The Prisoner In Cell Block #6

Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. I Samuel 15:1-3

(Disclaimer: Okay, this one is a little “dark”. This blogger is allowed one every now and then. Besides, it may be excusable as this post is being written from the city of writers from the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and such. Maybe it pervades the atmosphere). So here we go.

Some Kings Cannot Live

God instructed King Saul to destroy all of the Amalekites in the land and not to leave one standing. He didn’t. Saul did not obey God’s orders. And it cost Saul his soul.

He kept an Amalekite alive. Not only just an Amalekite, but the head honcho of all people – King Agag. Saul played around with the enemy as if he were his own personal pet. Playing with sin is a fool’s game. It will burn you every time. Saul fed Agag bread and water (symbolically speaking) to sustain his life as he toyed with him.

How many of us keep things alive in our lives that God commands to be destroyed? How many Amalekites do we slide bread and water beneath the iron bars of our minds and hearts just to barely sustain them and keep them breathing? They are likened to insidious little pets or obscene, perverted parasites who we find tantalizing to keep entertained.

How many? And Why? The answer is simple. Control. We want to keep control over some things in our lives and not turn them over to God. We can serve in the church and still maintain a level of uncommitted self in our lives. Dying out to sin (and as the song says – “Breaking Up”) is hard to do. Turning it all over to Jesus is hard to do and hard to sustain. The way of the cross (as one writer penned it) “was not an easy sell to the Jews (Israel)” in Jesus’ day. And if we are really, really, really (emphasis on “really”?) honest with ourselves, the cross is likewise not an easy sell in our day and age.

And If the Amalekites in our lives ever find freedom their first victim with be the one who has held them captive – me and you. And they will put their former master into the now empty cell they previously occupied. The Amalekites must die. They must.

There are some things God will never resurrect after dying. There are some things in our lives that must remain in the grave. If not, they will destroy us and thwart God’s will. Sin always breeds a litany of ominous bystanders. Sin never operates alone. It will find converts and canvas for disciples. Sin is always looking to enslave. Sin hunts diligently for occupiers to fill its empty cell blocks.

The Bible tells us that Hell is never full, is never satiated and will always be looking to fill vacancies in the corridors of its empty jail cells:

Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. Proverbs 27:20

Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. Isaiah 5:13-14

There are three things that are never satisfied, yea,four things say not, It is enough:
The grave… ; Proverbs 30:15-16

And we must never think it could never happen to me or to you. Oh yes it can. Well, at this point some will turn off and move on. Before you do that, please read this:

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

A Potential King Born In Shame

Solomon was not the next rightful son to ascend the throne and inherit the blessings and honor of the Davidic kingdom. Solomon actually had an older brother that he never saw nor knew. An unnamed child was conceived and birthed from the tryst between his father and Bathsheba:

And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. 2 Samuel 12:15, 18

This innocent child was not destined to live nor was it the Lord’s will for this child to inherit the throne. He is never mentioned again after his death. This unnamed son never lived to see or experience the kingly inheritance rightly due him. There is nothing more heartbreaking to a parent than to experience a child’s passing, especially prematurely. The emphasis here is not intended in any way to minimize the loss of precious human life, but on the judgment of David’s sin.

It was a potential kingly dynasty cut short. A child whose life briefly flirted with royalty, but never lived to see the fulfillment of his kingly inheritance. His brother Solomon would receive that honor and the prestige that should have been his vaporized. An unknown, potential king forever lost in Israel’s ancestral vein of royalty. This unnamed son would not be included in the lineage of King David, nor in the recorded lineage of Jesus Christ.

One remarkable aspect concerning this child is that he was nameless. The child lived for seven days, and against Jewish tradition, was never given a name. The son lived one day short of the commandment to be circumcised – on the eighth day.

There was a reason. It tells us that somehow David and Bathsheba understood the brevity of this child’s life. This child was not meant to be. For seven days this child stood as the heir apparent, the next King of Israel.

Upon learning of his son’s death, the king was heart-broken. He wept. He fasted. He mourned. And he hurt. Sin will always do that. Especially those who are called to be kings. God’s people, the king’s and priests of the Lord. King David knew he sinned. His sin hurt his own soul. His sin hurt Bathsheba.

But, worst of all he knew his sin hurt the One he dreaded the most to hurt – His sin hurt the God he loved.

Can God forgive a man and/or woman who have made the decision to abort an unwanted pregnancy? Can God forgive those guilty of adultery  or fornication? Oh, yes most definitely. If the Lord forgave King David (and He did – read Psalm 32 & 51, the same man who wrote Psalm 23), he will certainly forgive anyone who sincerely repents and calls upon His name. Perhaps it was King David’s intense brokenness towards his son’s death that somehow affected God’s ultimate decision to grant David tremendous measures of mercy and grace. God only knows.

