Meet the Authors.
Sarah Burlingame is passionate about Biblical truth. Her diverse church background has taken her through Mainline Methodist, Evangelical, Charismatic and Roman Catholic circles. Her calling as an intercessor led her to receive a certification in Advanced Spiritual Warfare from LMCI (Liberating Ministries for Christ International) lmci.org . Sarah has served as a small group leader, worship planner, liturgical dance leader and online ministry coordinator. She holds a M.S. degree in Education and lives in northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and their sons. They attend North Rome Wesleyan Church.
Joanne Reinhart asked Jesus Christ into her heart at the age of nine in a Sunday school classroom in Maryland. Her journey with the Lord took her through various careers, colleges, and universities. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Art/Dance, Theology, and Education, and a M.S. degree in Educational Administration. Her passion for the Lord is evidenced through worship, dance, and teaching. She was liberated into her spiritual gifts and callings through the teaching resources of LMCI lmci.org . Joanne has danced and taught at Christian conferences and various churches in PA and VA. She currently teaches classical ballet and coaches dance for gymnastics. Joanne attends the Wyalusing Presbyterian Church. She and her husband live in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Broken……………………………………………………… 6
Chapter 2 Truth About One………………………………………. 8
Chapter 3 Light vs. Darkness…………………………………….. 16
Chapter 4 Hope………………………………………………………… 32
Chapter 5 Not…………………………………………………………… 42
Chapter 6 Redemption……………………………………………… 48
Chapter 7 Blood of Jesus…………………………………………… 59
Chapter 8 Hearing God……………………………………………… 68
Chapter 9 Angels………………………………………………………. 78
Chapter 10 Protection………………………………………………. 83
Chapter 11 Terrorism……………………………………………….. 89
Chapter 12 Fortitude to Finish………………………………….. 99
Chapter 13 Spiritual Armor………………………………………. 105
Chapter 14 Times…………………………………………………….. 116
Chapter 15 Signs in the Heavens……………………………… 122
Chapter 16 End Times……………………………………………… 130
Chapter 17 Arise……………………………………………………… 139
Author Page……………………………………………………………. 150
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Hope over Chaos… Transitioning from Darkness to Light
Sarah and Joanne met in 2006 at a Monday night worship service at Joanne’s church. It was full blown Pentecostal praise and worship with a live band and passionate expression for Jesus. The two became acquaintances and through conversations they both soon realized that they were experiencing Jesus in very similar ways. Although Sarah and Joanne soon became friends calling each other on the phone to pray or to compare their understanding of their Lord, their relationship hasn’t always been smooth sailing. It took time for mutual understanding and respect to fall into place. The evil prince of this world tried mightily to keep the friendship from ever getting off the ground, but God had other plans. Today, Sarah and Joanne work together well. They also understand and appreciate each other’s gifts, temperament and God given uniqueness.
What qualifies them to collaborate and write a book like this? The answer is simple. It is Jesus.
Both ladies come from teaching backgrounds but chose to leave the world of public school because they each had a tugging at their heart to turn away from the world. Turning away from the world doesn’t mean that they are flighty, ethereal spirits unable to exist in this temporal world. It also does not mean they are dogmatic, legalist, bible thumpers unable to relate to others. Sarah and Joanne are ordinary women living in an extraordinary time and they happen to know who they are in Jesus. They recognize that their Lord loves them so much that He has helped them to see past the barriers of pre-conceived notions. They believe His Word is literal truth and that the truth also has many layers. This will be understood as the pages unfold ahead. Sarah and Joanne both understand that they are “the righteousness of God in Him (Christ Jesus).” (2 Corinthians 5:21) They both love their families, enjoy Netflix nights with their husbands and the company of a good cat. Sarah always looks forward to her annual family vacations at the Jersey Shore while Joanne enjoys driving or flying places to vacation with
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family and friends. Their lives probably look predictable to the observant bystander…. but what they want to share is anything but predictable.
The remainder of this book, Hope over Chaos…Transitioning from Darkness to Light, will include various posts, reworked in chapter form, from the blog, www.theheraldofhope.com which Sarah and Joanne started in October 2015. May it be an encouragement!
Romans 12:2 (GNT)
Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.
Ephesians 4:14-16 (NKJV)
that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
John 15:19 (NIV)
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
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The little girl cowered under the blankets in her room of her Pennsylvania home. It was 1973 and at ten years old she was still afraid of the dark. Her family’s two story, conventional, post-WWII style colonial house was located next door to a drive-in movie theater and her bedroom faced that way. The screen faced the opposite direction of her room so she could never see the action but the sounds of the movies always drifted into her room; especially on nights when the solitary window had to be propped open to offer some relief from the warm and muggy summer nights. On that particular night, a new and terrifying film called “The Exorcist” was playing. She knew the name of the movie because she had heard her parents speak about it in hushed whispers. She was also told by her older sister that the movie was the scariest one ever made and that it was about a little girl with the devil inside of her. Muffled, eerie music and death screams bellowed out of the cars’ latch-on speakers. The sounds carried through the air and right into the little girl’s bedroom. So, she stayed huddled under blankets and tucked them tightly around her. She didn’t understand it but somehow, she knew that somewhere in that tight darkness those sounds portrayed entities that made her shake and whimper… and they were real. Who could help her? Who could save her from being devoured by the evil that surely waited on the other side of her blanket covering?
She understood. She didn’t know Him well, but she had heard about Him. The little girl cried out, “Jesus, please help me!”
That was forty-three years ago and that little girl was Sarah. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NKJV) For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Joanne remembers seeing many paintings of Jesus when she was growing up. Her mother had a famous portrait of him hanging in their house, and the church she grew up in had other paintings of Christ as He was portrayed in the gospels. At nine years old, she gave her heart to Jesus Christ in an upstairs Sunday School
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room of the Presbyterian Church in Maryland where they attended. She often tells people that her “ministering angels were working overtime” as they followed her throughout her high school and college years. She was ‘overtaken’ by the freedom of college life, unlike the small town enclosed upbringing she had experienced. Unfortunately, her roommates were heavily involved in the New Age and drug counterculture of the time. She was tossed ‘to and fro’ seeking ‘knowledge’ and trying to find her way. She somehow ended up in a yoga ashram taking classes and trying to ‘find peace’ amid the chaos of her life. While being told to ‘meditate’ and call out upon the ‘master yogi’ whose picture was hanging on the wall, Joanne distinctly ‘heard’ in her head, “the only true Master you know is the Lord Jesus Christ.” It was undeniable! That was the truth! She left that ashram and never came back. The Holy Spirit had ‘grabbed’ her attention, but it was many years before she “met” the man, Jesus Christ, whose face she longed to see other than in paintings on the wall.
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Chapter 1 – Broken
We’ve been noticing what seems to be an increase in articles and books dealing with the brokenness of humans including Christians. These teachings concern us because instead of emphasizing the finished works of Jesus, who sacrificed His life on our behalf, they focus on the sin nature of people. There is no denying that this world, which includes all of us, is fallen and depraved. However, once we make the choice to make Jesus the Lord of our lives, as our Savior, our brokenness is no longer seen by our Heavenly Father. Instead He sees us as righteous, just as Jesus is righteous. Yet, too many Christians feel better about beating themselves up than accepting the finished works of Jesus as their own. A question we may ask is: “If we are saved and our depravity is no longer the way God sees us then why is there still so much hurt and suffering?” It is because: 1) there is an adversary who hates us and hates the truth of the redemptive works of Jesus Christ. Satan will do all he can to make sure that we listen to the works of his evil dark kingdom rather than the truth and light of God’s true kingdom; and 2) many people feel as if they need to suffer to be worthy. They believe that they need to remain in or somehow “feed” their pain instead of allowing Jesus to deliver them from it (evil’s effects). In the scriptures did Jesus ever say to the hurt, sick, and sinful people, “there, there, go deeper into that pain and let it consume you”? Or, “You need to deal with your hurt first by acknowledging it, then I can heal you”? No! Jesus had deep empathy for the sinful people He loved, but His solution didn’t come with “talk therapy.” Jesus’ solution came with power and deep faith. The answer to the sufferings of this world lies in learning to dwell (yes, literally dwell) with Jesus in the ‘secret place’. It is from this place we can use our authority from Jesus to live in victory over this fallen world.
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Trying to fix the wounds caused by this world on our own will ultimately lead to failure. Instead, we can use the authority given to us as believers in Jesus Christ to call forth the blessings into our lives (emotional and physical healing, peace, favor, protection, and supply of all our needs). Let Jesus renew our minds through His unfathomable love. We’re not just preaching a theory here. We’ve both experienced the damages caused by this fallen world and can confidently proclaim that learning to dwell with Him with our spirits has been our only true relief from the darkness.
The following chapters in this book are designed to help increase our faith. They will also help us enter fully into the Lord’s promises. By the end of the book, our hope is that we can all ARISE into the place of meeting with our Bridegroom King, Jesus Christ. He is always making intercession for us, and He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 7:25; 12:2)
Hebrews 12:2 Good News Translation (GNT)
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God's throne.
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Chapter 2 – Truth About “0ne”
True or Not True?
We know many people out there who strongly believe that the Bible is an ancient text full of myths, fairy tales and legends. These folks claim to live in “reality” and would never submit to the thought that anything written on the pages of an old book by people long, long dead could possibly hold anything relevant, let alone substantial and true to them, in today’s modern world. They have made the choice to ignore the God of the Bible and see Him only as an invented illusion in which believers cling to in order to cope in this world.
What we find fascinating, however, is that many of these same people delve deeply into actual fantasy without batting an eye to its untruths. They wait with deep anticipation for the next Star Wars movie then dress up like a clone trooper and attend the first midnight showing. Online gaming or visiting a Harry Potter inspired village have become increasingly common trends as well. A few take their fantasy even farther by having cosmetic procedures done to make them look totally different or change their names to honor their favorite super hero (or Transformer). The sad reality is that all of these forms of fantasy (and more) have become real to a growing number of people. Oh, they continue to deny the God of the Bible; but they do so by replacing Him with their natural human desire to connect with someone (or something) that is greater.
What many people do not know (or believe) is that the God of this universe IS real and He made a way for us to connect with Him…. through His Son, Jesus Christ. While we humans get judgmental, Jesus accepts us as we are. We only have to accept and believe in Him.
Take note of these words written long ago because they are as true today as ever:
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Colossians 2:8 (NLT)
“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” (Jesus)
In the last Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay 2, the character Peta had to repeatedly ask his friends to define reality for him. He was so badly tortured by the Capitol that he could no longer distinguish the truth from lies. On a side note: if you’re wondering if we actually watched the Hunger Games movies the answer is yes. Jesus doesn’t expect us to disengage from the world rather He wants us to continually be more like Him. We are to be in this world but not of this world. Dystopian fiction is interesting to us because we know the real truth about how this world will end and we like to see what others have devised. We also enjoy super-hero movies and have found a plethora of similarities alluding to biblical prophecy when these movies are viewed with what we call a “biblical lens”. This brings us back to our friend Peta. He had to rely on his friends for truth. Unfortunately, not all of his friends stayed alive. We, on the other hand, all have a friend and an advocate who loves us and who will defend us. He is a friend whom we can count on with certainty because He has already conquered death. He was the only person resurrected by God the Father and is alive right now and forever. He is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. If a person doesn’t know Him yet it isn’t too late. His Word is the only place to go with certainty to determine what is true and what is not true. Thankfully, most us do not have an understanding as distorted as Peta. However, it is still a confusing world…. Is Jesus real? True. Is He the Son of God? True. Have we sinned too much to be forgiven? Untrue. Does Jesus really love us more than we can ever imagine? And, did He really lay down His life for us? TRUE.
John 14:6 (CEB)
“Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
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A One World Religion? One God?
On September 23, 2016, in Jerusalem, Israel, the Mekudeshet Festival took place. There is no Hebrew to English translation for the word Mekudeshet. Internet searches have brought up more than one possible meaning, but the consensus is that it means ‘holiness’. The Mekudeshet Festival was said to be a gathering of art and artists to unite people through the creative process. So far so good, right? However, there was an additional element that was called a “House of Prayer” which also seems benevolent until the realization that the House of Prayer at Mekudeshet proposed to bring the religions of the holy land (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) together to worship the God of all.
Is there really ONE God over all religions? There would be a long list of the world’s religions, from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Folk Religions (including New Age religions that worship Mother Earth), to name a few. To be bold, Buddha, Vishnu, Allah, the many Taoist deities, or Mother Earth are NOT the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! YAHWEH, Elohim, Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts is His name.
Deuteronomy 6:4 (NKJV)
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!
Zechariah 8:3 (NKJV)
“Thus says the Lord:
‘I will return to Zion,
And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth,
The Mountain of the Lord of hosts,
The Holy Mountain.’
When Sarah was a member of the American United Methodist Church, she was well aware of the favorable positioning the church had towards Ecumenicalism. According to the Oxford dictionary, the word ecumenical means: “promoting or relating to unity among the world's Christian churches.” Notice that it says unity among Christian churches. Since the time of the Roman Empire, Christians have been driven into different sects which have resulted in our multi-denominational existence today. There has been an attempt in recent years to re-unite the
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Christian churches of the world into harmonious existence. This truly isn’t a bad thing. However, since many denominations no longer recognize God’s holy word to be absolute (sola scriptura) it is an attempt that cannot be met on human terms. Only the Holy Spirit can bring unity among people, by and through the truth of God’s inspired Word through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
1 Timothy 2:4 (KJV)
(God our Savior,) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
This Truth is: there is only ONE God, the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3) This ONE God, is the same Father God over Christianity and Judaism. (As you know, there are many Messianic believers today who recognize Jesus Christ as their Savior.)
Unfortunately, many mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches no longer make clear distinctions about religious unity based on the Word of God.
1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
Coexisting means living within proximity of people of other faiths without attempting to cause any harm. From a scriptural standpoint living in peace is admirable (“love one another”). BUT, the great commission urges us to help non-believers come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said this to his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 (AMP) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”
Jesus said He will be with us, even to the end of the age (end = close, completion; age = eternity, time period). This is good news! Our hope is in Christ, alone, Who is our anchor in this world of drastic changes, stormy seas, and the howling winds of change (culturally, economically, politically, and spiritually).
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John 14:6 (NKJV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
The Truth About Being One
What is true Oneness? Will a one- world: government, monetary system or religion be the answer for today’s world?
Can being One with the universe lead us to heaven? God? Nirvana? Perfect Harmony?
Can there be a oneness with nature? A oneness with creation? What is the Truth about being One?
There is a polarity regarding being One with the universe vs being One with the God of the bible, but does that expanse in thought truly need to exist? Many of us are probably familiar with the new movement called “Coexist”. In fact, we may have seen the term on car bumper stickers complete with images from several different world religions.
The Coexist movement differs from Oneness in the sense that people are encouraged to preserve their own religions while getting along with others of different faiths. Oneness suggests that all roads lead to the ‘universal whole’.
Jesus is clear in His description of being ONE with God, the Father. But we believe that ultimately, Oneness and Coexist have the same goal of enveloping a broad path to a ‘higher entity’ while circumventing the true Creator of all creation. But shouldn’t a Oneness with all people be our goal? Shouldn’t we LOVE one another as the scripture says? Why does it matter if we reach GOD, the Father in heaven, as opposed to becoming our own gods in this world? Isn’t UNITY a good thing? From a biblical perspective, the Father of all Creation, wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the Truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) What does that really mean? Can’t we just tolerate all other people’s religions or lack of religion and just get along…. ‘All we need is love’ was a popular song by the Beatles. The hippies LOVE movement has been regenerated into the Coexist and Oneness movement. How many remember the episode from the original Star Trek series in which space hippies got onto the Enterprise with hopes of finding a “Heaven” planet? Of course, only the logical Spock could understand their desire, adding
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credibility to the Oneness Movement at the time. It’s the same idea of universal wholeness through love of EVERYTHING that is being promoted again today.
