I believe that Psalm 46 is a picture of the New Testament “promised land.” Indeed, Psalm 46 represents the divine rest referred to in Hebrews: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). This Psalm describes this rest to God’s people. It speaks of his ever-present strength, his help in time of trouble, his peace in the midst of chaos. God’s presence is with us at all times, and his help always arrives on time.
Israel rejected this rest: “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word” (Psalm 106:24). Sadly, the church today is much like Israel. In spite of God’s great promises to us—his assurance of peace, help and full supply—we don’t trust him fully. Instead, we complain, “Where is God in my trial? Is he with me or not? Where is any evidence of his presence? Why does he keep letting these hardships pile up on me?”
Today, I hear the Lord asking his church, “Do you believe I still speak to my people? Do you believe I desire to give you my help and guidance? Do you truly believe I want to speak to you daily, hourly, moment by moment?” Our response has to be like David’s. That godly man shook all hell when he made this statement about the Lord: “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:9).
Here is God’s promise to every generation who would believe his Word that he desires to speak to us: “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations” (33:11). The Creator of the universe wants to share his very thoughts with us!
Scripture make it clear: Our God spoke to his people in the past, he’s speaking to his people now, and he’ll continue to speak to us till the very end of time. More to the point, God wants to speak to you about your problem today. He may do it through his Word, through a godly friend, or through the Spirit’s still, small voice, whispering, “This is the way, walk in it.”
No matter what means he uses, you will recognize his voice. The sheep know the voice of their Shepherd. And, “He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10).
If you took a coyote and said, “I’m going to transfer you from your native kingdom into a chicken coop”, that would probably not go well for the chickens unless the coyote’s heart was changed first.
We all had a coyote nature to kill, steal and destroy before we came to Christ. Martin Luther called this the bondage of the will. Our will was bound up to do evil. We could try to do a few good things, but that alone was due to the common grace of God. If we did anything good while we were dead in our sins, it was because God’s grace shown upon us to let us do something good and loving to our spouse, children or friends.
Beyond that grace, though, we were bound to sin in total depravity. Not just our spirit but also our flesh, our very bodies, were bound up to do the will of the enemy.
But if we have come to Christ, then he has canceled the record of debt that stood against us by nailing it to the cross. We are made alive together with him who rose from the grave, and God is moving us into a new kingdom of grace, love and power. In the process of doing so, he has to make us a new person. Otherwise, when we come in, we’re going to be destructive to those we are in the kingdom of light with.
The Bible promises us that God is doing this work inside of us when it says, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26, ESV).
This is what we meditate on when we sing about the power of the cross. This is what we celebrate when we talk about Christ and his sacrifice. Let’s not forget it!
In 1989 I traveled to eastern Canada, conducting evangelistic meetings and testifying of the goodness of God in various churches that were in need of encouragement. Now when you return home from any season of traveling, you usually expect to find some personal rest and comfort. The last thing you expect to find is your house burned to the ground.
The fire department said it was one of the most incredible fires they had ever seen. Other than the chimney, there was absolutely nothing left. Everything had collapsed into the foundation, and not a single wall was left standing. It was a complete and total destruction of my home.
It was in this house that my family and I had learned to have faith to trust God for the impossible. We not only fed people beyond our natural means, but we were fed supernaturally as well. Now, suddenly, everything was gone. All the comforts, all the pictures of our children, all the work I had done to renovate the old log farmhouse, everything that we had accumulated up until that point — all gone.
At that moment, it would have been easy for me to stand in my yard and cry out, “God, is this how you reward me for taking in the homeless? Is this what I get for praising you, for living for you, for traveling to testify about you? You decide to take away everything that we have?” The enemy’s prime time for planting doubts in our mind regarding God’s goodness is right in the midst of our most intense trials. That is when we must make a choice.
As I stood before the embers of my house, I chose to trust God. I chose to believe that everything he allows is for a reason. In hindsight, I now realize that God knew I would be moving to New York. He also knew that certain things had to happen; certain things needed to be taken away from me. A deep trust had to be birthed within my heart, a personal revelation of God’s keeping power, and there was no other way to develop that kind of trust except through the fire. God knew that I would later be called to stand in far more difficult circumstances, so now was the time for greater faith to be worked into my heart. Those embers and ashes turned into a time of strengthening and great blessing.
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 Lord rules over all of creation with majesty and power. His laws govern the whole universe—all of nature, every nation and all the affairs of men. He rules over the seas, the planets, the heavenly bodies and all their movements. The Bible tells us: “He rules by His power forever; His eyes observe the nations” (Psalm 66:7).
This Psalm was written by David, who is testifying, in essence: “Lord, your testimonies—your laws, decrees and words—are irrevocable. They are utterly reliable.” The author of Hebrews echoes this, declaring that God’s Living Word is eternal and unchangeable: “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Think about it: There are laws operating in the universe that govern how things work, without exception. Consider the laws that rule the movements of the sun, moon, stars and earth. These heavenly bodies were all put into place when God spoke a word, and since that time they have been ruled by laws that God also spoke into being.
We’re told throughout the New Testament that this great God is our Father and that he takes pity on his children. Hebrews tells us the Lord is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, and that he hears our every cry and bottles every tear. Yet we’re also told that he is the righteous King who judges by his law. And his Word is his constitution, containing all of his legal decrees, by which he rules justly. Everything in existence is judged by his immutable Word.
Simply put, we can hold the Bible in our hands and know, “This book tells me who God is. It describes his attributes, nature, promises and judgments. It is his rule of law, from his own mouth, by which he rules and reigns. And it is a Word to which he has bound himself.”
Every earthly judge is bound to determine the case before him according to the established law. God rules and judges everything before him according to the eternal law—that is, his own established Word. When the Lord makes a ruling, he speaks by his living Word, a Word to which he has bound himself.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
When God tells us to come to his throne boldly, with confidence, it is not a suggestion. It’s his preference, and it is to be heeded. So, where do we obtain this boldness, this access-with-confidence, for prayer?
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). The word “effective” here comes from a Greek root word that means “a fixed position.” It suggests an unmovable, unshakeable mindset. Likewise, “fervent” speaks of a boldness built on solid evidence, absolute proof that supports your petition. Together these two words mean coming into God’s court fully convinced that you have a well-prepared case. It is beyond emotions, loudness, pumped-up enthusiasm.
Such prayer can only come from a servant who searches God’s Word and is fully persuaded that the Lord is bound to honor it. Indeed, it is important that none of us goes into God’s presence without bringing his Word with us. The Lord wants us to bring his promises, remind him of them, bind him to them and stand on them.
Moreover, we have been given help to approach God’s throne of grace. The Bible says we are petitioners at his throne, and that Christ is there as our intercessor or advocate. We also have the Holy Ghost standing beside us in the Father’s court. The Spirit is our “paraclete,” one who serves as our advisor. He stands by to remind us of the eternal decrees and divine constitution that make up God’s Word.
And so we have these incredible promises—of an advocate and an advisor, standing beside us—to give us boldness and assurance in coming to God’s throne.