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

Which Program Will You Run On?

                 Have you noticed that no matter how resolved we can be with our plans for the new year the unexpected can happen? So it may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions as your answers will be an indicator of how your year will go. 

· Will you base your decisions on fear or seek and trust God in faith? 

 “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverb 29:25, 2 Tim. 1:7).  

· Will you walk in weakness (your own strength) or God’s Almighty power?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

· Will you look to your own limited and fallible thoughts or God’s infinite and righteous wisdom? 

“The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile” (Ps. 94:11). “Don’t be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.  It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones” (Prov. 3:7-8).

· Will you live according to the world’s Godless ways or God’s grace and Word of truth? 

 “…the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one”   (1 John 5:19). “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16-17).

                Have you observed that no matter how hard we human beings try, we can’t control the weather, eradicate sickness or disease, or fix the problems of the world? We’re even incapable of bettering our own selves enough to stand before a righteous God. True wisdom acknowledges that we are in an evil age (Eph. 5:16) with corruption in our nature and condemnation as our rightful end. Just like a computer drive that’s become infected with a virus, humankind’s original ‘drive’ has been corrupted with the SIN virus. All born into the world default to a self-drive setting that programs them to run with commands of ‘be your own god’ and ‘direct your own life’ (Gen. 3, Rom. 3:5, 23, 5:12, 14). No amount of man-made tech support will help to eradicate it (Rom. 7:7-25). If anyone could fulfill all the requirements spelled out in God’s laws and commandments they’d have all the reason to trust and glory in themselves—but that’s not the case (Ex. 20:1-17).

                God established the law to be a tutor to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24-25). By the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20). The apostle Paul said that he would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. He wouldn’t have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”  Yet still he wanted to covet.

                The Creator already had a brand new program in mind providing access through Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10, John 14:6). There’s no cost involved—just a willingness to receive it. (Rom. 3:23-26, Eph. 2:4-9).  A new identity is issued in this program with new instructions for living and God’s continual grace and support (Rom. 12:2, Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10, 2 Cor. 12:9, 1 Tim. 1:14, 2 Tim. 2:1).

                A word of caution: the old corrupt program will still be in our ‘system’ so precautions need to be taken to continually keep it in ‘disabled’ mode. Signs that one has fallen back to the old default settings will be apparent when they switch into self-drive—becoming ’selfie’ focused, self-promoting (outwardly virtue signaling), as well as self-pitying (which is also self-centered). The Trojan Horse trying to access, enable, and execute the corrupt program is no stranger to fraudulent activity as he first introduced the SIN virus to mankind (Gen. 3, John 8:44). He’ll never be able to gain access to affect the believer’s eternal security, but he can thwart the execution of the good works that God has prepared for us to walk in while on earth (Eph. 1:13-14, 2:10, Phil. 2:13, 2 Tim. 1:9, 1 Pet. 5:8). Satan knows that diverting believers to self-driven mode is effective, especially when it’s under the guise of ‘good works’ that are not from God (2 Cor. 11:3-4, 14, Matt. 23:5, 28). These may look outwardly good to the world, but bring glory to the work in the believer rather than glorifying Christ and His finished work in them. The true work of the Holy Spirit produces Christ-consciousness, not self-consciousness and humility, not selfish ambition (Phil. 2:3-4).

                All labor is profitless if it doesn’t yield treasure in heaven. (Matt 6:19-20) “For what is a man profited if he will gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Matt. 16:26) The Christian passes through trials so that he/she may learn to lean harder and more completely upon the Lord.  When God said, “Be still” in Psalm 46:10, He meant “Desist—cease your efforts”, adding “and know that I am God” (and you aren’t’). The beautiful picture in Matthew 11:28-30 shows us that when we look to Christ and come to Him, He provides us with rest. When we take His yoke upon us and learn from Him, there will be true rest for our souls for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When resurrection is realized as the goal of God and the entrance into true life, then one can patiently perform God’s good works and endure with all patience, suffering, and joy.

