The Thief Cometh (Part 1 of 2)

Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. Matthew 27:38

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

Two thieves. God’s ways are perfect. And His perfection was certainly on display in the concluding scene of Jesus’ death on earth. Why two thieves? Because these two thieves are symbolic of the primal conflict of our life on earth. The scene of Jesus’ crucifixion, and the reaction of those witnessing it, encompass the totality of humanity’s condition as it responds to God’s two most profound and juxtaposing attributes – His mercy and His judgment.

Before we launch into this some background is needed on two subjects of great importance in our lives – faith and hope. If you hold on this will eventually all come together. Let’s take a look.

The First Thief Originated In Heaven

Heaven and not earth was the original source of thievery. It began eons ago with God’s most beautiful and wonderfully created archangel, Lucifer. Lucifer was the original thief. What was it that he wanted to steal? One thing, and the same thing he desires to steal todayGod’s glory. Lucifer saw something extraordinarily captivating in witnessing the angelic hosts, of whom he was chief, glorify and magnify the God of Creation. It has been said that one of the most spectacular light shows in Creation was on display when the illuminance of God’s glory passed through the precious stones and gems embedded in Lucifer’s breastplate (Eze 28:13). And he wanted the glory all for himself:

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the highest.  Isaiah 14:13-14

As he also does today. He attempted to overthrow God’s Heavenly kingdom by usurping the glory designed for God to be directed towards himself by deceiving one-third of the angels in the process:

And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. Revelation 12:4 

This leads us to its relevance for us today – your faith.

Your Faith Is In the Crosshairs

Lucifer was the original thief, and now as Satan, continues his mission to rob God. But he has a problem robbing God directly since he lost his former position in Heaven. Being the resourceful and shrewd being that he is he has made adjustments. He now robs God indirectly by directly robbing what belongs to God – His people. What does he attempt to rob from God’s people? The source of God’s glory on earth – your faith because your faith gives glory to God. This statement simply cannot be underestimated (remember glory was the very thing Lucifer wanted in Heaven):

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; Romans 4:20

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

Which faith was examined by testing to be approved, that approval being much more precious than the approval of gold which perishes, even though that gold be approved by fire-testing, may be discovered after scrutiny to result in praise and glory and honor at the time of the revelation of Jesus Christ; Wuest

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Satan relishes in every successful attempt to derail or neutralize the faith you possess in Jesus. The thief is out to rob your glory-producing faith in God, indirectly robbing God of the glory due to his name. Faith is powerful. Faith has immense value on earth and in Heaven (I Pet 1:7). Your faith is valuable to you and your faith is valuable to God. At least Satan thinks it is.

It is no coincidence that the one description Jesus used to describe Satan’s work was that of a thief:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. Mark 11:17

And the believer is admonished to be on the lookout for thieves and faith-robbers:

And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Luke 12:39

And Then There Is Faith’s Other Twin – Hope

The one thing in your life that will give glory to God like nothing else is to activate hope in God amid impossible situations. Faith shines in its finest hour when you ignite hope in God while in the middle of the impossible. In his most horrendous hour, faithlessness was not Job’s problem. Job’s faith was unwavering during his trial (Job 2:3, 27:5). Job did not lose faith in God. Job lost the God of his faith in the darkness! This always results in one thing – hopelessness. Hopelessness was Job’s problem (Job 6:11, 7:6, 14:7 & 10). Job lost hope amid his impossible condition because he lost sight of God. He could not see the promises of restoration or the light of deliverance while wallowing in the despair of his surroundings. Surely you have heard the saying: “You get so busy in the work of the Lord that you forget about the Lord of the work”. Job’s example shows us something – one can have faith and lack hope, but one with hope will always have faith standing nearby.

It is only when God is removed from the hope equation that uncontrollable situations and circumstances in life can give rise to hopelessness. Therefore, we must never lose faith. It is said that the voice of “doubt” says “I can’t believe”. And the voice of unbelief says “I will not believe”. As long as a trace of belief is alive, the miraculous can still happen. At least Jesus things so (Mar 9:23; Joh 3:16, 185:24,11:26, 14:12).

