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!

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 a 19th century European impressionist painter, 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 Unites 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 over $80,000!)

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)

What Will You Allow God To Birth In Your Nightmare?

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. Genesis 37:5

Someone once said that God’s blessings are not all bright, shinny objects. There comes a time, a place and a season one MUST endure (call it a nightmarish experience) for God to reveal the mighty handiwork He ordains specifically for your life. The experience will either make you or it will break you. It will either make you ‘bitter’ or it will make you ‘better’. But, let it be known that if you endure the nightmare, God has waiting for you on the other side something that will change your destiny. It will change your perspective on God, on life, on yourself and on your world. The question is: will we allow God to produce the  miracle in the middle of our nightmare? Will we trust Him to take our horrendous dark night for the purpose of birthing a masterpiece, a work of beauty?

We will look at five specific examples, the life of Joseph, Abigail, Peter, a personal story, and the life of Jesus Christ to see how a nightmare can birth something miraculous beyond human calculation. Let’s take a look.

Sweet Dreams Become Bitter Nightmares – The Life of Joseph

For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. Genesis 37:7  

And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. Genesis 37:9 

The young man (seventeen years old at the time) was meek, kind, gentle, humble and called of God. The lad’s name was Joseph. One would think given these “blessings” all of life would be well – no pain to endure, no difficult life situations to navigate, no enemies, no perplexing circumstances to set one off the trajectory God ordained. That was not the case. In fact the opposite was true. Joseph’s call became a caldron of turmoil before birthing the life-altering actions it was designed to produce.

Joseph’s dreams caused him rejection by his brothers (Gen 37:18-28), placed him on the auction block of slavery (Gen 37:36), shackled in the prison house of false actuations (Gen 39:20), and marginalized and brushed-off for his spiritual insight (Gen 40:23). Through it all Joseph allowed God to bless him on three levels; personally (Gen 41:38-45), relationally (Gen 45:3-15; 46:29-30) and generationally (Gen 47:5-11). The Lord restored his personal life, his family’s unity and his nation’s sovereignty by faithfully traversing the dark roads he was destined to travel.

Abigail – From Disgrace To The King’s Place

Abigail learned of the plot to annihilate her husband Nabal, his entire household, including herself. David and his ragtag army of misfits were headed her way and they would leave no life untouched by their wrath. But, unlike her husband, Abigail was a godly woman who feared the Lord. Instead of being fear-struck, she found courage and hope in God’s faithfulness, and by faith, humbled herself before David with a freewill offering of food and provisions. Her prophetic and anointed words concerning David and God’s will for his life (I Sam 25:24-30) were  God-sent (I Sam 25:32) which he desperately needed to hear at this dismal juncture in life.

Abigail endured her nightmare. Her faith enabled her to persevere through the darkness. What was her “silver lining” in the pending catastrophe? She became the wife of the King of Israel. The pain Abigail endured from living in a very difficult situation was now comforted by looking daily at the face of her child, Chileab (meaning ‘like his father’ or ‘everything of the father’), born in Hebron between her and David. While Abigail lived a past shadowed by disgrace, she now lived a life surrounded by royalty as the king’s wife.

Peter’s Test In His Own Personal Nightmare


“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” Matthew 14:30


The account of Peter’s walk on the water to meet Jesus on a stormy sea was an unforgettable moment for him and for those who would read about it as recorded in Matthew chapter 14. It was truly a supernatural manifestation of God’s power in one man’s life.  But, was there something else going on here that Jesus was setting out to accomplish? Was Jesus looking to use this moment of drama and near catastrophe to send a test of faith to his fresh brand of disciples to expose who would prove to be the most passionate and faith-driven?

One thing we do know is not much is recorded about Peter or his life before this supernatural encounter of walking on water. But afterwards, Matthew has much to say about him. Could it be that God was waiting to see by using the sea to test and identify true faith? How much faith does it take to walk out of a boat and onto the sea in the middle of a raging storm? It would appear a whole lot. But, there is a key point here that needs recognition. It is faith. What happened when Peter stepped out of that boat to walk towards Jesus on the sea? He gave up all control. Peter relinquished his own control over the situation, and by faith, trusted Jesus to take control. And what was the target of satan’s attack against Peter? It was his faith in God (Luke 22:31-32).