Can we trust Him? Can we really believe that God will forgive us for sins? The hideous ones? Those nobody wants to talk about? The ones that you do not want to acknowledge, the ones that you cringe to even think will again come to the surface? The ones that keep us forever encased in a perpetual jail cell?

No? It is a lie from the pits of hell.

Yes He will. Our God is merciful. Your God is merciful. Ask Him. Cry and weep before Him. He will hear you and forgive you. Who are you to hold on to it?

How will you know He has forgiven you? You will feel it. You will know because when He heals you you will feel clean. You will feel whole. You will feel forgiven and free. And lastly, you will know because you will feel something you have never experienced before the sin – PEACE.

Peace can only come from one source – Jesus Christ:

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. Isaiah 54:10

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked. Isaiah 48:22

It Will Cost Us Something

I apologize here for lapsing into the first person voice. One objective when starting this blog was to deliberately make it not “about me”.

But, in prayer on the morning of February 12th I asked God to give me more. Give me something that is real. I want the “real deal” from God. I don’t want to be an imposter, a hypocrite, the shell of a former believer.

Okay, and I will tell you what He said. Can you believe that? God actually talking to someone? Talking even to you? Yes He does and yes He will.

And what did He say you might ask?

He said four words:

“It will cost you”.

Doesn’t it always! Can we really expect Him to ask anything less of us. It will cost you. It will cost me. If we really want the goods from God, it is going to cost us something.

Why? It cost Him. It cost Him EVERYTHING!

I will regress here. And please understand that this blogger’s intentions are innocent.

Someone reading the last few paragraphs are going to tune out and immediately start down the road of grace, God’s grace. Hollering, “But, God’s grace”. Screaming God’s grace! “We are saved by grace and not by works”. You can’t “earn your salvation”. “Eternal life is free. He paid the price, not us”. “Once saved, always saved”. However, mind the words from a great saying of old: “Grace is free, but it ain’t cheap.”

“Even if I die drunk in an automobile accident, I can’t be lost if I wanted to”.

Really? I wonder what the one in hell who did die drunk in an automobile accident would have to say about that? It is something to think about.

Still believe that you cannot be lost? Before writing this blogger off, please consider the following verses before making that call:

Galatians 5:7
I Timothy 5:11-12
Hebrews 12:15
James 5:19-20
II Peter 1:10, 2:1, 20-21
Revelation 3:5

What does this all mean?

So, it’s not going to cost us anything? We just go about our business, live for God any way we want and show up in heaven and say: “Here I am Jesus! Been waiting for this day. Just me and you along with the heavenly host.”

I want to be healed. I want to see others healed. You don’t have to be a proverbial rocket scientist to see that we are living in a broken world that is made up of broken people. And if we are really honest with ourselves we have to conclude that we are living in the midst of brokenness.

And I will be so presumptuous and arrogant here to say that you and I all have pieces of our lives and shards of self scattered all over the face of the earth. We are broken. And we need a Savior. Desperately.

Just like the character in the story “Humpty Dumpty”, we have fallen off the wall and all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men cannot put us back together again. Earth’s kings – never. Heaven’s KING – Oh Yes!

It is going to cost us. Yes. There will be a price to pay for it. But, it will be worth it. Anything will be worth going through if we come out at the end HEALED, WHOLE and HEAVEN-BOUND.

When God decides to open the door of our jail cell and forever close a regrettable chapter in our lives, we need to honor His sovereignty, keep it shut and not allow it to surface, breathe again and live. Like David and Bathsheba’s first child, it cannot be resurrected.

There comes a time when a past action, actions, inactions or behavior has produced offspring when God says: “This can no longer live. This offspring has got to die”.

And whether we realize it or not, we and those close and dear to us are the better for it.

It is painful. It hurts. It hurts deeply. But, it is necessary and needful. For the consequences, if left unchecked, are more catastrophic if allowed to mature, grow and develop.

Offspring conceived outside the plan God has for our lives. We have all birthed future kings in our lives that if allowed to live on would become overlords and masters that will drive us down a path of destruction. Kings birthed that are not meant to live. And God has chosen it to be that way. They must die and not live. Just as with King Saul and King Agag.

The Bible gives us some insight into offspring who were allowed to live and the destruction and chaos left in their wake. Our thoughts go back to Cain, Ishmael, Nimrod, Absalom, Ahab, Ahaziah, and many others.

How many kings have we conceived in our lives that have grieved the heart of Almighty God? Let’s start with these: Unforgiveness. Guilt. SHAME. Lust. Greed. Lying. Cursing. Ungodly thoughts. Fill in the blank ____________ .