If Satan cannot destroy your faith, he will attempt to take you down through the byproduct of shipwrecked faith – hopelessness. Satan’s second tactic is to destroy your hope while facing your impossible situation. The only way out of hopelessness is to call out to God in faith that He will intervene and speak direction into our hearts. God did it for Job (Job 38:1), Peter (Mar 16:6-7; Joh 21:15-18), and the apostle Paul (Act 27:23-24). And he can do it for you.

Hope is the byproduct of experience distilled from life’s struggles (circumstances & situations) (Rom 5:3-4) while still trusting and hopeful that God has everything under control (Rom 8:28).

Can this explain why hope is a prevalent theme in The Book of Job? Of all the books in the O.T., The Book of Job ranks #2 with 15 references to “hope”. The only book with more references to the word hope is The Book of Psalms with 22 references, which has over twice the number of words and verses as Job. This gives us a good idea of the importance hope played in Job’s life and God’s intentions in communicating the subject.

In the N.T., the word hope is the Greek word “ἐλπίζω” (elpizō) and is oftentimes also translated as the word “trust”. It is interesting that Jesus only spoke the word hope (ἐλπίζω) 2x (Luk 6:34; Joh 5:45) and its near cousin, the word, trust, 2x. And when he did use the four words, it always referenced trust or hope in things outside of himself (armor Luk 11:22; Moses Joh 5:45; riches Mar 10:24, Luk 16:11). Yet, Jesus spoke the word “faith” 26 times!

Hopelessness is the soul’s death knell. Hopelessness is literally Satan’s killer app. But there is yet hope in hopelessness. Oh, yes there is because we serve the God who knows all things and is greater than the pain, confusion, uncertainty, and doubt swirling within a heart troubled by hopelessness:

Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. Romans 4:18

Who, being beyond hope, upon the basis of hope believed, in order that he might become father of many nations, according to that which has been spoken with finality, In this manner will your offspring be. (Wuest)

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!” The Message Bible

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

The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Psalms 103:19

Make note of those last two verses. God, not the devil. rules heaven and earth. And only God KNOWS ALL THINGS! Satan may challenge God’s kingdom, but the Kingdom of God will never be defeated. The very gates of hell cannot contend with the angelic protection Jesus empowers his church with. You are not in this fight alone. You have God, two-thirds of the angelic host in Heaven, and the Church on earth on your side!

Hope is born by believing in the fulfillment of a distant promise that presently seems impossible, but because of an inner belief that irrespective of circumstances, faith that God can intervene is enough to turn around and give HOPE within those circumstances.

As another writer put it: ” biblical hope is a reality and not a feeling” (https:// www.gotquestions.org/Bible-hope.html). Activating a dogged determination to believe and have faith that GOD IS, is able in itself to restore hope. It’s that simple. Just believe that regardless of the situation that dictates otherwise, GOD IS STILL ABLE because HE IS GOD!

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6

There are some peculiar things about hope worth mentioning. Faith is both a spiritual gift and a spiritual fruit (I Cor 12:9 & Gal 5:22). Hope is neither. Another interesting aspect of hope is – you either have it or you do not have it. Hope manifests itself as a binary phenomenon and is unlike faith, which can occur in degrees (little faith (Mat 16:8), great faith (Luk 7:9) and no faith (unbelief (Mar 16:14)). Another uncanny attribute about hope is it can be stripped from our lives and rendered ineffective (Eze 37:11; Acts 27:20; Eph 2:12 & I The 4:13). And God can and will allow it to happen. Why? Because hopelessness demands a call for supernatural faith to intervene and revive hope in our lives.

