God Is with Them

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13 NKJV).

We see in Acts 4 that as Peter and John stood waiting for judgment to be pronounced, the man who had just been healed stood with them. There, in the flesh, was living proof that Peter and John had been with Jesus. Now, as the synagogue rulers looked on “and seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it” (Acts 4:14).

What did Peter and John do when they were released? “And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them” (Acts 4:23). The saints in Jerusalem rejoiced with the two disciples, then they prayed, “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word, by stretching out your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30). They were praying, “God, thank you for the boldness you’ve given our brothers, but we know this is just the beginning. Please, keep us all bold to speak with holy assurance. Provide evidence that you are with us.”

No doubt, Peter and John had seen the look of resignation on the high priest’s face when he realized they had been with Jesus. Peter must have winked at John and said, “If they only knew. They only remember that we were with Jesus weeks ago. They don’t realize we’ve been with the resurrected Lord ever since. We were just with him, in the Upper Room. Just this morning we were with him as we prayed in our cell. And as soon as we get out of here, we’re going to meet him again.”

That’s what happens with men and women who spend time with Jesus. When they come away from their time with Christ, he is with them wherever they go.

Holy Boldness and Spiritual Authority

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The more someone is with Jesus, the more that person becomes like Christ in purity, holiness and love. In turn, his pure walk produces in him a great boldness for God. Scripture says, “The wicked flee when no man pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1 NKJV). The word for bold in this verse means “secure, confident.” That’s just the kind of boldness the synagogue rulers saw in Peter and John as they ministered in Acts 4.

In the previous chapter, Peter and John prayed for a crippled beggar, and he was instantly healed. The healing caused a great stir around the temple, and in an attempt to stop the disciples from sharing their faith in Christ, the religious leaders had them arrested and put on a public trial.

Peter and John then met with the synagogue rulers. The Bible doesn’t go into much detail about this scene, but I can assure you the religious leaders orchestrated it to be all pomp and ceremony. First, the dignitaries solemnly took their velvety seats. Next came the high priests’ relatives. Finally, in a moment of hushed anticipation, the robed religious leaders strutted in. Everyone bowed as the priests walked stiffly up the aisle toward the seat of judgment.

All of this was meant to intimidate Peter and John, but the disciples were not intimidated in the least. They had been with Jesus for too long. I imagine Peter thinking, “Come on, let’s get this meeting started. Just give me the pulpit and turn me loose. I’ve got a word from God for this gathering. Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to preach your name.” Peter wasn’t going to deliver a lecture. It wasn’t going to be quiet or reserved. He was a Jesus-possessed man, bursting with the Holy Ghost. He was ready to preach Jesus Christ! “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘…This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’”

God’s servants are secure in their identity in Christ. They stand confident in Jesus’ righteousness. Therefore, they have nothing to hide; they can stand before anyone with a clear conscience.

To Die Is Gain?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Paul said, “To die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 NKJV). That kind of talk is absolutely foreign to our modern spiritual vocabularies. We have become such life-worshippers that we have very little desire to depart to be with the Lord.

Paul was torn. He honestly wrote, “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). That said, he thought it best to stay here and “live in the flesh,” knowing the new church needed more teaching and encouragement.

In saying “to die is gain,” was Paul being morbid? Did he have an unhealthy fixation with death? Did he not respect the life God had blessed him with? Absolutely not! Paul lived life to the fullest. To him, life was a gift, and he had used it well to fight a good fight. He had simply overcome the fear of the “sting of death” and could now say, “It’s better to die and be with the Lord than to stay in the flesh.”

Those who die in the Lord are the winners because resurrection is the ultimate healing where we are ushered into our Father’s presence! The passage of death can be painful, but it cannot compare to the unspeakable glory that awaits those who endure the passage.

Talking about death bothers us. We try to ignore it, avoiding even thinking about it. Occasionally we will talk about what heaven must be like, but most of the time the subject of death is taboo. Instead, we hear messages on how to use our faith to acquire more things. Death is considered an intruder that cuts us off from the good life we have become accustomed to. We think, “I love the Lord, but I need more time to enjoy my life.” What a stunted concept of God’s eternal purposes. No wonder so many Christians are frightened by the thought of death.

How different the first Christians were! Paul spoke frequently about death. In fact, our resurrection from the dead is referred to in the New Testament as our “blessed hope.” Christ calls us to die without worrying about how we should be remembered. Jesus left no autobiography, no headquarters complex, no university or Bible college. He left nothing to perpetuate his memory but the bread and wine. By his death, though, we gained everything.

The Lesson of the Prodigal

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

We often approach God with preconceived ideas of how he will receive us. For example, if we have done something to grieve his heart, we may feel that he loves us but will be slow to forgive.

Jesus clears this up with the parable of the prodigal son. The story goes that the young man “arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20 NKJV).

I believe the prodigal came home because of his history with his father. He knew his father’s character. He had been a much-loved son and was desperately hoping that he would not be upbraided or condemned for his sins if he returned.

Notice how the prodigal’s father received him in his pitiful condition. The young man was intent on offering a heartfelt confession to his dad. Yet when they came face to face, he didn’t even get a chance to fully confess. His father interrupted him by running up to him and embracing him.

The young man was only able to blurt out the beginning of his speech. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son’” (Luke 15:21).

His father didn’t even wait for him to finish. To him, his son’s sin had already been settled. The father’s only response was to issue orders to his servants. “Put a robe on my son, a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. Prepare a feast! We are going to celebrate. Everyone rejoice! My son is home.” He knew his son’s heart. He knew he had fully repented.

Sin wasn’t the issue to this father. The only issue in his mind was love. He wanted his boy to know he was accepted even before he could utter a confession. That is the point God wants to make to us all. His love is greater than all of our sins. “The goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

The Power and Simplicity of Prayer

Gary Wilkerson

Don’t you love listening to a child pray? Many of us can remember praying as children. It was simple then because our young hearts approached God with sweet, unguarded directness. “Gentle Jesus meek and mild, look upon a little child.” As we grew up, our prayers changed. We looked to parents or other believers or church leaders for direction on the mature and ‘right’ ways to pray.

Sadly, many of us now find that the pure, clear communication with God we had as children has collected some static along the way. The business and perils of life have polluted our ability to speak to God and hear from him. Structure and intimidating labels like ‘intercessor’ and ‘prayer warrior’ have crept into our church culture, adding to the pressure. We’ve lost our own voice, and prayer now feels like a chore.

If we could only hear the heart of our Lord! “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:9 ESV). “Turn and look,” he says, “I am here, beside you. Just call on me; no instruction or skillset needed.”

No matter how you pray — quiet meditation, songs of worship, journaling prayers, tearful conversations — the soul connection is the same. People around the world are praying right now. They are shouting, chanting, whispering in cathedrals and tents, penthouses and prisons. Some like to walk and pray; some can only sit and silently mouth the words. It doesn’t matter to God. What he loves is that we are acknowledging his presence and sharing what is in our hearts with him. As my friend Pastor Carter Conlon says, “To me, praying is as natural as breathing.”

Consider the words of David: “You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:3-4). This beautiful chapter is a poem of praise to a God who knows us intimately and wants our companionship. Here I am. Talk with me.

Does your heart long to return to that sweet, unadorned relationship with God? Do you desire a prayer life that anchors and sustains you? You can have it today. Begin with an open heart and simple, honest words. He will meet you there.