Tag Archive: Cross


NOT SO FAST, GOLIATH, NOT SO FAST!
by Carter Conlon

“Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle…And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together…And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass…He stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together” (1 Samuel 17: 1–5, 8–10).

Our present moment in history is very similar to the time in which the Israelites were living when they faced this situation. Remember, they were the people of God, called to represent Him in the world. The miraculous didn’t belong to the Philistines, it belonged to Israel, who had personally witnessed God’s power and deliverance. Earlier in 1 Samuel, we read of some of the previous victories they had, even under King Saul: “So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them” (1 Samuel 14:47).

Yet now as they faced Goliath, the Scripture tells us that “When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11). Isn’t that amazing? After a record of incredible victories and of God’s faithfulness, the Israelites now stood trembling under one voice that cried, “I defy you!” Threatened by a challenge that would make them servants to godlessness, they had no spirit or will to fight back. It was as if they had forgotten why God had left them in the earth in the first place—to be a testimony and a blessing; a visible display of the power of God.

HOW WE END UP POWERLESS
How is it that God’s people end up powerless before the taunts of the enemy? We find a clue when David, who became king after Saul, said, “And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we inquired not at it in the days of Saul” (1 Chronicles 13:3).

In Saul’s victory days, when it seemed as if nobody could stand against the Israelites, the people of God put away the prayer meeting. The Ark was the presence of God, representing His forgiveness, mercy, power and provision. Yet they put it away and began to walk in their own strength, only to find themselves facing a giant that they could not contend with. We might rightfully say that God’s order was breaking down, and another order was threatening to take its place.

Similarly, the Church of Jesus Christ in this country has had her share of past victories, yet today we see God’s order rapidly breaking down as another order comes to take its place. If you don’t realize how ominous this is, very shortly you will. It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to get back to the Ark of God! We must drop all the foolishness that is masquerading as the presence of God and get back into the prayer meeting again.

REJECTING THE FULL IMAGE OF GOD
The Scriptures point to another reason why the people of God end up powerless. Paul explains it in his letter to the Romans: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them…When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…” (Romans 1:18–19, 21–23).

The problem is not that people don’t have truth—they just don’t value it. It is not that people do not study it, they refuse to wholeheartedly embrace it. They do not want what truly represents the glory and full image of God to be made manifest, so they change the image of God into the image of man. In other words, they fashion a more palatable Jesus and ultimately discernment is lost.

What happens to a nation when the Church is backslidden to this degree—when she has lost her voice and is virtually cast out as a nonplayer while society marches farther and farther away from godliness?

“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another…And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:24–28).

Consider how accurately Paul’s description seems to fit of the society in which we currently live: “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:29–32).

Not only do they do these things while claiming to possess some measure of the truth, they take pleasure in those who do them, as well. In other words, they settle for a vicarious enjoyment of sin through other people’s lives. They watch television and movies, content to be entertained by fornicators, liars, murderers and thieves. According to one commentator, the final step of reprobation in a nation is when we will not do it ourselves, but we will be entertained by others who do.

As the people of God have seemingly retreated into a place of powerlessness today, the voice of godlessness is rising once again. Remember that in his taunts, Goliath said to the armies of Israel, “If you cannot put somebody forward to fight this battle and win, then you will be our servants.” That means that unless we get back to the prayer meeting—unless we embrace truth once again and allow ourselves to be empowered by the Spirit of God—we will become servants to godlessness, and the freedoms in the house of God ultimately will be lost. Sharing the burden to see people set free from sin, from homosexuality, and other lifestyles that are a robbery of what God intended them to be, will soon be considered hate speech. I feel we are not very far from the day that it will be against the law.

And so, in a time when it might cost somebody something to stand up and face the giant, we must ask ourselves: Who will have the courage to fight?

THE SECRET BATTLES
There is only one solution: God must have a people who are fearless because they have personally experienced His supernatural power in unseen places. That was the case with a young man named David.

The Bible tells us that David went to Saul and said, “…Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:32). “I will fight! You all have the training and the armor, yet you have lost touch with God! You are no longer gripped with a passion to see the glory of God revealed in the earth again, to see captivated souls set free.”

“And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth” (1 Samuel 17:33). It was as if the devil was now using Saul to try to discourage faith from coming into the battle again. “Look how small you are, you are only a kid. How are you ever going to stand up against this giant?”

David essentially replied, “While I was keeping my father’s sheep, along came a lion and a bear. They took a lamb out of my flock—a lamb I was given by my father to keep. So I went after them, smote them and delivered the lamb. And when the lion rose up against me, I grabbed hold of its mane. The Spirit of God came upon me, and I killed this lion! I won the victory over the lion and the bear, and now this godless Philistine who is standing up and challenging the honor of God will be just like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God” (see 1 Samuel 17:34–37).

David had already witnessed the miraculous; he had already won battles in secret places. That is why I implore you—do not play games; do not pretend to be free if you are not! Go into that secret closet of prayer, lay hold of the victory of Christ and say, “Devil, you are not having my mind! You are not getting my heart or my home! I don’t care how big you are or how small I am in your sight. I have the Spirit of God upon me, and in the name of Jesus, I take authority over you!”

VICTORY BY FAITH ALONE
Finally consenting to let David fight, Saul then tried to fit David with his armor. Now Saul’s armor probably had some marks on it to which he could point and say, “Here is where I once won the victory.” In a similar manner, there are pastors who might say to me today, “Aren’t you a little extreme? After all, we tried these methodologies, and they worked. Our church grew from two hundred to four hundred!” I can agree, just as David could agree with Saul, that yes, there are nicks on your armor from some past victories.

Nevertheless, we now have come to a season when this armor will no longer suffice. It is faith alone that will win the battle. Imagine if David had approached the Philistine with a survey, saying, “Goliath, I’m sorry you are enraged against us, but what will it take to get you to come to our church? A nine-foot bed? A twenty-five foot swimming pool?” No! David had seen the miraculous power of God. He had won victories that were supernatural, partaking of strength that could come only from the Lord. He had found some other weaponry.

Paul speaks of this weaponry in 2 Corinthians 10:4–5: “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strog holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

What was the imagination in this case? Goliath imagined that because of his size and xperience, he would be victorious. Yet he failed to realize that he had exalted himself against the knowledge of God, and that all God required was somebody of faith to rise up again—somebody who was not playing carnal games in the house of God; somebody who had won battles that nobody else knew of.

