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Head for the Mountains - A Devotion

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Psalm 18:32-36 (NLT)
God arms me with strength and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

“He makes me surefooted as a deer.” This thought dropped in my spirit yesterday. It is a familiar passage noted in 2 Samuel 22 and resonates again in Psalm 18. The question accompanied the thought, if we are called to move mountains by faith then why must we become surefooted as the deer? Simple question. Is this an Old Testament concept that went away after Jesus Christ died and was resurrected back to life so that now rather than going over mountains, Children of God merely tell them to get out of the way? Why would God make me surefooted as a deer, if I never had to climb a mountain? Why would He train my hands for battle, if I never had to fight? Why would He strengthen my arm, if I never had to hold on? Why would He give me a shield, if there would be no attack? Why would His Right Hand support me unless He knew that I might fall? Why would He make a wide path unless of course He knew the gateway into His Presence is narrow and I might struggle to make it through? Mountains are the training ground of God for His People, but rather than expending the energy and effort to climb over the ones that arise before us too often we just stand there yelling at them. You will never move a mountain in your life without faith. Ironically, it is on that mountain were you will find faith.

John 16:33 (NLT)
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus Christ did not sugarcoat things but was completely honest. On the earth you WILL have many trials and sorrows. This is unavoidable. He didn’t say that once you are saved that this changes but many people assume that it does. Ignorance is killing the power of the church today. They want the Power of the Living God but refuse to look for it in His Word. Find it His Way. Christians have no interest in doing the Will of God but rather robbing Him of His Blessings. There is no peace in the Body of Christ anymore as it rips and tears itself apart from the inside out. Pastors no longer have a heart for their people but attempt to drain their bank accounts. Preachers dilute grace to gain the acceptance of man. Priests have violated their covenant with God and now live secret lives of shame exposed every day making God’s House a mockery. When the church became like the world, the power left the premises. Jesus Christ warned of such a world. A place that loves sin. An environment where love has grown cold. False prophets spreading lies. (Matthew 24:11-13) But He also said, “That the one who endures to the end will be saved.” The mountains in our life produce endurance. It is the purpose of such trials and sorrows to increase our confidence by faith in God. Faith turned to confident hope keeps us on track to have the promises of God. Such a life will allow us to develop enough faith to begin to move mountains but first we must learn to make it over them. (Hebrews 10:35-37)

Romans 5:2-4 (NLT)
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

Because of faith…too many times we skip over this part to look for that place called “undeserved privilege” where we want to stand. Without confidence in God demonstrated by faith that turns to confidence allowing us to trust God in the trails and search for Him despite our suffering, it is impossible to have the “undeserved privilege” that we are after. Problems and trails develop endurance which coincidentally is one definition for “sure”. God is working to make us “sure” footed so we will be in stride with His Word, Way and Will leading us to what God has for us rather than settling for so much less. Endurance develops our character which strengthens our confidence in God producing more and more faith. The objective of our life is to find faith and attach it to God using our confidence as an anchor keeping us fastened to the Lord until He comes. I wonder where we ever developed the thinking that God glories in mega churches, mega ministries and mega movements. The Lord is looking for a mustard seed of faith not found in the rich comforts and fancy buildings of today. “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” (Hebrews 11:39-40) Would it be enough for you to have faith without all the financial prosperity? Would you rejoice in the Lord without earthly comfort to secure confident hope in the Lord? You will never know until you face trials and sorrows in this world. These are things that money, influence and personal power cannot fix but only faith in God. If you have been calling God to remove it and He has not, it is highly probable that you are going to have to go through it. Are you willing to be uncomfortable for nothing more than your faith? The mountain is subject to God’s Form and Fashion. He created the mountain just as He created you. It has a purpose for your life. Every purpose in your life is backed by a Promise of God worth having. The only question is “will you go”? God has something better in mind for you. Are you will to do whatever it takes to achieve it even if it doesn’t mean relief in the present but a heavenly reward? (Hebrews 11:32-40) What are you doing today “because of your faith”? Until it is everything, it is just not enough!

