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!

The Past – Our Biggest Enemy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Past & Who Is In Control? 

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

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

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

The Past & Oz Behind The Curtain

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Jesus, The Greatest Gift Of All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus is the Reason for EVERYTHING!

Merry Christmas 2020 to You & Yours!

The Cobblestone Effect

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. Romans 7:21

Have you ever  rode a bicycle on a cobblestone path or road? Or driven an automobile on a street paved with cobblestones? It is an unforgiving, frustrating and bone-jarring experience to say the least. The harder and faster you want to move over cobblestones , the slower and harder it is to move at all. It is an exercise in futility to attempt to defeat and counteract its resistive forces . When traveling on cobblestones, you simply must take your time and endure the ride.

The gist of the cobblestone effect is this:

“Increasing efforts to move forward and faster invoke increasingly opposing forces to resist you”.

Or in essence, “the force of resistance is directly proportional to the effort to push; increasing the force to push, results in generating inherently  greater forces that resist”.

This  is a phenomenon known as the cobblestone effect and has real-life application. This is going somewhere. Let’s take a look.

The Cobblestone Effect

The City of Baltimore is a wonderful town rich in American history. I live there and travel its streets to work five days a week. And if the truth be told its roads still leave one with an authentic, nostalgic 18th century experience. Cobblestone-like streets are very much in vogue here.

And you can normally pinpoint a driver acquainted with the nuances of Baltimore’s byways and roads – they can be spotted as those driving up the road like slalom skiers, weaving and crisscrossing in their lane to avoid potholes, mogul fields of warped, elephant-like skinned sections of asphalt  or the misaligned, lopsided manhole covers that rudely mimic the feel of cobblestone.

How does this relate in a spiritual application? What relevance does this all have for an individual wanting to get closer to the true and living God? Immensely relevant.

The cobblestone effect is an effective tool in satan’s arsenal against the human soul and often a weapon of choice. Why? The enemy’s goal is to invoke frustration and futility while one attempts to seek the goodness and blessings available in God. We don’t have to be reminded that satan hates everything and anything where God is involved.

God is life. God is for growth. To satan, the only thing secondary to destroying life is to thwart or impede its growth – to throw continuous roads and paths of cobblestone in your life for the purpose of frustration, fatigue or even eventually just plain giving up in pursing the face and will of God. Can you relate?

Why not quit? Why not “throw in the towel”? Why not keep pushing and enduring long nights of loneliness and frustration?  One word:

Progress.

You are making progress over life’s cobblestones and onward to things with eternal significance as long as you don’t give up and stop moving forward!

Rise Above It

Outside of completely stopping or renting a hovercraft, the only way to minimize the cobblestone effect in life is to lighten your load and rise above it. How do you do that?

First, slow down:

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,(Ephesians 5:15)

Next, let someone help you pray, carry your load and burden:

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:1-2

Lastly, give it to Jesus:

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

But, there will be times when we need something more. We just cannot do it ourselves or with the help of those around us. What then? Jesus shows up walking above the cobblestones and just lifts us and carries us above it all:

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. (Psalms 73:26)

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

In Conclusion

We find in our journey through life that it is often a path lined with cobblestones; events, situations, encounters,  thoughts and experiences that “do not line up”, are disjointed, not level (‘not fair’ – anyone?) or seem bewildering to our natural minds. Could it be God has ordained it that way? Has God intentionally framed and ordained our fragile life on earth so that we walk humbly, carefully and attentively? Jesus never told anyone whom he healed to rise up and run. But, he did tell them to “walk” and keep moving forward (Mat 9:5, Mk 2;9,  Lk 5:23).

And it is interesting to note what will be found at the end of this life as we stand before God. Is the Lord so cold-hearted and cruel that He would line the street of Heaven with one of earth’s most dreaded surfaces – cobblestone? Not hardly:

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. (Revelation 21:21)

Jesus once turned water into wine. He is also able one day to turn our streets of cobblestone into a street of pure gold – if we keep pushing forward! Be Blessed.

So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

One Thing We Must Know About God

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. Exodus 3:14  

Reflecting, meditating on this great God of creation one has to reach some very basic, foundational conclusions. One of those conclusions is this: God has free will. It is important to grasp this understanding because it lays the foundation of who God really is. Let’s take a look.

I AM THAT I AM

How do we know God possesses free will? First, because He said He did: “I AM THAT I AM”. He does not have to quantify or qualify himself. God is the uniquely sovereign One, the occupier of eternity (Is 57:15), the beginning of all things (John 1:1) and the center of all creation (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17). God simply IS.