David pressed past the threats and the scorn, just as we must not be hindered by the ridicule of the godless in this hour. “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (1 Samuel 17:45). In other words, “You have defied God! You stand here with your boasts and your weaponry, claiming that you can make us servants to godlessness. But I want you to know that you are not standing against us, you are standing against God!”

“This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee…and all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:46–47). The battle is the Lord’s! We are not going to match you force for force, and we are not going to win this in the political arena. We are going into the prayer closet, and we will come out strengthened by the Spirit of God!

“And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone…” (1 Samuel 17:49–50). In other words, David was not fighting with human strategy or effort. The only thing he had was complete dependence on God. He took off Saul’s armor and instead went to a brook and picked up five smooth stones. I don’t know how long those stones had been there before they were made smooth, but in a sense they were weapons that had been fashioned by the hand of God—just as we have been given the weapon of prayer, the weapon of being set apart, the weapon of embracing the Word to the point that it takes precedence over everything that this world is trying to tell us.

David went into the battle with only what had been given by the hand of God. We see this repeated over and over throughout the Scriptures—the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. God uses the Esthers and the Gideons; the barren wombs of Elisabeth and Hannah. The armies of Israel knew this truth, but they didn’t believe it. They instead resorted to human reasoning and natural strategies. This, too, has been the great folly of the church in America today.

IT IS TIME TO FIGHT
God help us now, for these dark and ominous days require men and women of faith. I challenge you to win those secret battles now. Don’t hold on to areas of unsurrendered defeat in your own life. Learn to live for the honor of God rather than the preservation of self. Go into the prayer closet and fight it out in the strength of God. Do not let the devil have even an inch, concluding, “All right, he took one lamb. I have ninety-nine left—big deal! Who is going to notice?” No! Go after it, for this is essential in the school of faith. We must learn to say, “We give absolutely no ground to the devil!”

The time has come to stand anddeclare the Word of God unashamedly; to fight for those who are lost, for unborn children, for our families, for our marriages, for the future of this nation! It is time to fight for what God has entrusted to us in this generation. Be aware that as you and I rise up to face the challenges of our day, everything we naturally fear will start moving toward us to convince us that our faith in God is useless. But that is when we must continue to press forward in the power of God, looking these man-made giants straight in the eye, declaring, “Not so fast, Goliath! Not so fast!”

Carter Conlon
©2013 Times Square Church

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PRESSING INTO FEARFUL PLACES
by Carter Conlon

The book of Second Kings speaks of a time when the Syrian army surrounded Samaria in the northern part of Israel and cut off the city’s food supply. This resulted in an intense famine in the land, bringing people to a point of such desperation that they resorted to cannibalism.

Have you ever noticed that when things go wrong, people tend to blame God and His people? That is exactly what happened in this case. The king of Israel became infuriated at the prophet Elisha, threatening to take off his head because of the unspeakable hardship that had come upon the city. By the time the king appeared before Elisha, he was so weak that he had to lean on the messenger who was with him.

The word of God then came to them through Elisha: “Thus saith the Lord, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria” (2 Kings 7:1). In other words, within twenty-four hours, provision would be available at such a cheap price that everybody would be able to afford it. There would be a supply beyond their wildest imagination! Yet, what was the servant’s response to this incredible news? “Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof” (2 Kings 7:2).

What a tragedy! Can you think of a more pitiful spiritual condition than seeing the provision of God right before your eyes but not being able to partake of it? That is exactly what unbelief does. It locks us out of the incredible provision of God.

Imagine, for example, that you were given a free ticket to one of the finest restaurants in town. You have the privilege of going in and ordering anything on the menu that you would like. The food is delicious beyond belief and will surely satisfy your deepest hunger. So you go down to the restaurant and stand on the street corner, peering through the window. You see all the people eating inside, and indeed the food looks good. But you are still on the other side of the window.

Somehow it is a strange affliction of humanity that we just cannot bring ourselves to go into unfamiliar places. Instead, we begin to think of all the reasons why we cannot go in and claim what was freely put into our hands. Will I be embarrassed when it becomes obvious that I have never been in a place like this before? What if I get inside and nobody serves me? What if I find out my ticket is not valid? How will I pay? And so we remain on the outside, looking in.

OUTSIDE OF THE PROMISED LAND
Sadly, that is how many people approach the Scriptures. They see what God says in His Word, they can quote His promises, they can sing about His faithfulness—but the question is, do they truly believe what He spoke? Oftentimes a deep, embedded fear remains in their heart, so they come up with a myriad reasons as to why they cannot claim the inheritance of God.

We find a similar response in the book of Numbers when Moses commissioned twelve men to spy out the Promised Land. “And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs…And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel…and brought back word unto them…and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there” (Numbers 13:23–28).

The spies came back and essentially said, “What God said is true. We saw the provision, and indeed it is a land that flows with milk and honey!” However, not only did they see this incredible provision, they also saw the walled cities, the weaponry, the sons of the giants. As a result, ten of the spies focused on all the reasons why this Promised Land could not be theirs.

Now I want you to draw a parallel to the way we read the Word of God. You and I are always faced with a choice. We can see God’s provision and say, “Yes, it is there. It is true, and it is mine. I am going in to get my full inheritance!” Or we can stand there and say, “I see it; God’s promises are clear. But my parents told me I was useless. My teacher said I would never amount to anything. I don’t have much of an education. God, You know I am facing the giants. I see Your promises, but can’t I just admire them from afar? Surely You understand how limited my strength is and how big the obstacles are. Are You really offended if I choose to stay on the street and just look in the window?”

IT HAS ALREADY BEEN PAID FOR
Years ago, I received a complimentary dinner for four to one of the finest restaurants in the city. I saved it and took my father and mother there for their fiftieth anniversary. The maitre d’ sat us in one of the best booths, and we were presented with a menu offering an extensive array of dishes, listed at incredible prices.

When it came time to order, the poor waiter almost choked when my father said, “I would like a hamburger patty, mashed potatoes and gravy, and no vegetables.” My father was a miner, so he was accustomed to eating that way and was somewhat fearful of change. I remember how flustered he got when the waiter broke the news to him that they didn’t serve hamburger patties there.

How many of us do the very same thing, despite the fact that the Lord has set an incredible “menu” before us? “I’ll have a hamburger patty, please,” we say, when God says we can be an evangelist. God offers us the privilege of daily partaking of His very own life; of being led to places that are beyond the familiar; of experiencing something that is deeper than anything we have ever known. It is all available as part of our inheritance in Christ.

