The Treasures of Darkness – Souls

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

Soul – Dfn. the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being, regarded as immortal (living forever, never dying). (New Oxford American Dictionary) The immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life, the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

We will look into the reason and purpose why God uses this peculiar, weak, frail and error-prone creation, the Soul, to accomplish His grandest work of Creation.

Specifically, we will look at three aspects of God’s plan being fulfilled through the soul: Revelation, Perfection and RestorationThe Revelation of God’s Person, Perfection of God’s Power and the Restoration of God’s Perfect Dominion.

The Soul – Revelation of God’s Being & Person

God is a God of order and harmony. And He is the ultimate judge of rebellion and lawlessness. Thus, when His chosen archangel Lucifer rebelled (Is. 14:12-16 Ez. 28:15-18), judgment against him and his rogue yoke-fellows was swift and final. Their destination? Planet earth:

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Luke 10:18

Earth, the majestic, greenish-blue watery gem suspended in space would become the battleground for the epic of all wars and the final confrontation between the power of light, truth and righteousness and the powers of darkness, deception, rebellion and unrighteousness. God shifted His focus to a stage unlike Heaven. This earthly stage would be defined by finite space and time. God would now move into this new dimension to deal with and resolve the most gregarious of assaults against the Most High and Perfect God. Perfect? Oh yes, perfect. You see, any Being possessing ALL POWER must be perfect. Otherwise, the most minuscule fault, error or imperfection in that Being would (and ultimately will) destroy both Himself and everything He created.

The glorious and majestic Eternal God of glory would embark on a mission like never before. The Eternal God would slip into the dimension of time, become finite and experience His own self in Creation. Like His prized creation man, God would also become a living soul in the God-man Jesus Christ. Why? Because in God’s eternal and perfect plan orchestrated by His manifold wisdom (Ps 104:24 & Eph 3:10), Heaven’s breach, and the subsequent introduction of death through sin’s power could only be resolved and healed by blood (Mat 26:28, Rom 3:25 & Heb 9:22). For the very thing that destroys life can only be defeated and neutralized by life itself – by blood (Lev 17:11,14 & Deu 12:23). The death sentence hovering over souls created in His image must be conquered by the life giving power within blood itself – and only the precious, sinless, infinitely powerful blood of Heaven and earth’s perfect Lamb of God (Jn 6:54) could accomplish the task and mend the breach. And the plans of a perfect God are always perfect!

So, here we are in a place defined by space, time and life as living souls graced with the power of free choice and free will, things Heaven’s angels lack. As a minister recently articulated, angels are given the freedom, but not the right to choose (remember Lucifer and his fallen angels?). We have both. Why? Because love demands both free will and the freedom to choose. God has gifted the soul both the unique quality and capacity to love and be loved. This is why angels do not know what love is. We do. And God designed it to be that way.

God’s ultimate desire is to love and be loved, not only for what He does, but more importantly for who He is (Is 43:10-11, Neh 9:30-31 & Ps 78:38-39). His desire is to reveal and express the profound and glorious aspects of his Person and Being – Love, Mercy, Grace, Understanding, Wisdom, Judgment, Justice, Forgiveness, Compassion, Glory, Power and as Healer, Deliverer, Provider and Savior.

To accomplish this God created a medium where He and the creation He loves can fulfill His will or plan for their lives through his Word. The Word is the source code that runs His creative processes and formulates His will (Jn 1:1-5). It is the Spirit of God that energizes the Word and gives it life (Job 33:4, Eze 37:5, 8-10, Jn 6:63 & II Cor 3:6). That Word became “flesh and dwelt among us” in the man Jesus Christ (Jn 1:14). The soul was formed to believe and trust in the Word and live with it residing on the inside and empowered by the Spirit of God (Rom 8:11).

The Lord chose the vehicle of a living soul with its life-giving blood to bring “all things” to a perfect and final conclusion. God became a soul so that the soul might know God in the fulness of His revelation:

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Hebrews 1:3

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

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18

Now that we looked at the revelation of God’s person and character through Jesus Christ, we now move along to His perfected power.

