The apostle Paul tells us we've been called by God to run a race. Peter refers to this race also when he tells us to gird up the loins of our mind (see 1 Peter 1:13). He's saying we need to prepare ourselves for the contest by reinforcing our belief and trust in the Lord.
We all have a heavenly calling preordained by God. Maybe the Holy Spirit has given you a vision for what your calling is. But there is probably a big gap between your high calling and seeing it fulfilled. At times that gap may cause you to despair and that’s the reason Paul admonishes us about the mind — to remind us of a certain truth about God.
God longs to show himself strong to those whose hearts are completely his. Right now you may seem to be in lack. Yet God essentially says you can do more than people who seemingly have everything: “You may think you don’t have what you need, but you don’t need the world’s resources. If you’ll trust me to accomplish my purpose in your life, you’ll see it happen faster than you can imagine. I’ll do it more powerfully, with more authority — and I’ll be glorified through your life.”
God wants to supply for you what you cannot supply for yourself. Indeed, Jesus tells us the Father longs to double our harvest. In John 4:35, Jesus and his disciples were walking near some grain fields. He pointed to the fields and said to his followers, “The fields are ready for harvest, so don’t say, ‘There’s going to be a harvest four months from now.’ Lift up your eyes because the harvest is ready even now.”
Jesus’ lesson of the harvest fields declares to all who would follow him: “Now is the time!” He is saying, “There is no waiting in my kingdom so don’t let any excuse sidetrack you. Now is the time to follow me and run your race without hesitation!”
Jesus once said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
You and I also face a thief today — one who has come to steal our future, our families, our joy, our hope, and our effectiveness on the earth. However, Jesus reminds us that he has made a way for us to have an abundant life. And so we must understand that we have the power to overtake the enemy.
The devil will try to convince you that victory is just out of reach. However, he is a liar! God has called, as well as equipped you, to overpower the devil. David the psalmist said it this way: “For by You I can run against a troop. By my God I can leap over a wall … for You have armed me with strength for the battle” (Psalm 18:29, 39).
Paul instructs us in the book of Ephesians: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). In other words, “Have strength in your inward parts. Walk in right relationship with God.” I urge you to know your Bible, for it is your weaponry!
You are not facing the enemy alone. Ask the Lord to give you a vision of who you truly are in Christ, a vision of why “even the demons believe—and tremble” (James 2:19). The prophet Elisha once prayed something similar in order to encourage his fearful servant. “‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’
Do not tremble when you face the enemy! You have the weaponry of Christ, the fellowship of brothers and sisters who are there to help, and Jesus, the great General. You are never alone!
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.
God has promised his people a glorious, incomprehensible rest that includes peace and security for the soul. The Lord offered this wonderful rest to the children of Israel — a life of joy and victory, without fear, guilt or condemnation — but up to the time of Christ, no generation of believers ever walked fully in this blessed promise. As the Bible makes very clear, they never obtained it because of their unbelief: “We see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19).
As long as Christians are surrounded by their believing friends and everything is going well, they can talk confidently about walking in victory. But when the enemy blows his ferocious winds of adversity upon them, they are cast down, pushed and pulled, with no strength to resist. Many are overwhelmed by temptation and fall. So, what does it mean to rest in your salvation and possess the rock-solid peace and security that all Christians have available to them in Christ?
Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28:30).
Jesus is speaking here of the discipline of learning who He is and what he accomplished on the cross. He is saying, “Once your soul is at rest, you can take on my yoke.” You may read your Bible and pray a little each day, but that is not enough. You must understand and appropriate the foundational truth upon which all others are built — the doctrine of justification by faith. This means pardon for your sins and being accepted by God as righteous in Christ, through faith.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Dear saint, pray that God will make this precious truth real in your spirit so that you will not panic every time the enemy brings something against your soul. Stand firm under the cross of your Savior, who provides all rest for you!
King David boldly declared, “I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:11, KJV). He repeats the exact same statement in Psalm 43:5.
Your face is a billboard that advertises what is going on in your heart. All the joy or turmoil that’s inside you is reflected on your countenance — your facial expression, your body language, your tone of voice. For example, when one’s mind is loaded down with the cares of life, the shoulders may slouch, the brows may furrow, the face may look drawn.
Many of us need to be careful of our facial expression because we could be sending the wrong message to the world. Your face is the index of your soul and reflects what is going on inside your heart.
Indeed, the very presence of Christ in your heart has a direct impact on your face! It also affects your walk and your talk. Worry can also harden a person’s face, just as much as gross sin can. We all know that as Christians we aren’t to worry — our Lord is fully aware of all our needs and problems — and yet somehow we do get stressed at times.
What does your face say to a lost, confused generation? When Stephen stood before hostile, angry men in the Sanhedrin, “his face [shone] as the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). In the midst of these unbelievers Stephen stood with the shine of Jesus on him and the difference was clear to all. In contrast, these men in the synagogue council were so angry at Stephen that “they gnashed at him with their teeth” (7:54). “A wicked man hardens his face” (Proverbs 21:29). Sin and anger are reflected on one’s countenance just as distinctly as joy and peace.
As God’s child, you know that the Lord cares for you and loves your unconditionally (1 Peter 5:7). His heart is moved toward you at all times and you can walk in glorious freedom. That should lift your countenance!
“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).
We often hear teaching on how we should come to God in faith, but there are things one should not do when coming to him in prayer. For instance, do not come to God expecting him to do any good thing unless you come with childlike faith in his promises. The Word of God is clear: “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” (James 1:6).
Beloved, it is impossible for you to please God without faith! Abraham was a man who developed a faith that didn’t stagger at what God promised him: “And not being weak in faith … he did not waver at the promises of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Romans 4:19-21).
Do not come to God with any ifs. Any promise of God is a revelation of his will. Take, for instance, God’s promise to “keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). You would not ask God if it is his will to keep you from falling when he has already promised to do it. Indeed, God gives us great and precious promises so that we will learn to trust him with boldness: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may … find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Do not come to God until you are ready to believe for exactly what you ask for. “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). If you ask God for bread, he will not substitute a stone. If you ask him for a fish, he won’t surprise you with a snake (see Matthew 7:9-10).
Believe God for your physical condition, your financial situation, your family, your spiritual growth. Appropriate his promises — they’re all yours! Amen!