My first book, Run Baby Run, is the story of how God saved me from a life of hate and violence in the street gangs of New York. The book continues to sell well, ministering consistently to the most helpless and hurting in our society.
After Run Baby Run I wrote a number of other books attempting to expose the anger, violence, and hopelessness of life in the inner city. Each one offered concrete solutions to solving these problems, and the Lord has graciously blessed those efforts. We have been able to reach millions with our message of hope.
In the last several months, God has planted in my heart a new message of hope as well as a deep burden to share it. This message is about freedom and spiritual abundance; about living a life in complete communion with Jesus; about breaking through our earthly limitations and making a powerful impact on the world around us. It’s about you and me finally finding our place within God’s magnificent kingdom on earth. It’s about seeing people the way God sees them. And most of all, it’s about learning once and for all to embrace the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to release His wisdom and power within us. What a transformation we will experience as we discover and embrace God’s unmatchable, unmistakable power in our lives.
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
The world today no longer accepts a belief system rooted in tradition and complacency — doing church as we’ve always done it. The next generation will either see the power of God working in their lives in real, tangible ways, or they will have no use for our message and no interest in following our Savior. They need to see a consistency between our life and our faith. If they don’t, they will reject us as well as our Lord.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
The Bible addresses our efforts to please Him in our flesh: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3). Trying to establish our own righteousness is actually our flesh at work!
Trying to please God in our human power robs us of our joy and peace with Him. Any victories will be short-lived and we will fall into temptation again. The enemy will keep harassing us and a conversation with him might go something like this:
Satan whispers, “What about the sin you indulged in just yesterday? You are guilty!”
“No,” you answer, “I’ve already asked forgiveness for that. It’s all under the blood and I’ve asked God to make me hate that sin to keep me from doing it again.”
“But you are still tempted.”
“True, but Jesus made a way of escape for me. His Word says I will be able to bear the temptation and He will deliver me” (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).
Satan persists, “There are still unsettled issues in your life.”
When the accuser brings up “unsettled issues” — some war that still rages within you — you can answer with this passage of Scripture: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight” (Colossians 1:21-22).
Even when we fail Him, God loves us; He seeks us out and reconciles us to Himself. He loves us even when we struggle and through Christ He makes us to be at peace with Him.
We can all say, “I am redeemed by the blood of my Savior, but I have not yet fully attained.” We sing and shout praises to our God and yet many of us still continue to strive to please Him.
You may win an occasional victory and feel so good about it. You tell yourself, “I did it. I knew if I put my mind and heart to the matter, I would get the victory.” Your tendency is to feel proud about what you’ve done and then go around judging others who aren’t victorious.
When I was younger, if I needed victory over something, I would convince myself, “I’m going to do this if it kills me.” And it seemed like it almost would kill me! A month or two might go by and I would think, “Those covetous thoughts are gone now. I’m free!” But it always proved to be a partial victory and discouragement would set in.
“Oh, God,” I would cry, “I’ve begged You to deliver me but You haven’t. These feelings are still in me.” And then I would blame God.
What was happening? I was so busy striving in the flesh to be righteous that I lost my understanding of true righteousness — the only righteousness acceptable to the Father — that of His Son, Jesus. When we stand before the Father, He accepts us only through Christ, through His righteousness and victory.
You may wonder, “What must I do?” First, refuse to listen to the devil’s lies. Second, stand on your spiritual feet and start declaring, “By faith in the blood of Jesus, I receive the righteousness of Christ.” Then rejoice!
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). Redemption simply means “set free” and we have been set free by Jesus’ precious blood. We can stand against every accusation and say, “Satan, you’ve accused me for the last time. My Bible says I am redeemed because I believe in what Jesus did for me at the cross.”
When Satan tries to convince you that you are unworthy to walk with the Lord and serve Him, you know it is not true. However, you may have a hard time being fully assured that He has made you clean and fit to stand before Him and faithfully serve Him. But the Word of God says that He has!
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:10-14, KJV).
The Greek rendering of Colossians 1:10-14 is: “The Father has made us fit, worthy, qualified in character, good enough to be partakers in the inheritance of the saints of light.”
What Jesus did on the cross qualified you for eternal inheritance, and if God has qualified you for eternal life, then He has made you fit in character, as well. You could take a leave from ministry or service for a time, trying to make yourself fit for Him, but you could never do so. God will not accept anyone’s righteousness — except that of His own Son, Jesus Christ.
You will never be able to obtain the righteousness of Christ by working for it, so just believe and trust God for it. It comes to you by faith. You see, not only are you saved by faith but you are also sanctified by faith, justified by faith, healed by faith, kept by faith.
All this happens by believing in what Jesus has done for you.