Peter’s test of faith in a time of great darkness was the key God would use to birth his future special role in God’s salvation plan (Mat 16:17-19). By trusting in Jesus’ ability to deliver in impossible situations (Mat 14:28), Peter would have the faith to fulfill God’s will for his life. This faith would later come to good use at a most critical time and place – the beginning of the church age on The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-36). It was engrained in Peter’s mind that no matter what may come in life, or death, Jesus’ word is true and Jesus would back it up. Even when prompted to walk on the sea in the middle of a raging storm.

New Life From A Nightmare

(Note: the following is connected to a post entitled “Worship On This Mountain” written back in August 2019.

While sitting at the red light it took some mental gymnastics to decrypt the vanity license plate on the car ahead. But, after juggling around the seven-lettered puzzle piece it was too real and almost too coincidental – LVNTMRE. Living nightmare. Which was a fairly accurate description of life for the past eight years or so. But, as it turned out God has a plan even living there.

The beautiful newborn child pictured above was 3 weeks old when this photo was taken. Logistically-speaking, she has neither a mother or a father. She is our first grandchild. She is healthy, beautiful and complete. But, you do not know the “nightmare”, the story behind her entrance into this world. The circumstances surrounding her birth are nothing short of miraculous. Her 9-month journey was atypical of the way most children enter this life. This little girl was born in a very difficult situation and under horrendous circumstances. Some of the more personal and sensitive details (and they are numerous) are excluded. You see this child was born by a parent addicted to crack cocaine, nicotine and alcohol (and other drugs). But, God reached His hands into a nightmare situation and brought forth a living miracle. The neonatal nurses at the hospital knew her background, read the blood work results and were on the lookout for withdraw signs. They were very minor.

This was all because of prayer coupled with the cooperation of one special family member. Prayers by her family and prayers from the body of Christ were heard and answered on her behalf and turned a certain tragedy into a wonderful treasure. God reached His hand into a pit of darkness and brought forth precious life. And all life is precious because it is created by God.

Even in the belly of hell Satan may challenge, but he cannot overpower God’s sovereignty. Jesus is the God of light, life, and love. Jesus is the giver and taker of life. When Jesus commands, hell listens, even when the situation dictates otherwise. Don’t loose your hope in the midst of your nightmare because He just might be planning to produce a living miracle in its midst.

And now we will save the best nightmare for last.

Jesus Christ – He Experienced His Own Nightmare 

His life was perfect. He never sinned, his heart and mind was pure, he always handled himself gracefully and tactfully when faced with hate and injustice. His name is Jesus Christ. History documents his life. Jesus indeed walked the dusty, earthen paths and roads of this earth. Jesus lived for one purpose – to heal, to love and to set souls free from the curse of sin. But, even Jesus encountered his own nightmarish experiences.


“And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.  And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” Luke 23:32-34

And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Luke 23:44-46


What did Jesus birth in his darkness? He birthed our healing (Is 53:5) and He birthed the church, God’s church, the highest life-form on earth, the body of Christ. God has free will and can choose to be whoever He wants to be. Yet, he decided to be love and be known as the God of love (I John 4:8, 16). And there is “no greater” way to display this love than to lay down His life for sinners, a people who don’t deserve it and can never do anything to earn it. God’s love is a gift. A gift to humanity. And Jesus endured the darkness of sin so that we might have the choice to embrace that love and be birthed into his kingdom.

Jesus endured the cross’ pain and shame to usher into the world salvation for mankind through the new birth of water and Spirit (John 3:3-8, 7:37-39; Acts 2:1-4, 2:38; Rom 8:11). Jesus did it for you. God knew before creation that he would walk through this darkness (I Pet 1:19-20; Rev 13:8) and face the ‘nightmare’ on Golgotha’s hill. Jesus became sin for us who knew no sin that we might have a hope for something beyond the end of this life journey.

What Will God Birth In Your Own Nightmare?