                The believer can only run in ‘safe mode’ when they continue to turn to and have faith in God’s written Word. Satan owes so much to technology as it’s the perfect vehicle to distract and divert the believer’s mind, focus, and time (Eph. 2:2, 2 Cor. 10:3-5). So many use the excuse that they have no time to read or study God’s Word, yet they spend hours listening to others on podcasts, YouTube videos, TikTok, scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, online shopping, online gambling, playing games where they reach levels and receive artificial prizes, as well as binge-watching TV shows (Matt. 13:22). What a waste of time and an empty return on investment.

                Time spent reading, studying, and learning God’s Word is never in vain as it’s profitable not only in this life but in the life to come (2 Tim. 3:16, 2:15, 1 Tim. 4:8, 1 Cor. 15:58).  Without the knowledge of God’s Word, one will not be able to discern God’s perfect will (1 Tim. 4:1, 1 Cor. 2:14, Phil. 1:9, Heb. 4:12, Acts 17:11). Sadly without truly knowing God’s Word many are being led astray.  A helpful guideline for assimilating information that we hear from others (especially when it comes from God’s Word) is to search for ourselves to see if it lines up with what the Scriptures actually say—rightly divided, and in proper context (Acts 17:11, Rom. 15:4, 2 Tim. 2:15, Phil. 1:9-11).

                God’s Word is clear that a time will come when the crooked will be made straight and every work will be brought into judgment. God has a purpose and a work that transcends all our thoughts so we need to trust and wait patiently for Him (Eccl. 3:14, 12:13-14, Ps. 37). Have faith and be encouraged that no matter the plans and devices that man has in mind, ultimately the Lord’s counsel will stand and His purposes will prevail (Prov. 19:21, Ps. 33:11).

May you be resolved to “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy…” (Colossians 1:9-11).

Laura

THANK GOD FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; 
Praise Him, all creatures here below; 
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host: 
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

                God remains good and deserves our continual praise of thanksgiving even with the current state of affairs in our present fallen world. It’s easy to lose sight of who God is when the world’s focus is so set on praising and extoling humanity (the creature) instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:19-29). “Because when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful” (Rom. 1:21).

Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8)

                God stands alone and apart from mankind (and all His other created beings) as He is incorruptible (Rom. 1:23), righteous (Psalm 119:142, 160, 145:17), cannot lie (Titus 1:2, Heb. 6:18), cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13), and the list goes on. Since God is the source and embodiment of good, all good things flow from Him (as the above doxology says). James 1:17 says, “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 of turning.” The word ‘lights’ means underived (not from something else) and absolute (the opposite of darkness) and so used specifically of God (John 1:4-5, 8:12, 1 John 1:5). “For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9). The entrance of God’s words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple and illuminates and guides ones way (Psalm 119:130, 105). Through God’s word one receives understanding and learns to hate every false way (Psalm 119:104). The word used for goodness in the Bible is many times synonymous with ‘grace’ or ‘lovingkindness’. The Bible reveals a kind, benevolent God who is tenderhearted, full of mercy, and slow to anger (Psalm 103:8, 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2). Because God is purely good and righteous, evil cannot dwell with Him nor can He take pleasure in lawlessness (Psalm 5:4).

                Our Creator has made clear the boundaries that He’s set for mankind but has also allowed men and women the capacity to choose (either to obey His good word and stay within His boundaries or not). The angelic beings must have been allowed free will as well (Jude 6, Gen. 6:2, Rev. 12:9). Lucifer (Satan) proved that angelic beings could become corrupted. It was Satan’s pride of his beauty that corrupted his wisdom and he became the ‘father of lies’ (Ezek. 28:17, Isaiah 14:12-14, 1 John 3:8, John 8:44).  Mankind also revealed its corruptibility after the first created man and woman chose to disobey God’s words and heed Satan’s lies (one being the desire to be gods themselves) (Gen. 3, Rom. 5:12-19).

                It’s only when one comes to terms with their sinful nature as well as their lost and helpless condition that they can truly embrace the greatness and goodness of God (Rom. 5:6-11, Eph. 4:22).

