Body

Devotions

God Has Emergency Plans

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

No matter how unsettled the world becomes, God's people can relax and keep their joy flowing because our Lord has promised special protection when it is most needed.

Didn't God have an emergency plan for the children of Israel during the worldwide famine? He sent Joseph ahead to Egypt, promoted him to prime minister and filled the warehouses with enough grain to last out the famine. He then transported his people within walking distance of those storehouses and fed them to the full through the raging famine.

Didn't God have emergency plans for Elijah? While his nation reeled under the impact of an economic collapse and food was scarce because of severe famine as well as a wicked king who had a ransom on his head, God put his emergency plan for Elijah into effect. The Lord hid his prophet by a quiet brook and fed him by having ravens deliver his food. The survival plan also included a widow’s oil and flour that never ran out.

What about Noah? What a detailed survival plan God had for him and his family! An ark kept him and his family floating safely above all the death and destruction of a worldwide flood.

God actually sent angels to personally pull Lot and his daughters out of the doomed city of Sodom. God's hands were tied until Lot was safely out of the suburbs. It was more than a loss of his job, the collapse of an economy or the downfall of a government. It was total annihilation of his society, but Lot was delivered safely.

Paul proved God's emergency contingencies over and over. This apostle was shipwrecked, chased by thieves, imprisoned, accused of treason and plotted against by assassins. In every crisis, God had a contingency plan for deliverance. Only when God determined his race was over did the Lord call in his last contingency plan. He called this apostle to his resurrection.

We too have an emergency plan for survival, designed specifically for each believer. Let there be no question about it; God will see us through every crisis!

What the Cross Teaches Us

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Jesus is not in the drafting business; his army is all volunteer. You can be a believer without carrying a cross, but you cannot be a disciple.

I see many believers have opted for the good life with its prosperity, material gain, popularity and success. I’m sure that many of them will make it to heaven. They will have saved their skins, but they will not have learned Christ. Having rejected the suffering and sorrow of true discipleship, they will not have the capacity to know and enjoy him in eternity. This is opposed to all the saints who have entered into the fellowship of the suffering.

You will have to carry your cross until you learn to deny the one thing that constantly hinders God's work in our lives: self. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24, NKJV). We are misinterpreting this message if we emphasize the rejection of unlawful things. Jesus was not calling upon us to learn self-discipline before we take up our cross. It is far more severe than that.

Millions of professing Christians boast of their self-denial. They don't drink, smoke, curse or fornicate; they are examples of tremendous self-discipline. Not in a hundred years would they admit, though, that it was accomplished by anything other than their own willpower. In some ways, we are all like that. We experience spurts of holiness, accompanied by feelings of purity. Good works usually produce good feelings, but God will not allow us to think our good works and clean habits can save us. That is why we need a cross.

Don't take up your cross until you are ready to reject any thought of becoming a holy disciple as a result of your own effort. Before you take up your cross, be ready to face a moment of truth. Be ready to experience a crisis by which you will learn to deny your self-will, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency and self-authority.

You can rise up and follow Christ as a true disciple only when you can freely admit you can do nothing in your own strength. You cannot overcome sin through your own willpower. You cannot work things out by your own intellect. Your love for Jesus can put you on your knees, but your cross will put you on your face.

You Cannot Carry Your Own Cross

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24, NKJV). However, Jesus could not carry his cross all alone, and neither can you!

It may sound almost sacrilegious to suggest Jesus did not carry his own cross, but that is the truth. As Jesus bore his cross to Golgotha, he was too weak and frail to carry it the whole way. When he had reached the end of his endurance, his cross was laid on another's shoulder. Simon the Cyrene was compelled to pick it up and carry it to the place of crucifixion (see Matthew 27:32).

What does this mean to us? Would our Lord order us do something he could not do? Did he not say, “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27)? Personally, it gives me great hope to know that Jesus could not bear his own cross entirely alone. It encourages me to know that I am not the only one burdened down at times, unable to go on in my own strength. Jesus knew exactly what he was saying when he called us to "take up our cross and follow him." He foreknew his own cross and that another would have to carry it for him.

Why then would he ask us to shoulder a cross that he knows will soon crush us to the ground? There is a truth hidden here that we must uncover, a truth so powerful that it could change the way we look at all our troubles and hurts.

God knows that not one of his children can carry the cross they take up when following Christ. We want to be good disciples by denying ourselves and taking up our cross, but we seem to forget that this same cross will one day bring us to the end of our human endurance. Would Jesus purposely ask us to take up a cross that he knows will sap all our human energies and leave us lying helpless? Absolutely yes! Jesus forewarns us, "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). So he asks us to take up our cross until we learn that lesson. This is what the Bible means when it says his strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Knowing God’s Call for Us

Gary Wilkerson

From a young age, I would travel with my dad when he preached around the country. This was the time of the Jesus movement right after the 60s. The sexual revolution and the Vietnam War had happened, and there was such crisis among young people. I saw all these people who were stoned out of their minds; some of them were in gangs, and some of them were on serious drugs; but when they heard the Word, hundreds and hundreds of young people would give their life to Christ.

Like I said, I was young, so I didn't understand exactly what was happening, but I sensed the power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives, and man, I was all in. As far as I can remember, I never wanted to be a football player, fireman or policeman. I knew, even when I was only six years old, that I was going to be a preacher. Sometimes it's been hard, and sometimes I've kind of wished I was doing something else, but deep down, I’ve always known this is the call of God on my life. I was also fortunate enough to have a father who encouraged me to follow God’s call and be myself.

If you're trying to be somebody other than who God made you to be or mimic someone else’s path, it’ll eat you up inside. I've seen this so many times in ministry, particularly with the father-son relationship. I've seen so many of the sons try to be a carbon copy of their fathers.

This ignores the truth of scripture when it says, “For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, ESV).

I truly believe that you will be satisfied in your work when you're doing what God's called you to. Rather than struggle to be something else, instead pray, “Thank you, Jesus, for giving me these gifts and letting me use them to bless others.”

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.