No one really knows the totality of our life like God. He even knew before your birth the number of hair follicles that would be on your head (Mat 10:30).  And no one really understands life’s nightmarish experiences you are going through, have gone through or somewhere down the road will go through but God. Are they to punish, callously inflict pain or purposelessly cause undue burdens upon your life? Never. We must come to an understanding of this. Whatever you go through in life is meant to better you, make your faith stronger, recharge hope, and most importantly to rekindle love – our love for God, love for our neighbor and love for ourselves.

We must allow the nightmares God sends into our life to produce their intended miracle, turn the mess into a masterpiece and birth the  impossible out of the darkest of nights. Only God, only Jesus really understands the whole picture of your life. This is mentioned because God has sent you or will send you a nightmare to birth in you a miracle. What the enemy meant for evil, God desires to turn it around for your and His good. Why? Because God is glorified through the fiery trial of your faith (Rom 4:20; I Pet 1:7). There is nothing that defuses the devil’s machinery of mayhem more and completely blasts his apple cart of destruction and wickedness apart then when someone endures a nightmare experience while maintaining a right attitude by praising and magnifying the Lord in its midst. Do you know what that does? It shows whether it is the god of this world with the lower-case ‘g‘ or the God of Creation with the upper-case ‘G‘ that is really running this thing we know as life.

All Nightmares Eventually Come To An End

There is one thing that ends all nightmares every single time. Nightmares end upon one condition – when you “wake up” and open your eyes. The nightmare looses its power and grip when the person under its control wakes up and sees the light of day. Jesus is the light of the world (John 1:9, 8:2, 12:46). Jesus is the peace and comfort in life’s darkest moments. And Jesus came to heal the mind’s blindness caused by the god of this world (II Cor 4:4) and enlighten your vision to who really is the One in control. If we allow him. Jesus will take our worst nightmare, turn it around, and produce a work that will amaze you and those around you.

What miracles will you allow God to birth in your life like he did for Joseph, Abigail and Peter (and Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Samson, Hannah, Ruth, Esther, Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas, the blind, deaf, dumb, the bruised, the broken, the DEAD and so many others)? And who knows, you just might be next on His list!

Only Jesus can turn a LVNTMRE (‘Living Nightmare’) into a LVMIRKL (‘Living Miracle’).

May God Bless You & Keep You!

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

This Mountain

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Mountains – An Introduction

Mountains always give you uniquely rich perspectives, visions and aspirations unavailable from other places. Being one of the earth’s most majestic landforms, it is said that Mt. Everest can be seen 124 miles away and one reaching its summit can see 211 miles in any one direction. Imagine driving your car 60 miles per hour non-stop for three and one-half hours on a perfectly straight highway to arrive at a destination. That total distance traveled is viewable from the top of Mt. Everest.

Which brings us to the point of all this, God is the God of the mountain. Surely God is involved in the small business of things. And God is equally involved in big things. Big things like mountains that allow you to see things unlike any you’ve ever seen before. Let’s go a little deeper into this.

The God of The Mountain

And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. Luke 9:28-29

Why mountains? What is it that only mountains can supply? The answer is one word – perspective. Perspective is everything with the Lord. And when it comes down to it perspective is everything in life. How we think, how we act, how we feel and the words we speak are all affected by our perspective. This is where mountains come into the picture. Mountains give unique perspectives that nothing else can. It can be said that perspective is directly related to attitude. The more refined and aligned perspective is to God’s word and will, the better the attitude becomes. Someone wrote that ‘attitude determines altitude‘. And mountains occupy the highest altitudes.

Yes, we do learn from the valley experiences and are humbled and refined in the fiery trials that come our way. But, there comes a place and there comes a time in your life when you must take the trip to your God-ordained mountain. The mountain where commitment is challenged, faith is energized, hope is rekindled and your love for God is made new again. And it can only happen on the mountain.

There are three specific perspectives we will investigate here. We can call them the three B’s: Beneath, Before and Beyond. Or more specifically, what lies beneath you, what exists before you and what awaits beyond you while positioned upon your mountain.

