Growing numbers of Christians are no longer fully satisfied with Christ. The Lord is being dethroned by what He Himself called thorns — which He defined as the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the lusts of other things entering into the heart. Christ said these are the thorns that choke the Word and cause it to become unfruitful (see Mark 4:7).
Is the Lord more on your mind today than a year ago? Do you spend more time in His presence today than a year ago? Is your passion for Him growing or withering?
Many of those who were once passionately in love with Christ now run about pursuing their own interests. They’re burdened down with stress and problems, chasing after riches and the things of this world. They have grown cold or lukewarm, and they have less and less time for Jesus. The Lord and His church now get only an hour of their time — on Sunday mornings.
Jesus said, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered” (John 15:6). In other words, that person is drying up, no longer drawing life from the true vine. He is deceived by thinking all is well, because he still speaks the language of the intimacy he once enjoyed with Christ.
The Holy Spirit is calling people back to their first love. Back to hungering and thirsting for more of Christ. Back to spending quality time in His presence; loving His Word; casting all cares upon Him; depending on Him for guidance.
Christ yearns for His beloved to return to Him with love and obedience. The Holy Spirit is stirring our hearts to draw us closer to Himself.
God told the prophet Amos, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. . . Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:21, 23-24). God is saying to every generation, “It’s not the song or the sound that I seek from you. It’s the righteousness that flows from your worship and the deeds it stirs you to do in My name.”
We can no longer measure a song’s power by its entertainment value or any other manmade standard. We measure it by whether it calls forth what the Holy Spirit wants for His Body in that moment. Our worship is to be an everflowing stream of His righteous presence. Thus, we dare not allow on stage those “who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp . . . who . . . anoint themselves with the finest oils” (Amos 6:5-6). This speaks of leaders we anoint based solely on their talent, skill, and cleverness. God is calling us to clear the stage of any standard other than this: “Surely you are in this place, O God!”
I speak to myself when I say to all pastors, “Do we place more confidence in strategies, structures and programs than in God’s leading? If so, we need to clear the stage of such things.”
Churches may have all the makings of a dynamic body. We may make sure every sermon is tightly articulated, every song perfectly tuned, every espresso machine filling people’s cups — but it’s all worthless if God’s presence is nowhere to be found.
It is time to discard surveys that ask people what they want from church rather than asking what God wants. If surveys dictate our direction, we may as well take down our sign that reads CHURCH because we won’t be one. We’ll be a professional organization that seeks success based on market demands. And that’s not the gospel!
Once you are determined to set things in order in your life, don’t be surprised if the enemy comes and tells you that you are not going to make it. Even Jesus had to face these lies, but He knew it was only a fox trying to destroy the fruit of the vineyard that God had given Him.
The Scriptures tell us of a time when “some Pharisees came, saying to [Jesus], ‘Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.’ And He said to them, ‘Go, tell that fox, “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected”’” (Luke 13:31-32, NKJV).
“Perfected” means that He will reach His goal. The devil will no doubt attempt to get you off course, saying, “This pathway is too hard for you. Take an easier way. You don’t have to do things God’s way!” Yet notice Jesus’ response, “No! I cast out demons and healing is flowing. And on the third day I am going to attain my goal by the power of God!”
You, too, have the power to speak to the foxes in your life: “I will entertain you in my life no longer! By the grace of God, I will be rid of you. I have been given power to confront evil,and healing is flowing through my life. I am not bringing something to my workplace that calls itself Christianity but stinks as I pass by. No, I am bringing that sweet presence of God with me everywhere I go! I am going to finish my journey, and I am going to reach the full potential of what my life is called to be! No little fox is going to drive me from the plan of God for my life!”
Speak to the foxes and then trust the Lord for His grace and provision!
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.
During my prayer time the Holy Spirit led me to Psalm 56. This word is meant for those who have been wounded — whether by family, friends, or the words and actions of the ungodly.
It is a word also for those who love the Lord yet who shed tears and carry burdens that seem to grow heavier by the day. Some believers wake up every morning under a cloud of fear and despair. Financial problems can crush and frighten. Others face serious health battles and insufferable pain. Some grieve over family members who are in deep trouble, perhaps in rebellion against the Lord.
