A scene in Mark’s gospel addresses the types of excruciating situations that can confront our faith. When sudden calamity befalls us, we may experience feelings of hopelessness and despondency.
Jairus, a devoted, God-fearing man and leader of the local synagogue, faced a crisis. His young daughter was sick to the point of death and when he learned that Jesus the healer was nearby, he decided, “I’ll put my faith in him.” Running to the Messiah, he fell at his feet and implored him fervently, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live” (Mark 5:23).
Jairus was begging for a miracle: “Lord, unless you do this, I have no hope. Doctors can’t help but I know you can make a miracle happen!” The phrase Jairus uses in the verse above — “that she may be made well and live” — denotes his faith in Christ’s ability. He believed the Lord for the impossible, declaring, “Jesus, you can.” He knew that if Christ would just touch his daughter, she would be healed.
What happens next reveals another level of faith: “And [Jesus] went with [Jairus]. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse” (5:24-26).
Here we encounter another person in a desperate situation. This woman had gone from doctor to doctor and exhausted her resources searching for a cure and her condition had only deteriorated. But when she heard that Jesus was nearby, hope sprang up in her heart and that mustard seed of faith in her heart grew. She thought, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well” (5:28).
This woman’s faith was so strong that she was convinced the goodness of God was going to perform a miracle in her body. It was rock-solid, concrete faith — the kind that believes God for miracles based on his goodness.
Do you still believe Jesus can? Do you believe he will? No matter what your trial, no matter how far beyond hope it seems, he is ready to intervene. Ask him to breathe faith into you today.
Good ideas are not always “God ideas.” We see this in the life of the apostle Paul: “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7).
Just as it happened with Paul, a sincere disciple of Christ, it can happen with all of us. We may want to go certain places and do certain things, expecting God to go with us. However, sometimes the pathways we choose for our lives during a particular season may not actually be the pathway of God for us.
Paul had a vision of a man appealing to him to come to Macedonia and help them (16:9). “Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (16:10). So, although Paul had had different plans, he and his company headed off to Macedonia. On the way they ministered to a group of women meeting for prayer. One of them was an influential part of the community and “she and her household were baptized” (16:15).
Next, they encountered a demon-possessed slave girl and when she was delivered, her masters seized Paul and Silas and had them beaten and thrown into prison (16:22). This serves as a reminder that we have no guarantee that we will get a pass through trials and trouble. In fact, sometimes obeying the will of God will actually get us into trouble. But God’s plans are always far superior to our own.
In prison, Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord and witnessed to the jailer, who in turn was transformed and baptized along with his entire family (16:33). And just think, all this started with a man appearing to Paul when he was praying at night, saying, “Come and help us.”
The power of God is always found where the Spirit leads you. Today I implore you to have the courage to say, “Lord, I do not want to live simply for my will. What would you have me do? Where do you want me to go? Let your will be done in my life.” Then watch God do miracles!
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.
Discouragement is the devil’s most devastating tool in his attacks on Spirit-hungry saints. It has always been the enemy’s weapon of choice against God’s elect, and from the day you became serious about the things of God — determining in your heart to know Christ in his fullness — Satan has sought to discourage you. He has watched you dig deeper into God’s Word every day. He has seen you growing, changing, overcoming all worldliness, and he has made you a heavy target.
Right now you may be able to praise God loudly in church but watch out for what comes tomorrow. Satan will use his most powerful weapon to try to bring you down, so don’t think his attacks are unusual. God allows this type of fiery testing with all his saints. Peter writes, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). God’s people have been enduring discouragement for centuries.
When you’re under attack, you won’t feel like praying but you must still go to the secret place and into the presence of Jesus! Don’t try to pray your way out of despair — this is the time for God’s Spirit to go to work for you. He will lift you out of the pit!
You can be honest with the Lord and tell him how weak and helpless you feel. “Jesus, my spirit is dry and I have no strength left. I’m coming to you for help!” In such times, the Lord is very patient with us. He doesn’t expect us to exert some intense, fervent effort in prayer, so just sit in his presence and trust his Holy Spirit to do in you what he has been sent to do. He will never forsake you but you must give him time to do his work.
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Dare to believe the incredibly good things the Holy Spirit is going to tell you. The Lord has glorious promises for all who wait on him!
God says to us, “My son, give me your heart” (Proverbs 23:26). His love demands that we reciprocate, that we return to him a love that’s total, undivided, requiring all our heart, soul, mind and strength. However, the Lord tells us in no uncertain terms, “You can’t earn my love. The love I give to you is unmerited.” John writes, “We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
No one wakes up one day and decides to walk away from sin and follow Jesus. No, the Holy Spirit of God reaches down into the wilderness of our lives, shows us our lost state and makes us miserable in our sin. Our Father sent us his Word to show us truth, sent his Spirit to convict us, and then came after us himself. He did it all for us!
David expresses a rest in his love for God when he writes, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You” (Psalm 73:25). The heart that loves the Lord ceases completely from looking elsewhere for comfort. Rather, it finds full contentment in him. God’s lovingkindness is better than life itself.
Such a heart also rejoices in its love for God. When a child of God knows how much his Father loves him, it puts a delight in his soul. Our love for the Father must be conveyed through his Son. Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). It is by Christ alone that we are accepted by the Father and have access to him.
God placed all his goodness, love, mercy and glory in his son and he sent Jesus to manifest and reveal that glory to us. Thus, Christ comes to us as the express image of our loving Father. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9).
When you find true intimacy with the Father, you’ll be able to walk in his glory — all the days of your life!
Communion with God consists of two things: receiving the love of the Father and loving him in return. You might spend hours each day in prayer, telling the Lord how much you love him, but it isn’t communion unless you receive his love in return.
The psalmist encourages us to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4). Why are we given such a bold invitation and what is the reason for such thanksgiving and praise? It’s because we are shown the kind of God we are to come to: “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (100:5).
God does not come to us as a hard, demanding father. Rather, he is kind and tenderhearted, filled with love and mercy toward us. His love is unconditional and he will never turn us down when we call upon him. He cares about everything concerning us but too few Christians have laid hold of this amazing love and grace. They live in fear and doubt, with little or no hope.
True love is manifested in two things: rest and rejoicing. The prophet Zephaniah writes: “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
God rests in his love for his people. In Hebrew, the phrase “He will quiet you with His love” reads, “He shall be silent because of his love.” God is saying, in essence, “I’ve found my true love and I don’t have to look elsewhere.”
God gets great pleasure from his people. Zephaniah testifies that God’s love for you is so great that it puts a song on his lips! To “rejoice” means to have joy and delight; it’s an outward expression of internal gladness. It’s also the highest expression of love.
God foresaw all your sins and failures, yet he still loved you with tender love. If God loved you enough to give his own Son to die for you when you were still deep in sin, would he remove his love when you stumble or fail? Absolutely not! His love is glorious and steadfast — unchanging and eternal.