A Journey’s Unanticipated Stops

Carter Conlon

When Joseph was a young boy, he received a great promise from God. God revealed to Joseph through dreams that he would become a leader with great influence. Not only that, Joseph also was favored above all his brothers by his father who gave him a coat of many colors.

A mark of immaturity still rested on Joseph at that point, however. He was rather boastful as he shared with his family the dreams he had. “Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, ‘Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.’ His brothers said to him, ‘Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words” (Genesis 37:5-8, ESV).

Joseph still lacked understanding of the purpose of God’s power and provision. In eager anticipation of seeing God’s promise fulfilled, he neglected to realize that there would be unanticipated stops along the journey. The first stop? A pit and a place of abandonment and betrayal.

Out of jealousy, Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit and eventually sold him off to a band of Ishmaelite merchants for twenty pieces of silver. What greater betrayal could Joseph have faced? I don’t think we can fully grasp his pain. How deeply it must have wounded his heart to know that this treachery had been done at the hand of his very own brothers. Betrayal is perhaps one of the most difficult classrooms we have to go through in life. Yet we must remember it is also the road Christ traveled, so we cannot expect to escape it.

I understand that these things can hurt very deeply. The most severe wounds inflicted by people you have grown to love and trust over the years. Perhaps, like Joseph, you shared something God had given you, only to discover that some people who were close to you did not believe in your dream or actively worked against it.

In times like this, we must cling to the knowledge that God’s provision for a vision he has given us also covers betrayal and suffering. He knows exactly what we need to grow into the vision he has given us.

Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. In May of 2020 he transitioned into a continuing role as General Overseer of Times Square Church, Inc.

When We Limit God’s Power

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Scripture says of Israel, “Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember his power: The day when he redeemed them from the enemy” (Psalm 78:41-42, NKJV). Israel turned away from God in unbelief. Likewise, I believe we limit God today with our doubt and unbelief.

I limit God most in the area of healing. I have prayed for physical healing for many, and I have seen God perform miracle after miracle. When it comes to my own body, though, I limit God. I am afraid to let him be God to me. I douse myself with medicine or run to a doctor before I ever pray for myself. I’m not saying it’s wrong to go to the doctor, but sometimes I fit the description of those who “did not seek the Lord, but the physicians” (2 Chronicles 16:12).

Jesus says that God does not hear our prayers and praises simply because we utter them over and over for hours at a time. It is possible to pray, fast and do righteous things and still not reach the place where we hunger to know him and begin to understand his ways. This was demonstrated during Christ’s ministry with the very people he grew up around.

“When he had come to his own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, ‘Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary?...’ So they were offended at him.

“But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.’ Now he did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13:54-58).

We do not learn his ways in the prayer closet alone, although everyone who truly knows the Lord is very intimate with him. You cannot know God’s ways without quality time in which we let God be God to us, laying every need and request in his hands and then walking forward in faith that he will answer.

To Know and Love God

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

I am going to make a very shocking statement, and I mean every word of it; I really do not know God in the way that I should.

How do I know this? The Holy Spirit told me. He whispered to me, lovingly, “David, you really don’t know God in the way he wants you to. You really don’t allow him to be God to you.”

We trust God in most areas of our lives, but our faith always falls short in some area. This happens because we have not set ourselves to study God’s acts and commands; we are not sure that he loves us or what he has promised to do for us. We don’t really know God yet.

In the Old Testament, God took a people unto himself, a people no richer or smarter than the rest, only so that he could be God to them. “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7, NKJV). In other words, God was saying, “I’m going to teach you to be my people so that I can be God to you.”

Indeed, God revealed and manifested himself to his people over and over again. He sent angels. He spoke to them audibly. He fulfilled every promise with great deliverances.

After all that, he said, “For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know my ways.’” (Psalm 95:10). After forty years of miracles, signs and wonders, God’s estimation of his people was “In all of this you never really let me be God! In forty years of my trying to teach you, you still never knew me. You still didn’t know how I work!”

Scripture clearly tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

God is still looking for a people who will let him be God to them to the point that they truly know him and learn his ways!

The God Who Gives Generously

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Are you at the end of your rope, weary, cast down, about to give up? I challenge you to answer the following questions with a simple yes or no:

  • • Does the Word of God promise to supply all your needs?

  • • Did Jesus say he would never leave you but would be with you to the end?

  • • Did he say he would keep you from falling and present you faultless before the Father’s throne?

  • • Did he promise you all the seed you need to spread the gospel?

  • • Is he more willing to give than you are to receive? Is Christ greater in you than he that is in the world?

  • • Are God’s thoughts toward you good thoughts? Is he a rewarder of those who diligently seek him?

  • • Is he preparing a place for you in glory? Is he coming in the clouds to gather his people home? Are you going with him when he comes?

Your answer to all of these should be “Absolutely, yes!”

Now, take inventory. Ask yourself, “Do I really believe God is faithful to his promises or do I waver in my trust? How well do I know God’s Word and his assurances?”

Scripture clearly says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:5-7, NKJV).

You can lay hold of God’s wisdom, all the wisdom needed to solve life’s problems, if you cast your very life and future on this promise and believe with no wavering.

God gives wisdom liberally to all of his children.

Is Serving the Lord a Bore?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God does not accept grudging service from anyone. “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23, NKJV). ‘Heartily’ means with all your heart, all your strength, all that is within you.

Paul writes, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity [unwillingly]; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The apostle makes a dual application of this matter of giving; it has to do with our financial offerings and the giving of our very lives to God’s work.

Paul wrote that the church in Macedonia literally begged him to let them take up a collection for the poor, suffering saints in Jerusalem. These Macedonians were so wholly given to the Lord, they gave out of their poverty.

If you give only because you believe it is commanded or if you’re always wondering, “Is tithing a New Testament concept or just Old Testament?”, your heart-attitude is all wrong. If you give 10 percent because the pastor asks it of you, that is wrong also. None of this gets to the issue to the heart of what it means to give!

I am sorely convicted by this verse because so often I go about my life and ministry without the joy of the Lord. Has serving the Lord become a bore, a drag to you? Is it just a burden, leaving you mostly sad and weary? God doesn’t want you complaining about your burden; he wants you to chase those things out of your life by laying hold of his Word, which is your checkbook to his resources in faith! He is saying, “I have already made provision for you. What need in your life is so great that I cannot supply more than is required?”

The word for cheerful in Greek means merry, glad, having a light heart, willingness, gladness, being full of hilarity. God is saying, “Whatever you do in your labors for me, whether it’s interceding, worshipping me in my house, or seeking me in your secret closet, do it cheerfully! Be joyful and generous with everything: your money, your service, your time and your life.” In order to give oneself to pleasing God, it must spring from a cheerful spirit that is available to us all by simple, childlike faith.