“So Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). In this scene just before Jesus’ crucifixion, we see Peter weeping inconsolably, stunned by his own sense of failure. After all, he was the follower of Christ who had declared, “I am willing not just to live for You but to die for You and with You in Jerusalem!” (see Matthew 26:35). However, only a short time later Peter denied he even knew Christ, swearing with an oath to this effect.
Many disappointed, disillusioned people in the Body of Christ feel they have somehow failed God. They recall the days when they loved to pray — when they could not wait to tell others about Jesus. But something happened along the way. They feel as if they have made a mistake of some sort, and now they don’t know if their relationship with God can ever be as it once was.
Remember, Christians do make mistakes. One such mistake is substituting human reasoning for divine counsel. When you and I pray, ideas will come into our hearts. However, we must remember that they are not always from God even though we are praying.
We often assume that we know exactly what He means when He sends us out to do something. Then when it does not work out as we thought, we become discouraged or even bitter. Allowing bitterness against God to enter the heart when a plan does not move forward as expected is a second common mistake of Christians.
You may have made mistakes but God’s plan for your life has not been thwarted! So if you are disillusioned, be assured that God has not forgotten you. He has not written you off. You are as precious to him, as valuable to him, today as you were before you ever even understood who he was.
Allow the Lord to comfort you and touch your life with his mercy. Choose to believe that he has not forsaken you — that his plan for your life will be fulfilled. In fact, the best is yet to come!
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.
Temptation is an invitation or an enticement to commit an immoral act. Right now Satan is raging over the earth as a roaring lion trying to entice Christians toward immorality. No one is immune and the closer to God you get, the more Satan will desire to sift you.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2, KJV). The Lord tells us to rejoice when we fall into various trials because we are experiencing something unique. Temptation is “training under combat conditions” and it only happens to maturing Christians. God wants combat-seasoned warriors who can testify, “I was under fire! I’ve been in battle! The enemy was all around me, trying to kill me but God showed me how to take it all and not be afraid.”
Only true children of God can be tempted — sinners cannot. Rain cannot touch a body already under water and sinners are already drowned in perdition. As children of Satan, they do as he dictates and he teases them into deeper and darker pits of immorality.
Temptation is not a sign of weakness or a leaning toward the world. Rather, it is a sign that God trusts us. The Spirit led Jesus into the arena of temptation in the wilderness so that He could learn the secret of power over all temptation. Actually, God was saying to Jesus, “My Son, I have given you the Spirit without measure and confirmed you before the world. Now I am going to permit Satan to tempt you so you will see how powerless he is. You will never once fear his dominion and you can go forth preaching the kingdom with faith that Satan is defeated and cannot touch you in any way.”
We are not tempted to teach us about ourselves or show off the power of the devil. No! Temptation is allowed to teach us the limitation of Satan — to defang him and expose his weakness. And to show the power of God to deliver! Start glorifying the Lord and use your shield of faith against temptation in your life.
If we live by faith, we will not fear for the future of God’s church. “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). This pledge from Jesus has emboldened the faith of generations and it is meant to sustain us now in this generation.
Timothy is warned, “In latter times some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). In perilous times such as ours, our leaders will arise “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). Under the influence of these false leaders, many believers will grow cold or lukewarm and still others will lose their faith altogether and fall away from Christ.
Yet, according to Joel, God is going to pour out His Spirit at the same time: “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).
The Psalmist writes, “You send forth Your Spirit … and You renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30). God’s Spirit has never been depleted; he can pour out as he pleases. In the midst of calamitous times, there will be a great harvest. The unsaved are going to turn to believers and cry, “God is clearly with you. Tell me, how can I know this peace?” Our God knows the name and address of every proud and lost person and he is reaching out in merciful love to each one.
I encourage you, as a believer, to let God speak forth his promises so that others will see your testimony and be drawn to him. Trust in God’s faithful Word: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
The apostle Paul wrote, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). The phrase “children of God” is often used to describe believers but the words may be used too flippantly, with little understanding of the power and depth of their true meaning.
To be a child of God means simply to be God’s dependent; that is, “one who is unable to exist or function without help.” The child of God knows he cannot control his own life without the Lord’s daily help.
Many sinners are self-sufficient people who see themselves as high achievers — can-do people. They preach that whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve — that with the right mental attitude, a person can do anything.
The church has been flooded with self-help books of all kinds, many about winning your own victory over self, doubt, fear and loneliness. Many in the church believe if you have the right formula, you can figure out everything for yourself and solve your own problems. This attitude says, “God, you gave me a good mind so I’ll just think this through and work it out.”
Jesus once found his disciples arguing among themselves about which one was going to be the greatest in God’s kingdom and he gave them a lesson. “Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2-3).
Jesus was saying, “Forget about who will be greatest. You must rethink your relationship to me and learn how to walk in this life.” This child represented a life of total dependency, because children cannot adequately take care of themselves.
Have you learned to be wholly dependent on the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Come to him as a little child and he will revolutionize your thinking!
In the midst of a time of volatility and upheaval, how are God’s people to respond? If you have confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you need never fear. Those who are in Christ are forever sheltered by the blood that Jesus shed for them and this truth is the cornerstone of our faith. It will determine everything we think and all we do regardless of what is going on around us.
Paul assured the believers in Rome, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8-9).
What are God’s people to do when the world is barraged with bad news? When markets rise and fall and the world becomes paralyzed with fear? God gives his children a hiding place: “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past” (Isaiah 26:20).
When you are distressed — overwhelmed, laid low by affliction, concerned about the future — God says there is a place of comfort where we find composure for our souls. This secret hiding place is a chamber in your mind which Isaiah describes this way: “[The Lord] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).
When the Lord tells us, “Shut the door,” he is showing us the need to shut out the many troubling voices in our heads. We are to close the door to all thoughts about tomorrow and about world events. The Lord who has faithfully brought us this far will not fail us in the days ahead.
God be praised! He is our hiding place in times of crisis and his faithful promises are our shield of protection. Cling to them!