O Come All Ye Faithful!

The Christmas season is a great time to reflect upon the faithfulness of God. After all, the prophecy of old of a coming Messiah was fulfilled. “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive its king.” Sadly, the king, who came for His own (the nation of Israel) was not received by them (John 1:11).

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

Without faith, it’s impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).

                The Bible records the unfolding eternal purpose of God. Throughout the ages, God has used various modes of communicating as well as different principles of administration (unique to each period in time) to accomplish His purposes (Heb. 1:1-2). During history, there have been men and women (in the times they lived in) that displayed great faith. These were not sinless or perfect people, but they proved themselves faithful because after hearing the word of God, they believed what He said and acted upon it (Many times standing alone against what was ‘seen’ and popular). Some of them, dubbed the ’Heroes of Faith’, are listed in Hebrews chapter eleven. From this list are those that have a connection to the lineage of Christ. Their testimonies reveal the faithfulness of God (Deut. 7:9, Heb. 10:23, Lam. 3:23, Ps. 36:5, 89:8). We can be inspired by them to be faithful in our own time as we, too, look to the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2).

                The key to the prophetic teaching of the Scriptures (either prophecies concerning Christ Himself, heaven and earth, man, Israel or the Gentile nations) begins at Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity (opposition)”. Even though the first man and woman (Adam and Eve) were not faithful (as they disobeyed God’s word), we see the hint of God’s eternal plan in the Prophecy of the Coming Seed of the Woman — but it would not come without opposition from Satan (Gen. 2:16-17, 3). The origin of evil is indeed a puzzling enigma to us. The animus between the two seeds is a subject introduced by God and a vital component in how God is working out His eternal purpose. The presence of this opposition is the key to understanding the parables of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, and a reason for the rejection of Christ at His first coming—” An enemy has done this” (Matt. 13:28).

                We can start to trace the Seed of the woman shortly after Adam and Eve’s eviction from the garden as the Bible records in Genesis 4:1-2 that Eve conceived two sons, Cain and Abel. It was Abel (the first of the faithful listed, Heb. 11:4) who the Seed of the woman would continue through and so Satan’s opposition to him. Disobedience to God’s Word gives opportunity for the devil. “…Cain was of that wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (Gen. 4:8, 1 John 3:12, Jude 1:11).

A truth that can build our faith is as much as God has allowed mankind and the angels freewill (to choose God’s will or their own), He ultimately rules as He steps in when it affects His eternal plan (Job 5:12, Ps. 33:10-11, Prov. 16:9, 19:21, Eph. 1:11). And so, He substituted another Seed for the Messiah to come through, Seth (Gen. 4:25).

                We next see Satan behind the corruption of almost all flesh upon the earth when the ungodly intermarried with the godly line of Seth and filled the world with violence (Gen. 6). There was only one man, Noah, who did what was right in the sight of the Lord and whose lineage had not been corrupted with ungodly seed (Gen. 6:9-10, 22, Heb. 11:7). The whole purpose of the flood was to preserve mankind through Noah’s family and thus the Seed of the woman.

We next jump to Abram (later named Abraham, Gen. 17:5) who came from the line of Noah’s son Shem (Gen. 11:10-26). God chose Abraham to continue to carry out His plan by becoming the father of a new nation (Israel) as well as heir to a land through an unconditional covenant (Gen. 12:2-3, 17:4-7, 15:18).  Abraham believed what God had said and left his family and traveled away from his hometown (Gen. 12:1-4). He was content to ‘dwell in tents’ because he believed what he heard about the ‘heavenly city’ from God (Heb. 11:8-10, 13-16, 12:22, Rev. 21:10-27). It was through Abraham’s seed (and this new nation) that the promised Seed of the woman would come (Gal. 3:16). This new nation would be separated from the other nations (Ex. 33:16, Deut. 14:2). The Lord Jesus Christ was not only the promised Seed of the woman (which indicated that He was to become a man) but He was also to be the seed (descended from) Abraham (Matt. 1:1, Gal. 3:16). As we trace the descendants of Abraham, we discover the lineage of Christ to continue through Isaac, the child of “promise” (Gen. 26:3-4, Rom. 9:9). By faith, Abraham also when tried by God offered up Isaac, his only begotten son, trusting in God (Gen. 22:1-14, Heb. 11:17-19). Through Isaac comes Jacob (Gen. 25:23-26, 28:13-15). Isaac exhibited faith by blessing Jacob and Esau over things to come (Gen. 27:28-29, Heb. 11:20). In Genesis 32:28 we read that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and blessed him. Jacob in turn exhibited faith by blessing each of the sons of Joseph as he died worshipping the Lord (Gen. 48:14-15, Heb. 11:21). Through Jacob (Israel) came twelve sons from which sprang the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:1-28).  It’s further revealed that the Seed of the woman would come from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:8-10, Matt. 1, Rev. 5:5). Christ is also referred to as the Son of David as God promised David back in 2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16 that He’d set up and establish a kingdom one day where David’s seed (Christ) would sit upon his throne and rule and reign forever (Isa. 11:1, Matt. 1:1, Acts 2:29-32, 13:33-37, Rev. 5:5, 22:16). 

 When it was time God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, and “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Gal. 3:16, 4:4, John 1:14).  It’s evident that many of the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled at Christ’s first coming as well as the events leading up and through His death, burial, and resurrection. It’s also apparent that some prophecies and promises have yet to be fulfilled. At Christ’s first advent the King was in Israel’s midst and ‘His own’, not only did not receive Him–they crucified Him (John 1:11, Acts 2:22-23, 36, 3:13-15). Had Israel repented at the call of John the Baptist, and of the Lord, the long-expected Kingdom would’ve been set up and the Old Testament prophecy of the ’last days’ fulfilled. God allowed Israel yet another opportunity to receive their Messiah (Acts 2:38-39, 3:19-26), but as a nation they again rejected Him (Acts 28:26-28). He then stopped the prophetic clock, (postponing the Kingdom for a time) as Israel became temporarily Lo-Ammi (not My People) (the fulfillment of Hosea 1:9, 3:1-4).