So, why does it matter? What is this knowledge of the truth about being saved? About loving one another?
Matthew 22:37-39 (TLB) Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’
That is the ultimate love standard. This is a part of the knowledge of the Truth the Lord our God wants us to know. HE also wants us to be ‘saved’ which means to have eternal life. Jesus said that He came to give us ‘life and life more abundantly.’ (John 10:10). This ‘more abundant’ life comes from a knowledge of the truth that we are ONE with the Father, with Jesus Christ His Son, and with the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us that He was IN the Father, and He told us how we can become One with them.
John 14:10-11 (NIV)
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
There is ONLY way to the Father, in heaven:
John 14:6 (NKJV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
The Ultimate Oneness that we can be assured of is found in John 14:20 where Jesus tells us that we can KNOW that He is IN the Father, and that we are IN Him, and He is IN us!!
John 14:20 (AMP)
On that day [when that time comes] you will know for yourselves that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.
A set of Russian ‘nesting dolls’ is really a set of wooden dolls which fit inside one another and the final doll is the biggest one. If we didn’t know how to twist open the largest doll, we might not discover the other dolls sitting inside each other! That is a good example of how we are ONE with the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit!
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We are spiritually protected INSIDE the FATHER! This is the ULTIMATE PROTECTION: Jesus is IN the Father, the Father is IN Jesus, we are IN Jesus, Jesus is IN us, the Holy Spirit is IN us, and we are therefore IN the Father (the biggest and largest of all)! Here is another way of looking at this spiritual truth:
1) FATHER GOD
2) Jesus is in the Father
3) The Father is in Jesus
4) Jesus is in us
5) We are in Jesus
6) Holy Spirit is in us
7) We are in the Father
The Holy Spirit is our Helper and Comforter, the Spirit of Truth who also dwells in us (John 14:17). Jesus is clear about how the Father and He will make us their dwelling place:
John 14:23 (AMP)
Jesus answered, “If anyone [really] loves Me, he will keep My word (teaching); and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling place with him.
Can this be true? Is it possible in today’s world to be a dwelling place for Jesus? How can we be assured of this? John chapter 15 talks about ‘abiding in Jesus’ because He is the vine and we are the branches. How can we ‘abide in Christ’ on a daily basis? One way is to read and believe in our hearts the truth about the scriptures, and to keep our mind focused on the Lord.
Jesus asks the Father to ‘keep us’…
John 17:11 (AMP)
I am no longer in the world; yet they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are.
John 17:20-23 (AMP)
I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message, that they all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me. I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected and
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completed into one, so that the world may know [without any doubt] that You sent Me, and [that You] have loved them, just as You have loved Me.
This is the ultimate goal of ONENESS with the Father, with Jesus, and with the Holy Spirit of Truth… that we may be ‘perfected and completed into ONE’ in the Godhead. This ONENESS with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is our inheritance when we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. (Romans 10:9) In Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross, we are already washed clean by His shed blood and made whole by His stripes, scourging and beatings. Jesus says we are ‘already clean’ by the word which He has spoken to us. (John 15:3)
The ‘TRUE’ goal of this ONENESS is so that the world may BELIEVE without any doubt that Father God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, and that the Father’s Love is for all who will believe this. “Are we One”? Yes, we are One with God the Father, with Jesus Christ His Son, and with the Holy Spirit, because all other concepts of One are just ‘dust in the wind’.
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Chapter 3 – Light vs Darkness
The Battle Between Light and Darkness
Many may not believe this truth, but 1 John 1:5 says, “… God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” If this is so, then what is the darkness we perceive all around the world? How can we battle against this darkness? Will it overtake us? The headlines on the news and internet are echoed throughout social media. There has been a shift from the truth of biblical standards to a worldly humanistic view of life. For example, a human being is not a person until born and breathing life, but that “entity” can be aborted fully whole and discarded, or used for scientific experimentation. Too graphic for you? Did humanity evolve from some amoeba living under the ocean or from a monkey searching for food and shelter? Did a big bang occur and set in motion the vast universe that runs like clockwork?
Genesis 1:3-4 (AMP)
And God said, [a] “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good (pleasing, useful) and He affirmed and sustained it; and God separated the light [distinguishing it] from the darkness.
(The notation [a] is translated from the Hebrew to mean: “It is My will that this happen.” God literally commanded (willed) the world into existence.
Since we tend to think in literal terms, many people have been confused by this scripture. What was this “light” in Genesis chapter 1? If the sun was not made until the third day, then it seems clear that this “light” was not the illumination visible to the human eye that we know as light. No, we believe it is speaking of spiritual light and spiritual darkness. In other words, God built a spiritual earth which laid the foundation for the physical earth we see all around us. This should help us to understand that part of the spirit world exists within our very realm of existence. For Christians, then, what should we do?
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Ephesians 5:8-14 (NIV)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
1 John 1:5 (AMP)
This is the message [of God’s promised revelation] which we have heard from Him and now announce to you, that God is Light [He is holy, His message is truthful, He is perfect in righteousness], and in Him there is no darkness at all [no sin, no wickedness, no imperfection].
Since God is light, we are to live as “children of light” because the spiritual reality for born-again believers is that we are “light in the Lord.” The “god of this world” (Lucifer / satan) has blinded the minds of those who do not believe and confess that Jesus Christ is their Lord, and that God raised Him from the dead. (Romans 10:9, 10) We are to ‘walk in the light’ as Jesus is in the light, because we ‘shine as lights in the world.’
2 Corinthians 4:3, 4 (NASB)
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
1 John 1:7 (MEV)
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Philippians 2:15 (NKJV)
... that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world
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When we live as “children of light” and “walk in the light” of Jesus Christ our Lord, we will defeat darkness everywhere we go. The shed blood of Jesus Christ is our covering, our protection. The armor of light (Romans 13:12) keeps the world of darkness far from us! The truth is, we have been delivered and rescued from the power of darkness and God has transferred us to the Kingdom of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:13)
In this troubling world, may you receive the following blessing: Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV)
“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
and give you peace.”’
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Which Kingdom Do You Choose?
The conflicting force of light and darkness is both universal and timeless. In many of the legends, tales and literature, this force is blatantly evident. For example, the beautiful Snow White was at dangerous odds with her evil, witch step-mother; while Prince Charming had to slay fiery dragons. In more modern times, there is a plethora of super hero vs villain movies. Are these stories meant to only tantalize our psyche or is something deeper occurring, albeit sub-consciously, in the minds of the authors who created these stories? Could it be that the battle for good vs evil is very real and part of our experience as humans is to deal with this battle for ourselves and our families? Therefore, the stories told from the beginning of humanity exemplify the ever-present struggle between light and darkness.
There is a kingdom of light and a kingdom of darkness. It is as real as the coffee we may have had for breakfast and the air we are surely breathing to stay alive. While both kingdoms are ever present, we have a choice as to which one will be our dwelling place. Which one should we choose to live in? There is a constant battle going on in the spirit realm for our souls. Just as Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil, we are tempted in this world. Power, fame, wealth (provision), security (protection) are flashed with repeated boldness in advertising, entertainment, music, on the internet, and over social media. This kingdom of self-centered exaltation is the same kingdom of darkness that wanted God’s Beloved Son, Jesus (see Matthew 3:17) to command provision, receive “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory,” and to bow down and worship the devil (Lucifer). Jesus answered with these words, “it is written” and all the wiles of the devil could not prevail against him.
Sarah knows first-hand what the temptation from satan feels like. She gave herself to Jesus and asked Him into her heart around the age of 13. However, beyond that she had very little encouragement for Christ centered living from those in her sphere of influence. A few years later she had an experience she will never forget. It was late at night and she clearly heard a voice in her mind say to her, “If you worship me I will give you great riches and success.” Along with this voice was an overwhelming sensation of spiritual darkness. Sarah remembers that
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the promise for great riches and success was very tempting! She also knew that the voice was real. However, there was “something” inside of her that simply would not allow her to submit to that voice. She did not truly understand it at the time, but knows now that the “something” was the Holy Spirit who had been dwelling in her since the time she asked Jesus into her heart.
How many of us have had something similar happen? If not, we still deal with worries and struggles daily. We often wish they would simply go away. Our minds can battle negative thoughts of loss, lack, or loneliness; or feelings of not getting anywhere in life. Too many bills to pay, too many things to accomplish? Pressure, pressure, and more pressure everywhere? Wouldn’t it be easier to just let the world help instead of trying to believe that the promises of God are real and that they are our inheritance now?
In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus uses the illustration of how His Heavenly Father knows that we need food, drink, clothing, and all the necessities of this life. His Father feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, in all His glory, and wants us to know that He will do all this and more if we will seek Him and His Kingdom. The context of these verses is that we are not to worry, but to seek the kingdom of God and all the things we need will be “ADDED” to us.
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
What is this “kingdom of God” and how can we seek it? Romans 14:17 (NKJV)
for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Righteousness is the state of being in proper relationship with God. It is a Gift of God to us through the finished work of Christ on the cross. We simply should receive this gift, then we will come into agreement with God’s standards of what is right and just.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (MEV)
God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
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People from every walk of life are seeking “peace and joy” through a variety of ways, spending a lot of their time and money trying to find and keep them! True peace and joy can only be found in Jesus Christ. Jesus has bequeathed us His peace (John 14:27), and when we are in His presence, we are filled with joy!
Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10), we are supernaturally infused with the Holy Spirit. We are sealed with a guarantee of inheritance: the perfect redemption of our spirit, soul (present), and body (future) by Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:13-14) We were dead in our sins, and lived according to the desires of the flesh and of the mind. (Ephesians 2:1-3) But now, we are seated beside Christ in the heavenly realms!
Ephesians 2:4-6 (NIV)
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus
Is there something we need to be aware of in this present age? How can we live in the world and still choose God’s kingdom of light in this ever-darkening atmosphere? The truth is, we need to choose to “put off” the “old man” which was our nature prior to making our decision for Christ.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)
that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
This “new man” is the person we become when we choose to follow Christ as described in the scriptures. When we seek (choose) the kingdom of God, we will walk in righteousness, peace and joy with the Holy Spirit in us. This kingdom of light is what we have chosen. We can attest to the fact that it truly is a beautiful dwelling place.
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We should remember the simplicity of Christ’s words against the devil (“It is written”), if we are ever plagued by thoughts or even “hear” voices that try to torment us. Even saying aloud, “JESUS” is enough to put these evil spirits in their place, which is under our feet! They have all been defeated by Jesus Christ at the cross. (Colossians 2:15) Let’s speak the scriptures out loud over ourselves, our loved ones, and all that pertains to us. We have been given an armor that will absolutely cause us to be victorious over everything in the kingdom of darkness!
Ephesians 6:11 (AMPC)
Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
The kingdom of God is available to us today and each day!
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Is there a constant battle going on around our lives that includes a multitude of issues all contending for our time and talents? Health, finances, family situations, work ethics, the government encroaching upon our liberty, society in general? If so, the only way to overcome the prevailing darkness is to remember the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross. He is our Advocate with the Father and intercedes in prayer for us, His righteous called out ones. Do not let the enemy of our souls bring condemnation.
Romans 8:34 (AMP)
Who is the one who condemns us? Christ Jesus is the One who died [to pay our penalty], and more than that, who was raised [from the dead], and who is at the right hand of God interceding [with the Father] for us.
We need to remember that the battle is not with people, but with the spiritual principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness of this age. The accuser of the brethren, satan, is at work manipulating his hosts of wickedness in the second heaven to cause as much havoc to God’s people as possible. We can overcome this darkness by the shed Blood of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:11) and by putting on the whole armor of God.
Therefore, we are told to: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13 NKJV)
No doubt some of us have heard or read this passage from Ephesians many times. It seems to be a favorite to be proclaimed from the pulpit or dissected in theology books. We, too, could expound upon the layers of truth here, but for the sake of being concise, let’s just look at the words heavenly places. Really, what are heavenly places? Where are heavenly places located? Are heavenly places something which we, on earth, need to be concerned about? Understanding the
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certainty of heavenly places will help to take us a long way in overcoming the powers of darkness.
First, there are three heavens which we should understand. The 1st heaven is the earth where we all live. The 2nd heaven is often thought to be just outside of our physical reality. It is a spirit realm with both holy and unholy angels. The 3rd heaven is where the throne of God is. Our spirits can have access to all of these realms if we are saved and have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us. Therefore, the principalities and powers we “wrestle” with are part of the 2nd heaven reality. But here is the cool part! …. We don’t have the whole armor of God on us in a physical sense in this 1st (earth) heaven. We put it on in the 3rd heaven when we are seated with our Heavenly Father. It is from this vantage point we bring the light of our Lord into this dark world. Yes, we understand that this may sound difficult to grasp but please meditate on this concept until God helps to make it a reality!
2 Corinthians 12:2 (KJV)
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth ;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
The apostle Paul wrote the above verse when he experienced a vision of Paradise. Before we became followers of Jesus Christ, we lived only in this world, or 1st heaven, which is influenced by the “Prince of the power of air”, satan. But now, we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 2:2 (AMP)
“…in which you once walked. You were following the ways of this world [influenced by this present age], in accordance with the prince of the power of the air (satan), the spirit who is now at work in the disobedient [the unbelieving, who fight against the purposes of God].”
Ephesians 2:4-6 (ESV)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
Heavenly (places) is the Greek word meaning: what pertains to or is in heaven; the celestial, heavenly realm. This realm is what is called the 3rd heaven. The 1st
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heaven is on this current earth, and the 2nd heaven is what is between the earth’s atmosphere, and the 3rd heaven is where the throne of God exists.
The truth is, when we stand and speak the truth of God’s word, the scriptures, into every area of our lives, we are giving testimony to the truth of God’s LIGHT vs the darkness that is around us on this present earth.
2 Corinthians 4:6 (NASB)
“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
When we spiritually “sit” with God in the 3rd heaven through praise, worship, prayer, and declarations we are agreeing with Him that His light and glory can be released in our environment. We are taking an action which literally brings heaven to earth. Here is the promise from 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV): “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”
Can we overcome darkness? Yes, by being the light. Praise be to God!
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Transformed by Glory or Gore?
We have noticed the sensationalism and the increasingly dark intensity of the media. It is difficult to NOT click on a link on our computers or smart phones and inadvertently view some tragedy or horror that has transpired somewhere in the world. It is important to know that our “eye gate” or what we see and allow our minds to process, is something we need to monitor. Do we have a habit of watching the nightly news before going to bed and then find it difficult to fall asleep? Then our “eye gate” has been negatively affected.
In addition to a near constant bombardment of upsetting news, we also must deal with an increase in the gore and violence on TV, movies, commercials and in books and music. Why is this? Because the worldly fascination with these forms of entertainment is growing. Many people are drawn to what we consider occult imaginations because their hearts have grown cold.
The New Age movement, which truly is new since it manifested in the 1960’s, is another area where people are drawn and therefore allow ungodly influence into their “eye gate.” It has been said, “The mind is like tofu, it tastes like whatever you marinate it in.” There is certainly truth in this new age statement. What we constantly think about influences us greatly. However, there is a danger lurking behind this seemingly benign statement. Filling our minds with peaceful, Zen or Buddhist confirmations may ease us out of an anxiety attack, but will do NOTHING to release the glory of God in our lives. That can only be done through Jesus!
John 14:6 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
We can be transformed in a negative way, or in a positive way. We get to choose what we allow into our minds. Will we become sorrowful or joyful? Fearful or peaceful? Worried or hope filled?
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)
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But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Jesus said He would turn our sorrow into joy (John 16:20) and that our joy would be full. (John 16:24) Only when we know Jesus can we have true peace. He has bequeathed us His peace (John 14:27) and it is our inheritance from Him now.
