The love of the Father toward us, embodied in His Son, has been committed to the ministering work of the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit has been sent to humankind to reveal the majesty and glory of this everlasting love.
“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. . . . I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit” (Romans 5:5; 15:30). The Holy Spirit is the eternal love of Father and Son. All His works, all His ministry, are ordained to express and manifest that love.
Just as Jesus accepted His mission willingly, so did the Holy Spirit. He was given by the Father to Christ, who in turn sent the Spirit to us on a love mission. Therefore, every work the Spirit does—every comfort and consolation He brings, every revelation, every chastening, every wooing and warning—all proceed from love. It proceeds first from the Father’s love, and Christ’s love, but also the Spirit’s own love, for the Holy Spirit truly loves everyone He lives in.
This may sound elementary to some readers but, frankly, in these days of increasing turmoil, this truth must be fixed in our hearts. To hold fast through the days ahead, our faith must lay hold of the following: If we are not secure in God’s love for us, we cannot grow in steadfastness and confidence. And we will not be able to rejoice when the furious storms are upon us.
The prophet Isaiah likens the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit to the love and comfort of a mother.
“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:13).
In the natural, there is no greater conception of love than that of a tender, caring mother. She is always there for her children, with a nurturing, comforting word in times of distress.
With this maternal image, the Holy Spirit shows us how He fulfills His mission. He is saying to us through Isaiah, in essence:
“As followers of Jesus, you already know something about love. Now let Me show you how tender and longsuffering the love of the Father and His Son is toward you. To understand it, think of a godly, tender mother’s love. This is how I work in you, how I minister to you.”
“Christ . . . a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years” (Hebrews 3:6–9, my italics).
“Take heed, 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. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (3:12–14, my italics).
I believe, with other watchmen, that the days Jesus foretold are now upon us. All over the world, people’s hearts are failing them from fear as they watch the terrifying things coming upon the earth.
Yet, in the midst of all this anxiety and fear, we who trust in the Lord hear His Word telling us, “Be steadfast and confident to the end.”
The fact is, whenever there is mounting fear, God calls for greater steadfastness. Whenever there is great terror and falling away, He calls for greater confidence. Whenever there is gloom and despair, He calls us to increase our gladness and rejoicing.
That is the nature of our heavenly Father. He has made provision for His people to hold fast and retain their joy in the severest of troubled times.
Yet there is a condition attached to this provision and it is a big if:
“We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. . . . Christ . . . whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14, 6, my italics).
Why are we given this cautionary word? It is because there are powerful forces at work today against every believer who would hold fast to his confident faith.
“Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? . . . Jesus cut him short. ‘Be quiet! Come out of the man,’ he ordered” (Luke 4:34-35, NLT).
I want to concentrate on the phrase, “Jesus cut him short.” Jesus wants to do that in your life today. Today! Not when you finally have pleased Him with perfection (because you’re never going to do that). The good news is, there is a power of the Holy Ghost available to believers of Jesus Christ where He says, “I am going to cut this short.” Even if it’s a backslidden heart or some struggle with sin, in His mercy, kindness and grace, He does it right now!
Satan plans to get you addicted, discouraged, doubting, fearful, and anxious. His plan isn’t just to get you there but to keep you there. One of the most sorrowful experiences I have as a pastor is sitting face to face with people and hearing their confessions:
“I’ve been addicted to this or that for ten years or fifteen years.”
“Ten years ago our son ran away and he’s not serving God.”
“For the last five years our marriage has been on the rocks. We’re about to crash!” And it just goes on and on and on.
Here is some good news for all of us today. Not only does Jesus interfere, but He looks at that length of time that Satan wants to harass you and says, “Enough is enough. It’s time to cut it short.”
It’s time to cut it short! It’s time for you to say that it’s enough. Satan intends to build weapons—a scheme, a plan—and then he wants to use those weapons against you. So we need to be very careful that we don’t take a sort of a lighthearted, laissez -faire attitude. Kind of like, “Oh well, Satan doesn’t have any power. He can’t interfere in my life. He can’t interrupt what God’s doing.”
