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!

Heart Hacked – For Good Part II

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

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

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

The Heart – Ground Zero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Hidden Backdoor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is scripture to substantiate this claim:

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

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

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

Concerning Bezaleel in the construction of the Tabernacle ….

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

Hacked With Hope

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

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

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

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

The master awaits at the backdoor of our heart:

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

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

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

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

The Final Chapter: After God’s Own Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Heart for a New Year!

Be Blessed in 2020.