John 16:33 (AMPC)
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
Back to the glory of the Lord vs the gore of the world: We simply cannot receive His glory if we choose to allow the gory aspects of this world to fill our minds. Keeping our eyes and minds on Jesus is not a difficult task. It may be true that we can’t always get away from negative images when surfing channels with our family, or riding in public transportation, or when shopping in a mall, but we can choose to keep Jesus at the forefront of our thoughts.
This glory of the Lord was hidden in the Old Testament but is revealed to us, the New Testament believers.
Colossians 1:26-27 (NASB)
that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
This glory is a divine gift to each of us who accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. (Romans 10:9, 10) This is the same glory that Jesus received from the Father and that He gives to us. Jesus’ desire is that He wants us to be with Him where He is and that we may behold his glory.
John 17:22, 24 (AMP)
I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one, just as We are one; …Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given to Me [as Your gift to Me], may be with Me where I am, so that they may see My
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glory which You have given Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
Glory is the Greek word, doxa, which means: glory, splendor, brilliance; the awesome light that radiates from God’s presence and is associated with His acts of power; honor; praise.
We have this HOPE OF GLORY because Christ is in us! But how can we really receive this “hope of glory” and be transformed by the Lord? What should we focus our minds on?
Romans 12:2 (AMP)
And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
The word, transformed, in this verse comes from the Greek word that means metamorphosis, or the process that leads to an outward, permanent change. When we choose to think on the promises of God in His word, and meditate on those good things, we will be transformed out of the world’s snare into the glorious light of the truth of the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news, indeed!
Philippians 4:8 (AMP)
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].
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Blinded By Love
There is a saying that “Love is blind.” This often means that someone ‘fell in love’ with the wrong person. We are hearing the word LOVE thrown around social media, the nightly news, commentaries, protesters, and used in daily conversations. Love, love, love. One thing about love is certain, however, it is a concept that differs greatly among the people of this world. If a person or a group says they love, is that love always true? Is it the love that the bible describes?
1 John 4:7-8 (AMP)
Beloved, let us [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. 8 The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]
How can we know if someone says we should ‘love everyone’ that they are truly talking about the love of God in Christ Jesus?
1 John 4:2-3 (ESV)
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
Here is an interesting quote from American Pastor and bible scholar, Warren Wiersbe: “Truth without love is brutality. Love without truth is hypocrisy.”
The love of God is truth and sometimes…. OK, maybe even many times, His truth is misunderstood. The truth is: The God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, is not the same god of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shinto, or Zoroastrianism. He is, however, the same God of Judaism, the God and Father of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob (Israel).
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In John 14:6, Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus Christ is the only ONE who was crucified, died, and raised from the dead. He now sits beside our Heavenly Father, at the
right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2) “For in Him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;” (Colossians 2:9)
None of the other world religions have a god who is alive! Jesus Christ is alive! When we follow Him and heed His words, our lives line up with the truth.
So, how do we live in these perilous times right NOW? There can be no denying that fact. There are wars and rumors of wars. There is intense political strife. There is hatred and accusations of hate throughout this whole world. And in the midst of all of this, we are hearing a lot of talk about “love”.
There is a holy war (jihad) going on around the world. ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a Salafi jihadist militant group that has been designated a terrorist organization by the United Nations and many individual countries. Amnesty International has charged this group with ethnic cleansing on a “historic scale” in northern Iraq. The definition of jihad is: 1) a holy war undertaken as a sacred duty by Muslims; 2) any vigorous, emotional crusade for an idea or principle.
The god of Islam is declared to be “great” as radical Islamic terrorists strike innocent targets around the world. (“Allahu Akbar”, an Islamic phrase, in Arabic, meaning "Allah is Greater" or "Allah is [the] greatest" is shouted by these terrorists.) Is that TRUTH? Is that LOVE?
Jesus told His disciples: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
To be “wise as serpents” is to know and use the authority Jesus has given us as believers, so we won’t be caught off guard or be in harms’ way. To be “gentle as doves” is to be full of the fruit of the Spirit with all grace and truth. Jesus knew that persecutions were coming for His people and that they would be subject to deception. He knew that the wolves of this world were voracious predators eager to devour their prey. So, He warned us ahead of time to be aware of the dangers and to be gracious at the same time. That really isn’t an easy task but, when we are guided by the Holy Spirit, we can be more than conquerors in this world. We can walk in love and be confident in the truth of who we are in Christ. We will not be “blinded by love” but emboldened by it!
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1 John 4:17-19 (NKJV)
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
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Chapter 4 - Hope
How Do You Know if You’re Going to Heaven?
There is a teaching that is both confusing and deceptive that says, ‘good people go to heaven.’ Just being ‘good’ is not ‘good enough’ according to the scriptures. We want a guarantee, right?
If heaven is where God the Father resides, how do we get there?
In John 14:6, Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
There is a seal from the Holy Spirit that guarantees entrance into heaven. This guarantee does not come from just being a ‘good person.’ The Greek word for “sealed” is sphragizo, and according to Strong’s Concordance means: to put a mark on an object, to show possession, authority, identity, or security.
This seal, or mark is a spiritual one that is not visible in the natural world. It comes from the Holy Spirit of God. The scriptures talk about the “mark of the beast” that may also be a spiritual seal or mark, which will come from a spirit being who will be revealed in the earth during a later time period.
It is reassuring to know that we are sealed for eternity in heaven.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (AMP)
"In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]. The Spirit is the guarantee [the first installment, the pledge, a foretaste] of our inheritance until the redemption of God’s own [purchased] possession [His believers], to the praise of His glory.”
Can we still ‘count on just being a good person’?
How do we know we have ‘believed on Him’ who is Jesus Christ?
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John 3:16 (AMP)
“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
We love ‘good people’ and we know oodles of ‘good people’. Many are no doubt sealed by the Holy Spirit, but not all. How do we know? What is the point of being ‘sealed’ by the Holy Spirit? ...... It is your guarantee.
The truth is: "Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee." 2 Corinthians 5:5 (NKJV)
That’s how we know that we are going to heaven.
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Rest For Your Soul
Jesus had a heart and passion for the souls of the people living during His time on earth. He knew that the people with whom He shared His Jewish heritage were oppressed and wearied from years of foreign occupation and rule. He knew that their minds were held captive every bit as much as their bodies through lengthy subjugation and demoralization. The Romans were heavy taskmasters and the occupied people were beleaguered.
But, Jesus had an answer:
Matthew 11:28-30 (AMPC)
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.
We may not be living under an oppressive Roman regime any longer; but governments have a way of coming around to heavy handedness in some form or other………… and this world will always be fallen until Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom. So, how can we find true rest for our souls (minds)? Is it possible that we are carrying around the weight of the past and that it has become a heavy burden? What about the chores, tasks, and work that are mounting up before us each day? What does it mean to take Jesus’ yoke or to be yoked to Him?
When animals were widely used in farming, oxen were often teamed together with double yokes. It was a wooden bar which harnessed two animals (typically oxen) together to cause the load to be carried more easily. Often, one harness was larger and meant for the stronger, more experienced animal, while the smaller harness was used for the animal being trained. Jesus wants to guide each one of us and take the burden off our shoulders and minds (souls). When we cast
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all our care on Him, Jesus takes our burden and in exchange, we can rest amid all that is before us. (1 Peter 5:7)
Picture the following: A person is bowed down with burdens as if a wooden yoke is around their head. It is heavy, and their head is swaying to the right and left, their eyes looking only forward or down, but not up, due to the weight. They are moving slowly, and do not even see the heavy chains attached to each ankle. The chains are from worry, anxiety, fear, abuse, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, lust,
pride, iniquities, sin consciousness, and other memories that have been haunting their thoughts.
But, by the GRACE of GOD, the person is introduced to Jesus Christ, who takes their yoke in exchange for His, and the harness on their neck is removed. A sense of release and freedom is known, but the hidden chains remain in darkness. These are secrets of the past that no one can see outwardly or understand. Yes, as Christians, we can carry around these chains until the Holy Spirit reveals the truth and we are set free.
Colossians 2:14 (NKJV)
(Jesus) having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
At the cross, Jesus Christ’s shed blood erased all the sin, transgression, and iniquity that was against us. He redeemed us from the curse of the law, from all generational curses, and from the hand of the enemy. (Galatians 3:13; Psalm 107:2) Jesus died to set us free from worry, anxiety, fear, illness, and all disease (dis-ease). The Dark Ages’ lie that the Christian life is “one of suffering” has permeated the Church for decades. Each one of us must believe and lay hold of the promises Jesus Christ made available to us by His death and resurrection.
So, how does “knowing” the scriptures in our heads become a reality in our hearts? Our souls (minds) need to be saturated with the truths of the Word of God. When Jesus Christ set us free from the past, we are free now! (John 8:32) The chains of the past finally come loose, sometimes one link at a time, perhaps all at once, and then all our mourning is turned to dancing! We have been set free by the knowledge of Jesus Christ’s finished work at the cross.
Can we sit and take a few minutes to REST in Him: to hear the Lord speak to us in our hearts? His voice sounds like ours, but Jesus will confirm His words to us. There won’t be any more doubt in our minds when we hear and listen and
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read the scriptures of truth from God’s Word. What JOY! What HOPE! Our burdens are removed, and we can look up and see the goodness of the Lord.
Let’s come today, and give all our burdens to the Lord Jesus Christ. Call upon His name and He will answer. (Romans 10:13) He becomes our REST.
Where to Find Real Peace
Can we have PEACE in: our life? family? home? occupation?
Some people pursue peace through various means: exercise, meditation, observing nature, studying scripture, or other texts. Some feel peace can be found through socializing with friends or relaxing with their families. While it is true that contentment can be found through these means; is it true that lasting peace can be attained? What if while we are molding ourselves into that perfect yoga pose we strain a muscle? What if while spending time with family an argument breaks out about spending too much on groceries? What happens when we support our favorite political candidate only to be spurned by those who we thought were friends? If all these worldly conditions have the potential to prevent peace, what's a person to do?
The scriptures tell us to seek peace and pursue it: “Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it." (Psalm 34:14 NKJV)
How do we do that? 1 Peter 3:11 says: “Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.”
Even if we live a good life and ‘do no evil’ can we really achieve peace? How do we pursue peace for ourselves, our home, our family, our job/occupation, or anything we are involved in?
There is a PERSON we can seek after who will give us that desired peace. His name is Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God.
Romans 10:9 (NKJV)
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 (NKJV)
For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
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Jesus tells us that He has given us His peace, even if there is unrest or turmoil around us that affects our lives.
John 14:27 (AMP)
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]
John 16:33 (AMP)
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
So, how can we stop becoming disturbed when things go wrong or when we suddenly have anxious or fearful thoughts?
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, 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."
This PEACE OF GOD that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ can be ours when we trust in Him. Can we completely trust our: employment? schools? institutions? churches? clubs? social media?
There is only One whom we can fully trust, if we believe on Him: Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. When we pursue Him, and focus our thoughts on Him, He will keep us in perfect peace. Remember, there is NO prerequisite to trusting Jesus and making HIM our Savior. It doesn't matter where we came from, what we wear, what we did in our past, or what we did this morning. Jesus wants us to come to Him just as we are and let Him do the rest. Let Him give us His peace.
Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
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Frozen in Hope… Thawed to Love
Whether we live in sunny southern California or chilly Minnesota, our thoughts and emotions can keep us from receiving the promises in God’s Word. When our mind is full of worry: about a loved one’s health; the possibility of getting a decent job; living in a safer situation; or the pressures of life, our hope can be “frozen.”
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a God of “hope.” He can fill us with joy and peace, so that our hope of expecting a good result in every area of our lives will be fulfilled.
Romans 15:13 (AMP)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises. [The Greek word for hope in this verse means expectation.]
Many people have probably watched the Disney movie, “Frozen”. Although we’re quite certain no spiritual implications were intended in the making of this movie; one can glean spiritual insight from many stories when guided by the Holy Spirit. That is what happened when Sarah watched Frozen (again) during a snow day at home with her youngest son. In the movie, Queen Elsa is isolated from the others in her kingdom [lyrics: “a kingdom of isolation”] and doesn’t let them see what is really going on in her mind. [lyrics: “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see. Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.”] The Frozen world that Queen Elsa created was quite beautiful, but it was still lonely. How many of us have attempted to surround ourselves with pleasant things hoping they would bring us joy only to find that we still have that ‘something missing’ feeling?
The repeated lyrics, “the cold never bothered me anyway,” could easily be interpreted as someone who builds walls around themselves to keep others away, supposedly not being bothered, but really yearning for close relationships. It is
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true that we don’t all experience relationships with others in the same way. Some tend to be more sunny and outgoing while others are more comfortably reserved. Those qualities result from our culture and our nature; but the intentions of our hearts do matter. That is where our hope lies and we need to guard our hearts from being frozen in fear, apathy, selfishness, and loneliness.
Thankfully, there is someone who yearns for a close relationship with us, and His name is Jesus Christ. He died, was resurrected, and now sits beside the Father in heaven, always making intercession (praying) for us. (Romans 8:34) We don’t have to fear a relationship with Him because He will meet us on our own terms. We will never have to build a wall around ourselves or isolate ourselves from Him. We can be confident that Jesus will give us a relationship full of grace, mercy and love. He invites each one of us today to allow the ridged iciness of this world to melt off us in the light of His glory. While He will teach us to have fellowship and relationships with others, He will heal our own hearts first. This is the type of relationship that can free us from being frozen in this world and give us true and lasting hope.
Colossians 1:11-14 (AMPC)
[We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God’s holy people) in the Light. [The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins.
1/22/17 Word of the Lord
"Comfort, comfort, My people. I have heard your cries, I have seen your tears, I have heard your moans. Come to Me, come to Me, for I AM the God of all comfort. The devil is going about roaring like a lion trying to freeze you and tear you apart. But I AM come to give you life and life more abundantly. Let NOT your heart be troubled or afraid. I am your Healer, your Provider, your Peace. Come to Me and give me all the hurts and concerns of your heart. I will give you My Peace, which will surround you like a shield. Come and sit with Me and I will take all your burdens. I will guide you and comfort you. I will hide you in my pavilion and you will be safe", says the Lord.
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Hope of Glory
All of Creation groans and labors with birth pangs…Yet, we have a HOPE OF GLORY! What is the hope of glory? It is Christ in us…
Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Paul was writing to the ‘saints and faithful brethren in Christ’ about this mystery, not only to the Jew, but also to the Gentiles to whom Paul was sent. This mystery was for all who confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord. It is the HOPE for which we can daily be encouraged. But what does this “hope of glory” really mean? How can there be a hope of glory when the earth and all its inhabitants seem to be groaning and crying out for something. ... as we witness more earthquakes, mudslides, tornadoes, monsoons, tsunamis, and drastic changes in the climate around the world? This ‘something’ is the HOPE of the glorious freedom spoken of in Romans 8:21. When God’s children are ‘glorified’ at Christ’s return to the earth, all of creation will be restored. It is important here to inject the fact that if we believe God’s word, then we must view this world through biblical lenses. Jesus Christ is the One who created everything, as Colossians 1:16 states: “For by Him [Christ] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
Our friend Dr. Dale Sides of lmci.org has said, “We are spirit beings, not just intelligent apes.” Our hope lies in the fact that our God given spirit allows us to be transformed. The HOPE OF GLORY for us, is when we are changed to be like Him, Jesus Christ.
1 John 3:2 (AMP)
Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].
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1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (AMP)
Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed], in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at [the sound of] the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [who believed in Christ] will be raised imperishable, and we will be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed].
Romans 8:19-22 (AMPC)
For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known [waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship]. For the creation (nature) was subjected to frailty (to futility, condemned to frustration), not because of some intentional fault on its part, but by the will of Him Who so subjected it—[yet] with the hope that nature (creation) itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corruption [and gain an entrance] into the glorious freedom of God’s children. We know that the whole creation [of irrational creatures] has been moaning together in the pains of labor until now.
