The Father’s Willing Embrace

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Have you ever had a friend or loved one say to you, out of the blue: “Are you mad at me? Did I do something wrong?”

You may simply be quiet, deep in thought, so you answer, “No, I’m not mad. You didn’t do anything to hurt me. I’m just quiet right now.”

They press you, saying, “Was it something I said?”

“No, you didn’t say anything. Everything is all right.”

Finally, to convince that person, you have to hug them. “Look, I love you! I’m not upset. But if you keep this up, you’re going to get me upset!”

Beloved, this is often how we treat our heavenly Father. At the end of the day, we go to our secret closet and say, “Let’s see now, how did I grieve Jesus today? What did I do wrong? What did I forget to do? I’m such a mess that I don’t know how he can love me. Lord, forgive me one more time. Someday I’ll be so obedient that you’ll find it easy to love me.”

God is there all the time, waiting to embrace you. He wants to show you how much he loves you, and he wants you to lie back and rest in his love. When the prodigal son came home, he was welcomed back into his father’s house. He received a new robe, ate at his father’s table and had full forgiveness. The one thing this son knew was that he was secure in his father’s love. He knew his father would bear with him, work with him, love him. That’s how our heavenly Father is with us.

No matter how far we may stray from our Father, we continually have the ability to return. We must believe these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:3-6, NKJV).

God waits with outstretched arms to embrace all who accept his love and return to his presence.

Satisfied with Too Little

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God has so much he wants to give you. “’And try me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’” (Malachi 3:10, NKJV). He stands in a full storehouse, saying, “I am a giving, loving God, but so few will receive from me. They won’t let me be God to them!’

Of course, we are to thank God for all he has done and given already, but we are not to be satisfied with what we think is enough.

Many Christians are satisfied to sit in church and be blessed by God’s presence. Such people are no more than “satisfied sponges.” They soak everything up, but when God wants to anoint them for service, they limit him in their lives.

On Jesus’ last night with his disciples, he encouraged them, saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father” (John 14:12). Do we truly believe that Christ and the Holy Spirit are God’s good and perfect gifts to us? Do you see the Spirit as God’s perfect gift to you? Do you see him as all you need to live joyfully, victoriously, righteously, full of peace and rest?

We must fully trust scripture when it says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

If we really knew God and let him be God to us, we would ask him for so much more. We would reach into the heavenlies by faith, believing that God will bring down the godless leaders in local, state and federal agencies. We would believe God to help us saturate our city with the gospel of Jesus. We would stand up in faith against every weapon aimed against us, and we would be putting down satanic strongholds in our families and churches.

Our vision should be limitless. We should believe God for even greater things for his kingdom!

Knowing the Voice of God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Those who truly know God have learned how to recognize his voice. I believe that three things are required of those who would hear God’s voice:

1. Unshakable confidence that God is wanting to speak to you. You have to be fully persuaded and convinced of this. Indeed, he wants you to know his voice so you can do his will. What God tells you will never go beyond the boundaries of scripture.

2. Quality time and quietness. You need to be willing to shut yourself in with God and let all other voices fall away. True, God speaks to us all day long, but whenever he has wanted to build something into my life, his voice has come only after I had shut out every other voice but his.

3. Asking in faith. We do not obtain anything from God, including hearing his voice, unless we truly believe that he is able to convey his mind to us and enable us to understand his perfect will. We also must believe that the Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know how to pray for ourselves or a certain situation (see Romans 8:26-27).

God is not a tease. He wants you to be convinced that he desires to talk to you and tell you things you’ve never heard before. He will not allow the enemy to deceive you. “He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:2-5, NKJV). When God speaks, peace follows, and Satan cannot counterfeit that peace!

God saw what your hurts and needs would be. He knew ahead of time what you would need to solve all your problems. He did not wrap up and hide away his answers.

The Lord Raises Up His People

Gary Wilkerson

One of God’s names in scripture is Jehovah-Nissi. It means the God who provides, who is a banner, who lifts ups, who exalts. It’s an interesting combination of meanings all together in one word.

This Hebrew word nissi was used in Jewish weddings. When the bride and groom were at the wedding party, all of the guests would make the couple sit in two chairs; then they would lift the chairs up and walk around the room, carrying the bride and groom. That action of lifting up was called nissi.

I think it’s a powerful picture because marriage is a kind of lifting up and great exaltation. I’ve been married 25 years, and it’s a wonderful blessing, but it’s also a test.

We don’t really want God to test us; we don’t want to go through dry seasons where we feel alone and away from his presence. We don’t want to go through the test of having to move to difficult places, the test of friends hurting our hearts, the test of family difficulties, the test of financial difficulties, the tests in church or ministry.

When Paul was talking about some of the tests in his life, he said, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles…danger from false brothers. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:24-26,28, ESV).

Why is he saying this? What’s the point of this?

Paul provides the answer in very next chapter. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

There’s a reason for God’s tests. He tests us in the area we love most. Every test you’re going through is not God’s desire to push you back or keep you in your place; it’s God’s desire to bring you nissi, to bring you to a new place, to elevate your faith and have you worship him as the Lord who lifts us up.

His Word My Hope Secures

Tim Dilena

Brother Dave Wilkerson used to tell one of the most fantastic stories. It was about this 82-year-old woman who was living by herself in one of the New York boroughs. One night, she heard someone start hammering on the front door. 

Her bedroom was at the top of the stairs; she looked down and saw a man kick open her door. What do you do? You're 82 years old; this man's about to steal everything you have. She just started crying out, "Acts 2:38, Acts 2:38, Acts 2:38." The man froze then got down on the floor, spread his arms and stayed there until she called the police, and the police came and arrested him. 

Now get this, the verse just says to repent and believe in Jesus. This guy was laying on the ground because the 82-year-old woman kept saying, "Acts 2:38, Acts 2:38." Here's what's great: Brother Dave said the cops started laughing, and they asked the guy, "This is an 82-year-old woman. Why did you wait for us to come?"

He told them, "Listen, if you knew a lady had an ax and two 38s, you would have waited too."

Here's the promise that Jesus gave to his disciples, "When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour” (Matthew 10:19, ESV). When people come into your life to antagonize you, and you're thinking, “I'm being written up at my job, written up at my campus because I said something about Jesus. What do I say?“ Jesus says, “Don't worry because there's going to be stuff that you say that you didn't even plan on saying, and it's going to be the exact words that you need in this situation.”

That's why I think the old song “Amazing Grace” from John Newton really does mean something when it says, “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; 'tis Grace that brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home. The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.”

God knows exactly what we’ll need and when we’ll need it. He is our shield and life-sustaining portion.

After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.