Jesus once told His disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16:12–15).

Jesus was saying, “The Holy Spirit is going to come to you; He will take what is Mine and show it to you because it is yours!” We now know that Jesus was referring to all that was purchased on the cross of Calvary. In other words, “I am giving you a ticket to everything that I have bought for you on the cross. I am giving you entrance into the victory that I won; every promise in the Bible is yours. The freedom, the vision, the healing, the supernatural empowerment of God to do the impossible—it is all yours!” However, although this is freely available to us as the children of God, we still must press in to lay hold of it.

LAYING HOLD OF GOD’S PROVISION
Continuing from our opening text in Second Kings, we see that the day did come when God made provision available, thus fulfilling the word He had spoken through the prophet Elisha. How exactly did He do it?

It all began with four lepers sitting outside the city gate finally coming to the conclusion, “Well, there’s no point in staying here! We are going to starve. We might as well go into the camp of the Syrians” (see 2 Kings 7:3–4). As the four of them headed down toward the enemy’s camp, the Lord made their footsteps sound like an approaching army, striking such fear into the Syrian army that they immediately fled. When the lepers arrived at the camp, they could barely believe what they saw—food everywhere, campfires still burning, horses still tied to their posts. Everything their hearts desired was right there before them!

Moved with compassion, the lepers gave word to the city’s gatekeepers about their discovery, and provision was eventually unlocked to the entire city. “And the people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord. And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him” (2 Kings 7:16–17). The king’s servant, the one who hesitated and refused to believe the word of the Lord, was run over and trampled to death. May that never become the story of any of the King’s servants today!

On the other hand, we see that a group of people pressed through to this promise of provision—just as multitudes have done over the years. Think about all who have pressed in and found the power of God—the weak who have been made strong; those who couldn’t put two words together who went on to become great preachers of the gospel; those who were once despairing and ended up bringing hope to others!

Even the early church, as frail and feeble as you and I, walked into the camp of Jesus’ victory and found incredible provision. Those 120 disciples must have been aware that stepping out of that Upper Room could have meant death for some of them. Nevertheless, they were willing to press in to that fearful place. They knew that something had been purchased for them on the cross, and they were determined to get it. The words that Jesus had spoken to them must have come back to their mind—that the Comforter was going to come to them, take the victory that Christ won, and show it to them because it was theirs for the asking.

I can picture these men and women rising up to possess what was theirs, as if they were walking straight into the Promised Land. They went in to lay hold of the resources of God that they needed—boldness, love, a willingness to lay down their lives, if necessary, for the sake of His glory. And when they came out of that Upper Room, the disciples were clothed in righteousness and the power of God. They had new minds, courage in place of fear, vision where they once saw only their own frailty. As they stepped out into the public sphere, the 120, gripped by the power of God, overthrew the whole known world of their time. Even Peter, who had previously denied Jesus out of fear, preached a sermon that moved at least three thousand people to give their lives to Christ. This early church had clearly taken possession of their inheritance of the incredible provision of God!

GET UP AND GO IN
The good news that I have for you today is: Nothing has changed! The provision of God is still available; the Promised Land in Christ is still ours. The strength and ability of God to take us into His life is still there. The only thing that we have to face is fear—the fear of change, the fear of rejection, the fear of God calling us to an arena that we are not familiar with. But that is what faith is all about. Faith does not take us to where we are comfortable or can manage in our own strength. No! Faith takes us to places where only faith can sustain us.

You and I must have a willingness to press in to these fearful places. Perhaps the fearful place for you means getting out of a cocoon of security or out of a relationship that you know is wrong. It may simply begin by getting out of where you shouldn’t be so that you can get to where you should be. Whatever the case, we must get to the point in our lives where we say, “Enough staring in the window, I am going in the door. I don’t care what people think. I have a paid ticket to the provision of God, so I am going in. I am going to sit at the finest table, and I am going to order everything on the menu!”

That is who we are in Christ, and we must not settle for less in this hour! This generation deserves to have a glorious Church; this generation deserves to have a witness and a testimony—a people who have pressed in to fearful places and laid hold of the strength of God in Jesus Christ. It is time we rise up and say, “I am not settling for mediocrity when God has called me to glorify the Name of Jesus Christ on the earth. I am not going to let the devil destroy my family when God said that if I believe, not only I but my household would be saved; that if I fear the Lord and walk in His commandments, my seed would be mighty on the earth. I am not settling for less than my inheritance. I am going to press in by faith and prayer, knowing that everything in this Bible is mine!”

As you make the choice to press in to these fearful places, people’s futures will be changed. There will be people at the throne of God who will put their arms around your neck and say, “Thank you for standing up in the workplace. I would not have known Christ if you hadn’t. Thank you for coming to me in my poverty. Thank you for being a visible demonstration of God to me!”

So get up and go in—that was the message of Elisha, and that is the word of the Lord to you today. Get up and go in, for there is a miraculous life available to all who are willing to claim it. Hallelujah!

Carter Conlon
©2013 Times Square Church

“Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
“Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:1–11).

Forgiveness—that is what this story is all about. How important is forgiveness? Well, very simply, without it we are not saved. It is conclusive in the Scriptures that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have fallen short of who we were created to be, of how God designed our lives to be lived, of what kind of testimony we should have here on earth. We are truly amazed when we come to a place of understanding the depths of our sin yet recognize how God, in His mercy, chose through His Son to forgive us.

Forgiveness is also directly linked with mountain-moving faith. Jesus once told His disciples, “…Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe…he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore…What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:23–25). Jesus was saying, “I am willing to give you faith that can move mountains—all those things that stand before you and hinder what your life is destined to be. Whatever you are lacking, I will supply. But when you come to Me, if you have anything in your heart against others, forgive them, that your Father in heaven may forgive your trespasses.”

It is clear that without forgiveness, we cannot remain in the life flow of the blessing of God. Jesus went on to say, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:26). That does not mean that you lose your salvation every time you struggle with unforgiveness, for it is a struggle that no one is immune to. However, it does mean that when we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, a sense of well-being is lost. That life flow and ability to hear from God becomes hindered because ultimately the kingdom of God is all about forgiveness.