Until now…. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ jettisoned us (as humans) forward, because He gave us His spirit to work with us and through us. How much more will we gain when He returns to live, rule and reign with His creation? So, when we become more aware of creation groaning, remember it means hope is an expectation for all of nature to possess. The Hope of Glory is a long-awaited gift which will soon come to His people.
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Chapter 5 – Not
Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
In the animal kingdom, fear can freeze the prey of a larger animal on the hunt. This allows the larger animal (tiger, lion, etc.) to attack and devour the hunted. The enemy of our souls, satan and his cohorts, is on the hunt for those of us who know the King of all Kings, Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV)
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Some have said that F.E.A.R.= False Evidence Appearing Real
Wow! Think about it: false evidence of disease, destruction, death, and other disturbing thoughts that spin a web of lies inside our minds so that our heart trembles at these images. What will happen to us tomorrow? How can we afford this setback? How long before we lose everything: our health, our job, our family, our friends, our reputation? Do we ever ‘hear’ these accusations in our minds: “If only you hadn’t done ______; now that this has happened, _______” or, “I will just have to hang on ___; I’ve lost all hope of ever ____; I can’t ever go back ___; things will never change___; I give up ___; I just can’t do it anymore ___.” Well, these are all part of that web of lies that the enemy has concocted to keep us
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imprisoned. Yes, imprisoned! But, the TRUTH is, Jesus Christ has already taken all our sicknesses, diseases, weakness, lack, trauma, anxiety, depression, and sin away from us at the cross. His blood was perfectly shed to remove all our sins, transgressions, and iniquities. His body was beaten, scourged and bruised to provide complete healing for us. His body was ‘broken’ so ours could be ‘whole.’ Our spirit has been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross. Our mind (soul) can be free of any oppression by the daily ‘washing of the water of the Word of God’. (Ephesians 5:26)
When we speak the scriptures out loud, we are washing our minds with the cleansing water of the Word of God. It is healing and restores peace to our hearts. When we hear the scriptures spoken, our faith is increased in hope!
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Isaiah 26:3 (TLB)
He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!
This is a key which brings peace to our minds: turning our thoughts to the Lord. How can we do that? By consciously saying scripture out loud, by praying in the spirit, and by refusing to respond to the web of lies that the devil is trying to weave in our minds, we can be at peace.
In Matthew 1:20, the angel said to Joseph: “fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”
The Greek word for fear in this verse is phobeo, which means: to fear, be afraid, alarmed. It is like our English word, phobia, which means: an irrational, excessive, and persistent fear of some particular thing or situation.
How can we FEAR NOT in these days of uncertainty and unknown outcomes? How can we have PEACE and JOY daily? How can we rejoice in the Lord always?
Philippians 4:6-8 (ESV)
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever
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is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
We can choose what we think about. We can choose to trust the LORD. We can declare the truth about what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. We can use our spiritual authority to silence the enemy against his mental onslaughts. Is this easy to do all by ourselves? No, sometimes it isn’t. However, we can come together with another like-minded believer and search the scriptures to find those that nourish our souls. The Holy Spirit will guide us. We can use the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, and stand, and speak these powerful truths into our situations. Remember, “It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34). We are not alone, and Jesus said He would never leave or forsake us. He has given us His peace, and repeatedly says: “Let not your heart be troubled.” (John 14:1)
John 14:27 (AMP)
Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]
This is a great verse to type, copy, paste, print, read, put on our desktops or mobile devices and say out loud each day. Before we know it, we will have it memorized! Jesus is always interceding for us (those who have called upon the name of the Lord – Romans 10:13). He kept telling His disciples to “fear not” because in Him is all peace and joy.
John 16:33 (CEB)
I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.”
God is love (1 John 4:8), and perfect love casts out fear. His love for us is perfect.
1 John 4:18 (NKJV)
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV)
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So, let us be encouraged!! Let’s Fear NOT!! The Lord will strengthen us and hold us up. We have been given power over the enemy’s lies and our minds are sound and full of love from the Father.
It is a troubling world. Strife is among people everywhere. There are wars, rumors of wars, terrorist’s attacks and hateful discord strewn throughout nearly all media outlets. We all endure personal struggles to varying degrees. It could be from “my daughter didn’t make the cheerleading squad” to “my brother has just been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer”. And quite frankly…… in this fallen world, these situations are just the tip of the iceberg.
Knowing how dark and sometimes savage our world is capable of being, how can we be expected to live lives of peace? Yet, our Savior, Jesus told us to “…Let not our hearts be troubled.” (John 14:27b)
“Letting” is an action, isn’t it? When we “let” the dog out we are allowing it to go outside. When we “let” ourselves eat a dozen tacos at 8pm in the evening, we probably won’t feel well the next day. Those actions are choices and they result in consequences such as a happy dog or an angry stomach. Of course, Jesus has always known about our free will and that is why He told us to “Let not our hearts be troubled”. He knew that the result of our action of “letting not” would give us peace. We all want peace in our hearts.
There is a story line in the movie Star Trek III, where Spock’s half-brother Sybok, a determined space hippy, captured the Enterprise so he could fly it to a universal place of love and peace. He was able to subdue the crew through his Vulcan mysticism…. All except for Captain Kirk, of course, who saw through the danger of the promise of a false paradise. When Sybok taunted Kirk with the promise of everlasting bliss through removing his pain, Kirk resisted by screaming, “I want my pain, I need my pain!” Of course, the whole ordeal portrayed a longing for a counterfeit place of peace. However, Kirk’s desire to hang onto his pain teaches us a valuable lesson. How many people today are choosing misery instead of following Jesus’ words to “let not our hearts be troubled”?
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If letting is an action that we truly have control over, then why let distress rule our hearts? Why would someone want their pain? We don’t have all the answers, but perhaps some people think they have the ‘right’ to wallow in self-pity, anger, or bitterness? While we know these emotions exist and that we have experienced some of them from time to time, they are NOT from God. They are part of the fallen human condition that we can choose to overcome through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ promises to us are true. He GAVE us His PEACE and we must allow our hearts to accept it in every situation that we face.
John 14:27 (AMPC)
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]
So how can we “let not” our hearts be agitated, filled with fear, doubt, or discouragement? What actions can we take? There are several ‘directions’ in the scriptures that we can follow.
1) We need to keep our eyes (and minds) on the truth of the Word of God, by reading scripture (reading it aloud is best). When we do that, the Lord promises to “keep us in perfect and constant peace.” (Isaiah 26:3)
2) We must choose to “forget those things of the past” and look “forward to those things which are ahead” with HOPE (a positive expectation of good). (Philippians 3:13-14)
3) We should remain steadfast (unwavering) in our pursuit of God, by way of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord and His finished work on the cross. (2 Peter 1:2)
There are several ‘actions’ involved in the above:
Picture yourself standing at an open doorway… You are on the threshold of going through to a new place, but your mind is filled with the unrest of past experiences which are holding you back. You want to ‘breakthrough’ and step out, but first you must remove those thoughts that seemingly continue to plague your mind and keep you frozen. Then you decide to “forget those things which are behind” and you toss one hand behind you, in an action of determination. Next, you take that hand and reach forward through the open doorway. But you haven’t moved through the threshold yet. A force is needed for you to press forward and step with momentum through the doorway.
This illustrates what is needed to move forward.
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We must let NOT our hearts become troubled… we must let NOT the past keep us from moving ahead with life. This life is promised to be more abundant by the Lord Jesus Himself. We must NOT allow the “thief” to “steal, kill, or destroy” us or anything that pertains to us. (John 10:10) We must follow Jesus Christ and learn more of His finished work on the cross. Grace and peace will be multiplied to us!
Today we declare that the promises of Christ Jesus are true and we receive them!
Isaiah 26:3 (AMPC)
You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
2 Peter 1:2 (NASB)
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
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Chapter 6 – Redemption
Delivered From Darkness
The sun is shining gloriously outside. The birds are singing and a cat is purring by our side. There is a quiet calm in our surroundings. However, our mind isn’t calm. No, it is anything but calm! There is a deathly dark cloud over our mind and emotions. It causes a despair that seems to emanate from the very pit of hell. Everything seems hopeless… a loved one is still estranged or missing, our debts are piling up, or our health, or that of a loved one, is not improving. The world around us may look peaceful but it feels as if everything is falling apart, with darkness and decay everywhere. The news and other media sites are shouting of injustice, unrest, terror, wars, natural disasters, and catastrophes. Our mind begins to entertain thoughts of potential harm, and any peace or comfort has completely disappeared. All we see is darkness closing in…. lack, loneliness, anxiety, depression, worry, fear… there is NO peace in any of these. Is there a light at the end of this tunnel that we find ourselves in?
We have been DELIVERED from the power of darkness:
Colossians 1:13-14 (AMPC)
[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, [Jesus] In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins.
Our heavenly Father has rescued us from the enemy’s kingdom of darkness and transferred us into His Son’s Kingdom! Jesus Christ is the LIGHT that came into this dark world.
John 1:1-5 (NKJV)
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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [overcome] it.
John 3:19 (CEB)
This is the basis for judgment: The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil.
John 8:12 (AMP)
Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
Isaiah 60:2 (NIV)
See, darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
[Even though the context of this scripture refers to Jerusalem, “the Lord’s people are commanded to reflect the light that the Lord has shone upon them. They are to be His witnesses to all nations…to reflect clearly the light of God’s glory.”]
So, we may ask, “If we are delivered from darkness then why do we sometimes still feel despair?” It is a fact that until Jesus returns to restore all things we are living in a fallen world. Therefore, we need to learn (by faith) to believe His promises.
Imagine: “You are in a dark, dark forest. There are creepy sounds of skittering, invisible creatures and snapping twigs along with slithering noises. Pretty terrifying, right? Now imagine you are in that same dark forest only now you have bright flashlight. The light shines in the darkness and you realize those skittering sounds are just cute little chipmunks and the slithering sounds are just from your backpack because its strap slipped off and is now dragging behind you.”
Our walk in this world can seem the same way. We are burdened by the fears that come from the unseen and the unknown but when we trust in God and His promises for us, the world around us lights up.
Psalm 119:105 (CEB)
Your word is a lamp before my feet and a light for my journey.
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Our despair can turn into Hope. When we “look away from all that distracts us” and focus on Jesus, our faith is build up. We can have the courage to finish another day, to smile in the face of adversity, to trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. We can reflect the light of Jesus inside us. (Romans 10:9,10; Colossians 1:27) Jesus adds to our wavering faith so that we can arise and shine in this dark world. (Isaiah 60:1)
Hebrews 12:2a (AMP)
[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity]
Bought with A Price… Redeemed
What does it mean to be ‘redeemed’? It means to purchase something with a price. It also means to gain or to regain possession.
Let’s say we are in a grocery store or a street market and we spot some beautiful, ripe oranges. We purchase a full bag of the oranges and immediately see potential for the citrusy fruit. As we head home our mind begins to think about how wonderful the oranges are going to taste. Maybe we’ll make orange juice or perhaps we will poke a few of them with cloves to create a crisp and spicy aroma in our home. Yes, the oranges we purchased have great creative potential and so do each one of us.
What about the second meaning of the word redeemed which means to regain possession of something. How many of us know that when we give our life to Jesus and ask Him to be our Savior, that He regains possession of us from the prince of this fallen world? That’s right, without Jesus, we cannot enter the kingdom of God.
On Calvary’s tree (cross), Jesus Christ redeemed all men unto God by His perfect sacrifice. His last words were, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) What did He mean? When we confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we are saved and our eternal life with God begins! (Romans 10:9,10) Our spirit is saved, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Our soul (mind) is being renewed day by day through the Word of God, but our
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bodies will not fully be redeemed until we are with the Lord (at the rapture or as the dead in Christ arise). (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17)
Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV)
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee[a] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, [b] to the praise of his glory. [a. down payment; b. until God redeems His possession]
Each Spring we have an opportunity to remember Christ’s sacrifice, His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. The truth is, we should remember Christ’s sacrifice for us on a daily basis. Jesus Christ paid for our salvation and wholeness… He redeemed us from the curse of the law and from the hand of the enemy! Why did He do that? Because He loves us. He wants us to be part of His kingdom and He wants a relationship with us today.
Galatians 3:13 (NKJV)
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” [a]) [a. Deut. 21:23]
Psalm 106:10 (NIV)
He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.
Revelation 5:9 (AMPC)
And [now] they sing a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll and to break the seals that are on it, for You were slain (sacrificed), and with Your Blood You purchased [redeemed] men unto God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
We have been given directions from the Lord how to remember him through the Holy Communion:
Luke 22:19-20 (NKJV)
And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
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Matthew 26:26-28 (NIV)
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Matthew 8:17 (AMP)
so that He fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES [upon Himself] AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.”
The Lord Jesus’ shed blood represents the New Covenant. The seven ways He bled was for the forgiveness of our sins, transgressions, and iniquities. Jesus’ body was beaten, bruised, and pierced which represents our bodily weaknesses, sicknesses and pains taken upon him on the cross. When we remember what this means, we take communion worthily. We were not worthy for this divine exchange, but Jesus Christ is…
1 Corinthians 11:29-30 (AMP)
For anyone who eats and drinks [without solemn reverence and heartfelt gratitude for the sacrifice of Christ], eats and drinks a judgment on himself if he does not recognize the body [of Christ]. That [careless and unworthy participation] is the reason why many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep [in death].
Of course, there is much more to Holy Communion than remembrance. It is a gift from Jesus that truly speaks to our whole beings. We recommend the following books and links to where they can be purchased on Amazon.com:
1. Health And Wholeness through the Holy Communion, by Joseph Prince;
2. Perfect Redemption, The Purpose of His Passion, by Dale M. Sides,
or at lmci.org
3. The Meal That Heals, by Perry Stone
Please remember that in these waning days of Grace before Jesus returns to make all things new, we are still in a fallen world. We see it around us each day,
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but we know that we are REDEEMED…. and that God sees our potential. We are choosing to rest in Him.
How We Overcome by the Blood of the Lamb
Revelation 12:11 Living Bible (TLB)
They defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony; for they did not love their lives but laid them down for him.
We aren’t going to sugar-coat the condition of this world. Because of the disobedience of God’s original humans (Adam and Eve), we live in a fallen world full of strife, anger, poverty, perversion, and sickness. Yes, it is so bad that who can blame themselves or another person for just wanting to crawl up into a tight, fretful, ball and crying, “I give up!” But, thanks be to God we also have a ‘spark’ in us. It is the instinctual survival ‘spark’ that gets us out of bed each day and it is the power of a loving God who gives us the desire to overcome this world. Many people have heard of the power of a “testimony” after they have been “tested” and then share the evidence of how they overcame in the face of adversity (sickness, danger, lack of provision, etc.). Whether or not someone believes that they can be “tested” is not the subject of this article. Perhaps some of us have heard of the “power of the Blood of Jesus Christ” but do not know HOW to appropriate that “overcoming power” in our lives? There are many old hymns that declare this: “Nothing But the Blood,” “There is Power in the Blood,” and “Thank You For the Blood,” to name a few. One refrain repeats: “There is power, power, wonder working power, in the precious blood of the Lamb.”
If we believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and have called upon the name of the Lord, (Romans 10:9,10,13) then we have been redeemed. We have at our disposal the power of the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ to overcome any obstacle in our lives! But how can we do that?
The context of Revelation 12:9-11 is that “the great dragon, … that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world… was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him… for the accuser of our brethren, who
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accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
There are three ways listed in this passage that tell us how to “overcome the devil”: 1) by the Blood of the Lamb; 2) by the word of our testimony; 3) by our attitude of laying down our lives (dying to self). We will talk about the first: The Blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ).
There is scriptural proof of the overcoming power of the Blood of the Lamb that shows us how to apply this in our lives today.
