Comforts Behind, Servanthood Ahead

Carter Conlon

Immediately after the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, the Bible tells us that Jesus sent his disciples across the sea to Bethsaida. That evening a storm hit, and the disciples began to struggle against the fierce wind and waves. They were no doubt weary. Ahead of them are multitudes of people in need. Behind them are twelve baskets of leftover bread.

I see it almost as a test. Behind the disciples was a place of comfort where there was provision for each of them. Up ahead was poverty, sickness and human need. To press forward meant that they would have to stay in their wet clothes and walk with Jesus toward those in need.

How easy it would have been at that point for the disciples to say, “What a rough trial we’ve been through! Thank God it’s over now, and we all made it through the storm. Let’s just row back across the sea.” How easily they could have drafted their excuses and gone back to eat their bread. After all, they now had the incredible story to tell of how Jesus had brought them through their trial. They could have chosen to reverse their boat and concern themselves with their own safety and nourishment.

That’s not what the disciples did. Although they may still have had seaweed in their hair, they chose to move toward what Christ was doing. They entered into where the people were living, into people’s pain, sickness, struggles and religious confusion. They moved toward the people to meet them in their need.

Shouldn’t our seeking of God lead you and me toward human need? Shouldn’t it cause us to get out of the boat of our own trials and tribulations in order to invest in other needy people, despite our own needs? We are all called to walk where Jesus walks. Scripture says, “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10, NKJV).

As we choose to reach out to human need, God promises that we will have light in our eyes even in the darkest hour.

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.

God's Treasure Is in Earthen Vessels

David Wilkerson

One of the most encouraging scriptures in the Bible is “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NKJV). Paul goes on to describe those earthen vessels that are dying men, troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down. Even though never forsaken or in despair, those men being used by God are constantly under the burden of their bodies, waiting anxiously to be clothed with new ones.

God mocks man’s power. He laughs at our egotistical efforts at being good. Scripture says, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Weak, foolish, despised, not very noble, not very smart — Does that ever describe me! Despite this, God calls us in our weakness. He puts his priceless treasure in these earthen vessels of ours because he delights in doing the impossible with nothing.

I saw Israel Narvaez, former Mau Mau gang leader, kneel and receive Christ as Lord. It was not just an emotional surface experience; he really meant it, but Israel went back to the gang and ended up in prison, an accessory to murder. Did God quit on him? Not for one moment. Today Israel is a minister of the gospel, having accepted the love and forgiveness of a longsuffering Savior.

Have you failed? Is there a sin that so easily besets you? Do you feel like a weakened coward? With that weakness in you, is there also a hunger for God? That hunger and thirst is the key to your victory. That makes you different from all the others who have been guilty of failing God. That sets you apart. You must keep that hunger alive. Keep thirsting after righteousness. Never justify your weakness. Never give in to it, and never accept it as a part of your life.

Jesus and the Storms

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Jesus ordered his disciples into a boat that was headed for a collision. “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away” (Matthew 14:22, NKJV). The Old King James says he “constrained [them] to get into a ship…” that was headed for troubled waters where it would be tossed about like a bobbing cork. The disciples would be thrust into a mini-Titanic experience, and Jesus knew it all the time.

Where was Jesus? He was up in the mountains overlooking that sea. He was there probably praying for them not to fail the test he knew they must go through. The boat trip, the storm, tossing waves and winds were all a part of a trial the Father had planned. They were about to learn the greatest lesson they would ever learn: how to recognize Jesus in the storm.

At this point, the disciples recognized him as the miracle worker who turned loaves and fishes into miracle food. They recognized him as the friend of sinners, the one who brought salvation to every kind of humanity. They knew him as the supplier of all their needs, even paying their taxes with money from a fish’s mouth.

They recognized Jesus as “the Christ, the very Son of God.” They knew he had the words of eternal life. They knew he had power over all the works of the devil. They knew him as a teacher, teaching them how to pray, forgive, bind and loose. However, they hadn’t yet learned to recognize Jesus in the storm.

This is the root of much of our trouble today. We trust Jesus for miracles and healing. We believe him for our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins. We trust him to bring us into glory one day. When a sudden storm falls upon us and it seems like everything is falling apart, though, we find it difficult to see Jesus anywhere near. We can’t believe he allows storms to teach us how to trust.

This is not some deep, mystical, earth-shattering lesson. Jesus simply wants to be trusted as our Lord in every storm of life. He wants his disciples to maintain cheer and confidence even in the blackest hours of trial.

He Builds His Church through Life

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Let me tell you how God brings people into his house, speaks to them and saves them. He does it through life. The Lord builds his church through the testimonies of light shining forth from those who love him. He’s able to do this not because these servants use the right methods but because they live the life.

Christ’s life produces light in homes, neighborhoods, cities and workplaces. How is this life obtained? It comes down to every saint living beyond reproach as examples of God’s mercy. Such servants deal with others honestly and selflessly, with no dark part in them. They lead lives wholly devoted to Jesus. Paul spoke of servants who “know his will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness” (Romans 2:18-19, NKJV).

Let me give you an example of such light. The CEO of a company in New York phoned Times Square Church. Pastor Neil took the call. The CEO told Pastor Neil about two women from our church who work for him. He said they weren’t like the others in his office. These two women were always courteous, smiling, helpful to others, never complaining or backbiting. “There’s something different about them,” he said. “I would like to meet with you to find out what the difference is.”

These women were heavenly candlesticks, placed in their jobs by Jesus. They lit up the entire workplace. How? They had the life of Christ in them. Their boss recognized it as something beyond what this world has to offer.

That CEO was Jewish. Do you think he would have responded to an invitation to a revival meeting? Would he have read a packet of materials produced by a church? No, he would have tossed it all into ‘File 13’ and never looked at it again. This man responded to a light born of lives hid in Christ and being lived out daily by two humble women.

We are only able to bring light to our communities as we are full of Christ’s life ourselves. We have to live out the message we bring, if we are to preach it with any power. God help us to remember that the light shines through in the little things of life.

God's Unlimited Forgiveness

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

My dear friend, never limit God’s forgiveness to you. There is no limit to his forgiveness and longsuffering. Jesus told his disciples, “If he [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Luke 17:4, NKJV).

Can you believe such a thing? Seven times a day this person willfully sins before my very eyes then says, “I’m sorry,” and I am to forgive him continuously. Jesus did not say, “Forgive your brother once or twice, then tell him to go and sin no more. Tell him that if he ever does it again he will be cut off. Tell him he is an habitual sinner.” No. Jesus called for unlimited, no-strings-attached forgiveness. How much more will our heavenly Father forgive his children who come in repentance to him! Don’t stop to reason it out, and don’t ask how or why he forgives so freely. Simply accept it.

It is God’s nature to forgive. David said, “For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you” (Psalm 86:5). God is waiting right now to flood your being with the joy of forgiveness. You need to open up all the windows of your soul and allow his Spirit to flood you with forgiveness.

John, speaking as a Christian, wrote, “He himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). According to John, the goal of every Christian is to “sin not.” That means the Christian is not bent toward sin but instead leans toward God.

What happens, though, when that God-leaning child sins? Scripture assures us, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1), and “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Lay down your guilt, my friend. You don’t need to carry that load another minute. If you ask, if you repent, you are forgiven. God forgives you over and over again, and this knowledge should unlock a graciousness in our own hearts towards our brothers in Christ. As forgiven saints, we are called to forgive over and over again.