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

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

Where’s My Hope?

Things Above Colossians 3 2
“Things Above” by Laura Kestly

HIGH HOPES

Having an Outlook that’s Positively Eternal

 March is the month that includes the last phase of winter & also the official beginning of spring. For us in the northern Midwest especially, it’s the long awaited glimmer of hope of warmer temperatures and the bright & beautiful colors of creation reawakening–replacing the frozen snow-covered, brown & barren ground.

THE HOPE OF SPRING ENABLES US TO ENDURE THE REMAINING DAYS OF WINTER.

I often tell people (especially after discussing current events or other circumstances that may be out of my control), that I’m so thankful that I have ‘a Hope’. I don’t mean the kind of hope that has a trace of doubt in it—like, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow” or “I hope he remembers to bring the mail in”. That’s an “I’m not so sure if it will happen, but I have my fingers crossed” kind of hope—it’s possible but… The “Hope” that keeps me ‘keeping’ on’ and focusing upward is the capital “H” type of Hope defined by “confident expectancy”—as in the fulfillment of a promise. It’s a certain hope (where there’s no trace of doubt) (Heb. 6:19, 10:23; Titus 1:2)!

Martin Luther King Jr. said this, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Finite means having limits or bounds/fixed. Contrarily, infinite means limitless/unable to measure. This type of hope can only come from the Divine. It’s a HIGH Hope placed in a God Who, though He was on High, was brought low so that those (like me) who were low could have a hope on High (Phil. 2:6-9, 3:20; Rom. 3:23, 5:6-11)!

  • IT’S a PRECIOUS & BLESSED HOPE that was BOUGHT with a PRICE. A Hope, through Christ Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, for those who were alienated, to have peace with God & citizenship in heaven upon its reception (Eph. 2:12-13; Phil. 3:20).
  • IT’S a HOPE that came by GRACE & through FAITH is received (2 Thess. 2:16, Eph. 2:8).
  • IT’S a SAVING & ETERNAL HOPE (Rom. 8:24, 1 Thess. 5:8, Titus 1:2, & Eph. 2:8).
  • IT’S A HOPE that focuses on the BIG PICTURE—the FOREST (not just the trees). This Hope comes from God’s perspective & doesn’t focus on earthly circumstances that will pass –but on the eternal unseen things that will last (2 Cor. 4:18).
  • IT’S A GLORIOUS HOPE THAT CAUSES ONE TO REJOICE (not be disappointed) even through hard circumstances the future glory outweighs the present afflictions (Rom. 5:2, 5; Col. 1:27; 2 Cor. 4:8-10, 17).    
  • IT’S SUBSTANCE CONSISTS of FAITH/UNSEEN with the NAKED EYE. Through tribulation, perseverance & character it’s produced & must be eagerly waited for with perseverance (Hebrews 11:1, Rom. 5:3-4, 8:24-25).
  • IT’S ENERGIZING: One can endure & abound in this hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word (Rom 15:4, 13; 2 Cor. 4:16).

THE HOPE OF ETERNITY ENABLES US TO ENDURE OUR REMAINING TIME ON EARTH.

Want the shadows to fall behind you? Keep your mind’s eye toward the Son and the things above where HIGH HOPE can be found (Col. 3:1-4, Heb. 12:1-2, Titus 2:13).

Laura