The Bride of Christ

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

What would a man think if his bride-to-be invited him to her house, sat him in the living room and then went her way? While he waits, she works in the kitchen, dusts the furniture, mops the floors and never says a word to him.

Jesus endures the same pain any man would feel if his beloved continually praised him, saying “I love you” over and over, yet showed him little or no attention. Her words would have the ring of insincerity.

The sweetheart may claim, “Well, he’s always on my mind.” I’ve heard people say that about Jesus. “He’s on my mind all day in everything I do.” How can you have him on your mind all day and still neglect him? When a bride-to-be does this, her so-called love is a lie. She may tell her fiancé she truly loves him, but her actions tell him she does not.

The Lord asks, “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number” (Jeremiah 2:32, NKJV). David also speaks of this: “They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt” (Psalm 106:21).

The Lord exposed his pain in scripture for the whole world to see. He said openly, “My people neglect me for days on end.” Why would the Lord tell the world about such neglect? Shouldn’t lovers’ differences be kept quiet? Not in the Lord’s case; he wants us to know how hurt he is. He tells the whole world because he is heartbroken by our behavior.

Imagine that you are an engaged young woman on your way to the church with your husband-to-be. You grasp his hand and tell everyone, “It’s our wedding day! I love him; he is absolutely wonderful.” As soon as the ceremony is over, you clam up and don’t say a word to him. What is he supposed to think? I wouldn’t want a bride who extols my virtues, says loving things about me in public, telling me how precious I am and then later growing cold and avoiding time with me. That isn’t true affection!

Beloved, if you do not have quality time with Jesus every day in prayer or reading his word, you don’t truly love him, and you are breaking his heart.

Curiosity Is the Cure for Cynicism

Gary Wilkerson

In her book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, American historian Doris Kearns Goodwin details Lincoln’s gift for bringing opposites together. She says Lincoln possessed an “array of personal qualities that enabled him to form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured assume responsibility for the failures of subordinates; to share credit with ease; and to learn from mistakes.”

Lincoln’s Civil War cabinet was similar to groups of people everywhere: families, churches, boards, workplaces, juries, neighborhoods. They all contain a variety of people who have the same goal but want to get there in different ways. Of course, in Lincoln’s case, the stakes were higher than most — the fate of the Union hung in the balance — but the group dynamics were like any other. His brilliance lay in his resolve to respect his team, learn from them and honor the mission by using all of their talents.

Can you think of a time when you were determined to do a job in a certain way but had to work with someone who was equally set on doing it differently? I can; it’s happened more times than I can count. How did you find common ground? If you’re like me, there were times you struggled to find any value in others’ points of view.

Paul went through this too, and he addressed it often in his letters. In Philippians, he challenges us to know the goal but to learn how to let our differences become our collective strength.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:1-5, ESV).

Why “count others more significant?” Because it’s a spiritual connection that breaks down barriers and brings people together. It helps us think outside the box like Jesus did. When we bring the mind of Christ into all that we do, the job becomes easier, the load lighter and we might just learn something in the process.

Facing Objections to a Step of Faith

Carter Conlon

When God first set before me an open door to lead a church, I said no. He spoke to me often about that open door, but I had my career with the Ottawa police. Giving that up would mean losing money, my government pension, my coworkers’ respect, and the security of all these things.

One day, I glanced out a window and saw three or four sparrows pecking away at the snow. God spoke again, “I care and provide for them. Do you not believe that I will care all the more for you?”

That decision to take over leading the church was still not easy. People thought I was crazy. My father said to me, “When there’s no food to feed your family and no milk in the fridge for your kids, don’t come to me. I won’t help you. What you’re doing is foolish.” That was a bitter pill to swallow. Two of my fellow Christian police officers were quite vocal about their opposition. They questioned my Christian responsibilities to my wife and three children. “You’re going to bring your family into hardship.”

One day, I walked out of the elevator and came face-to-face with an officer in uniform. I knew him just well enough to know he was not a believer. He reached out and hugged me. No one hugs in the French-Canadian Ontario-Quebec National Capital Region in public! He stepped back and looked at me through misty eyes and said, “I don’t agree with what you believe, but you’ve got guts, man. I respect that.”

As he got on the elevator and went his way, I stood there for a moment, realizing the first encouragement I had received to step out in faith came from a nonbeliever.

I was well aware that there appeared to be a cliff on the other side of my open door. I wasn’t blind. I knew that God would need to sustain me. I felt like Peter stepping out of the boat. There was nothing in the natural to support me. From the moment I stepped out of the boat, though, the journey God put before me was amazing to behold.

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26, KNJV).

Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. In May of 2020 he transitioned into a continuing role as General Overseer of Times Square Church, Inc.

Serving the Lord with Gladness

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God desires that we be so convinced of his tender love, so persuaded he is at work bringing us into his best, that we will have continual joy and gladness in our walk with him. Moses warned Israel, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of all things” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48, NKJV).

God is saying to us today, “Be glad and rejoice in what I have already done for you! If you go around moping and complaining, you will forever be spiritually starved and naked, prey to your enemies.” God wants us to so trust in his love for us that we will be testimonies of gladness and good cheer. He wants believers who are glad at heart, filled with a gladness that is based on truth.

His truth produces a wealth of gladness that flows naturally outward from the heart: “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2). “He brought out his people with joy, his chosen ones with gladness” (Psalm 105:43). “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11). “Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yes, let them rejoice exceedingly” (Psalm 68:3).

You may ask, “How long can I expect to maintain joy in my service to the Lord?” Many believe that it lasts only as long as seasons of refreshing come from on high or as long as things go right.

No, we are to have joy at all times! That is exactly what the Bible says. “Oh, satisfy us early with your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” (Psalm 90:14). “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy” (Isaiah 65:18). We are “the Jerusalem from above,” reborn and living for him with a spirit of gladness and rejoicing. Trust the Father, believe his Word about himself, and see his gladness pour forth from your life.

God’s Merciful Dealings

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9, NKJV).

The people of Ephraim, the largest tribe of Israel, were perhaps the closest to God’s heart. The Lord had an eternal plan for this very blessed tribe, but Ephraim kept backsliding and grieving God. The people sinned more than anyone in Israel, but did God abandon Ephraim? Just the opposite. God said that they were to be a free and ransomed people. They would live among fatness, meaning, God’s greatest blessings (see Jeremiah 31:14, KJV).

What did God see in Ephraim? They had a repentant heart, a shame for sin, a willingness to return to the Lord. In spite of all their failures, this one trait attracted God’s heart to them! When a strong, prophetic word came forth, they responded. When they were rebuked, they wept over their sin.

At the height of their backsliding, God said, “Is Ephraim [not] my dear son? Is he [not] a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him” (Jeremiah 31:20). God was saying, “In spite of Ephraim’s shortcomings and failures, I see a repentant spirit, and I will not take away my tender love. My eternal purpose for Ephraim will go on as I have planned.”

Beloved, God has a plan for your life. He is going to accomplish all his purposes for you, no matter what you are going through or how severe your trial. God has put a lot of thought into planning your future.

I have a word for some who are reading this message right now: You cannot judge God’s eternal purpose for you by what you are feeling or thinking. God wants to say to you, “Keep your heart humble before me. Trust my Word about my nature, that I am a tender, loving Father who has invested much in you. I am not about to let you go. You are my delightful child, and I will deliver you.”

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).