In the Bible, there are many examples of this: the lost son (Luke 15:11-32), the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), David (2 Sam. 12:1-13), and Isaiah’s vision (Isaiah 6:1-5).  Even the suffering and patient Job came to the realization of who he was in comparison to almighty God and so learned the great lesson that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful (Job 42:5-6, 10, 12). We too can find God’s amazing grace and goodness when we come with empty hands and a broken, contrite spirit (Isaiah 57:15, 66:2). “In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil” (Prov. 16:6).

“In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

                “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 4:4-9).

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15, Eph. 1:6-7).

                                Mankind has so much to be grateful for at the hand of God. The 107th Psalm is a great template for us today. This Psalm begins the fifth and final portion of the Psalms relating to the book of Deuteronomy (*see below note), which extols “God’s word the only good”. Its opening verse is, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”  The following phrase is repeated four times in this Psalm, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (with testament of why in between vs. 8, 15, 21, 31).  The Psalm ends appropriately with “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the loving kindness of the Lord” (vs. 43). In order to observe these things one must see that God’s word is the only good, and pursue and meditate on it habitually and continuously (with thanksgiving) (Psalm 1:1-3).   

Laura

                                *The Psalms correspond with the first five books of the Old Testament (The Pentateuch). Book One: Genesis corresponds with Psalms 1-41 and concerns Man; Book Two: Exodus corresponds with Psalms 42-72 and concerns Israel as a nation; Book Three: Leviticus corresponds with Psalms 73-89 and concerns The Sanctuary; Book Four: Numbers corresponds with Psalms 90-106 and concerns Israel and the nations of the earth; Book Five: Deuteronomy corresponds with Psalms 107-150 and concerns God and His Word. The counsel of God re: His word shows that all blessings for man (book 1), all blessings for Israel (book 2), and all blessings for the earth and the nations (book 4) are bound up with living on the words of God (book 5) (Deut. 8:3). Disobedience to God’s words is the source of man’s sorrow (book 1), Israel’s dispersion (book 2), the Sanctuary’s ruin (book 3), and earth’s miseries (book 4). To study this interesting aspect of the Scriptures further, see The Companion Bible notes by E.W. Bullinger that precede the book of Psalms and are prior to each section of the five groupings.

The Haunting Grounds of the ‘Other Spirits’

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.

If you look within, you’ll be depressed.

But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”  —Corrie ten Boom—

                I have found all these three statements to be true. I can turn on the news to become distressed with the world’s worrisome and wearisome ways. I can become depressed when I look within my own fallible and flawed understanding. I can (thankfully) experience true peace and rest when I look to the risen Christ (Col. 3:1-3, Phil. 4:6-7).

So why do I still find myself tempted to look at the other two less satisfying options?

THERE ARE OTHER SPIRITS THAT DESIRE TO CONTROL US

The Bible tells us that there are ‘other spirits’ that desire to control us (2 Cor. 11:4, 1 Jn. 4:2-3, 2 Jn. 7). 

These other spirits are at work for our deception and misdirection— “seducing spirits—doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1).

These other spirits are principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).

These other spirits are some serious, heavy-duty evil entities. So much so that in order for the believer to stand against them, God had to provide protective spiritual armor (Eph. 6:11-17, Rom. 13:12-14). 

One is foolish to think that they can mess with or do battle with these evil spiritual beings on their own (Eph. 6:10-11). The method, strategies, or wiles that these other spirits use come directly from the evil teaching of the ruler of the power of the air —the devil himself (Eph. 2:2, 4:14).

The sphere that they haunt is in the area of the flesh. 

“…the whole world lies in the wicked one” (1 John 5:19, John 14:30, 2 Cor. 4:4).

“…beguiling unstable souls…they allure through the lusts of the flesh…servants of corruption…” (2 Pet. 2:14-19).   

