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Devotions

Are You Depending on God’s Spirit?

Gary WilkersonSeptember 21, 2020

The power of the Holy Spirit comes to us in various ways. First, as Jesus says, no one comes to know him unless they are born again in the Spirit. Therefore, in a sense, God’s Spirit dwells in every Christian.

Second, we are called to abide in the Spirit, to remain intimate with him in prayer. Third, we are to be continually filled with the Spirit, to constantly drink from his well of living water. None of this means the Spirit leaves us, but rather that we have a part in our relationship with him.

Finally, there is an outpouring of the Spirit that fills us with power, something that is beyond our ability to generate. You may wonder, “If I’m born of the Spirit, and the Spirit abides in me, and I continually drink of the Spirit, why would I need the Spirit poured out on me?” We need him because he helps us understand our need for God. We could never do the works of his kingdom in our own passion or zeal. It has to come from him.

We may think God chooses the fiery person, the one who will get everyone zealous for God. But the Lord is looking for a hungry heart — one he can fill with his very own mind, heart and Spirit. That means even the meekest among us qualifies.

Jesus said when describing the outpouring of the Spirit: “Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This suggests an external move of the Spirit in our lives, something that comes from outside us. All other moves of the Spirit in us are internal — being born again, abiding, drinking our fill.

There comes a time in every believer’s life when the Spirit has to move in a way that’s external from us. We need him to do the work: to speak, touch, deliver. That’s exactly what happened when the disciples couldn’t cast out a demon. Jesus told them, “This kind comes out only by prayer and fasting” (see Mark 9:29). In other words, it required utter dependence on God. We must say, “I can’t do this in my own power. It requires God’s strength.” 

The disciples needed prayer and fasting just to cast out one demon. We are facing an entire culture that can be transformed only by prayer and fasting!

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Led by Truth in a Deceitful Age

Carter ConlonSeptember 19, 2020

In this hour, when a myriad of voices and false prophets are emerging, we must recognize how imperative it is to have a sound mind, clearly discerning God’s voice and allowing ourselves to be directed by truth. If you choose to turn to God with all your heart, he will begin revealing his Word and his voice to you. “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).

God will give you a sound mind if that is your desire. He will take you into the Scriptures and you will be established in the ways of God, able to discern truth. Soon you will get to the point where you are no longer fighting in your mind, no longer governed by your own natural thinking. This means you will not be moved by what other people are saying or by what you see in the news. You will not be overcome with fear at every evil report you hear, for you will know what is right and what the Bible says.

You will remember what God has spoken to you, and as you walk in what he says, you will live to see it fulfilled. All hell can send its deepest, darkest enemies against you, but you will have the confidence that one line of truth can send the whole crew to flight. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Or when fears about provision for the future arise, suddenly you will remember David’s words: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).

The major difference between people with a sound mind and those without will be evidenced by God’s leading in their lives. David wrote, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2). Those with a sound mind will be led by the tender voice of their Savior, and they will be given promises of reassurance no matter what they face in the coming days.

Power, love and a sound mind — that is what comes from God, and it comes only from God. Trust Him for the power to be all that he has called you to be. Determine in your heart to find his will and God will do his part to fill you with the Holy Spirit who will overpower any spirit of 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.

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Christ’s Power in Your Storm

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)September 18, 2020

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:1-3).

The Bible offers powerful warnings about guarding against falling asleep in the midnight hour. Our foremost concern should be about our personal walk with Christ. We need to ask, “How can I escape the consequences if I neglect Jesus and drift from him?”

David, the author of so many psalms, grew weary of his struggles. He was so tired in soul, so embattled and beset by troubles, all he wanted was to escape to a place of peace and safety: “My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. So I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest’” (Psalm 55:4-8).

Like David, many of us yearn for escape when we’re enduring times of fearfulness and weariness. We want to slip away to some place that’s far away from people, away from our problems, battles and struggles, where things are quiet and peaceful. And so, some turn inward, living in constant discouragement, about to give up the struggle to trust God to bring them through.

Right now, the Body of Christ is in the midst of a “perfect storm.” Hell has erupted, and Satan has launched an all-out attack on the overcoming church. Many believers are in retreat, wanting out of the struggle completely. They’ve decided, “I can’t do this anymore! I won’t leave Jesus, but I’m going to find an easier way.”

Here is a truth every believer should get hold of: we find the power and glory of Christ primarily in the midst of the storm! We all remember how Jesus manifest himself when the boat seemed to be sinking (see Mark 4:35-41). And just as he did for the disciples, he shows up in the midst of our storm, calming the winds and the waves. Indeed, his strength is given to us most in our times of weakness.

Paul testifies, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  

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Hated Because of Jesus’ Mission

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)September 17, 2020

Jesus tells the church, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

Why does the world hate the true church, its pastors and parishioners? A true Christian is loving, peaceful, forgiving and caring. Those who obey Jesus’ words are self-sacrificing, meek and kind.

Common wisdom tells us that it isn’t natural to hate those who love you, bless you and pray for you. So, why are Christians so hated? Jesus says simply, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you … If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:18, 20).

The church, ministers and believers are hated because of their mission, which is much more than telling lost people, “Jesus loves you.” You may draw back in surprise when reminded of what our mission is. Simply put, as Christians we are to take back from the ungodly what is most precious to them: self-righteousness. It is to translate them into a freedom they think is slavery.

Jesus said, “I chose you out of the world” (John 15:19). This strikes at the very heart of why we are hated. When we were saved, we got “out of the world” and accepted our mission to insist that others also “get out of the world.”

“You are not of the world … therefore the world hates you” (15:19). Christ is saying, in essence, “The world hates you because I called you out of your condition. And that means I called you out of their fellowship. Yet, I didn’t just call you out, I then sent you to call everyone else out.”

Here’s an encouraging word, though. Even though the world hates and persecutes Christ’s true disciples, we find a growing love and godly affection among the members of his church. Indeed, as the world around us grows increasingly chaotic, the incredible love of our fellow believers grows more precious.

As Christ said, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

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What It Looks Like to Love an Enemy

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)September 16, 2020

“Love your enemies … hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great … He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful … Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you … For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:35-38).

According to Jesus, an enemy is someone who has cursed you, hated you, or persecuted you (see Matthew 5:44). By his definition, we have enemies not only in the world, but at times in the church. Paul said, “Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another” (Colossians 3:12-13).

Bearing with (forbearing) and forgiving are two different issues. Forbearing means ceasing from all acts and thoughts of revenge. It says, “Don’t take matters into your own hands. Instead, endure the hurt. Lay the matter down and leave it alone.”

In addition to forbearing, we must forgive from the heart. This encompasses two other commands: loving your enemies and praying for them. Jesus never said the work of forgiving would be easy. When he commanded, “Love your enemies,” the Greek word for “love” doesn’t mean affection but “moral understanding.” Simply put, forgiving someone isn’t a matter of stirring up human affection; rather, it means making a moral decision to remove hatred from our hearts.

When Saul was pursuing David with intent to kill him, David had an opportunity for easy revenge when he found his pursuer asleep in a cave in which David himself was hiding. David’s men urged him, “This is God’s doing! He has delivered Saul into your hand so kill him now and avenge yourself.” But David would not; instead, he cut off a piece of Saul’s garment so he could later prove he could have killed him.

Such wise actions are God’s way of putting our enemies to shame. This was the case when David showed Saul the piece of his garment. “Then Saul said to David, ‘You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil’” (1 Samuel 24:17). Because of David’s actions, Saul’s bitter heart toward him melted.

That is the power of forgiveness — it puts hateful enemies to shame, because the human heart can’t understand such a purely loving response.

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