In 1989 I traveled to eastern Canada, conducting evangelistic meetings and testifying of the goodness of God in various churches that were in need of encouragement. Now when you return home from any season of traveling, you usually expect to find some personal rest and comfort. The last thing you expect to find is your house burned to the ground.
The fire department said it was one of the most incredible fires they had ever seen. Other than the chimney, there was absolutely nothing left. Everything had collapsed into the foundation, and not a single wall was left standing. It was a complete and total destruction of my home.
It was in this house that my family and I had learned to have faith to trust God for the impossible. We not only fed people beyond our natural means, but we were fed supernaturally as well. Now, suddenly, everything was gone. All the comforts, all the pictures of our children, all the work I had done to renovate the old log farmhouse, everything that we had accumulated up until that point — all gone.
At that moment, it would have been easy for me to stand in my yard and cry out, “God, is this how you reward me for taking in the homeless? Is this what I get for praising you, for living for you, for traveling to testify about you? You decide to take away everything that we have?” The enemy’s prime time for planting doubts in our mind regarding God’s goodness is right in the midst of our most intense trials. That is when we must make a choice.
As I stood before the embers of my house, I chose to trust God. I chose to believe that everything he allows is for a reason. In hindsight, I now realize that God knew I would be moving to New York. He also knew that certain things had to happen; certain things needed to be taken away from me. A deep trust had to be birthed within my heart, a personal revelation of God’s keeping power, and there was no other way to develop that kind of trust except through the fire. God knew that I would later be called to stand in far more difficult circumstances, so now was the time for greater faith to be worked into my heart. Those embers and ashes turned into a time of strengthening and great blessing.
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.
The Lord rules over all of creation with majesty and power. His laws govern the whole universe—all of nature, every nation and all the affairs of men. He rules over the seas, the planets, the heavenly bodies and all their movements. The Bible tells us: “He rules by His power forever; His eyes observe the nations” (Psalm 66:7).
This Psalm was written by David, who is testifying, in essence: “Lord, your testimonies—your laws, decrees and words—are irrevocable. They are utterly reliable.” The author of Hebrews echoes this, declaring that God’s Living Word is eternal and unchangeable: “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Think about it: There are laws operating in the universe that govern how things work, without exception. Consider the laws that rule the movements of the sun, moon, stars and earth. These heavenly bodies were all put into place when God spoke a word, and since that time they have been ruled by laws that God also spoke into being.
We’re told throughout the New Testament that this great God is our Father and that he takes pity on his children. Hebrews tells us the Lord is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, and that he hears our every cry and bottles every tear. Yet we’re also told that he is the righteous King who judges by his law. And his Word is his constitution, containing all of his legal decrees, by which he rules justly. Everything in existence is judged by his immutable Word.
Simply put, we can hold the Bible in our hands and know, “This book tells me who God is. It describes his attributes, nature, promises and judgments. It is his rule of law, from his own mouth, by which he rules and reigns. And it is a Word to which he has bound himself.”
Every earthly judge is bound to determine the case before him according to the established law. God rules and judges everything before him according to the eternal law—that is, his own established Word. When the Lord makes a ruling, he speaks by his living Word, a Word to which he has bound himself.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
When God tells us to come to his throne boldly, with confidence, it is not a suggestion. It’s his preference, and it is to be heeded. So, where do we obtain this boldness, this access-with-confidence, for prayer?
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). The word “effective” here comes from a Greek root word that means “a fixed position.” It suggests an unmovable, unshakeable mindset. Likewise, “fervent” speaks of a boldness built on solid evidence, absolute proof that supports your petition. Together these two words mean coming into God’s court fully convinced that you have a well-prepared case. It is beyond emotions, loudness, pumped-up enthusiasm.
Such prayer can only come from a servant who searches God’s Word and is fully persuaded that the Lord is bound to honor it. Indeed, it is important that none of us goes into God’s presence without bringing his Word with us. The Lord wants us to bring his promises, remind him of them, bind him to them and stand on them.
Moreover, we have been given help to approach God’s throne of grace. The Bible says we are petitioners at his throne, and that Christ is there as our intercessor or advocate. We also have the Holy Ghost standing beside us in the Father’s court. The Spirit is our “paraclete,” one who serves as our advisor. He stands by to remind us of the eternal decrees and divine constitution that make up God’s Word.
And so we have these incredible promises—of an advocate and an advisor, standing beside us—to give us boldness and assurance in coming to God’s throne.
God has promised us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
The phrase “very present” means “always here, always available, with unlimited access.” In short, the abiding presence of the Lord is always in us. And if he’s ever present in us, then he wants continual conversation with us. He wants us to talk with him no matter where we are: on the job, with family, with friends, even with non-believers.
You may ask, “So how does God bring us help in our troubles?” His help comes in the gift of his Holy Spirit, who dwells in us and works the Father’s will in our lives. Paul tells us again and again that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. We are the Lord’s dwelling place on earth.
Of course, we repeat this truth often, in our worship and testimonies. Yet, many of us still don’t take it seriously. We simply don’t understand the power that resides in this truth. If we did grasp it and trust in it, we would never again be afraid or dismayed.
I certainly haven’t laid hold of this lesson fully. Even after all my years as a minister, I’m still tempted to think I have to work up some emotion in order to hear from God. No, the Lord is saying: “You don’t have to spend hours waiting for me. I abide in you. I am present for you, night and day.”
Listen to David’s testimony: “I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved” (Psalm 16:7-8). David is essentially declaring, “God is always present before me. And I’m determined to keep him in my thoughts. He faithfully guides me day and night. I don’t ever have to be confused.”
The Bible tells us that the Lord is no respecter of persons. And because he doesn’t show favoritism—because his promises never change from generation to generation—we can ask him to show us the same mercies he has shown his people through history. Even King Manasseh who sinned worse than any king before him yet when he repented, was restored (see 2 Chronicles 33:1-20).
So, dear saint, when you fear you may have sinned too often against the Lord’s mercy…when you think you’ve crossed a line, and God has given up on you…when you’re discouraged, cast down by failure or by unChrist-like behavior…when you wonder if God is putting you on a shelf, or withholding his love from you because of past sins—if you truly have a repentant heart, then lay hold of this truth: GOD CHANGES NOT.
Bind God to his Word. Write down every remembrance you have of what he has done for you in past years. Then go to Scripture and find other instances of his “mercy precedents” with his people. Bring these lists before the Lord and remind him: “God, you cannot deny your own Word. You are the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Today we have something that the Old Testament saints could only dream of. And that is God’s own Son seated at the right hand of the Father-Judge. We know the Son, because he is our blood-covenant brother, by adoption. And we are able to claim our blood-tie to him whenever we stand before the Judge and bind him to his own arguments: “Father, I have nothing to bring you but your own Word. You promised that I would be complete in Christ, that you would keep me from falling, and Jesus would be my intercessor. You promised you would open your ears to my petition and supply all my needs. Oh, Lord, have mercy and grace on me now, in my hour of need. Amen!”
I truly believe that God is wonderfully blessed when we approach his throne with this kind of boldness, binding him to his own Word. It’s as if he says to us, “Finally, you got it. You bless me!”