Jeremiah was a thundering prophet of the Old Testament. Every word he preached was like a sword cutting into the flesh. He angered politicians and church leaders so much they threw him into prison.
But all the time, this weeping prophet looked forward to a day when God would visit his people and change their hearts. Jeremiah knew that God pitied His people and loved them with an everlasting love.
As predicted in Jeremiah 24, Christ was sent by the Father to fulfill the New Covenant. He sealed the agreement with His very own blood and put it into effect the day he died. This means God is not dealing with our generation as he did with Jeremiah's. We have new agreement based on better promises. Jeremiah's message of Law has been fulfilled now in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And what a difference between the thunder of Jeremiah, and the mercy of Jesus.
In our Lord’s final hour, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father about his disciples. Remember, Peter would betray him within hours, Thomas would doubt him, and all the disciples would forsake him and return to their homes. But Jesus would not condemn them, as we see in this fantastic prayer in John 17:
“[Father], You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word … I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them …They are not of this world … The glory You gave Me I have given them … You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17: 6, 8, 16, 22-23).
We say, “But, Jesus, don’t you see what is in Peter’s heart? He’s going to betray you! And Thomas is full of fear and trembling. How can you pray for them to be loved when they’re so weak?”
Oh, yes, their sin grieved Jesus but the New Covenant was being ushered in and it would feature forgiveness, mercy and grace. “I will forgive their iniquities; I will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah, under the Old Covenant, preached, “Your sins have cut Him off from you,” but Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
Things are different now. Sin is still hated by God, but we have a living Savior, seated at the right hand of the Father, still praying for us. Jesus is trying to say to us, “You do not need a thundering Jeremiah to keep you from sin and the world. You need only to accept me, repent, and draw closer to me. No condemnation. No fear. Simply love me completely and you will forsake all your sins.”
God wants to break through to his people. As Scripture predicts, the devil has come down with great wrath, knowing his time is short. Right now, God’s people need a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit; a supernatural touch even greater than the one at Pentecost. The cry that is called for today was heard in Isaiah’s day: “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! … For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:1, 4).
On the Day of Pentecost, the 120 disciples gathered in the Upper Room. They had come together as one body for one purpose: the hope of seeing Jesus’ promise fulfilled: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Their cry was the same as in Isaiah’s day: “Lord, rend the heavens and come down. Let all opposition, human and demonic, melt at your presence, so the lost may be saved.” And we know what happened! The Holy Spirit fell, with visible fire appearing on the disciples’ heads. They emerged from that room forever changed and thousands of lives were transformed as a result.
Consider what God was doing in that moment. All around the world there was great darkness, yet God’s focus was on 120 humble, praying saints gathered in a small, rented room. And now, today, God is preparing a people who have stirred themselves to lay hold of him. In small churches and gatherings all over the world, a cry is rising and it is getting more intense: “God, tear open the heavens and come down. Send your Holy Spirit fire and manifest your presence.”
The only thing those 120 disciples in the Upper Room had to hold onto was a promise from Jesus that he would come. And he did come, with power unseen in all of history. Likewise today, all we have to hold onto is a promise from our Lord. He pledged to all who would follow him, “I appoint unto you a kingdom” (Luke 22:29).
Right now, the Lord is hearing his people’s cry, all over the world. As the Spirit falls and stirs our hearts, let this be our cry also: “Behold, Jesus is coming. Let us go out to meet him!”
The most important question facing God’s people in these last days is this: “Do you believe God will see you through? Do you believe he can do all that is necessary to answer your prayers and meet your needs?” This is the same question our Lord asked the two blind men who begged him for mercy and healing. “‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said, ‘Yes, Lord.’ … And their eyes were opened” (Matthew 9:28-30).
The Lord asks you, me, the church, “Do you believe I am able to direct and guide you and perform my perfect will in your life? Do you believe I am still at work on your behalf? Or do you harbor secret thoughts that I have forsaken you and let you down?” God is not primarily interested in our doing some great work for him; rather, he desperately wants us to simply trust him.
Some restless Christians want to “forsake all and get into some kind of full-time ministry.” In fact, some are actually selling their homes and businesses and packing the family off to some poverty-type ministry without a true directive from the Holy Spirit. Occasionally God is in such plans, but in most instances, he is not.
Beloved, God does not want anything you possess; he is not after your house, your land, your car, or any other worldly possession. No! He wants your trust and he longs for you to be firmly established in your confidence in him. He desires your obedience, and the Word of God is clear that he will be pleased with nothing short of your faith.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Stand still and trust in the Lord, fixed and established in your confidence in him. In so doing, you will enjoy rest, peace of mind and freedom from fear. What joy to have the assurance that you are pleasing him with your trust.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you … because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).
Paul thanks God for the fellowship of the saints; the koinonia — sharing together — that he and the Philippian church enjoyed as they walked together in faith. This fellowship in the gospel is like no other. It is powerful because it is born at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. Through him, men of many different quarters, tribes, and languages all come together as one body.
We read further: “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (1:8-10). Paul took delight in the partnership of his fellow believers —they had been true and consistent from the first day he met them. They had communicated with him and supported him when he was alone in prison, and he was deeply grateful.
Paul was thanking God for his friends who had been consistent through the years. The Holy Spirit had knit their hearts together and they had become one in Christ. Paul wanted his love for these believers to abound more and more.
Likewise, today, the Lord wants his children to be in fellowship, to love and support each other. Not only will this strengthen our walk with him, but biblical community can be a powerful witness to the world.
Do you struggle to connect in relationships with fellow believers? I encourage you to look for opportunities to relate to God’s people in a new way. Not only can you give to others, but they can enrich your walk with the Savior — and together, you can create a strong bond of faith. The Lord will crown your efforts with his blessings “that your love may abound more and more.”
After the death of their brother, Mary and Martha were grief-stricken. Lazarus had been dead for four days and quite a crowd of mourners had gathered by the time Jesus arrived. Mary fell at his feet when she saw him and when Jesus observed her and the others weeping, he “groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). Keep in mind that Lazarus and his sisters were close friends with Jesus and had hosted him in their home many times. Yet, after their brother died, the sisters could not seem to comprehend that Jesus could work a miracle.
Before Jesus’ encounter with Mary, Martha had gone out to meet him: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (John 11:21-22). What a phenomenal statement of faith! Yet, when Jesus told her that her brother would rise again, she responded, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day” (11:24). What happened? Just that quickly, Martha put the possibility off into the future. She simply could not believe for the present.
After Martha relegates Jesus’ statement to the future, he says to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (11:25-26).
When Jesus got to the place where Lazarus was, he began to weep, not only because of all the unbelief surrounding him but because he saw every situation where this scene would play itself out in the future — every person, every family, every instance where his people simply would not believe in his ability to bring life out of death.
This is the dilemma of the ages! God speaks and we agree — but only to a certain point. For example, many believers say, “I believe Jesus is coming again for his saints … someday.” But the return of Jesus is imminent and his resurrection life is for us right now. Let us genuinely believe Matthew 19:26 that says, “With God all things are possible” — today!
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.