                God then unfolded a new dispensation, the dispensation of Grace, using the apostle Paul as His steward. Though it was in God’s mind before the foundation of the world, it was a ‘mystery(sacred secret) that had never been prophesied or revealed before (Eph. 1:4, 3:1-9, Col. 1:25-27). God’s new program introduced a new group (or company) of people composed of individual believing Gentiles and Jews that would form one Body (organism), called the church of the Mystery, or the One Body (where Christ is their Head) (Eph. 1:22-23, 4:15-16, 5:23, Col. 1:24, 2:18-19). Even though the creation of this new Body, was accomplished through the cross, it did not occur at the time of the cross as God had waited for it to be revealed by the apostle Paul until Israel’s postponement. Today most associate a *church with a building, but in the church of the One Body there are no denominations, creeds, rituals, etc. to keep in order to join or to become a member. Each individual must be saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). The moment one trusts in Christ, they’re added to this church and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise until the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13-14, 4:4). This new group has unique attributes that distinguish it from Israel’s calling as well as new privileges, blessings, and hope. Their status is ‘the perfect man’ (Eph. 4:13), (not ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s wife’, which belongs to Israel). The position of believers today is seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus where all their spiritual blessings lie. Their citizenship and hope are also found there where their Savior and Lord Jesus Christ will appear with them in glory (Eph. 2:4-5, Col. 3:1-4, Phil. 3:14, 20-21, 2 Tim. 1:9-14, Titus 2:13). *The word ‘church’ has different meanings in the Bible. In Hebrew, it’s ‘kahal’ and in Greek, it’s ‘ekklesia’ meaning an assembly, or a gathering of ‘called-out ones.

                It’s helpful to see that Prophecy is devoted to and hinges on three main themes: (1) The Advent of Christ, (2) The return of Israel to their land to become a kingdom of priests, (3) The Second Advent of Christ to (a) reign for 1,000 years, which will be the winding up of the “former heavens and earth” under the reign of sin and the usurpation of the devil, (b) The continuance of Christ’s reign through the new heavens and earth, and on throughout the Day of God until “the end” (goal) is reached (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Refer to the charts below. One of the diagrams show the Bible in five portions (the three that deal prophetically from above are the Old Testament, the Gospels, and Revelation). “The Acts” is a transitional period because it records the transition between two different programs of God that took place. However, the bulk of the book of Acts is on Israel’s rejection, their subsequent blinding, and how they were set aside. The following epistles written during this time are I and 2 Thessalonians, I and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, and Hebrews. “The Epistles” refer to Paul’s prison epistles (after Israel’s rejection) that dictate the program that we’re following today consisting of: Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, I and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Paul warned the believers in his later prison epistles of relying on philosophy, the ways of the world, and the traditions of men instead of holding fast to the Head. The enemy of our soul is not flesh and blood, but he’ll use flesh and blood to attack us and so the necessity of the shield of faith to thwart his fiery darts (Eph. 6:12, 16, 4:14, Col. 2:8, 18, 20-23, Matt. 15:6).

                God desires us to know His complete Word (all that’s written—not just portions of it) as well as the importance of keeping in mind that not every part of it is addressed to us or about us (Rom. 15:4). We, alone, are responsible for diligently reading and studying it for ourselves, in context, as it’s written, to whom it’s written, without editing it or adding any private interpretation (Rom. 10:17, Acts 17:17, 2 Tim. 3:15). See the Bible Study Helps below.

                In order to be a Faithful Servant that walks worthy of our calling today we need to exercise care with the duties and responsibilities that God has dictated to us regarding our position (Eph. 1:18, 4:1, Col. 1:10). Similar to any job, the employee who knows and performs their assigned duties well is the one that gets promoted and receives a raise in pay.  Contrarily, if an employee neglects his own duties and responsibilities (and instead cuts into another employee’s position or duties), he/she will most likely be demoted or terminated. Likewise, when we take or rob the prophecies, promises and plans that God has prepared for another person or people, we miss out on what God has planned and purposed for us and thus the rewards in it. The apostle Paul is an example of a faithful servant as he was diligent in the work that God had called him to do. He believed in what God said and displayed faith that it would be accomplished (2 Tim. 4:16-18). May we too be able to say as he did, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” and receive the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give us (and all that love His appearing) that day (2 Tim. 4:7-8).  

O Come all Ye Faithful—Joyful and Triumphant! 

Laura                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

GOD IS GREAT AND GOD IS GOOD. LET’S BE THANKFUL.

When I was growing up our family had a simple prayer that we took turns saying at each meal,

“God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen.”  

My four siblings and I were more interested in eating so we’d often say it as fast as we could, not giving much thought to what was being said. The truth is we need to be mindful of the Giver of all good things and be thankful for all He’s blessed us with. God has taken a bad rap by a false narrative in our fallen world. His goodness, greatness, and public image has been maligned. The worship He so rightly deserves has been wrongly transferred to the created (Rom. 1: 21). 

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8, 1 Pet. 2:3).

God is great.  His greatness is evident (Rom. 1:19-20, Ps. 111:2). He is omnipresent (all-present/everywhere) (Ps. 139:7-12, 46:1, Prov. 15:3). He is omnipotent (all-powerful/mighty) (Gen. 17:1, Ps. 91:1, Jer. 10:12, Rev. 1:8). He is omniscience (all-knowing) (Isa. 40:13-14, 28, Rom. 11:33-34, 1 Cor. 2:11). God is eternal and immortal (everlasting) (Isa. 9:6, Jer. 10:10, 1 Tim. 1:17, 6:16, Rom. 1:23). He is immutable (unchanging, Heb. 6:17-18, 13:8).

“For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4).

God is goodIt’s His essence. He is filled with compassion, grace, and longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth (Ex. 34:6, Ps. 86:15). God is incapable of lying (Titus 1:2, Heb. 6:18) and cannot be tempted with evil, nor tempt anyone with evil (James 1:13). He is true, righteous, and faithful to His word and promises (Heb. 10:23). James 1:17 says that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow.”  This means every good and perfect thing in your life is from the hand of God and so should be received with gratitude.

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).

God is grand. His grandest gift to mankind is eternal salvation through His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 Cor. 15:57, Col. 1:12-14, Tit. 1:2, 3:7).  One of the greatest attributes of God that mankind can be thankful for is His longsuffering (forbearance). He has allowed men and women free will to choose good (His ways) or evil (their own selfish ways and desires). God’s longsuffering is salvation as He’s not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance and the acknowledging of the truth (2 Pet. 3:9, 15, 2 Cor. 4:6, 2 Tim. 2:25). His mercy is so rich, and His love is so great (even while we were still sinners Christ died for us) (Rom. 5:8). Even when we were dead in our trespasses, God raised us up together with Christ Jesus to sit in heavenly places (Eph. 2:4-5). This is an undeserved gift that must be received from God through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). 

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).

Benefits of a Grateful Heart

“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving…” (Ps. 95:2).

When we focus our minds on the Giver and our blessings above, the things of the earth pale. As we receive His gifts with a grateful heart (lifting up our prayers to Him with thanksgiving) we receive a peace that passes our understanding and a protection for our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).  “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17).

 Laura

“…Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:15-21).

BATTLE OF THE WILLS: Keeping the Devil at Bay

                The Bible records the unfolding eternal purpose of God. It’s a conflict of the ages—the ultimate good versus evil, and a story of redemption. It’s also a record of the battle of wills—the will of God versus the will of the created.

