May You Love One Another

Jim Cymbala

I have come to the conclusion that there aren’t a whole lot of people who identify as Christians first. The world should know that we’re Christ’s disciples because we love one another. Instead, it’s witnessing believers these days saying things like "I'm conservative” or “No, I'm left wing.” People accuse one another, saying, “Listen, you devil. I always knew you were a demon.” This is happening in the body of Christ.

That dissension would happen in the world, among people who don't know Christ, is to be expected. Satan is the god of this world. The Bible tells us that we live in a wicked and adulterous generation, but now discord is happening among Christians too. Why do people bicker and attack one other in the name of God, which the Book of James forbids us to do? “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. …Do not speak evil against one another, brothers” (James 4:1-2,11, ESV).

There's a revision going on in many churches today so that what they represent is not the Christianity of the Bible. The world isn't becoming more open to the gospel because they look at a lot of churches and say, "That's a joke.” It's very hard to call someone a devil and then say, "By the way, I want to share God's love for you." Evangelism dies, and prayer dies with it.

Jesus is not building a better nation. He's not trying to make any country great again. He's building his church. From every nation, tribe and tongue, Christ is gathering people who put their faith in him and who are born again. He’s putting the Holy Spirit inside them as the seal that they really belonged to him.

I'm in the body of Christ. I'm in the family of God. We might disagree on certain things, but that's my brother and sister. I'm spending eternity with them. We must live out this truth: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

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.

A Benefit of Holy Fear

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I have seen men mightily used of the Spirit who were later put on the shelf by God. The Lord told them, “I’m sorry, son. I love you. I forgive you. My mercy will come through for you, but I can’t use you right now.”

To me, this is one of the most dreadful things that could ever happen. It happened to Saul, the king of Israel. “Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue…” (1 Samuel 13:13-14, NKJV). What sad words!

God told the king, “Saul, you could have had my blessing in your life continually. I had great plans for you, but you wouldn’t deal with your sin. You became bitter and hardhearted.” That’s the end result when you continue in sin. You become barren and fruitless.

The Word declares, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27). Those who desire to walk in the fear of God will soon be led into the full revelation of the promises and provisions that God has made available for us.

Perhaps God is dealing with you about your sin right now. He has shot his arrows of conviction in your heart. Don’t panic! That’s a gift from God. He’s planting his divine power in you, teaching you, “Only through holy fear will you depart from your sin.”

What exactly does it mean to walk in the fear of the Lord? In short, it means reminding yourself of his warnings. It means allowing the Holy Ghost to bring your sins out into the open for you to acknowledge and cast away. In doing this, he’s laying the foundation to fulfill every one of God’s promises to you.

The book of Acts tells us, “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied” (Acts 9:31). Do you see the writer’s point here? As these first-century Christians walked in the fear of God, they received the comfort of the Holy Spirit. We can know the same comfort too.

The Redemption of Peter

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

When Peter was sifted, he failed miserably in one sense, but not in his faith. You may be thinking, “How can that be? This man denied knowing Jesus three different times.”

If Peter had failed completely, Jesus’ praying would have been to no avail. I know Peter’s faith did not fail. Just as he swore and it looked as if the Lord had lost a friend and anointed disciple, Peter looked into the eyes of Christ and melted. “Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ So Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62, NKJV). Wept bitterly in the Greek actually means he gave “a piercing, violent cry.”

I picture Peter walking toward the Judean hills, falling on his face with hands outstretched, crying, “O Father, he was right. I didn’t listen. He warned me that Satan would try to destroy my faith. I couldn’t even stand up to a maid. Forgive me, O Lord. I love him. To whom else shall I go?”

I can see Peter getting to his feet then with the Spirit of God flowing through him, shouting, “Satan, be gone! I failed him, but I still love him. He prophesied that I would come back and be a strength to others, a rock.” Indeed, Peter was the second disciple to reach the tomb when they were told Jesus had risen. He was worshipping when Jesus was translated to glory. It was Peter who stood as God’s spokesman on the day of Pentecost.

A flood of people are coming to the Lord today. Where will they find strength in the troubled times ahead? They will find it from the sifted saints like Peter who can say with authority, “Don’t trust yourself. Take heed when you think you stand, lest you fall” (see 1 Corinthians 10:12-13).

Do you sense a seductive pull of temptation in your life? Is a deep trouble brewing in your heart? Hear the words of Jesus and realize that Satan may have been given permission to sift you. Don’t take that lightly. We are to read Peter’s story and be warned by it. Even if you have already failed, though, you can look into Jesus’ face and remember he is praying for you. Repent, return and then share your experience with others who are being sifted.

Come Do Your Work in Me

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I believe if a Christian has an intensity for a holy life — if he desires to give his all to the Lord — there can be only one reason why he fails to enjoy the freedom promised by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. That reason is unbelief. Jesus could not perform his works when there was unbelief, and his Spirit cannot do anything in our lives when we harbor unbelief.

It is vital for every follower of Jesus not to judge God’s promises according to past experiences. If we cast ourselves fully on his promises and hold the Spirit to his own word, we can know the results are all God’s responsibility. We simply cannot give up our desire to obtain his promised blessings. If we continue to press on, we’ll be able to stand on judgment day and be called faithful.

There was a point in my life when I had to cast my eternal future on God’s promises. I had to trust his Word at the risk of my very soul. I put out a challenge to God. “Lord, I’m going to believe you’ve given me your Holy Ghost. I believe he alone can deliver me from every chain that binds me. I believe he will convict me, lead me and empower me to overcome. I believe he will never depart from me, nor will he let me depart from you. I won’t limit your Spirit in me. I’ll wait on him, call on him and trust in him.”

We’re to do what the Lord told Ezekiel to do: pray the Word of God. “Again he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!”’” (Ezekiel 37:4).

We are to remind the Holy Spirit of God’s promises to us. We’re to tell him, “Holy Ghost, the heavenly Father promised me that he would put you in my heart, and I’ve committed myself to that promise. I will yield, and I will cooperate because I want to be holy. You said you will cause me to walk in your ways and obey your every word. I don’t know how you plan to do that, but you made an oath, and you cannot lie. This is all written in the Word, Holy Spirit. So, come. Do your work in me. I’ve entrusted my very soul to this promise.”

Not Offended by the Cross

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Matthew tells us Christ wanted to give his disciples a profound illustrated sermon. He called a little child to him and took the youngster in his arms. He then told them, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in my name receives me” (Matthew 18:3-5, NKJV).

In these verses, Jesus lays out the kind of relationship he desires with his people. Christ was telling these men, “Look at this child. Here is my future church. This young one represents every new believer who’s going to come to me in childlike faith. You must quickly turn away from your thoughts about how to become special in my kingdom through your own works.”

Next, Jesus called for his disciples to humble themselves. He was telling them, “I’m building my church on you. If you want any part of it, you must become as humble as this little child I’m holding in my arms.” I believe he’s asking us for two things: repudiation of all self-dependency and an uncomplicated devotion. These traits will characterize us as true kingdom servants.

Christ also told his disciples very directly, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7).

Jesus was expressing his wrath toward those who teach that the cross is not sufficient to save. He was warning his own disciples not to be offended by the cross.

Likewise, Jesus is telling the church today, “Woe to any teacher or witness who puts a stumbling block before any of these baby converts. They come to me in simple faith and repentance. You will incur my wrath if you offend them by saying, ‘Jesus is not enough. If you really want to be saved, you must do more. Here are the specific doctrines and guidelines of our church...’” We must all accept the fact that Christ alone is full payment for our sins.