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Over the past year, I have changed my diet and now exercise on a regular basis. This is a first for me ever. At 47 years of age, I am in better shape than I have ever been. I was not motivated to do so because of a midlife crisis or some great revelation. I was tired and overwrought physically and emotionally from our son’s battle with cancer. I needed to take control of my flesh before it overtook my spirit man (or woman). I hate to exercise. We have fasted enough over the years that it took very little to remove unhealthy choices from my diet. But the exercise part was a struggle, but I forced myself to do it. Now many months later, I see changes in my physical appearance that I never anticipated. It is as though my body is changing to accommodate the endurance I am trying to build. Weight is stripped off effortlessly even though I am not trying to lose weight just strengthen and tone. My goal is endurance. I want to be a runner. I want to run a marathon. I have never made it very far when it comes to running, but now I know that I am getting closer to my goal. God has set a race before us that requires endurance – what is holding you back? Most often it is nothing more than a lack of faith, our inability to remain confident and trust the Lord. Without genuine faith, there is no confidence in the Lord. Too many times, God must strip us of every ounce of self so we learn to trust Him more and follow the course that He has set before us leading to more than we think or ask. We fear that there will be no satisfaction on the other side. Jack Canfield said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” This quite possibly is the name of the mountain that you are facing. Overwhelmed by the unknown and consumed with doubt that you won’t make it – it’s time to be stripped of that weight that is holding you back from God’s Very Best and get moving. The Lord wants to change that today! Keep your eyes on Jesus and take the first step. You have time as you have not given your life to the struggle against sin. In fact, we have become so comfortable and complacent in grace that we stopped going after God. This will result in a tragic end for many people who do not finish the race of faith successfully. I refuse to be one of them.

Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT)
Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Until we have faith without any doubt, I regret to inform you that the mountain will not move. You will not dislodge a single rock from its face without faith that does not doubt. Ever notice that when faced with a mountain, it always seems like it is two steps forward and three steps back. God is perfecting you today. He is making you surefooted because you will need to learn to climb mountains to move them. The Lord is training your hands for battle because you need to know how to fight to win. He is strengthening your arm to hold on to confident hope like an anchor in the storm. Jesus has given you a shield of victory to remind you that He has overcome the world when the enemy throws all those fiery darts labeled as lies at you. You will know the Truth and it will set you free. His Right Arm supports you with His Grace when you stumble so you will never fall or fail pursing Him. He has made a wide path for your feet so you will not be led astray from the Highway of Holiness that He has paved before you! “With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, be strong, and do not fear for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you. And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.” (Isaiah 35:3-8) The mountain that has placed before you has a purpose. You must learn to endure. You must have genuine faith in order to ever move a mountain. What better way to achieve that in going over one? The Lord has provided all that you need to make it over the obstacle of faith in order to develop confident hope and genuine faith in His Love. Faith without doubt is the objective. There is no way around it so you must go through it!

I Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Genuine faith makes us truly glad in every situation. I am far more happy and at peace today than I was three years ago. Solomon said that sorrow is better than laughter because it refines us. (Ecclesiastes 7:3) I tend to agree. I hate cancer. I hate everything about the wretched disease. But oh the faith and confident hope that I have discovered crossing this mountain is invaluable. My life is in perspective. My faith is in God. My hope is securely anchored in His Love. Did I want this affliction to attack our son? Of course, not. But I would not trade the infinite wealth of God’s Love that we have found in the process. God is with us. I know that now. He was with us before, but I didn’t have the faith to discover the hope I have now. When Jesus becomes our only hope, it is there that we find that He is all we ever needed. I know that there is wonderful joy ahead although locked in a bitter battle against a devastating disease. We will make it over the top of this thing together. Not because I am strong, but because He is faithful. I just have to work on faith that has no doubts. Just a reminder – sorrow is not overlooked by the Lord. (Psalm 56:8)

Psalm 18:20-24 (NKJV)
The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me, and I did not put away His statutes from me. I was also blameless before Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.

The Lord has “recompensed” me according to my righteousness. (Philippians 3:8-9) Faith is the only way that we are counted as righteous. He rewards us according the cleanness of our hands (or holiness). God wants to repay or reward you for your efforts on that mountain. Sorrow is not overlooks. Tests are not without reward. You shouldn’t be surprised when tests come because you were already told by Jesus to expect them. (I Peter 4:12-14) You should train to be ready for them. You should obtain the right knowledge to overcome them found in His Word. You will make it through them walking His Way. You will be blessed because it is His Will!

Matthew 28:16-20 (NLT)
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

One might think that after they had seen, heard and experienced with Jesus Christ that none of the disciples would ever doubt Him again, but even after the resurrection some of them doubted. No wonder there are many Christians today who doubt the Lord, if these men could not believe. It is time to head up that mountain my friend and come back with faith. We are called to be followers of Jesus Christ – but you will never make it without faith. Doubt is the evidence of disbelief which disables our faith. We must work to overcome it. These trials and sorrows of life that we face are not meaningless but meaningful as the Lord works diligently to produce the faith we need to have confident hope that allows us to endure to the end. This world has nothing for us but is a training ground to exercise faith. Making it strong so it will endure. To be “sure” means to endure. It is total confidence that God will do exactly what He says and the willingness to wait for Him to do it even if it means schlepping up that mountain again just to find more faith and bring back confident hope! It’s time to head for the mountains!

Exodus 25:40 (NLT)
“Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”

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