February 18, 2018 – Pastor Carter Conlon – Times Square Church
It’s Time, Again, To Pray!
February 11, 2018 – Carter Conlon – Times Square Church
Do Not Grieve The Holy Spirit
January 28, 2018 – Carter Conlon – Times Square Church
The Power of A Reluctant Witness
In the book of Numbers, the Lord instructed Moses, “‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel.’…Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel” (Numbers 13:2–3).
The passage goes on to say, “Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: ‘We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there…We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land” (Numbers 13:26–28, 31–32). The original King James Version calls it “an evil report of the land.”
The spies continued their report: “There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight. So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night” (Numbers 13:33–14:1).
I cannot help but wonder how many Christians today weep on Sunday night. After being in church on Sunday morning, how many go home hopeless—without faith for the future or a belief that God is able to save their families? They are left with no ability to believe that God is able to take them out of their despair and give them joy, a new voice, a new purpose, and a new vision. And so they go home and cry on their beds on Sunday night because they know that Monday morning is coming, and all things will remain just as they always have been.
Note that these spies were leaders who had risen to reputation among their peers; they were not selected randomly. A multitude of people were traveling through the wilderness, and these men were among those who had risen to the top. They were perhaps recognized for their ability to lead people, for skills and giftings they had, for their natural strength.
Surely these spies, whom I will call the faithless ten (for two of the twelve spies, Joshua and Caleb, were convinced that they could take the land) did not consider their report evil. The word “evil” in the original text means it was slander and defamation against the character of God Himself. However, I am sure they considered their report analytical, measured, and reasonable. Yet here was the problem with these ten: They could claim to have knowledge of what was in this place of promise; they could claim to have seen it for forty days; they could lay out all the fruit—but they could not cause the people to believe that in spite of their littleness, God was still willing and able to give them all that He promised.
Remember, leaders cannot lead people any farther than they have gone themselves. They simply cannot reproduce what is not there. Think about the history of these faithless ten. The supernatural power of God was all around them; they saw the plagues come down upon the nation of Egypt, and the Red Sea part right before their eyes. They knew what God was able to do, but they never really became partakers of it. They witnessed it but they themselves were not walking in the supernatural.
It is so critical today that you listen to the right voices, for we are living in a day of sorrows. As this world continues to spiral downward into deeper confusion, distress, division, hatred, and war, you and I are called to be a supernatural testimony of who God is on the earth. We are called to stand with the strength that only He can give, to have wisdom that could come only from Him.
Now is not the time to be under the ministry of somebody who is not truly walking in the supernatural and instead has risen to their position merely by natural means—perhaps their gifted speaking ability or their great intellect. If you are listening to teaching that is not stirring your heart to believe God, you need to get out of that place. As brilliant as the report might be, the Bible calls it evil if it is not leading you into faith. If it is merely an exercise in intellect—a discovering and rediscovering of the fruit—but nothing in it leads you to believe that it can actually be yours, it is an evil report.
In fact, the apostle Paul gave us a warning regarding such leaders, saying, “[Pray] that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2). In other words, not everyone who preaches the Word of God believes that He is still able to do the miraculous today. Therefore, you must pray to be delivered from unreasonable people whose theological focus is all in the natural.
ANOTHER KIND OF LEADER
In contrast to the ten spies, the apostle Paul said, “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4–5). Now Paul was anything but a weak man in the natural. He was a leader among leaders. He even once declared that concerning the works of the law, he was blameless (see Philippians 3:6).
Nevertheless, when Paul came to Christ, he said, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7–8). In other words, “I do not want any more of Paul; I want everything of Christ. I do not want anything left of natural wisdom. I would rather stand in weakness and trembling so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. I desire that the people I speak to would not be looking to a man but rather to Christ inside of me—as not only my hope, but as their hope as well.”
I know that I would not want to listen to a preacher who has no personal testimony of the miraculous power of God at work in his or her life. I would much rather listen to somebody like Paul who stands in weakness and trembling—the kind of person you could look at and say, “There is a power touching my heart that I know cannot come from this physical vessel. It must be from the Spirit at work inside of this one who is speaking to me. Lord, let that be my portion in the days ahead!”
Unfortunately, listening to the voices of the ten spies ultimately caused the people to end up in a wilderness where they died. Likewise, if the voices you are listening to today are not provoking you to faith, you will die in a spiritual wilderness. You will simply live through an endless succession of funerals, which was exactly what the Israelites experienced for forty years until eventually they all died and another generation arose.
HOW THE WALLS FALL
Finally, a new generation was about to go in and possess this Promised Land which the others had forfeited through their unbelief. This time, however, they were to go with the instruction that God gave to Joshua: “‘See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.’…Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, ‘You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, “Shout!” Then you shall shout’” (Joshua 6:2, 10). In other words, “We are going to go in and take the land, but this time we are going to be quiet. We do not need to listen to any voices telling us how many giants are in the land!”
Note that when they walked in and surrounded Jericho for seven days, they had no weaponry. In the natural, they were insufficient for the battle before them. Nevertheless, they chose to simply obey God and be quiet. It was just as the Lord said in Isaiah 30:15, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” One more time, walking around the city, they were quiet and confident—thinking about the promises of God, remembering the history of who God was—until that moment when an inner shout came into their hearts. I believe that by the time Joshua told them to shout, the people simply could not contain it any longer, for God had already convinced their hearts that they had the victory!
And so I challenge you today: As you go around about your city, as you are tempted to think of all the things that you are fighting to get through, begin to think, instead, about all the things that God has done. Meditate on His Word. If there is anything pure, anything lovely, anything of virtue, anything of a good report, think on these things, and the God of peace will be with you (see Philippians 4:8–9).
Suddenly, confidence will fill your heart. “God, I am going to trust You. I am going to believe You for my family. I am going to believe that You will heal the wounds of my past. I am going to trust You for my future. I am not listening to any voices anymore that say I am not smart enough or strong enough. Let the evil reporters die in the wilderness; I am going with You! I do not care what giants I have to face, for You are going to take my life in its total nothingness and raise it up to be something that brings glory to Your name!”
Then one day, when you cannot contain it any longer, you are going to shout so loud that your whole neighborhood will hear! The Scripture tells us that when the Israelites shouted, the walls of Jericho fell, and every person went into that city and took the victory. Today, as we trust God in our own cities, I believe we are going to take with us into God’s Kingdom a multitude of people too numerous to count, and we are going to do it by the power of God!
This newsletter is an edited version of “HOW MANY CHRISTIANS WEEP ON SUNDAY NIGHT?,” a sermon given on October 15, 2017 in the sanctuary of Times Square Church in New York City. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tsc.nyc. You are welcome to make additional copies of this sermon for free distribution to friends. However, for all other forms of reproduction or electronic transmission existing copyright laws apply. This sermon cannot be posted on any website or webpage without permission from Times Square Church. Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are from the New King James Version.