Emotional Baggage Claim

Emotional BaggageIt’s an all too familiar scene after each flight we take. No sooner do the wheels hit the tarmac, and travel weary passengers erupt into life as if each seat injected its comatose passengers with 5cc’s of epinephrine. Nervous apologies are made as people compulsively burst from their seats and start yanking their bags and belongings from the overhead compartments. Throats nervously cleared. Passive aggressive (some outright aggressive) elbows are thrown. Knees are knocked. Heads are clonked. The frenzy is just beginning.

Eyes glazed over, the dazed and confused passengers stampede toward the baggage claim like hogs to the slaughter. I think I’ve even heard a few oinks and squeals along the way! The first few to arrive look a little bewildered as they attempt to confirm which magical carousel will jettison their precious cargo. With anticipation that rivals Christmas Morning, passengers feverishly alternate their glances between their watches, clocks on the wall, and the screens above. While some have transfixed their gaze upon their hallowed cellphone as if it were a crystal ball revealing the lottery numbers from this week’s Power Ball.

Welcome to Baggage Claim!

I’ll admit it’s difficult not to get swept up in the excitement, and even the competition of disembarking the plane to get to your meeting, start your vacation, or to fall into the warm embrace of those who may be anxiously awaiting your arrival.

While this scene alone is ripe with allegories, analogies, and metaphors, I’d like to share some thoughts about a baggage claim of another sort.

Your Baggage is Heavier Than You Think

Baggage comes in many shapes, sizes, and capacities. This holds true for physical baggage AND emotional baggage. Somewhere along your life’s travels, you’ve acquired a great many “souvenirs.” Events, both good and bad, all leave unique imprints upon you, your mind, your heart, even your entire outlook on life. Unresolved pain, unresolved issues, and pent up feelings of anger, resentment, or bitterness, can start to become part of the baggage we carry around. The sad irony is, this baggage can subtly grow so heavy over a period of time, that we don’t even realize the weight we’ve been carrying around until, and this is important, we set it down.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

“Setting it down” can mean a lot of things. For the purpose of this post’s theme, we will call it “checking our baggage.” When we “check” our baggage, we present it before someone; an attendant. They inquire about the contents, they determine the weight, you pay a price, and they whisk it away until you reach your next destination.

We’ve personally checked in baggage before that exceeded normal weight limits. Of course these limits are established by the airline, but our own capacity to carry things we have no business carrying seems to grow. It’s often not until we place it on a scale, that we realize the true weight of what we’ve been carrying for who knows how long.

Checking your baggage every once in a while is healthy. In fact, we’ve had so many surprises at the airport check-in, we purchased a scale of our own to determine how heavy our baggage is. We don’t like surprises. Routinely checking in on your own baggage with a trusted friend, counselor, pastor, or mentor, are excellent ways of ensuring your baggage isn’t interfering with your ability to grow, thrive, and even excel.

Airlines use a pre-flight checklist to check and re-check every safety aspect of their planes. Our lives, and the lives of our loved ones depend on it. They check it so they don’t wreck it! Being excessively weighed down by baggage (and too many passengers – life has those too) can inhibit an airplane’s ability to safely take-off, reach altitude, and safely land. The emotional weight of your baggage can in like manner adversely affect your ability to take-off, reach your potential, and to safely arrive at your destination of a fulfilled and purposeful life in Christ.

“Let ‘er Rip!”

old luggage cartNow in our mid-forties, there’s a terrific service at some of the airports we frequent, that we’ve started to use. These big strapping fellows who are all too willing to toss your bags up on these luggage carts and push them right up to the counter, your shuttle, or your car. For a nice tip, they’re friendly enough and will point you in the right direction of a good restaurant, hotel, or area attractions.

1 Peter 5:6 – 8 instructs us, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour…”

The Greek word here for “casting” comes from the root word “rhipto” or phonetically said, “rip-toe” which means to hurl forcefully. I like to think Peter was saying, like we would in our post-modern vernacular, “Let ‘er rip!” This phrase is a little dated, but basically is said when someone is about to launch something.