Who tells you that you are unworthy, no good, useless, unusable to God? Who keeps reminding you that you’re weak, helpless, a total failure? And who tells you that you’ll never measure up to God’s standard?
Who tells worship team members they’re not worthy to sing praises in God’s house or musicians they’re not worthy to play instruments of worship? Who tells ushers, elders, Sunday school teachers, volunteers, people in the pew that they are unworthy?
That’s no mystery. We all know where this voice comes from — the devil himself. He wants to keep you convinced that God is angry with you.
The devil, the accuser of the brethren, reminds you of your every sin and failure. He tells you, “God can’t use you until you get this figured out and make yourself worthy.” Do not fall for this lie from the pit of hell.
Many people reading this message have been convinced by the devil that they are unworthy ever to be used of God. Does this describe you? Perhaps you feel unworthy even to be called a child of the Lord. You look at your life and see inconsistency and failure.
Let me confess something to you: I have never once felt worthy of my high calling as a preacher. Throughout my years of service to the Lord, I have been barraged by accusations that I am unworthy to speak for God, to preach, to teach others, to be a leader.
So, the truth is, I am not worthy to write this message and you are not worthy to raise your hands in praise to God. You see, nobody is worthy — not in our human strength and power! But Jesus told us, “I have made you worthy.”
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
God said to Moses when the children of Israel were in Egypt, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea” (Exodus 14:1-2, ESV). God was announcing that He was going to take them to a new place.
God guided them through very rocky areas and as He led them, they could see the Red Sea in the distance. But when they arrived on the beach, they realized they were jammed into a very small space with rocks on one side and water on the other.
Pharoah looked at their location and said with glee, “They are hemmed in with their backs to the wall.” God had led them there but the Israelites certainly were not happy about it.
Has God ever called you to a place that you consider the last place on earth you want to be? Moses, who was not a strong military leader up to this point and had been in only a few battles, was smart enough to recognize their precarious position: “I’m not certain we’re in a good place for a military defense. In fact, we’re trapped!”
Yes, Moses and the Israelites were in a tough place but God was about to get glory out of their situation. God often allows us to get into challenging places because He has a great plan for us. When we think we are trapped with our back to the wall, God is saying, “This is going to work out for My glory.”
Do you feel hemmed in, overwhelmed, hopeless? In this difficult place, take a step of faith and say, “God, I will obey You regardless of the cost.” When that happens, you stand on the edge of seeing God move mightily on your behalf.
You know the rest of the story of Moses and the Israelites: God caused the Red Sea to part and His children marched through on dry land. It was a tremendous victory!
In the Old Testament, where there was no water, there was no life. People died during droughts. Likewise, unless the living water of the Spirit is flowing in us, we and our churches will have an absence of spiritual life and little vitality. Just as in the Mojave Desert, no water equals no life, no growth, and no fruit. We can attend church regularly and have perfect doctrine, but without the Holy Spirit to water us, we will wither and die.
Jesus talked openly about the life-giving properties of the Spirit. “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them’” (John 7:37-38). By “rivers of living water,” Jesus was referring to the Spirit that believers would later receive.
When the Spirit of God comes, we have new life. Without the Spirit of God, we’re left to struggle with our self-effort, which is riddled by moral weakness and sinful tendencies. But when the Spirit comes, we have joy, hope, and power. Notice that Jesus doesn’t refer to a drop of water but to “rivers of living water.” Like a river, the Spirit flows — a force of power that comes into us and then flows out so we can be a blessing to others.
God uses water as a symbol of the Holy Spirit in a slightly different way when He says, “I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily” (Hosea 14:5). We all have witnessed the grass and flowers glistening with tiny drops of refreshing water. By using this metaphor, God is saying He will be like the dew, which settles quietly in the night and coats the ground by morning. Dew can’t form when conditions are too hot or the wind is too strong. Likewise, we can’t be refreshed by God when we’re too busy running around.
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 describes Himself this way: “I taught Ephraim [Israel] to walk, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them” (Hosea 11:3).
In the original language, this verse reads: “I came to them in their despair and tenderly nursed them through foul, rugged places. I held them in My arms as a nurse!” But verse 7 reads, “My people are bent on backsliding from Me.” The word bent here means “hanging in suspense, hanging in doubt.”
Israel was not sure of the Lord’s love and tenderness and God was saying to Hosea, “My people are doubting My love for them because they don’t really know Me.”
It was true! Israel could not believe God still loved them. They were idolaters, backsliders, and doubters who were probably thinking, “We brought God’s displeasure on ourselves by willfully sinning and He will surely judge us.” But God said, “How can I give you up? My heart churns within Me and My sympathy is stirred” (see verse 8).
