Stripped, Shamed & Shackled

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

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

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

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

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

Enemy Warfare Tactics – Stripping, Shaming & Shackling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Satan uses these same tactics against us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then Jesus was shamed:

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

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

And lastly Jesus was shackled:

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

Jesus – The Master of Turning Tables Around

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus – The Greatest Freedom Fighter Of All

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

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

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

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

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

Be Happy & Be Free – July 4th 2021

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

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

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!

His Hands

Hand 1

Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. Psalms 145:16 

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; Col 2:13-14

That Nothing Be Lost

And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? John 6:4-5

Jesus performed the miracle of feeding around five thousand men not including women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish. It is one miracle a child who ever attended a church Sunday school for any length of time will hear and never forget. In fact, it has been said by at least one seasoned minister and missionary who has travelled preaching the Gospel to many different continents around the world that this will be one question he will ask Jesus in Heaven: “Jesus, about those loaves and fishes. How did you do that?”

It is a miracle of miracles. One thing we sometimes might miss about this miracles is what Jesus did after it was over. What did Jesus do?

When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. John 6:12 

Jesus asked the disciples to pick up the crumbs left over from the miracle. Why? Why would Jesus bother to have the aftermath of the miracle, the discarded bits and pieces of what either fell out of people’s mouths or the byproduct of the breaking and distribution process be saved? Because Jesus is very concerned about how his miracles are handled and what becomes of them. Even the pieces that seem worthless and of no value.

What are the greatest miracles on earth? Some might mention “one of the great wonders of the world”, a brilliant work of art or an inspiring architectural design. However, the real answer is right before our eyes. The greatest living miracle on this earth is the person who stares back at you in the mirror. You. You are the most spectacular living miracle on earth, a living, breathing creation made in God’s own image.

God is concerned over the miracle’s crumbs because He ever wastes his miracles. What the Lord does is meant forever, for eternity (Ecc 3:14). God is interested in the lives of people who appear worthless and of seemingly little value. You see, God is highly concerned about the miracle when he formed you and every other living soul from the dust of the earth. That nothing, that no one be lost.

If God went to great lengths to collect the crumbling aftermath of a few pieces of bread and fishes, how much more is God concerned about picking up and collecting the wreckage of the soul broken by the sins of self and by the sins of this world?

Someone recently remarked about a mother’s love, nothing is more powerful than the love of a mother. A mother’s love will go to the extreme and fight for their children like no one else will. Well, that may or may not be true depending on who you ask. But, we have to admit women are fantastic creations and God surely knew what He was doing when He made them.

But, I’d like to propose here that there is a love greater than the love of an earthly mother or an earthly father. Whose love is that? It is the love of the Father in Heaven who walked in flesh upon this earth. The love of Jesus surpasses all earthbound love. The Father’s love is a love that is greater than life. It is a love that loves you more than you love yourself. You cannot, nor anyone else, love you greater than the love Jesus has for you. People will fail you and even the best fall short in the love mission. One writer stated the following: “The highest plane of human existence is to live and to walk in the perfect love of God.” There is no better place on earth to be.

His Hands

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: Matthew 17:22 

The opening scripture reveals that by opening His hands, God postured all of His creation to experience His graciousness. God wants to be recognized as the satisfier of all living. On a more personal level, God enjoys being enjoyed. The soul that is attracted to God is a soul that is attractive to God (I Sam 16:7).

Those same hands that created life were allowed to be placed into the hands of the created. That is true love. That is a love only the Father of creation can and will do. How does this relate to us? It is said that our Eternity rests on many things such as what we say and by what we do. But, one thing that will surely determine our destiny will be how we have treated Jesus and his truth that was placed into our hands.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 1 John 1:1 

How do you treat him? How do I treat him?

In Conclusion

Jesus is interested in your brokenness. Jesus is concerned over your mistakes, your failures and your shortcomings. Jesus is very interested in what happens to his miracles, the miracle produced when he made you (Ps 139:14-16), that your pieces be gathered up, healed and restored. That nothing be lost. 2 Pet 3:9

In Jesus’ Name. Amen!

Departures & Arrivals

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Philemon 1:15

God can take things or places departed for a season and turn them into reasons for the arrival of greater things or places.

Like the coin, lost sheep and lost son as recorded in Jesus’ parables in Luke chapter 15, reunion and discovery of something lost adds special value to that thing. Its value is now magnified. The coin, sheep and son never looked the same again to their owners. They were now deeply treasured because the heart, reflecting on the past trauma of separation, now joyously celebrates in the emotion of reunion:

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Luke 15:32

Let’s take a further look into this.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6

Arriving Gate 238 – Jerusalem Airlines

There is someone mentioned in the Word of God whose departure experience is worth calling to mind. He was the ‘big mouth’ of the bunch. Often rash, impulsive and borderline arrogant, he was fast to act and slow at thinking things through (Mat 16:22, Mk 8:32). He was the first to volunteer (Mat 14:28) and was always looking over his shoulder at the competition (Jn 21:20-21).