Could it be that Peter, a couple thousand years earlier would have realized our propensity for carrying things around we have no business carrying? Could it also be that Peter, during his early days with Christ, realized his own innate inclination toward carrying around things that interfered with his walk with the Lord? These verses provide us with such tremendous spiritual insight into how best to handle the baggage that causes us so much heartbreak. But, according to Peter, one of the preconditions to being afforded this powerful privilege is humility.

Lower Before You Launch

Before we can ever expect to launch, we must be willing to lower ourselves; humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. When you humble yourself under His Hand, it will literally allow God to give you a hand, not just any hand, His Hand! It will be His Hand that will carry the seemingly insurmountable weight of your grief, your pain, your sorrow, your anxiety, your fears, your worries; all your care! And, it will be His Hand that will “exalt you in due time.” That word “exalt” means to restore your dignity, your honor, and your rightful place in Him.

Like those big brawny lads at the airport that magically appear at your trunk as you’re unloading your baggage, Jesus is lovingly there saying, “Hey toss that over here! I got this!” You may wince, like we do sometimes when we think about how heavy our bags are before the guys pick them up, but you never for a moment have to doubt that Jesus can take it. He’s more than proven Himself. He overcame Death and Hell…it’s safe to say Jesus can handle anything else you “throw” His way!

Music to Your Ears

When we check our baggage with the Lord, it would behoove us all to, in the in the now infamous and lyrically addictive words of Elsa in the Disney Movie “Frozen,” Let it go…let it go!

Upon your arrival to God’s Divine purpose and calling for your life, don’t compulsively run over to baggage claim like a moth to a flame to look for your bags to pick them up again. The words of the old spiritual song are never truer than at this moment, “Leave them there…leave them there. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there!”

Once we give it to God, don’t lay claim to it any longer. Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant.” The enemy is diabolical and deceitful. He will try to deliver the old baggage of your past in a brand new fancy bag with a bright red bow. Do not take delivery. Do not sign for it. Don’t let your neighbor sign for it. Don’t even allow Satan to leave it on your front porch! Since I’m apparently closing with a musical theme here, the words of that 1962 Elvis Presley song come to mind, “Return to sender…address unknown!”

You may think you’re fooling everyone by nap-sacking your issues and trying to inconspicuously tote them around, but like the little child who covers her eyes thinking no one can see her; someone sees. That someone is Jesus and He’s given us all an invitation today, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28 – 30)

Lame Game of Shame

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

Adam and Eve Meet Guilt and Shame

Prior to this portion of scripture, Adam and Eve wouldn’t have dreamed of trying to hide from God. Hearing the voice of God meant an opportunity to visit with the Creator. I’m sure it would seem each encounter with God brought with Him another blessing; a new tree from which to eat, a new flower upon which to gaze, a new creation for which to praise Him. Today was different. God’s presence brought dread!

Why was this day different? Guilt, shame, and fear had reared their ugly heads and now knowing they had disobeyed God, Adam and Eve were going to face punishment. Nothing had ever died before, but they knew death was the punishment for disobedience. Like children, they ran and hid only prolonging the inevitable.

Effects of Guilt and Shame

We learn that the wages of sin are death (Rom. 6:23). Sin destroys and leaves death in its wake. One of the weapons it uses is guilt. Guilt can destroy us from within. It can interfere with our ability to gain closure, healing, and overcoming power over the effects of sin. God knew that sin would cause separation. The moment sin came on the scene, our human instinct was to hide. Hide from what? Or, hide from whom? God himself! The very one that could provide healing, forgiveness, redemption. To God’s dismay, blood had to be shed. Calvary’s price must be paid. The Lamb must be slain.

Deer in the Headlights

For us, we’ve spent the better part of our existence fighting our nature to give in to self, sin, and even Satan. We know down deep these are wedges between ourselves and a benevolent, yet righteous God. Guilt leaves us feeling unworthy of a relationship with our Creator. Guilt, a close cousin to fear, immobilizes us. Like the proverbial deer in the headlights, we tense up and freeze. “What’s my next move?”

