So Come Lord Jesus

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20

So Come Lord Jesus

Have you ever experienced a situation or situations in life where you just wished Jesus would step on the scene? Or, after confronting a major trial or test your hope was for the Lord to simply call you home? If you have not, you have possibly known someone who has. Being exiled on the Isle of Patmos, no doubt the Apostle John was living there at the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation. It is in these situations where the heart can boldly cry out “So come Lord Jesus!“.

These four words are the last few words recorded in the Bible’s final book, And the very last four words written right before the book’s ending “grace benediction”. This should tell us something. And it does. What exactly is the Apostle John telling us here? Basically, the phrase is a plea: “Jesus, we desire your presence, are eager for your return, and hope you will not delay. We can hardly wait any longer and will not be disappointed if you come right now!”.

To be confident enough to say that means one thing – you are ready for the Lord’s second return to earth, which is a core theme communicated in The Book of Revelation. Jesus stresses six times in Revelation the urgency of being ready for his Second Coming with his phrase “I come quickly” (Rev 2:5,16, 3:11, 22:7, 12 & 20). Jesus alludes to the critical importance of readiness in these three words. In short, because of the almost mysterious nature of Jesus’ Second Coming, he is implying to “Be Ready“.  Be ready all the time and be ready at all times.

There is an underlying theme to this concept of readiness that we can sometimes miss. It is the element of timing. Specifically, our reaction to the timing of Jesus’ return to earth. And there is no better example to illustrate its significance than in one of Jesus’ well-known parables, The Parable of the Ten Virgins.

Timing Come Down to Two Things

Before jumping into the heart of the matter it may be worth mentioning or refreshing our understanding of the definition of the word “parable”. Here is one of the best descriptions of what a parable is: “A parable is an earth-based story that describes or illuminates a heavenly truth”.  With that under our belt let’s jump into this.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins is recorded in Matthew chapter 25. Here is a situation where ten virgins are awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom. Jesus alludes their anticipation (Mat 25:1) to the arrival of the kingdom of Heaven, or the Second Coming of Jesus to the earth. As the parable unfolds, we are told five of the virgins are equipped with lamp oil (symbolizing the Holy Spirit) with five of the virgins lacking that oil.

Let’s digress here for a moment. There is nothing more deadly in Satan’s arsenal than his attempts to hinder, suppress and impede God’s mission on earth by blocking the flow of the Holy Ghost through the Body of Christ. For it is the Spirit that energizes the Word of God in one’s life to ignite living faith into action. Okay, let’s move on.

The virgins are then unexpectantly jarred in the middle of the night by the shrill – “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (Mat 25:6). The five wise virgins prepare to take their already lit lanterns to go and meet their bridegroom. To their dismay, the foolish virgins find themselves in a quandary as they have no light source to make that journey. And their attempt to harvest oil from their prepared companions fails.

In the end, the foolish virgins arrive too late and are rejected from entering the marriage banquet. And again, we hear the familiar words of Jesus: “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Mat 25:13). What was one key differentiator (other than preparation) that determined the final outcome of the two groups of virgins? The answer is – timing.

For the wise virgins timing meant absolutely nothing. They were ready and prepared at all times. It was inconsequential to those virgins if the bridegroom came at midnight, 4am, 9am, a week later, six months later, or six decades later. The timing simply did not matter to them.

This was not the case for the foolish virgins. Because timing meant everything to them. Their marriage (salvation) hinged on them either being called to the marriage banquet in the middle of the day or by perchance, they happened to have lantern oil on the night the marriage cry was made. Depending on the timing, they would either be saved or find themselves facing God’s judgment (Mat 25:12). In the final scheme of things, timing will either mean nothing or timing will mean everything at the Second Coming of Jesus!

The Right Mind, At All Times 

To continue on this thought of timing, let’s turn our attention to how it not only impacted the lives of Jesus’ parents but also everyone who would read Luke’s account of Jesus’ initiation to the Temple at Jerusalem. There are two people recorded in the New Testament that have always stood out as personifying what it means to be consistently ready and zealously cognizant of the time in which one lives. Furthermore, given the role they would play in the Saviour’s introduction into the Jewish faith system, it was critical that their reaction to God’s timing be perfect. They are Simeon and the prophetess Anna.

We are introduced to Simeon in Luke chapter 2 (vs 25-32). No other account of his life is recorded in the Bible. He was simply a man described as “just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel:” who God had chosen to reveal the Messiah to before he died (Luk 2:26). Another aspect of Simeon’s life is given to us. He was sensitive to God’s Spirit and yielded in obedience to the spirit’s leading:

And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Luke 2:27

Is that not all that God really needs to advance his Kingdom, willing and obedient vessels? Apparently, it was all that Simeon needed for the Lord to use him. The Lord chose this common man to prophetically announce Jesus’ Messianic role as the Savior of the world (Luk 2:28-35) as Joseph and Mary brought him to the temple. What a profound mission God called Simeon to fulfill. Since he was queued into God’s spirit it did not matter to him when the Lord prompted him to visit the temple. Simeon was ready.

Another humble and nondescript person used at this same instance in time was Anna the prophetess. We read about Anna in Luke 2:36-38. What was exemplary about her life? She devoted her entire life to temple service, night and day, with prayers and fasting:

And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day Luke 2:37

Now that is living a life of total dedication to God. One could say Anna and Simeon had the right mind, all the time. God’s timing was immaterial to them because they were perpetually tuned into their faith in God’s word and the leading of the Spirit. Notice that they both arrived at the Temple exactly at the right time. That was not coincidental. Nothing happens happenstance in God’s kingdom. And nothing happens without prayer, fasting and sincere devotion to God’s work on earth. It just cannot be done any other way. The Bible gives us real examples through the lives of Simeon and Anna that that is how God operates.

Time Remains to Get Ready

God is faithful, merciful, longsuffering, gracious, loving, and passionate about His church. Jesus’ primary mission on earth was to destroy the works of the devil (death – I Joh 3:8) and to bring salvation to lost humanity. You might ask: “What does all that mean?” It means that until Jesus returns, there is still time to find lamp oil, become a wise steward and be a useful vessel for God to use in these endtimes we are living in. The Lord is forever bidding for people to come to the soon marriage supper of the Lamb (Joel 2:28; Luk 14:23; Rev 22:7).

If you find yourself under the weight of the “spirit of the age” or incapacitated by past abuse, failures, mistakes, shortcomings or sins, bring them to Jesus who is both ready and willing to hear your sincere prayer and give you the strength you need in your day of trouble! (Psa 37:39, 46:1)

Refuse to quit. Your breakthrough is just one prayer away. And with God, His timing is always perfect. Be ready for it!

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Matthew 24:44

The Thief Cometh (Part 2 of 2)

We left off discussing what the enemy is after in your life (faith), the importance of faith to you and God, the devil’s mission to steal and derail your faith, and the role hope plays in this walk of faith. We will carry on here and dive into four areas in this concluding piece – hopelessness, God’s mercy, the role God’s blood plays in His mercy, and our reaction when confronted with all three.

Hopelessness – God’s Pathway to Greatness?

From the surface, it appears that any hopeless situation one would encounter in life can offer no truly positive benefit or outcome. Is this a true statement? Let’s look into the lives of three Biblical examples (there are more) and see if it is.

The life of Jephthah is recorded in the Book of Judges (chapters 11 & 12). Jephthah entered his world with some major disadvantages. Jephthah was an illegitimate child, the son birthed between his father Gilead, and a harlot (Jdg 11:1). Because of this, he was rejected by his family and forced to flee home to the city of Tob. It looked like a hopeless situation for the young man. However, there came a time when the Ammonites decided to make war with Israel. (Note: Ammon, father of the Ammonites, was the offspring produced between the union of Lot and his youngest daughter (Benammi – “son of Lot” Gen 19:38), and like Jephthah, a complicated birth experience).