THE FIRST RECORDED REBEL

Lucifer (the exalted cherub) had it all with his position of privilege, beauty, and wisdom. When his heart was lifted up due to his beauty and brightness, his wisdom became corrupted. He desired to rise above the boundary that God had set for him and be like the Most High God (Isa. 14:13-14, Ezek. 28:12). He said in his heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13-14). Following his own will instead of God’s led to his fall (Isa. 14:15, Ezek. 28:17-19) and ultimately to his demise (Heb. 2;14, 1 John 3:8). Mankind shortly after followed suit as they believed in Satan’s (fallen Lucifer, aka the serpent) lie that they could be as God (Gen. 3, Rev. 12:7). All who come after Adam, born of the woman, have the same free will to choose God’s ways or to trust in their own understanding (Prov. 3:5-7).

THE WAY OF CAIN

                After Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden, Eve bore two sons, the first Cain and the next was Abel. Abel trusted in God’s ways, but Cain trusted in his own (Gen. 4). Cain welcomed sin and its desire led to the first recorded murder (and an important indicator that pride (trusting in self) gives place to the devil). “Cain who was of the wicked one” murdered his brother because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous (1 John 3:12, Heb. 11:4). Cain’s name would become forever synonymous with the evil way (‘raising Cain’–meaning ‘raising hell’ or ‘raising the devil ‘). Many others would follow after ‘the way of Cain’ (Jude 1:11).

THE TOWER OF BABEL

                After the flood, God blessed Noah and his sons and told them to be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth (Gen. 9:1). Sadly, through the line of Noah’s son Ham, his descendent Nimrod led a rebellion in defiance of God. He encouraged all to unify in one place and build a city for themselves, and a tower whose top is in the heavens in order to make a name for themselves (desiring to be their own gods) (Gen. 11:4). God will not be mocked and whatever man sows, he will also reap (if not immediately, eventually) (Gal. 6:7). Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though they join forces, none will go unpunished (Prov. 16:5). Even though God has allowed mankind free will, He is ultimately in control and even uses Satan and evil for His larger purposes (Prov. 16:4). When man’s will (plans) interfere with God’s ultimate will He steps in (Prov. 16:9), and He did so in this instance when He scattered the people abroad over the face of the earth and confounded their language (hence the name ‘Babel’) (Gen. 11:5-9).

TO GOD BE THE GLORY

                God, the Creator, is not mortal, fallible, or corruptible so His thoughts and ways are so much different and superior than anything He’s created (Isa. 55:8-9). Even though God has clearly revealed His invisible attributes, eternal power, and Godhead through the things He has made (creation), men and women have chosen not to glorify Him nor be thankful. They’re naturally bent on doing things their own way (independent of God). The irony is as they profess themselves to be wise, they become fools and become futile in their thinking. They exchange the truth of God for the lie— and worship and serve the corruptible creature rather than the incorruptible Creator (Romans 1:18-32).  The three things that men boast of and trust in are wisdom, power, and riches. God’s way of thinking is not only superior in relation to what He’s created, but it flip-flops the worlds way of thinking. God chooses the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty. He chooses meaningless things of the world and the things which are despised, and the things which are not valued in society to bring to nothing the things that are prized in the world. Why? —For the sole purpose that no flesh should glory (boast) in in His presence—He that glories, let him glory in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:27-31, Jer. 9:23). And that brings us to the epitome of humility and obedience—

THE WAY OF THE FATHER

The long-awaited Messiah of the Jews was born in a lowly manger (Luke 2:7). There was no outer beauty that attracted men and women to Him, in fact He was despised and rejected (Isa. 53:2-3). His triumphal procession as their king was on a donkey, not a steed (and not just a donkey, the foal of one) (Zech. 9:9, John 12:12-15). Jesus Christ was obedient to the Father unto death on the cross (Phil.2:5-8, Gal. 3:13). One only has to look at His recorded words in the Scriptures during His time on earth prior to His crucifixion (note the contrast of ‘not my will’ vs. Lucifer’s ‘I will’):

• “…I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father Who sent Me” (John 5:30);

• “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me” (John 6:38);

• “…My doctrine is not Mine, but His Who sent Me” (John 7:16);

And knowing that the time for His crucifixion was near He prayed, “…not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus could then truly say to God the Father, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4).

And to further support God’s ways are not the ways of the world, He exalts the humble in due time. After Christ’s supreme sacrifice, “… God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

HUMILITY KEEPS THE DEVIL AWAY. PRIDE GIVES HIM A PLACE TO STAY.

                The above rhyme popped in my head one day and has actually come in handy, (especially when I’m out driving my car) (nothing like a little humility on the road).  Boy that prideful nature can sure rear its ugly head when we’re fixated on our will and desires instead of looking solely to God and being obedient to His will.

                Here’s the thing, Satan is a liar and an accuser of those who believe (John 8:44, Rev. 12:7, 10). He not only desires to suppress God’s truth, he wants to take away the believer’s focus from worshipping God, their Creator, and instead turn them toward worshipping the creature or created (whether it be self, or anything or any person of the world that we idolize or put in the place of God). To be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God (Rom. 8:5, 7-8, James 4:4, 1 John 2:16-17).

TRAPS OF THE DEVIL—PRIDE PRECEDES CAPTIVITY (Jer. 13:15).

                God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempt any man. Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Lust brings forth sin and sin death (Gen. 4:7, James 1:13-15, Prov. 29:6, 25). 

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up (James 4:6-7, 10, Prov. 3:34, 1 Pet. 5:5-6). Beware of false humility (it’s a façade for pride and a trap) (Col. 2:18, 23).

Since our flesh has nothing good to offer us (Rom. 7:18, Phil. 3:3), this is the realm in which Satan desires to tempt us in. His method involves luring the believer into his trap by stirring up and energizing their corrupt flesh to sin (Rom. 13:12, 14, Eph. 4:22, 26-27)). 

ACTING ON EMOTIONS
“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back” (Prov. 29:11).

Emotions are a part of being human, but we need to be mindful of what’s ruminating in our head and take each thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5). This means submitting to the Lord and allowing His Spirit to give us self-control so that we do not act on our emotions and sin (Eph. 4:26-27, Gal. 5:23, Tit. 1:8, 2 Pet. 1:6).