“Do I try to cover it up with fig leaves?”

“Or, do I run to the arms of my Heavenly Father and say, I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it profited me nothing.”

We learn that perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18). We also know, that once we’ve come to Christ, those immobilizing effects of guilt, shame, and fear should no longer rule our response to sin. Romans 8:1 says, “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The caveat here is, we must walk in the Spirit (capital “S”) God’s Spirit, and not after the flesh. I John 1:9 reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

He Called Us Friends

II Corinthians 5:19 states, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” God is all about reconciling with humanity. He wants to once again have the close companionship and relationship with His creation. Jesus, God in the flesh, said it like this, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:13-15). Does that sound like a God who is willing for anyone to perish?

In Closing

Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son paints a beautiful picture of God’s willingness to restore us back into His good graces. The son could have wallowed in the muck of pig slop, but even he realized, his daddy’s servants lived better than that. We went from hiding among the trees, and wallowing in the slop, to outstretched arms of grace and mercy. Guilt will keep you hiding and wallowing in the mud. Love will get you seated back at the Master’s table.

The remedy that worked at Calvary, still works – the sinless blood of Jesus Christ. It’s by the Lord’s mercies we’re not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is HIS faithfulness. God is all in favor of you returning back into His good graces. Don’t turn a deaf ear to the overtures of Grace. Don’t spurn the love of your Heavenly Father. Don’t cower beneath His outstretch hand. A life time of being callous to God’s tender wooing will lead to the outcome we will dread – eternal separation from the very one who died to save us!

Behold Thy Mother

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. John 19:26 – 27

The battered and bruised body of Jesus hung between Heaven and Earth; a grim picture, too grim for the other 11 disciples, but not so for John and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Yes, there are other stories of heroic women throughout the bible, but Mary stood at the foot of the cross and watched her promised son, the prophesied “Savior of the World” draw his last breath. But, just moments before his death, Christ would lay aside the burden of sin for the world, lay aside the shame, pain, and agony of the cross, ignoring the piercing of the nails, the crown of thorns, and the pending battle with Death, Hell, and the Grave, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of his beloved mother.

On this Mother’s Day, and every day, it would behoove sons and daughters everywhere to set aside the tanked economy, the war on terror, the latest political scandals, the rising gas prices, and the sheer stress of life, to ensure the women who are responsible for our births into this world are acknowledged, thanked, and appreciated for their selfless sacrifice and dedication. In this passage it’s as if Jesus was saying, “Mom, you’re gonna be alright.” If Jesus took the time while carrying the weight of the world’s salvation on his battered shoulders to entrust the care of his mother to one of his most trusted disciples, surely we could take the time to daily entrust the care of our mothers to our Heavenly Father through prayer, love, and support. May all our lives as sons and daughter pay fitting tribute to the precious lady we call, “Mom.”

Happy Feet – Pastor RD Mangold (Part 2 of 2)

Happy Feet Continued…

  • Moses – When approaching the burning bush was commanded of God to remove his shoes…he was on Holy Ground. Basically, Moses was to bare his feet. God was about to set Moses’ feet on a mission!
  • Isaiah – In Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
  • Romans – But I like how Paul says it better in the book of Romans, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
  • Mary – The sister of Lazarus made the feet of Jesus HAPPY FEET…John 12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
  • Jesus – John 13:12-17 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

 

Of all the things Jesus could have used to illustrate servitude and humility, he chose to wash our feet.

Jesus knew that the roads ahead of the disciples were going to be tough and that happiness was going to be the furthest thing from their minds.

They were going to face cruel scourgings, beatings, torture, and death, but when Jesus was facing His own darkest hour, His greatest concern was that His disciples would be…Happy?

If you think for a minute that God’s content watching you be miserable…You don’t know God like I know Him.

God wants us to be happy and he knows that if you really want to be happy, you won’t be able to do it with feet that are fettered and hurting.

So, God has been kind enough to allow a word to be fitly spoken into your spirit today…IT’S TIME YOUR FEET BECAME HAPPY FEET!

