Monday, October 05, 2009

I meet people everywhere I go who are in a battle. They face every imaginable kind of struggle. Some face a mountain of debt that they don’t know how to destroy. Others have a physical battle with sickness that not only robs them of their health but also their finances and their spiritual stamina. Some are facing the battle of living with an aging body. Others are trying to raise a family for God. It’s not easy, whatever mountain you are facing today.
When I read in Revelations of the different churches and how John received a message for each of the seven churches, I always notice the phrase, ‘He who overcomes...” Each is given a special reward for being an ‘overcomer.’ One gets to eat from the tree of life, while another gets hidden manna, and still another gets power over the nations. One gets a white robe, while another gets to sit with Christ on His throne. There is obviously rewards to those who strive to overcome the difficulties in life and the attacks of the enemy. The question is, how do we accomplish it? Where do we begin?
I like to think of life as a progression, the kind of role that a mountain climber must face in order to reach the top of the mountain. He may begin life as a baby, not even thinking he will ever climb that far distant mountain, yet, in time, it will happen. As we mature, we begin to notice those mountains in our life and as we approach them, we realize that if we are to overcome them we must make some necessary preparations. A climber will gather his climbing gear together, tools necessary for the arduous climb. The believer has tools too. There is the Word of God, your rope, lifeline and guide map. There are fellow climbers who have climbed before us, that “cloud of witnesses” who will cheer us onward and upward. Then there are times of preparation for our physical ascent. We must workout, exercise those weak muscles and prepare for a long tiring trip. In your journey through ministry and life, we need to establish some healthy habits to make the journey a success.

1. Prayer
Nothing happens if we don’t pray. Psalm 127:1 tells us “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” When you face a mountain, you need to pray. There is no other means of communication with God that will guide you safely to the top but prayer. Without talking to God, there is nothing of lasting value that will ever happen. Thinking and working can never replace prayer. Prayer is our battle mode! It continually reminds us that God is in control, not us. He is the one who is guiding and directing each of our steps up the steep grade. It is in the place of prayer that we get our guidance, receive divine encouragement, and keep our focus. In Ephesians, we read about the armor for the believer, but it is the activity of prayer that wins the battle. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing...and that means prayer should be a constant activity—a way of life. Never, never stop praying!

2. Vision
Where are you going? If you see the mountain as a problem, rather than as an opportunity, you will find yourself bogged down. God allows difficulties in our life to make us stronger and to teach us lessons we can teach to others along the way. Is your vision only of yourself and your problem, or do you see it as a way to help others grow too? Sharing your vision of how to conquer your mountain will inspire faith in others to climb beside you. Get your mountain climbing goggles on! Pull out your binoculars so you can see the goal ahead. Focus on where you are going, not on where you have been. If life seems out of focus for you, let the ‘Doctor’ (Jesus) refocus your sight so that you see as He sees. If your eyes are on the ‘stuff’ of this world around you...look up and see Jesus!

3. Atmosphere
Some live in a fog bank, and can’t see the mountain ahead. They are satisfied with lowland living. Their attitude is often one of criticism and complaining, yet rarely doing anything to lift their vision above the fog around them. Our attitude is reflected in everything we do. Let the wind of the Holy Spirit blow away the fog in your life and lift your spirit so you can see clearly. An atmosphere that glows with the joy of the Lord, builds faith in your heart and in the lives of others around you. Your personal loving warmth will attract others to you who can help you on your climb. Put a smile on your face and give the glory to God and watch how the fog clears.

How do you know where you are going if you don’t know the goal? Heaven is my ultimate goal...and Jesus! But there are other lesser goals along the way. Sometimes when we are weak, we need to choose short range goals we can handle. Other times we can see a lot further down the road, and can see the mountain peak ahead of us and determine to make it all the way to the top. Making a goal gives you something to shoot for. As you work to achieve a goal, you will begin to see progress that you can measure and it will encourage you to keep going. Some people like to write their goal down so they can look back at it later and see the progress and achievements they have made. When you reach your goal, whether it is just through the valley or just to the foot of the mountain, or all the way to the top, give God the glory for helping you all along the way. God dwells in our praises. When something special happens along the way, celebrate it! We keep a miracle file in which we put little markers that testify of what God has done. When our faith is down, we take a look in the file and our faith is lifted to take one more step. Don’t hide the miracles. Tell someone what God is doing!

5. Praise
When is the last time you praised the Lord out loud? Praise to the Lord should naturally fall from your lips. The world thinks nothing of swearing—-believers should think nothing of praising! There is great power in praising. When we daily live a life that is continually praising God, we find that there is a supernatural energy to forge on ahead through whatever comes our way. Praise is the power behind our faith. God loves to hear us praise Him. We were created for that very purpose. God’s power is always readily available to the believer, but when the believer praises God, it is a step of faith the brings the power of God into the midst of our problems. How often do we find ourselves grumbling when we should be praising? Just as your children are encouraged when you praise them as they accomplish a task, so God is encouraged when we deliberately take the time and forethought to praise Him—even before the answer comes. Don’t praise just because you get an answer….praise because you love Him!
D.L. Moody once said: “We don’t thank and praise God half enough! That is one reason why so many of our churches are so dull and gloomy. When churches get into a backslidden state, they hire singers to stand away up in some organ loft and praise God for them. How can we expect God to give us further blessings if we don’t thank Him for what He has given us?? There ought to be more of thanksgiving in our prayers, and there ought to be more of thanksgiving from the heart in our singing. One of the best ways to wake a church up and start a revival is to hold a praise meeting.” Jesus spent time climbing to His mountains….when he faced Satan in the wilderness...when he went up into the mountains alone to pray, on the Mount of Olives as He prayed in agony, and when he climbed that lonely road to Golgotha. If Jesus climbed mountains, we can expect a few as well. There is nothing like a mountain to give us a mountain-peak experience! All of life is not at the top of the mountain. Most of it is climbing one step at a time, keeping our eyes on the Master.
Like the apostle Paul, though we are not perfect, we need to run for the prize...keep our eyes on the goal, remembering that eternity is our home, not this world.
12I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. 13My friends, I don't feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. 14I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. 15All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you. 16But we must keep going in the direction that we are now headed. …..we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ 21has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body. (Philippians 3:12-16,20-21CEV) So be encourage today as you climb your mountain. You may not have reached your goal yet, but He is with you all along the way. Be an overcomer and climb that mountain! J. Johnson

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