Pride exalts itself above the knowledge of God and brings about shame, strife, and destruction (2 Cor. 10:5, Prov. 11:2, 13:10, 16:18, 28:25). We live in volatile times where there are many destitute of the truth—those who are already in the snare of the devil to do his bidding (2 Tim. 2:25-26, Prov. 29:25, 1 Tim. 6:9). They are proud and obsessed with disputes and arguments over words from which come envy, and strife that stir up the flesh. We are not to engage with them but withdraw as this is a trap (1 Tim. 6:4-5, 2 Tim. 2:4, 3:2-5). Contrarily a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition (2 Tim. 2:24-25).  In God’s economy, when we are weak, He is strong. We can submit to God and rely on His sufficient grace, trusting in His ways and direction (Eph. 6:10, 2 Cor. 12:7-10, Phil. 4:19).  You see although God has allowed the whole world to lie in wickedness due to the fall and sin entering in as a consequence, Satan is a defeated foe (1 John 5:19, 5:4-5). Greater is He Who is in us then he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Satan knows he can’t touch the believer’s eternal security, so deception is his mode of diversion and trap setting (Eph. 1:13-14, 1 John 5:18, Col. 3:3). Fear and worry are of the devil (2 Tim. 1:7, Prov. 29:25, Phil. 4:6-7). We have access to God’s Word which is living and powerful and as Christ used it on earth (when Satan came to tempt Him), we can as well, (but you can’t use effectively what you don’t know) (Heb. 4:12, Matt. 4:1-11, 2 Tim. 3:16-17).  Correctly handling God’s Word should be our priority as this will keep our walk lowly even though our calling is on high where our focus should be (2 Tim. 2:15, Eph. 4:1-2, Col. 1:9-11, 3:1-3, Phil. 3:14). The time will come when we’ll be lifted up and our present bodies of humiliation will be fashioned like His glorious body (Phil. 3:20-21, Col. 3:4). Until then be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (not your own) (Eph. 6:10, Col. 3:12).

Laura    

STAYING SPIRITUALLY MINDED IN A CORRUPT WORLD

“…Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

                Believers are assured of walking in victory daily (even in the midst of a corrupt world) if they are led by the Spirit rather than their flesh. The source of all our struggles in this present world result from the fallen nature that each of us are born with (as we’ve all descended from fallen Adam). None of us are righteous by nature—we’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Gen. 3, Rom. 3:10-18, 25, 5:12, 18-19).

                It’s helpful to become familiar with the many names of this fallen nature in order to recognize it when it rears its ugly head (as it can with such subtlety and deceit): 

· The Flesh “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6).  This flesh “cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8); “profits nothing” (John 6:63), and has “no good thing” in it (Rom. 7:8).

· The Natural Man “receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he get to know them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

· The Old Man “is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22).

· The Outward Man “… is perishing” (2 Cor. 4:16).

· The Heart (the natural heart) is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9)—so deceitful that only God can really know it. Jesus said that “Out of the heart precede evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19).

· The Carnal Mind is “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7). This aspect of the old nature deals with the thoughts (“minding” the flesh), and imaginations of the natural man. These thoughts propel the flesh into action.

·  SIN is the nature and the root while “sins” are the outcome (or fruit) of that nature. In Romans 1:18-5:11 it speaks of theses “sins”. From Romans 5:12-8:39 it’s “Sin” (the old nature) that is dealt with. Even though the sinner is justified in Christ, he/she still senses the old nature at work, and experiences the conflict between that and the new nature. 

It’s a Lost Cause to try to improve this nature or change it as that which is of the flesh remains flesh.  It can’t be turned into spirit. Its end is death (Rom. 8:6). “In Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22).  The first Adam was made of the dust of the earth, and to dust all his descendants “return” (Gen. 3:19). He or she that sows to his/her flesh will of the flesh reap corruption (Gal. 6:8). All efforts to improve the flesh, provisions made for the flesh, and all ordinances connected with the flesh—end in corruption and death—all “perish with the using” (Col. 2:22). “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it…” (1 John 2:16-17).

                Thankfully there’s a superior alternative, the spirit. It’s divine in nature—something begotten by God, created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24). For those who partake of it, the whole course of life can flow in a different direction (2 Cor. 4:16, 5:17, Eph. 4:23). This new nature also has several names that it’s known by:

· SpiritThat which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). As the “flesh” partakes of the nature of Adam, so the spirit partakes of the nature of the Holy Spirit.

· Divine Nature “…partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:4).

· The New Man “…which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10). This is also referred to as “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 6:15).

· The Inward Man “is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). It’s called the “inner man” in Ephesians 3:16. The Holy Spirit fuels and nourishes the partaker with grace and strength enabling them the capacity to experience something of God’s vast love (Eph. 3:16). This inward man delights in the law and ways of God and so is in direct conflict with the outward man (Rom. 7:22).

· The Mind  (this “mind”) serves the law of God and delights in it (Rom. 7:22-23, 25).

· Christ’s Spirit (Pneuma-Christou) is the new nature which makes one a “son of God” as Christ is “the Son of God” so Pneuma-Christou is another name for the “sonship spirit” (Rom. 8:14-15, Eph. 1:5-6).

· Divine Spirit (Pneuma-Theou) is begotten from God— “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13, Rom. 8:9).

This nature is perfect and impervious to changeit remains spirit (John 3:6). It originates from the Spirit of God and its instrument is the Word of God (1 Pet. 1:22-23, John 6:63, 2 Tim. 3:16-17). This gift of the new nature or spirit is called our ‘sealing’ which is ours on believing (Eph. 1:13). If we are “complete” in Christ, we cannot become incomplete (Col. 2:10). This new nature can’t be canceled out (even by sin). If any man or woman sins, they have an Advocate with the Father (Jesus Christ, the righteous) and He is (and remains) the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:1-2).

 THE TRAP OF RELIGION

                The believer needs to be ever mindful of his/her standing in Christ (and where his/her true citizenship lies, Phil. 3:20, Col. 3:1-4) so they don’t fall into the trap of religion. Religion has to do with the flesh (and all the things that the flesh can perform) and is concerned only with what it can see, hear, and comprehend (1 Cor. 2:14). The rules of the flesh profit nothing (John 6:63). These works are dead and in these works they deny God (Tit. 1:16). The Pharisees erred thinking that in themselves (and more rules, laws, ordinances, etc.) they could improve themselves, but they were called out by Jesus for the phonies and hypocrites that they were (Matt. 23, John 8:44).

               Christianity is not religion and isn’t made up of articles, creeds, confessions, ordinances, etc. but in the Person of Christ Jesus and the sonship relationship the Christian has with God in Him. The apostle Paul knew the dangers of a believer not realizing his/her position in Christ and how that opened them up to deception. He reminded the Colossians in his letter to them that because they were now complete in Christ (which is the Head of all principality and power) all ordinances were therefore done away with. He warned them to beware of anyone who tried to cheat them through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, or the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ, Who is the Head (and source of all nourishment that helps the body to grow with the increase that’s from God) (Col. 2:8-15, 19). He furthered urged them to not fall back to futile things— “…if you died with Christ to the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subjecting yourselves to its regulations that are according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things may have an (outward) appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are useless against the indulgence of the flesh” (Col. 2:20-23).  In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians it was a similar theme as he pressed them to walk worthy of their calling and use their gifts for God’s purposes (Eph. 4:11-12), the goal being a perfect man (fully grown) with perfect (or full) knowledge of the Son of God in order that they’d no longer be tossed to and fro, like children, from one wind of doctrine (teaching) to another— coming from the cunning, deceitful agendas of men (backed by the devil himself) Eph. 4:1-16, 6:11). It’s okay to be righteously angry at the corruption and injustice we see in the world today, just keep it transitory and exhibit self-control or the flesh will be fed, and an opportunity will be given to the devil (Eph. 4:26-27).

