God’s Measure of Success

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Success in God’s eyes is being totally fulfilled in ministering to him. Such servants aren’t striving to “make it” or seeking earthly security. They only want to know their Lord and to minister to him.

Think about the 100 prophets hidden by Obadiah (see 1 Kings 18:4). They lived an isolated existence in caves during a severe famine for probably three to four years. These men had no outside ministry. They were completely out of the public’s view, likely forgotten by most people. They couldn’t even share in Elijah’s victory on Mount Carmel. No doubt, the world would call them failures, insignificant men who hadn’t accomplished anything.

However, God had given these devoted servants the precious gift of time. They had days, weeks, even years to pray, study and grow. God may have been preparing them for the day when he would release them to minister to his people, those who would return to God as a result of Elijah’s warnings and preaching. Others God may have simply wanted to worship before his throne and minister to him.

Years ago, the Lord blessed me with this gift of time. Before I ever pastored a church, I went into the woods and preached to the birds and trees. I had no plans, no agenda, no dreams. I only wanted to get to know God’s heart. I prayed daily, seeking the Lord and ministering to him. I marked my Bible from cover to cover. I was hidden, not seen by anyone, but God knew my address all along.

My advice is to quit looking for ministry. Spend your time seeking God instead. He knows where to find you. He’ll summon you when he sees you are ready. Forget what others are doing. Strive to be a success at God’s throne. If you’re ministering to the Lord and praying for others, you are already a success in his eyes!

Days of Awe and Excitement

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God, in his love and mercy, is allowing disasters to strike the earth to warn all who hear that Jesus is coming back and that it’s time to get ready. He loves his children too much to bring his new kingdom to pass without warning. He knows that mankind is hard of hearing and that it takes disasters of earthquake proportions to get our attention.

These disasters are a kind of countdown, too painful to ignore, allowed by God to set the stage for the final moments of time. These labor pains will become more frequent and intense as we approach the last hour. Christ told his followers, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28, NKJV).

Does it all sound scary? Is the truth frightening? Is it really possible that the end of the world is upon us? Is this the very point in time that all the prophets in the Bible predicted would come? Can even the most devout Christians remotely understand how terribly close this earth is to the midnight hour? One thing is certain: everything appears to be falling apart, as far as the natural eye can discern.

Dear friend, hear what the Holy Spirit spoke to me about these days. Just five little words but so powerful that they awakened in me a glorious new hope and faith. Those five little words are “God has everything under control!”

If you trust God, you can look every disaster in the face and proclaim with confidence, “My God is speaking to this universe, and his power is being demonstrated. I will just stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” God has everything under control, and we are under his control. Scripture’s message for this hour is “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Let us live then in confidence and anticipation of our Lord’s coming.

The One Who Gives Us Strength

Gary Wilkerson

When you cover up or repress certain emotions like pain, hurt, sorrow or fear, it’s generally because you don't want to deal with them. The problem with doing this, though, is that we're not built to repress certain elements of our lives. We can't repress pain without also repressing joy. We can't repress fear without repressing peace.

This is why God says, “Bring it all to the table. Bring your fear, and I'll teach you peace. Bring your pain, and I'll teach you comfort.” Jesus clearly stated, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3-5, ESV).

Well, a lot of Christians in the United States don't believe in mourning. We act as if grief comes from a lack of faith in God. If we repress sorrow and pain, though, we’ll never receive a full measure of God’s comfort.

Recently, in my own personal study of the Book of Psalms, I realized that reading these verses was almost creating in me a sense that I needed to stop. I couldn’t continue until I was willing to be honest with God and the scriptures. Since I’ve faced some serious issues in my life, I actually got out a yellow notepad and started writing things down. I had to admit, “Here's five or six things over the past ten years that hurt deeply, and I tried to bypass dealing with them.” I had to admit that this grief and pain could be good because joy could come out of this place.

I see God protecting us by getting us out of storms but also sometimes by keeping us in the storm. Say somebody is facing depression, and you see God lifting them out of that season of despair. That’s wonderful! At other times, though, you see that God is keeping a person in a tough position. Instead of taking them out of the situation, he gives them peace in the midst of that storm. That’s wonderful too. Our assurance is that God is protecting us no matter what we’re going through.

When Paul wrote, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13), he wasn’t ignoring or repressing the pain in his past or present circumstances. He simply knew God would comfort him and see him through.

The Power of God’s Spirit

Jim Cymbala

Jesus left the earth in the first chapter of Acts. He told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit, and they did. Jesus had discipled them, but after three years of living with them, setting an example for them, they fled on the night that he was betrayed and arrested. One denied him three times; one betrayed him; one doubted to the very end, and they all fled. He warned them, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41, ESV).

It wasn't until the Holy Spirit came that things turned around. That's what the Lord gave us. “The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).

You can have all the teaching, guidebooks and study guides — they all have their place — but unless God does a work inside of you by his Spirit, you're just going to act more moral. Only the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin. Only he makes Christ real. Only he produces the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In fact, Paul says the Spirit is the spirit of Christ, so he becomes our life. God's not working with the old Jim Cymbala; he wants Christ to live through me and through all believers.

When Peter, the one who denied Jesus, gets up after Pentecost, he preached a sermon so powerful it brought deep conviction of sin. The true gospel which Peter preached is the power of God for salvation, for everyone who believes. Not the sound system, not the building, not what colors you make it, not the signage. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Peter preached it, and thousands came into the church that day.

The only change for anyone in my church or your church or in me or in you is God’s Spirit in us. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

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.

The Steps of the Humble

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Let me distinguish clearly between pride and humility. A humble person is not one who thinks little of himself, hangs his head and says, “I’m nothing.” Rather, he is one who depends wholly on the Lord for everything in every circumstance. He knows the Lord has to direct him, empower him and quicken him and that he’s dead without that!

A proud person, on the other hand, is one who may love God in a fashion, but he acts and thinks on his own. At its root, pride is simply independence from God, and the proud person makes decisions based on his own reasoning, skill and abilities. He says, “God gave me a good mind, and he expects me to use it. It’s silly to ask him for direction in every detail of life.” This person is unteachable because he already “knows it all.” He might listen to someone who is higher in authority or better known than himself but not to someone he thinks is inferior.

Not one word a proud person receives is of God! It is impossible for him to judge righteous judgment, impossible to speak God’s mind, because the Holy Spirit is not present in him to bear witness to truth. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above” (Proverbs 14:12,14, NKJV).

Pride is independence; humility is dependency. The humble Christian is one who makes no move or decision without first seeking counsel from the Lord. Scripture clearly states, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:6-8). The Bible says the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord, but he cannot order the steps of an independent spirit. This is all to say God wants full control. Give it to him.