The Thief Cometh (Part 2 of 2)

We left off discussing what the enemy is after in your life (faith), the importance of faith to you and God, the devil’s mission to steal and derail your faith, and the role hope plays in this walk of faith. We will carry on here and dive into four areas in this concluding piece – hopelessness, God’s mercy, the role God’s blood plays in His mercy, and our reaction when confronted with all three.

Hopelessness – God’s Pathway to Greatness?

From the surface, it appears that any hopeless situation one would encounter in life can offer no truly positive benefit or outcome. Is this a true statement? Let’s look into the lives of three Biblical examples (there are more) and see if it is.

The life of Jephthah is recorded in the Book of Judges (chapters 11 & 12). Jephthah entered his world with some major disadvantages. Jephthah was an illegitimate child, the son birthed between his father Gilead, and a harlot (Jdg 11:1). Because of this, he was rejected by his family and forced to flee home to the city of Tob. It looked like a hopeless situation for the young man. However, there came a time when the Ammonites decided to make war with Israel. (Note: Ammon, father of the Ammonites, was the offspring produced between the union of Lot and his youngest daughter (Benammi – “son of Lot” Gen 19:38), and like Jephthah, a complicated birth experience).

However, there was something burned in Jephthah’s spirit that distinguished him from his peers – according to the Bible, he was “a mighty man of valour” (Jud 11:1). That distinction got the attention of the elders of Gilead who asked Jephthah to become their leader in the defeat of the Ammonites. Jephthah accepted the offer, relocated back to his hometown of Gilead, and proceeded to singlehandedly (remember Samson?) defeat the children of Ammon (Jud 11:33).

What looked like a hopeless situation for Jephthah turned out to be his pathway to greatness. One interesting note is the translation of Tob (the city where Jephthah sought refuge from his shame and rejection) in Hebrew is the word “good” in English. Jephthah may have never understood how anything “good” could become of his life, but God has the ability to turn the tables of adversity around and shine His hope into the hopelessness of any situation.

Now, let’s turn our attention to another man in the Bible who also encountered a literal “hopeless” situation. His name is the Apostle Paul. Paul was on a voyage to Rome when a terrific storm named Euroclydon swept through the Mediterranean Sea and wrought havoc on those on the ship:

And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. Acts 27:20

Note the Bible records that “all hope” was “taken away“. That describes a hopeless situation friend. And God allowed it. And He allowed it to happen to one of His chosen vessels. Why? It forced Paul to dig out something he had never excavated in his spirit – overcoming faith that summoned angels into a hopeless situation (Act 27:23-24). The end result was a miraculous deliverance, miraculous healings (Act 28:8-9), and the continuation of God’s perfect will for Paul’s life.

Lastly. let’s travel back in time to a place called Calvary in 33 A.D and observe this scene. What do we see? We see three men hanging on crosses. The man in the middle Is Jesus Christ, falsely accused of the crime of blaspheming God (Jhn 10:33). Jesus is flanked by two other men, thieves justly accused of crimes they did commit. It looked like a hopeless situation for all involved for they knew death was just moments away. But here is where something buried very deep inside of them is revealed no other way nor can it appear in any other fashion. What is this thing? It is called faith. Faith is very powerful. So powerful in fact that it can transcend the iron-bared chambers of life’s darkest, hopeless, and most inescapable caverns.

One thief (we can surmise on Jesus’ right hand) refused to be conquered by his hopelessness. How? By his faith in Jesus’ kingship, authority, and the promise of eternal life to those who believe in him. This thief simply believed Jesus’ words of hope:

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. Luke 23:42

Amazingly, it was this condemned criminal (of all people) who brought strength and encouragement to the Savior of the world when he needed it most. The one thief asked Jesus for forgiveness. He believed in Jesus’ kingship and his message of the hope of eternal life. This one thief understood the reason for his punishment but was bewildered why Jesus, a perfect man in his thinking, was being unjustly punished for things he did not commit (Luk 23:41). One thief made a difference and it’s been written that this man had the revelation of Jesus’ deity (God in flesh) and his resultant power over death that his own disciples had not yet embraced (Luk 24:11; Mar 16:14; Joh 20:25). And this one thief asked for and received forgiveness including eternal life (Paradise – Luk 23:43). One thief had faith in Jesus’ message while the other rejected him:

And one of the malefactors who were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. Luke 23:39

The passage of time and its ensuing impact on life (Ecc 3:1-8) can be the catalyst for interesting and dramatic changes, even in hopeless situations. As these three examples show, it is not over until God says, “it’s over”!

Do not ever think that if you or someone you know facing hopelessness it is a curse, punishment, or judgment from God. In some cases that may be true. Even then, we must understand that God is always looking for the best outcome in any given situation. God’s desire is for ALL (that means everyone) to be saved! (II Pet 3:9) It has been said that God will always choose His mercy over judgment if, in his foreknowledge, the outcome will lead someone closer to him.