The Number Six

Why cell block #6? The number 6 is the number of imperfection, the number of incompleteness. The number of carnality. The number of man. Left unrestored and unregenerated by the blood of Jesus, it is our number – 6, incomplete.

May the God of heaven help the person looking in the mirror search his or her heart and reveal any prisoners that may be lurking in cell block number 6:

But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets… Daniel 2:28

Yes, yes there is, there is a God in heaven that “revealeth secrets” and the Lord handles them in love, with integrity, dignity, sincerity, compassion, and grace.

What are your secrets? Tell him about them. He already knows all about them anyway. It is time to leave cell block #6 and be healed. In Jesus’ name.

If you are not connected to a body of believers, pray that the Lord will lead you to the right one. He will, but you have to ask for it takes a spiritual body to heal spiritual matters:

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5

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

Be Blessed on your journey. God is very good.

On The Shelf

imageOn that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.
And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus.
And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him. Esther 6:1-3

‘OTS’ – pronounced Oh-zuts as in “Oats”, acronym for ‘On The Shelf’. OTS Syndrome [definition]: a condition whereby one’s life is defined more by observation than by participation; life is put on hold like the cat who by an unseen force somehow mysteriously perched herself  on top of the living room window curtain rod, you are mostly invisible while observing life passing beneath you. (Source – Somebody’s Corny Urban Dictionary).

It is said that there is no tougher place to be then when the Lord puts your life “on the shelf”. What or why would God do that to anyone? Is there is purpose? If so, what is the purpose? In reality, there is purpose in living life mostly from an observation tower. Let’s take a look at some people whose lives were once “on the shelf” who God miraculously transfused with fresh hope and purpose.

A Man Named Mordecai

For some things, especially things concerning spiritual matters, timing is critically important. It definitely was for the Jewish populace living during the time of King Ahasuerus as recorded in the Book of Esther. Most are familiar with this often quoted line in the book: “And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” The man speaking those words was named Mordecai. And he was speaking to his adopted daughter-cousin Hadassah (Esther):

And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter. Esther 2:7  

As the story unfolds, Esther is chosen Queen and takes up residence in the king’s palace. Mordecai faithfully sits at the king’s gate day after day as a palace porter, sitting on the shelf (so to speak). During the course of his duties, he uncovers a plot to assassinate the king. He sends Esther communication about the scheme, then nothing. No recognition, no award, no bonus pay, no promotion was given to him. Mordecai experienced firsthand what it felt like living on the shelf. Life and people moved on. But, he waited. God had a plan for Mordecai and knew exactly when to move him to the next phase.

And the Lord did. The king had a bad night’s sleep and to help pass the time he asked that events recorded in the chronicles concerning his kingdom be read to him. Something catches his attention. It is about a man named Mordecai who usurped a plot to take the king’s life. “Was anything done for him?” Nothing. Mordecai’s life on the shelf had just come to an end.

King Ahasuerus rewarded the good deeds of the man who saved his life and generously made up for lost time:

And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed. Esther 10:2-3

God Calls Another Life Off The Shelf

Real kings keep their promises. David made a promise once to King Saul that he would preserve his lineage and not destroy his entire family:

Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s house.
And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold. 1 Samuel 24:21-22

King David’s life on the shelf while running from Saul was now a distant memory. Life was good. He was now the “big man on campus”, he even got a name for himself (2 Samuel 8:13). Amazing how success, even for those chosen by the Savior, have a predisposition to forget the One who is behind any and all good that happens in life.

As time so oftentimes proves (substantiated by our fallen nature) promises of good made to a defeated foe faded into the shadows of his memory, maybe power washed by too many wars, women, wealth and weariness. But, the Lord remembered and brought it to his attention many years later:

And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. 2 Samuel 9:3

Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant! 2 Samuel 9:5-6

There are not many accounts of people in the Bible as heartwarming and touching as that of Mephibosheth. Being the lame son of Jonathan, he lived most of his life in obscurity and heartache not knowing that an unfulfilled promise from God rested right above his head. His day finally arrived. God saw it was time for Mephibosheth to come down off the shelf:

And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. 2 Samuel 9:7

From that day onward, Mephiboshet’s life was never the same. He became a new man with newfound hope and purpose in life. God is especially touched by the broken, crippled, lame and bruised – on the outside and on the inside (Ps 86:15, 145:8, Is 53:5, Mat 15:32, Mark 6:34, & Heb 4:15).