The Soul – Perfection of God’s Power

Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:20-21

Heaven’s breach of trust and unity accompanying Lucifer’s fall produced a temporary shadow over God’s perfect dominion. A foreign element entered the stage known as death and tainted creation. Death was never God’s intention, but the result of judgment against disobedience and sin. And sin seperates God from everything and everyone:

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Romans 5:12

And death’s defeat demanded something Heaven could not provide – weakness. Why weakness? Because according to God’s word, His perfected strength is only possible through brokenness and suffering:

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.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

The Greek word “strength” used in this verse is: δύναμις (dunamis) meaning ‘force’ or ‘miraculous power’. Death demanded a perfected strength that only perfected weakness could produce. And God perfected His power through the weakness of the perfect, sinless flesh in the God-man, Jesus Christ. No greater weakness was ever or ever will be demonstrated in heaven or on earth. Ever. God himself enrobed in the veil of human flesh freely sacrificed on the savage and unmerciful altar of earthly sin at the hands of sinful humanity.

As God became “a living soul” himself, he could now become perfectly weak so that He might become perfectly strong and conquer the power of death:

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Rom 6:9-10

Jesus came in the “likeness” of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3) and unlike the first man Adam who failed, Jesus was the perfect second man (I Cor 15:45-47) who fulfilled all of God’s will and “finished” His work (Joh 4:34; Mat 26:39 & Joh 5:30).

God’s power now perfected through the sinless blood of the Lamb of God broke the power of sin and death to give the gift of eternal life to those who will trust him and obey His word:

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68  

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23  

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 1 John 2:25  

The Soul – Restoration of God’s Perfect Dominion

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12  

It is well understood that some restored things can be very expensive. Time and its tendency to reduce both the quality and quantity of objects, items and things leaves what remains rare and valuable. On a superficial level, consider the following restored ‘earthly treasures’:

Salvator Mundi (circa 1490–1500) painting by Leonardo da Vinci – Sale price: $450M
Les Femmes d’Alger (1955) painting by Pablo Picasso – Sale price: $179.4M
Claude Monet’s Meules (1891) Auctioned price: $110.7M
Paul Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits (1888) Auctioned price: $59.3M 
Restored 1935 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante – Sale price: $3.8M
Restored Ferrari 275 GTB – Sale price: $2.3M
Restored 1950 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta – Sale price: $1M

The Extraordinary Value of The Restored Soul

There is one last restored earthen object worth our consideration – earthen vessels. The earthen vessel known as the human soul, your soul:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Every soul is made in the image God. When God created you, he put his fingerprint upon you and made you unlike any other creation before you or after you. As a Pastor is famously quoted as saying: “After God made you, He threw away the mold!”
That makes you exceptionally rare and valuable, much more valuable than a one hundred year-old restored painting.

But, we have a problem here. Our original condition is marred through the ravages of time and the ensuing effects of sin thus diminishing our value compared to the value of its ‘originally intended condition’. We need restoration. From the fall of Adam and Eve to our present age the human condition lies in a grave state. We need to be restored to pre-Fall, mint condition. And now that Jesus has come we can be! Praise God we can. We now have hope!

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13

Now, not only can the vessel be restored to “mint” condition, it is redeemed by the blood of Jesus and ownership transferred from satan’s dominion into the eternal kingdom of God:

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: I Peter 1:18-19

The restored soul’s value has gone from the price of earthly dust to a value determined only by eternity for a vessel possessing eternal life and destined for eternal glory:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
1 Peter 5:10  
And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 1 John 2:25  

Death’s Defeat & God’s Perfected Dominion Restored

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:8

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26

The devil knows God’s word. Satan is earth’s supreme Bible student. He knew the Savior would come on the scene sometime and somewhere in the spectrum of earthly time (Gen 3:15). But, he was taken totally by surprise. You see the devil cannot and will never know the mind of God. It is hidden from him. In simplistic earthly terms, satan perceives God’s mind as encrypted information and intelligence. There is scripture to back the claim:

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. Mat 2:7-8

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. I Cor 2:7-8

The same goes for the true believer. The enemy cannot decrypt or eavesdrop in on what God communicates to His people through His Spirit (the very next three verses!):

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. I Cor 2:9-11

But, someone might say: “The devil is not flesh (man), but a spiritual being!” True, but the defrocked and dethroned spiritual being has no authority. He lost his “Heaven connection”, covering of anointing, spiritual influence and Holy intimacy when cast out of heaven. What is the purpose of all this? It says that a true born-again believer (of Water & Spirit) now has more authority and power than the devil. Here are just a few verses among many:

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. Luke 10:17  

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; Mark 16:17  

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4  

Jesus has empowered his church, the bride of Christ, everything it needs to live victoriously over sin, the world and the powers of darkness as restored and perfected souls through faith, hope and love in Him.

