No one needs to convince you that the days ahead are going to be more difficult than ever — you already know it. Something inside your heart perceives it, in spite of the deepest optimism that many try to generate. Everything that can be shaken is about to be shaken.
As the world’s culture is quickly spinning into something that is out of our control, we can be thankful that it is never out of God’s control. Jesus’ disciples once asked Him, “And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). In Matthew 24:4-11, not only did Jesus foretell the wars, earthquakes, famines and outbreaks of disease that are unfolding before our eyes, but he also warned that in the last days, religious deception would reach epic proportions.
The end-time strategy of Satan is clear: Divert those who are trying to find refuge during calamitous times by presenting a myriad of false Christ-options along the way. Satan himself is the author of much of the chaos in the world, and when the chaos begins to mount, he will put false signposts throughout the world that claim to point the way to Christ. Satan’s goal will be to confuse the people of God as well as the prodigals who are trying to come home to the safety of the presence of the Lord.
The Scriptures bear witness that the battles we face are common to all men. There is no temptation that is unique to you (see 1 Corinthians 10:13), including the temptation to give in to fear. Even the apostle Paul expressed this common struggle when he said, “Outside were conflicts, inside were fears” (2 Corinthians 7:5).
We see from Scriptures that in spite of some trepidation, Paul refused to draw back from whatever awaited him: “None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy” (Acts 20:24). You may have a deep sense of foreboding because of world events, but those who know God will look at what the world sees as catastrophe and be able to embrace it in some measure as an opportunity for God to give us his grace to endure. In the midst of it all, we must be able to hear the word of the Lord to his church: “Fear not!”
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. In May of 2020 he transitioned into a continuing role as General Overseer of Times Square Church, Inc.
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).
The Holy Spirit gives us strength when we release all our needs into God’s hands and trust in his might. We see an example of this kind of trust in a Moabite woman named Ruth. After her husband died, Ruth traveled back to the land of Judah with her mother-in-law, Naomi, who was quite elderly and also a widow. The two women lived together in humble surroundings, and Naomi became concerned about Ruth’s welfare.
Ruth went to work in the fields of a wealthy man named Boaz who just happened to be a relative of her deceased husband. According to Jewish law, Boaz was suited to marry her and continue the husband’s lineage, and Naomi encouraged this. God orchestrated a wondrous plan for Boaz to take Ruth as his wife, give her a child, and provide for her and Naomi.
This fascinating story is detailed in the book of Ruth, and we see the beautiful way God brought about his plan. After working in the field all day, one night, Ruth said to Boaz, “I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative” (Ruth 3:9). In short, she was asking him, “Will you marry me?” Now, this was no manipulative scheme. Ruth and Naomi had done everything in divine order. We can be sure of this because Christ’s lineage came through Ruth (Matthew 1:5).
After Ruth asked this question of Boaz, she told her godly mother-in-law what happened; and Naomi advised, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out” (Ruth 3:18). She was confident that she and Ruth had done their part, and it was time to sit still and trust God to perform what he had promised.
Ruth and Naomi relaxed and praised the Lord as they watched God work out his divine plan in surprising ways. Likewise, when you put your complete trust in God in quietness and confidence, he will never fail you.
Throughout scripture, God dispenses his grace through revelations during our trials that we could never understand in our good times. God’s goodness comes to his people in times of trouble, calamity, isolation and hardship. For instance, the disciple John was “in Jesus’ bosom” for three years. It was a time of utter rest, peace and joy. Yet, in all that time, John received very little revelation. He knew Jesus only as the Son of Man. So, when did John receive his revelation of Christ in all his glory? It happened only after he was dragged from Ephesus in chains.
John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos where he was sentenced to hard labor. Isolated, with no fellowship, family or friends to comfort him, John endured a time of utter despair during the lowest point of his life. Yet that is when he received the revelation of his Lord that would become the final element of scripture: the book of Revelation. In the midst of that dark hour, the light of the Holy Spirit came to him, and he saw Jesus as he had never before seen him.
John had never received this revelation while he was with the other apostles or even during Jesus’ days on earth. Yet now, John saw Christ in all his glory, declaring, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:18). This incredible revelation put John on his face, but Jesus lifted him up and showed him the set of keys that he held in his hand as he assured him, “Do not be afraid” (1:17).
This revelation comes to every praying, hurting servant in his or her time of need. The Holy Spirit says, “Jesus holds all the keys to life and death. Satan can never take you or any member of your family. Christ alone determines our eternal destiny. So, if he turns a key, there is a reason for it and that reason is known only to him, the Father and the Holy Spirit.”
Beloved, ask the Lord to enable you to envision Jesus standing before you, assuring you, “Be at peace. I hold all the keys and I will bring peace to your heart.”
We have all heard, “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7), and it usually is spoken with a negative connotation, but there is also a positive side to sowing: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (6:9).
A parable is a story that illustrates a truth and in the parable of the talents, Jesus focuses primarily on the good side of sowing, which is sowing to the Spirit to reap life everlasting.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them” (Matthew 25:14-19).
Briefly, the parable deals with a man who entrusted three servants with differing amounts of money to steward while he was on a trip. When he returned, he found that two of his servants had invested their money and made a profit while the third had merely buried his money for safekeeping. The master was pleased with the first two and very displeased with the third.
Jesus is “the man traveling to a far country” (25:14), and we are the servants with the talents representing our measure of grace and revelation of Jesus. We are commanded to go out and sow this revelation. This parable shows that God will have a fruitful, glorious harvest at the end. Two out of the three servants will come before the judgment loaded with fruit and full of joy — good and faithful servants — and the third will be banished.
Beloved, I encourage you to examine your heart and then become a part of God’s last-day army! He will have a last-day harvest, and only willing, faithful servants of the Lord will be part of this great gathering.
“Then He said to them, ‘Take heed that you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him’” (Mark 4:24-25).
Jesus knew his words would sound strange to nonspiritual ears so he prefaced the message by saying, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear” (4:23). He was saying, in essence, “If your heart is open to God’s Spirit, you’ll understand what I have to say to you.” Jesus is speaking of the glory of God in our lives, Christ’s manifest presence. In short, the Lord measures out his glorious presence in various amounts, whether to churches or individuals.
Jesus alone was given the Holy Spirit without measure: “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure” (John 3:34). The Lord has already allotted to each of us a measure of his Spirit. Paul writes, “To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Ephesians 4:7) and “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).
What is God’s goal in measuring out his Spirit, his glory and presence, to us in varying amounts? He has a single purpose, that “… we all come to the unity of the faith … to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
Today, cry out to Jesus, “I don’t want to miss what you’re about to do in your church.” As you give to your Savior a greater measure of yourself, you will see evidence everywhere of his presence, glory and love. He has promised to pour out his Spirit on his people in these last days, and he will be faithful to come to you and give you more of himself.