Time to Turn Your Mourning into Dancing

God knows, if he can get the fetters off your feet…if he can get you through your trial or test. He’ll pour some healing into your soul that will make your feet so happy you’ll want to DANCE, DANCE, DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!

God’s not concerned with the rhythm of your dance, or how stylish it is, He just wants you to be able to dry your tears long enough to get your DANCE back.

We have a Savior that cares so much about you that the very night he was to be given up to the authorities, He wanted His disciples to know, if you want to be happy…take care of one another’s feet!

If our creator could humble himself enough to bow down and wash the feet of the 12, including one that was going to deny him, and one that was going to betray him, couldn’t we be big enough to do the same for our brothers and sisters.

Paul’s Feet Kicking the Pricks

The day that the Apostle Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, Jesus makes a peculiar statement

Ac 26:14 – 18 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

 

The Apostle Paul was so busy kicking against the pricks, spiritually speaking, his feet HAD to be hurting. Constantly kicking against something he knew full well was what God was calling him to.

Listen to the rest of the story…

 

 15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,

 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Paul’s feet were far from being HAPPY FEET! He was spending so much time and energy kicking against the pricks that he wasn’t seeing the ministry and the purpose God was calling him too.

But when he stopped kicking, and his feet stopped hurting, God granted him a ministry that resulted in millions coming to Christ!

Now those are some HAPPY FEET!

I don’t know where you’re at today, but I’m almost certain, your feet are killing you right now.

If it’s been a long time since you’ve danced before the Lord you have to ask yourself one of these questions…

1. Am I bound by something?

a. Perhaps it’s a habit

b. Perhaps it’s a sin

c. Perhaps it’s the enemy

2. Am I kicking against the pricks?

a. Am I purposely avoiding doing what I truly know is right?

b. Am I so wrapped up in my own life, my own plans, my own schemes that I can’t see the ministry, or the purpose that God has for me right before my very eyes?

God wants His people to have HAPPY FEET! He went to great lengths to ensure that we could enjoy this great truth, and fulfill our purpose in Him…but we can’t do it without HAPPY FEET!

Happy Feet – Pastor RD Mangold (Part 1 of 2)

Happy Feet

March 16, 2008

Psalm 105:14-15

 14 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes;

 15 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

 16 Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread.

 17 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:

 18 Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:

 19 Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.

 20 The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.

 21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:

 22 To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.

John 13:12-17

12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?

 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.

 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

Without a doubt one of the most inspiring stories in all of the scripture – the story of Joseph going from favored son, to slave, to a ruler in Egypt, brings with it all the elements of a great story…Tragedy, treachery, travail, and ultimate triumph.

If you have never sat down and read the story of Joseph starting in Genesis Chapter 37, you owe it to yourself to read it.

Joseph’s story illustrates for us that when God institutes a calling and purpose in your life – you better pursue with all diligence.

Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

When you’re feeling challenged in your spirit, and the enemy comes against you; don’t you for a minute think that God’s going to sit idly by and watch you flounder around. We serve a God that cares – and cares deeply for His people…

1Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Sore Feet

We find in our reading a brief summary about the story of Joseph but I want to queue you into a particular passage of David’s account of the story. He says it like this…

Psalm 105:18 Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:

This particular account brings to light an element that even the original story doesn’t. We knew Joseph was experiencing pain. You know, the pain of being sold into slavery, the pain of betrayal, and just the overall pain that somehow he may be missing the mark.

But this reading shows us that something was adding to that misery…Joseph’s feet HURT with fetters!

Of all the things the writer in Psalms could have included in his description of Joseph’s account, he dialed right into how Joseph’s feet hurt due to the fetters.

What’s Got Your Feet Fettered?

Have you ever been so tired, and walked so much that your feet ached…no, I mean downright hurt? I think one of the most miserable feelings a person can have is when their feet hurt.

I may be stating the obvious here, but if you’re feet are hurting you’re going no where fast.

  • Washington D.C. Trip
  • London Trip (if time)

Those stories illustrate that we put our feet through some serious abuse and expect peak performance every time.

