In our times of trial and temptation, Satan comes to us bringing lies: “You’re surrounded now and there is no way out. You’re a failure, otherwise you wouldn’t be going through this. There’s something wrong with you and God is sorely displeased.”
In the midst of his trial, Hezekiah acknowledged his helplessness. The king realized he had no strength to stop the voices raging at him, voices of discouragement, threats and lies. He knew he couldn’t deliver himself from the battle, so he sought the Lord for help. And God answered by sending the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah.
Hezekiah had very nearly fallen for the enemy’s trick. The fact is, if we don’t stand up to Satan’s lies—if, in our hour of crisis, we don’t turn to faith and prayer, if we don’t draw strength from God’s promises of deliverance—the devil will zero in on our wavering faith and intensify his attacks.
Hezekiah gained courage from the word he received, and he was able to say to Sennacherib in no uncertain terms: “Devil king, you did not blaspheme me. You lied to God himself. My Lord is going to deliver me. And because you blasphemed him, you will face his wrath!”
The Bible tells us that God supernaturally delivered Hezekiah and Judah on that very night: “It came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead” (2 Kings 19:35).
Believers today stand not just on a promise but also on the shed blood of Jesus Christ. And in that blood we have victory over every sin, temptation and battle we will ever face. Maybe you’ve received a letter from the devil lately. I ask you: Do you believe God has the foreknowledge to anticipate your every trial? Your every foolish move? Your every doubt and fear? If so, you have the example of David before you, who prayed, “This poor man cried, and the Lord delivered him.” Will you do the same?
On whom does Jesus bestow his peace? You may think, “I’m not worthy of living in Christ’s peace. I have too many struggles in my life. My faith is so weak.”
You would do well to consider the men to whom Jesus first gave his peace. None of them was worthy, and none had a right to it.
Think about Peter. Jesus was about to bestow his peace on a minister of the gospel who would soon be spewing out cursings. Peter was zealous in his love for Christ, but he was also going to deny him.
The other disciples were no more righteous. They simmered with anger at James and John for trying to upstage them. There was Thomas, a man of God who was given to doubt. All of the disciples were so lacking in faith, it amazed and stressed Jesus. Indeed, in Christ’s most troubling hour, they would all forsake him and flee. Even after the Resurrection, when the word spread that “Jesus is risen,” the disciples were slow to believe.
What a picture: These men were full of fear, unbelief, disunity, sorrow, confusion, competitiveness, pride. Yet it was to these same troubled servants that Jesus said, “I am going to give you my peace.”
The disciples weren’t chosen because they were good or righteous; that much is clear. Nor was it because they had talent or abilities. They were fishermen and day laborers, meek and lowly. Christ called and chose the disciples because he saw something in their hearts. As he looked into them, he knew each one would submit to the Holy Spirit.
At this point, all that the disciples had was a promise from Christ of his peace. The fullness of that peace was yet to be given to them, at Pentecost. That’s when the Holy Spirit would come and dwell in them. We receive the peace of Christ from the Holy Spirit. This peace comes to us as the Spirit reveals Christ to us. The more of Jesus you want, the more the Spirit will show you of him—and the more of Christ’s actual peace you will have.
When a nation falls into utter rebellion against God, people give themselves over to worshiping themselves, their sexuality, their immorality. They no longer simply practice these things themselves; they actively draw others into their sinful lifestyles.
The mentality in our culture used to be “Oh, I do this thing, but there’s some shame, so I hide it.” Now, warped and corrupted behavior is right out in the open. There is an unprecedented speed at which we are throwing off restraint. There’s a worship of self, a glorification of sin and an intolerance for the things of God in our current culture. Many of us have turned to wicked leaders. It seems as if, in this generation, we are going to be represented by someone who is immoral, ungodly and doesn’t know how to control themself.
Proverbs says, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (16:32, ESV).
We have people in this modern day who are ruling cities and whole governments but don’t even know how to rule their own hearts, behavior or mouth. I’m not saying that there is judgment on our country because we have wicked leaders. Rather it’s because the people want it so. We are given leaders after our own hearts.
Never once do you see Peter, James and John get out of jail all beaten up and go back to the church, saying, “We’ve got to change the court systems. We’ve got to change this government.” They never talked about a political answer to a spiritual problem. They always saw that it was a spiritual answer to a political problem.
The disciples stuck to preaching the gospel, loving people and putting all their hope in the Lord, their eternal king. So should we.
Anyone ever say to you, “I’ve got good news and bad news… Which one do you want hear first?”
I always say I want to hear the bad news first because I want to end on a good note. The bad news is we don’t know how to pray. Even the ‘best’ prayer warriors aren’t good enough. As for the rest of us, we may think, “I don’t have a good healing prayer. I don’t know how to pray for the Muslim nation.” If you’ve thought that, you’re certainly not alone. I’ve sat in prayer meetings, praying that they don’t ask me to pray! The Apostle Paul even said this, “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought…” (Romans 8:26, ESV).
The good news is that the Holy Spirit, God in us, helps us to pray. You could be saved 10 minutes and still be powerful in prayer, because it’s not up to you.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20)
Paul is saying, “This is not dependent on you. You don’t have to be eloquent or speak in Old King James. You can pray — say something, say anything — and God will get it right for you.”
We’re thinking, “If I don’t pray the right thing or mess up somehow, then nothing’s going to happen.” Nothing could be further from the truth. God goes beyond our simple words. God goes beyond your ask. He goes beyond the words that we don’t even know how to say. Even if our prayers don’t make the grade, God pushes them far beyond anything we would’ve thought to ask. God takes what we say, makes it right and then puts power behind it, which takes so much of the pressure off of us.
We pray, “Help,” and God thinks, “I know how to interpret that for them.”
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.
In the midst of this worldwide “shaking of all things,” what is God’s great concern in all of this? The Bible tells us God’s vision is trained on his children: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy” (Psalm 33:18).
Our Lord is aware of every move on the earth, by every living thing. And yet his gaze is focused primarily on the well-being of his children. He fixes his eyes on the pains and needs of each member of his spiritual body. Simply put, whatever hurts us concerns him.
To prove this to us, Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Even in the midst of great world wars, God’s primary focus isn’t on the tyrants. His focus is on every circumstance in his children’s lives.
Christ says in the very next verse: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will” (Matthew 10:29). In Christ’s day, sparrows were the meat of the poor and sold two for a penny. Yet, Jesus said, “Not one of these small creatures falls to the ground without your Father knowing it.”
Jesus’ use of the word “fall” in this verse signifies more than the bird’s death. The Aramaic meaning is “to light upon the ground.” In other words, “fall” here indicates every little hop a tiny bird makes.
Christ is essentially telling us, “Your Father’s eye is on the sparrow not just when it dies but even when it lights on the ground. As a sparrow learns to fly, it falls from the nest and begins to hop along the ground. And God sees every little struggle it has. He’s concerned over every detail of its life.”
Jesus then adds, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (10:31). Indeed, he says, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (10:30). Simply put, the One who made and counted all the stars—who monitored every action of the Roman Empire, who keeps the galaxies in their orbits—has his eye fixed on you. And, Jesus asks, “Are you not worth much more to him?”