Exodus 12:11-13 (ESV)
It is the LORD's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
Many of us have probably seen the famous movie, The Ten Commandments, where the Israelites were enslaved under the Egyptian Pharaoh. Hollywood gave us a strong Moses in the form of, a brooding yet handsome and charming, Charleston Heston. But we know that the strength the Hebrews found in themselves didn’t come from charisma. It came from an unfaltering faith in the One true God. Like our world today, God’s people found themselves in a world ruled by brute force, immorality, and greed. It appeared as though no victory could ever be won over the cruel Egyptians…… But, God had a plan…… His instructions were for each family to take a lamb without blemish, kill the lamb, and take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the house where they ate the Passover meal. The lamb was killed and its blood was collected in a basin in the doorway. Hyssop was used to apply the blood to the sides and top of the doorway, therefore the blood was “drawn around the door” from the bottom, up the side, across the top, and down the other side of the doorway. A “circle of blood” sealed the house and kept the destroyer from entering.
Exodus 12:22-23 (NKJV)
And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will
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pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.
The story of Rahab may not be as familiar. After the death of Moses, God commanded Joshua to take the children of Israel across the river Jordan and enter the promised land. He sent spies into Jericho and they came to the house of the harlot Rahab. She knew that the Lord had given them the land, and that their God was the true one. She helped the spies escape harm and they promised to save her and her household when the Lord gave the Israelites victory over Jericho.
Joshua 2:17,18,21 (CEB)
The men said to her… unless, when we come into the land, you tie this red woven cord in the window through which you lowered us. Gather your father, your mother, your brothers, and your whole family into the house with you … She sent them away and they went off. Then she tied the red cord in the window.
This was a sign like the blood of the lamb that was “drawn around the doorways” of the Israelites in Egypt. This red cord was tied around the open window for the army of Israel to see. Rahab and all who were in her house were saved when Jericho fell. “And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had.” (Joshua 6:25)
Today, we are not commanded to tie a red cord around our windows nor are we to kill a lamb and paint his blood around our doorways. The Blood of Jesus Christ spoken (applied) is our DEFENSE against the enemy. When we speak: “I apply the Blood of Jesus Christ to my: family, health, finances, or ________”; or speak: “I draw the Blood line of Jesus Christ around me and all that pertains to me and my family;” we are keeping the enemy from attacking us.
There are other “defensive” and “offensive” spiritual weapons we can use against the enemy that are described in the Word of God.
In the book Living Above the Snake Line, written by James Malone, the author states, “Psalm 91 teaches us that there is a literal place of existence in our lives that is free from the constant vexations of the enemy. A place where we are so hidden in Christ that the devil and his angels are incapable of finding us. We have termed this living above the Snake Line.
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This secret place is found in abiding, perpetual resting in the presence of the Lord. I am thoroughly convinced 90% of our issues would be taken care of if we would devote the necessary time of waiting upon the Lord, ministering to Him in praise and worship, serving Him just by remaining under the shadow of His wings.”
You can find this book at Amazon: Living Above the Snake Line.
Disarming the Enemy
In the famous children’s book, Alexander and the Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, poor Alexander dealt with one upset after another…. But they were problems a child might have and feel slighted by such as: There was no toy in his cereal box, he couldn’t sit next to a window in the carpool, the dentist found a cavity in his tooth, his teacher didn’t like his art work and so on. The point of the story is to teach children that disappointment and misfortune are a normal part of the human condition. In other words, we feel the need to teach children at an early age that life in this fallen world can be difficult!
What about us? Do some of us feel as if our lives are one battle after another? When one problem gets fixed, does a different situation arise that needs our full attention and resources? Are we putting out “proverbial fires” everywhere? Do we increasingly feel as if we are having many horrible, no good and very bad days? As adults, many of our problems are truly more severe than Alexander’s childish woes. When the enemy is pounding at our health, family, or finances like the winds and rain of a fierce hurricane; is it getting more and more difficult to keep our shield of faith lifted against these onslaughts? When the seventy whom Jesus sent out to herald the nearness of the kingdom of God returned to Him, Jesus gave them the authority over the power of the enemy. Although the trials of this world cause us to frequently forget, we have this same authority over satan and his wiles (deceitful strategies). We will be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand!
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Luke 10:19 (AMP)
Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.
[note: serpents and scorpions = principalities and powers of the evil kingdom]
Ephesians 6:11-13 (TLB)
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world. So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up.
The TRUTH today is that Jesus Christ already disarmed all of the evil kingdom at the cross. We can STAND in the finished work of Christ and declare (speak) this truth into every area of our lives.
Colossians 2:14-15 (AMP)
(Jesus Christ) having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of legal demands [which were in force] against us and which were hostile to us. And this certificate He has set aside and completely removed by nailing it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through the cross.
Even if disasters continue in nature and in our personal lives, we must choose to “turn” to God, like Moses did with the burning bush, and God will make Himself known to us.
Exodus 3:2-4 (KJV)
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, “Here am I.”
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When the world is raging around us, we do NOT have to be afraid. God’s perfect love casts out all our fear. (1 John 4:18) Jesus Christ is our HOPE in this world. He is the anchor on the boat of our lives, and when we grab ahold of HIM, He calms every storm in our lives.
Hebrews 6:19 (MSG)
We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go…
Hebrews 6:19 (NKJV)
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, …
Yes, we will no doubt be facing some crummy days ahead. That is why we must always be reminded that through Jesus’ finished work on the cross, we are ‘more than conquerors’. (Romans 8:37) We have an assurance of ultimate victory for everything in our lives.
1 Corinthians 15:57 (MEV)
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
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Chapter 7 – It is Finished
Our Passover Lamb
At the time of Passover, the Jewish people remember the story of Israel’s freedom from slavery in Egypt. Christians and Messianic believers focus on the redemption we received from Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus is our Passover Lamb. John the Baptist was preparing the way for the Lord. When he saw Jesus coming toward him, he said:
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV)
The Jewish faith knows of the lamb’s sacrifice on the altar in the temple each year, and the verse in Isaiah 53:7 describes how Jesus willingly became the sacrificial lamb for all who believe that He is the son of God. This ‘lamb’ is the same in the Old and the New Testament. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Isaiah 53:7 (NKJV)
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So, He opened not His mouth.
Jesus came to earth as our substitute. He is our Advocate. (Advocate: one who pleads the cause of another; specifically: one who pleads the cause of another before a judicial court)
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1 John 2:1 (CEB) My little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you don’t sin. But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.
If someone needs a lawyer to represent them in a court of law, their hope is that the lawyer (advocate) will plead their case and will get the desired, favorable result. Our hope as believers in Jesus Christ is that when we come to Him we can have confidence that our prayers will be answered.
1 John 5:14-15 (TLB)
And we are sure of this, that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we really know he is listening when we talk to him and make our requests, then we can be sure that he will answer us.
We understand from reading in Romans 8:34 that Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father. Therefore, we can know He is listening.
“It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
Our Passover Lamb (Jesus) should always be our focus. Our perfect redemption includes: health, provision, favor, opportunity, and success in every category of our lives. HE IS RISEN is our refrain. Let us rejoice and remember His sacrifice for each one of us.
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It is Finished - Part 1
Holy Week is perhaps the most pivotal week for Christians worldwide. This is a week to truly reflect upon what Jesus Christ of Nazareth did to change the very fabric of the world. There are different types of traditions surrounding the remembrance of this week that occurred a little over 2000 years ago. Within this week are different observances of the Passion of Christ. For example, in Oberammergau Germany, the “Passion Play” has been performed since 1634. Roman Catholics participate in “Stations of the Cross” while many Protestants hold “Cross Walks.” What is it about Holy Week that sparks the flames of love and worship in so many Christians? Are these remembrances for Christians only? Jewish people continue to observe the Passover while Christians remember the Last Supper. What about people who have no religious affiliation or those who claim another faith? The truth is Jesus came to us to save (to love on and to make whole) the entire world.
Our good friend and president of Liberating Ministries for Christ International, Dale M. Sides (www.lmci.org) wrote a book called Perfect Redemption. In that book he highlighted how the crucifixion of Jesus was so much more than what we often see today. Most of Christianity observes this on Good Friday. We want to point out that Jesus was not murdered in the sense that He was ambushed without warning. No, He gave His life willingly because of His incredible love for us. Imagine: “your child is the target of a terrorist attack. You see it coming and you have a choice to make. Do you rush in and take your child’s place and receive the full force of the attack thereby saving your child’s life or do you stand by and let your child be killed instead?” Jesus chose to go in there and receive the fatal assault Himself to spare us from eternal death. He did so knowing that because He was (and is) in the Father and the Father (God) was in Him, He would ultimately survive the attack by being raised from the dead. However, through that brutal death there was a great deal of shedding of blood. As Dr. Dale pointed out in his Perfect Redemption book, even the shedding of Jesus blood took on great significance and meaning for us.
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In this incredible revelation we see how Jesus bled 7 ways and what it means:
1) Out of His forehead in the garden (Luke 22:43)
2) Internally bruised (Is.53:5; Matt.26:67; Luke 22:64)
3) Out of His head – crown of thorns (Matt.27:29)
4) Out of His back (Is.53:5; Matt.8:17; 1 Peter 2:24)
5) Out of His hands (Psalm 22:16; Luke 24:39-40)
6) Out of His feet (Psalm 22:16; Luke 24:39)
7) Out of His side – water and blood (Isaiah 53:5; John 19:34)
The 7 ways Jesus bled was for our healing and forgiveness of:
1) Forehead = mental sins: doubt, worry, fear, anxiety, unforgiveness (fear)
2) Internally = generational curses: cleansing of iniquity (fear, lust, anger, pride)
3) Head = not making Him King; putting anything else first (idolatry)
4) Back = to remove the sins done against our bodies: food, drugs, alcohol (lust)
5) Hands = evil works done (anger)
6) Feet = walking in self-willed disobedience (pride)
7) His side = sins of the heart; transgressions (omission/commission)
Wow! This is “perfect redemption” at its very core! This Perfect Redemption was accomplished in order for us to:
1) Quicken our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit (forehead)
2) Cut off any inward agony (internally)
3) Redeem us from the curse of poverty; break the curse off the ground (crown of thorns)
4) Give us divine health (back)
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5) Do the Father’s will with our hands; lay hands on the sick (hands)
6) Die to self and not walk in our own ways; wisdom for decision making (feet)
7) Reconcile us to God; reconcile men and women (side)
Ok, some may be saying: “this is all fine and good but I still haven’t made up my mind about Jesus…. Or, maybe you have made up your mind and decided He’s not for you.” This is where we say don’t worry about focusing on that for right now. We believe that Jesus’ Perfect Redemption is bigger than any person’s doubt. The only thing a person needs to do is to ask the Lord Jesus into their heart. Any place, any time, just ask Him into your life. (Romans 10:9-10, 13)
Let’s remember His last words which sum up that incredible accomplishment:
John 19:28-30 (NKJV)
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So, when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. It IS finished. Jesus paid the price.
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It is Finished Part 2
What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is finished”? Why is it important for us to know what He accomplished in His death and resurrection?
John 19:30 (AMP)
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and [voluntarily] [a]gave up His spirit.
Note* [a] this wording implies that Jesus voluntarily and sovereignly released His spirit from His body in submission to God’s plan.
The word, “finished” in the original Greek means: to finish, complete, fulfill; to be perfected, accomplished; performed. Jesus Christ came to redeem mankind, to pay for all their sins, transgressions, and iniquities, and to fulfill the law and prophets. Jesus “was betrayed and crucified because of our sins, and was raised [from the dead] because of our justification [our acquittal—absolving us of all sin before God].” (Romans 4:25 AMP)
To be acquitted means: to free (someone) from a criminal charge by a verdict of not guilty. Who was guilty? All of mankind including the people who do “good” works. Who charged us with crime? Satan did: through treachery he brought corruption and death into this world and brought down all of humanity. Stay with us here, because we know that this can all seem difficult and many choose to shy away from this truth, but the next part is fantastic.
We have been acquitted in the high court of heaven by Jesus Christ, the Messiah (the ‘anointed one’)! He is our heavenly Father’s Son, who was crowned as King, even at the crucifixion. Pilate had the words, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” hang above Jesus’ head on the cross as an announcement for all to see. It was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. (John 19:19-20) However, the Pharisees did not agree with this “accusation written against Him” that Pilate had the soldiers post above Jesus on the cross.
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Luke 23:1-2 (NIV)
Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”
Jesus Christ will be crowned as King of all kings, as stated in Revelation 19:16 “On his robe and on his thigh, he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (NIV) At the cross, a crown of thorns was put on Jesus’ head, which was symbolic of the crown He will wear for all eternity. Even the day and hour of Jesus’ crucifixion is significant. As the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, Jesus Christ was being crucified on the cross on Calvary’s hill. The time of Passover is the Hebrew month of Nisan, which is the ‘beginning of months’ (Exodus 12:2) and was considered the New Year for the Kings, when in the Old Testament the Kings were anointed. (See the article, “Secrets of the Crown of Thorns” by Dr. Danny Ben-Gigi, Prophecy Watcher 03.2016 magazine, www.prophecywatchers.com
Three days after a heavy stone closed His tomb, when some women came bringing spices, they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Two men stood by in shining garments and said, “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” (Luke 24:6-7 NIV)
This is the story of the Resurrection, familiar to many people. What may not be taught so clearly, is the truth about what Jesus really accomplished in His death and resurrection.
1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)
Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
Isaiah 53:5 (AMP)
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing];
The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him,
And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.
Matthew 8:17 (AMP)
So that He fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES [upon Himself] AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.”
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Isaiah 53:5 says “we are healed” and 1 Peter 2:24 says “we were healed”. The truth is that Jesus Christ’s body was broken so ours could be whole. His blood was shed so that our sins would be forgiven. This is now a finished work and we are to remember this whenever we take communion.
Luke 22:19-20 (NKJV)
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
We receive healing by the broken body of Jesus Christ and we receive forgiveness of sins by His shed blood. All this happened at the cross and more…
Colossians 2:14-15 (NIV)
Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
This “handwriting of requirements that was against us” is the law in the OT that God gave to His people. If even one commandment was not kept perfectly, a charge of all were made against them. These commandments were given to show the people that they needed a savior, and He came in the person of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:13-14 (AMP)
Christ purchased our freedom and redeemed us from the curse of the Law and its condemnation by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS [crucified] ON A TREE (cross)”— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might also come to the Gentiles, so that we would all receive [the realization of] the promise of the [Holy] Spirit through faith.
Jesus’ accomplished work on the cross enables us to walk in strength and health all the days of our lives. He has set us free from the curse of the law and from the hand of the enemy of darkness. He has forgiven us of all our sins. He has qualified us and given us an inheritance. This is the good news of the gospel!
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giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
We can be encouraged in our lives and finish the work that is before us each day. Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior, is seated now beside the Father in heaven. He is our hope, our encourager, our supplier, our healer, our friend in time of need. All we need is to keep our eyes on Him!
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)
… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We have been acquitted! We have been redeemed! …. And we can be joyful today!
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Chapter 8 - Hearing God
HE Is Speaking, Are You Listening?
Jesus said in Revelation 3:20-22 (NKJV):
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
How many would like to have the kind of relationship with Jesus where we know that we hear His voice? Where we can sit with Him and have a real conversation? We can have this because Jesus has already invited us to do so. We have contact with Jesus through His Holy Spirit. These contacts often manifest in the form of hearing His voice. Typically, that hearing is an inward voice like our own thoughts, but there is an inward knowing that these words (thoughts) are in fact Jesus. It is this inner witness that we need to develop in order to communicate with the Lord, and it really isn’t difficult. It takes a little practice and the same faith as when we chose to make Jesus our personal Savior.
The Holy Spirit dwells in us, and brings to us the words of Jesus and His Father. That “still small voice” from the Holy Spirit sounds like our own voice in our head. Therefore, the many emotions and distractions that swirl around us can be a hindrance from clearly hearing what the Lord is saying.