The Shelf Life Produces Something Amazing

Some things in life are made better by being motionless, by just doing nothing. The process is called curing. Meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses (and some other mysterious elixirs made from rye, barley and malt) are transformed into exquisite creations by simply left sitting undisturbed on a shelf. Such is the case with the one thing that saves us:

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:24-25

Hope is what saves. Not love, not faith, but hope. Hope for what? Hope that God’s word is truth and will come to pass, hope that Jesus Christ is real, alive, is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, and that he is coming back again for his people. And if we don’t live to see it, he will raise us from the dead to make the appointment (Romans 8:11, I Corinthians 15:52). That is a hope worth holding on to.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Romans 5:10  

The interesting thing about hope, unlike faith and love, it is not a spiritual fruit or spiritual gift. The Lord does not drop dollops of hope into our lives. Hope does not come easy.

Like precious earthly metals, stones and gems, hope does not occupy shallow ground, its origins reside deep within the soul. Hope is forged by enduring the pressure and heat of God’s handiwork upon our hearts. How and why? To form something rare, beautiful, exquisite, and valuable for His glory (Malachi 3:17). Hope is essentially the byproduct of God’s mercy and grace at work in our lives.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Romans 5:3-4

We with patience wait for it. Our soul is preserved by the nuclear bond between patience and hope. Jesus had something to say on this subject:

In your patience possess ye your souls. (KJV)
In the sphere of your steadfastness, constancy, and endurance you shall win for yourselves your lives. (Wuest) Luke 21:19

Your soul is acquired, secured, or purchased through patience – sometimes while enduring life while sitting on the shelf.

Is My Shelf Life About To Expire?

Is life looking like a dead end? Do you feel that your “shelf life” is about to expire? Who is to say that there is not yet an unfulfilled promise from the Lord resting over your head? How will we ever find out if we don’t patiently wait for it?

The Lord could be preparing you to come down from your disaster and enter into His destiny. The shelf has prepared you for this moment in time. And when you do come down, you will know for sure that “The Lord, He is God!”.

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalms 100:3  

 

The Love Warrior

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. Revelation 5:5  

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12

All good things in life are based on the foundation of love. The love of Jesus Christ touches everything good. God’s love is life’s “secret sauce” for spiritual growth and fruitfulness, true happiness, joy, peace, fulfillment, and harmony with others (a short list). The reverse is also true. Evil, base things, the beggarly elements, works done in darkness and the like share a commonality – a lack of true love.

When Jesus stepped upon the stage of this earthly drama he knew the odds were stacked against him. God understood it would take something very special, unique, radical, “out-of-the-box”,  disruptive, paradoxical and above human calculation to break through sin-hardened hearts, walls of prejudice, evil spirits and hopelessness. Jesus was up to the challenge. Jesus conquered the works of darkness and the sin of mankind with a full frontal assault with an amazing strategy; approach it with the weakness of a Lamb as The Love Warrior.

The Call For War

There was a serious problem in heaven. Imperfection surfaced within the perfect eternal realm we know as heaven (Ezekiel 28:15). God, being the perfect, eternal Being (Deu 32:4, II Sam 22:31, Ps 18:30), engaged the plan to restore order in heaven. The Word is not clear how long that took, but no doubt long enough for the rebellion to complete its course. The Lord works that way (Gen 15:16, Dan 8:23).

So, Lucifer, Heaven’s premiere worship leader, and one-third of his worship team were expelled from heaven and exiled to a realm encircling earth’s lower atmosphere:

In the sphere of which trespasses and sins at one time you ordered your behavior as dominated by the spirit of the age in this world system, as dominated by the leader of the authority of the lower atmosphere, the source also of the spirit that is now operating in the sons of the disobedience, Ephesians 2:2 (Wuest)

Church splits (and sometimes individual exodus’ for that matter) are always centered around worship. Always. How is that? Because people decide to worship the “god of self” instead of the God of Glory. Okay, let’s move on.

Now that heaven was rid of its rebellious blotch, the Lord encountered the dilemma of now dealing with the fallen archangel and his cohorts. And God, who is never confounded, confused, dismayed or dumbfounded had a plan for that too. In fact, His plan was ordained before the foundation of the world (John 17:24, I Peter 1:20, Rev 13:8). Enter front-center stage the One for whom all things were created (Is 40:21-28, John 1:3, Eph 3:9, Col 1:16, Rev 4:11) – the perfect God-man, Jesus Christ.

God rolled up His sleeves and went to war. Why? For love.

God who “is love” never knew what it was like to “be loved”, until now. God as the man Christ Jesus came to earth to fulfill and perfect what the law could not do – set the captives and prisoners of the earth free with the love of God (Is 43:10-13, Is 61:1, Lk 4:18, Ps 68:18, Eph 4:8).

Jesus Christ is The Love Warrior.

