“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you … because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).
Paul thanks God for the fellowship of the saints; the koinonia — sharing together — that he and the Philippian church enjoyed as they walked together in faith. This fellowship in the gospel is like no other. It is powerful because it is born at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. Through him, men of many different quarters, tribes, and languages all come together as one body.
We read further: “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (1:8-10). Paul took delight in the partnership of his fellow believers —they had been true and consistent from the first day he met them. They had communicated with him and supported him when he was alone in prison, and he was deeply grateful.
Paul was thanking God for his friends who had been consistent through the years. The Holy Spirit had knit their hearts together and they had become one in Christ. Paul wanted his love for these believers to abound more and more.
Likewise, today, the Lord wants his children to be in fellowship, to love and support each other. Not only will this strengthen our walk with him, but biblical community can be a powerful witness to the world.
Do you struggle to connect in relationships with fellow believers? I encourage you to look for opportunities to relate to God’s people in a new way. Not only can you give to others, but they can enrich your walk with the Savior — and together, you can create a strong bond of faith. The Lord will crown your efforts with his blessings “that your love may abound more and more.”
After the death of their brother, Mary and Martha were grief-stricken. Lazarus had been dead for four days and quite a crowd of mourners had gathered by the time Jesus arrived. Mary fell at his feet when she saw him and when Jesus observed her and the others weeping, he “groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33). Keep in mind that Lazarus and his sisters were close friends with Jesus and had hosted him in their home many times. Yet, after their brother died, the sisters could not seem to comprehend that Jesus could work a miracle.
Before Jesus’ encounter with Mary, Martha had gone out to meet him: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (John 11:21-22). What a phenomenal statement of faith! Yet, when Jesus told her that her brother would rise again, she responded, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day” (11:24). What happened? Just that quickly, Martha put the possibility off into the future. She simply could not believe for the present.
After Martha relegates Jesus’ statement to the future, he says to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (11:25-26).
When Jesus got to the place where Lazarus was, he began to weep, not only because of all the unbelief surrounding him but because he saw every situation where this scene would play itself out in the future — every person, every family, every instance where his people simply would not believe in his ability to bring life out of death.
This is the dilemma of the ages! God speaks and we agree — but only to a certain point. For example, many believers say, “I believe Jesus is coming again for his saints … someday.” But the return of Jesus is imminent and his resurrection life is for us right now. Let us genuinely believe Matthew 19:26 that says, “With God all things are possible” — today!
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.
The greatest revelation the disciples ever received focused on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was the first day of the week, and the disciples were hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. Suddenly, Jesus appeared — in full resurrection glory — victorious over death, hell, and the devil. He showed the disciples his hands, his feet, his pierced side, and then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).
What glorious truths were coming forth — revelation upon revelation! It was almost too much for the disciples, and several of them, led by Peter, decided to go fishing (see John 21:3). Peter was having trouble taking it all in. “I can’t comprehend the cross — how will I ever understand his resurrection? After all this time I’ve spent with him, I have understood so little. Let those who are brighter go on with him. I just want to do my own thing, in my own quiet way.”
Many of us may react to spiritual things in the same way. We know the Lord has called us to go deeper with him, but we avoid the challenge. We fall back into our old ways and then feel guilty for our lethargy. We fear we will never measure up to what God wants for us so we go back to busyness — shopping sprees, hobbies, new projects. The time once spent with God in growing is wasted on some form of “fishing” and we become frivolous and indecisive.
While Peter was fishing, the Lord noticed he was catching nothing and directed him to cast his net on the opposite side — where he gathered a tremendous harvest of fish. Later, while Peter separated his catch, Jesus said to him, in essence, “Peter, if you love me, get back to where you were. Follow me; feed my sheep; stop doing your own thing. Wake up!” (see John 21:15-18).
All Jesus asks of you is that you love him. Don’t worry about measuring up and don’t allow your dry spells to bring you to despair. Rejoice in them — they are part of God’s plan to bring you into his purpose for your life.
“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4).
From the very beginning, God has been calling holy men to the mountain of his presence to hear from heaven. He called Abraham to a mountain to prove him and bring him into close union with himself (see Genesis 22:2). Abraham received the knowledge of who God was as he put the knife to his own son — and God provided the ram as a sacrifice instead of Isaac: “He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad’ … Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in the thicket” (Genesis 22:12-13).
Moses was drawn by God to Mount Horeb, where he received his call to lead Israel out of bondage. And Moses was taken back to the mountain every time God wanted to speak to his people: “And Moses went up the mount to God, and Jehovah called for him from the mountain” (Exodus 19:3, Hebrew Bible).
Peter was on the mount, in the presence of God, when he heard the voice of the Lord. “And we heard this voice which came from heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:18).
The mountaintop is not easily reached. You enter through the secret closet and you stay, willing to risk everything to be alone in God's holy presence until your soul is on fire. It is reached by coming back every day, going higher each time, over rocks and precipices of opposition—and there is no turning back until the summit is reached. No one gets to the summit of God's presence with one-hour devotions. It must become a way of life.
The revelation of Christ is too vast to ever be fully comprehended. But those who are shut in with God in prayer gain an ever-growing appreciation of Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals him in the heart. Get back to the secret closet and be renewed by the Lord’s glorious presence. You can have a “mountaintop experience” where your joy is restored and your life takes on new purpose and direction.
“God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’ … to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good [obeys]” (Romans 2:5, 8-10).
Most of the troubles of this generation are a result of our own disobedience. When we get caught in the web of our sins, too often we are more concerned about our reputation than how much we have wounded the Savior. It is selfish to grieve more over what people think of us than over the way our disobedience breaks the heart of Jesus.
People all over are hurting. Marriages are crumbling, causing terrible misery and pain to so many involved. Multitudes are living under a cloud of guilt and despair. There are Christians today whose lives are flooded with trouble and sorrow. Never has there been such heartbreak, emptiness, loneliness, and rejection. Only God knows how many Christians cry themselves to sleep, or who can't sleep due to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and despair.
Shouldn't we be getting weary of all the trouble and hurt—enough so that we would begin to hunger after the glorious riches promised in Christ? Oh, beloved, fear is not the best motive toward obedience—love is!
In love we surrender, and sweet surrender to the will of God opens the heavens to us. It is the yielding of every sin and act of disobedience that allows us the revelation of who Christ really is. The scripture says, “Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him” (1 John 3:6).
Jesus says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). Surrender your heart wholly to the Lord and become “rooted and grounded” by his love.