The ‘Beneath’ Perspective – The Mountain of Protection

For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me. Psalms 18:39

Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me. Psalm 144:1-2

What is beneath us that we need to conquer? God planed from the beginning that if we allow Him to have dominion over our will, He will give us the authority to have dominion over that which is beneath us. More specifically, the world and the god of it. And one more thing. That we daily conquer the desires and whims of our flesh that includes our past. Jesus emphatically made the assertion that there is a personal cross to bear on this journey to Heaven. And the only way to make it over the finish line is by taking daily trips to the mountain of prayer, encounter the Lord, get sin under the blood and refresh new perspectives of who He is, what we have and who we are. One must be born again to conquer this mountain. It cannot be done “in the flesh”. It is a spiritual journey that must involve other climbing partners, Jesus Christ, the lover of your soul and his church (Jam 5:16).

If you are a child of God, born of his Spirit and washed in his blood, you are positioned for greatness. Daily casting all cares on Him will keep us there (I Pet 5:7). A Mighty fortress is our God. The Lord protects his own (Psalm 18). As the Psalmist penned the words, he knew his God would not leave him nor forsake him:

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:1-2

The number one challenge to conquer this mountain is not oxygen. It is fear. We must totally trust God here and not succumb to fear. The late British writer G. K. Chesterton stated the following:

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”

Difficult is the key word. This mountain is no “tick-a-belly hill”. It is the real deal of a hill, as in Mt. Kilimanjaro. The beginning of David’s ascent to kingship began here on this mountain:

Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands. I Samuel 17:45-47

David knew who his God was and what his God was capable of doing. Conquer fear and you will summit the mountain of protection and everything which lies beneath you moving to higher ground and on to the next challenge.

The ‘Before’ Perspective – The Mountain of Purpose

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12  

It has been stated that had the Lord not given the Apostle Paul divine revelations and visions he would not have endured the many hardships and trials he faced in life. There comes a time in one’s walk with God that you must ‘see’ the miraculous, the opening up of the spiritual world to your own spirit and perceive beyond your present circumstances. It is here that your purpose becomes apparent and obtainable.

Case in point, Paul was on a ship with Rome as its destination. It was God’s perfect will for the Apostle to appear before Caesar. But, there was a problem. The owner of the ship was not operating on the same spiritual wavelength as Paul. Soon after leaving the port in Phenice the ship encountered a terrific storm. It seemed that the entire purpose for the journey became hopeless. This is where climbing the mountain of purpose becomes not only life-giving, but also life-defining:

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. 
But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. Acts 27:20-21

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

Paul refused to be defeated by the mountains of frustration, fear and impossibility meant to destroy his purpose in life. It has been said that the devil does not care if you go to hell or not, he only cares that you do not fulfill God’s will for your life. Upon the mountain of purpose, Paul saw and heard what was before him. Heaven’s purposes will always be opposed and clouded by earthly problems. The key is to keep climbing until the purpose becomes a reality in your life.

Having experienced the mountains of protection and purpose one can move to the last and final pursuit.

The ‘Beyond’ Perspective – The Mountain of Possession

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan …. Deuteronomy 34:1

This mountains gives you the unique perspective of seeing what is beyond you. From this vantage point distant things come into focus. Upon this mountain the impossible  becomes possible and even obtainable. And what is it that each of us desire that is beyond ourselves? Hopefully, one thing is to escape this earthen abode of sin and death and obtain eternal life. To live again after death, go to Heaven, live eternally with Jesus and be reunited with loved ones.

The mountain of possession is defined by two critical characteristics each of us need to master on the road to eternal life – patience and perseverance. Jesus himself spoke of its importance:

In your patience possess ye your souls. Luke 21:19

A biblical example of this can be seen in the life of Caleb. Moses instructed the leaders of each of Israel’s twelve tribes to “spy out the land of Canaan” and bring back a report of what they saw. Joshua was not the only spy who brought back a positive and encouraging report. Caleb did also and he lived with that perspective forty-five years before it became a reality in his life. Joshua went on the replace Moses’ leadership ‘position’ over the nation.

But, what about Caleb? Caleb’s perspective was equal to that of Joshua’s. Yet, Caleb remained Joshua’s under-study and lived in his shadow over half of his life. But, he kept his perspective in focus and was unwavering in perseverance. And it paid off:

And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.

Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said. Joshua 14:10, 12

And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. Joshua 14:13

Because of his faithfulness, perseverance and whole heartedness in following the Lord, he gave Caleb a reward for his perspective, Mt. Hebron. Through his faith in God he knew the giants of life were conquerable. That included not only physical giants. It also included the mental giants he would face such as doubt, bitterness, jealousy, unforgiveness, fatigue, hard-heartedness, fear and frustration. All because of maintaining the right perspective. Caleb’s perspective allowed him to envision a mountain before him and the determination necessary to possess it. Like Caleb, you must never stop short of the mountain of possession God has ordained for your life-  eternal life (I Tim 6:12).

In Conclusion

God implanted within every human soul the desire for something beyond itself, beyond our earthen limitations, weaknesses, barriers and mortality. It is a inner magnetism for something eternally greater than our “inner self”. It is an implantation from the Holy to seek the Holy. We can seek many inventions to either circumvent it with more convenient things or find ways to dampen its drawing power (Ecc 7:29).

And it is a continual challenge to truly make the connection, discover and obtain the true intended essence of life. Which can be summed up in Jesus’ model for prayer:

Our Father which art in heaven (humbly maintain a God-focused life), Hallowed be thy name (living a life approved by God). Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (doing God’s ordained will for your life). Matthew 6:9-10

We can read about God, think about God, meditate on God, dream about God and wish things from God, but we cannot really ‘know’ God until we experience Him. And you can experience Him from His heavenly mountain of glory by being washed in His blood and filled with His Spirit. It is the mountain top experience available to everyone.

There is a place for you in Heaven. You will never attain perfection in this life. However, that does not mean Jesus wants you to stop pursuing it (Mat 5:48, Joh 17:23 & Heb 6:1). As one preacher is noted as saying: “We may not be perfect. But, our standard is not imperfection“. Keep climbing your mountain. Heaven’s prize awaits you!

…. but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain; Isaiah 57:13

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Treasures of Darkness – The Savior

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. Matthew 27:45  

In the final installment in this ‘Treasures’ series, we will look at three specific treasures of darkness given to mankind by the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

These treasures first appear in Genesis chapter one and weave and spin their threads throughout the entire Word of God all the way to the Book of Revelation. And all three are essential for our understanding and good to get a hold of. Let’s take a look at this.

Treasures of the Savior – Light, Life & Love

The treasures we are speaking of are Light, Life and Love and all first appear in Genesis chapter one. The first act of creation is the appearance of the first treasure, Light:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. Genesis 1:3  

The phrase “Let there be” is the Hebrew word ‘hâyâh‘ which means “to exist, be or become, come to pass“. In other places during His work of Creation the Bible uses the phrase “And God created” which is the Hebrew word ‘bârâ‘ which means “to create, choose, or make appear”  (Strongs Concordance).

Note that God did not ‘create’ light, He let light exist. God did not create light because He IS Light (I Joh 1:5). God did more in Gen 1:3 than just release photons or electromagnetic radiation into the cosmos. Rather He released or purposed into existence the plan (Word/Logos – Joh 1:1) where He would ultimately express His true Being and Person. This is something we will look at shortly in detail and key to understand exactly what God is doing here.

The next several works of God are the creation of Life forms on the earth:

Genesis 1:11  And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (Day 3)

Genesis 1:20  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. (Day 5)

Genesis 1:21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Day 5)

Genesis 1:24  And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. (Day 6)

God saved His best work for last by handcrafting prized beings in His own image whom he could love and they would all together love each other:

Genesis 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Day 6) 

And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  Genesis 2:22-24

Now let’s take a deeper look at this first treasure called light.

The Savior’s Treasure of True Light

Before launching into this it might be good to establish three preliminary understandings about God: 1) God is omnipresent (occupies all space), 2) God is omniscient (all knowing), and 3) God is omnipotent (all powerful). Therefore, God knew before speaking His first word of Creation that this Heaven and earth He was about to create would soon (against His will) become engrossed in darkness and sin. And He would judge it and replace it with a new Heaven and a new earth (II Pet 3:10, Rev 21:1). He knew that Adam and Eve would sin and the people occupying earth would as a whole turn their backs on HIm and resist HIs plan for their lives. Why being this up?

