The Holy Spirit prompted me to read Exodus 12, which contains the account of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
On the door of every Israelite home, the blood of a lamb was stricken on the two side-posts and lintel. This was to protect God’s people from the passing angel of death. When the day came, a multitude of Israelites marched out of captivity, including 600,000 men plus women and children. “On that very same day . . . all the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:41).
In the next chapter, I stopped at verse 3, which reads: “For by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place” (13:3). God’s people were delivered by the Lord’s strength alone, not by human means.
David declares, “God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. . . He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me. . . He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (2 Samuel 22:33, 17, 18, 31).
Our faith and strength may grow weak, but in our times of weakness God has given us marvelous promises to renew and strengthen us.
Beloved, do you believe our God is strong? If He is strong, no power can stand before Him. Therefore, commit everything into His mighty hand of strength and power. He will make a way. Most of all, believe this word: “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:3).
Jesus said to His disciples, “The fields are white, ready to harvest.” The harvest is an ingathering of souls in the last days and the law of the harvest is that the darker the days, the whiter the harvest. Right now, many souls are ripe for harvest all over the world.
But there is another harvest in these last days. The Lord was speaking prophetically about what He foresaw coming in our time: a harvest of golden-ripe faith in the hearts of His people. Our Lord wants a tested, suffering people who will rise up in the midst of distress and trouble and proclaim, “I trust my God!”
Jesus does not expect faith from the worldly crowd. When He wondered aloud, “Will I find faith on the earth when I return?” He was not speaking of sinners. But we who love Him are also told, “He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him” (Psalm 32:10). God promises that His goodness is “laid up . . . for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men” (31:19).
I can say with the Psalmist David, “I have known trouble, much suffering, financial need, the sorrow of the death of loved ones, the slander of those I loved who turned against me. I have known personal pain. There were times I thought things were hopeless. Times of temptation. Times of weeping until no tears were left.”
Some of my suffering was self-imposed, caused by ignorance or foolishness. But now I can boldly testify: God has never failed me. Through all the trouble, pain and sufferings, I have come through with joy and a strong trust in the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. Here is the testimony He desires to hear from all of His tested children: “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice . . . and shout for joy, all you upright in heart” (32:11).
Growing numbers of Christians are no longer fully satisfied with Christ. The Lord is being dethroned by what He Himself called thorns — which He defined as the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the lusts of other things entering into the heart. Christ said these are the thorns that choke the Word and cause it to become unfruitful (see Mark 4:7).
Is the Lord more on your mind today than a year ago? Do you spend more time in His presence today than a year ago? Is your passion for Him growing or withering?
Many of those who were once passionately in love with Christ now run about pursuing their own interests. They’re burdened down with stress and problems, chasing after riches and the things of this world. They have grown cold or lukewarm, and they have less and less time for Jesus. The Lord and His church now get only an hour of their time — on Sunday mornings.
Jesus said, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered” (John 15:6). In other words, that person is drying up, no longer drawing life from the true vine. He is deceived by thinking all is well, because he still speaks the language of the intimacy he once enjoyed with Christ.
The Holy Spirit is calling people back to their first love. Back to hungering and thirsting for more of Christ. Back to spending quality time in His presence; loving His Word; casting all cares upon Him; depending on Him for guidance.
Christ yearns for His beloved to return to Him with love and obedience. The Holy Spirit is stirring our hearts to draw us closer to Himself.
God told the prophet Amos, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. . . Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:21, 23-24). God is saying to every generation, “It’s not the song or the sound that I seek from you. It’s the righteousness that flows from your worship and the deeds it stirs you to do in My name.”
We can no longer measure a song’s power by its entertainment value or any other manmade standard. We measure it by whether it calls forth what the Holy Spirit wants for His Body in that moment. Our worship is to be an everflowing stream of His righteous presence. Thus, we dare not allow on stage those “who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp . . . who . . . anoint themselves with the finest oils” (Amos 6:5-6). This speaks of leaders we anoint based solely on their talent, skill, and cleverness. God is calling us to clear the stage of any standard other than this: “Surely you are in this place, O God!”
I speak to myself when I say to all pastors, “Do we place more confidence in strategies, structures and programs than in God’s leading? If so, we need to clear the stage of such things.”
