God’s Favor in All Seasons

Gary Wilkerson

Do you have a struggle in your life you’ve never been able to shake? You wonder, “Can I really find joy in the Christian life? Will I be in this battle forever?”

I enjoy counseling people. I get absolutely blessed when I see someone set free by Christ’s Good News, finally able to enjoy life. Nothing satisfies like the sight of a spiritually crippled person finally healed and springing forward into life with new hope, joy and faith.

This does not come easily, however. The conflicts we all face every day are serious because the challenges of life in a fallen world never stop. Satan works constantly to obscure God’s work in our lives. At any given time, even the most devoted Christian can find himself teetering on the brink of unbelief.

I knew a great couple whose faith was challenged by a report regarding their young son. When he was in second grade, they were told he had a severe learning disability. They were advised to remove him from school and start training him in a trade so he could eventually earn a living. While accepting the situation on one level, they were inspired to declare in faith, “We don’t accept that this is God’s plan for our child.” They kept the boy in school and told him over and over, “We believe in you,” as they spent long hours working with him. Through diligence, perseverance and faith, this child became a good student, graduated from college and now pastors a thriving church.

God actually uses our difficult seasons to prepare us to receive the blessings of his favor. This is a powerful truth and despite grievous circumstances, he is with us in everything, no matter how dark our situation.

You can be assured of God’s favor: “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Facing the Pressure of Fear

Jim Cymbala

Downtown Brooklyn isn’t the only place resistant to the gospel. As Christians, we can find hostility wherever we go. That opposition can cause us to become fearful and timid. We’re afraid that if we stand for Christ, we might not fit in with our family, friends, or coworkers. That’s why Scripture warns us about the importance of public confession of our faith in Christ.

“Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). What a sobering thought that Jesus might be ashamed of some of us when he returns to earth.

This need for boldness applies even to kids who grow up in a Christian home. They can talk about spiritual things without experiencing much resistance. But things change when they reach high school and later go off to college. Suddenly they find that if they talk about God the Creator, or worse, Jesus dying for the sins of the world, they’re labeled. Professors call them ignorant; students brand them as intolerant, so some keep quiet, fearing the rejection of their peers.

When Christian students leave school and enter the workforce, they find a similar hostility. Now they learn that mentioning Jesus at work may cause them to lose career opportunities and some gradually become closet Christians.

We live in a hostile spiritual environment, and we don’t have to be young to face the pressure of giving in to fear or timidity. It’s true for ministers as well as for people in the pew. That’s why this promise from the Bible is so important for us: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power” (2 Timothy 1:7). Through the Holy Spirit, God has promised to give us courage, and even boldness, to swim against the current and to speak for Christ even though we might be mocked. 

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 Power to Face the Impossible

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Christ said, “I came into this world for one reason — to reach and save lost souls!” Yet this was not the mission of Jesus only; he also made it our mission. “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15).

Jesus was speaking here to a small band of believers — about 120 people — who had gathered in the Upper Room. Think about what an impossible task he laid before them. At that time, Rome ruled the world and Jesus was commanding his followers, “Go to Rome and tell proud, egotistical Caesar there can be no king before me. I rule over all creation! And go to Athens, where paganism rules, and preach that I am the only way. Go everywhere that philosophies, ancient religions, false gods and superstitions rule — and preach my cross and resurrection.

“On top of this, go to foreign nations, live with the people and study their languages. Lay hands on the sick, cast out devils, proclaim the good news. Preach the power and victory of the risen savior!”

This was an extraordinary challenge. Remember, Jesus was talking to ordinary, insignificant, uneducated men and women. He was placing the very future of his Church on their shoulders. I imagine that little group of believers felt overwhelmed, wondering how the Lord expected them to fulfill this impossible mission.

Our challenge today is just as daunting. The Bible tells us that each succeeding generation grows worse and worse and that is not hard to see. But Jesus’ words to his helpless disciples apply to us today: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Offer yourself to the Holy Spirit right now and trust in his guidance and power to do the miraculous through you! 

No Hope of Victory in Our Strength

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Even if you are saved — living under the covering of Christ’s blood and secured by faith in his work on the cross for you — you can still have ongoing battles raging inside you. Enemies of your soul seek to devour you and you are still engaged in a battle with satanic powers and strongholds. We are to claim the power that is available to us through God’s New Covenant, but that power comes only by faith.

The prophet Isaiah warned Israel that there was no possibility of victory for them if they attempted to fight their adversary in their own strength. Isaiah chapter 31 paints a perfect picture of the futility of trying to do battle with the enemy in our human ability. I believe this chapter is a type and shadow of the ineffectiveness of our attempts today to defeat lusts, bad habits, and besetting sins by relying on human ideas and aids.

This chapter is also an example to us of how sin will increase in the last days. Scripture says that society will wax worse and worse and the Church will be inundated with deceptions and doctrines of demons. I believe we are seeing that happen right now. Demonic hordes have infiltrated all media and every form of technology, flooding our culture with sensuality and perversions of all kinds.

If you are in the midst of an overwhelming struggle, you must learn the word God gave to Zechariah: “’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

“For through the voice of the Lord, [the enemy] will be beaten down” (Isaiah 30:31). Isaiah is saying, “Your Lord promises to fight for you. He will make his voice known and it will put all your enemies to flight.”

Are you facing an enemy that is too powerful for you right now? If so, God asks simply that you lay down your sword and trust him to fight on your behalf.

We Know Joy Because of Jesus

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The psalmist writes of a glorious secret to enjoying a fulfilled, joyful life: “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance” (Psalm 89:15). The Hebrew meaning of this verse suggests, “Those who have a revelation of the joyful sound will wake up every day with peace, strength and happiness. Their life will be filled with the joy of the morning sun.”

In short, the psalmist is telling us, “There is a certain, joyful sound that is of such powerful significance that it is the very foundation of victorious living. If you know and understand this sound, you will be changed from glory to glory.”

“All who know the meaning of the joyful sound become self-assured, fearless. They walk through life with an every-increasing sense of security. They are able to overcome, even when being sifted by Satan. Their hearts are steadfast and at rest — because the Holy Spirit has revealed to them the meaning behind the joyful sound!”

So what is this joyful sound? It is the sound of Jubilee! It would take too long to explain the history of the Jewish Festival of Jubilee but it is found in Leviticus 25 and is an exciting, liberating study about God’s promises, provision and blessing.

The prophet Isaiah declares that Jesus Christ is our Jubilee. He writes, “[The Lord] has sent Me to … proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-2).

Isaiah is using the language of Jubilee here: “Let the trumpets blast, announcing the joyous year of liberty our Savior has given us.” This was the joyful sound — proclaiming to all mankind: “I have made provision for you — to walk out of prison, be restored to your family and have everything you need for a fulfilled life. You are free to live without fear of any enemy. Enter now into my joy!”