Whatever God creates is forever (Ecc 3:14). God never wastes what He creates. He will either use it for His glory or He will reject it in righteous judgment. The Lord grafted a plan within a plan in Genesis chapter one. On the surface, it appears this Creation which He knew in His foreknowledge would fail to live up to its expectations would ultimately be destroyed, hopelessly terminated and forgotten. However, within His creative work God provisioned an escape hatch, a way of redemption to save anyone who would faithfully stay true to Him and obey His Word regardless of the conditions of the world around them. And His sovereign provision of salvation (through the Gospel of Jesus Christ) brings us back to the first act of Creation – Light.

What light is being referred to in Genesis 1:3? The sun? The stars? The moon? No, they were all created in Genesis 1:14.

The light called out in Genesis 1:3, the first spoken word (Logos) of God from the void of darkness, ushered in God’s grand plan to separate light from darkness with the future work of separating righteousness from sin and eternal life from eternal death. God set the earthly stage perfectly in Genesis when He would one day physically visit Himself as the man Jesus Christ, the expression of God’s ‘true light’ and truth (Joh 14:6 & I Joh 2:8).

When God uttered the words “Let there be light” He at that moment ushered into existence the inception of the spiritual dimension and future physical manifestation of Jesus Christ.

How do we know this? The Apostle John begins his Gospel as an almost exact mirror of Genesis 1:1:

In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was God.

In Genesis 1:3 God ushered into the physical dimension (not created) HIs divine will, a will destined to bring together “all things in Christ” and establish in the realms of time and space the revelation of His true Being and essence:

And the Word (Logos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.John 1:1,14

The following scripture shows that God literally spoke light, the true light, the forthcoming light of Jesus who one day in the future would spring from this primitive darkness and void of chaos:

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

Even though the life of Jesus Christ would not be physically manifested until thousands of years later as an infant born in Bethlehem, God prophetically spoke the words in Genesis Chapter 1 with the same Spirit that would reside in Jesus thousands of years into the future. The scriptures emphatically state that all things (in Heaven and on earth) evolve around just one person. Everything is of him, through him and to him:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Col 1:16-17 (also Joh 1:3; Rom 11:36; I Cor 15:27-28; Eph 1:10).

The Savior’s Treasure of True Life

You cannot separate a person from their words. Your words individually define who you are. And you cannot separate one’s spirit from themselves. We all have one, unique, individual spirit that defines our life. It is our spirit that provides life.

God is also a Spirit (Joh 4:24). And Jesus had a spirit (Luk 23:46, Mar 15:37; Heb 9:14). The question arises: Where did Jesus get his Spirit? Was Jesus’ spirit different and separate from God’s eternal Spirit? We know Jesus was conceived of the Holy Ghost (Mat 1:20 & Luk 1:35).

The Bible describes God’s Spirit in several manifestations and/or terms; as a wind (Gen 1:2; Joh 3:8; Acts 2:2), life-giving breath (Eze 37:4-5; Joh 20:22), life-giving power (Joh 2:19; Mar 16:6; Rom 6:9, 8:11; Acts 4:10 & I Cor 15:52) as fire (Exo 3:2, 19:18; I Ki 18:38; Acts 2:3) and as a Spirit, Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost (Gen 1:2; Jdg 6:34; Job 26:13; Ps 51:11, 139:7  – Luk 11:13; Eph 1:13Luk 1:15, 67, 3:22 & Joh 14:26). In the later terms, the Greek word “pneuma’ is employed which is defined as breath, life or just Spirit. There is only one Spirit of God.

Going back to the question: where did Jesus get his spirit? His mother Mary being conceived of the Holy Spirit, Jesus must have the same Spirit as the Father. And Jesus many times spoke that he and his Father were one and if one looked upon him what they would see is the Father (Joh 10:30, 17:21-23 & 14:9). Jesus’ spirit and the Father’s spirit are one and the same.

What we are trying to get at here is that life (specifically human life) created in Genesis Chapter One is only a superficial life compared to the true life available in Jesus. As the first Adam was earthly, the last Adam (Jesus) is the Lord of glory (I Cor 15:45-47) who gives eternal life to those who believe on and surrender their life to him.