KNOWING GOD is the KEY to not being deceived and the source to stay spiritually minded

                Understanding (through the Holy Scriptures) the knowledge of God is so vital and also a necessity to empower one to walk in the Spirit as well as perform the good works He preordained for the believer to walk in (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Eph. 2:10, Phil. 2:13, Tit. 2:14, 3:8, 14). Without the continual renewing of the mind (daily feeding of the new nature) (Deut. 8:3, 2 Cor. 4:16, Rom. 12:2, Eph. 4:23-24, Col. 3:10) the believer can fall into the trap of having confidence in their flesh once again (Phil. 3:3, Rom. 13:14, Ga. 5:16). I catch myself minding my flesh when my striving doesn’t lead to peace or any of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Thankfully I remember that I can’t do anything profitable in my own strength and flesh and I turn to the One Who can.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (See Eph. 6:12, 1 John 2:13). For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”  (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

A believer won’t be aware of what to cast down if they don’t have some firsthand knowledge of God. They won’t be able to use the spiritual weapons (Eph. 6:10-17) that God has so graciously provided for them if they can’t differentiate between the knowledge of God and the arguments and high things that exalt itself against it. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that the Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, dividing and differentiating between that which is begotten of the flesh and that which is begotten of the spirit (in the individual but also between the natural and spiritual man) (1 Cor. 2:13-15). Read the apostle Paul’s first prayer to the Ephesian believers in Eph. 1:17-23. He prayed that God would give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him as this was the key to leading them to know what the hope of His calling was…and the exceeding greatness of His power to those who believed.

PARTING WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

                Even though it says in 2 Timothy 3:12 that those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution don’t get discouraged. The suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared with the glory which awaits us (Rom. 8:18, 2 Cor. 4:17). Even though our outward man is perishing, our inward man is being renewed day by day. Take good care of your spiritual self (by properly feeding it) as it will pay off and help you to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. Keep your mind upward, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:13-14, 2 Cor. 4:16-18, Col. 3:1-4, Titus 2:11-14).

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25).

Laura                                                                   

Who or What’s Your ‘Go-to’?

Bad news surrounds us as new viruses abound, gas and food prices continue to soar, and corruption, violence, and lawlessness becomes more pervasive. It sure can become easy to get caught up with all that’s wrong.

                Who or where you turn to when the going gets tough will determine your state of peace

What’s your ‘go-to’?  A ‘go-to’ is the person or thing most trusted to accomplish a purpose, and relied on regularly for expert knowledge, skill, or performance. When we operate out of our fleshly sinful nature ‘quick fixes’ like shopping, gambling, over-eating, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. are easy to turn to. Some of these alone aren’t necessarily bad in moderation, but when they become our ‘go-to’ the tendency to overindulge, binge, and engage in addictive behavior brings enslavement—not lasting peace. Other drawbacks regarding these ‘go-tos’ are buyer’s remorse, debt, weight gain, ill-health, and premature death. And just as detrimental (when used in excess) is technology in the forms of social media, videos, and online gaming as they high-jack our time away from true, meaningful relationships and experiences. When our ‘go-to’ is our self we can become over controlling and then ironically spiral out of control when things don’t go as we’ve planned.

                Maybe you do turn to God as your ’go-to’ (mostly) but struggle with staying on a steadfast course with Him. It’s easy to get side-tracked, distracted, or preoccupied with earthly things. The author Bob Goff said, “Distraction robs us of the ability to both live in the moment and discern what lasts.”  Cultivating a long-term perspective is necessary because it’s in the things of God that one receives the best return on investment of their time (Phil. 3:20, Col. 3:1-2). The apostle Paul said, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).  Paul wrote in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).  

                If you’ve ever tried to hold still and balance on one leg, you might’ve found that you could do it longer when your focus was on what you were doing. Once your mind starts veering to other things, you’re inclined to teeter and then fall.  We all know that’s how it is for most things, whether it’s putting in too much (or too little) of an ingredient in baking or tripping and running into something when our mind wanders. Those who take their attention off the road (either by texting or other distractions) while they’re driving are more apt to get into an accident.  We can also be headed for a crash in the same way when we divert our focus away from the Lord and onto our troubles, taking on a posture of fear instead of standing firmly in God’s strength (Eph. 6:10-11, 13). A mind that’s ever renewed with God’s truth remembers that He is so much more reliable, infallible, and eternally powerful than we are or whatever (or whoever) is in the world (Rom. 12:2, 1 John 2:16-17, 4:4). God is the only good, pure, righteous, and superior source to turn to. Our sight is limited while God is all-knowing and not bound by time (Isa. 46:9-10, 40:21-31, Rev. 1:8).

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“He will not be afraid of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7).

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Our faith is built as we stay in God’s Word and communicate with Him on a daily basis. This helps us to stay in ‘trust-in-God’ mode rather than turn to lesser things. Those who are steadfast in faith repel the devil’s fiery darts (Eph. 6:16, 1 Pet. 5:8-9). Those who cast all their anxieties on the Lord have a peace that passes all understanding as their hearts and thoughts are guarded in Christ Jesus (1 Pet. 5:7, Phil. 4:6-7). It’s helpful to get in a habit of declaring God’s lovingkindness in the morning and His faithfulness every night (See Psalm 92:2). In the morning we can direct our voice to the Lord and look up to Him for direction as we begin our day (Psalm. 5:3, Prov. 3:5-7).   In the evening it’s just as important to refocus our minds on Him instead of on earthly worries. We can put them to rest for the night when we give them to the Lord in prayer (Phil. 4:6).

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“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:  For You, Lord, only make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

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                This summer disconnect and disengage from your temporary ‘go-tos’. Think long term. Be available to notice the beauty and the opportunities that the Lord has allowed you to be a part of for His greater purposes (Eph. 2:10). Be present in the moment. Pay attention to whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Meditate on these things (Phil 4:8). Let the Lord be your ‘go-to’ and allow your heart to stand in awe of His Word and bring you peace (Psalm 119:161, Isa. 26:3).  

Laura

THE IMPORTANCE OF SONSHINE & D3

What are your first thoughts when you wake up in the morning?  Where does your attention turn toward? Is your focus on earthly things? Or do you seek the things above and direct your anxious thoughts to the Lord? “Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.” -Psalm 143:8-

                What do Sonshine and vitamin D3 have in common? They’re good for you!