His name is Peter and he was in departure mode and had yet to arrive where the Lord destined him to be.

Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. Mat 26:74-75

Peter needed to experience a diversion to arrive and take his place in the will God had for his life:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. Act 10:44-45

Peter’s season of departure broke his will and caused him to arrive at his appointed destination as an influential leader of the early Apostolic church in the first century.

Departing Gate 123 – JetPerga

There is another individual mentioned in the Bible we also need to look at. This man’s life was yet another account of someone who experienced a season of departure, of falling short and failing in his calling. You can perceive this man as a spiritual lightweight or a wannabe missionary, but in the end he fumbled, stumbled, and departed while on the job.

Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John (surnamed Mark – Acts 12:25) departing from them returned to Jerusalem. Acts 13:13

His name is John Mark or Mark for short. Mark of all people. Why, he had a godly heritage (Acts 12:12), conversant with the inner circle of Jesus’ core group of disciples and had the golden opportunity to travel with God’s best. It was not enough. Could it have been Mark’s lack of perfected love (II Tim 1:7 – timidity) that caused the laser-focused Apostle Paul to not want him involved in any future missionary endeavors?:

And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. Acts 15:37-38

Mark experienced his own dilemma of departure. And what better arrival was Mark destined for? Right here;

The Gospel According to Mark.

Yes, you read that correctly. Mark. Mark penned a gospel account that would bear his name. After all his failures, his faults and his shortcomings, the Lord saw an unearthed gem buried somewhere is his spirit. What was it? It was a resolve to not quit and persevere after falling. Just the kind of people God is looking for today. Mark’s gospel account was written for the Roman world of his day, a world attracted to and highly influenced by one thing – power. Mark wrote extensively about the power of God and the miracles of Jesus.

There was another subject Mark wrote about that would have never occurred had he not experienced his season of departure. The areas he, Paul and Barnabas were evangelizing on Paul’s first missionary journey was a hotbed of demonic activity, spiritual oppression and taxing, rugged terrain. In fact, right after the encounter with Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:8), Mark looks for passage back to Jerusalem. Could that encounter have been the tipping point?

There is much speculation about why Mark does this. But, there could be evidence behind his actions by reading Mark’s gospel account. Mark mentions the dark spiritual underworld more that any other gospel writer. He mentions unclean spirits (4x), unclean spirit (6x), devils (12x), dumb spirit (1x), foul spirit (1x), anti-Christ (Ch. 13)  and includes an extensive account of the demoniac of the Gadarenes (Ch. 5). Whatever the cause,  Mark learned his spiritual warfare lesson well to go on, regroup and write about it for all the world to know.

Departing Gate 7 – Air Rome

The last departure we want to discuss is written in The Book of Philemon, an account of the saving grace of God for the runaway slave (Onesimus) of Philemon. Onesimus defrauded Philemon, departed his household and journeyed to Rome where he met the Apostle Paul. Paul works with him, and eventually, Onesimus becomes a born-again believer. The letter is Paul’s appeal for Onesimus’ restoration to his former position in Philemon’s household and the mending of the spiritual bond between the two men.

Because of Onesimus’ season of departure, the relationship between Philemon and Onesimus would never be the same after their reunion. The relationship would now be more valuable and profitable. Not only were they united in earthly terms, they could now be joined together with the heavenly. Because of Onesimus’ departure, he arrived at a much grander place. Their stormy departure for a season birthed a timeless bond for all eternity. As Paul writes:

For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Philemon 1:15 KJV

Perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated from you for a while, so that you would have him back forever, (AMP)

For perhaps on this account he was parted for a brief time in order that you might be possessing him fully and forever, (Wuest)

Interestingly, the name Onesimus means ‘useful’ or ‘profitable’ in Greek and it took a detour for him to live true to his name.

In Conclusion

We have looked into the lives of three individuals whose spiritual trajectory was not always on target. In fact, they each completely missed the mark. We know that God is always true to His character. Among His many characteristics; his graciousness, longsuffering, patience, love, kindness, and mercy, He knows we are oftentimes frail, subject to error and resistant to being broken (Ps 103:14, Is 63:9 & Rev 21:4) and looks to use these to work His will through our lives. In each of the above cases, the Lord used a painful departure as their means to arrive at a better end.

And whatever God touches is never the same afterwards. Never. And since Jesus has firsthand experience in turning tables ‘upside down‘ (Mat 21:12, Mk 11:15 & Jn 2:15), he has no problem ‘turning around‘ 180 degrees the table the devil has placed in your life and bring what was ‘meant for evil’ for your good and for His glory.