  • Now, imagine if your feet were fettered or shackled.
  • Now imagine they’re put there to restrain you.
  • Imagine how your ankles would ache, the sores and blisters that would fester and ooze.
  • You’re so tightly bound that freedom of movement is impossible.

Joseph was there – full of hopes, dreams, and ambition but he was in fact bound so tightly by the fetters, or leg irons, that his feet just hurt.

When in the midst of his trials, Joseph’s only real complaint…my feet hurt!

My feet don’t hurt because I’ve walked too much or because I’m retaining water…my feet simply hurt because I’m bound and I can’t get free of my fetters.

Some of you within the sound of my voice today have sore feet. They’re not sore because you’ve done a great deal of traveling, or because someone has been stomping on them…Your feet hurt because you sit here a miserable wreck, bound by fetters of the enemy and you’re in PAIN!

Won’t you admit it? You’re feet hurt – you’re tired of pulling at the leg irons that have you so tightly bound.

I’m here to declare men and women…

  • YOU WERE NOT MEANT TO BE BOUND!
  • HE WHO THE SON HAS SET FREE IS FREE INDEED!

We have a Savior today that’s not content to watch you rot in the prison of your present circumstance…GOD WANTS YOU TO HAVE HAPPY FEET!

The Bible and Feet

If you did your homework in the scripture, you’d see that feet play a very prominent role in the Bible…

To be continued later this week…check back soon!

“I Have Not Yet Begun to Fight!” Part 2 of 2

Click here for Part 1 of 2

Refresher…At the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, John Paul Jones went to Philadelphia and entered the Continental Navy. In December he was commissioned a lieutenant on the first American flagship, Alfred. Jones was quickly promoted to captain in 1776 and given command of the sloop Providence. While on his first cruise aboard the Providence, he destroyed British fisheries in Nova Scotia and captured sixteen prize British ships.

In command of Ranger in 1777 and 1778, he operated in British home waters and made audacious raids on England’s shore. In recognition of his exploits, he was placed in command of five French and American vessels. Aboard his flagship, the Bonhomme Richard, Jones led his small squadron in the capture of seven merchantmen off of the Scottish coast. On September 23, 1779, Jones fought one of the bloodiest engagements in naval history. Jones struggled with the 44-gun Royal Navy frigate Serapis, and although his own vessel was burning and sinking, Jones would not accept the British demand for surrender, replying, “I have not yet begun to fight.” More than three hours later, Serapis surrendered and Jones took command. (Adapted from the article Lauren Pitre see “Traditions…of the Naval Service” website.)

Samson

Judges 16:20-24 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house. {put out: Heb. bored out}

22 ¶ Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven. {after…: or, as when he was shaven}

23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.

24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us. {which…: Heb. and who multiplied our slain}

  • Of all the men who would have surely been able to say they had fought their hardest and won many battles
  • Of all the men who could have lived out his days satisfied that he had avenged the Philistines
  • Of all the men who could have been contented that he had dealt a deadly blow to his enemy
  • This man who had slain 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey
  • This man who literally picked up the city gates of the Philistines and carried them away
  • This man who tied 300 foxes together and set them on fire and turned them loose into the corn fields and olive yards of the Philistines
  • HIS GREATEST BATTLE HAD YET TO BE WON!

Samson could have said all of those things. But with each turn of the grinder’s wheel, something supernatural was taking place. God was restoring his strength…

  • Not so he could just be a better grinder
  • Not so he could continue to be a good slave

But, so he could finish the job God called him to do.

This brings us to the point of Samson’s story we can all connect with

Judges 16:25-30 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. {them: Heb. before them}

26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.

27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.

28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. {on which…: or, he leaned on them}

30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. {me: Heb. my soul}

As if to say…”I have not yet begun to fight!” Samson asked to be led to the 2 central pillars of the house. He prayed to God…” O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.”

Indeed, God granted Samson the strength one last time to avenge himself of the Philistines.

Even without his eyes, Samson had one more good fight left in him and dealt the Philistines a blow that was greater than all the other battles he had fought in his entire life.

In Closing

On the third day after Christ’s crucifixion, the greatest comeback of all time happened! Jesus arose from the dead.

