Praising God for His Goodness

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“They shall utter the memory of your great goodness, and shall sing of your righteousness” (Psalm 145:7 NKJV).

We cannot deny God’s call to praise him in all his excellencies, but we are especially called to praise him for his goodness.

Note that the Psalmist insisted on an abundance of praise in memory of the Father’s goodness; they sang the Hebrew for abundant utterances, “to gush out like water rushing from a fountain.”

In Psalm 107:8-9, David wrote, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

This truth of praising God for his past goodness struck a chord in my heart, and I have been moved to do as David did. We are called upon to celebrate his goodness.

David examines the beauty of this goodness. Notice that God is inclined to use mercy because he sympathizes with our affliction and miseries; mercy is his default sentiment toward us. David borrowed from Exodus 34:6, where God spoke to Moses: “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.’”

Beloved, look back over the past and remember how good the Lord has been to you. Remember his compassions that have never failed to bring you through. I am finding pleasure in praising God for all things but especially for his goodness. I rejoice not only for past goodness but for those I see daily all around me.

Are you feeling “less than” today? Do you feel like mercy and grace are not for you, out of your reach? Take heart! God loves you. He stands next to you, ready to pour out his infinite blessings upon you.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

Your Faith Has Made You Whole

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

In my devotions some time ago, I came across a portion of a sermon by William Bridge, preached in the 17th century. Today I’d like to share it with you. It portrays a beautiful, intimate moment between the Savior and a woman who felt doomed, consigned to a life of failure and disgrace. It is my hope that your heart will be encouraged by this woman’s story of faith and redemption.

“It is this faith that now I am speaking: believing when all means fail and lie dead before us, that does honor God especially which doth justify the soul: It is the soul-saving faith of all.

“Pray look into the seventh of Luke and consider it well. It is said at the last verse, ‘Jesus said to the woman, thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace.’ But here is no mention at all before of her faith. There is mention of her love in the forty-seventh verse. ‘I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.’

“There is mention before of her tears at the thirty-eighth verse, ‘A woman in the city, which was a sinner, brought an alabaster box of ointment and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.’

“Here is mention of her tears, here is mention of her liberality and bounty and love to Jesus Christ. And yet our Lord and Savior Christ does not say thus: ‘Woman, thy tears hath saved thee, go in peace; Woman, thy repentance and thy humiliation hath saved thee, go in peace.’ He doth not say, ‘Thy love to me and thy bounty to me hath saved thee, go in peace, woman.’

“No, but our Lord and Savior, he saw a secret work of reliance upon himself in this woman, for she was a great sinner, and he says unto her, ‘Woman, thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace!’”

Turning Your Anxiety into Healing

Gary Wilkerson

Jesus didn’t mess around when he talked about fear. His core message was “I, not your fear, am in control.”

Are fear and anxiety part of our God-given makeup? Oddly, yes. Fear alerts us to danger, and anxiety is our physical response to those alerts. Life from birth to grave is filled with such moments. While on earth Jesus felt the anxiety of those to whom he ministered. His words about fear were designed to not only calm them but also to help them grow in their spiritual walk.

We are all plagued by fear at one time or another. In my younger years, most of my life decisions were in some way tied to my fears. Yes, I wanted to please God, but it was my own expectations and standards for success that I focused on. I was driven by a mighty fear of failure that threatened at times to consume me.

Your fears may be about a relationship, money or illness. You might suffer from depression, or maybe you just carry around a general anxiety about the state of the world. No matter the battle, Jesus invites us to view life through his divine lens. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, ESV).

Peace and freedom from fear come only when we disconnect our hearts and minds from the values of the world. This is a conscious, deliberate act. It is interrupting the endless stream of harassing thoughts to say, “Lord, give me your perspective, right here, right now. Help me to let go and see that it is all in your control. I will worship you, not my fears.”

Being attentive to what lies beneath our fears clues us in to what matters to us, and therefore what needs adjusting. “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” says the song. Do you believe it? Or are you mired in needless worry and fear?

It is when we seek the face of God our creator, when we turn our attention fully to him, that we find rest and safety. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

Getting God’s Grace and Peace

Jim Cymbala

Hopefully, you know a little bit about Peter from the gospels. He was kind of ahead of the curve when it came to bragging and arguing about who was the greatest with the other disciples. Obviously, he didn’t get what Christ was about in the beginning, but we’re all a work in progress.

Christ eventually made Peter into this excellent apostle and man of God. Peter preached the first sermon of the Christian era. Did you know that God anointed him so much that when he preached thousands came to faith during that first sermon? When you think about it, he was a very unlikely person to even be preaching in the first place. If less than two months before, you had denied the Lord three times, said you didn’t know him and even cursed the third time, would anyone pick you to be the first preacher of the new Christian era? Probably not.

God who is rich in mercy, though, chose Peter and chose each one of us. God delights in showing mercy. Peter was the trophy of his grace, and boy did he know it. He wrote to the early church, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2, ESV).

Notice that this grace and peace comes through knowing, walking with and becoming more intimate with God and Jesus Christ. We don’t just want head knowledge about God. The people who knew scripture best in Jesus’ day were the ones who crucified him. We need heart knowledge of God. We’re called to fellowship with the Lord. As we do, there’s more grace and peace available for us.

Notice that this opening to Peter’s letter is more like a prayer. It’s not who he is yet. It’s not who’s writing to yet either. It’s a greeting that has a prayer for the future built into it. It’s a prayer we can all say. “Oh Lord, help us to know you better and better this year. As we do that, give us grace and peace in abundance!” As we open our Bibles, let’s pray, “Lord, I don’t want to just understand you intellectually. Reveal yourself to me through these scriptures. Reveal yourself to the eyes of my heart. Give me a deeper understanding of who you really are.” 

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.

God’s Mercy for You and Me

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

In Acts 9, we learn of a man called Saul of Tarsus, one of the most religious men who ever lived. He could boast, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” What was his story?

Saul was a devout Jewish man whose family strictly adhered to law and tradition. We see him here in chapter nine on his way to Damascus, seeking to destroy the new Christians who were disrupting the religious world. He was so full of hatred toward Jesus and his followers that he fiercely and doggedly tracked down and persecuted Christians, even going after them outside Jewish territory. He was focused and deadly serious about his mission.

Consider God’s action. Saul was headed toward Damascus, and suddenly he was engulfed by a blinding light from heaven. He was terrified and confused. Why was this happening? Was God trying to make him feel guilt and condemnation? Was this the end of the road for Saul? Was God going to pour down wrath and judgment upon him for persecuting his people? No, God let down the light to get Saul’s attention because he was planning to make a profound and life-changing announcement. As a trembling Saul waited for judgment, he instead heard the voice of mercy. The Lord told Saul that the terrible things he had done to persecute the Christians was forgiven and that all of his sins were covered.

Surely Saul did not see that coming! Picture him lying flat on the ground in the blinding light and hearing the voice of Jesus.  Instead of hearing condemnation from a holy God for the path he was on, he heard, “I am Jesus!” There was not a word about Saul’s wickedness. Why? Because the one he persecuted was his greatest friend. The Lord even changed Saul’s name to Paul to cement this permanent change in his mind and in the minds of everyone he knew.

Beloved, this same Jesus offers us the same mercy. Deserving judgment and denunciation, we hear him say, “I am Jesus, your Redeemer.” Thank him this day for the mercy he has shown you.