However, there was something burned in Jephthah’s spirit that distinguished him from his peers – according to the Bible, he was “a mighty man of valour” (Jud 11:1). That distinction got the attention of the elders of Gilead who asked Jephthah to become their leader in the defeat of the Ammonites. Jephthah accepted the offer, relocated back to his hometown of Gilead, and proceeded to singlehandedly (remember Samson?) defeat the children of Ammon (Jud 11:33).

What looked like a hopeless situation for Jephthah turned out to be his pathway to greatness. One interesting note is the translation of Tob (the city where Jephthah sought refuge from his shame and rejection) in Hebrew is the word “good” in English. Jephthah may have never understood how anything “good” could become of his life, but God has the ability to turn the tables of adversity around and shine His hope into the hopelessness of any situation.

Now, let’s turn our attention to another man in the Bible who also encountered a literal “hopeless” situation. His name is the Apostle Paul. Paul was on a voyage to Rome when a terrific storm named Euroclydon swept through the Mediterranean Sea and wrought havoc on those on the ship:

And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. Acts 27:20

Note the Bible records that “all hope” was “taken away“. That describes a hopeless situation friend. And God allowed it. And He allowed it to happen to one of His chosen vessels. Why? It forced Paul to dig out something he had never excavated in his spirit – overcoming faith that summoned angels into a hopeless situation (Act 27:23-24). The end result was a miraculous deliverance, miraculous healings (Act 28:8-9), and the continuation of God’s perfect will for Paul’s life.

Lastly. let’s travel back in time to a place called Calvary in 33 A.D and observe this scene. What do we see? We see three men hanging on crosses. The man in the middle Is Jesus Christ, falsely accused of the crime of blaspheming God (Jhn 10:33). Jesus is flanked by two other men, thieves justly accused of crimes they did commit. It looked like a hopeless situation for all involved for they knew death was just moments away. But here is where something buried very deep inside of them is revealed no other way nor can it appear in any other fashion. What is this thing? It is called faith. Faith is very powerful. So powerful in fact that it can transcend the iron-bared chambers of life’s darkest, hopeless, and most inescapable caverns.

One thief (we can surmise on Jesus’ right hand) refused to be conquered by his hopelessness. How? By his faith in Jesus’ kingship, authority, and the promise of eternal life to those who believe in him. This thief simply believed Jesus’ words of hope:

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. Luke 23:42

Amazingly, it was this condemned criminal (of all people) who brought strength and encouragement to the Savior of the world when he needed it most. The one thief asked Jesus for forgiveness. He believed in Jesus’ kingship and his message of the hope of eternal life. This one thief understood the reason for his punishment but was bewildered why Jesus, a perfect man in his thinking, was being unjustly punished for things he did not commit (Luk 23:41). One thief made a difference and it’s been written that this man had the revelation of Jesus’ deity (God in flesh) and his resultant power over death that his own disciples had not yet embraced (Luk 24:11; Mar 16:14; Joh 20:25). And this one thief asked for and received forgiveness including eternal life (Paradise – Luk 23:43). One thief had faith in Jesus’ message while the other rejected him:

And one of the malefactors who were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. Luke 23:39

The passage of time and its ensuing impact on life (Ecc 3:1-8) can be the catalyst for interesting and dramatic changes, even in hopeless situations. As these three examples show, it is not over until God says, “it’s over”!

Do not ever think that if you or someone you know facing hopelessness it is a curse, punishment, or judgment from God. In some cases that may be true. Even then, we must understand that God is always looking for the best outcome in any given situation. God’s desire is for ALL (that means everyone) to be saved! (II Pet 3:9) It has been said that God will always choose His mercy over judgment if, in his foreknowledge, the outcome will lead someone closer to him.

The Power of The Blood

The definition of power can be viewed from different angles. The classic dictionary defines the word “power” as the “ability to act or produce an effect, capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect” (Source: Merriam-Webster). In the physical realm, power can also be defined as the measurement of the rate of change to a physical state. In its most simplistic terms, something powerful can change something in a very short amount of time. Let’s use explosives as an example. The hammer of a toy cap gun can strike a small circle of red phosphorous and potassium chlorate (i.e., Armstrong’s mixture) meshed between a layer of thin tissue. The friction generated by the hammer strike will set off a small explosion and resultant heat that burns the cap tissue. The change is measured in the degree of energy (i.e., heat) generated and the force exerted by the expansion of gas generated by the small explosion.

Now. Increase the amount and chemical formula of the explosive material used in a toy cap gun to a more powerful compound such as TNT. TNT is a common explosive used in mining, military weapons, and oil extraction (i,e., hydraulic “fracking” and other applications). TNT is also a standard of measurement used to gauge the energy output of another destructive force – nuclear weapons. The nuclear explosion in WWII in Hiroshima, Japan was equivalent to 15kt (15,000 tons) of TNT. That bomb’s energy output was responsible for the immediate death of 70,000 civilians; wooden structures within 1 1/4 miles from its epicenter were immediately destroyed and wind speeds were 10x that of a Category 12 typhoon.

In these examples, we’ve moved from the physical change generated by a toy cap gun to that of a “powerful” nuclear explosion. The rate of change to the physical surroundings between a toy can gun in comparison to that of an atomic bomb in Hiroshima is astronomical – power as the measurement of the rate of change (i.e., effect) to the physical world.

Let’s move this discussion of power and its effect in transforming physical phenomena into a spiritual context. Medical science can perform many amazing transformations such as heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, and intestine transplants. But ONLY God can perform a mind transplant! Only God knows our hearts. And God has the capacity to, in many instances, instantaneously change” a heart/mind from one that is destructive, depressed, evil, immoral, self-centered, guilt-ridden, jealous, bitter, perverted, or confused into a mind that is healed with thoughts infused with love, peace, joy, goodwill, compassion, kindness, gentleness and HOPE.

That is power in action. How does He do this? By washing you in the blood of Jesus through water baptism and by the infilling of his Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost! God’s spirit is powerful! And the blood of Jesus is the powerful agent that washes away all our sin and makes us, as the song of old says:

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow;
no other fount I know;
nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The morning after this section was written, I opened up a book I’d been reading (The Wisdom and The Power of The Cross) and this paragraph stared right at me:

“The ushering in of the nuclear age is a poor comparison to the historic moment of Christ’s resurrection when a powerful force of non-matter entered into the order of matter and energized molecules into life. Jesus’ resurrection is His title to headship.  He rose in might, power, and majesty”. As the author uses Jesus’ resurrection as an example, God’s power and His exercise over life simply cannot be produced or replicated by man-made devices or inventions. There is unmeasurable power in the blood and in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Heaven’s Mercy Seat – Mercy Perfected & Salvation Eternally Secured

For Jesus to come back from death a living, breathing human being one thing had to happen. It should be noted that Jesus was not some mystified, virtual-angelic manifestation of a human being after his resurrection. Jesus walked the earth in human form after his resurrection just like he did before his crucifixion (Luk 24:39-40, Joh 20:19-20, 27). Therefore, in the process of Jesus’ resurrection from death’s grip, somewhere during that process his body’s blood was regenerated. The purpose of bringing this up is when Jesus departed earth for the last time, he ascended to Heaven with blood flowing through his glorified body. So, when Jesus touched the mercy seat in Heaven, his blood in essence also touched that seat and forever sealed for us an “eternal” salvation (Heb 5:9).

