The Lord touches every servant who is faithful in prayer. He seeks out those who are willing to discipline themselves in order to hear his voice. The Bible calls this attitude “setting the heart.” Daniel writes, “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3).
Daniel then tells us, “Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God … the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering” (9:20-21). In short, Daniel is saying, “God touched me while I was seeking him in intense prayer.”
Daniel makes it clear that he did not get his understanding of God’s Word by studying under learned men or gain his knowledge of future events from Babylon’s institutions. Nobody could teach him to interpret dreams that were supernaturally given. No, Daniel declares, “While I was speaking in prayer … he informed me, and talked with me, and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand” (9:21-22).
Simply put, Daniel’s prayers brought forth a word from God’s throne (see Daniel 10:12 and 14). What kind of prayer was Daniel engaged in that prompted such a visitation? Scripture tells us he had spent three weeks in utter brokenness: “I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all” (10:2-3). For twenty-one days Daniel humbled himself and set his heart to receive divine understanding.
During this time, Daniel was making a declaration of war: “Lord, I won’t leave your presence until I discern what you are doing.” Right now, God’s people need a word from heaven as never before. Never in history have so many multitudes been left weary and sick from dead, dry sermons.
You may say, “Well, I can’t spend hours a day praying.” But you can “set your heart” to talk with the Father daily and worship him in your heart constantly. Your discipline in humble and broken prayer will bring great rewards.
Any Christian will tell you, “Jesus died for my sins.” They know certain parts of the story — that Jesus died and rose again — but I’ve learned that few can tell you what his resurrection means in their daily life. They fail to apply God’s powerful truths to the way they live and believe, and that makes all the difference in the world.
What is the purpose of the resurrection? Most of us associate it with eternal life, but not with daily life. How is the resurrection significant in your marriage, your job, your family? How does it affect a life inundated by more than 200 data messages per day, a life harried by errands, chores, obligations, demands?
Paul reminds us that Christ’s death, burial and resurrection are of first importance: “It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25, ESV, my emphasis). So, what does Paul mean when he says Jesus was raised so that we might be justified?
Justification has to do with newness of life. Without it, we would be stuck in an unchanging cycle of sin and forgiveness. Think about the weight that sin carried in our lives. Shame, guilt, condemnation come with everyday life; we can’t get away from it. Yet Paul tells us that Jesus was “delivered up” to cleanse us of these very sins.
This verse tells us that not only are our trespasses gone, but we are justified, meaning that it’s as if we had never committed those sins. Now we are a delight in God’s eyes, resurrected into newness of life every day!
What a great and powerful truth. Yet Christians often don’t experience this newness in everyday life. Jesus finished the work, he rose again, and he has blessed us with newness of life. In claiming his resurrection power, we can put it on like a suit of clothes. “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:54, NIV).
The power of the resurrection is that Jesus is alive. He breathes into us his own Spirit and empowers us to bring his good news — the blessed hope — to all who are lost and afraid.
“No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:10-12).
The Lord gives many distinct promises to defend and keep his people from evil and harm. However, how many people truly walk in the freedom of these verses? Consider, for example, Psalm 91:5: “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day.”
Often the temptations we must endure occur at the time of our greatest usefulness to the kingdom of God. Suddenly we find ourselves violently opposed in our minds with thoughts trying to push us away from what God has called us to be in Christ. In light of this, bear in mind that in a season when men’s hearts are failing them for fear, it is potentially the Church’s finest hour to rise up for the sake of the kingdom of God. This means that you and I are likely to find ourselves in places that are very undesirable to the flesh — a type of personal wilderness.
Jesus was led into a wilderness place —tempted to abandon the ultimate purpose for his life: “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2). Jesus was about three years away from fulfilling the calling that was given to him by his Father — three years away from the greatest event ever recorded in the world, when the Son of God died for the sins of the world. He was so close to the finish line, and that is exactly when the devil tempted him the hardest.
Just as Satan tempted Jesus, we are going to be tempted to abandon the cross and the call of God on our lives. Thank God that Satan did not succeed in diverting Jesus to self-focus in the wilderness. He understood his purpose and did not shrink back from the cross in fear. Likewise, in this time of calamity, this wilderness, you and I must believe in the reality of God’s promises when so many around us will be gripped by fear.
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.
Jesus loved to speak to the crowds in parables. “These things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables … that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘I will open My mouth ins parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world’” (Matthew 13:34-35).
The Bible clearly states there are secrets of the Lord: “His secret counsel is with the upright” (Proverbs 3:32). These hidden truths have been unknown from the foundation of the world, but Matthew tells us they’re buried in Jesus’ parables. They have power to truly set Christians free if they are willing to pay the cost of discovering them.
Let’s look at the parable of the pearl of great price. “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46). The merchant here was also an assayer, one who made his living by evaluating costly pearls for their quality and worth. He represents a very small band of believers and Jesus is the pearl of great price, of incalculable value.
Obviously, the pearl belonged to the Father who possessed Christ just as any father possesses his own son. Indeed, Jesus is the Father’s most valued and treasured possession and only one thing would cause the Father to give up this priceless pearl — love. He and his Son had made a covenant before the creation of the world and in that covenant, the Father agreed to give his Son up as a sacrifice for the purpose of redeeming humankind.
When the chief priests examined this pearl, they greatly devalued him. “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced” (Matthew 27:9). Think of it! The God of the universe had made his precious pearl available to all, yet these men put little or no value on him.
Beloved, God intends his pearl to be found by those who are obsessed with possessing him. It is as if he is saying, “My pearl is available only to those who place a great value on him.” Jesus offers you everything he is — joy, peace, purpose, holiness. He is your treasure, available to you in exchange for your trust, your love, and your faith in his Word.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). This familiar verse is often used as a benediction in church services, but it is more than a benediction. It is Paul’s summary of everything he has been teaching the Corinthians about God’s love.
The grace of Jesus Christ
Paul says grace will “[teach] us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). In order to live holy and pure lives, we need the Holy Spirit to shine on our souls the foundational truth of this doctrine. Thank the Lord, he doesn't judge us according to our condition. Instead, he judges us by our position. You see, even though we're weak and sinful, we've given our hearts to Jesus, and by faith the Father has seated us with Christ in the heavenlies.
The love of God
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Although these verses are commonly interpreted as being about believers, it’s God’s love that never fails! His is a love that is unconditional and never gives up. The love of the almighty God is indescribable.
The communion of the Holy Spirit
The Greek phrase Paul uses translates as “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.” At first, the Corinthians knew nothing of such fellowship, as the church was rampant with individualism. Paul even said of them, “Each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ’” (1 Corinthians 1:12). They were using their spiritual gifts to serve only themselves. The deepest work of the Holy Spirit deals with more than spiritual gifts, however. He seeks to establish fellowship among God’s people by his unifying power.
The measurement of Christ’s grace and God’s love in your life is determined by your willingness to be in full unity and oneness with the whole body of Christ. What does it mean to have unity and oneness? It means removing all jealousy and competition, and no longer comparing yourself to another. Instead, everyone rejoices when a brother or sister is blessed. And all are eager to give rather than take. Only this kind of fellowship truly reveals Christ's grace and God's love.