One spark of faith in God’s promises (through the light of His word) is more powerful than what the forces of darkness can unleash upon your soul. A light of hope in God is more powerful than all the weapons of Satan’s darkness. The word of God is a Laser-Saber. Weaponize the word of God in your life and it will repel the spiritual darkness commissioned to destroy you, your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your world. As you know, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God! (Rom 10:17)

In Conclusion

To recap, we discussed the following:

  • The original thief was the archangel, Lucifer in Heaven and he attempted to rob the Lord of glory, the glory He alone is worthy of.
  • Your faith gives glory to God and His glory is very important to Him.
  • Satanic attack is always meant to directly demean God and bring accusation to His Being. Remember, Satan’s #1 motive was for Job to blaspheme God. It was not about Job, it was ultimately about the Lord (Job 1:11 & 2:5).
  • Satan indirectly attacks God by directly attacking a source of His glory, which is your faith.
  •  Hope and faith (and love) are inextricably linked to each another. We are saved by hope (Rom 8:24). And one can have faith and not have hope (Acts 27:20). But one with hope will always have faith.
  • God can willfully take hope away from your life to refine your faith and take it to a higher level. The result is always greater blessings, clearer revelation, purer faith, and deeper hope. The process does not necessarily make us greater, but it always makes God grander.

In the next and final installment on this subject, we will look into two diametrically opposed attributes of God’s nature – His mercy and judgment and how the two thieves next to Jesus on the cross synthesize at that moment in time humanity’s two possible responses when faced with the most astounding substance God ever created- His own blood. Stay tuned!

Worship On This Mountain (re-post)

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. Genesis 22:5

In prayer the words were not rehearsed, preconceived or contrived. They just came out with intention as if speaking right into the Savior’s face, physically present in the room. The pressures of life became almost unbearable which brought me to my knees and utter the phrase:

“What will I do? I will tell you what I will do. I will worship on this mountain”. 

Some Background

This blog began 10 years ago this coming December after being impressed by God’s Spirit to start it, and later confirmed from the pulpit of my church on a particular Sunday morning in 2011. Ten years ago I did not even know blogs existed. My introduction to blogging began early on a Sunday morning while studying and preparing a ‘sermon’ at our church. I was browsing the Internet to find material about the frailty of life and examples to illustrate the tragedy involved when people find themselves devalued and discarded either through their sins or by the sins of others.

Well, the perfect illustration was found. A blogger from California posted on her blog a story of an oil color painting, painted by a 19th century European impressionist painter, that was ‘dropped off’ at a Goodwill store (along with old pots, pans and other discarded items) in of all places, my home state of Maryland. Here is a blogger from California writing about a story occurring across the entire Unites States in my state of residence. (Note: the painting caught the eye of a Goodwill employee and was later auctioned off at Sotheby’s in New York City for over $80,000!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Mountains?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storms & Whirlwinds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed!

Love – God’s Greatest Weakness?

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

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

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

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

 The Progressive Works of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed & Be Free in Jesus’ Name. Amen

(Credit: Photo of baby & finger)

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  

Almost


Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Acts 26:28

Almost (ôlˌmōst) adverb Dfn.: not quite, very nearly. OE – ‘for the most part’. Source: New Oxford American Dictionary

Almost. Almost home. Almost finished. Almost made it. Almost Heaven. The word almost may be the one word of all words to avoid in life. It doesn’t mean we didn’t try or failed to start. It just means we didn’t quite ‘for the most part’ finish the job. Almost.

The word is not a part of Heaven’s vocabulary. There are no ‘almost’s’ in Heaven. But, there very well may be a lot of ‘almost’s’ in Hell. Yes, Hell. Jesus talked more about it than we’d like to admit.

God’s people (as recorded in the Old Testament) understood the word quite well. In fact, they patterned their ‘religious’ life around ‘almost’. They built worship centers around Israel in homage to its false promises:

Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.

And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. I Kings 12:28-30

No need to travel all the way to Jerusalem, waste time, endure discomfort, exhaust funds and resources. Just reaching the city named ‘Almost’ is just as good as making it to Jerusalem.

Almost will be just fine. God “knows our heart”. Just going through the ritual is enough. Check the box, stamp the paper, punch the ticket or scan the barcode and we are good. Almost. No need to attend church, pray, make financial commitments, sacrifice needlessly, deal with unrepented sins, selflessly serve others, stand for sound doctrine or be embarrassed and stigmatized as being called one of those ‘Jesus’ people.

Almost speaks of compromise, lack of zeal, lukewarmness, dispassion and indifference. When total commitment is not our first choice, almost is an acceptable option.

