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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Climbing Faith Mountain

Matthew 5: 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (NIV)

You are on Faith Mountain and you are climbing. You have no choice about being on this mountain. You have no choice about whether to climb, for climbing is a "requirement" which has been given to you. The world tells you that you will never get to the top, no matter how hard you try. The world tells you that you will never get to the top, no matter how long you work at it. No one will ever see you climb. However, people will see you fall. You will experience pain and suffering whether you deserve it or not. You will lose more ground than you gain. Some days, or weeks, or months, or even years can be times of loss. On Faith Mountain, there is no observable victory. On Faith Mountain, there is no way of getting to the top and proclaiming victory. Here, on Faith Mountain, no one will understand you. You will be totally alone and lonely. The reason you climb is not because the mountain is there, but because you have to climb in order to survive. No one goes to Faith Mountain and climbs voluntarily. No one goes to Faith Mountain and climbs of their own free will. You are put on Faith Mountain. You might be carried there in an ambulance. You might you crash land there. Perhaps you wake one morning and find yourself there with no choice in the matter. Perhaps you find yourself there because of what happens to someone else. Some people end up on Faith Mountain because of mistakes they have made. Other people end up on Faith Mountain because of mistakes others have made. Other people end up on Faith Mountain because of what other people have done to them. These people are true victims. Other people have made decisions and were put on the mountain because they did the right thing. Some people end up on this mountain because they never cared about anyone. When they landed on Faith Mountain and really needed someone no one cared about them.

You are forced to go there…you are forced to go to Faith Mountain and forced to climb. In addition, sometimes you never get to leave. Sometimes you die there.

When people find you are on the mountain they sometimes try to avoid you because they are afraid that being on Faith Mountain might be "catching."

Faith Mountain is a dark place. However, in our Christian faith, there is more going on around us than what we see with our physical eyes. This is why we need to take a second look at Faith Mountain and what goes on there. We need to take a second look at what is supposed to be the truth and perhaps we will find there is more truth about life on Faith Mountain than we imagined. Let us now look at what the world tells us about Faith Mountain and what Our Father In Heaven tells us.

You will never get to the top, no matter how hard you try.
In our faith, and in many lives, there is no earthly winning. So, do you climb the mountain or just sit on it? Knowing in advance there is no way of conquering the mountain…knowing in advance there is no pay-off, no benefit, and instead of a benefit there is only a pay-out…do you still keep at it? Before you make a decision about whether to press on, remember your journey on earth is about learning, growing, and the education of your soul so you may glorify Christ. Learn now how to look deep into the mind of Christ because what the world might value or think is important, is of no consequence to God. The material things so highly valued on Faith Mountain make no difference to God. The earthly treasures you store up for yourself on Faith Mountain will eventually rot, decay, or be destroyed. In our faith, and in many lives, there is no earthly winning. So, do you climb the mountain or just sit on it? Knowing in advance there is no way of conquering the mountain…knowing in advance there is no pay-off, no benefit, and instead of a benefit there is only a pay-out…do you still keep at it? Before you make a decision about whether to press on, remember your journey on earth is about learning, growing, and the education of your soul so you may glorify Christ. Learn now how to look deep into the mind of Christ because what the world might value or think is important, is of no consequence to God. The material things so highly valued on Faith Mountain make no difference to God. The earthly treasures you store up for yourself on Faith Mountain will eventually rot, decay, or be destroyed.

Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)

If you don’t have any treasure stored up in heaven and you are put on Faith Mountain, always against your will, what happens to you? When you are on the mountain against your will, undergoing trials and tribulations against your will, whose way will you go? Won’t you be angry, resentful, and bitter? When you are angry, resentful, and bitter because of what you think God did to you, which way will you go…toward God or away from God? When you tumble and fall backward on the mountain won’t you be angry with God because you blame God or because you think God did not protect you? Will you experience godly sorrow or worldly sorrow when you stumble and fall backwards on the mountain?