The Power of The Blood

The definition of power can be viewed from different angles. The classic dictionary defines the word “power” as the “ability to act or produce an effect, capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect” (Source: Merriam-Webster). In the physical realm, power can also be defined as the measurement of the rate of change to a physical state. In its most simplistic terms, something powerful can change something in a very short amount of time. Let’s use explosives as an example. The hammer of a toy cap gun can strike a small circle of red phosphorous and potassium chlorate (i.e., Armstrong’s mixture) meshed between a layer of thin tissue. The friction generated by the hammer strike will set off a small explosion and resultant heat that burns the cap tissue. The change is measured in the degree of energy (i.e., heat) generated and the force exerted by the expansion of gas generated by the small explosion.

Now. Increase the amount and chemical formula of the explosive material used in a toy cap gun to a more powerful compound such as TNT. TNT is a common explosive used in mining, military weapons, and oil extraction (i,e., hydraulic “fracking” and other applications). TNT is also a standard of measurement used to gauge the energy output of another destructive force – nuclear weapons. The nuclear explosion in WWII in Hiroshima, Japan was equivalent to 15kt (15,000 tons) of TNT. That bomb’s energy output was responsible for the immediate death of 70,000 civilians; wooden structures within 1 1/4 miles from its epicenter were immediately destroyed and wind speeds were 10x that of a Category 12 typhoon.

In these examples, we’ve moved from the physical change generated by a toy cap gun to that of a “powerful” nuclear explosion. The rate of change to the physical surroundings between a toy can gun in comparison to that of an atomic bomb in Hiroshima is astronomical – power as the measurement of the rate of change (i.e., effect) to the physical world.

Let’s move this discussion of power and its effect in transforming physical phenomena into a spiritual context. Medical science can perform many amazing transformations such as heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, and intestine transplants. But ONLY God can perform a mind transplant! Only God knows our hearts. And God has the capacity to, in many instances, instantaneously change” a heart/mind from one that is destructive, depressed, evil, immoral, self-centered, guilt-ridden, jealous, bitter, perverted, or confused into a mind that is healed with thoughts infused with love, peace, joy, goodwill, compassion, kindness, gentleness and HOPE.

That is power in action. How does He do this? By washing you in the blood of Jesus through water baptism and by the infilling of his Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost! God’s spirit is powerful! And the blood of Jesus is the powerful agent that washes away all our sin and makes us, as the song of old says:

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow;
no other fount I know;
nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The morning after this section was written, I opened up a book I’d been reading (The Wisdom and The Power of The Cross) and this paragraph stared right at me:

“The ushering in of the nuclear age is a poor comparison to the historic moment of Christ’s resurrection when a powerful force of non-matter entered into the order of matter and energized molecules into life. Jesus’ resurrection is His title to headship.  He rose in might, power, and majesty”. As the author uses Jesus’ resurrection as an example, God’s power and His exercise over life simply cannot be produced or replicated by man-made devices or inventions. There is unmeasurable power in the blood and in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Heaven’s Mercy Seat – Mercy Perfected & Salvation Eternally Secured

For Jesus to come back from death a living, breathing human being one thing had to happen. It should be noted that Jesus was not some mystified, virtual-angelic manifestation of a human being after his resurrection. Jesus walked the earth in human form after his resurrection just like he did before his crucifixion (Luk 24:39-40, Joh 20:19-20, 27). Therefore, in the process of Jesus’ resurrection from death’s grip, somewhere during that process his body’s blood was regenerated. The purpose of bringing this up is when Jesus departed earth for the last time, he ascended to Heaven with blood flowing through his glorified body. So, when Jesus touched the mercy seat in Heaven, his blood in essence also touched that seat and forever sealed for us an “eternal” salvation (Heb 5:9).

Before the creation of the Heaven and the earth, God couldn’t manifest His mercy because the presence of a blood sacrifice is required to remit sins and is needed for the provision of mercy. Otherwise, God would have been obligated to offer that mercy to Lucifer and all of the rebellious angels. This was not possible. There was no provision for the forgiveness of sins in Heaven, never was nor never shall be. In God’s plan, the earth would be the location to heal the sin problem, the void sin created in Heaven (Lucifer’s rebellion), and the sins on earth (Adam’s original sin and its subsequent aftereffects). The Bride of Christ, Jesus’ church, when raptured will fill that void in Heaven. God has a plan, and His plan never fails.