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:26

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. Luke 23:33–34

Jesus’ Love Warrior Boot Camp

Jesus has a knack for turning disciples into love warriors. One of Jesus’ prime examples was a man named John. John was a potential warrior, but his weapon of choice, his passion for revenge, needed some tweaking:

And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? Luke 9:54

Fire? From Heaven? To scorch the poor guys? Not Jesus’ MO, at least not yet. But, as usual when Jesus begins a work of grace, mercy and love on a subject they might as well surrender because love never fails (I Cor 13:8). And John did not let Jesus down.

John held one of Jesus’ three inner-circle gold cards. John had passion. John wanted to be close to the Master’s heart, so close as to hear what emanated from Jesus’ heart before it exited his mouth:

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? John 21:20

You are going to hear some pretty amazing things when you are that close to God’s heart. What did John hear while living a life close to Jesus’ heart? It must have had a lot to do with love because John went on to write and reference more about love than any other writer in the Holy Bible:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. I John 4:7-8

Jesus saw John was a good candidate for becoming a Love Warrior.

There was another subject that showed some promise for becoming a Love Warrior. His name was Peter. Like John, Peter had passion and also packed some maligned, artful grit:

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. John 18:10

Peter was aiming for Malchus’ head, not his ear. Peter was a changed man after the Day of Pentecost and went on to join the esteemed ranks of one of Jesus’ Love Warriors:

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: I Peter 1:8

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: I Peter 1:22

Jesus saw Peter was a good candidate for becoming a Love Warrior.

We cannot forget another one of Jesus’ love warriors. This one was a women named Mary Magdalene. The Bible refers to Mary as the women “out of whom went seven devils”.  I guess if one were to be demon possessed, seven devils might be the perfect number of choice. It is also noteworthy that Mary is referenced exactly twelve times in twelve verses in the KJV of the Holy Bible. Seven and twelve. Interesting.

Whatever Mary did in her past was now forgotten and superseded with a present and future centered around the Lord. Mary was a member of Jesus’ entourage of women who followed and ministered to Jesus (Luke 8:2). Who was there at Calvary? Mary (Jn 19:25).  Who was one the first ones to visit the tomb after Jesus’ crucifixion? Mary (Jn 20:1). Who was the first person Jesus appeared to after he rose from the dead? Mary (Mk 16:9). Who informed the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead? Mary (Lk 24:10).

Jesus saw Mary was a good candidate for becoming a Love Warrior.

Am I A Love Warrior For Jesus?

In conclusion, I need to ask myself: “Am I a love warrior for Jesus?” Are my thoughts and the meditations of my heart focused on the Kingdom of God, on the saving of souls, compassion towards the broken and weak, or does my life evolve around my needs, my wants and the pleasures of my flesh? Have I determined to seek “God’s own heart” like King David or the Apostle John?

Love Warriors always have a price to pay.

“Well, the Lord has not called me to be an apostle.” Maybe not. However, Jesus has called his church to an even higher calling – Kings and Priests unto God:

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5-6

One thing is certain, Jesus came to this earth as a lamb, but he is not returning as one. Jesus will visit the second time as a lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. And he is coming as a warrior to judge the earth of its sin.

Until then, the Lord searches the earth looking for human hearts that will respond to his call to join him with his army of Love Warriors in The Name of Jesus. Be Blessed.

 

Castles In The Sand

Castle 1Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Matthew 4:8-9

Building sandcastles is child’s play. Who has not built them either at the beach or in a sandbox in the backyard. A dream world of make-believe in your fingertips, a personal kingdom fashioned just to your liking and desires. Sandcastles – big, small, elaborate or just a row of simple pillars made from upside-down buckets of wet sand. Some things never change. The dreams just get deeper and more intense.

Cities of the world are built of the same stuff. Sand is the principle ingredient of concrete and glass. Skyscrapers are basically pillars of sand reaching the heavens, lifting and supporting its building occupants high above the earth. And the older we get it seems we prefer them bigger, higher and with fancier street names and fashionable zip codes.

The Bigger The Sandcastles The Better

It appears mankind has an innate, almost morbid proclivity to challenge God. The tendency surfaced long ago in the first created man, Adam. His legacy proceeded him for generations to include a man the Bible identifies as Nimrod:

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and … Genesis 10:8-10

Nimrod was in the sandcastle business big time. The Bible refers to him as a “mighty hunter”. A mighty hunter not of the earth, but “before the LORD”. We never read anywhere where he ever hunted and killed an animal. But, he surely hunted after good real estate. There are nine cities listed in Genesis 10 attributed to him. And the man picked some prime real estate to build the greatest sandcastle of his day, what is commonly referred to as  the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:9).

In essence Nimrod said: “I will build a tower to reach the heavens. Just let God send another flood this way. I’ll teach Him. We’ll build a tower higher than God’s floodwaters can ever reach. Who needs the Lord and His protection?”

