Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s selected passage is found in the first seventeen verses of the eighteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find it beginning and opening up with two distinct parables. As you read the words which are contained within this portion of the gospel of Luke you will find the first of the two parables Jesus spoke being centered around the concept of prayer—and not merely praying, but “always praying.” It’s absolutely essential and critical that we recognize and understand what is being spoken within this first portion of the eighteenth chapter, for the beloved physician Luke not only writes concerning Jesus speaking a parable instructing and teaching men that they should pray, but also that they should always pray. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found in this section of scripture you will find Luke taking this a step further and not only describing Jesus speaking a parable that men ought always to pray, but also that men might ought to always pray and not faint. I am convinced that it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand these two concepts, for the two are intrinsically linked and connected to each other. Furthermore, I would dare say that the reality and concept of not fainting is directly linked and connected to that of praying and praying always, for in this particular generation, as well as throughout all previous generations, men and women have been faced with the tremendous need for endurance, fortitude and stamina. If you read the words which Jesus the Christ spoke concerning the Last Days you will find Him declaring that those who endure unto the end—it is those individuals who will and shall be saved. It is absolutely necessary and vital that we understand the words which Jesus spoke concerning endurance, for if there is one thing that is so desperately needed in this generation and in the days and times in which we are living, it is endurance and fortitude within the hearts and souls of men and women who have made the decision to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that living in the days and times in which we are living are incredibly difficult and challenging times, and if we aren’t careful and if we don’t take heed to and guard our hearts, we can find ourselves growing weary within our hearts and minds. I am completely and utterly convinced that there are men and women among us within the house of God and within the body of Christ who might very well be at their tipping point—perhaps even their snapping and breaking point—simply because they are tired, weary, and worn out. There are men and women among us within this generation who are facing burn out and fatigue because of the tremendous pressure they are finding themselves under within and throughout the course of their daily lives.
As you read the words which are written and recorded within this passage of Scripture you will find the beloved physician describing a time when Jesus spake a parable unto those before Him—one that was designed to speak of and to a specific end. Beginning with the first verse of this chapter within the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find the physician describing Jesus speaking a parable unto a specific end—namely, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. While it is not specifically mentioned within this passage of Scripture, I would dare say that directly and closely related to this concept of fainting not is the concept of not losing heart. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is a tremendous need within our lives within this generation to faint not, and to not lose heart—despite the many arrows and terrors that may fly by us throughout the day, nor even the many adversaries, struggles, trials, pressures, and battles we face on a consistent and day to day basis. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the ninety-first chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms which perfectly and accurately describes the tremendous struggles the saints of God face on a daily basis—and not only the tremendous struggles the saints of God face, but also the tremendous confidence the saints have in the person, the presence and power of the living God. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the ninety-first chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms you will find the following words written by a psalmist whose name we are completely and totally unaware of. The words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the tremendous struggles, trials, and pressure we face on a consistent and daily basis. There would be many who would try to ignore the struggles and battles they face on a daily basis, however, if there is one thing the Old Testament book of Psalms demonstrates and reveals, it’s that there is a tremendous power in vulnerability concerning the struggles, the trails, the battles, and the various distresses we face on a daily basis. Consider if you will the words which are found in the ninety-first chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: My God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler, thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flight by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand may fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come night thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come night thy dwelling. For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to. Keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer Him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation” (Psalm 91:1-16).
What I find so absolutely incredible and remarkable about the words which are contained within this passage is that not once do they describe a life absent “terrors by night,” nor “arrows that fly by day.” If you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find the psalmist emphatically and without hesitation and without reservation describing the tremendous reality that there will in fact be terrors that will come by night ,and there will in fact come arrows which fly by day, and even pestilence which walk in darkness, and destruction that wastes at noon day. What’s more, is the psalmist goes on to describe the reality that although a thousand shall fall at our side, and ten thousand at our right hand, it will not come nigh unto us. Furthermore, the psalmist goes on to describe how only with our eyes shall we behold and see the reward of the wicked. Taking this a step further, the psalmist goes on to declare that because that one has made the Lord, which is their refuge, even the most High, their habitation, there shall no evil befall them, nor shall any plague come near their dwelling. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the tremendous confidence that is found within this passage of Scripture, for the psalmist is within this passage and with these words expressing a wonderful sense of confidence and endurance found within the heart of that saint and that person of God who truly, fully and completely trusts in Him, and who makes the Lord their refuge and habitation. The psalmist was not naïve to the terrors which come by night, nor the arrows which fly by day, and the psalmist openly, candidly and honestly admitted the presence of these realities within their daily life. One thing you will not find within this passage of Scripture is the psalmist ignoring the pressures, the trails, the struggles, nor even the weapons and advances of the enemy against them within their life. The psalmist was incredibly candid, open, honest and vulnerable concerning the terrors by night, the arrows by day, the pestilence in darkness, and the destruction at noon day. The psalmist was incredibly open about the constant pressure they were under by that which was present all around and before them within and throughout the course of their lives. The psalmist was not ignorant, nor did they try and ignore the very real reality that there were in fact struggles, pressures, and dangers before and all around them, and yet how even in the midst of all the dangers and pressures all around them, they would not be afraid, nor would they lose heart within themselves because the Lord was their refuge and their shelter. What’s more, is the psalmist opens this particular psalm with an emphatic declaration and statement how one can walk in this reality of having absolutely no fear despite the dangers and pressures which are present before and all around them—namely, that those who dwell in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. It is those individuals who will say of the Lord that He is their refuge and their fortress, and their God in whom they will trust.