You may be going through deep waters right now. I don’t mean trials or temptations necessarily, but overwhelming events that you can’t understand. Winds and waves of all kinds are flooding you, things beyond your comprehension, and He wants to carry you through it all and restore you to spiritual health. If all you can believe right now is that He loves you in spite of all your stubborn ways — that is enough!
Listen to His word of comfort and healing for you: “For I will not contend forever, neither will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made” (Isaiah 57:16). The Lord was saying, “If all you saw in Me was anger, your spirit would fail; it would be too overwhelming.” No, He goes on to say, “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him” (verse 18).
These are the words of a God who will never give up on His people!
If you want the peace of God to reign in your life, you must quit several things:
- Stop trying to figure out how God will work things out
- Stop worrying and fretting (Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing”)
- Stop telling God what is right for you
- Stop thinking you are a failure and you can’t please God
One of Satan’s most effective traps for robbing Christians of peace is to convince them they must strive in the flesh to please God. He springs this on me all the time!
Sometimes when I need a quiet place to pray, I drive out into the hills. I was there not long ago, looking out over green fields and forests and enjoying the presence of the Lord. Out of nowhere, the thought hit me that I am not doing anything for the Lord.
“Lord,” I cried out, “I’m just not accomplishing much for Your kingdom. All I do is pray, get messages for sermons, and go to church and preach. The whole world is going to hell and I’m not doing anything for You.”
Have such thoughts ever hit you? You do everything you know to please the Lord yet you still don’t feel holy. I know I didn’t. In fact, I hardly ever feel holy . . . even in my best of times. Even when I’m preaching under the Holy Spirit’s anointing.
You may ask, “You, Brother Dave? At times you don’t feel as if you’re doing much for God?” Yes! The devil comes in and makes us all feel unworthy, unfulfilled, and we lose our peace by giving in to those awful feelings.
Listen to Paul’s prayer for us: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).
Trust in His goodness. Believe in His love and mercy. And don’t accuse Him of being angry or upset with you or of not speaking to you. Let His peace dwell in your heart and over your whole life.
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
When I reread this passage recently, I was struck by something I’d never seen before. Paul is instructing us to stop worrying and go to God with prayer and supplication. Then we are to thank Him for the answer. But Paul says nothing about receiving deliverance, a word of direction, miracles, or healing. Instead, he says that we receive a gift . . . the peace of God.
God answers all our requests and supplication with the gift of His peace: “The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds.” In other words, God’s first answer to our every prayer and heart-cry is His peace!
All praying people have one thing in common: No matter how bad we may feel going into our secret closet of prayer, we come out filled with His peace. God has limited Himself to His own government and it is known as the providence of God. He does things here and there, preparing people’s hearts and orchestrating events, but until His providence works out the answer to our prayer, He says, “I’m not going to give you what you think you need but what I know you need — peace of mind and heart.”
Many of us wrestle with the Lord in prayer. We petition Him with many tears; we pound heaven’s gates; we claim every promise. But as the days, weeks, and months go by, we begin to wonder: “Why won’t you hear me, Lord? What’s blocking my prayer? What have I done to grieve or displease You?”
The fact is, God already has said to us, “Here! Here is My peace and it passes all understanding. Take it and let it rule in your heart while I work all things for your good.”
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
This one verse contains an incredible command; the entire body of Jesus Christ has been called by God to let His peace rule and govern our hearts, minds and bodies! The peace of God is to sit as ruler over everything. And if there was ever a time this call needed to be sounded, it is today in this hour of turmoil and confusion!
The Lord commanded the early Church to allow His peace to rule their lives, because He knew what was coming and He wanted to prepare them. In just a few years’ time, they would be persecuted, even tortured. They would face loss of homes, confiscation of all worldly goods, and attacks from vicious men who thought they were doing God a favor by killing them. God foresaw all this and was preparing them. “You must be grounded in My peace in order to get through all the incredible changes ahead.”
A false peace is sweeping through many churches today, a peace that will fail in the troubled days ahead. Moses called stubborn Israel “self-blessed,” meaning self-deceived. He warned Israel that a curse would come upon all wicked, disobedient children of God who walked in idolatry. They would plaster over their sinful ways with a false sense of peace: “When he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart” (Deuteronomy 29:19).
Moses is describing the child of God who decides to satisfy his lust for evil by finding a cozy doctrine that tells him he’s still saved, heaven bound — while still sinning. He says to himself, “I will do as I please and still not lose the peace in my heart.” False peace!
No matter what happens to America or to the nations of the world, no power in hell can rob you of the peace of God through Christ Jesus, which He implants in your soul. God will have His people governed by peace. True peace!
Let the true peace of God rule in your hearts!