Conclusion: Revelation, Perfection & Restoration – In Jesus Christ

We have walked along a path to establish the role the Soul has in God’s plan. In God’s infinite understanding (Ps 147:5), manifold wisdom (Psa 104:24 & Eph 3:10) and creative power (Gen 1:1; Isa 42:5, 45:12 & 18) the Lord is his foreknowledge formed Earth in the finite dimensions of time and space to include living souls, souls impressed with God’s own fingerprint.

He did this for one purpose – that “all things” both in Heaven and on earth be gathered together in Jesus Christ (Eph 1:10). All things were created by him (Jn 1:3 & Col 1:16-17). All things (the law, prophets and psalms) are fulfilled in him (Lk 24:44 & Jn 19:28). And all things were given to him and under his authority (Mat 11:27, 28:18; Lk 10:22; Jn 3:35 & Jn 13:3).

The soul is the Lord’s chosen medium to fulfill three purposes: the expression of His Person and Being by slipping into time from the realm of eternity through the channel of a living soul as the man Jesus Christ, the perfection of God’s power through the frail and vulnerable life of the Saviour and the restoration of Heaven’s breach and its sin stain over humanity through the defeat of satan and death by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (I Cor 15:3-4) and the New Birth experience by being born again of water and the Spirit (Jn 3:3-8, Lk 24:46-49, Acts 1:4-5 & Acts Ch 2).

Revelation, Perfection & Restoration of “All Things” through Jesus! Amen

And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:28

The Cross of Jesus Christ

The subject we will discuss is one, if not the most important one we must confront in life. This subject is inexhaustible, its weight immense and its power unlimited. One writer has this to say about it:

“There is not a person born or unborn, there is not a decision that anyone has made or will make that (this) does not stand a witness to and a judge of.”

What are we talking about? We are talking about the cross of Jesus Christ. As the great Apostle wrote:

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14)

The Cross Is At The Center

“The cross stands at the center of everything”.

Earth would not be the same after 33 A.D. on the day Jesus Christ was crucified. The earth from that day forward would no longer spin on an axis spanning the North and South poles. The earth now spins on the axis of Calvary’s cross spanning the Heaven and the earth.

The natural human mind balks when confronted with what Jesus accomplished at Calvary. Our minds stop and resist the notion that Jesus defeated death, sin, hell and the grave. Why? Because of accountability. It is said that we are only accountable for what we know:

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts 17:30)

We no longer have an excuse since Calvary. It is said that at the end of his life and facing death W. C. Fields was seen reading the Bible. Being  very out-of-character behavior for those who knew who him asked him why he was reading God’s word. His response was: “I’m looking for a loophole”.

There are no loopholes. But, there is a door available. The true light has arrived. We have hope. Calvary’s cross is as relevant today as it was over 2,000 years ago. The poignancy of Calvary’s love has not diminished through the wearing and grating effects of time and space. The voice of Calvary still speaks. Like the blood of Abel that cried from the earth (Gen 4:10), Jesus’ blood yet cries from earth’s dust:

“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy”.

The sounds of Jesus’ sacrifice resound through time – the voice of love, the voice of mercy, the voice of grace and the voice of forgiveness:

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:34 

The cross is the only true escape from this fleshly cage of dust and bones.

The Tension

Several years ago in Bible school, a guest speaker who is a Pastor of a church in the state spoke in our class. His comments were noteworthy:

“Our world operates in tension. There is a constant tension going on in our lives that pull us between Heaven and earth”.

This continuous tension is the result of the pressure cooker of the struggles and strain between life and death, light and darkness, the Spirit of God and the flesh, righteousness and sin and between Heaven and earth.

In the midst of his trial Job could not see beyond his despair:

My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little,
Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death;
A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness. (Job 10:1, 20-22)

The cross of Jesus Christ is the only legitimate and certain bridge of truth to get us through the darkness. The Lord will test our mettle to see of what material it is. Since everyone is given “a measure of faith” (Rom 12:3), the Lord will test it to make it pure:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (1 Peter 1:7)

If we fail to grasp the salvation God makes available to us and the hope of the Gospel, we will succumb to what is termed “The Malady of America” which is defined by discontentment and ungratefulness. The Lord has the abundant life for us (John 10:10) to escape the dregs of this age.

