The Other Goliaths

And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; Matthew 1:6

It might be an understatement to say King David’s “claim to fame” was his dramatic, almost theatrical slaying of Goliath, the giant from Gath. Most Bible readers associate young David with this amazing feat as his “coming out” moment. This one central feat that would define him for the remainder of his life – the impossible odds of an ill-equipped, strapping youth who, depending totally on his Lord, confronts and beheads the infamous and revered Philistine warrior on the battlefield.

But in retrospect, is the perception truly accurate that the biggest giant King David ever faced was Goliath? Were there other Goliaths he faced in life, and if so, were they greater in magnitude, demanded a deeper well of inner strength to overcome, and perhaps defined his life more deeply? 

Unbeknownst to him, David would face many formidable situations on the horizon of his life. We will look at four other giants he had to confront and defeat in his life – Treachery & Conspiracy, Tragic Personal Loss, Pride & Arrogance, and Guilt & Shame

The Goliath of Treachery & Conspiracy

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. Psalms 41:9

There are perhaps no deeper, more penetrating, and more hurtful wounds than those coming from trusted confidants or from those you trust and have direct access into the inner, sacred sanctums of your heart – loved ones, family, trusted friends, and authority figures, tops the list. This giant was no stranger to David and the first one he confronted before the famous giant of Gath. It first surfaced amongst those most familiar to him, his own family.

We get a glimpse that David was not well-liked and even disparaged by at least his oldest brother. Eliab. David’s oldest brother should have been his best friend and champion, instead, he felt threatened by the next King of Israel being his youngest brother (I Sam 17:28). Apparently, his behavior toward him was not surprising (I Sam 17:29). King Saul was the next source of attack against the future young king:

And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice. 1 Samuel 18:11 

And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain. 1 Samuel 18:21  

And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David. 1 Samuel 19:1 

Here is the next leader of Israel running for his life from a mad, dethroned king. Though it all David “acted wisely” and retain his integrity and dignity while being unjustly attacked and running like a fugitive. 

The Goliath of Great Personal Loss

And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! 2 Samuel 18:33

It is said that nothing in life is more debilitating to a person’s mind, body, soul, and spirit than the loss or serious illness of a loved one.  The saying is: “It should not happen this way. It should be the other way around!”. The weight of great personal loss has far and lasting effects. This leads us to the next giant King David faced, the Goliath of loss and heartbreak over the death of two of his children, his first son, and his son, Absalom. 

His birth was not timely, he was never given a name, and he never lived to assume the throne of Israel he was destined to inherit as the king’s first-born son. Nevertheless, his father loved him and grieved over his premature death: 

David, therefore, besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. 2 Samuel 12:16-17

The loss of a child is a heavy weight to bear. Even for kings of the earth. But this was not the last of his experience with the heartbreak of losing a child. Absalom was a beautiful child from birth. His visage had the look of royalty, and his hair was something to behold. He had it all, good looks, prestige, opportunity, intelligence, charisma, and the skillful wit to influence the masses towards his political leanings (2Sam 15:6). In the end though, it all worked against him because rebellion entered his heart. And it cost Absalom his life. 

Nevertheless, this did not stop his father from loving him. His death was still a crushing blow. 

And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom. 2 Samuel 18:5 

No matter what dishonorable things a child may do, no matter how they may fail to live up to their potential, at the end of the day they are still our child. The king felt the same way. Though Absalom did many despicable things in his life, they did not turn his father’s love away from him. Absalom’s death was a crushing giant King David had to face. 

But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! 2 Samuel 19:4

The Goliath of Pride & Arrogance

And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. 1 Chronicles 21:13 

It was a mistake King David knew he should have never made when he commanded – “Joab, go and number all the soldiers in the army of Israel. Just would like to know how big and powerful our military strength and capabilities are. You know, it’s just an ego thing”. Numbers. Numbers in spiritual matters are oftentimes nothing but ego. Before you click out of this blog, wait and see what God has to say about it. And the best place to start is The Book of Acts and how numbers were emphasized. The thing is, they weren’t. Here are examples:

And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Acts 1:15 

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41 

Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. Acts 4:4  

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.  And all the men were about twelve. Acts 19:6-7

When Luke recorded the actual numbers of people added to the church (water and spirit birth – which is how God adds to His church), he was not specific. Maybe God is saying something here. Sure, numbers indicate growth, and everyone wants to see God’s church grow. But only the Lord knows the heart and knows who really has set their heart to the things of God and keeps it there. Keeping count of souls is God’s business and it can become a sin. It did for King David. 