Jesus knows all things. He knew about this innate tendency within us to build sandcastles. You see, building them is easy for us. The material is plentiful, easily obtained, cheap and the results appear before our eyes almost instantaneously.

Unfortunately, the building of God’s kingdom does not work this way. God’s kingdom is not propagated with sand, but with three principle ingredients – faith, hope and love:

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:6

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I Corinthians 13:13

And all three are invisible with only their aftereffects to show evidence of their presence. It is said that the Apostle Paul gauged a church’s maturity and spirituality using these three criteria. How strong is their faith, how deep is their hope and how pure is their love? These things are priceless. Jesus desires his people to move beyond the sandcastle business and into the business of things eternal:

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:27-28

Some Sandbox Rules

Building sandcastles and playing in a sandbox is a regulated industry. Within the sandbox are rules and regulations to follow.

Here is a list of the important ones:

1.  Play nice. Consider who you are playing with and who invited you here.
2. Stay on your side of the line and don’t play in my sand. Play in your own sand.
3. Don’t ever wreck or touch my work and sand creations. And I won’t touch yours either.
4. Never, never, never offend me by throwing sand, especially in my eyes!

Does something sound familiar here? We grow older in this life, but the rules of engagement do not seem to change. Maybe it is only this blogger, but we sometimes find ourselves playing by rules forged early in life. Sandbox rules. May the Lord help us grow up and to look up:

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. I Corinthians 13:11

Built Upon A Rock

Most are familiar of the parable Jesus spoke concerning the foundation material upon which one builds their house:

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Jesus came to this earth not to deal with its sand, Jesus came to this earth with the distinct intention of dealing with souls. Jesus came with the anticipation of life waiting to happen – abundant life. How we fall so short sometimes in realizing God’s expectations of us and how we fall short in realizing our expectations of God. There was one man in particular mentioned in the Bible who “got it”. His name was Abraham.

Abraham was a man of faith. He simply believed God was who He said he was. And Abraham trusted Him. In fact his trust was so sure that he offered his only son Isaac upon an altar with the expectation that God would raise him from the dead if needed (Genesis 22:2). That is pure faith. Abraham’s faith did not end there. Abraham was not looking for a castle made of and  in sand. He was looking for a castle that would stand the test of time. He was looking for a castle where God was not only the architect, but God was also the ditch digger:

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:8, 10

A city built on rock and not sand.

My Own Sandcastle

In conclusion, we must ask ourselves what am I building my hope and trust in this life on and where am I building it? A simple thought, but with profound repercussions. What foundation am I building my house upon? Sand or rock? We can claim many things as our own, but there is only one reference in the Holy Bible that mentions the true owner of God’s church on earth. Who is it? It’s found right here:

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

The Apostle Paul referred to many things as “My”: Gospel, Service, Helpers, Life, Kinsmen, Fellowprisoners, God, Brethren, Ways, Spirit, Work, Will, Liberty, Understanding, Soul, Joy, Children, Conversation, Body, Prayers, Record, Bonds, and Doctrine. Paul never penned the words “My Church”.

Jesus is the only one to refer to the church as “Mine”.  God’s church is His mighty fortress on the earth. The opening scripture shows the enemy’s strategy to point attention to kingdoms made of and built upon “sand” – sandcastles. What castle am I building today, the one on earth or the one forged upon ‘The Rock’ Christ Jesus spanning both earth and heaven?

 

Shame

Definition – noun: a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety, a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute. (Merriam-Webster)

Hearing the word itself evokes thoughts and feelings that make us want to turn our head in another direction.

It might be said that there is nothing that grieves the heart of God more than seeing a soul of His suffering under the burden of shame. Shame has to get God’s attention. It is not the will of God that people suffer under the weight of shame.

How do I know that? The Word gives us clear-cut proof this is indeed the case.

A Man Named Cain

The man is Cain, the famous brother of Abel. Most people having any familiarity with the Bible know about the interchange between Cain and Abel.

In short, Abel had a heartbeat for the things of God. Able wanted to please the Lord and do things God’s way. Cain also wanted to please the Lord. However, Cain wanted to do things “his” way. God’s sacrificial requirement was fulfilled by blood, the slaying of an animal.

Abel’s sacrifice was accepted. Cain’s was not. Cain became jealous of his brother and killed him.

Have you ever wondered why the Lord allowed Cain to live after he killed his innocent brother Abel? I have. Why didn’t God just strike him dead and annihilate him for his selfish, despicable deed?

It could be answered by the following two verses:

And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. Genesis 4:13-14

God knew Cain’s heart. Cain regretted his act, and in, essence repented of his sin. Cain really did want to please God. He really did. He did not want to be separated from the ‘face’ of God, God’s presence. And God heard Cain’s acknowledgement of shame.