The Cross’ Shadow

There is something special about someone who is a true cross bearer. Surely there are people you know or have known in your life who have left or leave lasting impressions in your spirit because of their commitment to godly and eternal matters. It is because of the cross they bear. Jesus instructs us to bear our “own cross” (Lk 14:27). For these individuals, Calvary casts a shadow wide and deep over their lives. It is unmistakable and cannot be faked or insincerely fabricated.

These people are the “real deal”. Why is this important? Because cross bearing is a true indicator of the depth and breadth of someone’s spiritual walk. How is this validated? Because the closer you are to Jesus the heavier your cross becomes. There is scripture to substantiate this claim.

All three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) record the account of Simon the Cyrenian being “compelled” to carry Jesus’ cross. However, Luke’s account of Simon is different from the other two Gospels. Luke, being the detailed-oriented of the three, with his keen, scientific skills of observation coloring his writing  (he is the one who wrote in details more than Matthew or Mark) gives us one additional noteworthy tidbit of information:

And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. Luke 23:26

Luke lets us know that Simon was following right behind Jesus bearing his cross. Simon’s “cross” was literally Jesus’ cross. And Simon was closer to Jesus on his ascent to Golgotha than anyone else. You are never more close to Jesus than when you bear the weight of the salvation of souls upon your shoulders as Jesus leads them towards Calvary’s hill. This is true cross-bearing. This is true Christianity. This is what eternity demands.

Eternity In View

Eternity. Such a remote and distant concept that we cannot even begin to discern or comprehend it. But, a voice is speaking of its nearness. And the older one gets the louder the voice becomes. A Pastor recently spoke on the topic. His reasoning is that our walk of faith and the challenges looming on the horizon meant to extinguish it cannot survive without eternity in view. We must live life with eternity in the forefront of our minds.

Jesus spoke of an “outer darkness” three times (Mat 8:12, 22:13 & 25;30). Outer darkness is the second death, a place of eternal separation from God. I don’t want to go there. Either do you. This subject and the mention of Hell are not popular topics in today’s modern church age. Nonetheless, it is the Word of God.

Faith in the redemption found in the Cross of Jesus Christ and God’s expression of love at Calvary are able to preserve you and keep you from the judgment of God against the sin of this world to come (I Peter 4:17-18).

The cross of Jesus proves to us God’s great investment in and compassion for souls. The cross calls for the total surrender and commitment of our lives to him.

“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow”. Jesus Paid It All by Elvina Hall

Jesus has paid it all friend. Be Blessed!

Heart Hacked – For Good Part II

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 2 Peter 1:19

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. Revelation 22:16

In the previous post we looked at the heart being “hacked” by darkness, let’s move along and look at the flip-side of this heart equation and investigate a heart being hacked by good and pick up where we left off.

The Heart – Ground Zero

God’s word illuminates the role our heart plays in guiding and directing our life. The human heart rests at ground zero as it forms the bedrock of our being. Within its spiritual chambers emanate our thoughts, formulates the words we speak and sits at the neural switchboard orchestrating  our thought patterns and resultant actions.

God’s word emphasizes the importance our heart plays in our life:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 

The word “issues” used here is the Hebrew word –  תֹּצָאָה: exit, that is, (geographical) boundary, or (figuratively) deliverance, borders, goings forth, outgoings. [Strongs]

In other words, if you ask yourself the question: “How far am I willing to go?” Your heart will give you your answer. The heart determines the ‘length, breath, depth and height’ we will ascribe to a certain thing in life.

We are composed of body, soul and spirit. The soul is made up of our mind, will and emotions. Using a ship as an analogy, the hull and rudder is our human will, the mind is the engine room with its turbines, and lastly, our heart (emotions, desires and motivations) contribute the diesel fuel.