Did he feel that familiar, unsettling tinge of remorse in the gut like he felt the day he summoned his beautiful neighbor over to his palace for some “private” time together? The Lord only knows. One thing is for sure, this blunder would take more than just the lives of two people (Uriah and a newborn) as visited by the next giant. At the end of the mayhem of God’s wrath, the King’s pride and arrogance were responsible for the death of 70,000 men. That is a heavy weight to bear. It is said that pride is the original sin and is the root of all evil that spawns more and more iniquity. The giant of pride and arrogance is a giant most of us must confront in life. 

Now we save the best (or depending on how you look at it), the worst giant for last. And that is the giant of guilt and shame.  

The Goliath of Guilt & Shame

And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. 2 Samuel 12:7

Thou art the man – POW. Four words that none of us would want to hear, especially from the God of Creation through the mouthpiece of his prophet. Those words still sting, even though directed at someone else. Upon hearing them, David had about 200 milliseconds to process what Nathan was communicating and provide the right response. And the response he would give set the stage for his future and this giant’s ultimate defeat. 

Most Bible readers are familiar with the sins Nathan exposed here in David’s life. The sins of murder, adultery, the blasphemy of God’s name, and the military code breach of a superior deliberately setting up a subordinate in a compromising situation. In essence, King David failed politically, militarily, personally, and spiritually. In essence, he failed in every aspect of life one can possibly fail in. A total failure you might say.

But before we drop the curtain of shame and guilt over King David’s life and write him off as a non-entity and someone God could never use again, let’s wait and see how the story ends before making that judgment. We need to look and see what God had to say about the situation. Why? Because only God knows the history. And only God truly knows your history. Does this matter? Oh, yes, it matters immensely. And it mattered to King David. So, let’s take a look at his history and the context surrounding 2 Samuel 12:7. 

The sins Nathan revealed in King David’s life are recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 11.  These events occurred near the very end of his life during a time of personal weakness. God is a God of patterns and looks at things from a big perspective. And one interesting aspect of God’s judgment is that he compares it to a balance – an interplay between two opposing weights. And the Lord’s weights of justice and judgment are perfectly balanced. He hates balances that are skewed and unjust (Pro 11:1, 16:11, 20:23). 

What does this mean? It means when God is forced to pronounce judgment in a situation, He takes everything into consideration before making an ultimate decision. It is simply what a just judge does and is the basis of our judicial system. The dynamics of mercy and judgment are the key aspects of God’s order of justice and judgment. With this in mind let’s visit the “weight” already resting on the right-hand side of King David’s life scale with some real-life Biblical examples:

Mercy & Compassion – He shows great mercy towards Abigail’s plea to withhold judgment because of the merciless and callousness acts of her husband, Nabal (I Sam 25:32-35)
Loyalty & Faithfulness – his honor of the king he was hand-picked by the Lord to replace, King Saul, is on display when he refused to touch “the Lord’s anointed” (I Sam 24:6-10). And he upholds his vow to preserve the lineage of Johathan (King Saul’s grandson, Mephibosheth)
Generosity & Graciousness – His graciousness and generosity towards Mephibosheth is like nothing else recorded in the Bible until Jesus arrives on the scene over 1,500 years later (II Sam 6:9-11)
Forgiveness & A Father’s Unrelenting Love – his forgiveness towards his rebellious son Absalom hit a high-water mark of despair and anguish paralleling the emotional intensity of Rizpah (2Sam 21:10), Naomi (Rth 1:20-21), Rachel of Rama (Mat 2:18), and of course, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world (Luk 23:34).
Committed to Prayer, Worship & Thanksgiving – cannot forget this one. King David was a man of prayer and worship. So much is recorded in the Bible of this man’s predisposition to praise the Lord, worship God whenever and wherever he was and devoted himself to pouring out his heart to God in prayer. King David is the only one recorded in the Bible who is known as “a man after God’s own heart”. He also had a thankful heart and understood where he came from and where God’s blessings had taken him.
Fear of God – King David had a genuine reverence and fear of God. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Psa 111:10) and he mentions it many times in his writings (Psa 19:9, 25:14, 33:8, 34:11, 96:9 & 135:20). 
Lover of the Law (Word of God) – King David’s love for the word of God is unquestionable. Psalm 19 is devoted entirely to the majesty of God’s word. And Psalm 119 (the longest Psalm) references the word of God in every one of its 176 verses.  
 
