It All Starts with Love

Gary Wilkerson

We all understand that Jesus gave us the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV).

Now the Commission we have here is very fire-breathing and very passionate, but it’s also not very specific. It’s just kind of “Go and make disciples and teach them and train them to observe and go out around the world and do all these different things.”

So Paul helped clarify what we’re to do. More than building a program or a system, Paul wanted to build up a man. There are six aspects of disciple living that we can learn about in one part of Paul’s letter to Timothy. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:5-7, ESV).

I have six things from these verses that start with the letter ‘F.’

Number one, we can glean from this passage there is a forging of love. The second one is a faith that is sincere. The third one is a flame that can be fanned. The fourth is a fearlessness that is of faith. Number five is a following of a pattern. Number six is a fellowship of fire.

These are six things that I hope will build your heart to become that kind of disciple that Jesus so longs for you to be and that I believe you desire to be as well.

How we begin being a disciple or making a disciple does not start with power or authority or a job. The first movement in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ is to love one another. “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Start by simply loving one another.

With God in the Storm

Carter Conlon

I think the kindest thing the Lord can do for his church is put us in a place where we must pray, a place where we need one another, where we finally realize that it doesn’t matter what denomination the other person is from because we are all in the same boat together, fighting the same fight. That is the great kindness of the Lord.

God is doing this for the honor and glory of his name. He is doing it to bring his church back to strength again, to take away what has weakened her, to instill in her a right focus so that the power and virtue of Christ can begin to flow from her again.

His bride will once again speak with authority in her mouth, direction in her eyes and gladness in her heart. It is the mercy of God that he brings hardship and suffering upon us, stripping us of our comforts. Yes, judgment is coming on the entire world, but mercy precedes and triumphs over judgment (see James 2:13). God is willing to bring us to a place of realizing our true condition. How tragic it would be for us to live as if everything is fine only to discover that we missed the whole purpose, stopped short of the gateway to eternal life and lived a cultural Christianity with no reality behind it?

Scripture says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7-8, ESV).

If we choose not to humble ourselves and to allow the Lord to deal with these issues in our hearts now, one day we will have to face what will clearly stand as a just judgment.

When you look around and see everything starting to fail, take heart! We are about to meet with God in the midst of the storm. Don’t allow your fear of the waves to cause you to miss out on what he has to say to you!

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.

Governed by the Word of God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

If Christ reigns as the supreme authority over his kingdom and we are his subjects, our lives must be governed by him. What does it mean, exactly, to be governed by Jesus? According to the dictionary, to govern means “to guide, to direct, to control all actions and behavior of those under authority.”

Jesus must be allowed to control all of our actions and behavior, including our every thought, word and deed. The Bible tells us, “He rules by his power forever; his eyes observe the nations; do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah” (Psalm 66:7, NKJV), and “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).

Beloved, our God is not one bit anxious about Satan. With just one word from our Lord’s mouth, Satan will be gone forever, tormented for eternity. Therefore, we are to fear no evil. God rules supremely and powerfully in his own kingdom, the one he has established in the hearts of his people.

Jesus said, “Indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). It is within this kingdom—the realm of our hearts—that Christ rules supreme over his people, guiding us, healing us, governing our actions and behavior. The prophets spoke of Jesus’ rule throughout eternity. “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7). Yet this verse also has another significant meaning: We must always increase our submission to our King’s rule.

Can you honestly say that, day after day, Jesus’ government over you is increasing? Are you bringing your behavior more and more under his authority?

The author tells us that in the Old Testament, God spoke to his people through the prophets, but today the Lord has chosen to speak through his Son (see Hebrews 1:1–2). Jesus is God’s explicit message to us, the divine Word made flesh. In turn, the Father has sent the Holy Ghost to us today to remind us of the words Jesus spoke while on earth. Thus, Jesus governs us by the revealed Word of God. The Bible is our ruler’s scepter by which he makes his Word known to us.

If you want to hear the testimony of a man who was governed by God’s written Word, you can find it in Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Hindrances to Growing in God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

In Ephesians 4:31, Paul lists things we must remove from our lives if we are to grow in the grace of Christ: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”

We dare not skip over these issues on Paul’s list. If you ignore the heart issues Paul mentions here, you will grieve the Holy Spirit. Your growth will be stunted, and you’ll end up a spiritual zombie.

The first three items on Paul’s list—bitterness, wrath and anger—are self-explanatory. Bitterness is a refusal to let go of an old wound or forgive a past wrong. Wrath is a stronghold of resentment coupled with a hope to have revenge. Anger is exasperation, either a quick explosive outburst or a slow burn of indignation toward someone. Evil speaking is malicious, hurtful words that tear someone down.

Clamor is a sudden outburst over nothing, an unnecessary hubbub, a loud noise made for no purpose. We cause a clamor when we make a big issue out of something insignificant or cause a scene rather than trying to help or heal.

The final item on Paul’s list is malice. Malice is the desire to see someone else suffer. For many Christians malice means hoping God will punish someone who wounded them. It’s a devilish spirit, and it’s usually hidden deep within the heart.

When Paul says, “Put away all these evils from you,” he’s not talking about a quick fix. He’s describing a process of growth that takes time. At times, we may fail at ridding ourselves of these evils. If we will quickly repent and commit to making things right with the person, over time these issues will fade away. As we put away these evils, we are also commanded to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

The apostle says we absolutely must confront those sins and cultivate these fruits of the Spirit if we are to grow in grace.

Maturing in Godly Grace

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Our growth in grace can be explosive if we’re willing to work at true edification. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:29-30, NKJV). The root word Paul uses for edify here means “house builder.” That word, in turn, comes from a root word that means “to build up.” In short, everyone who edifies is building up God’s house, the church.

Paul is telling us three important things about the words we speak.

  1. 1. We are to use our words to build up God’s people.

  2. 2. We are to use our words to minister grace to others.

  3. 3. It is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit with our words.

I get deeply convicted as I read the life stories of some of the spiritual giants of the past. These godly men and women were heavenly minded, studious in God’s Word, praying often and concerned about growing in grace. What strikes me most about these people’s lives isn’t their devotion to Christ or the intensity of their prayers. It is the godly fruit that these things produced in them.

Moreover, I discovered a common thread among these spiritual giants: their main concern was to grow in the grace of a pure heart, out of which holy conversation would flow. Christ warned his listeners, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34-35).

I grow in grace when I choose to live for others and not myself. That growth in grace must begin in my home by showing my mate and my children ever-increasing Christlikeness. My home must become a proving ground where all problems, all misunderstandings are overcome by my willingness to give up “my attempts to be always right.”

Never having to be “right” has helped me enjoy the power of God’s grace as never before. All arguments, all so-called “rights” vanish when we seek to edify one another rather than trying to win some silly dispute.

Dear believer, let us grow up in grace.