Before the creation of the Heaven and the earth, God couldn’t manifest His mercy because the presence of a blood sacrifice is required to remit sins and is needed for the provision of mercy. Otherwise, God would have been obligated to offer that mercy to Lucifer and all of the rebellious angels. This was not possible. There was no provision for the forgiveness of sins in Heaven, never was nor never shall be. In God’s plan, the earth would be the location to heal the sin problem, the void sin created in Heaven (Lucifer’s rebellion), and the sins on earth (Adam’s original sin and its subsequent aftereffects). The Bride of Christ, Jesus’ church, when raptured will fill that void in Heaven. God has a plan, and His plan never fails.

The very word “mercy seat” has its origins in a word that refers to blood and its ability to forgive sins – propitiation. The Greek word propitiation used in Hebrews 9:5 is ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion) which is translated as “to atone for sin, mercy seat”. Propitiation is the price God determined that would cover the penalty for sin. Jesus, of course, was the propitiation for the sins of all mankind and Jesus paid the price for those sins when he laid down his life on the cross (Act 26:18; Rom 3:25; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14).

Blood & The Mercy Seat

Of all the attributes God embraces, mercy and love are perhaps two aspects of His being that are most glorious and magnificent. And love and mercy are twin sisters that appear numerous times together (10x) in the scriptures (Exo 20:6; Deu 5:10, 7:9; Neh 1:5; Dan 9:4; Mic 6:8; Eph 2:4; II jhn 1:3; Jud 1;2, 2:1).

As a sidebar, the number 10 is significant in the Bible (https://jesusalive.cc/number-ten-significance-in-bible/). Among other things, the number “10” is a number of completeness and appears in the Creation account, construction of the law and the tabernacle, God’s judgment (I Sam 25:38; Est 9:13), worship (Psa 92:3, 144:9), testing/trials (Dan 1:12, 14, 15; Rev 2:10), and the endtime (Dan 7:10, 20 & 24; Rev 5:11, 12:3, 13:1, 17:3, 7,, 12  & 16).

In addition to love, God’s mercy cannot be separated from one other thing – God’s blood. The O.T. provided a “temporary” way for God to show His mercy by forgiving the sins of His people for one more year. This was accomplished through the sacrifice of bulls, goats, and lambs as the shedding of blood were always God’s requirement for forgiving sins (Lev 16:34, 17:11).

According to God’s word we know that “things” existing on earth are simply examples, figures, and shadows of things already existing in Heaven. (Heb 9:9, 24). The animal (blood) sacrifice, the tabernacle, and the law on earth were already well established in Heaven. Only the completion of God’s will in time separated them from their eternal existence and ultimate prophetic fulfillment upon the earth.

A blood sacrifice was always a requirement to address the sin issue. And the presence of blood is also required for the exercise of God’s mercy. This is why the high priest would sprinkle the blood of a bullock and a goat on the mercy seat located in the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:14-15). Indeed, the very act of this “sprinkling” was a prophetic foretelling of the blood the coming eternal high priest, Jesus Christ (Heb 4:14, 5:9-10), would shed for the sins of all mankind (Heb 9:11-12, 9:22) and occupy the mercy seat in Heaven. Even the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10).

The Blood Always Demands This One Thing

There is something about the precious, pure, perfect, priceless, and powerful blood of Jesus that cannot be dismissed. And that is the blood of Jesus always demands a response. When confronted with the sinless blood of the Perfect Lamb of God, a response will be demanded of you. It requires a decision of which there are only two possibilities – repentance or rejection (rebellion). We will either repent upon knowing the Savior shed his blood for our sins. Or we will reject and rebel against the blood’s effectiveness because of unbelief or impenitence.

A response was demanded from the two thieves next to Jesus as he hung on a cross bleeding from his hands, feet, and back. And they did respond. One made the right choice and the other a very bad one (Luk 23:39).

It All Comes Down To One Question – Which Thief Am I?

As mentioned in part 1 of this series, the cross of Jesus Christ is the defining event in human history. No other event in all of time compares to what transpired on Calvary’s hill – the death of our Savior, God manifested in flesh. And when confronted with the sinless blood that flowed from that cross, as with the two thieves surrounding Jesus, we too are forced to answer one question – Which thief am I?

You may ask: What are we stealing? We are stealing from God’s sovereign right over the totality of our being. Which is the complete and total surrender of our human will to His will. It always comes down to just one word and a big word at that. What is the word? It is CONTROL. It’s always about control – who is really in control over our lives, us or the Lord? If it’s us, then we are convicted as a thief in God’s court of justice and righteousness.

Self-will is nothing more than self, seeking the gold of glory – in self. It is the root of all evil and was the original sin. The original sin did not take place on earth. The original sin took place in Heaven when Lucifer desired to “steal” God’s glory (Isa 14:12-14). The original sin was the attempted theft of God’s glory. God called it iniquity (Eze 28:15). It is the sin of “seeking self-glory” (i.e., pride) and not seeking the God of glory, for the glory of God, who is worthy of ALL THE GLORY. And that same sin bled into the human race when Adam rebelled against God’s word.

There is purpose in life’s tumultuous and tragic happenings and times of sheer hopelessness. Out-of-control life situations reveal one thing – who truly is in control? At times the Lord brings storms to show that our trust must be in him and not in ourselves or in those around us.

Like the two thieves next to Jesus, there will be two groups of people at the end of time standing before God’s right and left hands. Like the one thief who asked for forgiveness, one group, the true believers who relinquish all self-control, will be redeemed and rewarded with eternal life. And one like the other thief, a group of unrepentant, unforgiving, unbelieving souls rewarded with a just sentence – God’s judgment (eternal death).

Shall He Find Faith?

There is a parable of Jesus recorded in the Book of Luke that we call the Parable of the Unjust Judge. Here is a situation where Jesus describes a real-life struggle between a judge and a poor widow who is facing a hopeless situation. However, this interplay between a cold professional and a broken widow is not the only message being communicated by the Lord. There is also an underlying thread of truth that Jesus wants to convey here. And it is the central subject weaving thru these two installments – the vital importance of faith, especially not losing faith during times of hopelessness. Here is the key verse:

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8

There are at least two hidden questions Jesus is asking us in this verse: what kind of faith is he speaking of here and why will this be? From the surface, we generally assume Jesus is referring to faith “in general”, that is, will there be any faith at all upon the earth when Jesus returns? However, this is actually not the full essence of what Jesus is asking. We know this by looking at the word “shall” in the verse.

The English word “shall” is a translation of the Greek word ἆρα (ara) and appears only 3x in the N.T. (Strongs G687), and in each case, the word precedes a condition where a negative response is expected (see Acts 8:30 & Gal 2:17). Jesus is talking about “God faith” here, the kind of faith needed during the endtime, a time of great tribulation and chaos. To clarify the point, here are two other versions of the scripture:

I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?” Message Bible

Yet, the Son of Man having come, will He find the aforementioned kind of faith on the earth? Wuest

Jesus is asking if great faith, God-faith, white knuckled-like faith as the widow in the parable be present on the earth because of the state of hopelessness occurring during the tribulation period and endtime. Jesus also alludes to this same state of affairs when he stated that the opening of iniquity’s floodgates right before he returns will cause the love of many to “wax cold” (Mat 24:12).

When the curtain of time is drawn shut will I be the redeemed thief, repentant, asking for forgiveness, with overcoming faith, forgiving those doing the punishing, and believing in the One whose message of hope, truth, and light still reverberates throughout the hopelessness surrounding earth?