He can come against you, right? You’ve experienced that. But the good news is that the Bible says those weapons will not prosper.
“No weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you” (Isaiah 54:17, NLT).
“I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). The incredible second half to this promise—“Nor his descendants begging bread”—means that walking with Christ does not affect only you, it affects the future of those you love.
Remember that it is ultimately because of Christ’s obedience to the Father—because He yielded His life to fulfill the purposes of God—that you and I, as the descendants of Jesus Christ, can claim the promise in this psalm. And so we see how important it is that we walk in obedience and give our whole hearts to the Lord. As we do so, the promise will extend to all those who come after us—our children, our grandchildren, those over whom God has made our lives an authority. I have already seen this to be true in my own life.
As far back as I know of, I am the first believer in Christ in my family. But now I have nephews and nieces and other family members turning to God. And long after I am gone, I believe that the blessing of the Lord will still be touching my home as I make the choice to walk in the righteousness of Christ.
On Sunday nights here at Times Square Church, I hear many testimonies of people in our congregation who tried to run from God. They lived lives of sin and rebellion, turning up their music extremely loud in an attempt to drown out the voice of God. But the dilemma they faced was that they had a righteous mother or a righteous father; somebody was praying for them! And now it is obvious that they have not been forsaken; they are not begging for bread, because somebody in their house walked with God.
Let us make the choice daily to walk in God’s way, holding the truth of God in righteousness, and trusting Him for the strength that we need to fully follow Him. As we choose to do so, we will see the Scripture fulfilled—the blessing of the righteous will be upon us as well as our descendants. All that we need will be supplied, for God is absolutely faithful to fulfill His promise!
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.
Right now, the world is heading into great turbulence. There will be events and chaos that naturally bring fear. But God has said to us, “My Word is in you. You are covered under the shadow of My hand. And YOU ARE MY CHILD.” It is time for us to fasten our seatbelt, open our Bible and talk to our Father through it all. He has said we are not going down: “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved” (Acts 2:25).
I urge you to make this powerful word from Isaiah your own:
“Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
“Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.
“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:26–31).
Our communion with Him gives birth to trust. By pouring out to the Lord our needs, our worries, we come away with His rest and assurance. “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8).
It is possible for us to stir and rouse ourselves, so that we ask, “Why am I so fearful? Why am I on this roller coaster of up-and-down despair? Why does the future cause panic in my soul?”
This has happened because we have not fully committed our lives, our families, our health, our jobs, our homes into God’s faithful hands. We have not made the leap of faith that determines, “My Lord is true and faithful. Though I have failed countless times, He has never failed me. Come what may, I will cast my life and future into His care.”
How are we able to do this? By embracing this word He has given us: “Thus saith thy Lord the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again” (Isaiah 51:22). He is saying, in essence, “I am not asleep. I am the same God who opened the Red Sea, who raises the dead, and who has made provision for you. My people are not meant to live in bondage to fear.”
The cup of trembling is removed when we wake up to our need to accept God’s Word. As we take this stand of faith, we will face sudden jolts of fear. But we are to stand up to those fears—to lay hold of God’s promises and be fully persuaded that He is able to keep what we have committed to Him. Then we will drink no more of the wine of despair.
The fact is, the darker the days become, the more God’s people must live by such faith. Otherwise, we make God out to be a liar whenever we panic and fear. As once reported in a story in Newsweek, a teenage girl demonstrated such faith powerfully. A plane flying from Newark to Paris flew into heavy turbulence, and the passengers became panic-stricken and began screaming. Amidst it all, the sixteen-year-old girl sat buckled in her seat, quietly reading her Bible. Later, when she was asked why she wasn’t afraid when everyone around her was trembling in fear, she replied, “My Bible promised me that God would take care of me. So I just prayed and trusted.”
I hear from many believers who have drunk of the cup of despair. They have faced so many traumas and endured so many crises they are now exhausted. They are so weighed down that they think one more worry, one more fear, will crush them beyond hope. They have come to a breaking point, the very end of themselves.