Secondly, because we do. Humanity is created in God’s image. God created Adam and Eve, and every offspring thereafter for one purpose, for fellowship with Him. As one great man of God penned it: “We are earth forms that God uses to express Himself”. God created us for himself. Adam and Eve were given free will and freedom to make choices independently. Love is established on this premise  – free choice.

Because God possesses free will the power of choice is inherently part of His nature. Therefore, God embraces the prerogative to be any kind of God He desires to be. Think about that for a minute and ask yourself this question:

If I possessed infinite power, what would I do with it?

God could have chosen to be a god who reveled and relished in the utmost extreme dimensions of debauchery and lust while His subjects toiled in slavery and loveless servitude. But, He did not as some of earth’s mighty rulers and kings have done.

God could have strong-armed His inferior subjects into submission and mercilessly forced his power upon them. Not tolerating the slightest challenge or resistance to His authority. But, He did not as some of earth’s mighty rulers and kings have done.

God could have created a universe orchestrated with mindless robots who in mechanical and passionless expression bowed before Him in forced worship. But, He didn’t.

Instead this God, this great God of glory and mercy chose to be known as the God of selfless, sacrificial love.

And this great God knew before “the foundation of the world” the price He would eventually pay to manifest and display that love.

He did it anyway.

God chose to be love. A love that knows is no greater love:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13  

Some Things Never Change

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff’ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain  ~ The Old Rugged Cross

The cross. Someone once said that if I ever get lost just point me towards Calvary and I will find my way back home. Oxygen is good to breathe. It was good to breathe yesterday and by God’s grace it will be good to breathe oxygen again tomorrow. The cross is as powerful today as it was 2,000 years ago. It is good some things never change.

Calvary expresses the dimensions and depths of God’s love. And to think that God knew what it would take to be a God of love and to become that God anyway should take our breath away. That truly is true love.

May our prayer be: “Jesus, even if I had somewhere else to go, or someone else to love, I will still always come back to you”.

May You Be Blessed.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2  

The Quest

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Psalm 84:2

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42:1-2

Many years ago there was an “animated adventure series” on TV entitled: “Jonny Quest”. The central theme of the series was to show the lives of a boy, his scientist father and friends on their many exciting, tingling adventures and “quests” around the world. Just the thing to project wonders of the unknown and exotic in lands faraway to engage the imagination of its young viewers.

Life is a quest. Life is a journey. And life can be summarized in one simple phrase:

“Life is an intertwining of events in a quest to find true love”.

And God created the soul with that intention squarely in the crosshairs because God is love (I John 4:8, 16). And on the journey to find this true love will bring one face-to-face with the true and living God. This is the heartbeat of God; for Him to love and for Him to be loved.

The phrase “living God” occurs exactly 30x in the KJV of the Holy Bible – spilt in half evenly between the Old and New Testaments. The God of the Old Testament is the same God in the New Testament. There is only One. God is not dead and very much alive.

Jeremiah 10:10  But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

John 6:69  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

To Live Again

There is an inherent nature in God’s creative work that can be defined by its refusal to quit; a determination not to die, a desire to live despite circumstances that speak otherwise.

For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. Job 14:7-9

Hope of a tree. Through the scent of water. Springs of fresh, cool life-giving water. If God engrained into a tree a nature to hope after being cut down to the ground, what has He gifted into a soul that will live for eternity? Much.

It is said there is a suicide epidemic raging within our nation.

This blogger is familiar with the subject of suicide. He was told at a tender age that his grandfather attempted suicide on his mother’s 30th birthday. Though stuff. Enough to make one cringe, even to this very day. And it has raised its face in some manifestation or another throughout life.

Lives have been irretrievably broken by a parent, a close loved one or a friend who have taken their own life. This is obviously not God’s will for the souls that He loves. This should not be. Why? Because there is hope. There is love. God’s love.

Life is a quest to find this true love. Unfortunately, it will not be found in a bedroom. That is too easy. God oftentimes appears elusive. True love must be diligently sought in Heaven’s throne. And He is looking for those who are looking for Him:

Psalms 14:2  The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.

God’s love is still being radiated from His throne room through all of the muck, trash, darkness, filth, stench and garbage the enemy (yup, the devil) will hurl at you. The love of Jesus Christ refuses to quit, and it will never fail you if you hold onto hope:

Charity never faileth …….. I Corinthians 13:8

Speaking of that tree and its hope for water, Jesus is that living water and offers the hope of eternal life:

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7:37-38

For there is hope of a tree. There is hope in his cross. There is hope in Jesus.

