Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We would be wise to consider these words spoken by Jesus to His disciples, bearing in mind that in this life, we will have tribulation, trials, difficulties, opposition, sorrow, and sometimes even depression. We will be falsely accused, even slandered, yet we can be of good cheer because of the promise of God that no matter how dark the days may become, we are going to make it to the finish line. Remember, Jesus has already won the victory for us!
Although victory is assured, we are not exempt from fighting the battle that is currently before us. We are guaranteed that at the end of this life, we are going to sit with Jesus, ruling and reigning with him. We are going to have a mansion in glory and walk on streets of gold. We will stand before the throne of God, and we will hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things, so I will make you ruler over many things. Enter now into the joy of the Lord!” (see Matthew 25:21). But we still have battles to fight.
One of the reasons we have tribulation in this world is because it is often the only way people around us will ever know that God is real. You and I have to walk through the same fire, the same flood, the same difficult days as everybody else. However, the difference is that we have an inner source of strength that will carry us through and give us a song.
The psalmist David wrote, “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit … and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth” (Psalm 40:2-3).
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
“One of [the Pharisees], a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40).
Jesus was telling him, “All I will ever ask of you stems from the doing of these two things.” If absolute love for God is so important, he must show us how to love him. Many true believers have cried, “I really don’t know how to love him.”
Too often we think our love for God is something we do for him, such as praising or worshiping or going into the secret closet to talk to him. Or we think that loving him means being holy, kind, witnessing to the unsaved. But, no, loving God is letting him be God in us and through us — it is something he does for us. We shy away from this concept as if it were selfish, but it is not. We love him most and best when we permit him to flow through us, doing and being all he says he is.
Christians cry out to him, fasting and praying with big tears. “Lord, I love you! I love you!” But love does not merely address God as some isolated, untouchable Being in need of nothing but praise. God needs to love us! He needs his children to draw on his power and use his resources.
Lay hold of the precious promises of God and put them to work in your everyday life. It is not love to ignore all he has promised to be and do through you. It is not love to go through life harried, lonely, depressed, carrying your own burdens. So enter into God’s life of victorious, overcoming rest. Jesus has already defeated the devil at the cross!
One of the most tragic words in any language is someday. It sums up the unfulfilled hopes and dreams of this entire generation. So many are bound, lonely, heartbroken, disillusioned, rejected, waiting for a miracle to happen. But nothing is going to happen unless they take steps to make it happen.
Four leprous men sat outside the besieged city of Samaria and the Syrian army was determined to starve them out. These men could have died of hunger but they decided to do something about their hopeless situation. They asked, “Why are we sitting here until we die? … If they kill us, we shall only die. And they rose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians and … no one was there” (2 Kings 7:3-5). When they entered the camp, they discovered food, gold, clothes — all their hearts could desire, for the Lord intervened (see verses 7-8).
There is something tragically wrong with the way most of us are living the Christian life. We are not living the way God intended at all! Consider the adjectives God uses to describe the life he provides for all believers: abundant and overcoming; satisfying, joyous; the peace of God and light with no darkness; freedom, wisdom, good cheer and blessings; power, quietness, assurance and victory!
Now think of the negative adjectives being tossed about by Christians today: coping, depressed, fearful; anxious, sleepless, lonely; blue, empty, restless; weak, guilty, condemned; oppressed, holding on, nervous, perplexed, burned out.
God never intended for his children to live as though he has forsaken the earth and given control to Satan. The most faithful among us grow weary and even the strongest lose heart at times. But this must not be allowed to continue!
Christ is coming back for a triumphant, overcoming church that is victorious over all the power of the enemy. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us to triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
Beloved, rise up today and walk in victory because “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
We find an outright challenge to our smallness in one single verse when Jesus calls us to forsake our narrow little circle and be transformed into the glorious kingdom of liberty and usefulness. “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). Over and again Jesus calls to us, “Your world is too small; ask for a greater, more meaningful life.”
What a paradox! Hate your life to find it; despise it to discover it. That just does not sound reasonable and, yet, the key to abundant life is right there in the words of Jesus. This is his challenge to our small world!
Jesus also said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). Certainly Christ cannot mean hate in terms of the classic dictionary interpretation: to loathe or detest.
It is not life or people that we hate, for that is unscriptural. No, we must learn to hate the way we are living life, our preoccupation with the wrong things. Life is certainly more than houses, drapes, bills, kids’ schooling, parents’ welfare, family relationships.
Think of the most spiritual person you know, that spiritual giant who never panics, who always seems so kind and secure, so committed to God, so pure and holy. He will tell you of a time he encountered a crisis and came to hate his world with its pettiness, its jealousy, its bondage. He learned to hate what he had become so much that he determined to change. He got desperately hungry for the life of God.
You cannot grow until you hate your present immaturity. I encourage you to cry out to God, “Lord, translate me into your glorious kingdom of power and victory. Give me the life of usefulness and joy that so many others are enjoying!”
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).
The apostle Paul speaks of a great apostasy to come upon the earth in the last days. What is apostasy? It is “a rejection of truth once believed and proclaimed.” Simply put, it is a falling away from God’s truth. Paul writes of the apostasy to come: “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word … as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
Our spiritual fathers in the New Testament church were servants who gave their lives to defend the gospel. From the beginning, the disciples and apostles preached the whole counsel of God, proclaiming Christ as Messiah to their dying days. The Lord showered his gifts and blessings on them and the church grew and prospered in spirit and in truth.
Out of the roots of that early church sprang a tree with many branches which we call movements, denominations, organizations, fellowships — such as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Episcopalians and others. Most of these branches were sparked into flame by saintly servants of Christ, some of whom were martyred for their devotion to the pure Word of God.
God hates the lukewarm gospel of half-truths that is now spreading over the globe. Jesus came to a world that was in total apostasy and his coming was a pure act of mercy, undeserved by anyone. A great harvest of souls is still to come in this modern age and hungry believers from every nation will recognize the voice of the Lord. Their awakened hearts will respond, “Lord, bring me back to my first love for you.”
If you have walked with the Master for a long time, you may need a reminder to draw close to him and receive a renewal of your first love, lest you “fall away” and become part of this great apostasy. Beloved, he is waiting to embrace you and bring you into a new place with him.