There was another man who committed an act just as grievous as Cain’s. His name was David. He also did not want to be separated from God’s presence after his own entanglement with shame and sin:

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Psalm 51:11

Psalm 51. The song of David’s repentance, “When Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba” (and after having her husband’s death pre-arranged).

Another man acquainted with shame.

Cain’s words did something to the heart of God. David’s words in Psalm 51 did something to the heart of God. The Lord hears cries of shame. And it does something inside of His heart.

Why? Because God had a plan to address the sin issue, the shame issue.

The Romans designed crucifixion as a method of death in the most shameful, disgraceful way possible. It was a fulfillment of God’s plan way before the thought entered their mind:

His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; for he that is hanged is accursed of God; that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 21:23

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galatians 3:13

Jesus knows what shame is. Jesus Christ died in shame the worst way possible by the way of the cross:

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 Jesus is intimately aware of any shame present in our lives.

The Pain of Shame

Let me detract here. This blogger has remarked previously that this blog is intended to be angled from the third-person perspective. The intention of the blog is to not be “about me”.

But, let’s digress here. I will humble myself for the benefit of whoever might come across this blog post and be helped and be healed. The subject of this post is heart-felt. I know personally what shame is all about.

In fact, I have suffered under the weight of shame most of my life, specifically for the past 45 years. That is a long time to live in pain.

You might ask: Forty-five years of what? Time, space and the venue constrict unfolding all the details. But, basically forty-five years of sinful acts and habits or feeling guilt about those past habits, forty-five years of destructive thought patterns (the Bible defines them as ‘strongholds’), forty-five years of living with a conscience defiled by shame.

But, let me tell you God has healed me. It was a process that started five years ago.

Who healed me? The power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost) healed me. How? Through the prayers of His people. I could not do it by myself. If I could it would have happened sooner.

It is a process. A process where His body, the body of Christ, plays the pivotal role. The natural body can heal itself of things physically related, but not the things that go down deep, at the soul and spiritual level. You cannot heal yourself of spiritual wounds which includes shame. You need the church. I need the church.

No matter how ‘super spiritual’ I may think I am or how ‘super spiritual’ you may think you are, we can’t take this journey alone, this journey of being healed of shame. We desperately need each other.

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:15-16

Be Healed

Let me give you some sound advice. Don’t allow shame to foul the precious life God has given you. It is not God’s will. It is a waste. God loves you. He really does.

We must understand that God sees the pain of our shame. God is interested in our shame. And God is the healer of shame!

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 53:5

God is not a healer. God is the healer. God is still in the miracle-working business.

He will heal our shame if we ask him. Do you really believe that? Then why don’t you get on your knees and tell him about it and see what happens? Start the process now. Pray for the Lord to lead you to a spirit-filled body of believers who will pray for your healing.

Be healed. Live for Jesus. And be Blessed.

Four P’s of The Seed

Now the parable is this: The seed  
is the word of God.  Luke 8:11seed1
 
The parable of the sower is perhaps the hallmark of all parables Jesus ever communicated. In fact, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus has this to say about this parable in particular:
 
And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?  Mark 4:13
 
In other words what Jesus is saying is  if you are to “get it right” concerning my word  and the way into the kingdom of God, this is the one you might want to get down and master. 
 
Why? Because it pertains to the most important aspect of one’s walk of faith – the word of God.
 
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God“.
 
Let’s dive a little deeper into this.
 
Protection – (The Unprotected Heart)
 
A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
 

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.  Luke 8:5, 12

 The seed was devoured and snatched away. Why? Because the seed was left unprotected. Unprotected because it was not committed to heart and mind.
 
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalms 119:11
 
The word ‘hid’ in this verse is the Hebrew word ‘tsâphan‘. The word is translated into English to mean ‘to hoard, reserve or to protect‘.
 

Something is stolen because the thief was undetected and the goods were unprotected. The word of God must be PROTECTED in our hearts.

Penetration – (The Uncommitted Heart)

 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
 

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Luke 8:6, 13

 The seed failed because it never developed a root system: “these have no root”. The heart in this case was indifferent and uncommitted to the nurturing and care of the word of God.
 
Commitment is a hard phase to conquer in this journey. It takes a toll. It will be discomforting. It will demand something from us. It takes much effort to till and nurture the soil (heart) to accommodate conditions for seed growth.
 
Jesus said the other calamity befalling this seed was that it “lacked moisture“.
 
Roots have an inherent quality to seek out water sources. The root system failed to developed because it never reached an adequate water source (God’s spirit).
 
Roots will burrow through underground terra-cotta pipes and concrete to reach a source of light or water.
 