The heart fuels the turbine engine to spin the blades of the mind to produce raw action (the manifestation of our human will). This should not come as a surprise. Jesus himself told us this:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21

A Hidden Backdoor

As mysterious as it is sounds we do not know our own heart. But, there is One that does:

The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, GOD, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be. (Jeremiah 17:9-10 The Message Bible)

The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. Psa 94:11
Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. Psa. 44:21
Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psa 62:8

A “backdoor” as defined by computer programmers is an intentionally coded entrance point to allow the program’s authors or designers to add, modify or delete code that runs the program. Or to take full control of the system hosting it.

Our human heart is comprised of a similar feature uniquely designed by our Creator:

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

The Hebrew word “world” is עוֹלָם which according to Strong’s means: properly concealed, the vanishing point; time out of mind, eternity; ancient (time), continuance, eternal.

In essence, the Lord has implanted a cache of timelessness into every human heart. God has direct access to the thoughts, feelings and motivations emanating from within the ‘ground zero’ our our core being – the heart.

God in His sovereign wisdom placed a pocket of timelessness, the formation of an eternal connecting zone within the human heart. In doing so, He built into the human heart an access point, a place where He can visit at His will to perform His will.

There is scripture to substantiate this claim:

O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee: 1 Chronicles 29:18

Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem: Ezra 7:27

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Proverbs 21:1

Concerning Bezaleel in the construction of the Tabernacle ….

And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work. Exodus 35:34-35

Hacked With Hope

This story cannot end without hope. Hope is sometimes the only thing separating one from total despair. In the cyber crime world hackers are the bandits, thieves and thugs whose intents are intentionally seeped in crumb-less paths of anonymity.

Not our God. God is good. He is faithful. God invests Himself in those who invest in Him. God is looking for people who are looking for Him! And so it is with putting our heart in His hands, He leaves something good behind. What is this? It is called hope.

God will not remove the bad things out of our heart that He will not also replace with something better. God will hack your heart with hope if you let him.

The Lord hacks hearts and leaves crumbs of hope behind. Jesus exits the heart-world with something behind more grandeur in scope. He gives us a new heart.

The master awaits at the backdoor of our heart:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

God’s Spirit touches places in the soul where only God has access:

Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. Psa 44:21

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

The Final Chapter: After God’s Own Heart

But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. 1Sa 13:14 

And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Acts 13:22 

Did you get the last part of that scripture? Fulfill ALL my will. That is perfect love. That is God’s heart. When you fulfill God’s perfect will, you will then be perfected by His love:

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 

Spiritually prosperous are those who are pure in the sphere of the heart, because they themselves shall see God. (Wuest)

Something very special awaits the person who decides to seek after the heart of God. Such a place is sovereign territory, holy ground,  an intimate sanctuary. The Apostle John was such a person. He was the disciple mentioned in the Gospel’s as the one “whom Jesus loved”.

Astronomers estimate there are 100 billion galaxies in our universe and 1 billion trillion stars. And He knows all their names (Psalm 147:4). And you think He does not know yours?

The God of creation can freely have everything and anything He wants. He only has to speak it into existence and it appears. That is ……… except one thing. That one thing is your heart.

The one thing He desires most in His created realms and dominions is your undivided heart. Because God is a jealous God.

The God who is alone. No one who ever walked the face of this earth has ever experienced loneliness like the God-man, Jesus Christ.

Jesus did not die from blood loss. Jesus did not die from asphyxiation. Jesus died from a broken heart, a heart broken by our sin and shame:

Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. Psalm 69:19-20

The God of Creation revealed some of His own secrets and personal information in the writings of the law, the prophets and the psalms (Luke 24:44). What did he reveal? Among other things, He is meek, humble and vulnerable (Mat 11:29). Why? Because He is love.

Jesus Christ as a man defeated satan to defrock his pageantry, destroy his potency, disqualify his prominence and denounce his pomp. Why? To redeem you, a uniquely crafted being created in His image.

Of all the religions of the world, Christianity is the only one to make the declaration that the God it worships and bows before is Love. It is a paradox that this God who ‘is love’ never experienced what it was like to ‘be loved’. Until now. Now that Jesus Christ has come into the world.

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

Jesus refers to himself as the “bright and morning star” (Rev 22:16). It is no mystery that before orbiting satellites and GPS technology early navigation systems relied solely on the moon and stars for navigation. The stars were the pinpoints of reliable and unshakable references that mariners entrusted their lives and valuable cargo upon. Heaven’s guiding lights never faded, faltered or failed to provide the needed guidance when confronted with harrowing, ferocious storms:

Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: Jeremiah 31:35

Another star has come to give light, life and love. Jesus, Heaven’s shining star, is our heart’s hope and light in a world overshadowed by gross darkness. Life is at its best when Jesus occupies the center. Let’s allow him in 2020 and beyond.