Oh, Jesus, help us to not settle for anything less than your very best:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2

There are many notable ‘almost’s’ in this life. Here are a few:

Two brothers sold their business for $2.7M in the 1950’s. Today the business generates over $5.9B in sales annually. Who were they? Richard & Maurice McDonald the original owners of the first McDonalds fast food restaurant.

Today he would be worth $95B. Instead he sold 10% of his share of the company for $800.00 after just 12 days as the number three man. What was the company? Apple

In 2010 Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga had pitched a perfect game with one final batter to face with two outs in the 9th inning. The last batter was called safe at first on a clearly misjudged ground ball call by the first base umpire. It has been named the ‘Almost Perfect’ baseball game.

Professional golfer Scott Hoch in the 1989 Masters Tournament was 2 putts away from wining the championship. His first putt brought him closer to the prize. How far away was the ball from the cup? Two feet. He missed his on second putt attempt.

Just One More Step

She was seriously ill and had been for over twelve years. Neither the doctors or the money spent on medicinal herbal remedies could solve her dilemma, a non-curable blood disease. But, then she heard about a peculiar man named Jesus who was reported to be healing people like her of even worst ailments, even raising the dead!

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, Mark 5:25-26

If he could do that surely he could handle her problem. She heard he was nearby. She had nothing to loose and determined not to live any longer in an almost situation. All she needed was to take one more step closer to her needed miracle:

When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. Mark 5:27-28

And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. Mark 5:34  

There was an Internet video posted today about a woman on the state of Alabama’s Ten-Most wanted list. She was a drug addict and chained to a lifestyle of criminal activity to support her habit. After being incarcerated many, many times she hit rock-bottom and prayed to God that He would deliver her from the drugs. That simple prayer of repentance forever changed her life. God answered her in that prison cell and took the desire away. She lost the desire from that moment on and never looked back.

If that is not amazing, this is not the end of the story. Many years later she recognized someone on Facebook who was in need of a kidney transplant. The man was a now retired former police officer who arrested her many times during her life of crime and drugs. The Lord spoke to her and said she had the kidney he needed. After contacting the man and having compatibility tests run, her kidney was a perfect match and became his organ donor source.

Just One Prayer Away

You could be one prayer away from your needed miracle. One prayer away from receiving Heaven’s long awaited answer. One small step of faith short of seeing God walk through the door and forever change everything.

You are one prayer away of turning an ‘almost’ situation into an ‘absolute’ situation.

By God’s grace I will keep praying that prayer. Will you?

The Quest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Live Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed.

Running On Empty

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. I Corinthians 9:24

This one hurts. One of the favorite lines of a preacher is: “As I speak and point my finger to you, three fingers are simultaneously pointing back towards me!”. So, there you have it. As this blogger types this post, two thumbs are pointing back at him.

Let’s be real a minute. Satan is not backing down in his tactical execution of schemes and ploys to destroy the soul of man (i.e., humanity). We read the news headlines on any given day of the week and easily see that satan is not running a “mediocre” operation. He is very diligent and highly skilled in warfare. This adversary detests everything pertaining to God or the things of God.

His machinery of inflicting the most heinous and merciless campaigns against humankind are well-oiled and time-proven to the highest levels of perfection. Observing his forte of destruction, it appears Satan runs a tight shop. Mediocrity? Not a chance.

Can we name a few? Okay, here is a short-list (you can add your own); war, terrorism, political unrest, child pornography, sexual exploitation (sex trafficking), child sexual abuse by family members (and lest we forget, their school teachers), teen murder, addiction (drug, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, more, and more, and more, …..), immorality, marital infidelity, gang violence, gun violence, prostitution, racism, hatred, robbery, theft, and Internet crime. The list goes on.

Dead, But Still Running

Is it possible for a living creature to be dead yet appear to be alive? Yes, it is. Hunters will tell you it is a known fact that deer can continue to run long after being shot dead. The adrenaline running through their body can propel them for a distance even though they are dead from a physiological standpoint. This no doubt applies to other animals (think chickens).