As the song of old sings:
 
I shall not be, I shall not be moved.
Just like a tree that is planted by the waters,
I shall not be moved.
 
We must allow our spiritual root system to be constantly refreshed by fresh influxes of God’s cool springs of living water. How? Through prayer, fasting , study of the word of God and worship.
 

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. Psalms 1:3, 93:13
 
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
 
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.  Jeremiah 17:7-8
 

Perfection – (The Undisciplined Heart)

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.  Luke 8:7, 14
 
Luke’s use of the word perfection (telesphoreō) is a compound of two Greek words –

telos and pherō̄.

Telos is translated to mean: ‘ the conclusion of an act or state, termination’.

Pherō̄ translated into English means: ‘to bear, carry or bring’.

Thus, the word perfection essentially means to bring or carry something to an act or state of conclusion – maturity.

Unripened fruit is of little value and certainly not desirable to eat. It is only when fruit is ripe that its true identity and distinctive nature (sweetness) is revealed.
 
Ripening is the final stage of fruit development. It is a lack of discipline at this stage that causes the seed to wither and die. Life, problems, sin, perplexities of the  mind and worldly cares all get in the way and snuff out any hope for the tender, vulnerable little seed to reach perfection.
 
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Psalms 34:8
 

The seed must be allowed to mature and ripen in our lives and to really “taste” the sweetness and goodness in living for God.

 
Discipline will bring the seed to full maturity, to a place of perfection where it becomes apparent that living for God is not a bitter taste of ‘drudgery‘, but a sweet one of ‘discovery‘.
 

Patience – (The Uncompromising Heart)

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
 
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. Luke 8:8,15
 
The word of God has much to say on the subject of patience. Here are some “good” ones:
 
In your patience possess ye your souls. Luke 21:19
 
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:4
 
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. James 5:7
 
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God (word/seed) and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12
 
It’s one thing to start a great work for God. It is entirely another thing to sustain it and see it come to fruition. Mature fruit produces satisfaction in the one partaking it.

And it yields a seed or seeds for future growth and further production.

The mature fruit is able to reproduced itself and sustains the perpetuation of more growth (more seeds, more fruit, more growth).

 

In conclusion, Jesus illustrates in this parable the possible dimensions a human heart can experience as it reacts to the word of God (seed).

Note that in each ground type illustrated (the way side, shallow, thorns and good) the seed progressively increases both in depth and maturity. Ultimately, it is the condition of the soil (heart) that governs the seed’s ability to bear fruit.

Four P’s of the Seed – Protection  (Unprotected Heart), Penetration (Uncommitted Heart), Perfection (Undisciplined Heart) and Patience (Uncompromising Heart).

 “Jesus, help us to keep our hearts tender to the presence of your spirit so that we will allow your word to come to the place of perfection and maturity in our lives. Amen.”

Am I a Pillar or a Pedestal?

And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be
pillars, perceived the grace thatpillar 4 was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Galatians 2:9

The New Oxford dictionary defines a “pedestal” as: “the base or support on which a statue, obelisk or column is mounted. A position in which someone is greatly or uncritically admired.”

The New Oxford dictionary defines a “pillar” as: “a tall vertical structure of wood, stone or metal, used as a support for a building. A person or thing regarded as reliably providing essential support for something.”

A further look into how these two words weave themselves into the church is worth further inspection and investigation.

Let’s take a peek at how they each differ in function, purpose and meaning.

1) Pedestals are used to lift people up. Pillars are used to lift churches up.

2) Pedestals are used to put individuals on display. Pillars are used to put God on display.

3) Remove a pedestal and one person is affected. Remove a pillar and everyone is affected.

4) Pedestals are only useful when looked upon by others. Pillars are just as useful when no one sees them.

5) Remove a pedestal and no one notices. Remove a pillar and everyone notices.

6) Pedestals will not move by themselves. Pillars cannot move by themselves.

7) Pedestals provoke trouble. Pillars prevent trouble.

As the opening scripture reveals, the early church had their share of spiritual pillars.
Unfortunately, the church also had its dealings with pedestals:

I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
III John 1:9-10

May we work on getting ourselves “out of God’s way” and only allow His glory to shine through us.

A man of God said the following powerful words in addressing so-called “pedestals” and “pillars” in the church:

The definition of false ministry is me using God to change people’s opinion of me. (a pedestal)

“The definition of true ministry is God using me to change people’s opinion of Him.” (a pillar)

What true and powerful statements.

“Lord, in your eyes am I a Pillar or am I a Pedestal? And dear Jesus, it does not so much matter what I look like on the outside. Only that it is you they see shining through from the inside”.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminenceColossians 1:18  
 
 
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:3-4