AN OUTWARD DISPLAY
Picture for a moment the scene in our opening text: Jesus is sitting in the temple teaching the people when suddenly in bursts some scribes and Pharisees. Keep in mind that the scribes and Pharisees were the keepers of the law—the ones who were supposed to represent the testimony of God in the earth. To their credit, they started out with the desire to preserve the Word of God. Fearing that it might eventually devolve into something other than what God had originally meant, they set out to be purists. They intended to guard the Word and to exemplify what was written in the text of Scriptures that they had up until that time. However, they ended up being more of an example of how religious zeal and incomplete obedience to the full revelation of God in the Scriptures can leave people bearing very little resemblance to Jesus.

Into the midst of the crowd they came, bringing a woman who was of the family of faith but who obviously had fallen and failed. Casting her down at the feet of Jesus, they said, “This woman claims to belong to the family of Abraham, part of the seed of God’s testimony on earth, but we caught her in the very act of adultery. Our Scripture says that she should be condemned and stoned to death. What do you say, Jesus?” The Word says that they asked this question in order to test Jesus and have reason to accuse Him. Ironically, they were quoting the Word of God, but they were arguing with the author—trying to tell Him what He meant when He wrote the Book.

Consider as well the outward appearance of the scribes and Pharisees in this whole scene. They would have been spit-and-polished, with everything pristine—their garments pressed with precision, the borders of their sleeves and skirts measured to exactly the right length. They had prayer shawls over their shoulders and prayer beads attached to their sides so that they would be known as people of prayer. Standing there adorned with all of this paraphernalia, they also had one more thing—they had stones in their hands. Or at least they had stones very close at hand, ready to condemn anyone who failed to meet their religious ideals.

REWRITING THE SCENE
Now contrast this to Jesus, who, according to Scripture, identified with the common man. He was made in our likeness, He took upon Himself our frailty, and He understands our weaknesses. He had no outward display—no symbols of prayer and obedience—except the manifestation of the full power and purpose of God.

As a carpenter’s son, Jesus likely wore regular workman’s garments. There was probably dirt around His knees since He had stooped down to write on the ground with His finger. Although we do not know exactly what He wrote, we do know that it stung the conscience of the religious but gave hope to a woman who had fallen. In other words, Jesus rewrote a scene of judgment and death into a place of forgiveness and hope. He rewrote this woman’s future—perhaps giving her the reassurance that her past as well as present frailties were still covered by the mercy of God, for she knew she was a sinner in need of a Savior. On the other hand, those standing by with the stones had long lost the understanding that they themselves were outside of the kingdom of God, having failed to represent His heart of mercy.

Jesus could not have rewritten this moment in history if He, too, had been holding stones. The same holds true for you and me. If we are found with stones in our hands, we will not have any power to make a difference or to rewrite the future; we will be unable to represent God in our generation. After all, how can we represent a kingdom that is established on a foundation stone of forgiveness if there is unforgiveness in our hearts? It is simply not possible, which is why we must come to a place of total forgiveness. Of course, this is never easy. It means that we must learn to overcome grievances that have been learned or personally experienced—sometimes deeply embedded over the course of our lifetime.

HOW TO LET GO
I remember a time when I was betrayed by somebody whom I loved and trusted. The betrayal was so deep in my heart that it took me about a year to get over it. I cannot tell you how many times I went before God and said, “Lord, I am not even at forgiveness yet—I am dealing with trying not to hate somebody. You have to help me.” No matter how many times I attempted to put those stones down, my hands simply would not let them go. If I succeeded in throwing them down for a moment, it was as if a bungee cord was attached to them, and they eventually bounced right back up into my hands again.

Nevertheless, I persisted in the battle, not willing to be a hypocrite in the kingdom of God. I found myself in the same place over and over, praying the same kinds of prayers, until one day, the Lord spoke to my heart: “Here’s how to do it. Turn your hands over and let Me take the stones away.” I realized at that moment that it was impossible for me to put them down in my own strength. Only the Lord could take away the stones, and I found that He was willing to do it.

The Scriptures speak of another man who had stones in his hands. He dwelt in the mountains and in the tombs—one is a high place and the other is as about as low as you can go on the earth (see Mark 5:1–5). However, instead of casting his stones at other people, he was cutting himself with them. It is a picture of a person who hates himself for what he has done and for what he is becoming. Just like the Pharisees, this man needed the courage to say, “Jesus, take these stones from my hands.”

Likewise, many Christians today are unwilling to forgive themselves for the things they have done in the past. Although the Lord has cleansed them, they persist in calling themselves unclean. God alone can give them the grace to let go of the past—to release the stones from their hands.

REPRESENTING CHRIST IN THE DAYS AHEAD
Without forgiveness at the core of our being, we can talk about Jesus, but we cannot represent Him. People who merely talk about Jesus become concerned solely about the exterior—about their own reputation, about being called, “Teacher, Teacher” and having the best seats at banquets (see Matthew 23:6–7). These things become the whole focus of their life. The people who truly represent Jesus are the ones bending down, writing in the sand. They are rewriting into people’s lives the mercies of Almighty God, no matter what they have done or how they have fallen.

I believe very soon many prodigals will be returning to the house of God—men and women who perhaps gave their lives to Christ when they were young, yet somehow ended up on a wrong path. They took the life of Christ and went far beyond the borders of where they should have been living—but not beyond the reaches of God’s love. And now the Lord is giving His church the opportunity to represent Him, offering these people hope for the present and rewriting their future. Just as the father welcomed the prodigal son when he came home, we can put our arms around others, covering their failures and empowering them to become everything that God is calling them to be. We can put a robe over their shoulders, shoes on their feet, and invite them to join us on the journey. But before we can do this, we must put down our stones.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to misrepresent Christ in this world. Yet if I am ever going to err, let it be on the side of mercy. Let it be mercy that rewrites my life and the life of everybody God desires to touch through me. I want to be a bridge builder, not a bridge destroyer. I want to see the church come to life once again in our generation—every race, every nationality, every denomination coming together as one body in Jesus Christ for this final moment of time. This means that all of us must drop our stones—denominational stones, racial stones, all the grievances that we have been holding on to. By the grace of God, we must be willing to stoop down, get our hands and knees dirty, and start rewriting the future in people’s lives.

It all begins by holding up our hands and saying, “Jesus, take the stones from my hands. I know that I do not have a right to carry these, but I cannot put them down. You have to take them from me.” Remember, Jesus is not angry with your frailty or your struggle. All He is asking is that you simply turn your hands over and trust Him. Trust Him to take away any unforgiveness in your heart, any self-condemnation, any inner judgments that you may not even be aware of. It is God alone who can help you to forgive and bring you into this place of mercy and faith that He speaks of. It is God alone who can enable you to stop beating yourself for your past failures.