The very word “mercy seat” has its origins in a word that refers to blood and its ability to forgive sins – propitiation. The Greek word propitiation used in Hebrews 9:5 is ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion) which is translated as “to atone for sin, mercy seat”. Propitiation is the price God determined that would cover the penalty for sin. Jesus, of course, was the propitiation for the sins of all mankind and Jesus paid the price for those sins when he laid down his life on the cross (Act 26:18; Rom 3:25; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14).

Blood & The Mercy Seat

Of all the attributes God embraces, mercy and love are perhaps two aspects of His being that are most glorious and magnificent. And love and mercy are twin sisters that appear numerous times together (10x) in the scriptures (Exo 20:6; Deu 5:10, 7:9; Neh 1:5; Dan 9:4; Mic 6:8; Eph 2:4; II jhn 1:3; Jud 1;2, 2:1).

As a sidebar, the number 10 is significant in the Bible (https://jesusalive.cc/number-ten-significance-in-bible/). Among other things, the number “10” is a number of completeness and appears in the Creation account, construction of the law and the tabernacle, God’s judgment (I Sam 25:38; Est 9:13), worship (Psa 92:3, 144:9), testing/trials (Dan 1:12, 14, 15; Rev 2:10), and the endtime (Dan 7:10, 20 & 24; Rev 5:11, 12:3, 13:1, 17:3, 7,, 12  & 16).

In addition to love, God’s mercy cannot be separated from one other thing – God’s blood. The O.T. provided a “temporary” way for God to show His mercy by forgiving the sins of His people for one more year. This was accomplished through the sacrifice of bulls, goats, and lambs as the shedding of blood were always God’s requirement for forgiving sins (Lev 16:34, 17:11).

According to God’s word we know that “things” existing on earth are simply examples, figures, and shadows of things already existing in Heaven. (Heb 9:9, 24). The animal (blood) sacrifice, the tabernacle, and the law on earth were already well established in Heaven. Only the completion of God’s will in time separated them from their eternal existence and ultimate prophetic fulfillment upon the earth.

A blood sacrifice was always a requirement to address the sin issue. And the presence of blood is also required for the exercise of God’s mercy. This is why the high priest would sprinkle the blood of a bullock and a goat on the mercy seat located in the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:14-15). Indeed, the very act of this “sprinkling” was a prophetic foretelling of the blood the coming eternal high priest, Jesus Christ (Heb 4:14, 5:9-10), would shed for the sins of all mankind (Heb 9:11-12, 9:22) and occupy the mercy seat in Heaven. Even the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10).

The Blood Always Demands This One Thing

There is something about the precious, pure, perfect, priceless, and powerful blood of Jesus that cannot be dismissed. And that is the blood of Jesus always demands a response. When confronted with the sinless blood of the Perfect Lamb of God, a response will be demanded of you. It requires a decision of which there are only two possibilities – repentance or rejection (rebellion). We will either repent upon knowing the Savior shed his blood for our sins. Or we will reject and rebel against the blood’s effectiveness because of unbelief or impenitence.

A response was demanded from the two thieves next to Jesus as he hung on a cross bleeding from his hands, feet, and back. And they did respond. One made the right choice and the other a very bad one (Luk 23:39).

It All Comes Down To One Question – Which Thief Am I?

As mentioned in part 1 of this series, the cross of Jesus Christ is the defining event in human history. No other event in all of time compares to what transpired on Calvary’s hill – the death of our Savior, God manifested in flesh. And when confronted with the sinless blood that flowed from that cross, as with the two thieves surrounding Jesus, we too are forced to answer one question – Which thief am I?

You may ask: What are we stealing? We are stealing from God’s sovereign right over the totality of our being. Which is the complete and total surrender of our human will to His will. It always comes down to just one word and a big word at that. What is the word? It is CONTROL. It’s always about control – who is really in control over our lives, us or the Lord? If it’s us, then we are convicted as a thief in God’s court of justice and righteousness.

Self-will is nothing more than self, seeking the gold of glory – in self. It is the root of all evil and was the original sin. The original sin did not take place on earth. The original sin took place in Heaven when Lucifer desired to “steal” God’s glory (Isa 14:12-14). The original sin was the attempted theft of God’s glory. God called it iniquity (Eze 28:15). It is the sin of “seeking self-glory” (i.e., pride) and not seeking the God of glory, for the glory of God, who is worthy of ALL THE GLORY. And that same sin bled into the human race when Adam rebelled against God’s word.

There is purpose in life’s tumultuous and tragic happenings and times of sheer hopelessness. Out-of-control life situations reveal one thing – who truly is in control? At times the Lord brings storms to show that our trust must be in him and not in ourselves or in those around us.

Like the two thieves next to Jesus, there will be two groups of people at the end of time standing before God’s right and left hands. Like the one thief who asked for forgiveness, one group, the true believers who relinquish all self-control, will be redeemed and rewarded with eternal life. And one like the other thief, a group of unrepentant, unforgiving, unbelieving souls rewarded with a just sentence – God’s judgment (eternal death).