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” -Psalm 84:11-

                The Messiah is referred to as the “Sun of Righteousness” in Malachi 4:2. It’s only through Christ that we can attain any righteousness. The sinless Christ was made to be sin so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Rom. 5:21). When we put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (the Lord Jesus Christ) our sinful nature shrinks away (Rom. 13:12, 14, Eph. 4:22-24).  “Shield” is God’s provision in Messiah. When you apply Sonshine it also acts as a shield that prevents the enemy’s harmful rays (flaming darts) from penetrating through (as Christ is faith’s shield, Eph. 6:16, Gen. 15:1).  The shield of faith is “above all” the other pieces and requires ‘taking’ (which involves action on our part). Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  One of Jesus’s disciples, Thomas, wouldn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead when the other disciples told him so. Once he actually saw Jesus and the holes in His hands, he believed. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:24-29).

                Salvation is by grace through faith. It’s a gift from God that must be received in order to have spiritual benefits (Eph. 2:8-10). Similarly, toothpaste or skin lotion that’s left in its tube or bottle will be of no use if it’s not applied. How does faith come? “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). “Without faith it’s impossible to please God, for he that comes to Him must believe that He is, and that He rewards those that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).  Who is the Author and Finisher of our faith?  It’s the Son, Christ Jesus (Heb. 12:2). We miss the blessings of God’s grace as well as the reward He has in store for us when we lack belief in who He is and what He’s accomplished for us. It may sound easy to just believe and trust in God, but we are weak and fallen creatures, prone to sin and distractions that turn us away from the Light.

There were four times that Jesus rebuked His disciples by saying, “O ye of little faith…” 

They were when the disciples were distracted by: (1) the CARES of the world (Matt. 6:25-29), (2) the FEAR of a storm (Matt. 8:23-27), (3) DOUBT (Matt. 14:29-31), and (4) HUMAN REASONING (Matt. 16:5-12). 

What’s distracting you from the sufficiency of God’s grace?

                Internet service can slow down, go down, and disconnect when we need it. Earthly resources that are controlled by man may be difficult to access or be accessed at a price. God’s grace, on the other hand, is available 24/7, free of charge, and from a source that’s eternal (never tires or slows down) — It’s ‘ever ready’, and all-powerful (Deut. 33:24, Isa. 40:28). God’s gifts are good and pure with no harmful additives, fillers, or negative things that lead to side effects (James 1:17). How easily and carelessly we take a pill, vaccine, or ingest other items into our bodies without seeking what the ingredients are inside. Many times, we trade in temporary relief and safety for later detrimental side effects.  Fallen men and women don’t always have pure intentions and motives for what they’re advising (as money, power, pride, and greed get in the way). Contrarily, God is filled with all wisdom, goodness, light, truth, love, mercy, and faithfulness (Eph. 3:10, Deut. 7:9, Ps. 26:5, Heb. 10:23). He has absolute pure, righteous, and loving intentions always—it’s the essence of who He is (1 John 1:5). We need to pay more attention to the One who loves us and gave His only begotten Son as the antibody for our sin and death sentence (John 3:16).  

                Our eternal salvation is securely sealed the moment we believe and receive God’s gift of grace via faith (Eph. 1:13). But in order to walk as children of light (fully protected by God’s armor) we must be aware of the ‘Son blocker’ (2 Cor. 4:4, Eph. 5:8, Col. 2:8, 16-20). He will tirelessly try to get us distracted by the things that are seen and cause us to focus on the cares of this world and our own self-sufficiency (which leads to a mind that’s fearful, doubtful, and anxiety-ridden). We sadly block the very channel that connects us to the source of God’s all-sufficient, fresh, and ever-flowing, grace (Rom. 5:2, 2 Cor. 9:8-14, 12:9). In order to counteract the devil’s attempts and stay bathed and protected in Sonlight, constant communication with God is a must. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).

I like to think of everyday items to help me stay focused on the things above. For example, take D3, which is an essential vitamin that provides bone, and immune support as well as protection from environmental and seasonal threats. Now think of D3 as “D” for Deity (God) and “3” for the members of the Godhead, (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). This D3 is truly broad spectrum, and the source of all spiritual blessings. Just as a flower requires sunlight to grow properly, so too does the believer with Sonlight. Any weeds (thoughts contrary to God’s truth) must be cast down so one can grow strong in the grace that’s in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 10:3-5, 2 Tim. 2:1, 2 Pet. 3:18).  The growth with the increase that’s from God will only occur when one is holding onto the Head, where the whole body is nourished and knit together (perfectly fit in the bond of peace) (Eph. 4:15-16, Col. 2:19). 

                So, apply Sonshine generously each day and let the grace of the Lord penetrate down to your roots so you may walk in faith as you await to bloom with Him in glory (Eph. 3:16-21, Col. 3:1-4).

Laura

WAR:  PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

“Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served my king, He would not in mine age have left me naked to mine enemies.” —William Shakespeare, “Henry VIII”, Act II-

                                When I taught Sunday school, the boys in my class loved the battles and wars that were fought throughout the Bible in the Old Testament. There were plenty of them centering on the tribes of Israel as they battled other nations. As Israel obeyed the Lord, He fought their battles for them, but if not, He allowed them to be led into captivity. Behind the physical battles past, present, and future lies a spiritual dimension—a battle between good and evil—between truth and the lie. We know from Genesis three that the battle lines between Satan and his seed and the woman and her seed were drawn by God after the Fall (Gen. 3:15). Just as the purpose of the great Flood (Gen. 6), God allowed Israel to use the sword to kill their enemies to preserve the woman’s seed (Gen. 13:7, 14:5, 15:18-21, Ex. 23:23, Deut. 7:1-4, 20:17). When the angel Gabriel brought a message to the prophet Daniel, he told Daniel he’d been trying to hack his way through enemy lines for 21 days, but the demon prince of Persia had resisted him. Gabriel finally broke through when the warrior angel, Michael (angelic ruler for Israel), came to help him fight (Dan. 10:12-13).  When it was time for the seed of the woman to be born Satan attempted to kill the baby, and then later when he was a man (Gal. 4:4, Matt. 2:3-8, 16, 4:1-10). The enemy didn’t realize that his ultimate demise and the purpose of God was connected with the death of Christ “by death to destroy him who has the power of death” (Heb. 2:14). This is the reason for Satan’s hatred of the Bible as its first book, Genesis foretells of his doom and in the last book, Revelation it describes it (Rev. 20:10). Christ, in the meanwhile, is seated at God’s right hand, awaiting the time to make all His enemies His footstool (Heb. 10:12-13).