There will always be two thieves next to Jesus, one believing, yielding, and forgiven, the other unbelieving, self-willed, and unforgiven.

When faced with the precious blood of Jesus I must ask myself this one question: Which thief am I?

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:6-7

The Thief Cometh (Part 1 of 2)

Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. Matthew 27:38

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

Two thieves. God’s ways are perfect. And His perfection was certainly on display in the concluding scene of Jesus’ death on earth. Why two thieves? Because these two thieves are symbolic of the primal conflict of our life on earth. The scene of Jesus’ crucifixion, and the reaction of those witnessing it, encompass the totality of humanity’s condition as it responds to God’s two most profound and juxtaposing attributes – His mercy and His judgment.

Before we launch into this some background is needed on two subjects of great importance in our lives – faith and hope. If you hold on this will eventually all come together. Let’s take a look.

The First Thief Originated In Heaven

Heaven and not earth was the original source of thievery. It began eons ago with God’s most beautiful and wonderfully created archangel, Lucifer. Lucifer was the original thief. What was it that he wanted to steal? One thing, and the same thing he desires to steal todayGod’s glory. Lucifer saw something extraordinarily captivating in witnessing the angelic hosts, of whom he was chief, glorify and magnify the God of Creation. It has been said that one of the most spectacular light shows in Creation was on display when the illuminance of God’s glory passed through the precious stones and gems embedded in Lucifer’s breastplate (Eze 28:13). And he wanted the glory all for himself:

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the highest.  Isaiah 14:13-14

As he also does today. He attempted to overthrow God’s Heavenly kingdom by usurping the glory designed for God to be directed towards himself by deceiving one-third of the angels in the process:

And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. Revelation 12:4 

This leads us to its relevance for us today – your faith.

Your Faith Is In the Crosshairs

Lucifer was the original thief, and now as Satan, continues his mission to rob God. But he has a problem robbing God directly since he lost his former position in Heaven. Being the resourceful and shrewd being that he is he has made adjustments. He now robs God indirectly by directly robbing what belongs to God – His people. What does he attempt to rob from God’s people? The source of God’s glory on earth – your faith because your faith gives glory to God. This statement simply cannot be underestimated (remember glory was the very thing Lucifer wanted in Heaven):

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; Romans 4:20

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it is tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:7 KJV

Which faith was examined by testing to be approved, that approval being much more precious than the approval of gold which perishes, even though that gold be approved by fire-testing, may be discovered after scrutiny to result in praise and glory and honor at the time of the revelation of Jesus Christ; Wuest

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Satan relishes in every successful attempt to derail or neutralize the faith you possess in Jesus. The thief is out to rob your glory-producing faith in God, indirectly robbing God of the glory due to his name. Faith is powerful. Faith has immense value on earth and in Heaven (I Pet 1:7). Your faith is valuable to you and your faith is valuable to God. At least Satan thinks it is.

It is no coincidence that the one description Jesus used to describe Satan’s work was that of a thief:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. Mark 11:17

And the believer is admonished to be on the lookout for thieves and faith-robbers:

And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Luke 12:39

And Then There Is Faith’s Other Twin – Hope

The one thing in your life that will give glory to God like nothing else is to activate hope in God amid impossible situations. Faith shines in its finest hour when you ignite hope in God while in the middle of the impossible. In his most horrendous hour, faithlessness was not Job’s problem. Job’s faith was unwavering during his trial (Job 2:3, 27:5). Job did not lose faith in God. Job lost the God of his faith in the darkness! This always results in one thing – hopelessness. Hopelessness was Job’s problem (Job 6:11, 7:6, 14:7 & 10). Job lost hope amid his impossible condition because he lost sight of God. He could not see the promises of restoration or the light of deliverance while wallowing in the despair of his surroundings. Surely you have heard the saying: “You get so busy in the work of the Lord that you forget about the Lord of the work”. Job’s example shows us something – one can have faith and lack hope, but one with hope will always have faith standing nearby.

It is only when God is removed from the hope equation that uncontrollable situations and circumstances in life can give rise to hopelessness. Therefore, we must never lose faith. It is said that the voice of “doubt” says “I can’t believe”. And the voice of unbelief says “I will not believe”. As long as a trace of belief is alive, the miraculous can still happen. At least Jesus things so (Mar 9:23; Joh 3:16, 185:24,11:26, 14:12).

If Satan cannot destroy your faith, he will attempt to take you down through the byproduct of shipwrecked faith – hopelessness. Satan’s second tactic is to destroy your hope while facing your impossible situation. The only way out of hopelessness is to call out to God in faith that He will intervene and speak direction into our hearts. God did it for Job (Job 38:1), Peter (Mar 16:6-7; Joh 21:15-18), and the apostle Paul (Act 27:23-24). And he can do it for you.

Hope is the byproduct of experience distilled from life’s struggles (circumstances & situations) (Rom 5:3-4) while still trusting and hopeful that God has everything under control (Rom 8:28).

Can this explain why hope is a prevalent theme in The Book of Job? Of all the books in the O.T., The Book of Job ranks #2 with 15 references to “hope”. The only book with more references to the word hope is The Book of Psalms with 22 references, which has over twice the number of words and verses as Job. This gives us a good idea of the importance hope played in Job’s life and God’s intentions in communicating the subject.

In the N.T., the word hope is the Greek word “ἐλπίζω” (elpizō) and is oftentimes also translated as the word “trust”. It is interesting that Jesus only spoke the word hope (ἐλπίζω) 2x (Luk 6:34; Joh 5:45) and its near cousin, the word, trust, 2x. And when he did use the four words, it always referenced trust or hope in things outside of himself (armor Luk 11:22; Moses Joh 5:45; riches Mar 10:24, Luk 16:11). Yet, Jesus spoke the word “faith” 26 times!

Hopelessness is the soul’s death knell. Hopelessness is literally Satan’s killer app. But there is yet hope in hopelessness. Oh, yes there is because we serve the God who knows all things and is greater than the pain, confusion, uncertainty, and doubt swirling within a heart troubled by hopelessness:

Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. Romans 4:18

Who, being beyond hope, upon the basis of hope believed, in order that he might become father of many nations, according to that which has been spoken with finality, In this manner will your offspring be. (Wuest)

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!” The Message Bible

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 1 John 3:20

The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Psalms 103:19

Make note of those last two verses. God, not the devil. rules heaven and earth. And only God KNOWS ALL THINGS! Satan may challenge God’s kingdom, but the Kingdom of God will never be defeated. The very gates of hell cannot contend with the angelic protection Jesus empowers his church with. You are not in this fight alone. You have God, two-thirds of the angelic host in Heaven, and the Church on earth on your side!

Hope is born by believing in the fulfillment of a distant promise that presently seems impossible, but because of an inner belief that irrespective of circumstances, faith that God can intervene is enough to turn around and give HOPE within those circumstances.

As another writer put it: ” biblical hope is a reality and not a feeling” (https:// www.gotquestions.org/Bible-hope.html). Activating a dogged determination to believe and have faith that GOD IS, is able in itself to restore hope. It’s that simple. Just believe that regardless of the situation that dictates otherwise, GOD IS STILL ABLE because HE IS GOD!

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

There are some peculiar things about hope worth mentioning. Faith is both a spiritual gift and a spiritual fruit (I Cor 12:9 & Gal 5:22). Hope is neither. Another interesting aspect of hope is – you either have it or you do not have it. Hope manifests itself as a binary phenomenon and is unlike faith, which can occur in degrees (little faith (Mat 16:8), great faith (Luk 7:9) and no faith (unbelief (Mar 16:14)). Another uncanny attribute about hope is it can be stripped from our lives and rendered ineffective (Eze 37:11; Acts 27:20; Eph 2:12 & I The 4:13). And God can and will allow it to happen. Why? Because hopelessness demands a call for supernatural faith to intervene and revive hope in our lives.

