Monday, July 6, 2015

TAKING HOLD OF THE NEW COVENANT by Gary Wilkerson

“My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Psalm 89:34). The term “covenant” plays an integral part in the Christian faith. Yet I have never heard a preacher or teacher adequately describe the significance of “covenant” in a Christian’s life. The Bible itself is divided into two Covenants (or Testaments), Old and New. Throughout the Old Testament, God makes one covenant after another with humankind. What are all these covenants about? More importantly, what do they have to do with us today?

A covenant is an agreement or pledge between two or more parties, like a contract. It contains terms or duties each party must perform to fulfill the agreement. Such covenants are legally binding, and once they are finalized each party can be penalized for not fulfilling its respective terms.

In creating the New Covenant, God puts His amazing love for humankind on full display. Yet the church has been blind to this incredible doctrine for decades. As a young Christian I was taught that “covenant theology,” focusing on the New Covenant, was a licentious doctrine. The prevailing thought was that the New Covenant is so marvelously freeing that people might misuse it, indulging in permissive lifestyles.

Yet the more I understand the New Covenant, the more I’m convinced we need its assurance in these perilous last days. Its pledge has the power to release in God’s church all the overcoming strength we need to be more than conquerors in any situation.

The New Covenant is a formal contract between Father and Son. And today we, the seed of a spiritual Israel, are brought into this covenant by faith. “Now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Hebrews 8.6).

“My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him” (Psalm 89:28).

Saturday, July 4, 2015

REFUSING TO BE DENIED by Carter Conlon

The Bible tells the story of a man who went to his neighbor late at night and asked for bread because a visitor had just arrived and he had nothing to feed him.

“And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. And I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needs” (Luke 11:7-8).

Importunity means that he simply would not go away. Today it would be the one who prays, “I know this generation needs bread, but I don’t have a sufficient supply. My knowledge is not good enough; my strength will fail me. My compassion is too meager; my courage is conditional. I don’t have the measure of the Holy Ghost that I need in order to make a difference in this generation. But I know that You have it, and I am not leaving until I get it!” That is the kind of prayer God is looking for!

Jesus continues the telling of this story: “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9-10).

How many receive? Everyone! Not just a few superstars, not just the occasional Elijah or Elisha—everyone! And that means you!

Keep in mind that the Lord is not referring to a casual asking. When the 120 disciples went into the Upper Room, they were not casually asking God for His Spirit. They were well aware that stepping outside and facing the hostile crowd could result in death. Nevertheless, they also knew that Jesus had given them a promise that they would be His witnesses—and so they began to pray, refusing to be denied.

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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. A strong, compassionate leader, he is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world.

Friday, July 3, 2015

LIVING IN GOD’S REST

My wife, Gwen, was thirty-four years old the first time cancer was found in her. We were devastated when we got the news. We had just moved our family to New York so that I could start a ministry to street gangs. Now, as I walked the streets preaching to gang members and addicts, I had to fight back tears of anguish and fear. But the Lord continually reassured me, "I am faithful, David. I won't abandon you or your loved ones." God walked with me through that frightening ordeal with cancer, and every one that has followed.

Yet, the Lord doesn't want our victory to be merely a one-time experience. His goal isn't for us to emerge from a crisis, saying, "Thank God, I kept my faith through that." Yes, you may have made it through that one. But, like victorious Israel at the Red Sea, another trial will eventually come and it may be a different kind of test altogether.

Living in God's rest is a way of life. He wants us to be maintained by His peace and confidence in all our trials, knowing our high priest is touched by the feelings of our infirmities.

Don't misunderstand: I'm not talking about achieving some state of nirvana. Many New Age teachers claim that the only way to endure future crises is to harden your heart now and kill off all your love. In short, if you simply stop caring for people, you won't be hurt. Therefore, you should steel yourself against life's calamities.

Yet God is never glorified when His servants numb themselves out. That's not what His rest is about at all. It's about learning to trust His promise to be faithful toward us in all things.

I am a father of four and a grandfather and I can honestly tell you, there's never been a moment when I could stand by and watch any of my offspring hurting without wanting to enter into the suffering with them. At such times, I have done everything in my power to heal and deliver them. I ask you: How much more does our heavenly Father love us, walk with us in our trials, and long to heal our hurts?

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11).