Churches may have all the makings of a dynamic body. We may make sure every sermon is tightly articulated, every song perfectly tuned, every espresso machine filling people’s cups — but it’s all worthless if God’s presence is nowhere to be found.
It is time to discard surveys that ask people what they want from church rather than asking what God wants. If surveys dictate our direction, we may as well take down our sign that reads CHURCH because we won’t be one. We’ll be a professional organization that seeks success based on market demands. And that’s not the gospel!
Once you are determined to set things in order in your life, don’t be surprised if the enemy comes and tells you that you are not going to make it. Even Jesus had to face these lies, but He knew it was only a fox trying to destroy the fruit of the vineyard that God had given Him.
The Scriptures tell us of a time when “some Pharisees came, saying to [Jesus], ‘Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.’ And He said to them, ‘Go, tell that fox, “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected”’” (Luke 13:31-32, NKJV).
“Perfected” means that He will reach His goal. The devil will no doubt attempt to get you off course, saying, “This pathway is too hard for you. Take an easier way. You don’t have to do things God’s way!” Yet notice Jesus’ response, “No! I cast out demons and healing is flowing. And on the third day I am going to attain my goal by the power of God!”
You, too, have the power to speak to the foxes in your life: “I will entertain you in my life no longer! By the grace of God, I will be rid of you. I have been given power to confront evil,and healing is flowing through my life. I am not bringing something to my workplace that calls itself Christianity but stinks as I pass by. No, I am bringing that sweet presence of God with me everywhere I go! I am going to finish my journey, and I am going to reach the full potential of what my life is called to be! No little fox is going to drive me from the plan of God for my life!”
Speak to the foxes and then trust the Lord for His grace and provision!
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.
During my prayer time the Holy Spirit led me to Psalm 56. This word is meant for those who have been wounded — whether by family, friends, or the words and actions of the ungodly.
It is a word also for those who love the Lord yet who shed tears and carry burdens that seem to grow heavier by the day. Some believers wake up every morning under a cloud of fear and despair. Financial problems can crush and frighten. Others face serious health battles and insufferable pain. Some grieve over family members who are in deep trouble, perhaps in rebellion against the Lord.
Hear the blessed Word of God directed to you in your hour of need:
Psalm 56:3: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. [I shall not be afraid].”
Psalm 56:4: “I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?”
Psalm 56:8: “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle: are they not in Your book?”
Psalm 56:9: “When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back: this I know, because God is for me.”
Psalm 56:13: “For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”
These are anointed words from the Spirit of God. I encourage you to pray over each verse listed and lay claim to it by faith. The Lord knows all about your struggles and pain. He knows every detail of your situation, and He hears even the unspoken cries of your broken heart.
In Acts 3:19 Peter speaks of “times of refreshing” that would come from being in the Lord’s presence. I am convinced that even now, amid times of global turmoil, the Church is experiencing such a time of refreshing. It is an event in which Jesus is manifesting His presence worldwide.
Yes, there is much spiritual deadness and dryness in many churches. Multitudes of believers have compromised their walk with Jesus, while others have gone mad after worldly pleasures.
But something glorious is happening all over the world, even in Islamic nations. There is undeniable evidence that the Holy Spirit is hovering over nations, and the awesome presence of Christ is manifesting powerfully. It is happening throughout Russia, China, South America, Africa, Asia and nearly every nation on earth. God is stirring people in Mongolia and in the former Soviet states. In India the Spirit of God is mightily at work.
I hear of such times of refreshing touching various towns and cities in the United States. Pastors are growing desperate for a true manifestation of God’s presence in their churches.
This refreshing of Christ’s presence is the result of exaltation of Him alone — not signs and wonders, not spiritual gifts, not “revival” that soon fades. This is a last-days revelation of the glory and power of Christ. Many write to me saying they go to church yearning to experience the actual presence of Jesus. They want to hear from a shepherd who has been shut in with the Lord. They don’t want any more entertainment, showmanship or empty methods. Now they are crying, “Give me Christ. Give me the melting, healing, awesome presence of Jesus.”
May this be the heart-cry of all God’s people in these days.