One spark of faith in God’s promises (through the light of His word) is more powerful than what the forces of darkness can unleash upon your soul. A light of hope in God is more powerful than all the weapons of Satan’s darkness. The word of God is a Laser-Saber. Weaponize the word of God in your life and it will repel the spiritual darkness commissioned to destroy you, your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your world. As you know, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God! (Rom 10:17)

In Conclusion

To recap, we discussed the following:

  • The original thief was the archangel, Lucifer in Heaven and he attempted to rob the Lord of glory, the glory He alone is worthy of.
  • Your faith gives glory to God and His glory is very important to Him.
  • Satanic attack is always meant to directly demean God and bring accusation to His Being. Remember, Satan’s #1 motive was for Job to blaspheme God. It was not about Job, it was ultimately about the Lord (Job 1:11 & 2:5).
  • Satan indirectly attacks God by directly attacking a source of His glory, which is your faith.
  •  Hope and faith (and love) are inextricably linked to each another. We are saved by hope (Rom 8:24). And one can have faith and not have hope (Acts 27:20). But one with hope will always have faith.
  • God can willfully take hope away from your life to refine your faith and take it to a higher level. The result is always greater blessings, clearer revelation, purer faith, and deeper hope. The process does not necessarily make us greater, but it always makes God grander.

In the next and final installment on this subject, we will look into two diametrically opposed attributes of God’s nature – His mercy and judgment and how the two thieves next to Jesus on the cross synthesize at that moment in time humanity’s two possible responses when faced with the most astounding substance God ever created- His own blood. Stay tuned!

An Eternal Salvation

And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Hebrews 5:9

Precious things are worth fighting for. And what can be more important or essential in life than something that is endless, things that transcend both time and space?

What are such things? Two things are God’s word (Mat 24:35) and your soul (I Joh 2:25; I Joh 5:11, Rev 20:12-14 & Rev 22:1-5). God’s word and your soul are eternal. And the salvation God planned before the world’s creation was designed foolproof and for everybody. Let’s take a look.

Better Than God’s Good – God’s Best

God does not operate in the cheap, convenient or shallow. And his salvation is no different. When you get a glimpse of what God sees when he looks at your soul made in His image and destined for eternity, you will see something both spectacular and shocking at the same time. You will see a cross on a hill in Israel named Golgotha. And you will see a perfect, pure, precious and sinless Lamb crucified on that cross. That’s what God sees when He sees the value and significance of a soul destined for eternity.

What is the purpose of all this? The purpose of God becoming flesh and embarking the journey we know as the ‘human experience’ was to show Heaven something about Himself they had never seen up to this point. Angels never glimpsed it. Fallen angels and the principalities and powers in heavenly places never saw it. Even earth’s inhabitants had never laid eyes on what God was about to reveal.

Before we embark down this path of thought, there is something about creation that needs mention. And that is this – creation is speaking. The heavens and expansive galaxies in faraway places in space are saying something:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,” Psalm 19:1-4

What are they saying? Or in general, what is life saying? Life is saying one thing: “We are made with God’s best and we demand God’s best to exist”. If Jesus had never existed to bring to this earth love. hope, promise, light and purposeful life, it would have been necessary for us to imagine him or at the least fabricate something to mimic and substitute what he has to give. Why?

First, nothing or no one else can solve the profound puzzles and mysteries of life like the arrival on earth of a Savior who made bold proclamations such as: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Joh 14:6). “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. (Mat 11:28) “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise”. (Luk 23:43). And: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life”. Joh 6:47-48

Jesus’ words produce in the soul an attraction to things beyond the gravitational pull of earth’s “weak and beggarly elements” to things otherworldly, grandiose and everlasting.

Secondly, there is something that grates and abrades within our soul that cries and screams for things grand, majestic and wonderful. Our soul has an innate propensity to engage with the eternal. Just as the above scriptures in Psalm 19, creation speaks in wonderment of God’s majestic and creative power. And so does our soul. Our soul screams out: “Where is my Creator, where and what are the deep things of God, what is my purpose in the scheme of things and the reason for my existence?”

And God answered, and today He still answers these questions.

Now going back to our thought thread. What is it that God was yet to reveal? He allowed humankind to wait 6,000 years to reveal one thing. He waited to reveal ………………

Himself.

God slipped on the outer human garb we know as skin and entered this earthly stage. It was Him. The remedy was not a semi-god, a demi-deity, a Jesus. Jr. or a virtual revelation of himself.

Why did God do it this way? Because the lostness and depravity of the human soul both demands and commands its deliverance from something unlike anything ever created. Our miserable, broken human condition beckons and screams for things supranatural and supernatural because of the God-given sphere of eternity nestled within our human heart (Ecc 3:11) (the Hebrew word “world” is translated: continuous existence, perpetual, everlasting, indefinite, unending future, and eternity – Strongs).

The eternal soul’s dilemmas demand an eternal solution. The soul craves the connection of eternity lost when Adam sinned, which through the passage of time propagated the curse and all the emotional and mental burdens of being alienated from God.

In its quest to be healed, the soul’s lost condition demands the best God can offer. And what is God’s best?

God’s best is Himself. God came himself to give himself. This is what true love demands. Everything. Nothing short would suffice. Nothing else would do what needed to be done to secure for us an eternal salvation.

Reconciliation & The Power of the Blood

And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: Leviticus 16:20

Leviticus chapter 16 records the sanctification of the Tabernacle’s Holy Place and Most Holy Place by the high priest on the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament. It is interesting to note in this scripture the expanse of what the sacrifice’s blood reconciles. The animal’s blood reconciles or absolves sin’s affect from the outer court (location of the altar), through the tabernacle, and all the way to the most Holy Place. The blood was complete in reconciling the sins of those at the door of the outer court all the way to the High Priest who entered the presence of Almighty God in the heavenly realm.

As it was under the law of the Old Testament, today the precious blood of Jesus is sufficient to cover the sins of anyone who asks for forgiveness at an altar of repentance (the OT altar), all the way to those “in the church” who commune with God in the Spirit (tabernacle of the congregation and the holy place in OT terms), in the Holy Ghost, the eternal Spirit of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:11).

If the blood of bulls and goats could move the sins of Israel forward one year, how much more can the precious blood of Jesus cover our sins today?

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14

When Jesus, the supreme High Priest without beginning or end (Eternal, after the order of Melchezedick Heb 7:1-3) applied his blood to Heaven’s mercy seat, our salvation was forever sealed for eternity. As the earthly high priest applied the blood of animals to appease God’s wrath upon sin for one year, Jesus shed his sinless blood for all mankind – for all time. And unlike the earthly high priests who rehearsed this ritual annually, Jesus once and for all offered his blood for the remission of sins never again to be repeated:

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” Hebrews 10:10-12

In Conclusion

Whether one finds themselves under the weight of unrepentant sin as a new believer (at the altar) or “in the church” tainted by sin (from the altar to the most Holy place), the blood, and only the blood of Jesus will reconcile us to the God who inhabits eternity.

The mark of true love is true and total forgiveness. Jesus’ primary mission was to give the gift of forgiveness to the unforgivable. You are no more like Jesus then when you unconditionally forgive. A minister once said: “To give is to be like God. To forgive is to be more like God”.

