Paul expressed concern for the church of Jesus Christ when he prayed, “May God reveal to you not just the past greatness of Christ but his present greatness.” Here is his specific prayer: “That you may know what is the hope of His calling … what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:18-19).
We have a great reverence for Jesus who walked on this earth, turning water into wine, feeding the multitudes and healing the sick. And we believe Jesus can forgive our sins and relieve our guilt. We believe he can provide us with peace and joy and even give us eternal life. But too few of us know Jesus as God of the natural world we live in. We often don’t recognize him as Lord over our everyday affairs, as God of our home, our children and marriage, our job and bills.
When Jesus was called upon to heal his friend Lazarus, he faced limited faith. “When Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’” (John 11:32). The passage goes on to show that Mary and her friends had faith only to the point of death. “Some of them said, ‘Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?’” (11:37).
It is no wonder there is so much commotion in the lives of so many of us Christians. Why such grieving and mourning? It is because we don’t believe Jesus can resurrect what seems dead. We don’t believe he has a life-giving plan for us or perhaps he is too late. Things are too far gone.
Beloved, Jesus has never been more willing to show his resurrection power than he is right now. It is not enough to love, serve and worship Christ only to the point of hopelessness. Why don’t we trust him when all hope is gone? Scripture says we have been provided the very same energizing, resurrection life that is in Christ: “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
The Holy Spirit dwells in you to bring forth the present greatness of Christ. Believe in him!
Satan cannot shake or test the faith of any child of God without the Lord’s permission. Simply put, God has a purpose and plan behind every trial that Satan brings to our lives. Jesus gave a warning to the apostle Peter: “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31).
The Word makes it clear that Satan’s main objective is to destroy the faith of those who serve Jesus. But many believers find it astonishing that the Lord granted Satan access to Peter in order to test him.
Most Christians remember Peter’s boast about his own faith: “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death” (22:33). What Peter says here may come across as spiritual boldness, but in truth it represents a fleshly audacity that the scriptures warn against: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
When Peter was questioned about his faith, rather than boldly declaring his allegiance to Jesus, he denied that he knew him. And then, in panic, he ran from the scene of his denial. However, this once fearless disciple, now broken and anguishing over his failure, was never for a moment on his own. Jesus had proclaimed earlier, “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail” (Luke 22:32).
This is one of the most encouraging verses in all of Scripture. Jesus was telling Peter here that no matter what he faced, no matter what he would go through — including his denial of Christ — his faith would not fail!
Just as he has done throughout history, Satan demands God’s permission to sift us today. He wants to attack our homes, our marriages, our children, our health, our jobs and careers, our very belief in the Lord. But be assured, God has not forsaken you — and he never will. Indeed, right now he is saying to you, “I will never leave you. Lo, I am with you, even to the end of the world.”
Our society is desperate to find hope and peace in these troubled days. They long to know the truth of Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” They will be watching God’s children to see a testimony of his provision and care for his own.
It's interesting to note that the world observes believers who face challenges. They expect us to sing a song in the midst of our hardest times. We see examples of this in the Word of God. Psalm 137 describes Israel’s captivity by the Babylonians, when God’s people had lost everything, including their homeland. Still, their captors wanted to hear the songs of victory that the Israelites were known for.
“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’” (Psalm 137:1-3).
The Israelites were famous for singing songs of victory; their captors insisted, “Sing to us! We have heard about the great victory songs you offer to God so play them for us!” Some might suggest that this demand was made in mockery, but I believe the Babylonians sincerely longed to hear a testimony. Their own religion had left them empty, dry and hopeless.
Likewise, the world demands a song of victory from God’s people today. What they really want to know is, “How are you going to react in this present crisis? We have heard that you think your God is faithful and powerful, but do you trust him in times like these? Does your faith really hold up in times of crisis?”
“He has put a new song in my mouth — praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3). Your tender, loving Father who is touched by the feelings of your infirmities gives you a song no matter what you’re going through.
Many people need restoration after lifelong heartbreak and brokenness. When wounds go deep, some try to repress the hurt, never allowing their emotions to surface because they are too painful to face. Even Christians bury their struggles and hide behind Bible study or service, pressing on in spite of their pain.
Jesus did not promise anyone a pain-free life, but he does promise that we can be restored to abundant life. John tells us, “The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4). We have been given authority by the Holy Spirit who lives within us and we are to call on that authority as we face our enemies.
For any wounded brother or sister reading this, the Bible speaks one command more than any other: “Fear not.” Why would God say this more than “Don’t sin” or “Love one another”? It must be because God knows we will have fearful events in our lives that can make us want to shrink back.
We already know we have been given supernatural authority to stay in the fight. Jesus assures us: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). If you choose to shut down pain, you also shut down the possibility of receiving love to heal that pain. Friend, our hope does not lie in our past experiences but in the future Jesus has prepared for us. “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him" (Psalm 62:5).
The Lord’s love is unconditional: “Love is patient and kind. Love … keeps no record of being wronged … Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Every wounded person should apply this unconditional love toward himself. After all, it describes God’s love for you. Everyone who understands this love from God will not need external validation.
Unconditional love reveals this truth: “You’re growing. You’re being stretched. This challenge is calling you to new heights because the merciful, gracious, healing foundation Jesus has put underneath you is solid.”
You will face challenges, but your Father has put power within you to conquer them all. Stay in the fight, stay in community, and find his abundant life filling you day after day.
In practical terms, how do we learn to love others as Christ loves us? John writes, “Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’ When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (John 11:3-6).
At first glance you may think, “But I thought Jesus loved them — why would he not rush to help?” In fact, maybe you have asked that question many times regarding your own life. “Why aren’t You answering my prayers, Lord? Why is my situation still the same? Where are You, Lord? I need You now!”
God’s love is agape love — it’s a love that gives people what God knows is necessary in the situation and brings about God’s greater purpose and his glory. In this situation with Lazarus, Jesus did not tarry because he didn’t love him or care that he would die. Jesus waited because there was a higher purpose at work — the glorifying of God and the witness to all those around that he was the Messiah, the very Redeemer for whom they had so desperately been looking to come for decades.
Now, that’s amazing! Lazarus had to die for the glory of God to be revealed in and through his life. When we love people the way God loves us, we have a deep inner trust in God that no matter what they are going through, the Lord is in control of the situation and will be glorified.
Agape love moves to treat people with understanding and compassion, not compulsion. If I love you, there’s a time to speak, and there’s a time to be silent. There’s a time to have an opinion and there’s a time to say nothing. There’s a time to let the Holy Spirit say, “The door is not open; don’t speak in this situation.”
We need to trust God with those we love by putting them into his hands, entrusting them to him, no matter what it looks like to our eyes. God will call these people at the appropriate time out of the grave of their experience. True love — God’s love working in and through us — has this ability.
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. In May of 2020 he transitioned into a continuing role as General Overseer of Times Square Church, Inc.