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Devotions

Hope for the Hurts of the Past

Gary WilkersonDecember 21, 2020

Many people need restoration after lifelong heartbreak and brokenness. When wounds go deep, some try to repress the hurt, never allowing their emotions to surface because they are too painful to face. Even Christians bury their struggles and hide behind Bible study or service, pressing on in spite of their pain.

Jesus did not promise anyone a pain-free life, but he does promise that we can be restored to abundant life. John tells us, “The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4). We have been given authority by the Holy Spirit who lives within us and we are to call on that authority as we face our enemies.

For any wounded brother or sister reading this, the Bible speaks one command more than any other: “Fear not.” Why would God say this more than “Don’t sin” or “Love one another”? It must be because God knows we will have fearful events in our lives that can make us want to shrink back.

We already know we have been given supernatural authority to stay in the fight. Jesus assures us: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). If you choose to shut down pain, you also shut down the possibility of receiving love to heal that pain. Friend, our hope does not lie in our past experiences but in the future Jesus has prepared for us. “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him" (Psalm 62:5).

The Lord’s love is unconditional: “Love is patient and kind. Love … keeps no record of being wronged … Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Every wounded person should apply this unconditional love toward himself. After all, it describes God’s love for you. Everyone who understands this love from God will not need external validation.

Unconditional love reveals this truth: “You’re growing. You’re being stretched. This challenge is calling you to new heights because the merciful, gracious, healing foundation Jesus has put underneath you is solid.”

You will face challenges, but your Father has put power within you to conquer them all. Stay in the fight, stay in community, and find his abundant life filling you day after day.  

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Entrusting Those We Love to God

Carter ConlonDecember 19, 2020

In practical terms, how do we learn to love others as Christ loves us? John writes, “Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’ When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (John 11:3-6).

At first glance you may think, “But I thought Jesus loved them — why would he not rush to help?” In fact, maybe you have asked that question many times regarding your own life. “Why aren’t You answering my prayers, Lord? Why is my situation still the same? Where are You, Lord? I need You now!”

God’s love is agape love — it’s a love that gives people what God knows is necessary in the situation and brings about God’s greater purpose and his glory. In this situation with Lazarus, Jesus did not tarry because he didn’t love him or care that he would die. Jesus waited because there was a higher purpose at work — the glorifying of God and the witness to all those around that he was the Messiah, the very Redeemer for whom they had so desperately been looking to come for decades.

Now, that’s amazing! Lazarus had to die for the glory of God to be revealed in and through his life. When we love people the way God loves us, we have a deep inner trust in God that no matter what they are going through, the Lord is in control of the situation and will be glorified.

Agape love moves to treat people with understanding and compassion, not compulsion. If I love you, there’s a time to speak, and there’s a time to be silent. There’s a time to have an opinion and there’s a time to say nothing. There’s a time to let the Holy Spirit say, “The door is not open; don’t speak in this situation.”

We need to trust God with those we love by putting them into his hands, entrusting them to him, no matter what it looks like to our eyes. God will call these people at the appropriate time out of the grave of their experience. True love — God’s love working in and through us — has this ability.

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.

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Burdened With Heavy Grief

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)December 18, 2020

Nothing stirs the heart of our God more than the soul that is overcome with grief. Grief is defined as “deep sorrow” or “sadness caused by extreme distress.” Isaiah tells us the Lord himself is acquainted with this most wrenching emotion: “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

Even in judgment God grieves over his children. The Psalmist makes an incredible statement regarding Israel: “For their sake He remembered His covenant, and relented according to the multitude of His mercies. He also made them to be pitied by all those who carried them away captive” (Psalm 106:45-46). When God sees his children hurting, he not only grieves over them, he makes their enemies pity them!

Perhaps you are burdened with some sort of heavy grief. It could be over someone dear to you who is suffering, in trouble, or hurting. It could be a son or daughter who is backslidden, slowly sinking into the death of sin. Or it could be a loved one facing a severe, looming financial crisis. I say to all: Jesus Christ is moved by your grief.

It is wonderful to have Jesus walking with us through our pain; yet even when a miracle is on the way, there can be delays. Consider the woman who suffered with chronic hemorrhaging and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment for healing. For twelve years she had bled nonstop and she was literally dying a slow death. Luke, a physician, wrote that she “had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any” (Luke 8:43).

“[The woman] came … and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped … Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched me, for I perceived power going out from Me’” (8:44-46). Jesus felt this woman’s pain and he met her need when she reached out to him!

Sadly, multitudes of people today are doing just what that woman did — running from place to place looking for answers. They explain their problem again and again, hoping this time they will find relief. All they want is for someone to stop the bleeding in their heart.

When the suffering woman reached out and touched the man Jesus, merely making contact with the hem of his garment, she was instantly healed! The compassion of Jesus flowed out to her and made her whole.

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Rest For Your Troubled Soul

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)December 17, 2020

If you ever truly loved and followed Jesus but now are cold and indifferent, the Holy Spirit is speaking to you, inviting you to come back to the merciful arms of Christ. Please listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says” (see Revelation 2:7).

Spiritual coldness leads to hardness of heart. Paul refers to this when he says that prior to Christ’s return, “That Day will not come unless the falling away comes first” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Those who “did not receive the love of the truth” (2:10) will fall under a great delusion; they will believe lies rather than truth.

Hebrews offers this warning: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).

This present generation has lost their fear of him, and when there is no fear of God left in the land, destruction follows. Scripture speaks again and again of the fear of God: “Fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7). “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (8:13). “In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil” (16:6).

We have been given a great hope. Here is the invitation: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The world may cast aside the Bible and reject the real Jesus, God’s own Son. The world may even deny there is a heaven or hell. But Jesus himself said that after death there will be a day of judgment. The Holy Spirit is calling us to wake up and surrender all to Jesus — now, today!

You belong to Jesus and he has a claim on you. I urge you today, right now, to just come to him and find rest for your troubled soul. God promises to meet you.

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Your Salvation Wasn’t Chance

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)December 16, 2020

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6).

As Christians, we believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is resurrection love when God’s Spirit goes into the streets and reaches the destitute sinner, changing him. Today many people are living on the streets — some are homeless, some addicts, some prostitutes — and Jesus wants to touch them with new life — his resurrection life.

Throughout the world in congregations large and small that preach the gospel, new life in Christ is changing sinners. Spiritually dead people are changed, because in Christ all things become new: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Events arranged by the Holy Spirit are often referred to as “divine appointments.” What caused you to first go inside a church? What did you expect when you first attended a church service? Did you go with an open heart? Were you hoping something would penetrate your soul and speak peace to you? Were you hoping to be touched deep down and given comfort?

Wherever you were when you heard the message of salvation was not just happenstance. The merciful Spirit of Christ led you there. In fact, he had you on his radar for some time. As God tells us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16).

Our Lord is sovereign. He does not trifle with the lives of men. He can move heaven and earth to accomplish his purposes, and he put you right where you are, both to save you and to set in motion his plan for your life.

How wonderful to know he loves us so much that he would choose us to live with him for eternity if we respond to his call.   

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