PRESENT WAR  

                Satan didn’t quietly resign when Christ ascended into heaven (Note his titles in Matt. 9:34, John 12:31, 2 Cor. 4:4, Eph. 2:2). He still desires to be worshipped and to blind the eyes of men and women so he can hinder the purposes of God in Christ from being accomplished (2 Cor. 4:4, 1 Tim. 2:3-4, Eph. 2:10, Phil. 2:12-13). One example is when the apostle Paul was stopped from going to the city of Thessalonica (1 Thess. 2:18). The physical battles may be obvious yet the spiritual battles may not be so apparent. Wisdom is to recognize the on-going battle within and utilize the provisions that God has given us to combat it (Gal. 5:17, Rom. 13:12, 14, Eph. 6:11-17, Heb. 4:12). Paul understood this spiritual battle well (Rom. 7:18-25) and gave the Corinthians and Ephesians advice that we can heed today, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” as “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (2 Cor. 10:3, Eph. 6:12).  The weapons that God has armed the believer with to stand and withstand the wiles of Satan today are “not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:3-5, Eph. 6:10-18). May these wonderful gifts be realized.

FUTURE WAR “But of that day and hour knows no man, nor the angels in heaven…” (Matt. 24:36).

                The Lord Jesus Christ is the one great subject of the entire Bible, either directly or indirectly (Luke 24:27, John 5:39). He is the promised “seed” of the woman (Gen. 3:15) and fulfilled what was written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms regarding Him (John 1:1-3, 1:45, Matt. 5:17, Luke 24:44). He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, and the First and the Last (Rev. 21:6, 22:13, Col. 1:15-18).  As everything in the Bible centers in and around Him, apart from Him it can’t be understood.  Revelation or Apocalypse is the Greek word apokalupsis and means a taking away of a veil or bringing into view what was once hidden (as by a veil). The Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ as Lord of lords and King of kings. The earth is the battlefield of His unveiling and He’ll be coming with the clouds, appearing in power and glory to lawfully judge the earth and set things right (Rev. 1:13-16). The Lamb of God Who willingly laid down His life for our sins will be coming to wage war and put away all that’s evil and cursed for good (2 Cor. 5:21, John 10:17-18, Rev. 19:11-16, 22:3, 1 Cor. 15:24-28). This final conflict will be the biggest, bloodiest battle ever fought between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. The Old Serpent is on one side, and the Lamb is on the other.  The curtain is pulled back and we get a glimpse behind the scenes from heaven where seals are broken, trumpets are sounded, and vials are poured out that dictate what will occur on earth. Many think the book of Revelation is difficult to understand. That’s only because they have not studied it in its proper context and dispensation.  Its beautiful structure is simple as it clearly connects the things that are unseen (heavenly) with the things that are seen (earthly). Refer to chart A (below). All that occurs in Revelation completes all that Genesis began (including fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis 3:15). Refer to chart B (below).  The Bible forewarns of the events leading up to this grand battle. Many can be found in chapters 24 and 25 of the book of Matthew.  As we are seeing sin abound and the abandonment of God’s truth one might be tempted to believe that the period referred to in Revelation is to occur in our time. The great subject of Revelation is not the church of today but God‘s dealing with mankind as a whole (Rev. 4-19) and His fulfillment of the covenant that He made with Israel in Exodus 34:10. See chart C (below).

The Church of today (“the One Body”) will not be included in this epic battle as it will be “called on high”, made like Christ’s own glorious body, and received up in glory before the thief comes, and the Day of the Lord (Phil. 3:14, 20-21, Col. 3:4, 1 Thess. 5:2). However, iniquity will ripen and there will be signs of the beginning of apostasy as the age of this present dispensation near its close. Starting in 1 Timothy, there’s a warning concerning the abuse of prayer, the vanity of women’s focus on outward adornment, the takeover of authority by women over men in the manner of teaching (2:8-12) along with warnings re: the love of money, trusting in uncertain riches, vain babblings and oppositions of science falsely so called (6:10, 17, 20). According to chapter 4, verses 1-11, there will be those who will depart from the faith, give heed to seducing spirits, and teachings of demons, speak lies in hypocrisy, abstain from meats (which God has created to be received with thanksgiving), and have an unhealthy obsession with bodily exercise. In Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy he warns of perilous times to come in the last days where “men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (3:1-9).

THE DAY OF THE LORD (prophesied in Joel 2-3) will arrive after the man of sin is revealed and the Mystery of Iniquity materialized. This infidel king and false messiah will make a covenant and treaty with the Jews for seven years, but at the end of 3-1/2 years, he’ll break his agreement and demand that his image be set up in the temple and worshipped and then the Great Tribulation will begin (Zech. 5:5-11; 2 Thess. 2:3-4, 8-12; Dan. 9:27; Rev. 13:15). At the time of the end there’ll be ten kings that’ll be subordinate to the great antichristian despot (Rev. 17:12-13, as prophesied in Daniel 2:42, 7:24). The Babylon spoken of in Jeremiah 50 and 51 will be rebuilt (Rev. 17-18). God never leaves Himself without a witness and so throughout the 3-1/2 years two witnesses will bear their testimony and only cease when the antichristian beast eventually is permitted to put them to death (Rev. 11:3-8). 

THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM

At this time Israel will look upon Him Whom they have pierced and be converted and enter in to their long deferred destiny as a Kingdom of Priests (Zech. 12:10-14, Rev. 1:6). “The Millennial” will be ushered in where Christ will reign with a rod of iron for 1,000 years (Rev. 2:27, 12:5, 19:15, 20). During this time the earth will be restored and blessed and those who didn’t take the mark in anyway (the martyrs/those beheaded) will live and reign with Christ.

SATAN’S FINAL REBELLION 

When the thousand years expires, Satan will be let out of his prison and will easily deceive the nations of the earth (Rev. 20:7-8). The battle will end, and the enemy utterly destroyed, (including death) (Rev. 20:9-10, 14). 

A NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH (Rev. 21:1) will be set up where there’ll be no more sin, sorrow, or suffering… (Rev. 21:4). The curse will be broken (Rev. 22:3) and the Age of Glory (aionos ton aionon) will begin—” world without end” (Ephesians 3:21). “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power…that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”  -George Orwell—

When God’s rightful place of sovereignty is accepted in our lives, the Bible is moved into a position of authority and we can heed the Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy from his 2nd letter as our CALL OF DUTY today:

—BE BRAVE. Fear has no place in a soldier’s mind when he/she is in full gear. -2 Tim. 1:7-

—HOLD FAST to truth. -2 Tim. 1:13-

—BE STRONG in grace (that is in Christ Jesus). -2 Tim. 2:1-

—ENDURE hardness (suffer evil) as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  -2 Tim. 2:3-

—AVOID worldly affairs (no matter how tempting, don’t get entangled) -2 Tim. 2:3-

—FOCUS on pleasing the chief commander, whose commendation is the reward. -2 Tim. 2:4, 15-

—IGNORE profane and vain babbling. -2 Tim. 2:16-

—FOLLOW righteousness. -2 Tim. 2:22-

—AVOID foolish and uninstructed questioning. -2 Tim. 2:23-

—BE READY to teach in patience and meekness. -2 Tim. 2:24-25-

—BE PREPARED to suffer persecution. -2 Tim. 3:12-13-

—STAY EQUIPPED for every good work. -2 Tim. 3:16-17-

—PREACH the truth (in love). -2 Tim. 4:2-

— FIGHT the good fight, FINISH your course, and KEEP the faith (you’ll be rewarded). -2 Tim. 4:7-Laura                                                   

FINDING TRUE NORTH

The entire universe is an example of design. It manifests structure and order that only the intelligent purpose of a personal Creator can account for. One only has to look at the lights in the sky and be in awe of God’s handiwork.

“Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing” (Isa. 40:25-26). Just in the Milky Way galaxy alone there are over a hundred billion stars. Only God knows the true count and names of them all (Gen. 1:6, Ps. 147:4, Isa. 40:25-26).

                In the first mention of these heavenly bodies in Genesis 1:14-19, we’re told the Creator’s purpose for them was not only “to divide the day from the night, and give light upon the earth”; but they were set “for signs, and for season, and for days and years.”  The word for signs, ‘oth’, in Hebrew means ‘things to come’.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world”  (Psalm 19:1-4).

                You may find it interesting that prior to the written Scriptures (which began with Moses), God used the stars to reveal the hope of the promised seed which He pronounced in Genesis 3:15. The Zodiac (Mazzaroth) is a broad circle in the heavens, containing the twelve signs/constellations that correspond with the twelve months through which the sun passes in its annual course. In short it begins in the constellation of Virgo (the virgin’s promised seed) and culminates with the constellation of Leo (the Lion) and Messiah’s destruction of the serpent. Over time (after God’s written Word was given) the original teaching gradually faded away and evolved into cosmogonies and mythologies.

Important Note:

Like everything else that God has created for His purposes and glory, man has perverted for his own use. The Bible clearly shows that astrology is something that God does not approve of.  Astrology becomes another form of man trying to play God. (Ref. Isaiah 47:13, Daniel 1:20, 2:2, 2:27-29, 4:7, 5:7, 11, 15).

                The stars have also been designed by God to serve as seasons or cycles of time. These appointed times include the 24-hour day/night cycle, the solar and lunar cycles, the beginning of a week of seven days, etc. Chance cannot explain the existence of such beautifully timed precision. It took an intelligent being to construct something of such order, design, and purpose (Ps. 136:1, 7-9).

Navigating Our Way Physically: TRUE NORTH

God is the Creator who “makes the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south;”  -Job 9:9-

“…and leads forth the Mazzoroth in its season and guides the Bear (Arcturus) with her train” -Job 38:2-

               The Big and Little Dippers are parts of the constellations Ursa Major (Big Bear) and Ursa Minor (Little Bear). They’re important groups of stars, especially to those who rely on them to find their way. With it one can locate Polaris, the North Star, situated almost directly above the North Pole of the earth. The axis of the earth’s spin is pointed near Polaris which marks the end handle of the Little Dipper. One can be very sure of their directions if they can identify the North Star.

Navigating Our Way Spiritually: TRUE NORTH—Where Christ Sits

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” –Psalm 8:3-4-

                As I was driving around in my car the other day I thought about the vastness of God’s creation. Human life seems small when we consider how many billions of galaxies are spread out through space. No wonder the Psalmist pondered, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” If we seriously think about the power and intelligence that it took God to create this immense universe, as well as the superiority of His mind and its familiarity with all the details of all of it—it really is mind-blowing! Yet even as we march about our daily lives like ants in an ant farm, God is mindful of us. He knows the very numbers of hairs on our head (whether we can see them or not) (Matt. 10:30). I’m so beyond thankful that His love and mercy matches His wisdom and power. He knows us intimately (even before we come into the world) and tracks our whereabouts better than any GPS (Ps. 139:1-18). Even though our present world is fallen and laden with sin God has not left us in the dark spiritually. He sent His only begotten Son into this world to die for our sins so we could be with Him forever. His Son, Jesus Christ (the True Light, and the Living Word), gives the light of life and protection for us in the spiritual realm (2 Cor. 4:6, John 1:1, 4, 9, 8:12, Rom. 13:12, 14, Eph. 6:11-17, 2 Tim. 1:9-10). God’s complete and infallible written Word not only reveals His redemption story but includes instructions for us so we can stay on the course He’s marked out for us (Ps. 119:105, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, 4:7-8, Eph. 2:10, 1 Cor. 2:14, 2 Peter 1:19).

Where is the location of God?

                “Is not God in the height of heaven? And see the highest stars how lofty they are!” -Job 22:12-

                The word ‘promotion’ is defined as: the act of raising someone to a higher position, grade, or rank. It says in Psalm 75:6 that promotion does not come from the east, west, or the south—therefore promotion must come from the north.

In Isaiah we find that Lucifer (Satan) desired to ascend to heaven and exalt his throne above the stars of God to sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north (ascending above the heights of the clouds to be like the Most High). He failed at this and instead fell because of it (Isaiah 14:12-15). Only Christ has ever ascended to this high and lofty realm (Eph. 4:10, Heb. 4:14). It’s so high up that Ephesians 1:21 tells us it’s “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”  What’s truly astounding is that in this age of grace when one becomes a believer their citizenship changes to a heavenly one—and not just heavenly but where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Phil. 3:20, Eph. 1:20, 2:4-6, Heb. 10:12, 12:2, Rom. 8:34, 1 Peter 3:22).

Just as the North Star provides one with direction traveling terrestrially, True North (where Christ sits) is where the believer’s focus and internal compass needs to be set to spiritually.

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).

                May we come to see with spiritual eyes True North and the sacred position we’ve been promoted to in Christ Jesus. May we realize the unparalleled power and perspective God has in comparison to us and choose to trust in His direction and ways (Isa. 40:22, 25-26, 28, Prov. 3:5-7).

As we seek the face of Jesus Christ, we’ll shine brightly (lighting the way for others) until we arrive at our eternal heavenly home (Eph. 1:17-20, Phil. 2:12-15, 2 Cor. 4:6, Col. 3:1-4).    

Laura

FINDING TRUE LOVE

THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF LOVE that one can receive–one that’s a sham and one that’s for real. One of these loves is just a facade while the other has limitless dimensions from God. As you read on may you see what is true and embrace all the love that God has for you.

As we know and receive God’s true love, we can move forward in it with others. (Eph. 5:1-2, Col. 3:12-14, 1 John 4:7, 9, 5:2-3). Laura