our strategy was. We will face His searing gaze.

He will only ask whether we were boldly faithful to His Word.

 

Jim Cymbala began 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.
 

CROSSING THE OBEDIENCE LINE

by David Wilkerson | December 12, 2014

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“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).

When Jesus walked the earth, He knew all too well the fierceness of the powers of evil and how Satan comes with every weapon in hell to sift the Lord’s disciples. I don’t think any one of us knows or understands the great conflict raging right now in the spirit realm. We also do not realize how determined Satan is to destroy all saints who have fixed their hearts firmly on going all the way with Christ.

In our Christian walk, we cross a line—I call it the “obedience line”—that sets off every alarm in hell. The moment you cross that line into a life of obedience and dependence on Jesus, determined in your heart never to go back, you become a threat to the kingdom of darkness and a target of principalities and powers. The testimony of every believer who turns to the Lord with all his heart—hungering after holiness and a deeper walk with Jesus—includes the sudden breaking forth of strange and intense troubles, trials and testing!

Maybe you were once a part-time disciple. You loved the Lord, but you were spiritually lazy. You were not an avid student of the Bible or inclined to spiritual things. You did not want to be a fanatic, and things in your life went quite smoothly. The devil didn't bother with you much because you were a fence-straddler.

But now, you are all business for God. His Word has come alive to you and you pray, you weep, you love lost souls. Everything has changed, including your trials. What great heart-change you have experienced!

Yet at the same time you’ve made waves in the unseen world. You’ve crossed the obedience line. To those who have crossed the obedience line, Jesus says, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32).

 

THE FINAL CROSSING

by David Wilkerson | December 11, 2014

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“And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap. And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant . . . of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan” (Joshua 3:13-14, 17).

Crossing the Jordan is a type of entering into freedom in Christ. God always brings us out of something in order to bring us in to Himself! It is not enough to escape from Satan’s power, out of the prison house of bondage; we must also enter into the resurrection life of Christ. Here, Canaan does not represent heaven, because this land is a place of spiritual warfare. But it is a place where Jesus wants us to enjoy the goodness of His victory, a place of enjoyment, gladness and fullness.

When Israel came to the Jordan, they no longer were led by the cloud during the day and the fire by night (see Exodus 13:21) but by the Ark of the Covenant. We see the Ark—a type of Jesus—going down into the Jordan, immersing itself in death, saying, “Follow me!” It is Jesus inviting us to be baptized into Him.

Coming out of the Jordan, the children of Israel entered into the Promised Land, which is a type of abiding in Christ. “And the people came up out of the Jordan . . . and encamped in Gilgal” (Joshua 4:19). At this point, they were blood-secured, delivered from the enemy’s power, and raised up into newness of life in God’s land of milk and honey.
 

HAVE YOU WON THE LORD’S HEART?

by David Wilkerson | December 10, 2014

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“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

Have you won the Lord’s heart? The apostle Paul stated the purpose of renouncing his past life as this: “That I may win Christ.” He was completely captivated by Christ, having eyes only for the Lord.

Why would Paul feel the need to “win” Christ? Christ already had revealed Himself not just to the apostle, but in him. Even so, Paul set out to win Christ’s heart and affection.

You see, Paul’s entire being—his ministry, his life, his very purpose for living—was focused only on pleasing his Master and Lord. All else was rubbish to him! I believe one of the reasons Paul never married was to give himself more time to care “for the things that belong to the Lord, how [I] may please the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:32). And he urged others in the same direction, “that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” (Colossians 1:10).

Is this scriptural—this “winning the heart of Jesus”? Are we not all the object of God’s love, regardless? Indeed, His benevolent love extends to all mankind. But there is another kind of love—an affectionate love such as occurs between a husband and wife—and only a few ever experience it.

This love is expressed in the Song of Solomon, with Solomon portrayed as a type of Christ. In this passage, the Lord speaks of His bride: “Thou hast ravished my heart . . . my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love . . . my spouse! How much better is thy love than wine!” (Song of Solomon 4:9-10). Later, He says, “Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me” (6:5). His bride responds, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me” (7:10).

