Some of you reading this devotional have taken a vacation from “fighting the good fight.” You are weary of heart and have said to yourself, “I’ve got to ease up or crack up! I’m not going to love the Lord any less and I’ll stay faithful. But I must follow my heart and my heart is telling me to relax.”
Beloved, your timing could not be worse! Spiritual relaxation or letting up is the final spring in the devil’s trap. You are choosing midnight to go on vacation. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:11-12).
If the night were far spent and the day of the Lord near when this was written, then how much nearer must it be now! There can be no relaxing in this last-days warfare. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Satan will not relax; he will increase his efforts. We dare not sleep!
All through the New Testament, God is calling us to be awake, to be vigilant and aware, and to put on the whole armour. We are not to sleep as others, but we are to be looking for and hastening the day of the Lord.
Relax in this war, and you are dead. Relax, and you are going to be caught in the devil’s trap. That call to relax is right out of hell! It is the siren call of Satan himself. Be warned because it is high time to awaken!
“Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the [traps] of the workers of iniquity” (Psalm 141:9).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John’s main audience for his gospel was the Greek culture. That’s why he immediately identified Jesus as “the Word,” referring to the Greek term logos. Greeks had been examining this concept of logos for centuries, an idea that spoke of wisdom; knowledge; reason; the meaning of life; the philosophy of human existence.
Now John challenged them: “Do you really want to know the meaning of life, to understand all human purpose on this earth? The logos you search for is found in the literal Word of God—His Son, Jesus. Christ is the logos everyone hungers for! You seek knowledge, but logos— real, knowable wisdom and life—is fully expressed in Jesus.”
When I was about twelve I overheard a newspaper reporter interviewing a Teen Challenge resident. She asked him, “What’s different about this program? What does it offer that you wouldn’t find at a secular treatment center?” The young man answered, “We get the Holy Ghost in the morning, Jesus in the afternoon and the Father at night.” That response may sound canned today, but it didn’t forty years ago. I remember the young man’s excitement as he told the reporter, “Teen Challenge is all about God. Only He can set me free this way. Only He can give me purpose and hope and make me happy. Lady, this is real!”
That’s the very word John used to describe Jesus to the Greeks: real. “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9, ESV). From the Greek, John uses the word “alethinos,” meaning “real.” The Greeks thought “logos” was unknowable, but John told them, “God isn’t hiding Himself. He came to earth to live among us. The mystery of God has been revealed to you in Jesus!”
How exactly is this mystery revealed? Jesus chooses to make Himself known to the world through His people. When John says Christ comes to dwell in us, the verb He uses means “tabernacle.” Jesus “tabernacles” in us, just as God did in the Old Testament—His glory descending from heaven to dwell among His people. He chooses to make His home in us, making us—both individuals and congregations—the dwelling place of His glory.
This was a core truth for my father, David Wilkerson, who often said, “I don’t want a visitation from God. I want a habitation.” That truth came straight from John, who told the Greeks, “The logos is more than information, more than mental assent to an idea. It is God Himself coming to dwell within you!”
Have you ever felt that something is missing in your prayers—that somehow they are not as deep or as effective as they ought to be? After all, there is a great difference between prayer that is driven by human effort and prayer that is divine and truly lays hold of God. For example, consider the prayer of the famous Scottish reformer, John Knox, who stood on a mountaintop and cried, “God, give me Scotland or I die!” Before long, people began to come out into the streets under the conviction of God.
I want to pray that kind of prayer! I want something that goes beyond merely coming into God’s presence every day with a list: God, bless my home, bless my finances, bless my mother, bless my father, bless my children. I want to pray prayers that will move men toward God; prayers that will bring the Church of Jesus Christ back to life! I want the kind of prayer that God instructed Ezekiel to pray: “Call out to the breath of God to breathe upon these dry bones and raise the dead back to life” (Ezekiel 37:9). Those are the type of prayers I want to pray!
We see in the Scriptures that Jesus’ own disciples had a similar yearning. One day as Jesus was praying, their hearts were stirred. “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).