Hear the blessed Word of God directed to you in your hour of need:
Psalm 56:3: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. [I shall not be afraid].”
Psalm 56:4: “I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?”
Psalm 56:8: “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle: are they not in Your book?”
Psalm 56:9: “When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back: this I know, because God is for me.”
Psalm 56:13: “For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”
These are anointed words from the Spirit of God. I encourage you to pray over each verse listed and lay claim to it by faith. The Lord knows all about your struggles and pain. He knows every detail of your situation, and He hears even the unspoken cries of your broken heart.
In Acts 3:19 Peter speaks of “times of refreshing” that would come from being in the Lord’s presence. I am convinced that even now, amid times of global turmoil, the Church is experiencing such a time of refreshing. It is an event in which Jesus is manifesting His presence worldwide.
Yes, there is much spiritual deadness and dryness in many churches. Multitudes of believers have compromised their walk with Jesus, while others have gone mad after worldly pleasures.
But something glorious is happening all over the world, even in Islamic nations. There is undeniable evidence that the Holy Spirit is hovering over nations, and the awesome presence of Christ is manifesting powerfully. It is happening throughout Russia, China, South America, Africa, Asia and nearly every nation on earth. God is stirring people in Mongolia and in the former Soviet states. In India the Spirit of God is mightily at work.
I hear of such times of refreshing touching various towns and cities in the United States. Pastors are growing desperate for a true manifestation of God’s presence in their churches.
This refreshing of Christ’s presence is the result of exaltation of Him alone — not signs and wonders, not spiritual gifts, not “revival” that soon fades. This is a last-days revelation of the glory and power of Christ. Many write to me saying they go to church yearning to experience the actual presence of Jesus. They want to hear from a shepherd who has been shut in with the Lord. They don’t want any more entertainment, showmanship or empty methods. Now they are crying, “Give me Christ. Give me the melting, healing, awesome presence of Jesus.”
May this be the heart-cry of all God’s people in these days.
I am deeply blessed by God’s message to His people in Psalms 37. I recommend that you read this Psalm before the day is over. It is one of the richest, most encouraging passages in God’s Word. No matter what you are going through, no matter how trying your situation, this Psalm will be a source of great strength and encouragement to you.
Psalm 37:7 is of special interest to me in light of what is happening in the gay community. States are passing laws that pave the way for gay marriages and hundreds of homosexuals have gotten married. I was so deeply grieved at this lawlessness and mockery of true, God-ordained marriage, that I cried, “Oh, Lord, they are stealing our nation. They are mocking your Holy Word. America is now indulging in a sin not even known in Sodom and Gomorrah. There is no biblical record of homosexuals marrying in those wicked societies.”
Then I read Psalm 37:7: “Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.” In other words, “Do not let it get at your spirit. Do not get worked up about it. God hears the deep inner groanings of His people, and He is very patient.”
Let no evildoer think for a moment that God is going to overlook blatant disobedience and mockery of His Word. All through the Bible, we see the Lord sending judgment when lawlessness envelops a society.
Pray for our nation amid these times. God hears the prayers of His people!
The following word, given to me by the Holy Spirit, is for those who need an answer to prayer, who need help in time of trouble, and who are ready and willing to move God’s heart according to His Word.
Lay hold of the covenant promise in Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
The phrase very present means “always available, immediately accessible.” Faith must rest in the assurance that God’s Spirit abides in us all hours of the day and night, continually. And because He took up a habitation within us, He listens to our every prayerful thought and cry. We can be sure that if He hears us He will grant our petitions. Indeed, the Holy Spirit will move heaven and earth for any child of God who takes time to pour out his heart to the Father.
Read and believe Psalm 62:5-7. This is the prayer of David that touched God’s heart. David said in essence, “Wait on God only! Expect help from no other source. He alone must be your provision, your only hope and defense. Only He can supply you with the strength to keep going until your answer comes.”
Here is the heart of it all, the secret to prevailing prayer that every saint throughout history has learned: the pouring out of the heart before the Lord. “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8) Hannah is our example in doing this. Desperate for a child, she “poured out” her soul to the Lord (see 1 Samuel 1:15). And Scripture says, “Her face was no longer sad” (1:18).