“A Christian’s spiritual ‘telephone line’ to the Lord translates messages through the same message processing center in the soul (i.e. the brain) that the soul itself uses. Hence revelation from the Lord into your spirit ‘sounds’ like your own
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thoughts’ ‘tone of voice.’ Put another way, your soul has only one translation device…. Therefore, regardless of the source of the message, the ‘sound of the voice’ seems to be the same.” (p.133-134 Chapter 9: Deception vs. Revelation: How to Discern the Difference, Dining at the Master’s Table, Paul D. Norcross, 1997).
So how do we receive from the Lord Jesus Christ, and hear His words spoken to us? The Lord’s voice comes to us in a whisper, as a ‘still small voice.’
1 Kings 19:12 (KJV)
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
We need to put distractions aside, get quiet, sit, and listen for the Lord to speak to us, without any prayer lists or other agendas. He will be faithful to speak.
Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
If you have made Jesus Christ your Lord (Romans 10:9), Jesus says that you WILL hear His voice!
John 10:27 (AMP)
The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me.
We need to both HEAR from and LISTEN to the LORD. To listen means to “give attention…; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; to pay attention; heed; obey. Isn’t that what we desire????...to really hear the Lord speak to us and to listen to what He is saying? If a corresponding action is requested, shouldn’t we follow up on His advice? What about hearing? And hearing HIS WORDS to us?
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
So, then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Word in this verse is rhema in Greek. It means sayings, or words spoken. This is what we want to hear from the Lord. Many people refer to this Greek word as ‘revelation’ or a ‘revealing’ of something that you hear from the Lord. But, you
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may ask, how do we know if it is the Lord who is speaking to us, and if the words we hear are truly from Him? All ‘rhema revelation’ will be based on scripture, on the written word.
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Word in this verse is logos in Greek. It means the written word, or what is written in the Bible. This is the plumb line of truth for us. When we ‘hear from the Lord’ we can be assured that what we are hearing is from the Holy Spirit if it is confirmed in the written word of God. He will never tell you anything that does not line up with scripture. This is your assurance.
When we come and sit beside the Lord, He will speak to us and tell us the words of Life. (John 14:6) Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior, is seated beside the Father in heaven. (Hebrews 12:2) He will speak to us and show us the things that are on His heart for us.
Jeremiah 33:3 (AMP)
‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand and cannot distinguish.’
A personal invitation:
Listen to His voice today. Ask Him whatever you like and then listen. When you reach out to Him with sincerity He will respond. You don’t have to worry about thinking, “Was that just me? Or was that something other than God?” Truly fear and doubt are the biggest hindrances to hearing His voice. His voice is going to sound like a friend. He won’t be speaking in the King James version of English. The Lord’s still small voice will be recognizable, and “your heart will agree with what He says to you.”
Come and sit beside the Lord Jesus Christ today. Be refreshed, renewed, and rejoice in His presence.
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Seeing God - Part 1
The sense of sight should seem pretty straight forward, correct? However, have any of us considered that there is more than one way to see? We are going to be talking about ‘seeing God’. We offer this as a message of Hope in an increasingly dark world. First, we can see with our physical eyes. We ‘see’ the computer screen in front of us right now. We are also able to ‘see’ God at work in our environment. Through certain circumstances, we can have the assurance of knowing God is with us and that He orchestrates the world around on our behalf when we choose to trust Him. In other words, we believe there are no coincidences. However, there is another way in which we can ‘see’ and that is with our mind’s eye through dreams and visions. In this first segment of Seeing God, we will focus on seeing God at work in our midst.
We all know of situations in which the outcome has been favorable. We may attribute different reasons behind those outcomes. Some may attribute pure stimulus / response actions to everything that goes on around us. Others may add deeper mechanics of the human psyche but still consider our lives in this world to be simply a matter of chance. But, when we have chosen to believe the Lord, then our spiritual eyes open and His actions in this world become evident. Again, the process is quite simple…. just ask the Lord to reveal Himself and He will answer. In fact, God’s divine nature should be so clear to us that we really have no excuse to claim otherwise.
Romans 1:20 (CEB)
Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—God’s eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through the things God has made. So, humans are without excuse.
Both Joanne and Sarah have been blessed to know that they have “seen” God at work in their lives.
Following is an experience Joanne had of God working in her life:
On Wednesday night, February 24, 2016, I was saved from the path of a tornado!
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“For some reason, I was delayed from leaving the ballet studio after teaching a class. The weather apps on my phone sent alerts of severe lightning in the area. It was raining quite heavily, and the roads were very dark. After driving through a mountain pass, as the road levels off, I saw a line of vehicles coming from the other direction, stopped on the side of the road, and a large truck with emergency lights driving towards me! Somehow, I maneuvered in a zig zag fashion around and over small tree limbs that were in front of me on the road. I thought ‘it looks like a tornado went through here’ and slowly drove home. It was not until the next day, March 25 that a friend sent me an article that a tornado had touched down!”
“The National Weather Service in Binghamton, NY, has confirmed that an EF-1 tornado did in fact touch down in Wyalusing Township Wednesday night, Feb. 24 around 7:30 p.m. in the area of Homets Ferry... just where I saw the limbs in the road. If I had left on time, I would have been driving right where the tornado went across the road, apparently uprooting a tree that had blocked the other lane. I give the LORD Jesus Christ all the glory for His protection as I abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Joanne had been meditating on Psalm 91 and was confident that the LORD was her shelter in the midst of any storms in her life. The Lord speaks to us from His Word and makes Himself known to us in our daily lives. That is how we “see” Him at work. Many of you may remember hearing stories from people who were saved on that fateful day now referred to as “9-11” (September 11, 2001). There were just too many ‘coincidences’ that kept people away from the Twin Towers or the Pentagon, or even during the attacks, when people were miraculously saved!
There is more than one way to “see God” in our lives, and in Part 2, we will describe how we see the Lord through dreams and visions. What can God say to us through dreams? How can we know if a dream is from the Lord? What about a vision?
Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NKJV)
Then the LORD answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
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But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.”
Daniel 1:17 (NKJV)
As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Ezekiel 1:1 (AMP)
Now it came about [when I was] in my thirtieth year [of life], on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was among the exiles beside the River Chebar [in Babylonia], the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
There is more than one way to ‘see’ and ‘know’ God. The Lord does show us things that are ‘great and mighty which we do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
All we need to do is get quiet before Him and ask.
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Seeing God - Part 2
In Part 1, we showed how we can ‘see’ God at work in our everyday lives. Another way that we can see the Lord with our mind’s eye is through dreams and visions. Our heavenly Father desires for us to “see and understand” Him. Then, we will “know” the hope that is in His son, Jesus Christ, and the fullness of Jesus’ accomplished work at the cross through His death and resurrection.
Ephesians 1:17-21 (NKJV)
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 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.
“Eyes” in this verse is the Greek word, opthalmos, and means: the faculty of mental perception and understanding. The Lord wants us to “see” and “know” Him. We can receive the spirit of “wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” via the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. (John 14:17) The Holy Spirit will show us things to come through the Spirit working in us and through dreams and visions.
John 16:13-14 (AMP)
But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future]. He will glorify and honor Me, because He (the Holy Spirit) will take from what is Mine and will disclose it to you.
“A spiritual dream or vision is one that is motivated and inspired by God’s Spirit and communicated through the natural mind to relay a divine message. This
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message can be personal revelation, insight into a natural situation, or a foretelling of future events…. Joseph and Daniel were men anointed by God to interpret dreams that changed the destinies of nations…. Therefore, we should pray to interpret our dreams.”
“There are several types of spiritual dreams through which communication between God and man takes place. When God speaks to our spirits through dreams or visions, these originate with and are birthed by God. They contain revelation for the dreamer about his life or circumstances, revelation for other individuals, or even revelation for a corporate body of people. Similar to the purpose for prophecy, these dreams also have the purpose of edification, exhortation and comfort.” (Dreams and Visions, by Jane Hamon, Regal Books, 2000, Chapter 3, p. 37-40)
1 Corinthians 14:3 (NKJV)
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
There are many examples of dreams and visions in the word of God. Isaiah the prophet became ‘undone’ at receiving the vision of the Lord and realized that he should answer the call of the Lord to speak to the people of Israel.
Isaiah 6:1-5 (NIV)
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Isaiah’s vision of the Lord on His heavenly throne was revealed to him hundreds of years prior to a similar vision of God that the apostle John received while on the island of Patmos. (See Revelation Chapter 4.) These visions give us a glimpse of God’s glory and majesty.
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:8)
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“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” (Rev. 4:11; Psalm 19:1)
We have discovered that Joanne tends to receive more visions while Sarah tends to receive more dreams. In fact, Sarah had many dreams for a season in the 1990’s and early 2000’s which were clearly warning dreams. The Lord gave her dreams of natural disasters, wars, and the changing moral climate before they actually happened. It is important to note that there is a reason God sometimes gives us those dreams. The reason is so that we can pray and help to prepare others for things which are coming. Sarah’s sons are gifted with receiving dreams from God as well.
The following is a dream shared by Sarah’s son who received it in the summer while at college.
“I was sitting in a campus classroom in which I actually had a class last school year. I was sitting near a window facing the north and the season outside indicated late spring or summer. As I looked out the window I had a ‘knowing’ that the rapture was imminent. Then I heard trumpets and then instantaneously I was in Heaven.
There were other people all around me. We were all wearing white. We were in a beautiful large building that had smooth wooden floors and trim along with crystal glass. There were water fountains and incredible potted plants as well. It was a place that was both bustling and very peaceful at the same time. I looked and saw a bearded man and I knew he was a teacher. People gathered around him to listen to what he had to say. As I walked toward him I felt a dread for all the people left back on the earth. I realized I knew some of them and my heart felt heavy for them. I faced the bearded teacher and he put his hand on my shoulder and he blessed me and sent me back to the earth.
Instantly I was back on the earth. I stood on a piece of asphalt where the ground underneath me was crumbling away. The world was already in terrible disarray even though it seemed as if I was only gone (in Heaven) for a few minutes. I looked around and it seemed as if every natural disaster imaginable was happening at the same time. I looked at the cell-phone in my hand. I then realized that the bearded man I saw in Heaven was Jesus and that He sent me back for a very short time so I could try to reach my friends who were left behind. I quickly started to text people to tell them that they needed Jesus. I was then pulled back
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up into Heaven and I looked around and saw some of the people whom I had texted were there too. I felt so relieved and watched as everyone rejoiced.”
End of Dream.
The purpose of this dream is clear. Jesus is returning and those of us who belong to Him may only have a short time to tell others the good news about Jesus.
Spiritual dreams and visions will contain truths from the word of God and will align with scripture. Isaiah’s vision is confirmed through the scripture references noted above (NKJV). The “campus dream” contains truths from 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Luke 21:25-28, and in Matthew chapter 24 to list a few.
Ask the Lord to “give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” through the scriptures, and through dreams and visions. There is a promise in His holy word which says:
“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come” (Jeremiah 33:3 NLT)
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Chapter 9 – Angels
“Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.” This line from William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, certainly sums up the vast topic of angels. Angels are real ‘angelic’ beings. This fact from scripture is most likely a very basic one for most of us. There are different categories of angels: some are holy angels obedient to God (and us) and some are fallen angels who are ‘hell bent’ on destroying humanity. This article will focus on God’s holy angels to show that we have absolute power in our lives, through the authority given to us by Jesus Christ. We can commission these angels to help us! We also believe that utilizing heaven’s help is of utmost importance in these last days. Serious Christians recognize that we are indeed in the last part of the last days based upon a reborn Israel, events surrounding the Promised Land, and vast evidence found in the books of Matthew (Chapter 24), Daniel, and Revelation. The world is reeling with discord and chaos. Regardless of where any of us live, as a Christian, we no doubt feel the effects of the enemy’s attempt to tighten his ‘fallen from grace’ grip on God’s people and the rest of the world. For example, in the United States, moral codes which have been in place since the inception of our country are eroding before our eyes. Imbedded in Russia’s new “Yarovaya laws” is a ban on preaching, proselytizing, or handing out religious materials outside of specially designated places. While this law is said to be aimed at anti-terrorism, we have to wonder if the true intent is to stop Christian churches from spreading the gospel. Other forms of oppression are settling in throughout the globe…. But, there is still HOPE. Jesus gave us weapons to stand firm. They are not earthly, physical weapons but rather we can have earthly, physical help straight from heaven in the form of God’s angels.
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Here is a more in-depth classification of angels:
Cherubim, Seraphim, Living Creatures, Worshipping Spirits, Watchers, Archangels, and Ministering Spirits. All have been created by Elohim, God, the Creator of the heavens and earth. (Genesis 1:1)
“Ministering spirits are those assigned to earth… The word for “ministering” spirits is the Greek word leitourgos. It has the connotation of being a public worker or a servant for people.” (Angels in the Army – How to Release the Heavenly Host in Spiritual Warfare, by Dale M. Sides, www.LMCI.org, p.14)
Hebrews 1:14 (AMP)
Are not all the angels ministering spirits sent out [by God] to serve (accompany, protect) those who will inherit salvation? [Of course, they are!]
If these angels are sent out to rescue, deliver, and save those who have made Jesus Christ their Lord (Romans 10:9-10), then why don’t we hear much about them? How can we be sure that these angels will provide help in our time of need? How can we ‘activate’ angelic help?
Psalm 103:20 (NKJV)
Bless the LORD, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.
When we give ‘voice’ to His word (the scriptures), we can do what Jesus told us in Matthew 16:19, bind the enemy and loose the ministering spirits in our time of need. Matthew 16:19 (NIV) “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Luke 10:19 (AMP)
Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on [a]serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.
([a] is a reference to demonic powers, spirits)
The authority of our words spoken must be via the Holy Spirit’s direction. When assessing a situation that we face, or any potential for harm, when we pray in the Spirit, we will know what scriptures to declare and what words to say (in our native language). This is the revelation given to us from the Holy Spirit residing in us. The Holy Spirit is the anointing we received when we were ‘born again’ and called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 10:13; 1 John 2:20, 27)
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Lastly, here is one example of how we can pray to bring God’s angels into our area of need. This is a prayer we often use before traveling of any kind:
“Heavenly Father, we come before You in the name of Jesus. We thank You for covering us with the precious blood of Your Son. We bind the enemy according to the finished works of Jesus Christ as shown in Your word in Colossians 2:15 (NIV) “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” And now, we call in [commission] Your holy angels to go before us on our trip, to ride with us in our vehicles and to be our rear guard. We ask You to protect us with Your swords drawn so that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
In any situation where we feel led by the Holy Spirit, we can pray like this and we will receive help!
Thank You Lord, for Your ministering spirits (angels) and for the HOPE we have in You as we ‘ride the tide’ in this world.
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Hebrews 13:2 (ASV)
Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
This can really happen! An angel can change appearances and look just like us, especially in a time of need. In the last article, we wrote about “Angelic Help” and how ministering angels are assigned to help believers in this world.
Hebrews 2:2-3 (NKJV)
For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.
“The word salvation here means ‘preservation, healing, soundness, and deliverance from temporal evils.’ This verse is referring not to our being born again, but to the deliverance that comes by the ministry of angels. How are you going to escape in this earth if you neglect the great deliverance that comes by supernatural beings called angels? The ministry of angels is available to you. God provided this deliverance for you. But it is just like any other provision God has made: unless you believe it and act on it, you will not receive the full benefit of what is provided.” (Angels, by Charles Capps and Annette Capps, revised 1994, p. 60-61)
Here is a real story of angelic help that Joanne experienced several years ago:
“Driving home late from a Christian conference in New Jersey, my friend, who was the driver, and I, the co-pilot with the map, made a wrong turn off an exit. We drove into a remote area of what we assumed was part of the Newark airport. It was eerie looking as no people were around, no activity whatsoever, just airplane hangars and a few sparse vehicles. In the early morning hours, there was no indication of how to get out of there and get back on the highway towards home. I remember saying, “Lord, we need help!” and a moment later, out of
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nowhere, a black and white police car pulled up and a clean-cut policeman asked us if we needed help. We said we were lost and needed to drive back to PA. We had a map and held it up. He pointed and said to “go that way to get back on the highway.” We looked at each other and then back outside and the police car was gone! There was NO WAY that it could just disappear like that! We would have seen the car driving off. We looked back at each other and said, “Where did he go?” Then, “which way did he say to go?” We definitely wanted to get out of there. We hesitantly drove in the direction he pointed and looped around onto a ramp to a highway, but there were no signs on the road at that entrance. We were still unsure which way to go, when we saw the same police car and policeman parked on the side of the road opposite to us. He again spoke to us and told us which way to go to get on the highway. As we drove off, my friend who was driving said, “That had to be an angel” and I agreed. We would NEVER forget that night when the Lord had sent an angel to help us in our time of need.”
