As a true follower of Christ in this hour, you will need to contend with all kinds of voices around you — and you will fight in your mind. Every saint, with no exceptions, will engage in this secret war. We see in the Scriptures that even King David experienced this battle of the mind.
“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me … But You, O Lord, are a shield for me; my glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill. Selah.
“I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! … Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people” (Psalm 3:1, 3, 5, 6 and 8).
David wrote this psalm during a season of struggling with a sense of past failure and present weakness. He had made a terrible mistake in his life — adultery and even murder — and the consequences were dire. How difficult it must have been for David to fully embrace the fact that he was still on the victory side — that God was proud of him and the lineage of Christ would still flow through him.
We can all look back on our lives and see things we wish we had done better. Our failures and weaknesses can often instill in us a sense that we are far from where we should be, and the enemy will taunt us because of it.
The apostle Paul described a specific season in his journey when this happened: “We were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears” (2 Corinthians 7:5). In other words, voices of mocking and cursing had produced fear within his heart.
God called you to be more than a conqueror — indeed, you are to be a song of praise to His name in the earth.
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.
As the world witnesses one calamity after another and unrest increases, people’s “hearts [are] failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26). There have been many prophetic warnings about such calamities — earthquakes, famines, plagues — and interest in the rapture and end times has increased. Yet, to many, God has been left completely out of the equation. Believers have been stirred to pray and prepare, but sinners seem to shrug their shoulders. The ungodly simply are not listening.
Jesus told us that when we begin to see these things come to pass, we are to look up and rejoice, for our redemption draws near (see Luke 21:28). As Christians, we are to “set” our faith, which means to “stabilize, make unshakable.” Scripture says it is within our power to do this: “Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).
God is telling us, in essence, “When the world looks at my people in these days of trembling and anxiety, they must be able to see a faith that remains solid and unshakable. So, believer, anchor your faith! Take a fixed position and never give it up.”
The world does not need more sermons on faith. Unbelievers need to see an illustrated sermon: the lives of men and women who are living out their faith before the world. They need to see servants of God go through the same disasters they are facing and not be shaken by them.
“For by [faith] the elders obtained a good testimony” (Hebrews 11:2). When we hold our faith position through hard times, we have the same affirmation from the Holy Spirit: “Well done. You are God’s testimony to the world. Others can look at you and proclaim that there is hope.”
God takes no delight in the testing of his children. The Bible says Christ is sympathetic toward us in all our trials, being touched by the feelings of our infirmities. In Revelation 2:9 he tells the church, “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty.” He is saying, in essence, “I know what you are going through. You may not understand it, but I know all about it.”
It is essential that we comprehend this truth, because the Lord does test and try his people. Scripture says, “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined” (Psalm 66:10). The Psalmist says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
The Bible says a great deal about suffering and trials in the lives of believers. But it is important for every Christian to know and accept that God has a purpose in all sufferings. No test comes into our lives without his allowing it, and one of God’s purposes behind our trials is to produce in us an unwavering faith. Peter writes, “That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). Peter calls these experiences “fiery trials” (see 4:12).
The good news is that we can win the faith test! Paul wrote: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Of course, Paul knew he still had much work to do, but he was able to honestly say, “I may not have apprehended Christ as I wanted, and I haven’t been perfected. But when it comes to faith and trusting God through every trial, I know whom I have believed.”
Fix your eyes upon Jesus and praise God through every ordeal. Your heart will be filled with gladness as you practice praising and rejoicing over the joy that awaits us.
“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).
David is testifying, “I have one prayer, Lord, one request. It is my single most important goal in life; it consumes me and I will seek after it with all that is in me.” Make no mistake, David was no ascetic, shunning the outside world and hiding away in a lonely desert place. No, David was a passionate man of action, a great warrior, with huge throngs singing of his victories in battle. He was also passionate in his prayer and devotion, with a heart that yearned after God. The Lord had blessed David with many of the desires of his heart and he had tasted of everything a man could want in life: riches, power and authority, respect and adulation. On top of all this, he was surrounded by devoted men who were willing to die for him.
Most of all, David was a worshiper, a praising man who gave thanks to God for all his blessings. When David prayed that he might dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, he was not talking about leaving his throne to move into the physical temple of God. No, his heart yearned for something he saw in the spirit. He said, in short, “There is a beauty, a glory, an excitement about the Lord I haven’t yet seen in my life. I want to know what it is like to have uninterrupted communion with my God. I want my life to be a living prayer.”
When David inquired of the Lord and prayed, “Have mercy also upon me, and answer me” (Psalm 27:7), God answered with these simple words, “Seek my face” (27:8). That is the key! As you seek God’s face, he will bring you into continual, uninterrupted communion with the Christ of glory.
As you look at your life, are you discouraged because of failed expectations? You may have prayed for years, but the things you believed God for have not come to pass. The enemy may be whispering, “You haven’t been effective at all; in fact, your life has not made any difference in the world.”
If you are enduring such feelings, take heart, because you are in good company. Many great servants of God throughout history ended up feeling they failed in their calling. When the prophet Elijah looked at his life, he felt like such a failure that he cried out, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life” (1 Kings 19:4). He felt like everything he had done for the Lord had been in vain.
King David became so despondent over what he believed was a wasted anointing on his life that he wanted to fly away like a bird to an isolated place: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6).
Even the great apostle Paul trembled in fear at the thought of having spent his life as a useless laborer. He wrote to the Galatians, “I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain” (Galatians 4:11).
Beloved, the devil is lying to you, saying that all you have done is in vain. We know from Isaiah that the Lord knows your battle because he fought it before you. But Jesus showed us the way out of such despondency with this statement: “I have labored in vain … yet surely my just reward is with the Lord, and my work with my God” (Isaiah 49:4).
Do not listen to the enemy’s lies; instead, rest in the Holy Spirit, believing him to fulfill the work of making you more like Christ. Rise up and stand on this word: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).