What does God say to such a fearful people who tremble with anxiety? What is His prescription for those whose hearts are failing with fear, whose eyes are fixed on the calamitous things coming upon them? He gives them this word: “Awake! Stand up!” (see Isaiah 51:17). Here is the condition that God puts on us so that He may remove the cup of trembling from our lips: “Get up! Take a stand!”
Beloved, with everything that is coming—with evil men growing more vile and wicked, with economic crises continuing to mount—God’s people need more than uplifting messages. They need more than sermons that pump up a short-lived faith. A man wrote to me, “Your recent messages seem repetitious. They are one message after another trying to encourage despairing believers. It sounds like few know how to lay hold of a faith that doesn’t have to be constantly pumped up. Do they not know their Bible?”
This was God’s very concern about Israel. What was the Lord’s answer to their accusation? He told them, “Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and the son of man which shall be made as grass” (Isaiah 51:12). In other words: “I have put My words in your mouth. I have covered you with My hand. I have pledged that you are My people. But still you won’t be persuaded that I will be faithful to perform the Word I have spoken to you. You still fear men who will fade like the grass.”
Paul preached, “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). All believers are given a portion or degree of faith. And that portion must be built up into an unshakable, unwavering faith. How does this happen? As faith grows, it is strengthened in one way only: by hearing and trusting in God’s Word.
The Lord never intended for His people to live in panic or trembling in fear. Even in the Old Testament, the Lord had a people who trusted in His promises and were unmoved by the chaos all around them. We see this in the life of the prophet Habakkuk, a man given a vision of “the end” (Habakkuk 2:3).
Habakkuk saw a people in the last days who would wear themselves out pursuing greed and covetousness. According to his vision, a dreadful spirit of violence would prevail in that time (see 1:9). Habakkuk said of it all: “The cup of the Lord’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory” (2:16).
We know that a prophet always speaks to his own generation first. Yet, according to Habakkuk himself, this prophetic word is also meant for our generation. He tells us, “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie” (2:3, my italics). Habakkuk was seeing a cup of trembling: “When I heard, my belly trembled . . . I trembled in myself” (3:16).
Here was a godly, praying prophet who for a season was so overwhelmed by awful events that even he trembled. But the Spirit came upon Habakkuk, causing him to prophesy: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” (3:17–19).
God removed the cup of trembling from His servant Habakkuk. And He will do likewise with all His faithful ones today.
“Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—cried out, shouting, ‘Go away! Why are you interfering?’” (Luke 4:33-34, NLT).
I love this word—interfere—that appears in this translation.
You might want to underline that in your Bible if you have a translation that uses the word “interfere” or, if not, write it down in your notes. The God who interferes—who looks at your crisis, your need—and instead of standing on the sidelines worrying and anxious, He interferes in the problems you have in your life.
Jesus interferes with the satanic plans that are formed against you. If it weren’t for the interference of Jesus, Satan would have free access to you. The power of sin and sickness and tribulation would have such freedom in your life that you’d not be able to stand. But Jesus loves you, Jesus cares for you, and when Satan comes with his intended plans to throw you off, He interferes.
“No,” He says. “No, this is not going to happen! I’m going to cause this brother, this sister to stand.”
When you are afraid, when you feel like you are going to fail, when the intentions of the evil one are coming at you from all around, be assured that Jesus will interfere. He’s going to bring things to an end.
Jesus interfered with this demonic man, and there’s so much that He wants to interfere with in your life. Maybe you’re walking in willful disobedience and rebellion to God. His grace is going to interfere and call you back. Maybe you’ve become lukewarm and you have a half-hearted faith. Jesus wants to interfere with that and draw you back. Maybe your concern is a family member and you feel that it’s hopeless; you don’t see any way possible for breakthrough. Jesus interferes in all these things.
So Satan is coming at you—just like we read about Jesus at the side of the cliff, intending to throw Him off. There’s an intended plan by Satan against your life and Jesus comes and interferes with it. You can say, “Praise God” to that if you want, because that’s extremely good news.