How about humans, speaking from a spiritual dimension? Oh, yes most definitely. And the phenomenon goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden to our ancestors Adam and Eve. They essentially died spiritually when sin separated them from God. Upon leaving the Garden, Adam and Eve were dead, but still running.

And the phenomenon continues with us today. And if we really face it in all honesty, without being regenerated by God’s power through the New Birth experience, and the continual refreshing thereafter, we miserably fall short in God’s original design – for our spirit to be controlled by His Spirit and Word, which in turn rule our soul. Otherwise, our soul (mind, will and emotions) sits at the master mixing board that controls our body, all the while being married to a spirit that is dead as far as the Lord is concerned.

So, Lord You Mean To Tell Me There Are Some Rules To Follow?

Is it possible to be disqualified in our walk with God? What does God’s word have to say about following His rules? A lot in fact. Let’s start with Jesus himself:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:22-23

Jesus is not speaking to lost people here. He is talking to the church, people supposedly part of the Bride of Christ. These followers somehow and somewhere became disqualified from the race. How does an athlete become disqualified? By not following the rules of the sport.

It is almost inconceivable there are those in “the church” who disparage anyone who espouses the notion that there are “rules” (Rules? Really?) to follow in living for God. These rule “purists” are seen as legalistic, old school, out-of-touch or pharisaical.

Yet, those very dear anti-rule thinking folk will watch countless hours of football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, etc. and argue when a referee or umpire uses bad judgment or in sports parlance “makes a bad call” against a player on their team.

Please don’t tune out just yet. We are just about to have fun.

Let’s look at some rule stats on just three mainstream U.S. sports – baseball, football and basketball.

The Major League Baseball 2017 Rulebook contains 284 pages. The National Football League 2017 Rulebook contains 93 pages. And the Official 2017 Rules of the NBA contains 68 pages (including an official 114 page Case Book accompaniment to help explain the rules).

But, page numbers are deceptive. Just looking at the NFL Rulebook there are actually 107 individual sections further refined by a total of 315 articles buried within those sections. The bottom line is there are a lot of rules an athlete follows in professional sports.

A typical Bible contains about 825 pages devoted to the Old Testament writings and around 250 pages allocated to the New Testament. In essence, the MLB 2017 Rulebook contains a little more text than the New Testament. And some wonder that it is not fair God would require His people to follow guidelines on their journey toward eternal life?

Am I Running On Empty?

In his writings to the church at Ephesus, Paul instructed the church on some matters concerning the spiritual fuel tank:

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Ephesians 5:18

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Psalm 23:5

What is the problem in not being completely filled with the spirit? If not, then something else is taking its place. And that something else is not from God. And since only God is good (Luke 18:19), then what remains is either weak at best (Mat 26:41, I Peter 1:24), or not good at worst (Gal 5:19-21).

The enemy of our soul will see to it that we fall short in this endeavor of staying filled with the spirit. Years ago the sincere man of God spoke words of wisdom:

“You have to live a balanced life before God. Keep the Word of God and the Spirit of God in equilibrium”.

Being filled with the Spirit maintains equilibrium. Granted it is not all about the Spirit. We have to have both.

Things get rocky when moved off-center. My washing machine can say an “Amen” to that. Have you ever heard the washing machine sound like someone with a jack hammer just decided to bore a hole through the laundry room floor? The sound is from the pounding and beating caused by a load of wet laundry thrashing around in an unbalanced washer drum.

Come To The Water And Drink

There was a time when King David, weary from battle fatigue, pondered some deep thoughts. His mind retraced events to an earlier time when life’s dramas were dialed down several notches and reflections of God’s presence and goodness became more vivid:

And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! II Samuel 23:15

There is nothing like drinking fresh, cool, pure spring water, especially in the heat of battle. The waters of Bethlehem are still available. We don’t have to run on empty.

Jesus is alive! His spirit moves like in the beginning of Creation. Not upon the “face of the waters”, rather upon the face of human hearts. Love has come. Hope has come. Salvation has come. HEALING has come. Come to the waters and drink for yourself:

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:37-39

Jesus sends the invitation to all who will seek his well of living water and freely drink. And we will never run on empty again.

Be Blessed.