Some would have surely said that the battle at Calvary was without a doubt the most brutal of all battles that Jesus, or anyone for that matter, must have faced. But on the third day something that has never happened before or since took place; Jesus arose from the dead…victorious over death, hell and the grave.

But you know what, as tough as Calvary was. As daunting as defeating death, hell and the grave were. Jesus is saying today to the church…I have not yet begun to fight!

Our greatest challenges are not behind us, but ahead of us. We need the Army of God to be stronger and more determined than ever to stand up and face the enemy down and say and mean these words, “I have not yet begun to fight!”

“I Have Not Yet Begun to Fight!” Part 1 of 2

JPJI Have Not Yet Begun to Fight!

Scripture:

Mic 7:7 ¶ Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. 8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.

 

2Cor. 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

John Paul Jones

Considered by many as the “Father of the American Navy” Captain John Paul Jones fought his most notable battle on the night of September 23, 1779. he engaged H.M.S. ‘Serapis’ and the ‘Countess of Scarborough’ off the coast of England.

The ‘Serapis’ had superior fire power and Jones had to maneuver skillfully to bring his ship alongside and lash her to the ‘Serapis’. During the dreadful 3 1/2 hour fight on a millpond sea, the ‘Alliance’, part of Jones’ squadron, fired at the ‘Bonhomme Richard,’ holing her so badly that she later sank. Over half of the crews of the two ships, including Jones himself, were either killed or wounded and many men were horribly burned. After the Bonhomme Richard began taking on water and fires broke out on board, the British commander asked Jones if he had struck his flag. Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight!” In the end, it was the British commander who surrendered. Jones had to transfer his crew to the ‘Serapis’ and together with her sister ship the ‘Pallas’ which had captured the ‘Scarborough’ he sailed to the Texel in Holland with over 500 prisoners.

Standing just 5 foot 5 inches tall, Jones is remembered for his indomitable will, his unwillingness to consider surrender when the slightest hope of victory still burned. Throughout his naval career Jones promoted professional standards and training. Sailors of the United States Navy can do no better than to emulate the spirit behind John Paul Jones’s stirring declaration: “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

The Bean Field

2Sa 23:8-12 ¶ These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.

 9 And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away:

 10 He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.

 11 And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.

 12 But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.

After all of the Israelites had fled into the hillside, Shammah, literally stood his ground.

I can envision a man that would have at that very point raised high his sword and said the words, “I have not yet begun to fight…BRING IT!”

Defiance of the Enemy

Some of us, when the first defiance or opposition arises, we feel we are out of the Will of God. But we are in a Battle!

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6:12)

Opposition is going to happen, Offenses are going to happen, but as Jesus said, Woe unto them from whom offenses come! (Matt. 18:7)

In other words…Look out, we have not yet begun to fight!

Determination Not Enough

What I’m saying today goes beyond mere determination and self-will, I’m talking about involving the Divine Power of God in your situation. As powerful a victory as Shammah would have had, the scripture stated, “And the Lord wrought a great victory!”

If you feel like you’re on the losing side, maybe you are! We need to make sure we have God’s blessing and sanctioning in our battles.

Simply go to God and say, God, I need your intervention in my situation. I can’t face this battle alone.

When God’s divine hand shows up, you will without a doubt feel the emboldened power of the Holy Ghost come upon you and you will be able to say with confidence…I have not yet begun to fight.

Our Best Battles are NOT Behind Us

We need to lose the mindset that we have done all we can do.

In your heart of hearts can you honestly say you’ve done all you can do?

Can you say, like Paul, I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished my course?

If you’re still breathing, if you’re still struggling…then YOU HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT!

Generations to Come

Your best days and best battles are not behind you. You have an enemy that is not content to destroy just you but he wants to destroy generations of Apostolics to come!

We need moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas to once again pick up their spears, their bows and arrows, pick up their sword and shield and let the battle cry go forth…I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT!

Future generations are relying on us to stay on the field until the very last enemy falls.

See tomorrow’s posting for the rest of this message…