If we do not come to God and allow Him to take away these grievances now, as the body of Christ we are going to be swallowed by the evil of this generation. After all, it is clear that we are living in an hour when society is becoming increasingly divided and civility has practically gone out the window. This comes as no surprise, for Jesus warned that in the last days, nation will rise against nation (see Matthew 24:7). In the original Greek, this means that ethnic culture will rise against ethnic culture. In other words, the world will be marked by bitter divisions and hatred. Yet in the midst of this, you and I cannot be found like the rest of society. If we end up embracing any part of this system that is throwing stones at each other, we will no longer represent the Christ who went to a cross. Let everyone else do the judging, but we are called to live by a higher law—the love of God, the mercy of God and the forgiveness of God in Christ Jesus. It is the willingness to embrace what we would not naturally embrace; the willingness to call “clean” what others regard as unclean; the willingness to receive with hope
what others would call failed.

There is no other gospel that will change the hearts of men. It is not our garments, it is not our Scripture memorization, it is not our big Bibles —it is the love and mercy of God in our hearts that will make the difference. It is time to allow Jesus to take the stones out of our hands so that we can truly represent Him in this generation. As we learn to forgive, and as we are willing to stoop down and identify with people who the whole religious scene is about to write off in their ignorance, I believe there will be a harvest of souls in this generation beyond anything we ever could have imagined. Hallelujah!

Carter Conlon
©2012 Times Square Church

Okay I’m sure the title probably got your attention. I know this will probably irritate quite a few but oh well. First let me share a scripture.
Proverbs 6:16-19 (KJV)
16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

There is one word here we will look at : madown) :- discord, strife.taken from maw-dohn – a contest or quarrel :- brawling, contention (-ous), discord, strife. Notice this includes the idea of quarrelling.

I think one of the most demonically inspired things to come into the Body of Christ is this division idea. Hence our ” Camp”. Have you been asked that? What ” Camp” are you in? Or what ” bunch” are they a part of ? When someone says ” What are you ? I usually reply ” A Christian” and I attend at this meeting place. May I show you some of the stupidness behind this? I will name the ” Camp ” and make a point:
Word of Faith – Those faith people! > Duh everything you obtain from God is by FAITH! HELLO! So yes I’m a Word of Faith guy. You can’t even be saved without faith. Now if your talking about some particular teaching then address that . Every ” Camp ” I know of probably has something that needs to be addressed. I have faith in the faithfulness of God!
Cross Camp – Well guilty here too. I preach the Cross as well. I believe everything that we needed was provided at the Cross and Resurrection. You have to have both ! I may not preach it exactly as you do but I do preach it because the Cross is essential! Everything we have is because of the Cross. The power of the Cross is without measure.
Prophetic Camp – Goodness guilty here too. I believe in the Prophetic as guided by the Holy Spirit. However I don’t run around chasing conference after conference and whatever I do hear it is always held up to the scrutiny of the Word test. If it doesn’t line up with the whole counsel of God – forget it . I don’t care who says it.

Full Gospel Camp – Uh oh – guilty here too. Been raised in it all my life. I believe ALL the Gifts of the Spirit are still available today for the Church. I do not believe in cessation! The main reason is the Church’s mission isn’t over! If ever we needed the Gifts to operate it is now! Under the direction of the Holy Spirit!I certainly seek to be used by God in this way and minister in the Gifts when so directed.
Prosperity Camp – Geesh guilty here too. I have this idea God wants me blessed so that I can be a blessing and channel to others. Now do I think that means a Mercedes in every driveway – four homes – vacation retreats and yachts – NO! I just don’t think God wants me to barely exist – always struggle – and not be able to help others. So yes I believe in being prosperous to be a blessing not satisfy the need for things and bling!
KJV Translation Camp – Well oh no guilty here. Bless God if it was good enough for the Apostle Paul it’s good enough for me. I personally love the language of the King James Version and usually use it when speaking. However I like my “Amplified Bible” and one I have that has 26 different translations in it as well such as Beck, Phillips, Moffett, etc. I have Greek and Hebrew study bibles etc. I am for any tool that will help with clarity as long as there is no messing with the true message of the Word.
Holiness Camp – Guilty! It is mandatory! Now if you mean by that do I believe in certain rules and regulations? I must ask what is your definition of Holiness? What you wear or don’t wear? Whether you have a tv or not ? Etc , etc. Holiness is this – the character and nature of God worked into your life by the Spirit of God with the fruit of that being evident to all.
I could go on and on about different ” Camps ” . Personally I’m tired of the Bickering and Elitest mentality. I’m sure God is. Here is a novel approach – let’s try this –
Army of the Lord Camp – Yep – I like it. Thats where I am going to ” Camp” . Being born again by the Spirit of God- filled with the Holy Spirit – preaching Jesus and Him crucified so that others might be saved to walk in newness of life, translated from the kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light – to move under the direction of the Holy Spirit – allowing the Word and the Holy Spirit to transform me into ” Christlikeness” – so that I may mature in Him and fulfill my place and function in the Body of Christ- so that His anointing may flow through my life so that I may help others to be delivered from the bondages of the enemy.To walk in obedience to the voice of the Lord of Host – to the best of my ability hear His commands and be willing to obey whatever the price so that I may please Him and see Him exalted in the earth. That’s my ” Camp ” – I believe it’s called ” Christian ” :0)
Be Blessed!> Dennis

What is Repentance? Sermon for 3-12-12 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:36-39

You will rarely hear a message on repentance today like the one Peter preached at Pentecost. His sermon led thousands to freedom in Christ. We’ve traded repentance for self help, psychology & the pursuit of happiness.

In order for their to be True Repentance, there must be an acknowledgment of sin. Sin, another term that we are now afraid to preach about in America.

Sin is no longer challenged or preached against especially by televangelist. A carnal preacher will seldom challenge sin because GOD forbid, you may leave and he may not get your money. They may offend you and in this Politically Correct day and age, the last thing we want to do is offend somebody or loose a potential customer.

What is Repentance?

