Body

Devotions

Strong, Spiritual Castor Oil

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God’s command to love our enemies can seem like bitter, distasteful medicine. Like the castor oil I had to swallow in my youth, though, it is medicine that heals.

Jesus states very clearly, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43–44, NKJV).

Was Jesus contradicting the law here? Not at all. He was reversing the spirit of flesh that had entered the law. At that time, Jews loved only other Jews. A Jew wasn’t to shake hands with a Gentile or even allow his robe to swish against an outsider’s clothing. This wasn’t the spirit of the law. The law was holy, instructing, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:21–22).

We can hate the immoral actions of those in government. We can hate the sins of homosexuals, abortionists and all who despise Christ. But the Lord commands us to love them as people for whom Jesus died. He commands us to pray for them. If at any time, I despise a person rather than the principle behind that person, I’m not truly representing Christ.

I have witnessed a homosexual parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Two hundred fifty thousand gays, many half nude, some with signs proclaiming “God is Gay.” I saw them break rank and jump on Christians carrying signs, “God HATES Your Sin, but He Loves You.”

I blushed with hot anger. I felt like calling Sodom-like fire upon them. On reflection, though, I said to my heart, “I am like the disciples who wanted to call down fire to consume those who rejected Jesus.”

Homosexuality is sin. So is adultery. So is bitterness and unforgiveness.

Shall we love those “in your face” militant sinners? Pray for them? Bless them that curse you? That is exactly what Jesus said to do, so do it!

You Need the Holy Ghost

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Some believers have been saved for many years, some perhaps a year, and some just a few months or weeks. Being saved from sin is wonderful!

In order to be a good soldier in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ, though, it’s not enough just to be saved. You need to be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

In Paul’s time, some believers didn’t even know there was a Holy Ghost. “He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit’” (Acts 19:2, NKJV). These people were saved, but it is clear they were not filled or baptized with the Holy Ghost.

Jesus himself did not send his disciples and followers into the world until they were baptized with the Holy Ghost. Certainly, his disciples had pure hearts. They had faith to heal the sick, to cast out devils. They had the Word of the Lord and already had been preaching Christ and gaining converts. They were witnesses to his resurrection. What more could there be? They were willing to die for Jesus. Wasn’t their love for him enough to send them into the world to do his work?

Beloved, none of that was enough. Clearly, there was more. Christ told them, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

You must know that the Spirit is still baptizing, still falling upon believers. Peter preached to the early church, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38–39).

The baptism is especially for those living in the last days. “It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…. I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Acts 2:17–18). God wants you to live and walk in the Spirit. We are all called to be witnesses who are full of the Holy Ghost and power!

It All Starts with Love

Gary Wilkerson

We all understand that Jesus gave us the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV).

Now the Commission we have here is very fire-breathing and very passionate, but it’s also not very specific. It’s just kind of “Go and make disciples and teach them and train them to observe and go out around the world and do all these different things.”

So Paul helped clarify what we’re to do. More than building a program or a system, Paul wanted to build up a man. There are six aspects of disciple living that we can learn about in one part of Paul’s letter to Timothy. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:5-7, ESV).

I have six things from these verses that start with the letter ‘F.’

Number one, we can glean from this passage there is a forging of love. The second one is a faith that is sincere. The third one is a flame that can be fanned. The fourth is a fearlessness that is of faith. Number five is a following of a pattern. Number six is a fellowship of fire.

These are six things that I hope will build your heart to become that kind of disciple that Jesus so longs for you to be and that I believe you desire to be as well.

How we begin being a disciple or making a disciple does not start with power or authority or a job. The first movement in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ is to love one another. “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Start by simply loving one another.

With God in the Storm

Carter Conlon

I think the kindest thing the Lord can do for his church is put us in a place where we must pray, a place where we need one another, where we finally realize that it doesn’t matter what denomination the other person is from because we are all in the same boat together, fighting the same fight. That is the great kindness of the Lord.

God is doing this for the honor and glory of his name. He is doing it to bring his church back to strength again, to take away what has weakened her, to instill in her a right focus so that the power and virtue of Christ can begin to flow from her again.

His bride will once again speak with authority in her mouth, direction in her eyes and gladness in her heart. It is the mercy of God that he brings hardship and suffering upon us, stripping us of our comforts. Yes, judgment is coming on the entire world, but mercy precedes and triumphs over judgment (see James 2:13). God is willing to bring us to a place of realizing our true condition. How tragic it would be for us to live as if everything is fine only to discover that we missed the whole purpose, stopped short of the gateway to eternal life and lived a cultural Christianity with no reality behind it?

Scripture says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7-8, ESV).

If we choose not to humble ourselves and to allow the Lord to deal with these issues in our hearts now, one day we will have to face what will clearly stand as a just judgment.

When you look around and see everything starting to fail, take heart! We are about to meet with God in the midst of the storm. Don’t allow your fear of the waves to cause you to miss out on what he has to say to you!

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.

Governed by the Word of God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

If Christ reigns as the supreme authority over his kingdom and we are his subjects, our lives must be governed by him. What does it mean, exactly, to be governed by Jesus? According to the dictionary, to govern means “to guide, to direct, to control all actions and behavior of those under authority.”

Jesus must be allowed to control all of our actions and behavior, including our every thought, word and deed. The Bible tells us, “He rules by his power forever; his eyes observe the nations; do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah” (Psalm 66:7, NKJV), and “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).

Beloved, our God is not one bit anxious about Satan. With just one word from our Lord’s mouth, Satan will be gone forever, tormented for eternity. Therefore, we are to fear no evil. God rules supremely and powerfully in his own kingdom, the one he has established in the hearts of his people.

Jesus said, “Indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). It is within this kingdom—the realm of our hearts—that Christ rules supreme over his people, guiding us, healing us, governing our actions and behavior. The prophets spoke of Jesus’ rule throughout eternity. “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7). Yet this verse also has another significant meaning: We must always increase our submission to our King’s rule.

Can you honestly say that, day after day, Jesus’ government over you is increasing? Are you bringing your behavior more and more under his authority?

The author tells us that in the Old Testament, God spoke to his people through the prophets, but today the Lord has chosen to speak through his Son (see Hebrews 1:1–2). Jesus is God’s explicit message to us, the divine Word made flesh. In turn, the Father has sent the Holy Ghost to us today to remind us of the words Jesus spoke while on earth. Thus, Jesus governs us by the revealed Word of God. The Bible is our ruler’s scepter by which he makes his Word known to us.

If you want to hear the testimony of a man who was governed by God’s written Word, you can find it in Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.”