'Tis the Season of Encouragement

Carter Conlon

During this season, we see so many people, young people especially, who have lost heart and lost hope. They don’t see any reason to go on living; they don’t see a purpose for the future, and it’s really one of the modern-day tragedies of our times.

If you turn to the gospel of Luke, it talks about how God came to each one of us. Angels announced Christ’s birth to shepherds, and then “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (Luke 2:13-14, NKJV). Think about this for a moment! The God who created us and the universe, who could destroy it all with a thought of his mind; but what does he do with all of his might, glory and righteousness? He comes down to earth, to a little town called Bethlehem, because he was not willing to destroy his creation.

Jesus himself stated this. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Who could deliver Paul from his body of death? Who could deliver Elijah from his despair and desire to die?

Sometimes we rush ahead, though; we don’t just take life day-by-day and ask for the strength to face this day. God, though, walks with those who walk with him. He gives strength and provision, and we become a new creation.

We don’t become religious; we become a new person. How many of you are a different person than you were even a year ago? You’re living in the miraculous now. I know I don’t stand here by any natural ability. I know I stand by something God gave to me when I chose to walk with him. There’s no limitation to what can be done or endured when God is at the very center of our lives.

This is not a season to be discouraged if you know God or even if you want to know God. This is a season of joy which no man can take from us if we entrust ourselves to Christ! That’s why the angels sang ‘Joy to the world!’ We have peace with God.

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.

My Promise Is All You Need

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Sometimes the moments of our lives that seem like they should be our brightest can bring us the greatest tribulation and testing trials. Faith, especially at these times, is very demanding. It demands that once we hear God’s Word, we obey it. It doesn’t matter how big our obstacles may be, how impossible our circumstances. We’re to believe God’s Word and act on it. The Lord says, “My promise is all you need.”

Like every generation before us, we also wonder, “Lord, why am I faced with this test? It’s beyond my comprehension. You’ve allowed so many things in my life that don’t make sense. Why is there no explanation for what I’m going through? Why is my soul so troubled, so filled with great trials?”

How does the Lord answer our cries? He sends his Word, reminding us of his promises. He says, “Simply obey me. Trust my Word to you.”

Please don’t misunderstand me. Our God is a loving Father. He doesn’t allow his people to suffer indiscriminately. We know he has at his disposal all the power and willingness to make every problem and heartbreak go away. He can merely speak a word and rid us of every trial and struggle.

Yet, the fact is that God isn’t going to show us how or when he’ll fulfill his promises to us. Why? He doesn’t owe us any explanation when he has already given us the answer. He’s given us everything we need for life and godliness in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is all we need for every situation life throws at us, and God is going to stand on the Word he has already revealed.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus stood up before a synagogue and read from the book of Isaiah, “’The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ …And he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Luke 4:18-19, 21).

We have that promise today. We have had healing for our broken hearts, liberty from our captivity and new sight given to us. We simply must hold to Jesus’ promise by faith.

Waiting for Promises by Faith

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

When God says to humankind, “Believe,” he demands something that’s wholly beyond reason. Faith is totally illogical. Its very definition has to do with something unreasonable. Scripture tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV). We’re being told in short, “There is no tangible substance, no visible evidence.” Despite this, we’re asked to believe.

I’m addressing this subject for an important reason. Right now, all over the world, multitudes of believers are bowed low in discouragement. The fact is that we’re all going to continue facing discouragement in this life, yet I believe if we understand the illogical, unreasonable nature of faith, we’ll find the help we need to get through.

Consider the faith that was demanded of Simeon. “Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:25-26, NKJV). The Messiah had been promised to God’s people since the beginning of Genesis, and the last record of God speaking to the prophets before Jesus’ birth was 400 years earlier.

Simeon was an old man by this time, and he must have struggled with whether he had heard God correctly. What God asks of you may sound unreasonable. He asks that we trust him when he gives no evidence of answering our prayer, when the situation seems hopeless and we are sure it is all over.

Simeon held on to faith, and when he held the infant Christ in his arms, God gave him another gift: a supernatural understanding of Jesus’ mission. “Lord, now You are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

The Lord tells us, “Trust me.” Illogical? Yes, but for centuries the Lord has proven he is always on time. God always comes through in perfect Holy Ghost timing.

An Ever-Increasing Outpouring

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

In the last days, the church of Jesus Christ will be more glorious and victorious than in its entire history. The Lord’s true body isn’t going to weaken and sputter. No, his church will go out in a blaze of power and glory, and it will enjoy the fullest revelation of Jesus that anyone has ever known.

There is coming forth a body of believers who will swim in the rising waters of the Lord’s presence. This is what God is showing us in the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of rising waters (see Ezekiel 47:3–4). In the latter days, there will be an increase of God’s presence among his people. This growing flow of water is the image of Pentecost when the Holy Ghost was given to the disciples. Along with this gift of the Spirit, Christ’s followers were given a promise that he would be a river of life springing up within them, and that river would flow out into all the world (see John 7:38–39).

The river of life will crest just prior to the Lord’s coming. This is foretold in the vision given to Ezekiel. In that vision, the Lord was carrying a measuring rod and paced off 1,000 cubits, about one-third of a mile. At that distance, the Lord and Ezekiel began walking in the water which at this point was ankle high. The Lord kept urging the prophet onward, deeper and farther into the water. After another 1,000 cubits, the water came up to their knees. Ezekiel says that when he stepped to the edge of this measure, the water was too deep for him, too overwhelming. I can only imagine this man’s wonder! He could only envision what we now enjoy.

Maybe you’ve experienced the presence of Jesus abundantly. You may be thrilled by your present revelation of him. Yet, I tell you, you haven’t seen anything in comparison to the increase that’s coming to the righteous. Christ is going to open our eyes and wonderfully appear in our midst.

The Spirit will reveal Jesus to us, pouring out on us as much of his life as we can possibly stand without already being in glorified bodies. What a magnificent promise!

Our Savior Still Prays for Us

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I don’t think any of us can comprehend the great conflict raging right now in the spiritual realm. Nor do we realize how determined Satan is to destroy all believers who have fixed their hungering hearts firmly on Christ.

In our Christian walk, the moment we cross that line into a life of obedience to God’s Word and dependence on Jesus alone, we become a threat to the kingdom of darkness and a prime target of demonic principalities and powers. The testimony of every believer who turns to the Lord with all his heart includes the sudden onslaught of strange and intense troubles.

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus introduces this subject of the sifting of saints. “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32, NKJV). In Christ’s day, grain workers used a sieve just before they sacked grain. They shoveled wheat into a square box covered with netting then shook it violently. The grit and dirt fell through the netting until only the grain kernels remained.

There are trials, and then there is sifting. I see sifting as one major, all-out satanic onslaught. It is usually compressed into a short but very intense period of time. For Peter, the sifting would only last a few days, but those days would become the most faith-shaking, shocking and remorseful days of his life. It could have destroyed his witness once and for all.

Thank God, Peter’s faith did not fail. As surely as Jesus prayed that his “faith fail not,” he prays for us in the same manner. The Lord gives all of us that kind of love!

In our walk with God, we have yet another ‘It is written’ with which we can do battle against Satan. It is this: “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail.” You can tell the devil, “You may have gotten permission to sift me, to try to tear at my faith; but you need to know this: My Savior is praying for me!”