I believe the Bride of Christ will consist of a holy people who live so pleasingly to their Lord, so obediently, so separated from all others, that His heart will be ravished. The word “ravish” as used in this verse means “to steal my heart.” Christ’s followers ravish His heart with one eye (Song of Solomon 4:9). That one eye is the singleness of a mind focused on Christ alone.
 

THE REPROACH OF EGYPT

by David Wilkerson | December 9, 2014

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In Joshua 5, Israel was at the height of her glory and power, experiencing incredible miracles. Her people were loved and secure, and their enemies’ hearts were melted, “neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel” (Joshua 5:1). Verse two says that “at that time”—that is, the time of victory, blessing, guidance and favor, the time they were about to go in and possess the land—God said, in effect, “Hold everything! We’ve got a problem. Everything looks good—greater victories are to be won—but one matter hasn’t been dealt with. The reproach of Egypt is still in your hearts and it must be cut out and rolled away.”

It is as if God is saying to His people: “I have patiently endured your backsliding, your complaining, your endless, constant lusting. Ten times your fathers provoked Me in the wilderness and I forgave it all. When I found you wasting away in Egypt’s iron furnace, I washed you, secured you with blood, and delivered you from your enemies. But all along you have carried a secret sin in your heart. You have refused to lay down an idol that has a stronghold in your heart.”

The prophet Amos confirmed that Israel had this heart-idolatry in them: “Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch . . . the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves” (Amos 5:25-26). Here was the reproach: All along, in spite of God’s love, protection, blessing and guidance, the Israelites had been carrying something secret in their hearts. Even as they sang the Lord’s praises, another god ruled their inner motives.

They had hidden their fathers’ idols in their baggage! Not even the awesome voice of a holy, dreadful God could get them to give up their little shrines, their golden images from Egypt. They wanted to move on and serve God while still clinging to idols. The Lord had been patient up to that point, but He gave them an ultimatum: “I am moving on only with a holy people. There is a world of joy and peace that lies ahead but you cannot bring your reproach with you. Cut it off! Sharpen the knives! No flesh is allowed from here on in. No idolatry! No clinging lusts! No secret reproach!”
 

RECEIVE THE BLESSING OF GRACE

by Gary Wilkerson | December 8, 2014

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Many Christians today envision their lives to be like the scales of justice. On one side are all their godly deeds and on the other is a growing pile of sins and failures. If they think their life tips too much toward failure, they feel compelled to pray more, study their Bible more, go to church more. Yet no amount of additional good works can even out their self-made scale of righteousness.

I recently watched a video clip of a scene at a fast-food drive-through window. When the driver finished giving his order, the voice on the other end asked, “And then?” Feeling guilty, the driver added fries to his order. Again the voice came back, “And then?” Bewildered, the driver added a dessert. Again the voice asked, “And then?” Finally the driver shouted, “No, no, no! No ‘and then.’”

That is a picture of us when we try to attain God’s righteousness. The more self-effort we put forth, the closer we come to the moment when we’re finally forced to shout, “No more ‘and then’ for me.” It explains why so many Christians feel exhausted at the very thought of serving God. Paul calls their efforts “dead works” for a reason: Their approach will never produce righteousness or joy but only weariness and misery. There is no life in it—only death—because it isn’t Christ’s gospel.

Paul writes, “The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many” (Romans 5:17, NLT). If death rules your walk—if you carry the weight of constant accusations of sin, if nothing you do is ever good enough—then you’re listening to the old voice of the Adamic nature. From that old nature springs every fleshly attempt to appease God, which is contrary to your identity in Christ.

Paul then adds this in the same verse: “Even greater [than Adam’s sin] is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness.” How do we attain this righteousness? Paul tells us in the next phrase: “All who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” We are destined to triumph over every sin—not through our own efforts, but through one man, Jesus. And so Christ urges us, “Why don’t you take that scale of your own making and lay it down at the foot of the cross? I never called you to appease Me. I have called you to do one thing: receive My blessing of grace.”
 

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