Building upon this reality and concept of confidence and endurance which is so desperately needed within the hearts and lives of men and women within this generation, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which David the king of Israel and beloved poet and psalmist wrote in the day when the Lord delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and even out of the hand of Saul who was perhaps his greatest adversary and enemy. If you read the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms, as well as the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Samuel, you will find a wonderful and powerful testimony proceeding from the heart of David before and unto his God who was His refuge, His strength, His deliverer, and the lover of his soul. Within this particular psalm which was written by David you will find this man who had spent a lifetime engaged in constant warfare and constant battle writing and declaring unto the living God how the Lord had come His rescue and had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will David experiencing a transition within his life when although it was the Lord who ultimately delivered him out of and from the hands of his enemies and adversaries, it was also the Lord who trained, prepared and armed him to be able to actively engage his enemies, his adversaries and foes in battle. This particular psalm begins and opens up with David offering up thanksgiving and praise unto the living God for rising to his defense and for coming to his rescue in order that he might deliver him from his enemies, however, there would be a marked and noticeable transition that takes place within the passage where David no longer speaks of the Lord fighting for him and the Lord fighting his battles, to the Lord teaching and training him how to fight the battles himself. Eventually the Lord taught and trained David—not only how to fight the battles he faced, but also how to fight to win. Oh, there is a vast difference between fighting the battles we face within our lives, and fighting the battles to win. There are countless men and women among us in this generation who might be fighting the battles before and around them on a consistent and daily basis, and there might by men and women who are “fighting the good fight of faith,” yet they are not and have not been fighting to win. Oh it is true they might in fact be fighting, however, they are not fighting to win—only to survive. Oh, how many of us within this present day and age are fighting—not to win, and perhaps not even to overcome, but merely to survive another day? If I am being honest with you who are reading the words which are found within this writing, I would dare say and declare unto you that the Lord never taught and trained you how to fight just so you could survive and make it through another day. If you are fighting the battles you are facing, and if you are fighting against your adversaries, enemies and foes, and you are fighting just to keep your head above water, and you are fighting just to survive, there is something that needs to shift within your heart and life. With that being said, I invite you to consider the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“To the chief musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said, I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; My God, my strength in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower, I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. The sorrows of death compasses me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compasses me about: the snares of death prevented me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry came before Him, even into His ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his norriles, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave His voice; hails stones and coals of fire. Yea, He sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place: He delivered me, because He delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he 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 statues from me. I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity. Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself upright; with the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure: and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks. For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a. Troop; and by my God have I. Leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the Lord? OR who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath Holden me up, and they gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I truth again till they were consumed. I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet. For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me. Thou hast also given men the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not. Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets. Thou hast delivered me from the striving of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me” (Psalm 18:1-43).
The words which we find in this particular passage are not only a tremendous testimony of how the Lord delivered David out of the hand of his enemies, and from the hand of Saul, but it is also a tremendous witness and testimony to the incredible power of perseverance and endurance. It would have been very easy for David to allow his heart to get overwhelmed within himself, and it would have been very easy for David to grow tired and weary from the battle, however, I am convinced that had David allowed himself to arrive at this point, he would not have seen the deliverance of the Lord, and he would not have been able to be trained by the Lord for battle, nor armed with strength by the Lord of hosts. It would be very easy to read this passage of Scripture and think of it solely in terms of the Lord doing all the work, and the Lord fighting all of David’s battles for him, however, that is not at all the truth that is found and contained within this passage. As you read this passage you will find that had David given up, and had David lost heart and allowed his soul to be overwhelmed within him, he would and could not have experienced the deliverance the Lord wanted to release and reveal in his life. It is true that there were times when David’s soul was downcast within him, and there were countless times when David was in fact fearful, or discouraged, or weary, or lonely, and the like, however, David never allowed himself to lose heart, and he always knew where to draw his strength from. Despite the fact that David felt overwhelmed by his enemies, foes and adversaries, he always knew where to draw strength from, and he always knew who and where to turn. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you find the testimony of a man who was delivered out of the hand of all his enemies, yes, but you will also find a testimony of one who despite at times feeling overwhelmed, helpless, fearful and afraid, continued to draw strength and endurance from the Lord. Please note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed, nor is there anything wrong with feeling fearful, afraid, tried, weary, weak and worn out. In fact, I would highly and strongly question you if you never felt at least one or more of these emotions and sensations at a given time within your life. The words which we find in the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms is in fact a testimony of the Lord’s ability to deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, but it is also a testimony of the Lord teaching and training us how to fight and engage those same enemies, foes and adversaries in battle, to to overcome them. The words found in this passage are a wonderful and powerful testimony of a heart and soul that although at times it felt overwhelmed, fearful, weary, and weak, it never gave up, and it never fainted. The words which we find within this passage of Scripture are words of the Lord being able to deliver us out of the hand of all our enemies, and it is one about the Lord teaching and training us how to engage our enemies and adversaries in battle, but it is about something so much more—namely, the tremendous power in the heart that will not faint, and a soul that regardless of how many times it is overwhelmed, it does not give up and does not remain downcast within us.