Be Blessed.

The 80%

Eighty percent. What is significant about the number 80? It is said that 80% of all the athletes competing in any given Olympics  have absolutely no mathematical possibility of ever winning a medal. That is four out of every five athletes competing have no possible chance of ever winning against the one athlete who is far better trained or perhaps given the better opportunity for success because of the resources provided by his or her native country.

Olympic athletes may be all fairly comparable in talent and potential. But because of better training facilities and cash-enriched sports programs one athlete in five is given an advantage over the others who did not enjoy such “gold-gloved” treatment.

In the world of sports and in other competitive arenas participants are judged against the clock, the numbers “put up on the board” or from distant judges who tabulate performance metrics by what their eye can see.

But, God sees things differently. He sees things that go deeper than just surface skin, outward performance, scoreboards and scorecards. God sees the heart. The scales of judgement and scorekeeping in God’s kingdom are not based on what happens “to” us, “through” us, or “by” is, but rather what happens “in” us. These things are captured in agencies beyond the realm of the natural eye.

The gold medals awarded in His kingdom go to those who are maybe not the fastest, the most talented, the best looking, the most healthy, the most intelligent, the most resourceful, the most “connected” or the most charismatic.

God’s gold goes to those whose heart is right with Him, with their neighbor and with themselves. Those who have “made themselves ready”. Those who love the Lord with all the heart, mind soul and strength:

Galatians 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

What Motivates Me?

Being aware of this 80% phenomenon does not stop the athletes from less economically prosperous countries from proudly carrying their flag and marching into the opening Olympic ceremony in unison to represent their native country. Does it really matter to them that they are labeled amongst the 80%? Do they give up or put forth a half-hearted effort just because nothing short of a miracle will send them back home with a medal?

One overlooked fact is these athletes represent the best of their country and are the elite for their respective area of discipline. Without their representation their country would be forgotten, unnoticed, and forever undocumented as having participated in any given Olympic event.

Could it be that God’s method of judging is not based on performance but on motivation? God is a righteous judge. He sees everything. Nothing escapes Him. He sees who shows up or not (and the condition of our heart when we do!). He sees the opportunities we have been given and the degree to which those opportunities have been capitalized on. He also sees the stumbling blocks and hindrances and road-bumps hindering the journey and the opportunities squandered due to neglect or loss of passion.

What motivates my “going for the gold”? Is my motivation in “living for God” derived from family expectations? Is it to not let the program down (so to speak)? Or is it to escape from going to hell? Is that it, just to selfishly save my own hide from eternal banishment? Or maybe the motivation behind my Christian confession of faith is to soothe my conscience. My appearance on Sunday is the silver bullet to get me through another week of mulling over feelings of guilt, sins, failures or mistakes.

A writer who penned the following thought so succinctly describes the essence of the whole matter:

The motivation of a man’s life determines his worth“.

Motivation. It is all about motivation. Jesus stressed motivation. His apostles stressed motivation as being the determiner, the litmus test to make heaven’s award ceremony. Here are some examples:

1 Samuel 16:7  But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:35-36, 40

Okay, I’m An Eighty-Percent’er, Now What Do I Do?

You have read the facts, heard the rumors and overheard the grapevine and it is confirmed you are definitely not in the 20% upper echelon. Now what? The question to ask is: What nation or what people group am I representing? Are you representing an ancestry peppered with broken marriages, drug addiction, criminal acts, alcoholism or eating disorders? Or maybe your lineage is laced with mental or physical hereditary illnesses/ diseases, infidels, unbelievers, anger issues, compulsive behavior, infidelity  or lust. What does Jesus have to say about it:

John 6:37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

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

If so, keep walking for God. Hold the banner of faith, godliness, humility, truth and God’s love high and march on.

Show up at the opening ceremony of God’s grace and mercy awaiting you each and every morning and let God work out the details. You are standing in the gap for those who are depending not on your performance, but on your passion, on your pure motivation and not your accumulation of earthly medals.

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. I Peter 5:7

After a vexing day at work, school or the cares of managing a home and family it might take all of your strength to practice a musical instrument till midnight to the point of competence and near mastery. It consumes what remains of your stamina to pray and study scriptures to assemble a meaningful Bible or Sunday school lesson. The remaining embers of energy left at the day’s end may be exhausted by visiting a sick or needy family member or friend.

If it is all done for the glory of God then so what? He deserves the glory for it all anyway and it is God alone who will be handing out the medals for the Olympians of His kingdom:

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:6-7

Be Blessed