Are these not all attributes shared by the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, the God-man himself? Indeed, they are. This is not to say someone racks up points to manipulate God into making a decision we’ve slyly attempted to fabricate. But our past behavior and actions do set a precedent, a pattern of established behavior on Him to base decisions. Someone once asked a question about the expected behavior concerning an individual. The reply given was: “What established behavior did they exhibit in the past? That will tell you what they will typically do in the future”. God sees the motivation of one’s heart as a major factor in what we will expect to receive in life. The entire “Sermon on the Mount” by Jesus as recorded in Matthew chapter 5 is entirely about the heart’s condition and motivation.  

One writer, George Buttrick, penned a remarkable statement in his book The Parables of Jesus (written in 1928) regarding the importance of motivation behind our actions. In his words:

“Everlastingly the motive of a man’s (person’s) life proclaims his worth”. End of quote. 

King David paid a dear price for his sins. His infant son with Bathsheba died. His son Amnon committed a hideous act against his beautiful virgin sister, Tamar. His other son, Absalom, takes the life of Amnon for this deed. And Absalom is killed not long after this for his rebellious acts against his father.

Psalm 51 is the Psalm of repentance following God’s rebuke through the prophet Nathan. In this prayer of repentance, what is the first thing mentioned?

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

Mercy. The key to his conquering the giants of his life rests squarely on this – King David had a deep revelation (understanding) of the mercy of God and he believed God was who He said He was. He knew the heart of God is touched and moved by two things; the fear of God and those that hope in his mercy. Let his own words tell us:

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. Psalms 103:8 

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. Psalms 103:11

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; Psalms 103:17 

Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Psalms 89:14

His son, Solomon, would also carry on the cornerstone elements of mercy and truth:

Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy. Proverbs 20:28

This all brings us to the conclusion of the matter. King David has shown us we are not hopeless when the giants of life come across our path in life. And those giants can be conquered by two slayers the Lord has equipped us with. 

The Giant Slayers – Mercy & Truth

We’ve all sung the songs and know about the “power of the blood”. But do we know why? The study of the life of King David brings to light two foundational bedrocks that brought the King through life’s tragedies and traumas – God’s mercy and God’s truth (His Word). Without the sinless blood of the Lamb of God, there is no mercy. Mercy cannot exist without blood, the powerful sin-cleansing blood of Calvary. Secondly, God’s word must be believed and not allow doubt to creep in and cloud out the promises given to us in God’s word. 

The modern-age church primarily avoids and skirts around the subject of the blood of Jesus Christ. Why is that? One reason is the devil, yes Satan, knows the power that is in the blood of Jesus. If he can construct a mental barrier and shut down and impede access to the blood, he has effectively rendered null and void the most powerful two aspects of God’s salvation for mankind – His forgiveness of sins through the agency of His mercy.
 
Did you know that the word “mercy” is referenced in the KJV of the Old Testament 217 times in 208 verses? And do you know which book of the Bible references mercy almost five times more than any other book? Yes, the Book of Psalms references “mercy” 100 times in 99 verses containing almost half of the total occurrences of the word in the Bible. King David had a deep understanding of God’s mercy. 
 
Forgiveness is only possible through God’s mercy. And God’s mercy cannot exist without God’s blood. Why? Because it is the blood that washes us from sin, the forgiveness and remission of sin through the blood of Jesus:

 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Revelation 1:5 

This is how serious God is about sin and how serious He is about his blood.
 
Giants – Stepping Stones to Greater Things

In summary, we’ve looked at the life of King David. Can we agree that the most formidable and challenging giant David ever faced was not the encounter with the Philistine from Gath? In retrospect, could it be that the real giants in life are not the ones staring you in the face in the noonday sun? But could the real giants we must face and confront be the ones that surface unexpectedly, out of nowhere, and come from events and experiences that we least suspect? Life’s biggest giants are not always physical. The biggest giants we will ever face could be spiritual ones. Those that are hidden and slip by us unaware and silently weave their way into our minds and hearts. Those are the real giants because an enemy that remains invisible is not easily defeated.