Repentance is sorrow, regret and remorse over sin. Regret that you went against and violated the God who created you, gave you life and died on the Cross for the very sins you now feel sorry for. The Hebrew word translated means “to turn back” or “turn around” The Prophets of the Old Testament used this word to encourage people to a radical, conscious rejection of past sin.Repentance is a change in one’s way of life. Repentance is running from your sin, doing a U-Turn, going in the opposite direction where you are so disgusted with yourself that you never want to commit that sin again. And if you Truly Repent: You never will.

“Repentance is more than just sorrow for the past; repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving the Savior as king in self’s place.” ~ J.I.P.

Only the sacrifice of Christ’s blood can forgive. But repentance is the only way to know true healing and rejoicing. There is no other way to enter the peace and rest of Christ except through the doors of repentance. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the fruit that results from repentance:

Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 7: 9-11“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”“ Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

Repentance is the only way healing and strength can come to those who are caught up in sin.

In the book of Acts, which tells the story of the early church, the preaching of Repentance is mentioned nearly a dozen times.

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” Acts 3:19

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,” Acts 17:30

“but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” Acts 26:20

“testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21

Jesus speaks of Repentance over 22 times in the Gospels and He also mentions it several times in the Book of Revelation.

In Mark 2:17 Jesus said clearly He came to call sinners to repentance.“When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:17

He also clearly calls us to preach repentance in Luke 24:46-47“Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[h] from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46-47

Warning a sinner to run to the Cross or perish — is the greatest love message that can be offered to man. For it is repentance and trusting in the finished work of the Cross that leads to forgiveness.

What did John the Baptist preach? Matthew 3:1-11

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:‘Prepare the way of the Lord;Make His paths straight.’”Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:1-11

“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Mark 1:4

“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15

Jesus says Repent or Perish ~ Luke 13:1-5

“There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5

Rejoicing in Heaven “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10

“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8-9

God wants us to Repent!

“Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?”’ 11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ Ezekiel 33:10-11

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4

Where are the God fearing men? Why do we allow this madness?Why do we seek to listen to and follow men and idols instead of God & Scripture? We act like dumb ignorant dogs, slaves to our masters, slaves to our sin who return to our own vomit over & over & over again!

You think you’re serving Him by saying, “I’ll repent some day.” That’s not a favor, that’s an insult. God, you’re good, just not good enough for me to give that up right now. These things are more precious to me than You. This sin is more beautiful than You, more valuable than you. It’s about me God! God, You’re good, just not good enough for me to repent and turn from my sin right NOW. My sin and satisfying my flesh are more important to me. I’ll repent one day when my sins ruin me, I’ll repent on my time. I’ll repent when I’m ready.” But what you’re saying to God is saying, “God, I’ll repent on my terms, not Yours. I’ll repent when I want to.”If you are doing this: You are insulting a Holy God!

No man is an island is the old saying . No one – let me repeat no one can accomplish their purpose , vision or calling alone. Everyone needs others. Businesses needs customers – teachers need students – children need parents ( regardless of their opinion :0) – marriage takes two – etc , etc. Even in the Body of Christ we need each other. It is no different. We have need of each other. That is why the scripture uses the analogy of a Body. Each joint supplieth the other joint to form a whole. What good are feet without legs? You may be the best foot in the universe – your toes exquisite beyond compare – yet if not attached to legs guess what – your going nowhere! So says the leg – I’m the most important – yep feet your okay but without me baby it ain’t happening – so now we have an attitude to appear. To top it off they may not be the best set of legs out there :0) They may not stack up well with those like ” Betty Grable ” fame of old. I think you understand the point.

Now why am I sharing this ? Most of us ; especially in ministry need others or ” partners ” to help us achieve what God wants us to achieve. Relax this is not a plea for Partners :0) What I am saying is sometimes we need to step back and look at who may be trying to ” Partner ” with us. This is critical! I ran across this today and thought it may help you. It helps to cut through the murkiness sometime :

King Solomon gave us seven red flags to watch out for in Proverbs :
1. Lack of integrity ( Prov. 29:24)
2. Quick- tempered or deep seated anger ( Prov. 22:24)
3. Pattern of foolish behavior ( Prov. 14:7)
4. Anyone who offers a lot for a little, or quick riches ( Prov. 25:19,28:22)
5. Excessive use of flattery ( especially to ingratiate you to them) ( Prov. 29:5)
6. Inclination to gossip or exaggerate ( Prov. 20:19)
7. A disregard for rules, regulations, laws or personal boundaries ( Prov. 28:7)

Who am I to argue with King Solomon? Hope it gives you something to ponder :0)
Be Blessed > Dennis

Religion is demonstration of an attitude or lifestyle that lives under total condemnation. Those displaying this attitude consistently condemn themselves and/ or condemn others. Religious bondage is a restriction that allows for keeping up with, or one-upping the Jones’s, while maintaining an outward appearance of piety. I heard it said that for religion to flourish, there must be a neck to step on.

I have personally been treated this way by (religious) groups of people, by those who name the name of Christ. It’s a terrible day, ladies and gentleman, when fratricide is displayed in the body. This is a sin as leprosy is a sin. Eventually, the body left undiagnosed will eat itself up. Back biting is defined in some cultures as the actual eating of another’s flesh, stealing the strength of the victim for the biter. Religion permits back biting one another until the entire body is crippled, paralyzed and dead.

The Bible says, true religion, undefiled, is ministering to widows and orphans and keeping oneself unspotted by the world. (Jam 1:27) BIBLICAL religion demonstrates a love for others that comes out of a heart that loves God. Can I ask if we are demonstrating the love we KNOW, and is our demonstration evidence of the love we DON’T KNOW?

Jesus said ANY man may come and drink of the water of life. He also said that if we believe, out of our belly will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37-38) Let me ask you, have you denied another believer the blessing of refreshing from your life because of a religious decision?

That person is too _____.
I just don’t agree with _____ about _____.
They go to ‘so and so’ church and it’s a _______ church, so I can’t be their friend.

Brethren, the Lord loved you while you were still a sinner. He died for the ungodly, bearing the worst punishment imaginable; the very wrath of Almighty God. (Rom 5:6-8) He loves you still, as He is molding you and shaping you into a vessel of honor. He extends His grace to you, His mercy upon you, His Word to feed you, His presence to comfort you. He constantly forgives, consistently forgives. Jesus is our redeemer. God is LOVE.(1 Jhn 4:8) He bids you to come to Him and find rest for your soul. Won’t you demonstrate today, that you know the love of God, by loving others the way the Lord loves you? (1 Jhn 4:16)

As we have stepped into this New Year, I believe we also have entered a season when the Lord is asking His people to stop and consider something. Most likely it will be a short season, but a critical one—a season to seriously consider the extent to which we are willing to embrace and follow the full pathway that God has put before us.