                The flesh is one of the names of the old (fallen) nature that each of us is born with (as an offspring of Adam) (Rom. 3:23, 5:12). This nature’s understanding is darkened because it’s alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that’s in it (Rom. 6:6, Eph. 4:22). The nature of its heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9, Matt. 15:19). Its nature is corrupt according to the desires of the deceiver and in it dwells ‘no good thing’ (Eph. 4:22, 6:12, 1 John 3:8, Rom. 7:5, 18, John 6:63).  It can’t be improved or justified in the sight of God as it’s antagonistic to Him (Isa. 64:6, Rom. 3:20, 8:7-8, Gal. 2:16, 5:17). The wicked one’s strategy is to attack the flesh and stir up emotional responses to incite “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Gal. 5:19-21, 1 John 2:16). These spirits entice in subtle, often unrecognized ways, often masquerading as ‘ministers of righteousness’ (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

                The only antidote to this nature is to be reborn with a new nature “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” through belief in the sinless One (John 1:12-13, 2 Cor. 5:17, 21, Eph. 2:1-10, 4:22-24, Col. 3:10, 1 Jn. 3:5). This new nature is Divine and cannot be changed with the believer’s eternal salvation being sealed (John 3:6, Eph. 1:13). As the new nature is implanted, the presence of the old nature is revealed and conflict arises (Gal. 5:17). The apostle Paul wrote of this in Romans chapter seven expressing that this new nature (the mind of the inward man) delights in God’s law while at the same time the old nature (the flesh) delights in obeying its own law. Thus this clashing duality of natures is in a constant war against each other. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells;… For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice…” (vs. 15-20).  Paul ends the chapter with thanks to God through Jesus Christ his Lord who is able to deliver him from this struggle. He now had the choice to serve the law of God through his mind (the new nature) even though the law of sin (the old nature) was still present in his body. 

So although this conflict will persist until our death and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:54-57), God has equipped His saints with powerful spiritual weapons. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God…” (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:12-17). We may not have much control over many things in our world today, but we do have control over what we focus our minds and time on. Paul warned the Colossians of directing their attention on the rudiments of this world where man’s philosophies, vain deceit and tradition dictate their lives instead of Christ in Whom the Godhead bodily dwells. We are complete (lacking nothing) in Christ, Who is head of all principality and power (Col. 2:8-10).

So why would we choose to fix our minds on man’s words (or even great thoughts) that are useless in the spiritual realm? 

                Our aim and agenda should be properly placed on reading and knowing God’s Word. This is the nourishment that the new nature thrives on and the old nature is weakened by, so it’s important to keep up with “daily doses” (Rom. 13:14). As we do we’ll be able to discern truth from lies (Eph. 6:17, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, Heb. 4:12). When we feast on God’s rich, living words of truth (feeding on it for ourselves, not as a by-product from another) we’ll be equipped for any (and every) emergency, difficulty, temptation, or trial that comes our way (Rom. 11:33, 1 Cor. 1:30, Col. 2:3, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, Matt. 4:1-11, Prov. 2). 

 “Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, but a man of understanding walks uprightly” (Prov. 15:21).

Those who reject the gift of this new nature from God are hostile to Christ Jesus and the godly teaching of the Bible. They’re blind (in the dark) and destitute of discernment allowing an open door policy for the ’other spirits’ influence (John 3:19-21, Rom. 1:28, Eph. 4:17). Because they’re starved of the truth, their flesh feeds on the lies that these ‘other’ spirits infect them with, “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14). On the contrary, as the word of God abides in those with the new nature, this same sin is impenetrable as they are resistant and able to overcome it (1 Jn. 2:14, 4:4, 5:4, Eph. 6:10-11). 

The apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers to trust “by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (2 Cor. 6:7). Your old nature (the flesh) will remain powerless in you as you choose to live and walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 24-25).

                Living a godly life in Christ Jesus will not prevent you from experiencing suffering and persecution (rather count on it) (2 Tim. 3:12, 1 John 3:1, 13). Don’t allow the ever-changing events and experiences of the present conflict to steer you off course. As long as you keep your focus off the world, off yourself and on the ‘things above’ you’ll remain living and walking in the spirit and thus in the will of God (Rom. 12:2, Col. 3:1-3).

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (and the time we can say ‘good riddance’ to our old nature for good!) (Titus 2:11-13).

Laura