Love Begins at Home

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

There is no getting around it. If I am to become the man and minister God has called me to be, my wife must be able to say honestly before heaven, hell and all the world, “My husband loves me with the love of Christ. He makes mistakes, but he’s growing more patient and understanding with me. He’s becoming more tender and caring. He prays with me. He isn’t a phony. He is what he preaches.”

If this isn’t my wife’s testimony — if she has a secret pain in her heart thinking, “My husband isn’t the man of God he pretends to be” — then everything in my life is in vain. All my preaching, accomplishments and charitable giving amount to nothing. I am a withering, useless branch that doesn’t bear the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus will cause others to see the death in me, and I’ll be worth little to his kingdom.

A while ago, a middle-aged pastor and his wife came to me brokenhearted and weeping. The minister told me through tears, “Brother Dave, I have sinned against God and my wife. I’ve committed adultery.” He shook with godly sorrow as he confessed his sin to me. Then his wife turned to me and said softly, “I’ve forgiven him. His repentance is real to me, and I’m confident the Lord will restore us.” With that, I was privileged to witness the beginning of a beautiful healing.

We can never make up for our past failures; but when there is true repentance, God promises to restore all that the cankerworm has destroyed.

I wish every couple who enjoys a Christ-centered marriage would rise up and tell the truth:  “It isn’t easy.” There is no other school as difficult and intense as the school of marriage, and you never graduate. God makes it clear to us that our life with our loved ones is the pinnacle, the very summit, of all our testings. If we get it wrong here, we’ll have it wrong everywhere else in our life.

Marriage is a day-by-day effort, in the same way the Christian life is. Like the way of the Cross, it means giving up your rights daily and turning to Christ’s promise, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NKJV).

Christ’s Love in Us

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

To be Christ-like is to acknowledge Jesus in others. In my travels, I meet many precious men and women whom I know are given wholly to the Lord. The moment I meet them, my heart leaps. Even though we’ve never met before, I have a witness from the Holy Spirit that they are full of Christ. In greeting them, I always say the one thing I would want others to say of me: “Brother, sister, I see Jesus in you.”

Christ-likeness has to do with how I treat those outside my family, loving others as he loves us. It also means loving our enemies, those who hate us, who spitefully use us, who aren’t capable of loving us. We’re to do this expecting nothing in return.

Loving this way is impossible in human terms. There aren’t any how-to books, any sets of principles or any amount of human intelligence to show us how to love our enemies as Christ loved us. Nevertheless, we are commanded to do it, and we are to do it with an ever-increasing purpose. So, how do we accomplish this? How do I love the Muslim man who spit in my face a block from our church? How do I love the people who run websites calling me a false prophet? How do I love homosexuals who parade down Fifth Avenue carrying signs declaring, “Jesus Was Gay”?

I don’t even know how to love other Christians in my own ability. How do I truly love those who actively come against me?

It has to be the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus prayed to the Father, “I have declared to them your name, and will declare it, that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26, NKJV). Christ asks the Father to put his love in us. He promises that the Holy Spirit will show us how to live out that love.

The Holy Ghost will faithfully gather up all the ways Christ loved others and show it to you (see John 16:15). Indeed, the Spirit delights in showing us more of Jesus. It’s the reason he dwells in our bodily temples, to teach Christ to us. “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:25-26).

A Way Known Only to God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23, NKJV). The Hebrew word for ‘ordered’ in this verse means fixed or pre-planned. God doesn’t work with a day planner. He doesn’t plan out our path a day, week or year ahead. No, he has an entire life-plan laid out for every believer. The moment we’re saved, that plan goes into operation.

What is this pre-planned path? Jesus answers very simply, “I am the way” (John 14:6). Christ himself is the path to glory and eternal life. He leads us toward our final destination, and our path ends in his arms, in heaven. The book of Hebrews tells us Jesus is “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10).

Yet, what we can’t know is the specific route that Jesus is going to take to get us there. None of us can be sure what the rest of our journey will look like. That path is a way known only to God. Take my own life, for example. I’ve been en route to glory for more than seventy years. Along the way, God has given me some goals, some dreams and some visions, which I’ve pursued; but the Lord has never outlined the entire path to me. In fact, even after all these years, I’m not sure where the path will lead me tomorrow.

When Jacob was old, he described his own path to Pharaoh. “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of my life been” (Genesis 47:9). The Hebrew word for “evil” here signifies afflictions, sorrows and adversities.

I can identify with Jacob. There are certain periods of my own pilgrimage that I would not want to relive. Of course, I praise God for all the blessings and miracles he has worked for me. I’m grateful for the faith he has built in me over the years. If I had to relive my life, though, I would want to know ahead of time that everything turns out well. However, that’s just not the way God works. The path of every believer is one of faith.

Pour Out Your Prayers

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I want this to encourage those who need an answer to prayer, who need help in a time of trouble and who are ready and willing to move God’s heart according to his Word.

First, lay hold of this covenant promise in the book of Psalms. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NKJV). The phrase ‘very present’ means always available and immediate. Faith must rest in the assurance that God’s Spirit is abiding in you at all hours of the day and night. Because he took up a habitation in you, he listens to your every prayerful thought and cry. We know that if he hears us, he will grant our petitions. The Holy Spirit will move heaven and earth for any child of God who takes time to pour out his heart to the Father with unrushed, unhurried time in his presence.

In Psalm 62:5-7, we are shown the prayer of David that touched God’s heart. David says, “Wait on God only. Expect help from no other source. He alone must be your source, your only hope and defense. Only he can supply you with the strength to keep going until your answer comes.”

When you become wholly dependent on the Lord alone — when you stop looking for man to help you and trust God for the supernatural — nothing will be able to shake you. Nothing can move you into fits or pits of despair. David declared, “I shall not be moved” (Psalm 62:6).

Now the heart of it all, the secret to prevailing prayer that every saint throughout history has learned, is the pouring out of the heart before the Lord. “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:8). God will hear and answer you when he sees you’re willing to shut off all media for a season, cry out your heart, pour it out before him and trust he will respond.

The Importance of a Good God

Gary Wilkerson

God doesn't look at what is right and then try to do it. Righteousness is not something God’s attempting; it's something he is. Out of his sovereignty, he exists as a righteous being. He's not trying to be powerful; he is power. He doesn’t simply have a massive wealth of facts and insights; he is knowledge. Proverbs speaks of this: God doesn’t just have wise thoughts; he is wisdom.

Why does this matter? Why should we care if God either does good things or is all that is good? It matters because if God is all that is good rather than simply doing good, then we can’t have anything that is good without God.

If there's love on earth, it's because God is love. He's demonstrating that through his grace. There's grace on earth because of him. There's justice on earth because God is just. What’s more, if God is not in heaven, all the attributes of him — joy, love, peace, righteousness, wisdom, justice — are not in heaven either. Take God away, and both heaven and earth become hell.

Jonathan Edwards said in a sermon, “The main reason why the godly man has his heart thus to heaven is because God is there; that is the palace of the Most High. It is the place where God is gloriously present, where his love is gloriously manifested, where the godly may be with him... If God and Christ were not in heaven, he would not be so earnest in seeking it, nor would he take so much pains in a laborious travel through this wilderness, nor would the consideration that he is going to heaven when he dies, be such a comfort to him under toils and afflictions.”

The Bible says that if we acknowledge this truth that we have nothing good apart from God, he will “…make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, ESV).

No matter what we’re going through in life, we have the comfort of knowing that God is good, and that goodness will never waver. That’s good news in both the easy times and the rougher periods of life.