Despite the chaotic aftermath of Nathan’s pronouncement against King David, he was able to recover and move ahead in life while retaining his trust, confidence, and love for the God who so vividly expressed His displeasure over his sins. How was he able to do this? By coming to the complete understanding (revelation) and total knowledge that HE WAS FORGIVEN! He knew beyond all doubt that God is a God of mercy, He is who He said He is, and His mercy is effective when it’s believed and acted upon.

What may appear as a “Goliath situation” today could simply be steppingstones for overcoming bigger, more intense, and more formidable giants further down the road of life. Like King David, your best day is yet to come and the faith you nurture on the inside is waiting to be revealed by the God who delights in making your enemies fall dumbstruck at the feet of a people who call God their Lord and Savior and who “hope” in His mercy.

Be Blessed & Merry Christmas 2022!

It is “Merry” because Jesus was born to forgive us and deliver us from our sins. He will if we allow him and believe in him. Amen

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: Proverbs 3:3

And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness. Isaiah 16:5 

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

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!

The Past – Our Biggest Enemy?

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-14

Is there one thing that will disqualify anyone from making it to Heaven aside from committing blatant sin? The scripture says that nothing can separate one from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39). Is that true? Is it really impossible to be separated from God’s love?

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Romans 8:38

But, what about the things not mentioned? Is something missing in the list? The present is mentioned and so is the future. But, what about the past? The Apostle Paul does not include the past as something that cannot separate one from the love of God. That means the past can. Our past is more powerful than we might imagine. Let’s take look into this.

The past is a powerful thing. It can be a well of pleasant memories of our childhood with family and friends. It can bring back thoughts of places we have been and experiences we have encountered. On the other hand, the past can be a difficult place to navigate. In fact, the New Testament writings when referring to the past many times paints it with colors from a dark, foreboding palette: (Rom 11:30, Gal 1:13, 23; Eph 2:2-3, 11-12, Phm 1:11, I Pet 2:10). These actions of the past are referred to the Apostle Paul as “dead works” (Heb 6:1 & 9:14), acts we all have committed of which we are ashamed and not particularly proud.

Why is this? When reminiscing about the past why do we tend to concentrate on the negative and not the positive? It is as if an internal switch defaults in the down position. This is no doubt a result of the law of sin resident in our members (Rom 7:23-24). So, when dealing with the past we come out of the runner’s block in life already disadvantaged because of the law of sin that seeks to always overrule our spirit (Gal 3:3, 5:17) that includes sinful thoughts and past sinful actions.

The Past & Who Is In Control? 

The past is also peculiar and somewhat enigmatic. The past on one hand can control us, yet on the other, it can be something else. What? The past can be something that only we manipulate that no one else can. Not even God if we so choose. We can be its arbitrator, judge or liberator. We cannot always control our present and less so our future. However, we can control our past by awakening it and repressing it at will. We can “bring up” the past on one hand and forget about it on the other – at will. Our will. That is control fueled by self-centered power. We can take ownership of the past because in doing so we can willfully control it. It is a piece of us that hinders and stymies the work and will of God in our lives because by manipulating our past we are in control and not God. And that is a big problem. A problem big enough that Jesus gave a warning:

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62 

Looking back (to the past) disqualifies one for kingdom work. It is a disqualifier and debilitating. Is this a hopeless situation? No, not with God. Because Jesus offers us new life, a new future and new beginnings. The key is to relinquish the past and move forward, by faith and trust in the Lord and in His word. Jesus came to heal us of our past – past mistakes we have committed (and we have all done them), past failures (even those), things done in the past to us, unpleasant thoughts from the past, all of these things Jesus can and is willing to give us victory over. Yes, he certainly can. And then we have the enemy to contend with in all this which brings us to the next subject. 

The Past & Oz Behind The Curtain

The enemy knows how powerful your past is. He understands that if he can interject or resurrect past unpleasant thoughts into your mind (yes, the devil has the capacity to do that – 2 Cor 10:5) he can at worst control you or at best stymie your spiritual growth and development.