Does God give favor, bless abundantly, and lavish His grace on hungry, waiting hearts? The answer is yes — and we find this illustrated in the story of Christ’s birth.
An angel appeared to Mary announcing the amazing event about to take place in her life: “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:26-29, emphasis mine).
Bible scholars say that Mary was very young, a teenager, at the time. Imagine how strange this encounter must have been for her. Here was a simple girl from an obscure village and family, being approached by a massive, fearsome angel standing before her exclaiming, “Greetings, O favored one!”
Then he made an incredible announcement: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (1:30-32, emphasis mine).
Often people trembled in fear when an angel appeared to them but Mary was not afraid, although it is true that she was “greatly troubled” by what the angel said about favor. She lived in a male-dominated society and her life had no real evidence of favor — but a transformation was about to take place in her life and in the world!
You may want to see your circumstances transformed. You may face sickness, a tense marriage, a wayward child, a crushing financial need. Like Mary, you can receive God’s favor, and testify as she did in her song of praise, “I am blessed by the Lord because He sees me at all times, in all my circumstances. He can conceive things I could never imagine.”
“And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). That includes you!
Paul said to Timothy, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).
My word to you today is the same: Stir up the gift of God. When God put His hand on you, He put a deposit of His life within you — the ability to do the supernatural.
So how do you stir up the gift of God? It starts by saying, “Lord, I want it! I want my life to be what You have called it to be. I do not want to simply blend in with this society and ultimately make no difference. I want the power to stand out as a follower of Jesus Christ.”
That has been my prayer over the course of my entire Christian life: “Lord, stir me. Take me to another place: don’t let me become stagnant. Don’t let me live on yesterday’s grace and yesterday’s victory. Today is a new day; there are new people I am going to encounter. Stir the compassion in my heart. Give me the eyes to see people the way You see them. Don’t let me be afraid of people’s faces. You are alive inside me; You gave me Your Holy Spirit; and You left me on the earth for a purpose — so help me to lay hold of the reason I am alive in this generation!”
Remember, the only thing that stops the true child of God is unbelief. And so we must ask God for the grace to honor Him and make full use of the deposit He has given to us. That is how souls will be touched — as they see the reality of Jesus Christ living in us!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
Do you sit under strong preaching that lovingly exposes your sin? If so, do you allow that word to convict you? Or, do you continue in your sin without grieving at all?
If you are rejecting the warnings of the restraining Holy Ghost, disobeying God time after time, then you are being recruited for the cult of Antichrist. The devil is silently initiating you into his mystery of iniquity. And when the promising, miracle-working Antichrist comes along, you’ll be swept up in his lies and given over to a delusion!
Listen to what Paul says about compromising believers who refuse to love and obey God’s holy word: “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12).
Here are the ominous results of not believing and acting on God’s truth:
- The heart becomes hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
- Satan works on the hardened heart to justify itself, so that it is relieved from all fear of penalty.
- The believer becomes blinded by the lie that says there are no wages for sin and no Judgment Day.
- The believer falls prey to doctrines of demons, thinking evil is good and good is evil.
- He eventually drifts so far from Christ and the truth that he becomes blinded to who the Antichrist is — and he ends up worshiping and serving him as a god.
- On Judgment Day, God will say to such a person, “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity!”
Beloved, it doesn't have to be this way. God has made a covenant promise to remove all delusion from us and give us victory over sin. All He asks is that we declare war on our sin, saying, “I refuse to make peace with this habit. Deliver me, Father!” When He hears this prayer, He will send such Holy Ghost power and glory from heaven, the devil won’t stand a chance.
Pray right now that God will implant in you a great reverence for His Word. Ask Him to help you be disciplined in your reading of the Scriptures. And ask the Holy Spirit to help you take to heart what you read— to believe that God means what He says.
Throughout Scripture, God gives us a clear picture of how important it is for us to obey His Word. We see one such example in the life of King Saul, to whom God gave clear, specific commands through the prophet Samuel. “Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (1 Samuel 15:3).
God had spoken to Saul in crystal-clear terms and yet, after he went into battle, he obeyed the Lord only in part. Rather than destroying everyone and everything, he spared King Agag — and he even kept some of the spoils of battle (see 15:7-9).
Samuel was grief-stricken at this. He told Saul, “The Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?” (15:18-19).
At this point, Scripture gives us a grievous, chilling word: “Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments” (verses 10-11).
Does this describe your life? Has God told you in no uncertain terms to deal with something and yet you keep clinging to it? Right now, His Spirit may be speaking to you in a kind, wooing voice, “Your sin stands between us, interrupting our communion. I can no longer bless you while you persist in it. Trust My Spirit to help you. Lay it down now, My child."
God is telling us, “I want all your heart, all your love — not just half-hearted obedience!”