Remember, these ministering spirits can interact with and help us by the grace of our Almighty Father God.
For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
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Chapter 10 – Protection
My Protector… in Him I put my trust!
Who can we trust to help and protect us in this world today?
If we are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then the Lord, Himself, will guard and protect us and cause the circumstances in our lives to work out. Even if there are a few “bumps in the road” or “detours” the end result will be a good one. There was a book written in 1978 titled, When Bad Things Happen To Good People. The author, Harold Kushner, a conservative rabbi, put forth the premise that God loves and comforts His children but is unable to prevent tragedy because He really isn’t omnipotent. It seems as if many Christians today may be holding onto that same view. We would like to offer a more hopeful (and biblical) answer to who can we trust to protect us in this chaotic world. Jesus has promised many times of His faithfulness and His protection. It is true that our world is fallen and in a state of active decay. When Satan deceived Adam and Eve, he gained a foothold in this world…… one which Jesus overcame at the cross.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct [or make smooth or straight] your paths.
Picture a fort or military base that is guarded night and day. The Lord is our fortress and high tower. We should ‘run to Him’ in times of trouble. We need to run to His Word and speak the promises of God over ourselves and our loved ones. The Lord, Jesus Christ, shields us from the enemy and keeps us safe.
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Psalm 144:2 (NKJV)
My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield and the One in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues my [the] people under me.
Psalm 18:2, 30 (NKJV)
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the LORD is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
Psalm 3:3, 6 (NKJV)
But You, O LORD, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.
Jesus shields us from this world. How does that happen? This happens when we declare His promises aloud. When we open our mouths, and SPEAK the truth of the Word of God into the circumstances around us, He will be faithful. We must be willing to try this.
Psalm 27:5 ( NKJV)
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock
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The Psalm 91 Promise
The promise of Psalm 91 is real. We will present it in a way we hope will be fresh and hopeful. Remember, the Holy Bible is a supernatural book inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. It is full of layers of meaning which fulfill a purpose to every person who has ever lived, but those meanings never contradict each other. Psalm 91 is a beautiful song about God’s heavenly protection (the psalms were written to be sung and loudly proclaimed).
This section shows Psalm 91 in the New King James version. The explanations in brackets provide some definitions for clarity, and the Hebrew meanings of the words for God and Lord. The Message version of Psalm 91 follows.
Psalm 91 (NKJV)
Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High (God)
[‘El’Elyon = The Exalted One (Gen. 14:18, 19)]
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
[‘El Shaddai = God Almighty, All Sufficient, All Powerful (Gen. 17:1)]
I will say of the LORD, [Yahweh, YHWH= The personal, most intimate name God assigned to himself (Exodus 3:14; Deuteronomy 6:4)]
“He is my refuge and my fortress
My God, [Elohim = the Godhead, plural = the Creator (Gen. 1:1)]
in Him I will trust.”
Surely, He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler. [rampart = an embankment of earth; a wall used to screen troops from frontal enemy fire; a bulwark or earthen defensive wall]
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You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day, [gun fire; or words spoken against you]
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, [diseases, viruses, plagues]
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. [terrorist attacks, etc.]
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
[Hebrews 1:7, 14 angels are ministering spirits]
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
[Luke 10:19 (AMP) “Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on [a]serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.” a = demonic spirits]
“Because he [she] has set his [her] love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him [her];
I will set him [her] on high, because he [she] has known My name.
He [She] shall call upon Me, and I will answer him [her];
I will be with him [her] in trouble;
I will deliver him [her] and honor him [her].
With long life I will satisfy him [her],
And show him [her] My salvation.”
Notice that there are two things for us as believers to do with this Psalm: Abide in His presence and declare these words aloud. If we know Jesus is our Savior, then abiding in His presence is not difficult to do. His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) already dwells inside of us. To abide in Jesus means to have a personal relationship with Him. How do we treat other humans with whom we have a personal relationship? We talk with them, laugh with them, care for them and most of all, make time for
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them in our lives. To have a relationship with Jesus means the same thing. Talk to Him, listen to Him, and think about Him. Make Him our number one priority. Next, believe His promises and say them out loud. The bible tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. It really is that simple.
Read Psalm 91 out loud every day. Saying and hearing these words will build up our faith. There are several excellent Bible apps and web pages which can help to put God’s words at our fingertips no matter where we may be. (Some are: Bible app, Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible)
The following is a modern language version of Psalm 91 from The Message Bible. Remember, the Lord can be our very best friend. We just need to abide in Him and get His promises in our hearts. That’s how we find safety in His presence.
Psalm 91 The Message (MSG)
You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “GOD, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because GOD’s your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
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If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says GOD,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”
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Chapter 11 - Guarded from Terror
Guarded from the Evil One
There is evil waxing stronger each day as the world is reeling from one chaotic incident to another. The internet, YouTube, and other media has connected us together as we watch and read about terrorist attacks all over the world. And how other horrors, tragedies, unrest, and killings, fighting and oppression occur around the globe. Terror has no language barrier! Fear, anger, lust, and pride are universal sources of the evil we are witnessing. BUT the Lord will guard us:
2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NKJV)
But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.
We CAN be guarded from the evil one when we choose to seek the Lord and daily enter His presence. He will prepare us and keep us safe in these last days. When we believe in Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, (John 3:16) we have a place of refuge IN HIM. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
The LORD spoke these words a while ago, but they are pertinent today. We can rest in true safety and security under His wings. (Psalm 91) Jesus has bequeathed us His Shalom peace (John 14:27) and all we need to do is avail ourselves of it. Seek the Lord’s presence and receive His promises daily!
In His Garden
“Seek to come away with Me in My garden. Away from the worldly lusts and desires. Away from the busyness of daily life. It is only in My garden that I can
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train you to do My perfect will. Come see the grapes as they are growing, maturing. It takes time for the fruit to be ripe. Not all the grapes mature at the same time. It takes patience to tend the vineyard…. Follow Me into My garden. Let the Holy Spirit take you into the river of My love. Cross your Jordan daily and follow Me. Be yoked to Me in everything. My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Learn from Me daily. Only I can give you rest. When you allow the Holy Spirit to take you into the river, then you will be insulated from the pressures and pleasures of the world. My Father’s great shaking will not affect you. Anything not of Him will not remain…. I rejoice over My people when they seek Me in My garden….My Beloved comes daily with an open heart for Me. No questions, no burdens, only the desire to worship and be with Me and the Father.” (Received by Joanne)
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Hidden Terrorists of the Mind
The news continues to be full of reports about terrorists; both Islamic and domestic. They incite fear in the masses and immobilize thousands due to their brutal attacks on civilized society. However, there are other terrorists able to thrust the same immobilizing ability upon its victims. These terrorists live in the minds of people, BUT they are not merely imagination. The Bible teaches us that we are Spirit beings (Genesis 1:26; John 4:24) and as such our minds perceive information from the spiritual realm. We know that the spiritual realm is the home of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and His heavenly hosts. However, the spiritual realm is also the dwelling place of spirits who have rebelled against the One true God. We know them by names such as: demons, fallen angels or evil spirits beings.
Modern science would have us believe that everything that goes on in our minds is the byproduct of some life experience. Most in the field of psychiatry and psychology believe in the tabula rasa theory which defines a new human mind (as in an infant) as a blank slate with no innate ideas. To an extent, this is true since humans are clearly shaped by their upbringing and their environments. Yet, as with many modern scientific theories, this belief is only part of the big picture. Clearly, God knew us, and we weren’t just blank slates!
Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)
Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you……
All humans have a connection to the spirit realm even though most are not cognitively aware of this connection. Furthermore, just because people tend to not be aware, does not mean that they are not constantly inundated with images, perceptions, senses, or communications from the spiritual realm…. which brings us back to terrorists of the mind.
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How about being bombarded with thoughts concerning a relationship that has gone sour? And then our minds go over and over a conversation we’ve had with someone who didn’t really understand what we meant? Or, how about a text message or email we receive that was irritating due to a miscommunication? Our minds can ‘hear’ possible scenarios ‘played out’ with results that are often not what we would want to happen at all! These are thoughts that are coming from the evil spirit realm: from divisive, offensive, disruptive, punitive, unforgiving, and all negative influencing spirits, who love to cause strife and contention.
Our thoughts operate on both the physical and spiritual levels. We believe that when we understand how to be victorious over the evil entities in the spiritual realm, that we can live a victorious life in the physical realm here on the earth. Jesus’ model prayer demonstrated that we can have it here, “on earth as it is in heaven”, when we go to the Father with forgiveness in our hearts. (Matthew 6:10-14)
God’s Word gives us clear instruction on the validity of this whole concept and He shows us how to overcome hidden terrorists of the mind. We can bring our thoughts to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose obedience on the cross, gave us the victory.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NKJV)
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, …
We can put on the whole armor of God so we can stand against the wiles of the devil. These wiles (Greek- methodia) are the schemes that the enemy (satan) uses to manipulate our response to situations, both mental and physical.
Ephesians 6:11-13 (NRSV)
Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
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There is an infestation of evil (demonic) ‘pests’ that are infiltrating our minds’ eye: in the media, television, advertising, etc. We CAN ‘stand against the wiles of the devil’ and in these evil days, STAND FIRM on the truths in the word of God.
This is from a Word of the LORD received on June 6, 2016:
“Hidden terrorists of the mind… do not allow them to compromise the Truth of Who I AM and what I have accomplished at the cross. My PEACE is your inheritance. I have bequeathed it to you. It is a true shield from the deception that is prevailing in the world…”
May we remain strong in the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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An Antidote to Terrorism
People are becoming increasingly nervous about their safety in a world that continues to spiral out of control. Therefore, we want to be encouraging with this “antidote to terrorism.” Whether the terror is in our minds, or in the physical environment around us, there is hope in the Name and the Blood of Jesus Christ!
Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV)
Therefore, 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.
There is power in the name of Jesus Christ! When our thoughts are under attack by the enemy, we should say aloud, “In the name of Jesus Christ be silenced!” Jesus Christ is our heavenly lawyer or Advocate (1 John 2:1) who speaks for us to the Father.
Hebrews 9:24 (AMP)
For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but [He entered] into heaven itself, now to appear in the very presence of God on our behalf;
When we call upon the name of Jesus Christ, we will be saved! (Romans 10:13) However, this is not just salvation by grace from the darkness of the world into the heavenly kingdom of God (Ephesians 2:8). In the original Greek text, the word, saved is sozo, which means: to save, rescue, deliver, heal, preserve. When we speak out the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, darkness must flee from us and from our minds. Jesus is concealed in the Old Testament, and Psalm 91 is a great example. This psalm should be read and declared aloud for ourselves and our families often.
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Psalm 91 (MEV)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”
Surely, He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter
and from the deadly pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you shall find protection;
His faithfulness shall be your shield and wall.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
nor of the arrow that flies by day;
nor of the pestilence that pursues in darkness,
nor of the destruction that strikes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand,
but it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you behold
and see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
even the Most High, your dwelling,
there shall be no evil befall you,
neither shall any plague come near your tent;
for He shall give His angels charge over you
to guard you in all your ways.
They shall bear you up in their hands,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and adder;
the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
and I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him My salvation.
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We overcome the evil one (satan) by the shed blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary. (Revelation 12:11) There is power in the blood of Jesus Christ! The old hymn, “There Is Power in the Blood,” by Lewis E. Jones (1899) has a repeating refrain:
“There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb; Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.”
Sarah remembers how her dad used to complain about singing songs about blood. He used to say, “Boy, I don’t like these songs about blood and gore.” It wasn’t effectively taught in her family’s church. It made an impression on her and it wasn’t until many years later that she understood why the blood of Jesus is so precious. That understanding finally came with learning how to hear His voice.
Exodus 12:13 (NASB)
The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
“It was the blood that saved the children of Israel from the destroyer on that Passover night and it is still the blood that saves today. And all you need to do for the blood to avail is to say, “Father, I thank You that the blood of Jesus alone covers me and my family. No evil, plague or disaster will befall me or my family because of the blood!” (Joseph Prince, Daily Grace Inspirations, June 13, 2016)
“As Christians, we are marked by a covering that no evil force can remove – the blood of Jesus. Under the protection of the blood, we find a safe retreat. We can remain steadfast in a position of strength through the blood of Jesus Christ…. By pleading the blood of Jesus over your property, possessions, and family, you can put worry to rest.” (The Blood and The Glory, by Billye Brim, 1995, Preface)
Hebrews 9:11-12 (NKJV)
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, … Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Hebrews 10:19 (NASB)
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
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God’s Word is clear. The name and blood of Jesus Christ are given to us as spiritual tools. They help us live in this world without being victim to every malicious circumstance or experience to which we may be exposed.
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Cloaked from the Enemy
If terrorism is rampant in the world, and most of the terrorists are hidden (and attack while we are unaware), how can we be safe and hidden from an enemy of this sort? In the Star Trek television series, the cunning Romulans evasively flew their “Bird of Prey” space ships into Federation territory to disrupt the Federation’s alleged peace. The Bird of Prey ships had a cloaking device, so they could attack their enemies without being detected. Many times, the Enterprise and other Federation vessels were caught completely off guard by the sudden appearance of the Romulans. How can we make sure we are not caught off guard from our cloaked enemies?
There is a battle going on in the natural and spiritual realm. So, how can we be prepared? The Bible speaks about putting on the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11-18), but also tells us that the battle is the Lord’s. (1 Samuel 17:47)
We believe that in the last days of this Church age, we should STAND on all the promises of God that are ours now, through what Jesus accomplished on the cross. 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV) “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”
There is a cloaking device from the Lord. It is called the “armor of light.” It is a cloaking device more incredible than any that has ever been conceived in the minds of science fiction writers because it is real…. and it can be real for us if we choose to activate it.
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Romans 13:11-12 (AMP)
Do this, knowing that this is a critical time. It is already the hour for you to awaken from your sleep [of spiritual complacency]; for our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed [in Christ]. The night [this present evil age] is almost gone and the day [of Christ’s return] is almost here. So, let us fling away the works of darkness and put on the [full] armor of light.
The Greek word, armor (hoplon), in this verse means: an implement, tool, instrument, or weapon: an offensive weapon for war. Light is the Greek word, phos, which means fire, light; manifested by rays; and luminousness.
1 John 1:5 says that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” John 14:20 says that Jesus is in the Father and that we are in Jesus, and that Jesus is in us. Therefore, we are IN the Father, who is Light! So, how do we “put on the armor of light”? We can only do this by speaking it over ourselves, the same way we “put on the whole armor of God” in Ephesians 6.
Psalm 140:7 says that the Lord “covers our head in the day of battle.” He goes before us and is our “rear guard” (Isaiah 52:12; 58:8). This means, that whatever we are facing each day, when we declare the Word of God aloud, the Lord is our protector. We can have the promises of God in our lives. We need to believe and speak the words of truth from scripture over ourselves, our families, and everything that pertains to us.
Finally, we need to STAND, and heed the clear message in Romans 13:11-12:
“This is a critical time… awaken from your sleep [of spiritual complacency] … and put on the [full] armor of light.”
This is a critical time, indeed. The enemy of our souls is hidden in many ways, but be of good cheer, because the Lord has shown us how to live victoriously.