Taking this a step further and building upon this even more, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the Lord spoke unto Joshua after the death of Moses. Joshua you will recall was Moses’ aid, and the one who was hand selected and hand chosen by the Lord to not only be Moses’ successor, but also to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. What’s more, is that Joshua wasn’t merely chosen to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land, but he was also the one who was chosen and selected by the Lord to lead the children in battle against the peoples who dwelt within the land of Canaan. It wasn’t merely enough for Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, for Joshua was also called by God to lead the children of Israel in battle against their enemies and adversaries within the Promised Land—within the land that was sworn on oath to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In all reality, there are tremendous similarities between Joshua and David, for while David engaged the enemies of Israel and of God to establish and expand the kingdom of Israel, it was Joshua who was chosen by the Lord to lead the children of Israel into the land of Israel to engage and drive out their enemies to establish the land as theirs. It was Joshua who was chosen by the Lord to lead the children of Israel in battle against their enemies in order that the land might be established as a possession and inheritance, however, it was David who was chosen by the Lord to lead the army of Israel in battle against the enemies outside the land of Israel to establish the land of Israel as a kingdom within the earth. There is actually something quite remarkable and astounding within this reality, for according to Scripture, kingdom never came before inheritance and possession. If you read and study the history of the Jewish people in the land of Canaan you will discover that before David ever led the army of Israel in battle against the enemies and adversaries round about Israel to establish the land as a kingdom within the earth, Joshua led the children of Israel against the enemies and adversaries within the land to establish it as a possession and inheritance. What’s more, is that before we can ever fight the battle without and outside we must first engage the battle that is present within. The fundamental difference between David and Joshua is whereas Joshua entered into the land to engage the enemies within, David departed from the land and engaged the enemies outside and surrounding the land. Before we can ever engage the enemies round about us in order to enter into the reality of the kingdom, we must first engage the enemies within us in order to establish and experience the reality of inheritance and possession. There are too many men and women who want to immediately enter into the reality of kingdom living and yet have not and are not willing to first walk in the reality of inheritance and possession. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we first engage the enemies and adversaries within and establish the reality of possession and inheritance before we ever attempt to engage the enemies without in order to establish the reality of kingdom. With that being said, consider if you will the words which were spoken unto Joshua and are recorded at the beginning of this Old Testament book:
“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittittes, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I share unto their fathers to give them.Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou may East observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt mediate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:1-9).
Transitioning back to the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find it beginning and opening with Jesus speaking a parable unto those before Him to the end that men ought always to pray and to not faint. It is absolutely critical and vital that we understand the concept of praying and praying always, for there is not a doubt in my mind that the only way to not faint within our hearts, nor even within our souls is to commit ourselves to a lifestyle of daily and habitual prayer. When writing unto the saints in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul wrote that we should “pray without ceasing, and that in every thing we are to give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When writing unto the saints of Colossae, the apostle Paul wrote the following words: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds” (Colossians 4:2-3). When writing unto the saints found in Ephesus, the apostle Paul would write the following words: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). When writing to the saints which were at Rome, the apostle Paul would go on to write the following words: “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing I stand in prayer” (Romans 12:11-12) Please don’t miss the words which the apostle Paul wrote in these particular passages—particularly and especially when writing unto the Roman saints, for the apostle Paul directly connected rejoicing in hope, being patient in tribulation, and continuing instant in prayer together, and how they are intrinsically linked to each other. The parable which Jesus spoke unto those who were before Him was intended to teach them to pray always and to continue praying, and how prayer and a heart and soul that does not and do not faint are inseparable from each other. In all reality, I am convinced that the only way for a man like David to continue in the struggles, the battles, the trials, and the various situations he found himself in was to remain constant in prayer, and to not lose heart and give up in prayer. Show me that man or woman who has given up in their heart and their mind and I will show that many or woman who has first given up in prayer. If you are one who right now finds yourself in a place of needing endurance and confidence within your heart and within your soul, I would present you with the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for the only way to live in a place of a heart and soul that faints not is to remain in a place of continual and habitual prayer—prayer that isn’t merely a last resort, but prayer that is an active lifestyle. If you are one who truly desires to possess your soul, and one who desires to be patient in tribulation, and one who desires to have a heart and soul that does not faint, you have great need to be one who prays much, and one who commits and devotes their entire life to praying without ceasing, and to always lift up holy hands in the presence of a holy and living God who delights in the prayers of His saints and in the prayers of His children.