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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Mountains?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storms & Whirlwinds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed!

Love – God’s Greatest Weakness?

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

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

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

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

 The Progressive Works of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed & Be Free in Jesus’ Name. Amen

(Credit: Photo of baby & finger)

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