Shall He Find Faith?

There is a parable of Jesus recorded in the Book of Luke that we call the Parable of the Unjust Judge. Here is a situation where Jesus describes a real-life struggle between a judge and a poor widow who is facing a hopeless situation. However, this interplay between a cold professional and a broken widow is not the only message being communicated by the Lord. There is also an underlying thread of truth that Jesus wants to convey here. And it is the central subject weaving thru these two installments – the vital importance of faith, especially not losing faith during times of hopelessness. Here is the key verse:

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8

There are at least two hidden questions Jesus is asking us in this verse: what kind of faith is he speaking of here and why will this be? From the surface, we generally assume Jesus is referring to faith “in general”, that is, will there be any faith at all upon the earth when Jesus returns? However, this is actually not the full essence of what Jesus is asking. We know this by looking at the word “shall” in the verse.

The English word “shall” is a translation of the Greek word ἆρα (ara) and appears only 3x in the N.T. (Strongs G687), and in each case, the word precedes a condition where a negative response is expected (see Acts 8:30 & Gal 2:17). Jesus is talking about “God faith” here, the kind of faith needed during the endtime, a time of great tribulation and chaos. To clarify the point, here are two other versions of the scripture:

I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?” Message Bible

Yet, the Son of Man having come, will He find the aforementioned kind of faith on the earth? Wuest

Jesus is asking if great faith, God-faith, white knuckled-like faith as the widow in the parable be present on the earth because of the state of hopelessness occurring during the tribulation period and endtime. Jesus also alludes to this same state of affairs when he stated that the opening of iniquity’s floodgates right before he returns will cause the love of many to “wax cold” (Mat 24:12).

When the curtain of time is drawn shut will I be the redeemed thief, repentant, asking for forgiveness, with overcoming faith, forgiving those doing the punishing, and believing in the One whose message of hope, truth, and light still reverberates throughout the hopelessness surrounding earth?

There will always be two thieves next to Jesus, one believing, yielding, and forgiven, the other unbelieving, self-willed, and unforgiven.

When faced with the precious blood of Jesus I must ask myself this one question: Which thief am I?

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:6-7

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!

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!

Love Is A Fight

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? I Peter 4:18

Love is a fight. A fight to the finish. You don’t believe it? Hopefully, after further explanation of the above verse you will be convinced.

A song was released several years back entitled “Love Is Not A Fight” that was a soundtrack pick for the popular move ‘Fireproof.’ It is a great song, great lyrics with an upbeat rhythm. And from the song’s perspective on love in general, and for marriage in particular, the message makes a lot of sense.

However, in retrospect, love for some things in life are indeed a battle to the finish line. What are we talking about here? We are talking about a love that goes beyond the bedroom and into a throne room. The throne room of God where Jesus Christ is seated:

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. The Book of Revelation 1:12-16

This is the source of love being spoken of here. Jesus’ love is not cheap. This love is not merchandise. Jesus’ love is pure. Jesus’ love is precious. Jesus’ love is perfect. This love was forged in a furnace of affliction, shrouded in a cacophony of shame, and purified by pain beyond imagination:

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:2-5

People of faith are going to have to fight with everything they have to keep this love alive to the finish line, and not let up until the enemy of our soul is beaten all the way to the 10 count.

Many years ago the following scripture was shared with a group of teenage Sunday school students:

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? I Peter 4:18

As explained to them, from the surface the initial interpretation that comes to mind when reading the word “scarcely” is: barely, by the skin of one’s teeth, or just about “making it in”. However, further inspection reveals that the Apostle Peter had something else in mind here when penning the words about “making it” into heaven.

The word ‘scarcely’ used here is the translation of the Greek word μόλις (molis) which means “with difficulty: – hardly, with much work”. The Word is the Word and you just cannot twist it or airbrush it. What does this mean?

It means that to “be saved” is going to involve a battle. To make it into heaven is going to involve much work, toil, difficulty – in short, a fight. The Apostle Paul was inspired under the same vein of thought when addressing his young protégé and “son in the Lord” Timothy:

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I Timothy 6:12

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: II Timothy 4:7

Right before his pending execution Paul penned these final, parting words intended for encouragement, admonishment and heart-felt compassion for his son – remember, to keep the torch of truth and the love of Christ alive a fight would have to be won.

Is it any different for us living in the 21st century with the world around us fulfilling the prophetic words of Jesus:

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Luke 21:25

The words “the sea and the waves roaring” sounds like a description of hurricanes and typhoons. We have to be awake in this hour. We might put on a pair of boxing gloves and start fighting for our lives, for our families and our neighbors who are positioned on later half of the opening verse of I Peter 4:18 – where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

May Jesus helps us all.