Keep in mind that the disciples were no strangers to prayer. They had seen Jesus pray and miraculously multiply loaves and fishes. Some were even with Jesus as He prayed on a mountaintop and they saw His countenance completely transfigured. Without a doubt, the disciples themselves also prayed as they personally walked with Jesus. However, this time they saw Jesus go into a certain place to pray, and it caused them to conclude that there was still something they had to understand about prayer. I can picture the disciples getting together and nudging each other, “You ask Him!” “No, you ask Him!” There was something in Jesus’ prayer that made it evident that prayer was much deeper than they had experienced up to that point.
“Lord, teach us to pray!” one of His disciples finally implored Him. So Jesus began to teach them, saying “When ye pray, say, Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil” (Luke 11:2-4).
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. A strong, compassionate leader, he is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world.
Hair! Every hair on our heads is counted by our Father in heaven. Between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs blanket the human head. God made hair on our heads for insulation during summer and winter, not just for appearance. Our eyebrows keep sweat out of our eyes, and eyelashes protect our eyelids when dust or tiny insects get too near. Tiny hairs in the ears and nostrils filter incoming air of particles.
If we could know what an awesome creation a hair is, how full of life, we would never doubt that God numbers what He has created.
It’s no wonder David said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14).
In Matthew 10:28-33, Jesus was teaching the disciples not to fear. He had created every sparrow, formed every human body and numbered every hair. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth . . . All things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). But the disciples still did not understand. Oh, how Jesus must have longed to take them into such intricacies of how He made the wings and bones of the sparrows and how He designed the hair. No mere carpenter could figure it all out for it was so fearful and amazing!
He could have said, “Peter, what if I told you that you have 127,550 hairs on your head? Now, since you know I have numbered every hair on your head, won’t you trust Me with every detail of your life? Won’t you believe that I know every step you take?”
“Not one sparrow falls to the ground without the knowledge of your Father in heaven” (see Matthew 10:29). Knowing this, will you now be “careful for nothing”? Will you now trust Him to take care of all your needs? Will you now give no thought to what you shall eat or drink? Will you now believe that your heavenly Father knows what you need and will gladly supply it? Will you now trust Him to house you, feed you, clothe you?
While walking up a country road in New Jersey, I had a good talk with my Lord. “Lord, I can't live with fear and worry of all kinds. I want to face whatever the future holds with rest, joy and simple trust!”
The Holy Spirit quickened to me: “One of the keys to freedom from all fear and worry is found in the word sparrows. Remember that I told you, ‘One of them [sparrows] shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered’” (Matthew 10: 29-30). It sounds so elementary, so very simple—but what Jesus tells us here is very profound.
In the Old Testament, King David could boast, “[He] delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). How did David find such freedom from fear? By obtaining a vision of the greatness of “Him who made heaven and earth.” When David had his eyes on the Creator of all things, he discovered how big God is!
I want to be like David—an example of a shepherd who has learned how to be free of fear and worry, able to lead a people into that same freedom.
I did a study on sparrows and began to get a revelation of David’s immense Creator God who was interested in every tiny detail of His creation!
Sparrows! Like all birds, sparrows are wonderfully made. Their thin, small bones are strong and specially equipped for flying. Modern science still cannot copy the intricate wing system that allows them to migrate two and three thousand miles. Each sparrow has from 1,300 to 2,600 feathers. How intricate and detailed they are! Our Creator God designed them perfectly. He designed every bone, every feather—and He counted every one of them.
Most sparrows build their nests in the ground and during Christ’s time they were trapped with trip nets into which they fell while preparing their nests. In Jerusalem Jesus saw sparrows being sold on a skewer, two for a penny. They had all been trapped with trip nets because Jews could not eat those that died by themselves.
Of these birds Jesus said, “Not one of them was trapped without My Father's knowledge.” He knew where each one of them was until its little lungs took its last breath. He fed them. He knew every sparrow—even those on the skewers.