May we be “more like God” on this Good Friday, and every good day. And in doing, secure an eternal salvation.

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Isaiah 51:6

Worship On This Mountain (re-post)

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. Genesis 22:5

In prayer the words were not rehearsed, preconceived or contrived. They just came out with intention as if speaking right into the Savior’s face, physically present in the room. The pressures of life became almost unbearable which brought me to my knees and utter the phrase:

“What will I do? I will tell you what I will do. I will worship on this mountain”. 

Some Background

This blog began 10 years ago this coming December after being impressed by God’s Spirit to start it, and later confirmed from the pulpit of my church on a particular Sunday morning in 2011. Ten years ago I did not even know blogs existed. My introduction to blogging began early on a Sunday morning while studying and preparing a ‘sermon’ at our church. I was browsing the Internet to find material about the frailty of life and examples to illustrate the tragedy involved when people find themselves devalued and discarded either through their sins or by the sins of others.

Well, the perfect illustration was found. A blogger from California posted on her blog a story of an oil color painting, painted by 19th century European impressionist painter Édouard Leon Cortès, that was ‘dropped off’ at a Goodwill store (along with old pots, pans and other discarded items) in of all places, my home state of Maryland. Here is a blogger from California writing about a story occurring across the entire United States in my state of residence. (Note: the painting caught the eye of a Goodwill employee and was later auctioned off at Sotheby’s in New York City for $40,600!)

And with that the blogging world became a new frontier. If there are any innate skills of value I may have, writing may be the one. An English literature professor during my undergraduate studies commented on one of my papers that she would personally write a letter of recommendation for my admission to graduate school if I decided to go down that path. So, there was at least one confirmation that writing was something I might craft and refine to share with others. So blogging became a natural outlet in that respect.

Since that December morning in 2011 there have been times when the writing flowed, thoughts meshed well and posts just sprang from the keyboard that were rich and (IMHO) worth reading. However, there were times when things did not flow easily and it was a struggle to get a hold of God and focus enough to produce meaningful content. As they say in attempting to plan your future, two things always have a vote – life and the devil.

Yes, life and the devil. Well, some readers believe the first one to be true, but have pushback when the ‘D’ subject is mentioned. Yes, there is a devil and he has attempted to wreck my life and no doubt some of you reading this can relate. Some previous posts have eluded to this. But, let’s not focus on him. Because God is on the throne and He is the One who is calling the shots in this thing called life.

Now let’s shift the conversation and talk about something else. What else? Mountains. You might be asking the question: “What kind of mountain are you talking about here, Mt. Everest, Mt. Kilimanjaro, McKinley? Is this post about mountaineering and mountain climbing?” The mountain in this discussion is about life’s obstacles, major events or situations we face that must be conquered and mastered if we are to mature and grow in God.

Because on this spiritual journey in seeking after God we will inevitably face some roadblocks, major frustrations and hindrances meant to derail us and cause us to fail. Yes, fail. But take heart because God is the God of the mountain. And God takes everyone at some point to the mountain, oftentimes more than once. Why? Because how we react, how we respond and the person we become after our mountain experience will say a lot about the faith we profess we possess. As one person so wisely stated: “A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted“.

Jesus already told us that life’s mountains serve as litmus tests to certify the purity of our faith:

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20 

And nothing moves God into action better than pure faith, faith in His character and faith in His word (Rom 10:17; Heb 11:6). Your faith does two things. First, It makes you ‘attractive’ to God. Secondly, being attractive to God now makes God ‘attracted’ to you!

Why Mountains?

There are many things one can do when God calls you to a mountain that will define who “YOU REALLY ARE ABOUT”. A mountain where God will test your faith, your convictions and your mettle. God knows who you are, but you do not know who you are and He will show you and He will show your enemy.

Like Abraham, every man and woman used of God will face their mountain.

The mountain of sorrow. The mountain of rejection. The mountain of pain. The mountain of heartbreak. The mountain of frustration. The mountain of fear. The mountain of confusion. The mountain of feeling unwanted and useless. The mountain of doubt. The mountain of being misunderstood. And the mountain of …………

So, what is one to do when faced with apparent insurmountable obstacles?

Worship. Everyone and everything can praise God. Nature praises God and even people who live like they want to live from Monday to Saturday can walk into a church on any given Sunday and without the slightest tinge of conscience “Praise the Lord”.

But, worship and praise are not one and the same thing. Everyone can praise God because it is a gift He gives to His creation:

Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. Psalms 150:6 

But only those who faithfully endure the fiery trials of life can truly worship. The word of God gives us excellent examples of true worshippers:

For Abraham there was Mt. Moriah
For Esther there was Mt. Haman
For Hannah there was a harassing Mt. Adversary
For Naomi there was a haunting Mt. of Past Poor Decisions lurking in the fog of Moab
For David there was Mt. Goliath
For Joseph there were hateful and jealous siblings named Mt. Brothers
For John the Baptist there was Mt. King Herod
For Apostle Paul there was Mt. Rome, the epicenter of the world system (Kosmos) of his day, and
For Jesus Christ there was Mt. Calvary and Mt. Satan

What did all of these champions of heaven have in common? Their life of faith propelled them on to worship  and glorify God after being extremely tested before their mountain.

The question is: what will you do on the mountain God sends you to? There are many options. The best one is to simply worship.

Worshiping is speaking, vocalizing and articulating heartfelt words of complete surrender to God. True worship to God moves us to the backstage and puts Him front-center stage. What hinders us from really worshiping God in our calamities? One word. Pride. Pride mainly serves one purpose – it allows us to remain in control. Jesus is life’s supreme pride crusher. Jesus knows how to knock the stuffing out of our life and get us to a place where he alone holds the reins and is in control:

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 1Co 1:26-27 

Storms & Whirlwinds

Purification of one’s faith is not comprised of trivial personal endeavors. As the Apostle Peter penned it, it involves some very serious life encounters:

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 1 Peter 4:12 

There are some things God can only purify in us through trials and tests. Which bring us to the storms and whirlwinds (hurricanes) of life.

A storm and a whirlwind (or hurricane) are different manifestations or concentrations of the same two elements – wind and water. They differ only in intensity.

Storms bring measured amounts of water to the earth and the needed rainfall to sustain life and growth. Storms add to life.

On the other hand, hurricanes are much different. Hurricanes bring destruction to the earth. Hurricanes take away or radically alter life.

We can apply these same two weather patterns into the spiritual realm. Spiritually speaking a storm, or as we might say, a trial or test also adds life and promotes growth:

Psalms 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

Psalms 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

However, hurricanes transform whatever they touch. You will not be the same individual after experiencing or going through a spiritual whirlwind.

For Elijah,  his whirlwind was his promotion to Heaven in a chariot of fire:

2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

For Job’s whirlwind it meant his promotion to receive God’s storehouse of blessings for being faithful through his trial of fire:

Job 40:6 Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

Job 42:10 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

When Job prayed for his friends within his mountain of despair, God turned his whirlwind of distress into a windfall of God’s best.

The Apostle Paul’s hurricane experience prepared the promotion awaiting him in Heaven as he headed to Rome to become another of God’s prized martyrs:

And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon (typhoon/hurricane). Acts 27:13-14

For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Acts 27:23-24

Are you in the midst of or facing a spiritual hurricane/ whirlwind? Then know God is preparing you for your promotion:

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. I Peter 4:12-13

Life’s storms are purposed for production. Life’s hurricanes are purposed for promotion.

You who are reading, go and worship on your mountain.

Be Blessed!

Love – God’s Greatest Weakness?