A New Heart for a New Year!

Be Blessed in 2020.

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!

The Dreamer

And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
(Genesis 37:19)

Dreams: dfn. – a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep; a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal. (Source – Merriam Webster)

Dreams are powerful things. By nature, we have incredible imaginations and sometimes willingly or unwillingly dream incredible things. To shed some insight on this phenomenon of dreaming all of the following discoveries or inventions were the result of a dream:

Niels Boh – discovery of the atomic structure.
Elias Howe – inventor of the sewing machine.
Albert Einstein – the theory of relativity.
Otto Loewi – the chemical mechanisms behind neurotransmissions.
Frederick Banting – the treatment of diabeites with insulin.
August Kekulé – the atomic structure of the benzene ring.
Dmitri Mendeleev – the periodic table of elements.
James Watson – a spiral staircase as the molecular building block for the DNA double helix.

and lest we forget …. Larry Page – the brainchild of GOOGLE, the storage and assimilation of Internet content (1996).

Life – A Graveyard of Dead Dreams

It is said that life is a graveyard of dead dreams – dreamers who somehow failed to keep their hope alive in pursuing spiritual or physical achievements, aspirations of a higher calling, fulfilling challenging goals set for themselves or bringing to fruition something above and beyond the mundane and mediocre.

There are many reasons behind this. But, maybe the primary root cause is that our dreams will cost us something. The fulfillment of dreams do not come easy and the distractions intended to destroy them are many. Let’s look at someone who refused to allow his to die.

Dreams From God Are Costly

The impact of dreaming is not an infrequent bedchamber guest in the pages of God’s word. God uses dreams to get His point across when nothing else will suffice to communicate His messages.

No doubt the most “famous” or well-known dreamer and dream in the Bible is our man Joseph, the first son Rachel, the wife of Jacob. It was his dreams of the sun, moon, stars and wheat sheaves that sparked the eventual perseveration of Israel and civilization as a whole in this region of the world. All because of dreams.

When Joseph articulated and spoke his God-given dreams to his father and brothers (Genesis 37:5-11) he at that point released into the spiritual realm prophetic utterings that would ultimately “cost him” dearly.

He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:
Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:
Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him. Psalms 105:17-19

“His word” in the above verse was the dream spoken by Joseph to his family. He articulated words into the spiritual realm the perfect will of God for his life. However, the dream’s fulfillment was not instantaneous. Joseph’s dreams, future, blessings, promises and promotion were all tried by God. This is the place where most dreams and dreamers fail. They cannot see or lack the faith to see the dream materialize.

But, we must understand (like Joseph) the Lord will never allow the enemy to send you to a hard place that He will not also supply the escape plan to deliver you from that hard place (Jer 29:11, Job 42:10)! Interestingly, it was a dream that ‘first’ sent Joseph to the prison house and a dream responsible for his last and ‘final’ release from the prison house (Gen. 41:15-45). God is sovereign in all things all the time.

Think a moment here about how Joseph’s life might have turned out while nursing a defeated mindset?  What if he had defused his dreams when he was betrayed and sold to the rogue band of Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:27-28)?  What if he had become disenchanted with this whole ‘God thing’ after being falsely accused and thrown into prison (Gen. 39:19-20) and deemed his dreams not worth it? Thank God he didn’t. Joseph refused to allow his dreams to die and go to the dream graveyard.

Jesus, Resurrect the Dreamer & His/Her Dead Dreams!

How many young men and women are living far below their God calling? How many middle-aged men and women are living short of divine promises, gifting’s and callings? No doubt by the millions. There are children and grandchildren of missionaries, pastors and pastor’s wife’s, music directors, Sunday school teachers, or just plain faithful people of God who have been deceived and tricked into thinking the enemy’s leaky, hole-filled bag of worldly goods and false hopes are viable substitutes for the riches and sure promises of God.

The Lord can change that. The Lord is able to send a dream to change the whole situation. He has done it before and He is able to do it again. God is able to heal dead dreams and bring back to life the dead dreamer. Just speak it, pray about it and believe it.