Before we go any further, it may be in order to get a better understanding of this adversary we are dealing with. Demonic spirits are past-bound spirits with no hope and no future. Demonic spirits were in the past a part of God’s angelic heavenly host. They partook of the wonders and splendors of Heavenly glory (Jude 1:6). No more. They rebelled, were kicked out of heaven and driven to earth as fallen creatures (Rev 12:7-9). Their only hope, their only means of even the slightest relief before their final destination of eternal torment in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10) is to latch onto another God-given spirit that does have hope and a future. And that God-given spirit lives in you. The devil and his cohorts find relief by accusing, oppressing and possessing humans who have a spirit with hope. What is their diet? Dust (Gen 3:14). What are you made of (Gen 2:7)? This explains the conflict. 

So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. Matthew 8:31 

God created swine (pigs) for a purpose and for a reason. They are farm animals and make good pulled pork and bacon. And even a pig retains its original God-given purpose. Fallen angels did not. They are dead spirits. Devils even seek to find relief possessing a farm animal living under God’s provision and favor. Okay, let’s move along.

The enemy completely understands he cannot control a person with a “made up” mind, a mind focused on God, His Word, totally surrendered to God’s will and unequivocally trusting in God’s person. The devil has lost the battle with that individual who lives no longer in the past and lives instead in the promises and hope of His Person and Word. A believer set free from the shadows and vestiges of the past is unstoppable when infused with faith, hope and love. This is not the case for those bound by the past, those whose lives are directed by its sinful reminders whether true or untrue. This is a place where the Creator of the heaven and the earth does not want you to be for he came to heal and set you free of your past:

In Conclusion

Left untempered and unrestrained, our past may be our biggest enemy. By God’s grace and His promise of new life, the past can be a distant memory God has healed and made whole. But, someone may ask, “You don’t know my past? You do not know what I have experienced in life, the things I have done or the things done to me”. No this blogger does not. But, there is someone who does. Jesus experienced more shame and pain than any other human that ever walked this earth. And Jesus can be touched by your pain and shame because he has been there (Heb 4:15). Someone made the following statement: “Get yourself a good prayer life because no one understands your pain better than God”. 

The enemy wants your hope. The enemy wants your future because he has none. It is said that the devil does not care about your past or your present, he just wants to steal your future. Don’t let him. Jesus has something more powerful for you than what a future-less, hateful and destructive end the enemy hopes for your life. What is it? It is the New Birth of water and Spirit (Joh 3:1-15 & 7:37-39). A new life, a new beginning and a entirely new bright future eons away from your regretful past.

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus, The Greatest Gift Of All

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 

Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of the Savior. That babe born in a manager over 2,000 years ago, the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36) is the focus of Christmas. That weak, frail, vulnerable and innocent child came into this world like no other infant before him or after him. He was perfect from birth to death, from the cradle to the cross. Jesus Christ is the center and purpose of all living (Luk 10:22, Joh 1:3, Acts 17:24-25, Rom 11:36, Eph 1:10; 3:9 & Rev 4:11).

God waited for the perfect time, the perfect place to usher onto this earthly stage the perfect infant. God watched and waited. And He still watches (Ps. 33:13, 18, 52:3). The time came for God to manifest Himself in human flesh on the earthly stage (Mat 1:23, Col 1:14-17, I Tim 3:16 & I Pet 1:20). Why? Because God had to become weak. Yes, weak. All flesh is weak (Mat 26:41, Mar 14:38 & Rom 8:3). God Himself needed to become weak to perfect something. What was that something? God needed to perfect his Power. His perfected power would defeat the last remaining enemy of God – The Power of Death (I Cor 15:26 & I Jn 3:8). And according to God’s calculation, His power can only be perfected one way, 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 

God in flesh marked Creation’s most profound, singular act of weakness. The infinite God becoming “like” sinful flesh (Rom 8:3). God as the God-man, Jesus Christ, became infinitely weak to become infinitely powerful. And He would use that perfected power to transform those who believe on him and his word to overcome sin, the world and ultimately become like him (Acts 2:1-4, Joh 1:12, Rom 8:14, Php 2:15 & I Jn 3:1). That he might make them whole, new and restored (Joh 7:37-39 & II Cor 5:17).

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 

Jesus – The Gift of God’s Light to the World
Jesus – The Gift of God’s Life to the World
Jesus – The Gift of God’s Love to the World

Jesus – The Gift of God’s Joy to the World

Jesus is the Reason for EVERYTHING!

Merry Christmas 2020 to You & Yours!