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. 2 Corinthians 13:4

Weakness – dfn. lack of physical strength; lack of power, influence, or strength of character; a weak point in a system or somebody’s character. (Source: Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Can God be weak? Is it possible for the great God of glory to exhibit any weaknesses? Or can God “choose” to be weak to achieve a much greater purpose and cause? One thing is certain and one thing we all agree upon is that love is weak. Love does not operate from a position of power or strength. Love assumes the position of weakness, giving instead of taking and being the recipient of pain versus the one causing the pain, And the list goes on. That stated, how do we respond when the Bible says that “God is love” (I Jn 4:8,16). If God is love and love is weak then what does this say about God’s person, nature, and Being?

As we probe this a little further we will find out that God does and always has a plan. And His plans are perfect. And His plans have always centered around one goal and purpose – to show all of creation how magnificent, how wonderful, and how glorious He really is (Ps 145:10-11, Is 6:3, Col 1:16, Rev 4:11). And we will discover that this whole subject of weakness has an astounding ending. Let’s dive into this a little.

 The Progressive Works of God

In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth in a miraculous display of creative power. We know that, but what we sometimes forget or do not think about is that these acts of creative power were not conclusive.  After each day of creation God said that “it was good” six times (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21 & 25). The number ‘six’ is the number of man, the number of incompletion. This tells us something. It tells us that God had something else planned that would supersede His “good”. What is that? The answer is God’s ‘best’. God said that His acts of creation were good. What God did not say was that He was “finished” with His work of creation. It would take 6,000 years before He would say that his work of creation on earth was “finished”.

God’s way of revealing His character and will through HIs sovereign acts and ways is progressive in nature (Is 28:10, 13). His plans unfold the way photographs were originally made. Photographs used to be formed after light-sensitive photographic paper was immersed a chemical bath called a “developing solution” after being exposed to a light source projected through a film negative. Images would slowly emerge over the paper’s surface while the solution swished over its surface until the entire scene photographed appeared. Such is the revelation of God, a step-by-step progression of events unfolding to culminate into the complete understanding and knowledge of all that God is.

Progressive Steps – A Man, A Family, A Nation & A World

God’s first step in revealing His character and nature started with a single man, Adam. Adam, the first created being made in God’s image was his first choice to begin exposing who He was through communication and fellowship. Adam failed in fulfilling all that God planned for him because of disobedience. So, as God always does, He moved on. God then chose a family to work with and continue to unfold his perfect plan and will. The man was Noah and he found grace in the sight of God (Gen 6:8). The Lord worked through Noah and his family to preserve a remnant of mankind from judgment (the flood) looming over earth’s inhabitants. After Noah and his offspring fulfilled their God-given role He moved on to something bigger – a nation.

The Lord chose the people of the nation of Israel (through the faith of Abraham) as the next step to reveal His will. The Lord started what would be a journey of almost 2,000 years to prepare a people who would glorify Him and be a witness of his power, mercy, goodness, and grace to a darkened world. Again, the plan fell short of its intended expectations. Israel would eventually become divisive, indifferent to the ways of God, and fall into relative oblivion amongst the nations of the earth.

After failing to achieve perfection yet again, God in his last and final attempt to fulfill His perfect plan decided to take matters into his own hands. This final plan would supersede all others in scope and power and go beyond the limitations of human futility, family frailty, and national hostility. God’s final and perfect plan would encompass the entire world and involve all of Heaven, including Himself!

But God faced a dilemma. Because of the nature of this final plan Heaven could not be its launching pad or its operations center. Why? Because this plan demanded a part of God that He had up to this point not revealed. This final plan demanded God’s total and complete commitment of His love and forgiveness only attainable through profound weakness. And He was up to the challenge.

Earth – The Manifestation of God’s Greatest Weakness, The Perfection of God’s Magnificent Power

Heaven is a place of eternity and timelessness where demonstrations and exhibitions of God’s glory, might, and power are on full display. Heaven is not a place for weakness. When God determined it was time to manifest and reveal the most glorious aspects of His character, nature, and being He would have to do it at some other place and in some other form. And He did. It is the place we know as planet Earth. God designed earth for two purposes; to heal the breach of sin in Heaven (Lucifer’s rebellion) and on earth (Adam’s fall/man’s sin) and to reveal to all of Creation the glory of His character and the manifestation of His greatness weakness – His love. To gather together IN ONE “all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10).

He began the process on earth as a child in the “likeness of sinful (weak) flesh”:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:30-33

God himself stepped beyond the curtain of Heaven’s glory and power to become weak, weak like you and me. However, he did it unlike you and I. He became flesh and lived without committing sin. Jesus was truly the Lamb of God. Perfect. Sinless. Blameless. Guiltless.

First, we need to ask a question: Was Jesus really weak?

He became sin who knew no sin (Is 53:12; II Cor 5:21)
He laid down his life so others might take their life up (Luk 22:19-20; Rom 8:32; I Jn 3:16)
He chose death so others might have life (Joh 10:15-18)
He became poor so others might be rich (II Cor 8:9)
He relinquished his God-given power so others might be empowered by it (Mark 5:37-39; Joh 7:37-39; Acts 1:8, 2:38)
He was a lamb before a merciless company of fearless beasts (Is 53:7; Mark 15:32)
He was speechless and defenseless while being falsely accused (Mark 15:3-5)
He loved and forgave the who betrayed him (Mark 14:18-21Luk 22:47-48)
He loved and forgave all who hated him and were ashamed of him (Luk 23:34)

Can we conclude that Jesus indeed chose weakness over power? Is that not how true love is supposed to work?

God’s plans are foolproof. If he fails to accomplish something one way, He will always have something operating behind the scenes that will come through when needed.

Satan thinks he has it all figured out. He believes his dominion over the world is unchallengeable, his death threat forever intact and his plan of deception and destruction over mankind unequaled. Being the father of lies (Joh 8:44) he is the chief deceiver, deceived, and dead wrong.

There is one thing Satan never experienced in Heaven nor will he ever understand about God. And that is: God’s weakness and the profound love of God birthed in that weakness. Satan and his hordes of fallen angels are completely dumbfounded by continually being defeated by the power of God’s love. God’s love has the capacity (unlike any other agent known on earth) to attract the human soul beyond sin’s gravitational pull and cause it to fall in total surrender before its Creator. As one lady radio announcer phrased it: “God’s love is the most compelling force in the entire universe”. It most definitely is.

And here is how. God’s power is perfected in weakness:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

The word “strength” in this verse is the Greek word “δύναμις” [dunamis] which is translated into English as “force” or specifically, “miraculous power”. The word “dynamite” is derived from this same Greek word. What does this all mean?

This tells us that God, in the most infinitely weak form possible, came to this earth in the “likeness” of sinful flesh to perfect His power. God became infinitely weak through his death on a cross so that He might become …………. infinitely powerful! So powerful in fact that Jesus is now worthy to receive all of the fullness of God’s glory, might, and honor – “even in him” (Eph 1:10). Now that is something to get excited about.

God’s perfect will was to manifest Himself in weakness as the Son (flesh) of God on earth to offer salvation to a fallen world through his sinless blood and give the hope of eternal rest (life) to those under the power of sin and death by the god of this world. It was through this sacrificial act that God revealed to the world the most magnificent and profound nature of His person being – His deep, profound love.

From “It Is Good” to “It Is Finished” – Jesus, Our Seventh Day Of Eternal Rest

As mentioned at the outset, God said after each act of creation the words “it is good” (6x). This tells us that God had one more act of creation to perform – an act to bring everything full circle and complete His final, perfect plan waiting to unfold from the beginning of time.