It has been said that the Apostle Paul would never have endured the many hardships and impossible situations he encountered had he not first experienced divine dreams, visions and revelations from the Lord (Acts 22:6-12, 27:21-25; II Cor 12:2).

Maybe the Lord is about to send you or a loved one a dream that will change your world. When He does be like Joseph and by faith speak it into the spiritual dimension. And as Joseph, don’t fear the test that will follow to prove that dream. God is faithful. Speak it. Shout it. Claim it. And proclaim it in Jesus’ Name! And it will come to pass.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matthew 7:7)

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 18:19)

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (1 John 5:14)

All of hell trembles when Jesus walks through the graveyard of the dead dreams of broken dreamers. The One who came to give life to resurrect dead things is able to send life back into the dead dreams of a dead situation.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though were dead, yet shall he live: (John 11:25)

The question is: what dreams of yours are you prophetically speaking into your world? Joseph did. God is waiting to hear yours.

Jesus is able to once again resurrect earth’s dreamer with heaven’s God-given dream.

Be Blessed in Jesus’ Name!

Just Show Up

With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9)

There is something to be said about perseverance. Most meaningful and valuable things in life will cost us something and involve sacrifices of time, energy, finances, comfort/sleep/pleasure, personal pride, and the list goes on.

Quitting is easy. The ‘low road’ is the one more frequently traveled and water always takes the  path of least resistance. Our body weight is primarily attributed to …. you
guessed it – water. It is ingrained within our nature to always take the shortcut and to bypass the weight room.

What does all this mean? It means there comes a time when we have to face reality and know that a walk of faith in God and His word is not a trivial pursuit nor an undertaking that can be short-circuited with mediocrity.

There comes a time in our walk with God when we just simply ‘have to show up’ regardless of how we feel. Show up ‘where’ you might ask?

Show up and spend time with God. Seek Him and show up in a quiet time of prayer. Show up and meet with God’s people. Show up to read and study God’s Word. Just show up.

Don’t feel like facing frustrations with people and situations – Just show up.
Don’t feel like getting out of bed & going to church on Sunday – Just show up.
Don’t feel like going to work just to face another day of profanity, rumors, negativity, snickering, dirty jokes & innuendo – Just show up!

One thing is for certain – if YOU bother to show up HE WILL bother to show up.

Why Show Up?

There is an old saying and most people who claim to be a Christian for any length of time have heard it: “The only Bible people may ever read is the one they see in your life”. There is no doubt more truth in that phrase then we’d like to admit. And there are scriptures to even back it up. Here is one:

Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.(Isaiah 51:7)

Something mystical happens when one spends time in sincere prayer and in studying God’s word – they take on the nature of God and it eventually oozes out from the inside. After time, people “showing up” with God are noticed by those around them  (mostly subconsciously) and mark them as being cut from a different cloth or having a sparkle in their eyes that speaks of a grander place.

People are watching, they are observing and take note about those who confess to have a living relationship with God, of having an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ. People are generally not stupid. People can normally tell the difference between the fake and the genuine. Why? Because the human capacity to discern authenticity is ingrained within our fabric.

Why is this important to God? Simply because He needs us. He needs his people to be a  witness to a lost world so that he might do what he came to do – to heal and to restore the soul that it might live again. It is that simple. Jesus Christ came to this earth for one purpose – to heal the brokenhearted, the bruised and those beaten by the sins of this world:

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:11-12

And he needs his people to do it – he needs you.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.(Isaiah 43:10)

A New LOL

Everyone knows about and uses it in social media in response to a remark or comment – LOL (Laughing Out Loud).  Even cranking out those three letters on the keyboard with right ring finger nimbleness has a certain tingle to it.

However, there is a new ‘LOL’ being proposed here and it has nothing to do with laughter. Rather it deals with a subject having a weightier message – Love

LOL – Love On Location

That is right. Showing up and bringing LOL – the Love of God and Jesus into the situation.

When you show up people are going to see the law of the Lord resident in your heart and are going to read it. It is inevitable. They will perceive that it is something they need because they will feel its healing power and comfort:

He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.  (Psalms 107:20)

And as the opening scripture illustrates, people will “learn righteousness” through the reading of your life. But, you need to do one thing –

Just Show Up & bring your LOL!

Be Blessed.