At one point in his walk of faith, the apostle Paul said, “The Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me that bonds and afflictions await me” (see Acts 20:23). Indeed, throughout Paul’s entire life, his afflictions never let up. You may wonder, “How can this be? The God we serve is almighty and victorious. He only has to speak a word and make it possible for us to go through life in triumph, with no troubles at all. So, why would our loving Father permit his people to suffer?”
Paul responds to such a question, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Paul is saying, in essence, “The suffering we go through on this earth is only momentary compared to eternity.” And right now, as we endure our suffering, God is producing in us a revelation of his glory that will last forever.
Paul had a great revelation of Christ, an incredibly strong faith, and abundant spiritual knowledge. And it all came to him through manifold suffering. Time after time he was beaten, robbed, cast into prison, shipwrecked and even buffeted and frustrated by the devil himself. He wrote, “Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us” (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
Paul understood that in everything he endured, the Holy Spirit was teaching him things he couldn’t learn any other way. “I, Paul … now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ … to fulfill the word of God” (Colossians 1:23-25). The apostle is saying here, “God is giving me something for you through this trial. He’s revealing to me a truth that’s been hidden throughout the ages, and that truth is Christ in you, the hope of glory. His power is working mightily in you” (see verse 29).
This man had his own full, glorious revelation of Christ; one of the great secrets of Paul’s spirituality was his readiness to accept whatever condition he was in without complaining. Your current situation may become hell on earth, draining you of every tear. But if you're faithful to remain in it—if you honor God's word, believing him for endurance—he'll change you dramatically into a truly spiritual person.
The prophet Ezekiel moved mightily in the Spirit and the Lord gave him a vision that holds a timely message of spiritual awakening for the church today. As was true of most Old Testament prophets, Ezekiel served Israel’s king, which meant traveling with the king’s army and witnessing the horrors of war. But Ezekiel received a vision so terrible that it surpassed anything he had ever witnessed in real life.
God told Ezekiel, “Sit down, I have something to show you” (see Ezekiel 37:1). The Hebrew word for “sit down” as used here is the same word found in Luke 24:49 when Jesus instructed his disciples, “Stay [sit down] in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” The meaning in both instances is, “Lay down your plans and strategies and then wait on me to fill you with my power.”
In Ezekiel’s vision, he was led into a valley filled with dry bones: “[He] set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many … and behold, they were very dry” (37:1-2). What a terrible scene — a vast stretch of land filled with skeletons as far as Ezekiel could see. As Ezekiel surveyed the scene in front of him, God asked, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (37:3). And Ezekiel responded, “O Lord God, You know” (same verse). Ezekiel’s answer was one of complete trust — just the answer God was waiting to hear.
You may be experiencing many difficult things in your life and, if so, Christ asks the same question of you today: “Can the dry bones of your situation come to life? Do you believe it can happen?”
God told Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones that they might live and he asks the same of us. Once our faith is engaged, he calls us to action, to speak life into our families and our various challenges. “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live” (37:6).
Out of chaos, Jesus produces life; out of ashes, he produces beauty. And into a horrific situation that the enemy means only for destruction, Jesus breathes new life!
The Bible warned that there will be unspeakable darkness and a great falling away in the last days before Christ returns, but most of us probably never thought we would live to see a day of moral decay quite like this.
Before David became king, he lived in a season when his own nation was in fearful spiritual decline. Self-will and false spiritualism, under King Saul, were on full display, leading the nation toward what inevitably would become certain defeat without divine intervention. David soon found himself being pursued by an army that hoped to cast off all that represented God. Of course, we know that David ultimately ended up being someone who made a difference.
What are we supposed to do in these days? We must pray for deliverance from the spirit of the age. “Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts” (Psalm 140:1-2). In this psalm, David was referring to those who were looking for a solution in human terms. David was the Christ-type of his generation, and he felt called to something higher than the petty violence and grievance of his generation.
We, too, must pray for deliverance from the spirit of this age, saying, “Lord, I do not want to be part of the problem but part of the solution. Help me to get my mind back on spiritual things. Get me away from the media and anything that might poison my spirit and cause my speech to lose its effectiveness as it becomes exactly the way of the world. Give me your Holy Spirit! Give me your thoughts, your mind, your compassion for the multitudes. Help me to love even my enemies.”
In the natural, we are on the weaker side; but in the spiritual, we are already more than conquerors. We are seated at the right hand of Almighty God, the one who already destroyed the power of darkness and sits in all power and authority. We have direct access to the throne of God with power to push back the darkness and believe that there will be victory and rejoicing in the days ahead!
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.
Satan has turned his wrath on the church of Jesus Christ and he has reserved his worst rage for believers who keep God’s commands and trust in Him. The devil knows this war is his last chance, because only a short time remains before Christ returns for his Bride: “The devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12).
Satan’s aim is to tempt God’s people to rebel against God, just as he did Adam and Eve. So, how does this apply to you and me? Satan isn’t interested in turning us into degenerates. All he wants is for us to rebel in just one area, which will allow him enough room to get a foothold. He has his principalities and powers on alert to provide him with intelligence reports on us — they read our actions and hear our conversations. And when they pick up on a fleshly weakness, they aim all their temptations at that weak area.
Paul warns, “Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man … and be renewed in the spirit of your mind … nor give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:22, 23, 27). The price of an overcoming life is no small matter; it means subjecting our lives wholly to God’s Word, with no dark places, hidden lusts or rebellion. There is power in God’s word — through it he brought all things into being and continues to produce life. By his word, God pulls down kings and raises up nations, and through it he blesses and saves, judges and destroys.
Do not give Satan one inch of ground — that’s all he needs to gain entrance and establish a power base.
Here are a few areas to be mindful of in keeping a strong defense against the enemy:
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20). When the flood crashes in and you’re overwhelmed, enter into the very presence of God on his throne, because the Lamb has made a way for you, through his blood.
Today’s children are plagued by sex, drugs, alcohol, greed, and violence at a young age. Our judicial system has shut God out of our schools, yet we cannot blame our corrupt school systems for damning our children — our entire society is experiencing a moral collapse.
All parents should memorize this covenant promise: “Hear now, O Jacob My servant, and Israel whom I have chosen. Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you: ‘Fear not … for I will pour water on him who is thirsty. And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessings on your offspring; they will spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses’” (Isaiah 44:1-4).
This word of promise to Israel is also meant for us today. Its words of comfort are given to all who are chosen (verse 1), which means all who are in Christ. God’s glorious, binding, covenant promises are to his righteous ones. The promises are:
Parents today need more wisdom and discernment than at any time in history. Satan has wicked inventions and subtle disguises to use against our children and God has made parents the guardians of the home.
God says your children will testify, “I am the Lord’s” (44:5). What an incredible promise — yet these promises are not for everyone who merely says, “I am of Christ.” They are only for hungering, thirsting parents; those who drink in God’s Word daily and pray regularly, asking the Spirit to pour out on them his power and presence. Claim these promises today and then bathe your home and your children in prayer.