God in the Old Testament rested on the seventh day from His work of creation (Gen 2:1-3) and also reserved this day for mankind’s physical rest (Mar 2:27). In the New Testament, Jesus offers those who believe and trust in him a new life with a new beginning (2 Cor 5:17).

What was that final act or work of perfection God needed to perform?

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. John 4:34  

The death of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God and Savior of the world was God’s final ‘work’ that fulfilled the Father’s will and ‘finished’ His creative plan on earth:

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30 

Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (the Gospel) ushered in the promised spiritual “rest” through the infilling of the Holy Ghost, prophesied by Joel and fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. Joel 2:28-29

To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. Isaiah 28:12

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Hebrews 4:9-11

We are entering 7,000 years, or 7 days of creation, since Genesis 1:1. The second coming of Jesus Christ to earth can be seen as the seventh day from creation offering mankind the gift of eternal ‘spiritual’ rest (Mat 11:28-29; Heb 3:11; Rev 14:13).

In conclusion, God’s perfected power is expressed and manifested in the form of the God-man Jesus Christ. Jesus is the embodiment of that perfected power and rules “at God’s right hand” in the seat of Heaven having all authority and power over all of Creation (Rev 1:12-18). All because of weakness and all because of love. God’s love. For God is love.

Be Blessed & Be Free in Jesus’ Name. Amen

(Credit: Photo of baby & finger)

Stripped, Shamed & Shackled

And having spoiled (stripped) principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly (shamed), triumphing (shackled) over them in it. Colossians 2:15

He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets. The Message Bible

Today in America we celebrate July 4th – Independence Day. It is a day to reflect and consider our nation’s greatest attribute, our freedom and independence over tyranny. “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice FOR ALL”.

We know that these two seven-lettered words did not and do not come without a cost and a very high price. We stand as a nation of relative freedom and liberty because of the sacrifice of men and women who endured two world wars, an economic collapse, conflicts in the Middle East, political and ideological uprisings in far places of the world all for the purpose of keeping these underlying principles intact in our nation. 

It is said there is a heavenly component intertwined in each and every earthly event. What transpires in earthly, physical happenings are the direct result of powers and forces occupying the spiritual sphere. Jesus himself asserted: “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven“. (Mat 18:18) This constant interplay between the earth and heaven will one day end (Rev Ch. 21). But until then, we are in the middle of the greatest power struggle in God’s creative universe – the battle for the soul; your soul, your family’s souls and the souls of your friends and neighbors. And the one who survives this epic battle and power struggle is determined by who and what is ultimately permanently stripped, shamed and shackled. Let’s dive into this a little bit more. 

Enemy Warfare Tactics – Stripping, Shaming & Shackling

The two key components in warfare operate at two levels – the physical and the psychological (mental). Which is the most powerful? You are right, the mental aspect of conflict. If your enemy becomes mentally defeated, you have won the war. The enemy of our soul, satan, understands this concept very well The human mind is in the crosshairs of his spiritual sniper scope to launch his campaigns of frustration, hopelessness, fatigue, offenses, strife and confusion. 

The first level of attack is physical in nature and involves a process of uncovering to expose weaknesses, vulnerabilities or failures. An example of this is seen in the account of King David’s servants and the Ammonites:

Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away. 2 Samuel 10:4  

The Ammonites stripped David’s servants of their beards and clothes. What effect did this have on their morale and mental state? You guessed it:

When they told it unto David, he sent to meet them, because the men were greatly ashamed: and the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return. 2 Samuel 10:5  

The men were shamed and subsequently decommissioned (shackled) for several months until their confidence and self-value was restored. 

The same strategy was used against Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden:

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked (stripped); and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. Genesis 3:7  

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself (shamed). Genesis 3:10  

Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken (shackled). Genesis 3:23  

 Satan uses these same tactics against us:

They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. Psalm 64:5-6

Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt. Psalms 35:4

But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not: Psalms 35:15

Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me. Psalms 35:26

And Satan used the same strategy against Jesus. First he was stripped:

And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. Matthew 27:28 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:31 

Then Jesus was shamed:

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! John 19:5 

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2  

And lastly Jesus was shackled:

And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. John 19:17-18

Jesus – The Master of Turning Tables Around

Jesus was known to turn a few tables over (Joh 2:15), but he also turned some tables “around”. Around that is on the devil. What Satan did to Jesus, Jesus turned right around and used the same tactics against him. 

First Jesus ‘stripped” Satan of his power over death:

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. Mat 28:2  
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Mat 28:5-6  

Jesus’ resurrection tilted and shifted the power and authority structures in heaven and in earth. Jesus stripped satan of his power over death and forever proved who now ruled kingdoms in heaven and on earth. Satan would now no longer be death’s gregarious, arrogant power broker. His strutting and bold, arrogant triumphant parading of the death threat over God’s creation ended when Jesus ‘stripped’ him of death’s power by conquering and defeating it in a darkened tomb three days after his crucifixion.

Jesus ascended up into the Heaven’s in a glorified body and seated on the righthand (symbolism of ultimate power) of God (Mk 16:19, Lk 22:69).

This stripping and resulting humiliation brought shame to satan and his hordes of cursed, ungodly spirits. And shame always fills voids left by pretense, baseless authority and vain boasting. What is their shame? Jesus, the light of truth, exposes Satan and his hordes of who they really are. They are fallen spirits  (Jude 1:6), with no hope and destined for eternal punishment (Rev 20:10). Jesus’ church, those born of water and the spirit have living inside of them the exact same Spirit that was in Jesus (Rom 8:11). “Born again” believers now have the power and authority to expose these spirits and take authority over them (Lk 9:1, Mk 16:17-18). 

It was customary for the Roman army to take the vanquished and defeated foes and march and parade them through the city streets to humiliate and shame them. It was described as “triumphing” over them. 

Jesus did the exact same thing Satan did to him when he defeated the spiritual kingdom of darkness and made his ascent to heaven: 

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:15

What was the prize? The prize was the stripping and shackling of a spiritual authority structure of gifts that shifted from the heavenly sphere to the earth. Jesus stripped, shamed and shackled these spirits, and in turn, took gifts originally intended to minister to him in Heaven (fallen angelic spirits now demoted to earth), to now minister through his church, the body of Christ, on earth.

This authority structure is what is now commonly called the five-fold ministry; a ministry that energizes church growth, defeats and deflects the works of the devil, empowers the gospel message to lead souls to repentance and experience the new birth, gives believers victory over sin and death, and lastly, for the perfection of God’s people:

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Ephesians 4:8

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Ephesians 4:10-12

Jesus – The Greatest Freedom Fighter Of All

To conclude, what the devil did to Jesus, he attempts to also do to us. The greatest advantage one can have over their enemy is to know their strategy, be privy to what their plans are and to know where they are and what they are plotting to do. 

The enemy relishes in their work of darkness when they can freely operate in deception. The agents of destruction and accusation revel when they can move freely about undetected, undercover and unchallenged. Satan is empowered and emboldened while operating unexposed, roaming freely and unchallenged. Here is proof:

That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. Psalms 64:4-6  

Having this cloak of deception and deceivableness uncovered and exposed by light and truth, the enemy’s only recourse is to depart and vacate. He cannot withstand light. What is the result of being stripped of his covering? Being shamed and shackled. 

Today is not only a celebration of freedom for one nation under God, but also a day to know and celebrate that there is a God who has ALL  power, power available for people of all nations to be free from all bondage. And Jesus Christ is the name of the One who has come, and through his sinless blood, strip, shame and shackle the power of sin and death!

Be Happy & Be Free – July 4th 2021

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4:18-19