As we pray, “Lord, increase our faith,” I ask you to allow God to light a flame in your heart. Abraham, our model of faith, went to rescue a people who were being held captive by a merciless enemy (see Genesis 14:11-16). The text speaks to us of “ruthless conquerors who took everything for themselves.” But one survivor, a victim, fell at Abraham’s feet and forced him to make a decision.
No matter where you are, those who suffer are knocking at the door of the church. There is a modern Church that has chosen to be blind to the suffering that surrounds it. This indifference is an affront to the very nature of God. This Church is obsessed with its own blessings, needs, worship, services, theology and experiences with God, and has a strong tendency to remain “among our own, among Christians.”
In one of his books, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian, told this story that shook me profoundly because it is a true picture of the modern Church. Bonhoeffer was a pastor during the Second World War, at a time when the Nazi holocaust took the lives of six million Jews. History shows that most of the German pastors and priests tolerated or tried to ignore the Nazi insanity and murderous racism that eventually led to the genocide. The Church finally woke up when it was too late. Pastor Bonhoeffer spoke out against the regime of the Third Reich, was thrown into prison, and ultimately was put to death for his courage and convictions.
Bonhoeffer wrote of a conversation he had with a fellow pastor shortly before he was arrested. The pastor confided in him, “It was horrible. Our church is right beside the railway tracks. We can hear the trains going by carrying Jews toward the camps. At first it was rare, but now they go by several times a day. One Sunday several weeks ago, something terribly embarrassing happened. We were right in the middle of our service and the noise from the trains was deafening. Then, just as we were singing worship songs, we heard people crying out, ‘Help us! Help us!’”
Bonhoeffer, horrified, asked him, “Well, what did you do?” The pastor answered, “For a moment I wasn’t sure what to do, but then I told the church congregation, ‘Brothers and sisters, let’s sing louder!’”
Are we, too, “singing louder” so we won’t hear the cries for help so near to us?
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
In nations everywhere, Christ is revealing Himself to multitudes in dreams and visions. People in Arab nations, China and India are reporting their experiences with Jesus in dreams. It is even happening here in New York City.
One of our security men here at Times Square Church was once New York’s third-ranking high priest in Santeria devil worship. His territory was the Bronx, and his apartment was filled with human bones. He had sold himself body and soul to Satan. But this man’s heart was stirred by the Holy Spirit and he became restless. One night he challenged Jesus, “If You are stronger than the devil I serve, show me in a dream tonight.”
That night in a dream, the man saw himself on a train bound for hell. It passed through a tunnel and on the other side stood Satan. The devil told the man, “You have been faithful to me. Now I’m taking you to your eternal resting place.” Then suddenly, a cross appeared. At that moment, the man woke up.
He came out of that experience on fire for Jesus! Ridding his apartment of every trace of evil, he dedicated his life to the Lord. Today, he is a sweet, devout man of God and is active in our church. I stopped him recently and told him, “I see Jesus in you.” He answered, “Brother Dave, you don’t realize what those words mean to me after twenty-five years of serving the devil.” His miraculous new life had all come out of that God-given dream.
Dear saint, the day is coming when the whole world will see Jesus. The apostle John envisioned “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9–10).
This is not a little remnant, but an innumerable multitude and they are all worshiping the Lord. Praise God for that promised day!
How is the last revival going to happen? It requires something powerful, something world-shaking to precipitate it. Isaiah tells us this shaking will happen in one day. In chapter 47, he says the spirit of Babylon must be dealt with. Throughout Scripture, Babylon has always represented a spirit of prosperity, ease and pleasure and the Babylonian spirit is the same in every age.
In short, Isaiah says there can be no widespread, last revival until the spirit of greed and false security is brought down. We can pray for revival, we can cry out to God to pour out His Spirit, but it is impossible unless the Lord first shakes all things: “Hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me. . . . Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know” (Isaiah 47:8, 11, my italics).
God is not going to overlook sin, but He will strike down the devil’s strongholds. He’s going to sound a wake-up call to His Church with a “sudden desolation.” Indeed, this will be an act of great love on the Lord’s part. He so loves His Church that He refuses to allow ease, pleasure and apostasy to blind and ruin the object of His love.