Unfortunately, we are living in a time when much of the church of Jesus Christ has become hemmed in by the boundaries that society has set around it. We have allowed a handful of people to dictate when we can and cannot pray in public; what we can and cannot do in the name of Christ. Such limitations have been put in place despite the fact that those who believe in Jesus statistically comprise over 70 percent of the American population. We have retreated to a place where we can be assured that we will be tolerated—knowing that the world will have no problem as long as there is nothing in the church that stands as a definitive contrast to a society that continues to cast off moral restraint at an unprecedented level.

In God’s Word we read of a church called Ephesus—a church known for its works, endurance and doctrinal purity. Yet Jesus said to them, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4). The church had lost the very thing that made her attractive—a wholehearted love for Christ and the embracing of His work on the earth. Those outside the church must have looked in and seen a relationship of merely mutual tolerance, much like a marriage that had lost its spark of love and passion.

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? The first days of your marriage? You were filled with passion, unashamed to be seen in public with your spouse. You walked down the street arm in arm, proud to acknowledge that this was the person you had given your life to.

Sadly, we look at much of what is purported to be the testimony of Christ today and cannot help but wonder where the passion is. It is like the married couple who stays together for convenience or for the sake of the children, all the while completely unaware of how unattractive their relationship has become. No wonder so many people have concluded, “If this is what a relationship with God looks like, no thank you! If this is the passion it produces, if this is the character that evolves from it, I would rather find something else.”

A MERCY CALL

Although we have in large measure moved away from the simplicity of Christ and have formulated theologies to justify our backslidden condition, I am thankful this is not the end of the story. The Bible tells us that we have a season to consider our ways. The prophet Haggai spoke to the people of God who were called to rebuild the testimony of Christ in their generation:

“Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little…Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit” (Haggai 1:4–10).

Consider your ways! Haggai was saying to the people, “You have settled into a form of religiousness. You developed strategies to fill the house of God and mask the encroaching spiritual bankruptcy, but now you suddenly find heaven closed. You boasted of a great harvest that was going to come in, but where is it? You had sporadic gatherings, seemingly with no substance, and the Lord blew it all away.”

Today’s church has made conversion so easy. There is no longer a need for repentance, no requirement to turn from sin, no admonition to give one’s life fully to the work and cause of Jesus Christ. Instead, people are told that if they will simply repeat a little two-line prayer, their sins will be forgiven and they will be on their way to heaven. We have opened the gates wider than the Scriptures have opened them. We have brought in a supposed harvest, but now are finding that this harvest has no power to stand against all that society is throwing against it. Many claim to be Christians, but where are the warriors—the men and women of character? Where are those who are willing to stand in the face of the storm?

“And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands” (Haggai 1:11). The Lord called for a drought, and this is exactly where we find ourselves today. The Lord has called for a drought in America in order to get the attention of His people, as well as that of a lust-laden society.

Remember, the mercy of God sends us into the storm. Yes, it is judgment, but mercy precedes and triumphs over judgment. We need to be brought into a place of realizing our true condition. How tragic it would be to live as if everything is fine only to discover later that we missed the whole purpose, stopped short of the gateway to eternal life, and lived a cultural Christianity with no reality in it.

AN ALTAR OUTSIDE THE GATE
The writer of Hebrews tells us, “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle” (Hebrews 13:10). We have an altar! Yet there are those whose whole relationship with God is based on ordinances, laws and obligations. They have lost their passion and settled for a mediocre Christianity, just doing their time, reading their Bible for ten minutes every day, and vocally professing to be a Christian. They may not have the courage to love God in public or the heart to do His work, but there is also an altar for that—an altar with no power. There is no lasting ability, no sustaining strength, no revelation—nothing but ideas out of men’s natural minds.

On the other hand, there exists an altar that is much deeper and more satisfying, but it requires a refusal to settle for rituals and profitless labor. That is why Paul said to Timothy, “Stir up the gift of God that is in you” (see 2 Timothy 1:6). When you first came to Christ, the hand of God came upon you, and you were called to do something that only you could do. God gave you a responsibility, and He endowed you with gifts to glorify His name. So do not let things spiral down to the point of merely coming to church out of obligation; a passionless relationship with God that bears no fruit in the earth. If you allow that to happen, you can be certain that nobody will desire what you have. People will look at your relationship with God and conclude, “I am already despairing enough. I do not need religion adding to my misery!”

“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Hebrews 13:12). He suffered outside the gate! For the sake of saving us and enabling us to walk again with a holy God, Jesus traveled outside the gate—outside the limitations, outside the borders of the religion that tried to confine Him. He could have risen to become one of the highest in the whole echelon, but He refused to play their game. Therefore, they dragged Him outside the gate, outside of the city.

“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:13–15). You and I are called to “go forth out of the camp” to where Jesus is. In other words, we have a chance as a church to come out from our cultural captivity—to come out to a new place where our mouths are open in constant thanksgiving. We can come out and approach the altar where the fire of God truly is, where His glory abounds, where people are given abilities that could only come from the heart of God.

Going to that altar requires humility, a contrite heart—admitting that perhaps our religion falls short of the glory of God for our lives. Notice that the Scripture speaks of “bearing His reproach.” That means it will require a death to self and a willingness to step outside the gate, for that is where this altar is found. At this altar we are willing to endure the scorn of a fallen world; we will not let the snickers in the workplace prevent us from bowing our heads. No! We have an altar, and it is called being given for the glory of God and for the souls of men. There is a place that this church age has been called to—a place where we fight to bring people into true freedom.

Hebrews 12:1 says it this way: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…” The writer is referring to those saints described in the previous chapter—those who faced threats, fire, flood, trial, personal inability—yet none of these things were able to stop them. The same holds true for every genuine believer in Christ today—there is nothing that can stop the plan of God ordained for those who choose to be given for His glory.