2 Corinthians 7:9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (NIV)

Luke 12:22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! (NIV)

You will never get to the top, no matter how hard you try or no matter how long you work at it.
Can you imaging working your whole life at something and not seeing any results? Can you imagine working day in, day out, and not seeing any personal benefit? Aren’t most of us who are Christians now in the faith because we want eternal life? Aren’t we here because we want to live forever in heaven with God and the angels? Of course, for most of us, the answer is "Yes"; we are in the faith because we want a pay-off. However, we should only be in the faith because Christ died for us…period…regardless of whether we get a pay-off. We should all be in the faith, whether we get eternal life out of it or not. Can you imaging working your whole life at something and not seeing any results? Can you imagine working day in, day out, and not seeing any personal benefit? Aren’t most of us who are Christians now in the faith because we want eternal life? Aren’t we here because we want to live forever in heaven with God and the angels? Of course, for most of us, the answer is "Yes"; we are in the faith because we want a pay-off. However, we should only be in the faith because Christ died for us…period…regardless of whether we get a pay-off. We should all be in the faith, whether we get eternal life out of it or not.

On Faith Mountain, no one will ever see you climb.
On Faith Mountain, no one will ever see you climb.
People do not want to see you on Faith Mountain. Therefore, your struggles are lonely. Even the people around you do not know about all you go through. However, if you are on the mountain, and you are suffering, when you put God before the suffering, you are not alone.

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (NIV)

On Faith Mountain, people will see you fall.
On Faith Mountain, people will see you fall.
It is bad enough that you have to fall. What is worse is the humiliation that goes with it. On Faith Mountain, others will see you fall. They will gasp. They will grope for words. Some people will just shake their head in pity and say to you things that tell you to just give up. However, even the awful and painful humiliation we experience in life can make us humble before our God. Even the awful and painful humiliation we experience in life can open doors to the Love and Light of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (NIV)

On Faith Mountain, you will experience pain and suffering whether you deserve it or not.
On Faith Mountain, you will experience pain and suffering whether you deserve it or not.
No one believes they deserve to suffer. While you are on Faith Mountain, you will get more suffering than you think you deserve. Moreover, you may come to think God is absent in your suffering, or that God has turned his back on you and He no longer cares about you.

Psalms 10:17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry…(NIV)

Psalms 10:17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry…(NIV)

On Faith Mountain, you may lose more ground than you gain. You may not only lose ground you may lose things, and people, and a lot of your faith. What happens to your vision of the future when you are losing things, people, and even your faith?

Answer: Without God, there is no future.

Psalm 71:20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. (NIV)

This verse is about your future no matter where you are. This verse is full of hope. This verse is full of a vision.

On Faith Mountain, some days, weeks, or months will be times of loss.
Loss times may not just be moments. You might have to go through months, perhaps years of loss with no end in sight. It is when you are at a place in your life where there is no end in sight, where you see no end to your troubles…it is in this place that you can see over the horizon and see Jesus waiting for us. This vision of Jesus beyond the horizon gives us hope, perseverance, and a reason for finishing our journey. This vision of Christ over the horizon is the reason each of us keeps climbing. Loss times may not just be moments. You might have to go through months, perhaps years of loss with no end in sight. It is when you are at a place in your life where there is no end in sight, where you see no end to your troubles…it is in this place that you can see over the horizon and see Jesus waiting for us. This vision of Jesus beyond the horizon gives us hope, perseverance, and a reason for finishing our journey. This vision of Christ over the horizon is the reason each of us keeps climbing.

Psalms 126:4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him (NIV)

On faith mountain there is no observable victory.
There are no high fives, no celebrations, no victory banquets, no ticker tape parades, there isn’t anything even resembling a visible victory. There are no high fives, no celebrations, no victory banquets, no ticker tape parades, there isn’t anything even resembling a visible victory.

1 Corinithians 15: 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

So what is the victory? The victory is eternal life where there is no more mountain climbing. The victory is bringing home a harvest so abundant you cannot carry all the grain. The victory is living in paradise forever and ever.