What has departed in your life today? A lost loved one? Health? Finances? Shelter? Food? Peace? Faith? Hope? Love?

Be assured you are in the right place for God to come on the scene and cause the miracle you desperately need to arrive. It shall be done if you persistently believe and doubtlessly ask the right person:

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:7

Life’s hard departures are so designed to bring to light the arrival of God’s best.

Be Blessed In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

And Samson

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

Samson.

Every child who has ever attended Sunday School knows all about Samson. What child’s imagination does not get sparked by his mighty exploits? From the setting afire the tails of a skittish skulk of 300 foxes (Judges 15:4-6), the killing of 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone (Judges 15:15-17), ripping out single-handedly the gates of the enemy’s fortified city (Judges 16:3), and the breaking of ropes as if sewing thread (Judges 15:12-13, 16:11-12). Purely fantastic fodder for the imaginative mind.

And God had a divine and outstanding mission planned for Samson before his birth:

And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.

Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:

For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Judges 13:3-5

Samson had it all. From the beginning he had both Heaven’s anointing and destiny imprinted upon his soul. Samson was called to deliver Israel from her enemies the Philistines. And to a degree he did.

Moreover, Samson was both one of the most enigmatic figures ever recorded in the Old Testament and Samson was also one of the most tragic figures recorded in the Old Testament.

And Samson.

The Pillars

If we could go back in time ourselves and embrace the imagination of a child we just might see what God possibly saw in the last scene of Samson’s life:

But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house. Judges 16:21

There he is swarming within all of the theatrics and drama of life. A pitiful figure Samson is. Where his laser sharp and dark piercing eyes once were are now scarred and disfigured eye sockets. Where freedom once allowed the man to tromp over his enemy’s heads in vengeance, he is now bound like an animal in a parade of mockery.

Let us also imagine and wonder how the Lord perceived this. How did God feel while looking at this pitiful scene? It had to have broken His heart. The God of Glory had to have wept and mourned for Samson. The promises. The anointing. All the hope vanished in a moment. Only a heart-less king and ruler would respond otherwise.

But, God is God and not man.

And Samson.

And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. Judges 16:26

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Romans 11:29

Perhaps in Samson’s mind thoughts of his troubled past interlaced with divine thoughts of future hope and glory. And maybe he uttered these words:

“Lad, let me feel the pillars. I cannot see them, but just let me feel them because I know a God who still performs miracles. I’ve seen Him do them in my past, and by God’s grace and mercy, He can do it again. Because I know a God who is still in the miracle-working business.”

He was physically blinded, but somehow Samson miraculously sensed pillars in the room, and one more important pillar, a spiritual one. The pillar of his God was also present, for his one true Pillar of truth had not forsaken him and gave him renewed hope exactly when he needed it most.

And Samson

Maybe you were wondering by now why the repeated, maybe even disruptive repetition of the phrase “And of Samson”? (the word “of” is not in the original Greek) Here is why:

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Hebrews 11:32

Nestled on the wall of Heaven’s Champions of Faith as recorded in Hebrews Chapter 11 is a most unlikely person. He was perhaps God’s most colossal failure. He stumbled. He fell. He embarrassed himself, he embarrassed Israel and He embarrassed Jehovah God. So why would God care? Why would the Lord waste more time and divine resources on a fallen hero? There is one reason:

I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. Hosea 11:9

A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. Matthew 12:20

When man would say: “Let’s move on. Done deal. The damage is done. No damage control in the world can rectify this situation.” Heaven says: “Not so fast“.

Hopeless? In “the world”, yes. In Heaven, absolutely NOT.

For God is God and not man.

Man may, but God never extinguishes even the faintest glimmer of hope or faith in anyone. A raging forest fire can be started by one small spark. One spark of faith and hope in a heart can be the beginning of new life in impossible situations and when facing insurmountable odds.

It was one last spark that changed Samson’s world. And one last spark was all Samson needed:

Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.

And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.

And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. Judges 16:27-30

Samson’s final act was his very best. Up to this point in his life is it not mentioned where he ever prayed. But, here we see Samson prayed to his God. And his God heard it.

Because of his prayer and faith in God, the Lord honored it, gave him the victory and saw fit to place his name on His wall of faith. Samson got a piece of the wall and became one of God’s pillars of faith. His name is nestled right smack in the middle of the godly and victorious company of Gedeon,  Barak, Jephthae and Samuel.

Why? Because the faith Samson exercised at the end of his life simply pleased God. For without faith it is impossible to please Him.

The Lord took the crumbling wreckage of the pillars of Samson’s life and transformed them into a pillar of faith for all of time and eternity.

It is not over until God says it is over. And God is still in the miracle-working business. Our God is the Master of turning Messes into Masterpieces!

God is God and not Man.

And Samson.

Be Blessed!