It is amazing how many people want the power of Christ but not the path of Christ. They do not want to follow a Christ who uses His resources and power to help others. However, they will soon discover that following Jesus inevitably leads to a road of self-sacrifice. It is at this crossroads that many turn away from following the Jesus of the Bible.
We see in the Scriptures that multitudes came to Jesus because they were hungry and saw that He could multiply bread. Others came because they wanted to rule and reign, and they thought Jesus would overthrow the Roman Empire. What Jesus was asking for, however, was full commitment to the cause of God that was about to be unfolded in His life. He told them, “It is the spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). In other words, “What I am telling you will give you life, carry you, sustain you and keep you through difficult days.” Jesus added, “But there are some of you who do not believe,” for He “knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him” (6:64).
When they recognized what it would cost, many disciples turned away and walked with him no more. I believe this is how it will play out in our day too. When the truth of Christ is proclaimed, many people will realize that they did not sign up to be a representation of God’s life in the midst of a hostile generation. God is asking for a commitment that will take them to a cross — and suddenly it is no longer attractive.
Scripture does not say the people abandoned religion; rather, they abandoned Jesus Christ. In other words, they returned to “a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). They went back to a form of religion, and perhaps they were even more zealous than before. But all of it was powerless. They went back to powerless singing, powerless reading and powerless praying — all because they were confronted with what a life of following Christ is truly supposed to look like.
The true power of God is ultimately found in reaching the lost. Once we are determined to give ourselves for the purposes of God and for the people around us, this Spirit of power will be realized in our lives.
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.
Incredibly, many dread the sudden return of Christ. The very thought of their life coming to an end, and of having to face a day of judgment, is so frightening that they put it out of their minds. How could this be true of believers? According to Peter, their lives are dictated by “walking according to their own lusts” (2 Peter 3:3).
Peter is saying here that if you cling to a secret sin, the idea that Jesus will come and judge you is the most frightening thought any sinner could have. Hence, the thought of having to stand before God and give an account is something to be mocked.
Peter tells us, “Scoffers will come in the last days … saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Peter’s message is clear: “A mockery of God’s law is behind all the flippancy about Christ’s coming. It’s a hatred for the Bible, a despising of the Ten Commandments, a contempt for the evangelical gospel. That is the cause of all the lawlessness, the flaunting of sin, the powerlessness of the church. Mockers are preaching a new message: ‘Christ isn’t coming. We don’t have to fear a judgment day.’”
Just as Peter prophesied, those mockers are here today. They’re not mocking the law of the land; they’re mocking the laws of God. Their focus isn’t the Constitution, it’s God’s Word. And these mockers are in high places: in Congress, in high courts, in colleges and universities, even in seminaries.
The Holy Spirit knows exactly why Jesus hasn’t come yet — it is because our Lord is longsuffering. He is patient toward sinners, willing that no person should perish. In his mercy, he is waiting for the vilest sinner to repent, and for that very reason, the Holy Spirit will not let up on his assignment. Mockery will not cause the Spirit from coming again and again, convicting of sin and revealing the truth of Christ.
At the closing of this age, the Holy Spirit is making a final, midnight cry, “Jesus is coming!” “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44).
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Christ’s soon coming should thrill your heart!
The Bible makes it clear that our trials are orchestrated by God. It was he who allowed the Israelites to hunger and thirst — even though he was always faithful to his Word and miraculously provided for his people. “He brought quail, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven. He opened the rock, and water gushed out … For He remembered His holy promise” (Psalm 105:40-42).
The Father led the children of Israel into dire testings for a specific purpose: to prepare them to trust his holy Word. Why? Because he was about to take them into a land where they would need absolute confidence in his promises.
How many Christians have experienced God’s deliverance, only to be brought quickly to a place of severe testing? The fact is, all true faith is birthed in affliction and can’t be drawn out of us in any other way. When we are in the midst of a trial and we turn to God’s Word — choosing to live or die by his promises to us — the outcome is faith! Faith grows from test to test, until the Lord has a people whose testimony is, “Our God is faithful.”
Without faith, it is simply impossible to please God. You may object, “But everything you’re talking about so far is Old Testament. We live in a day of grace.” Remember God’s Word in Hebrews: “To whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief … Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:18-19, 12).
Whenever we become discouraged in our faith, we have to discipline ourselves to recall all that God has brought us through. We must remember the miracles he has provided in our hard times and rejoice, knowing he is pleased with what he has done.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Choose today to trust your heavenly Father!
On his way to Jerusalem, the apostle Paul made a stop at Ephesus where he called for a special meeting of all the leaders of the church. He told those Ephesian believers solemnly, “This is the last time I’ll see you and this will be my final message to you” (see Acts 20:25).
In his last message to the Ephesians, Paul told them, in essence, “I’ve been with you before and you know what I stand for. I have served you with humility and tears. I’ve preached in your church and from house to house — all under great trials and persecution. And I have kept nothing back from you.”
Then, with tears, he gave them this sober warning, “For three years now I’ve warned you night and day about what I see coming to the church after I’m gone. Now I want you to hear this warning one more time” (see 20:31).
What did Paul see coming? In short, his warnings were not about the chaos going on outside the church doors, but he was grieved over what he saw coming to God’s house. He warned the Ephesians about what was coming upon the ministry, upon shepherds, in particular, at the hands of deceivers who would flood into the church.
“The Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (20:28). In other words, “Bishops, overseers, leaders, feed your flocks and fill them with God’s pure Word. Savage wolves and deceivers are coming and they’re going to take aim at the weak sheep.” Paul’s deep heart-cry was, “Pastors, take heed. Be on guard for yourselves and for your people.”
Paul stated to these men, “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (20:27). What is the whole counsel of God? In short, it includes the tough subjects of Scripture, not just the blessings. It includes the message of godly sorrow over sin, of repentance, of taking up your cross, of self-denial and sacrifice, and separation from the world.
Beloved, as one of the sheep, be sure that you are sitting under the ministry of a true shepherd, not one who just wants to make you feel good. Purpose in your heart to be a servant of God who is fearless, holy and fully prepared be a part of the body of overcomers that rises up in the end times.
A precious missionary wrote to our ministry about quitting his post. He explained, “I felt as if God had brought me into a wilderness and then left me twisting in the wind. I left the ministry in utter dismay and became bitter. I now see what my problem was. I didn’t put down any roots of trust during my testing time. When the trials came, I didn’t rely on what I knew of God’s Word and his faithfulness. I forgot his promise that he would never fail me.”
In Jeremiah 20:14 and18, the prophet let loose with a tirade that sounds near-suicidal: “Cursed be the day in which I was born! … Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?”
Maybe right now you feel as they all did. You’ve been twisted and contorted by the enemy and you think, “I’ve cried out day and night but my prayers haven’t been answered. I can’t go on anymore.” Some Christians may say this is talk against the Lord and calls for a stern rebuke, but the truth is, we are able to consider only the outward man. God sees the heart! He knew Jeremiah’s inward parts and he chose not to rebuke the despairing prophet.
It was as if God said, “Jeremiah won’t quit! Yes, he’ll let off steam as he vents his confusion but he still believes my Word. It’s burning in his soul and he is going to come out of this fire with a faith that can’t be shaken. His best days are ahead of him.”
“His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back and I could not [quit]” (Jeremiah 20:9).
Jeremiah did get a second wind and suddenly he was filled with new life. He rose up as if to say, “Hold on, Satan! You can’t deceive me. The Lord called me and I know his Word is sure.” “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
That dear missionary got hold of this truth and you can, too! Whatever your specific battle is, let God’s Word speak to your heart today and bring you healing and courage.