My heart sings with the thought that throughout scriptural history, when God wanted to do something profound, he often looked for the person who was the least able to make it happen. When he wanted to bring a prophet to the nation, he looked for a barren womb in a woman named Hannah. When he wanted to deliver his people from the hand of the Midianites, he appeared to Gideon — the least of his father’s house in the tribe of Manasseh. When he wanted to give an incredible promise to a man named Abraham, telling him that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the whole world would be blessed through him, he waited until Abraham had no possible way of doing it in his own strength.
After Solomon prayed at the completion of the temple, the Lord appeared to him at night and said, “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice … If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:12-15).
I see something of the character of God in this passage of Scripture: his willingness to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. You see, the kingdom of God is about men and women becoming all that God destined us to be; laying hold of things that are not within our natural grasp; understanding truths which our natural minds do not know; and living in freedom which any amount of natural effort cannot bring us into. The kingdom of God is about miracles and mercy!
The Lord is waiting for ordinary people like you and me to discover something about his heart. Come to him on behalf of the lost of this day and become a vital part of his overall plan.
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.
In Numbers 13 and 14, we find the language and definitions of true faith and unbelief. The ten spies who had gone up into the land had returned with a report of what they had seen. “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large” (Numbers 13:27-28). So the report was both positive and negative.
The people panicked and cried out in fear and unbelief, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we” (see 13:31). But Caleb, a quiet voice of faith, had just the opposite approach: “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (13:30).
The whole congregation joined in, “Let’s go back to Egypt and captivity. We can’t make it to the Promised Land. There are too many strong enemies” (14:1-4). But again, faith speaks through Joshua and Caleb: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land … [The Lord] will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey” (14:7-8).
God wants to know what is in your heart as a true believer. Is it fear of giants and a desire to go back to Egypt? He wants a people who will use faith to tear down everything that keeps them from the fullness of Jesus.
The enemy has no power to stop God’s people from attaining what he has for them. Satan may be using a giant of trouble against you right now — not to keep you down but to keep you out. All hell is raging against you to keep you from moving into the fullness of Christ, to a place of rest, a life of confidence and a walk of peace under his lordship.
Let your faith prevail and proclaim, “I will not fear what man can do. My enemies have no power for God is with me. I’m going in to what he has for me!”
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you” (Psalm 32:8-9).
In these two brief verses God gives us one of the greatest lessons concerning guidance in all of Scripture. First there is a precious promise to us, a foundation upon which we can build a great faith. This foundation is his willingness to lead and guide us in everything! In the beginning of the chapter, you discover that this promise is offered to a special people — those whose sin is covered and in whom there is no deceit; who have the Lord’s hand heavy upon them; who are godly and pray in a time when they may be heard; who are hidden and preserved from trouble; and who sing songs of deliverance.
Yet the Word of God says a person may be a believer who enjoys all the spiritual benefits of being a child of God and still be like a stubborn mule when it comes to submitting to his guidance. God said of Israel, “For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways’” (Psalm 95:10).
God was essentially saying, “After all those long years of receiving my tender guidance and miraculous deliverances, they still don’t have the slightest idea of the way I work! And they never even try to understand my principles of guidance.”
God wants a people who know him well enough to move at his slightest urging, but most believers do not spend enough time in his presence to know him in this way. The Israelites were mule-headed children, too self-centered to trust God with their future. They wanted a quick, easy way out of the hard places and they learned nothing from the supernatural leadings that took them from slavery to the very edge of the Promised Land.
Beloved, God would much rather lead us with his eye than with a bit and bridle. He wants us to have a settled knowledge of his ways and a constant assurance of his hand of guidance upon us.
We know what it means when we hear it said that people have “the touch of God” upon them. They may be simple men or women by the world’s standards, but they have been alone with God and they speak with authority and conviction of the Holy Spirit. The prophet Daniel was such a man.
Daniel was disciplined, courageous, especially gifted; an ordinary believer might feel he could not measure up. But Daniel is an example of a great man who was wholly human and possessed the frailties of the human condition. His story is meant to teach us how to touch God — and be touched by him.
Daniel represents God’s holy remnant in an evil time, and his captivity in Babylon illustrates our present struggle in a modern Babylon. He shows us today how to persevere in seeking God until his hand is upon us as well.
If Daniel could stay true to God in a day of apostasy and idolatry, we can do so today, no matter how wicked the times become. If he could not only keep his faith but also become so engrossed with the Lord that God came down and touched him, this too is possible for us today. The same God who touched Daniel will touch us!
Daniel’s prayer life had turned him into a man of such great faith that when he was lowered into the lions’ den, he didn’t utter a word. His faith in God shut the mouths of the lions and instead of being devoured by them, Daniel just went to sleep, resting in the Lord. When he was brought out of the den, the king attributed his deliverance to his faith: “No injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God” (Daniel 6:23).
Do you want a special touch of God on you? Then you should consider following Daniel’s example of prayer: “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications … And I prayed to the Lord my God” (Daniel 9:3-4).
The prophet Isaiah often preached about God’s vengeance against sin. He spoke of the day of doom and despair coming upon those living in rebellion, yet in the midst of one of his most frightening messages about the Lord’s day of wrath, Isaiah stopped and cried out, “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord … according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses” (Isaiah 63:7).
In the midst of all the sin, apostasy and rebellion in Israel, Isaiah looked deep into his own heart and recalled a revelation of what God is truly like. He essentially cried, “Lord, have pity on us and save us again. We have rebelled against you and vexed your Holy Spirit, but truly you are full of lovingkindness.”
God’s lovingkindness is one aspect of the Lord’s character that many Christians know little about. When David looked back at God’s past dealings with his beloved children, he tells us that it is possible to understand the lovingkindness of the Lord. The key to understanding this aspect of God’s character was simple and uncomplicated — God extended his mercy because the people cried out to the Lord. “Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the Lord” (Psalm 107:5-6). When God’s children wandered away from him, lost because of their sin, they cried out to him and “He sent His word and healed them” (107:20).
Once more, when God’s people came to their wits’ end, what did they do? “They [cried] out to the Lord in their trouble” (107:28) and he brought them out of their trouble and calmed the stormy sea.
The Lord was teaching David that he could take a look at his record of dealings with the children of Israel and discover his nature. This lesson holds true for us today. “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord” (Psalm 107:43).
You have a loving, tender Father who cares about you. He has bottled each of your tears; he has seen every need; he has known your every thought — and he loves you!