God is never caught off guard by anything that happens in our world. He isn’t surprised by the awful drug plague or the blood-bath of abortion. So what is his response in times of turmoil and depravity? What does he propose as an antidote to apostasy and growing demonic power?
God’s answer is the same as it always has been — to bring forth the victory of God in a renewed way. In Nehemiah’s day, the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins, the city a literal pile of stones, and the church was totally backslidden. The wicked powers surrounding Israel persecuted them severely, mocking every work they tried to undertake.
How did God respond in such a time of ruin? Did he send a well-trained militia to help them? Did he send a palace guard to smite their prominent enemies? No, God raised up one man — Nehemiah — who spent his time praying, fasting and mourning, because he was broken over Israel’s condition. He also continually dug into God’s Word, grasping prophecy and moving in the Spirit. He remained separate from all the wickedness surrounding him and maintained a holy walk with the Lord. And, in turn, everyone who heard him preach was purified in soul.
Soon a revival of holiness swept the land. “The priests and Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, the gates, and the wall” (Nehemiah 12:30). The house of God also was purged, with everything of the flesh cast out. Nehemiah told the temple workers, “Take out everything that has to do with idolatry or sensuality!”
Nehemiah had the spiritual authority to bring back godly fear to the temple because he had been on his knees, weeping, broken, seeking God’s heart. And because of this, he was able to confess the sins of a whole nation: “Please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant … for the children of Israel” (Nehemiah 1:6).
Beloved, this is God’s concept of revival! Every chamber of your heart that is unclean and unsanctified must be swept out — no dark places left. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Purpose in your heart to be the person of God who brings about change in the world around you.
“This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Many in the church today try to determine the nearness of Christ’s return by reading the signs of the times; for instance, the return of the Jews to Israel. Jesus clearly states that the end will come only after the gospel has been preached to all nations as a testimony.
“Proof of fact” is the definition of the Greek word that is used for “witness” in the verse above. Christ isn’t speaking of just preaching the gospel but presenting it as a testimony. He says that the gospel we preach is effective only if it’s backed up by a life that testifies to its reality.
One would think that America, with its thousands of evangelical churches, would present a strong gospel witness. In one large southern city alone, there are over 2,000 evangelical churches. But many of these churches have so compromised the true gospel of Christ that very little of Christ’s lordship shines through in the lives of the people.
Far too many ministers, both young and old, run all over the world attending seminars, conventions and “think tanks,” searching for the key to building larger ministries. Young ministry professionals are armed with charts and polls while listening to lectures on how to “grow your church.” Still others flock to “revivals” hoping to learn new methods of enabling the Holy Spirit to fall on their congregation.
As missions societies send out more workers, too many missionaries are coming home within just a few years, discouraged and beaten down because they never developed a firsthand knowledge of Christ’s lordship or the fullness of the Holy Spirit. There is a need for more qualified people to win the nations to Christ but only the presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit will bring lasting success. The gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached as a testimony — and then the Lord will come!
Beloved, your plans are in vain if Jesus is not enthroned in every area of your life. As you acquire knowledge and employ new ideas and strategies, be sure the life of Christ dwells in you.
“Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12).
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to constantly be aware that the devil is out to destroy us. Therefore, Paul says, we need to know as much as we can about the enemy's tactics and plans: “Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
The verse in Revelation tells us that Satan has declared all-out war on God’s children — and he has a deadline to complete his work. While many Christians may slumber at the midnight hour, just as Jesus predicted, the devil is working ferociously, making preparation for war. He is keenly aware of the short time he has to accomplish his evil purposes, so he is always scheming, ever devising ways to harass and destroy the church of Jesus Christ.
Satan may lie to you and give you no rest from his accusations. Jesus now sits safely with the Father, well beyond Satan’s reach, but the enemy is still waging war against Christ by directing it against believers — Christ’s seed.
Contrary to the thinking of some Christians, Satan doesn’t possess omnipotent power; he has been defeated by Jesus and stripped of all authority. Neither is he omniscient (meaning, he can’t read minds). And he isn’t omnipresent. But he does have principalities and powers stationed throughout the earth and his host of demons feed him intelligence at his beck and call.
Peter gives us this warning: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan knows your weak spots, your struggles with the flesh, and he’ll work hard on you in those areas. He will try to convince you that you’ll never be free from sin, but the instant you move toward Jesus the devil is rendered helpless. James tells us, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
So, how do you resist the enemy? You do it by faith alone! Simply come to Jesus, trusting he'll rescue you from Satan's clutches.
A scene in Mark’s gospel addresses the types of excruciating situations that can confront our faith. When sudden calamity befalls us, we may experience feelings of hopelessness and despondency.
Jairus, a devoted, God-fearing man and leader of the local synagogue, faced a crisis. His young daughter was sick to the point of death and when he learned that Jesus the healer was nearby, he decided, “I’ll put my faith in him.” Running to the Messiah, he fell at his feet and implored him fervently, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live” (Mark 5:23).
Jairus was begging for a miracle: “Lord, unless you do this, I have no hope. Doctors can’t help but I know you can make a miracle happen!” The phrase Jairus uses in the verse above — “that she may be made well and live” — denotes his faith in Christ’s ability. He believed the Lord for the impossible, declaring, “Jesus, you can.” He knew that if Christ would just touch his daughter, she would be healed.
What happens next reveals another level of faith: “And [Jesus] went with [Jairus]. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse” (5:24-26).
Here we encounter another person in a desperate situation. This woman had gone from doctor to doctor and exhausted her resources searching for a cure and her condition had only deteriorated. But when she heard that Jesus was nearby, hope sprang up in her heart and that mustard seed of faith in her heart grew. She thought, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well” (5:28).
This woman’s faith was so strong that she was convinced the goodness of God was going to perform a miracle in her body. It was rock-solid, concrete faith — the kind that believes God for miracles based on his goodness.
Do you still believe Jesus can? Do you believe he will? No matter what your trial, no matter how far beyond hope it seems, he is ready to intervene. Ask him to breathe faith into you today.
Good ideas are not always “God ideas.” We see this in the life of the apostle Paul: “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:6-7).
Just as it happened with Paul, a sincere disciple of Christ, it can happen with all of us. We may want to go certain places and do certain things, expecting God to go with us. However, sometimes the pathways we choose for our lives during a particular season may not actually be the pathway of God for us.
Paul had a vision of a man appealing to him to come to Macedonia and help them (16:9). “Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (16:10). So, although Paul had had different plans, he and his company headed off to Macedonia. On the way they ministered to a group of women meeting for prayer. One of them was an influential part of the community and “she and her household were baptized” (16:15).
Next, they encountered a demon-possessed slave girl and when she was delivered, her masters seized Paul and Silas and had them beaten and thrown into prison (16:22). This serves as a reminder that we have no guarantee that we will get a pass through trials and trouble. In fact, sometimes obeying the will of God will actually get us into trouble. But God’s plans are always far superior to our own.
In prison, Paul and Silas sang praises to the Lord and witnessed to the jailer, who in turn was transformed and baptized along with his entire family (16:33). And just think, all this started with a man appearing to Paul when he was praying at night, saying, “Come and help us.”
The power of God is always found where the Spirit leads you. Today I implore you to have the courage to say, “Lord, I do not want to live simply for my will. What would you have me do? Where do you want me to go? Let your will be done in my life.” Then watch God do miracles!
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.