An Otherworldly Compassion

Carter Conlon

Paul faced a choice when he found himself in the midst of a storm. He was most likely chained in the bottom of the ship, as was the common practice for transporting prisoners. When he warned the people not to undertake this journey, he was scoffed at and scorned. The voice of truth is constantly set aside as bigoted and out of touch. Eventually it is locked away in the same way that Paul was relegated to the bottom of the ship.

Imagine the unspeakable hardship that Paul once again faced. Nevertheless, in the midst of it all, Paul chose in his heart to forgive these men. He stood before them and said, “For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told” (Acts 27:23-25, ESV).

 Isn’t that amazing? Paul, once an intolerant Pharisee who hauled people out of their homes and tortured them to get them to blaspheme the name of Christ, was now moved with compassion for his oppressors!

We must have the compassion of God flowing out through us. How do we get to such a place? Not merely by study. We might wish we could take a Bible course somewhere and come out compassionate, but it just doesn’t work that way. Compassion comes by allowing the one who already won the battle for kindness to do his work in and through us.

I am well aware that I cannot forgive or love with that kind of divine love, and neither can you. Human effort cannot produce the kind of compassion required to reach a perishing world or the kind of forgiveness that the greatest depths of depravity demand. It is supernatural and must be worked in us by God. Try as you might to love people in your own strength, you will find that words of grace and forgiveness will not be in your mouth unless they are supernaturally put there by Almighty God.

Learning to love the unlovely requires a change of heart and a molding of character that God must work into your life by the Holy Spirit.

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. 

The Foundation of Faith

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The only time God’s patience with us runs out is when we refuse again and again to accept how much he loves us.

Many Christians today have been turned back into a wilderness of their own making. They have no joy, no victory. Looking at them, you’d think God had forsaken them years ago. No. He has simply turned them over to their own complaining and murmuring.

Think of the disciples! They were men of power and vision because they knew they were precious to God. Thank God they followed Christ. They stood as green trees in God’s house until their dying days. You also are precious to the Lord, despite your problems and failures. You can be a green tree in God’s house just as the apostles were. Simply stand on what God promises in his Word! It is packed full of assurances that we are priceless to him, and we can live secure in his love and devotion.

“He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19 NKJV).

“The Lord your God is in your midst, the mighty one, will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

“Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you” (Psalm 63:3). “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he will beautify the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 2:4).

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35,38-39).

This is the foundation of true faith!

You Are God’s Treasure

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The Bible gives us a vivid illustration of the key to Christian victory in Numbers 13 and 14. Israel had sent twelve spies to search out the Promised Land. When the spies returned after forty days, ten of them planted three lies in the hearts of God’s people: 1) “There are too many people in the land and they’re too strong for us;” 2) “the cities are walled too high and the strongholds are impregnable;” and 3) “there are giants in the land and we’re no match for them. We’re helpless! Finished!”

These lies took the heart right out of Israel. Scripture says the people endured a night of despair. “So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night” (Numbers 14:1 NKJV). More than two million people were weeping, wailing and moaning, focused completely on their weaknesses and inabilities. Their wails of unbelief bombarded heaven.

Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, had a revelation of how precious they were in God’s eyes, and that was the key to their hopeful spirit. Joshua said, “If the Lord delights in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey’” (Numbers 14:8). In other words, “Because he delights in us, the land is as good as ours already.”

Beloved, the devil throws the same three lies at God’s people today. “Your trials are too numerous. Your temptations are too overwhelming. You are too weak to resist the power coming against you.”

As we hear the devil’s lies, the word that God spoke to Israel is for us too. “You shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine” (Exodus 19:5). “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2).

Like Joshua and Caleb, every victorious Christian today can have this same confidence in their heavenly Father’s love. “We can’t fail! All our enemies are meat for us because we are precious to the Lord.”

A Relationship Like No Other

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I will never forget the pain I endured when one of my teenage children came to me and confessed, “Dad, I’ve never once felt as if I’ve pleased you. I’ve never felt worthy of your love. I feel like I’ve let you down my whole life. You must be really disappointed in me.”

No words ever hurt me more. I asked myself what I might have done to make my child feel that way. Hurting deeply inside myself, I embraced my tearful young one. I thought, “How wrong. I’ve shown this child my love. I’ve spoken it and demonstrated it time after time. All my other children feel secure in my love. How could this child carry such a misconception for so long and bear such unnecessary misery and guilt?”

I told my beloved child, “You’ve always been special to me. Why, you’ve been the apple of my eye. I think of you, and my whole being lights up. Sure, you’ve done foolish things at times, but so have your siblings. You were forgiven. You were truly sorry, and I never once thought less of you. You’re nothing but a joy to me. You’ve made me happy all your lifetime. You’ve been a delight to my heart.”

So it is with many Christians in their relationship with the heavenly Father. The devil has convinced these believers they’ve only disappointed God and will never please him, and they therefore won’t accept God’s love. Instead, they live as if his wrath is always breathing down on them. What a horrible way to go through life! How pained God is when he sees his children living this way.

This passage in 1 John beautifully illustrates God’s abiding love for us. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:9-11 NKJV).

Beloved, from the day you were born, you’ve been special to your heavenly Father.

You Are Precious to God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV).

If you lived to be 500 years old, you would not live long enough to please God by your own works. It doesn’t matter how hard you may try to clean yourself up. Your flesh is not accepted before God; it can’t even be reformed. All flesh was done away with at the cross. Now a new man has come forth: the Christ man. True faith is having confidence in what Christ has done for you.

You may say, “Oh, I can believe that God delights in faithful pastors. They pray and spend so much time in his Word. I can believe that elders are precious to him. They have endured sufferings, tests and trials, and have come out victorious. However, I find it hard to believe that a troubled, failing Christian like me could be precious to God. He is surely disgusted with me because my life is so inconsistent. I have problems I can’t seem to get through. I believe he still loves me, but surely he is disappointed in me.”

Please understand Isaiah’s wonderful prophecy of grace when God said, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.’” (Isaiah 43:1). This was spoken to a people who had been robbed, spoiled, snared and cast into prison, all because of their own foolishness and unbelief.

In the following chapter God emphasizes his message. “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:3-4). This is not a God who withholds from those he loves!

God wants his children to hear this clearly. He pointedly says to them, “Now, after all your failures, I come to you with this message of hope. And it’s only because you are mine!”