“Let favor be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord” (Isaiah 26:10). Here is proof that revival is impossible in a time of ease and prosperity. Isaiah says in plain terms, “In a time of blessing, the people will not turn.” Nothing is going to happen until the pocketbook is affected. Only “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).
Many are familiar with the passage where Paul equates marriage to God’s relationship with the Church: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31–32).
Now note what Isaiah says: “Thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Isaiah 54:5). Who is the Maker here? It is Christ, creator of heaven and earth. And Isaiah tells us God is our husband. However, the wife has separated herself from her husband: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).
Where do we see this separation today between the Church and God? I see it most obviously in compromised mainline churches. Yet I also see it in the soft-pedaled gospel of post-modern churches. It is evident that there has been a separation from God’s manifest presence. Indeed, it has happened just as Jesus and Paul prophesied. Many have become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God—having a form of religion with no power; despising the gospel of their fathers; tearing down the old moral landmarks; changing God’s infallible Word to suit the times.
I challenge you to go to any city, from church to church of every evangelical persuasion. Try to find one where you recognize the awesome, manifest presence of Jesus, where you encounter His heart-melting conviction. When the Lord is truly present, you recognize it, whether in the singing, the preaching, or the fellowship. Something stirs your soul, and it produces an awe and a reverence. In my experience, this is rarely found.
I am not condemning modern-day churches; God forbid. But may the Lord help us if we don’t have His manifest presence in these last days. And because of the compromise of such churches, He has had to hide His presence from them for a time.
Everywhere we turn in the last days, we will see God’s glory breaking forth in a last revival. Christ’s Church will stretch beyond all former limitations to spread the good news.
“Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (Isaiah 54:2–3). Simply put, the Church will gain strength and raise up multitudes in Christ.
As we look more closely at Isaiah’s prophecy, we see it is meant not only for the Church Body but also for individuals. I know godly servants, friends of mine, who have laid hold of this prophecy as a personal word from the Holy Spirit. And they have built up their faith by its promises: “Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more” (Isaiah 54:4). Isaiah makes it clear in this verse: God’s Church will not go out under reproach.
Yet just a few verses down, we read this warning to the last-days Church: “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires” (Isaiah 54:11). We are told that we will be afflicted and storm-tossed. Yet we are also promised a foundation made of sapphires. What does this mean, exactly?
When God declares, “I will lay thy foundations with sapphires,” His message is, “When everything in the world is being shaken, you will not be moved. The foundation I’m laying underneath you is as solid as these stones. What I’m doing in you cannot be shaken.”
These sapphires represent spiritual knowledge and wisdom, insights into the very heart of God. We know that those who endure suffering come out armed with greater insights into God’s mercy. You may be tempted, tossed, afflicted and alone, but through it all He is forming underneath you a rock-solid foundation. It is all so that you may comfort others in their trials.
Here’s the really good news! Jesus wants to put in you the same Spirit that lives in Him — the same Spirit that gave Him the power to pass right through the enemy’s plans to cast Him off the edge of the cliff (see Luke 4:29-30).
Perhaps addiction has crushed you; the habits of sin have led you to failure; fear and anxiety have caused you to fall into despair. But when Jesus puts “the same Spirit” within you, you can pass right through and declare, “This thing won’t touch me. I might be in a fire but I won’t be burned. I’m coming out alive. I’m coming out on the victory side. I’m not going to be pushed off into things that God doesn’t have for me. I’m going to stay in the firm place where He has set me.”
You may feel pressure all over you but the Lord has given me a word to give to you. And attached to it is a prophetic promise. I said to the Lord, “I’m going to be very cautious about this because sometimes false prophecies come forth that say everything is going to be rosy and bright.” So I’m not saying that to you. There will be difficulties and pressure. There may be plans formed against you, pushing you toward the cliff, toward the edge, but I have an assuring word for you.
If you trust in Jesus, if you wait upon the Lord, if you will hear His message and not listen to the enemy’s voice, you will pass right through the storm in complete victory. You will pass right through the fire. You will pass through every pressure, everything that comes against you — in the name of Jesus.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2, ESV).