Our Lord has an almost insurmountable problem of communicating with those who claim to love him so. We come into his gates with thanksgiving and enter his courts with praise. We praise him with instruments, with song, with uplifted hands, with tears and loud hosannas — but it is still only one-way communication.
We rush into his presence in the secret closet with worship and requests and then rush out again. How many times has he been ready and anxious to open his heart and speak, but lo and behold, no one was there.
Immediately after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. They were grieved about the departed Lord and in their grief they did not recognize him as their Messiah. As they reasoned between themselves, Jesus wanted to talk because he had so much to share with them. Finally he could hold back no longer: “Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
There could have been no finer experience for those disciples! They had heard his voice and went away saying, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (24:32). Those two men shared a great joy but what about the joy of Jesus? He was fulfilled because he had taken a few hours just to talk! In his glorified form, he had experienced his first two-way communion; his lonely heart had been touched and his need had been met.
We think Jesus gets enough pleasure from what we do for him, but there is so much more. Our Lord responds to our faith; he talks to the Father about us; he delights in our trust, and it pleases him to give us rest and peace. I am convinced that His greatest need is to have a one-to-one personal communication with those he left here on earth.
When you get alone with the Lord and pour out your heart to him, be sure to take time to listen, as well.
When we accept the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we fulfill this commission: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12, ESV). An entire world needs his healing, cleansing, saving power, and that happens only by his perfect sacrifice: “Because I am going to the Father.”
Never doubt any opportunity that Jesus brings to you. The key to this is believing that he is always at work. When the disciples asked Jesus to give them faith, his answer tells us everything: “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible” (Matthew 17:20, NLT).
Despite Christ’s incredible gifts to us, some of us are convinced we are not worthy to represent his gospel. Yet that contradicts the very nature of the gospel. We become his holy representatives not by our ability but by God’s work in us: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV).
Peter was probably the first Christian to be taught this powerful truth. In Acts 10 when he was staying in Joppa with a tanner named Simon, Peter had a vision during prayer that would affect the spread of Christ’s gospel down to today. He was puzzled by the vision, but he obeyed God’s leading and the door to healing and the saving power of God was opened to the world (read the account in Acts 10: 9-48).
No matter what you think of yourself today, I urge you to accept his holiness and receive his anointing to fulfill the work he has prepared for you. He will open every door and you will see him perform unexpected wonders.
“So Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). In this scene just before Jesus’ crucifixion, we see Peter weeping inconsolably, stunned by his own sense of failure. After all, he was the follower of Christ who had declared, “I am willing not just to live for You but to die for You and with You in Jerusalem!” (see Matthew 26:35). However, only a short time later Peter denied he even knew Christ, swearing with an oath to this effect.
Many disappointed, disillusioned people in the Body of Christ feel they have somehow failed God. They recall the days when they loved to pray — when they could not wait to tell others about Jesus. But something happened along the way. They feel as if they have made a mistake of some sort, and now they don’t know if their relationship with God can ever be as it once was.
Remember, Christians do make mistakes. One such mistake is substituting human reasoning for divine counsel. When you and I pray, ideas will come into our hearts. However, we must remember that they are not always from God even though we are praying.
We often assume that we know exactly what He means when He sends us out to do something. Then when it does not work out as we thought, we become discouraged or even bitter. Allowing bitterness against God to enter the heart when a plan does not move forward as expected is a second common mistake of Christians.
You may have made mistakes but God’s plan for your life has not been thwarted! So if you are disillusioned, be assured that God has not forgotten you. He has not written you off. You are as precious to him, as valuable to him, today as you were before you ever even understood who he was.
Allow the Lord to comfort you and touch your life with his mercy. Choose to believe that he has not forsaken you — that his plan for your life will be fulfilled. In fact, the best is yet to come!
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.
Temptation is an invitation or an enticement to commit an immoral act. Right now Satan is raging over the earth as a roaring lion trying to entice Christians toward immorality. No one is immune and the closer to God you get, the more Satan will desire to sift you.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2, KJV). The Lord tells us to rejoice when we fall into various trials because we are experiencing something unique. Temptation is “training under combat conditions” and it only happens to maturing Christians. God wants combat-seasoned warriors who can testify, “I was under fire! I’ve been in battle! The enemy was all around me, trying to kill me but God showed me how to take it all and not be afraid.”
Only true children of God can be tempted — sinners cannot. Rain cannot touch a body already under water and sinners are already drowned in perdition. As children of Satan, they do as he dictates and he teases them into deeper and darker pits of immorality.
Temptation is not a sign of weakness or a leaning toward the world. Rather, it is a sign that God trusts us. The Spirit led Jesus into the arena of temptation in the wilderness so that He could learn the secret of power over all temptation. Actually, God was saying to Jesus, “My Son, I have given you the Spirit without measure and confirmed you before the world. Now I am going to permit Satan to tempt you so you will see how powerless he is. You will never once fear his dominion and you can go forth preaching the kingdom with faith that Satan is defeated and cannot touch you in any way.”
We are not tempted to teach us about ourselves or show off the power of the devil. No! Temptation is allowed to teach us the limitation of Satan — to defang him and expose his weakness. And to show the power of God to deliver! Start glorifying the Lord and use your shield of faith against temptation in your life.
If we live by faith, we will not fear for the future of God’s church. “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). This pledge from Jesus has emboldened the faith of generations and it is meant to sustain us now in this generation.
Timothy is warned, “In latter times some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). In perilous times such as ours, our leaders will arise “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). Under the influence of these false leaders, many believers will grow cold or lukewarm and still others will lose their faith altogether and fall away from Christ.
Yet, according to Joel, God is going to pour out His Spirit at the same time: “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).
The Psalmist writes, “You send forth Your Spirit … and You renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30). God’s Spirit has never been depleted; he can pour out as he pleases. In the midst of calamitous times, there will be a great harvest. The unsaved are going to turn to believers and cry, “God is clearly with you. Tell me, how can I know this peace?” Our God knows the name and address of every proud and lost person and he is reaching out in merciful love to each one.
I encourage you, as a believer, to let God speak forth his promises so that others will see your testimony and be drawn to him. Trust in God’s faithful Word: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).