“…Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). No weight can crush us; no sin can keep us! Jesus came to give sight to the blind, to open the prison doors to those who are bound, to heal those whose hearts have been wounded. That means we are free to get up and walk out of every place of captivity, and no opposition or limitation can stop us in this race. The only thing that can stop us is our personal choice to live within the confines that a fallen society has placed around us, cowering when they regard us as narrow, misguided, weak or foolish.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him… ” (Hebrews 12:2). The source of His strength, the vision that was before His eyes, was the joy of seeing you free; the joy of having you back in a living relationship with Him! It was all about you and me. Yet what have we set before us in this generation? Gold, cars, jobs, position and power. No wonder there is no joy in much of what professes to be Christianity. Our focus is wrong—it should be all about people! Jesus did not quit or give in to the scorn or accusations that came against Him, because He saw you and me ruling and reigning with Him forever. We will not tremble or remain silent once we begin to see the men and women around us the way Jesus sees them.

“[He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus won a victory! That is the altar that you and I have if we are willing to join Him outside the city; if we are willing to escape the boundaries and be put outside of a people who really are fighting against their own salvation.

“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:3). Consider Him! Consider what He endured, and consider what you are willing to endure. Consider how deep and how far you are going to go in this walk with God. Are you going to settle in and become a powerless voice as Lot did—a man who was so intermixed with the ways of society that even after meeting with angels, he could barely bring his own family out of captivity? Or will you be like Noah, who built an ark, enduring the ridicule of people who passed by every day, and said, “You foolish old man, it has not rained here for years, and you are building a boat?” Yet the Bible says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and he brought his whole family to safety with him.

STOP AND CONSIDER
Do you feel the urgency of this hour? Do you realize that we are about to enter a storm of unprecedented proportions? Just as in Noah’s day, some people may ridicule this message and put it away. However, I urge you to get oil now, to get strength now, to make a choice now. As Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

The prophet Isaiah said that in the last days, in the midst of the darkness, there will be a people who have a song of praise to God (see Isaiah 30:29). Of course, that does not just happen. It all starts when we make a choice to consider Jesus, understanding that the victory He has already won can be ours. We make a choice to go to an altar in a place that those who play games with God cannot go.

I encourage you to let 2012 be a year when you consider Jesus. Consider whether you will follow Him all the way. That means not being half-measure, not falling short, not running a cheater’s race, not bowing to the boundaries of society, not settling in to a relationship of begrudging service in the house of God. If you are determined not to settle for anything less than the fullness of what He has for you, you will find that the Lord will give you the strength of character to be salt and light in your city. He will give you compassion for all men, even those who oppose you. You will be taken into the divine life of Christ, and this will be a year when God will astound you!

Carter Conlon
©2012 Times Square Church

People all over the world are broken hearted and in despair. Can we, as Christians, present the answer to them, ie…. Jesus Christ and Him Crucified????

You know maybe we can…….. If we would smile instead of snarl……. If we could somehow put ourselves in their place (we all have been) instead of looking down on them and making them feel like second class humans…… If perhaps we could give a little more than we take; fix a few more than we break; and realize that in their eternity, we have a stake…..

If only you and I could learn to take the words of Jesus seriously when He said to love your neighbor as yourself…. Maybe therein lies part of the problem; maybe you do not see how greatly valuable YOU are in His eyes and His heart… He died on the Cross for you and would have if you were to be the only one…. But you weren’t the only one… Jesus died for every sinful, twisted, warped, perverted, depressed soul in the world; you and I included. Should that not cause us to look at people differently? Tell me…

Sin has done and is doing its deal level best to destroy this world and all of us in it… I can only hope and believe that Jesus will mature His church and teach us the true meaning of His awesome and great love…

They are out there; those who by dust of the Earth are a part of us. They are hurting. They are crying; believe me. And you and I often pass by them every day and seldom offer so much as a friendly smile let alone the message of Jesus… Help me o God… I repent for failing you. Please give me your Mercy and Grace to make a difference somehow, in this world of sin, today…

I LOVE YOU JESUS…. please forgive me for not often showing it……..

It is so easy to walk through life and just see what is going on in your three feet of life. We experience so much each day and so many things can steal our focus. We can just see three feet in front of us. What am I going through? What is my family going through? Sometimes that is where it ends.

Sometimes we hear all the pains and sorrows going on, we hear it and see it, but then we do nothing because we start feeling hopeless.

Sometimes we listen to the news, we see what is going on around us, and the concerns of the day, then we forget that we have a heritage from God. We must not shrink into our own shell when we see hurt and pain around us.

We are to reach out. We are to make a difference, give hope to the hopeless, to provide a word of life to those who are dying. Do not get caught up in the sorrows and forget who God is. That is what satan wants us to do. If we stay in our own little world and think about ourselves only then those who need our prayers and kind words will not receive the blessings that God has for them.

God wants us to see through His eyes. He wants to make a difference in peoples lives. He wants to use His children.

Even if we can touch one person’s life, give one hope when it looks hopeless.

Yes, you are important, yes your family is important, but who else is God speaking to you about to give hope too? Do not let the news about the situation overwhelm you to do nothing. Example: you hear someone died, someone has cancer, someone lost their job, someones marriage just broke up, someone cannot feed their family, and the list goes on. If you get caught up in the news you can loose hope yourself and not go forward in prayer or in giving a helping hand. In ourselves it can be overwhelming hearing and seeing it all.

We are not to take all the hurts on ourselves. We cannot do anything within ourselves.

Even if we are the ones who are going through difficult times and we are the ones who needs prayer, we can reach out and let God use us through what we are experiencing. Just maybe through our witness to others our healing may come and their lives could be changed. I was going through a hard situation and someone was watching me. I did not know she was watching me, but years later she was going through a hard time and remembered what God did for me and how God brought me through my difficult time and she reached out to God in her time of need. Now she is saved and going to church.
You do not know who may be watching you or listening to you.

Sometimes we start hearing all the hurts and pains of others and we shut it off. We shut the TV off. We shut the voices off. That is what satan wants. No we should not sit there and watch the news all the time. But do not shut the hurts and pains off because you start feeling over whelmed. Just start praying and believing God to change the situations and work in the lives of the people who are involved.

We need to be as Abraham who hoped against hope. Romans 4:18 [For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith…

You are part of God’s plan to touch this “little world”. There is no other hope, No plan B…

You might be the only hope someone has. Do not let satan pull you down or cause you to feel hopeless in your situation or in what you are hearing.

We are not of those who have no hope.

Ephesians 2:12-13

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Before we came to Jesus, we had no hope, but now we have hope.
But where is our hope?
Job 17:15 (AMP) Where then is my hope? And if I have hope, who will see [its fulfillment]?

Let us not get caught up in what we see or hear around us. Keep our eyes on the one who can fulfill our hope. The one who is hope. Share that with others. Let us Hope against hope….