On Faith Mountain, no one will understand you.
On Faith Mountain, no one will understand you.
Some people will try to understand what you are going through. A few people might understand but they will understand only if they have been to the mountain themselves. Even if others do not understand, God does understand what you go through on Faith Mountain. God does not just sick back and watch you struggle. God is a power source. God is a rock upon which you can rest. Of course, there is a catch. With God, He requires that you live a devout life. Without living devout lives for God, the upward slope of Faith Mountain is slippery. Falling down and sliding backwards are the rule, not the exception.

Psalms 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (NIV)

On Faith Mountain, you will be totally alone and lonely.
People may come to visit. People may come to call. However, it is just you, by yourself, alone in this place. Most people on the mountain are going to ask, "Why?" "Why me?" "Why this?" "Why now?" What is the answer? The answer, at least the answer many people do not want to hear is…so you can glow. You may be where you are on Faith Mountain so you can be a Light, a veritable flashlight, a candle, or a beam of Light against the darkness that consumes those around you on the mountain. Even though you did not chose to be put on this mountain you still have choices. One of your choices is to be a light to the other people around you who are also on the mountain. People may come to visit. People may come to call. However, it is just you, by yourself, alone in this place. Most people on the mountain are going to ask, "Why?" "Why me?" "Why this?" "Why now?" What is the answer? The answer, at least the answer many people do not want to hear is…so you can glow. You may be where you are on Faith Mountain so you can be a Light, a veritable flashlight, a candle, or a beam of Light against the darkness that consumes those around you on the mountain. Even though you did not chose to be put on this mountain you still have choices. One of your choices is to be a light to the other people around you who are also on the mountain.

On Faith Mountain, the only reason you climb is because you have to.
On Faith Mountain, the only reason you climb is because you have to.
You will not want to climb. You most certainly will want to give up. However, God will not be mocked by the darkness. If the sheep will listen to Christ the Shepherd, then God will act. God may never do what you want while you are climbing ever upward and falling down in the process. However, God will act, if not physically, then spiritually. God will act, if not now, then later. God may not act in our visible world, but He most definitely acts in our invisible world.

This is what God will do against the dark forces on the mountain when His sheep are devastated by the darkness. This is what we would call an "attitude."

Psalms 18:7 The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. 8 Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. 9 He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. 10 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him-- the dark rain clouds of the sky. 12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. 13 The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. 14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them. 15 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy… (NIV)

Where is the high tech weaponry here? One small bolt of lightning will fry forever a computer circuit.

On Faith Mountain, no one goes voluntarily. No one goes of his or her own free will. You are put on the mountain against your will. Sometimes you are carried there in an ambulance. Or you crash land there. You are forced to go there. And sometimes you never get to leave. Sometimes you die there…

When you get to Faith Mountain, you have fewer choices. You can choose to live as long as you can while you can or you can choose to die. You may want to die. Instead of death, you can choose to draw out of what life you have as much as you can. You can refuse to knuckle under. You can, by choice, choose to keep going until God either calls you home or rescues you, yet knowing that in this life there may be no earthly rescue. You can choose to pray but you may not feel like praying. Most of the time you may only say groan prayers. However, God hears you even all you can do is groan.

Remember the mountain is a dark place.
Not a lot of light shines there.

Luke 11:33 "No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you." (NIV)

If no human being let the Light and Love of God shine forth from within them, the world would be a dark place. Moreover, of all the places in the world that need only the Light you can bring, that place is Faith Mountain. The whole reason for your life may be to lighten up the lives of the others around you at this time and in this place on Faith Mountain.

When people find you are on the mountain they may try to avoid you. People do not want to come to see you when you are on the mountain because they are afraid of it might be "catching." However, you are to shine out in this darkness.

Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (NIV)

Now that you know about Faith Mountain, why is it, do you suppose this place is called "Faith Mountain?" How is it people are able to live, and survive, and in some cases even prosper in this place?

 

 

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018