In essence, God’s Spirit is the life-giving force that keeps us alive in the natural on earth (our first birth) and supernaturally now and carried onward to Heaven (in the New Birth – Joh 3:5-8 & 4:13-14). It is this latter life that John writes about in his Gospel and in his book The First Letter of John (I John) which is the whole focus of the Gospel, being redeemed from the power of sin and receiving eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ definition of life was radical and would forever flip the tables of the world whose mantra of living is “Eat, drink and be merry”. Jesus’ definition of true life, true reward and true contentment is in the ‘giving‘ and not in the ‘getting‘ (Luk 17:33 & Acts 20:35), And this true life calls one out of the darkness and into His true light (II Cor 4:6 & I Pet 2:9).

The Apostle John ties Jesus’ true life and true light together in his Gospel and in The Book of I John. Concerning the treasures of light and life, he writes the following:

(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us) I John 1:2

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. John 1:4

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12

The treasures of light and life in Jesus is the fulfilment of the light the Lord spoke in existence in the Book of Genesis. And it does not stop there. It continues on to the last book of the Bible:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. Revelation 21:23

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. Revelation 22:5

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17

The Savior’s Treasure of True Love

John writes two times in the Book of I John that God is Love (I Jn 4:8, 16). God’s purpose and desire in creating man and woman was for His glory. The Lord wanted a creation who would worship and praise him for who he is. Since the moment Adam and Eve fell into sin he forever desired to mend that relationship and forge a loving bond with his people. He attempted to do that with His called out people, the nation of Israel. As we know that turned out not much better then the experience in the Garden of Eden. So, then the Lord came himself (Mat 21:33-46), made an earthly, personal house call to tell them once again his love for them (Mat 23:37).

All problematic situations, discord and disharmony in life can be attributed to one thing – a lack of true love. Jesus knows this and came to fix it. The Apostle John writes  more about love than any other writer in the 66 books of the Bible. And he was known as the disciple that Jesus loved (Joh 20:2) and John knew his material. He ties together these treasures of light and life with one more ingredient – God’s love:

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. I Joh 2:9-11

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 1 John 3:14

Of the three essentials needed for following Jesus (faith, hope & love) and any hope of obtaining eternal life, love is the greatest of them all (I Cor 13:13) because it never fails (I Cor 13:8). When life’s version of love fails you, there is a King in Heaven whose heart is more pure than earth’s finest gold.

A female Christian radio broadcaster commented that “God’s love is the most compelling force in the universe”. That is so true. God is love. And God wants is to be loved for who He is. Jesus said that he was “meek and lowly in heart”. The Lord will never force himself on anyone. He is looking for those who are looking for him. Life is the ultimate love test.

At the end of this life we will be judged on many levels. But, the one area the Lord will focus on in our lives is how we have loved. After giving his life on a cross and enduring humiliating shame, he will look at us and ask: “How much have you loved me, obeyed my commandments and loved your neighbor?”

In Conclusion

We have traveled along a road to understand three treasures of God – Light, Life and Love. These treasures cannot be purchased with money nor acquired with human intellect or through social connections. One is led into these only by the prompting of and obedience to God’s Spirit (Mat 11:27; Joh 6:44).

These treasures are eternal in nature and all work together to perfect you and to heal you. There is a saying that “God’s mercy keeps us until His grace teaches us”. It can also be said that His mercy “heals us”. It may be true that we have only scratched the surface of understanding the depths and riches of God’s mercy. Why? First, God’ mercy is not bound by time, it is forever (Eza 3:11; Ps 106:1, 107:1, 118:1). We do not have the capacity to comprehend the concept of ‘forever’.

And this is central to the next reason for us not totally understanding the depth of God’s mercy. No matter where you have been, no matter how you have lived and no matter what sin or sins you may have committed or have been committed against you, they are not able to exhaust, extinguish or surpass the mercy of God. You just have to believe, obey his Word, be led by His Spirit and become a member of His body – His church. We are just not sufficient within ourselves to do this on our own.

The eternal treasures of True Light (Truth), True Life (New Birth/Eternal life) and True Love (God’s enduring love & mercy) work together so that YOU may have a hope, an escape and a future destined for eternal significance through Jesus Christ. Jesus stepped into and then out of the darkness to bring you these things. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!