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Chapter 12 – Fortitude to Finish
Fortitude to Finish (Part 1)
The apostle Paul compared this journey we call life to a marathon. He used this illustration when addressing the church in Corinth:
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (AMPC) Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So, run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither.
Below is a quote from The Woman’s Study Bible (NKJV) that explains these verses:
The Greeks hosted the great athletic festivals of the Olympic and Isthmian games. The latter were held at Corinth and were therefore familiar to the recipients of Paul’s letter. Contestants in the games participated in ten months of mandatory training. If they failed to complete this training, they were barred from competition. The major attraction at the games was the lengthy race, [marathon] and that was the illustration Paul used to depict the faithful Christian life…. He admonished the Corinthians to do the same so that they, too, might attain the eternal prize.
While the marathon/life analogy makes perfect sense to us intellectually, we know that there are many of us who need a more relevant grasp of how to press in so we can attain that crown. Seriously, wrapping our minds around running a marathon my not be very helpful if we have aches and pains or unpaid bills to think about, or if we are worried about our child because of some bully at school.
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“Yes Paul, I get it…... but, today my head hurts because my spouse is out of work and there isn’t enough money in our checking account to pay the rent.”
So, what should be our daily mind-set when faced with the obstacles of poor health, lack of finances, strained relationships, or whatever? Can we forget the past (even words spoken against us or hurtful actions)? How can we continue to look ahead at a future that is unknown? Is there a light at the end of our tunnel of seeming failures? Perhaps there have been a few victories, but how can we continue to go on? Paul shares his secret for continuing the race we face daily in Philippians 3:13-14 (TLB): No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.
Where is our daily energy focused? How can we ‘forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead’? What is this eternal prize that we can attain? Can we continue to finish the race set before us for only heavenly rewards in the future? In the following article, Fortitude to Finish (Part 2), we describe these eternal rewards and how to attain them. Yet, there is also the truth of the ‘now’ reward of being in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ that we can have each day. These promises in the Word of God give us the ability to ‘wait on the Lord’. For when we do, we will be strengthened to finish the race and overcome any obstacle that is thrown into our paths.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV) But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
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Fortitude to Finish (Part 2)
Picture an awards ceremony at the Olympic Games. The top three athletes are called to the rewards platform to receive their prizes. They are the coveted gold, silver, or bronze medals for each category of the games. Who will be the recipients of these awards that took years of physical and mental training? Will all the time and effort spent pay off? Whose Wheaties Box image will be the next to greet us in the morning? What about the time and effort we, ordinary folks, expend daily in this life? Why should we continue to press on if we only have an obscure, unimaginable award waiting for us after this life is over?
Have you ever heard of “paying it forward”? It’s a pretty common theme in this culture. To “Pay it Forward” means: when someone does a good deed for you, instead of paying them back, pay it forward by doing a good deed for someone else. Admittedly it’s a rather non-committal way to do a good deed. Anonymously paying for the lunch for the person in line behind you at McDonald’s may not seem earth shattering. But, when many “believers in Jesus” live lives in loving sacrifice, the results can cause a large-scale tsunami of His light to wash over the world. So, when we think about “Paying it Forward” to Jesus, we learn to understand that our rewards are both physical and eternal. That means, when we continue to do all things heartily as unto the Lord Jesus Christ, we are accumulating ‘award payments’ to be received at the judgment seat of Christ. “Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people.” (Colossians 3:23 CEB)
Only believers in Jesus Christ (John 3:16) will be judged at the bema (Greek: rewards seat). Our eternal rewards are REAL. There are heavenly crowns that await us, not brimstone and fiery judgment!
Romans 14:10 (NKJV) For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
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2 Corinthians 5:10 (AMP) For we [believers will be called to account and] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities].
So, what are these crowns (worthy rewards) …. and, how can we achieve them? There are 5 eternal crowns available to us: 1) the crown of rejoicing; 2) the crown of life; 3) the crown of glory; 4) the crown of mastery; and 5) the crown of righteousness.
The following questions will help us in considering these heavenly rewards:
1. “What has my purpose and motive been in life since becoming a Christian?”
2. “What have I been keeping myself “busy with”? Where has my attention been placed? What am I daily striving to accomplish?”
3. “Have I testified to others about Jesus Christ and why I accepted Him as my Lord?”
4. “Have I been ‘looking unto Jesus’ the author and finisher of my faith?”
5. “Have I disciplined my body and endeavored to keep it well and wholesome, as the temple of the Holy Spirit?”
6. “Have I been a faithful steward of the gifts / talents the Lord has given me?”
7. “Have I ever suffered persecution for my faith in Jesus Christ?”
8. “Have I lived a life in view of Christ’s return?”
As Christians, if we have tried and are continuing to try to live and do these things, then we will receive rewards at the judgment (rewards) seat of Christ!
1 Thessalonians 2:19 (TLB) For what is it we live for, that gives us hope and joy and is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes back again.
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The crown of rejoicing is given as a reward for winning others to Christ. Our rejoicing and boasting is because we know that we will be with that person for all eternity, together with the Lord!
James 1:12 (AMPC) Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.
Revelation 2:10b (ESV) Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
The crown of life is awarded to those who have suffered persecution, persevered and been tested, and their love for Christ has not wavered.
1 Peter 5:2-4 (NIV) Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
The crown of glory is given to those who have faithfully overseen those put under their leadership in the Body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (AMP) Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. Therefore, I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].
The crown of mastery is awarded to those who have disciplined the body and been victorious over it.
2 Timothy 4:8 (NIV) Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
All who have lived life in view of Christ’s return will be given the crown of righteousness.
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Is it possible to achieve all these heavenly crowns? How can we think about them today with the crises (illness, financial situation, etc.) facing us and our families? Again, please review the questions above that all of us need to consider. The Lord is faithful and will make a way for each of us to persevere and be victorious in Him.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV) No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
We will be able to declare as Timothy did in 2 Timothy 4:7 (AMPC): “I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.”
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Chapter 13 – Spiritual Armor
Spiritual Armor: A drawing
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Several questions arose when these “notes” were originally put on this drawing. The answers, of course, have always been there, but they are unfolding more clearly in these last days:
WHY was there a difference between our offensive and defensive weapons?
HOW are we to “arm ourselves” against the enemy, yet “walk in love”?
WHEN do we need to “put on the whole armor of God”?
WHAT did Jesus mean when He said, “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves”?
WHO = Jesus Christ, who gave us this authority. His finished work on the cross has sealed the devil’s fate. We simply need to “initiate the promises to be fulfilled” in our lives.
Matthew 10:16 (NKJV) “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
Jesus’ statement seems to be a paradox, or a contradiction. Yet the Lord gave us the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” so that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18)
Matthew 16:19 (AMP) I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven.
Again, Jesus said that he gave us the authority to trample on ‘principalities and powers’ and over all the power of the enemy, and that nothing would hurt us!
Luke 10:19 (NIV) I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
The Bottom Line: 1. “God raised us up and seated us in the heavens with Christ Jesus,” (Eph. 2:6);
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2. Christ is seated at His right hand, “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,” (Ephesians 1:21);
3. Therefore, we have authority over the enemy, so we need to take it!
Casualties of War
It has been said that the FIRST casualty of war is TRUTH. That is why we believe the entire subject of spiritual authority has been left out of most churches today. Therefore, Christians are becoming ‘casualties of war’ and the enemy of our souls (satan) is winning in many areas of our lives. We need to understand and implement the ‘whole armor’ of God, both the offensive and defensive weapons at our disposal, to remain on victory ground. The finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross has given us this authority.
Ephesians 6:11 (NKJV) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
The wiles of the devil are vast, and he has been studying our every move. However, our focus should not be on his wiles, but on our victorious savior, Jesus!
There are many scripture references in the Spiritual Armor drawing to read and study. The answer to the question: WHY is there a difference between our offensive and defensive weapons is in the totality of the finished work of Christ on the cross. Jesus disarmed the enemy offensively and defensively, so that we can enforce (offensively or aggressively) our victory through Christ. Also, we have been given the ability to always be ready to resist the enemy’s attacks (which is our defensive posture). We do not actually “put on armor” like the knights of old, but with our mouths, we speak the truth of the scriptures. “It is written,” were the three most powerful words spoken by Jesus to the devil in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:4-11)
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WHEN do we need to “put on the whole armor of God”? Should we do this every day? The devil is not taking any vacations from trying to cause havoc in our lives. We should daily desire to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. (Ephesians 6:10). When we recognize that our enemies are not “flesh and blood” but “principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual demons of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12), we can STAND against the wiles (schemes) of the devil. Multiple times the words: “STAND, WITHSTAND, STAND, AND STAND therefore”, all precede the actual listing of our spiritual armor. A song verse, “standing on the promises of Christ our Lord” comes to mind. That’s right! The battle is won in our minds! What are we putting on in our minds each day?
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7b) The way to resist the devil is by SAYING and BELIEVING the truth of the scriptures. He will flee – run away from us and all that pertains to us when we speak the WORD of TRUTH over everything in our lives.
1 Peter 5:8-9 (AMPC) Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.
In the Midst of Wolves
Jesus told us that persecution would be coming for those who follow Him. The most severe persecution today exists as we see many believers in Christ around the world suffering unthinkable horrors for their faith. They suffer brutal afflictions mostly at the hands of Islamic radicals. Their fate of martyrdom is because they believe in Jesus. However, we are in a time where Christians living in what were once considered strong Judeo/Christian strongholds, such as the United States and Western Europe, are enduring persecution, too. Fortunately for
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those Christians, the torment is not typically in the form of physical torture, but rather, it comes in the form of tyranny, intimidation and harassment. Any Christian who engages in social media will quickly learn that the cyber highways are littered with nasty Trolls. Their objective is to bully true believers into silence. Worse are those who pretend to be disciples of Jesus by hiding behind false ideas of Oneness and universal “love”. They are clearly endorsing a false gospel. Yes, Jesus warned us about the veracity of Christian haters and gospel twisters!
2 Peter 2:1-2 (CEB) ……false teachers will come among you. They will introduce destructive opinions and deny the master who bought them, bringing quick destruction on themselves. Many will follow them in their unrestrained immorality, and because of these false teachers the way of truth will be slandered……...
So, how are we to ‘finish the race set before us’ (Acts 20:24; 2 Timothy 4:7) and accomplish all that the Lord has given us to do for His glory? How do we survive and thrive in this fallen, chaotic world?
Jesus said in Matthew 10:16 (NKJV) “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
WHAT did Jesus mean when He said this? It has been said that, “A serpent is wise, with keen eyesight and is quick to learn. A dove is innocent, meek and gentle.” He was admonishing us to outwardly portray these qualities of wisdom with humility. Also, He wanted us to understand that we should be “militant in the spiritual realm, and gentle as doves in the natural realm, full of the fruit of the Spirit.”
Thankfully, we can be certain that our Heavenly Father never leaves us without knowledge. The scriptures describe how we can have both the attributes of a clever serpent AND a gentle dove. We are to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15-17); and to “walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” (Colossians 4:5) Philippians 2:15 (TLB) says “so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like beacon lights.” It should be said of us, that we live our lives as witnesses for Christ, not as worldly, but as just and blameless in our behavior towards others. (1 Thessalonians 2:10)
So, HOW are we to “arm ourselves” against the enemy, yet “walk in love”? Isn’t this what Jesus did when He walked here on the earth? He walked in love to all
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who would listen and hear His words; and signs, wonders, and miracles followed. Yet, the enemy could not stay in His presence because at Jesus’ words, demons were removed and cast into the sea. At Jesus’ words…. these are our powerful weapons against the enemy.
Matthew 18:19-20 (NKJV) “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
When we are in AGREEMENT with Jesus, HE is in the midst of us! Where two or three are gathered together in His name, Jesus is with us. Let us state here that the TRUE words of the Holy Scriptures are our defense against those preaching false doctrines as we stated earlier. If the words you are hearing or reading from others are not in AGREEMENT with the Bible, then they are not from God’s Spirit. His words are life!
Psalm 23:4-5 (NIV) Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
In the presence of our enemies, the Lord anoints us with His oil, and our cup overflows… with what?? With His grace, His mercy, His wisdom, His favor, and blessings so that we can be overcomers in every situation we face. When any trouble, distress, or persecution, comes our way, and when we are in the midst of wolves, let’s remember that Jesus is with us! He is with us in the midst of every storm in life. We can walk in love, being armed with the TRUTH of the Word of God. When we ask for wisdom, we will receive it from on high. We can hear the voice of the Lord directing our steps. We can speak and the door to freedom will be opened for us! “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:13 NKJV)
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A Secret Weapon
We have written about the spiritual armor that is at our disposal. Jesus Christ gave us this authority (armor) when we believed that He is the son of God and made Him Lord of our life. (Romans 10:9,10)
In Mark 16:17-18 Jesus said: “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (NKJV)
As believers, we can do the things listed above. However, most of these promises are rarely seen in Christian churches today.
Sadly, the teachings of John Calvin left a very strong impact upon the church. We say sadly, because one of the main tenants of Calvinism is the unscriptural belief that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit somehow stopped after the dawn of the church age. Staunch Calvinists will argue that the Holy Spirit performed miracles through the earliest Christians to jump-start the church. They will typically say that manifestations seen today in believers, such as speaking in tongues or words of prophecy are not from God. Some current denominations today are more strictly Calvinist than others, but it appears that the negative effects of this powerless form of Christianity can be seen across the board.
Most Christians seem to be comfortable with ineffectual doctrine. If that were not true, then we would see more people praying in public because they would be confident that their prayers had the powerful backing of the Holy Spirit. But, we rarely see that, do we? Instead today’s Christians feel they should pray quietly, go to church once a week and attempt to “behave” like good people. We have forgotten about the day of Pentecost and the sovereign ability given to us.
Acts 2:3-4 (NRSV) Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
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Yes, the Holy Spirit, who is the Comforter that Jesus said He would leave with us, gave us the ability to pray in tongues. It may be called a “prayer language” … it is a special gift from God to help us in this world. It is interesting to note that many of the observers of the newly Spirit filled Christians (as told in the book of Acts), thought those speaking in tongues were drunk, even though it was early in the morning.
Acts 2:11-13 (NKJV) Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” So, they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”
Why did God make that point clear in scripture? Could it be because today, many people are quick to claim that the manifestation of speaking in tongues is not from God?
It wasn’t only the early followers of Jesus who were accused of not belonging to God when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Jesus himself was accused of working with Satan.
Matthew 12:22-32 (NKJV) [A House Divided Cannot Stand]
“Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”
These are very important issues to consider when attempting to understand the role of the Holy Spirit in our own lives.
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In Ephesians 6:11-18, we are instructed to “put on the whole armor of God.” Part of the whole armor of God states that we should “pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”
Ephesians 6:18 (JUB) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching in this with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
What does praying in the Spirit mean? Jesus told his disciples that they would receive “power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.” Let’s take a closer look at Acts 1:8. The word, power, is the Greek word dynamis = power, ability, workers of miracles, mighty works.
Acts 2:4 (AMP) And they were all filled [that is, diffused throughout their being] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (different languages), as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out [clearly and appropriately].
This sounds very good as far as a spiritual weapon is concerned. We submit that “praying always… in the Spirit” is a secret weapon that many believers have missed. We as believers, have the Holy Spirit sealed inside us. It is time to use that secret weapon in our lives so that we can attain the promises of Christ on the cross.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV) And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
When we do not know how to pray for ourselves, or a family member or friend, we can “pray in the Spirit” the Holy Spirit intercedes for us!
Romans 8:26 (NKJV) Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Praying in the Spirit is also called: 1) our prayer language or 2) speaking in tongues. So, here is a question: if a Christian home group or church believes that “speaking in tongues” ended after the book of the Acts, why is it listed in the whole armor of God in Ephesians? The Pauline epistles teach us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16); and to “continue earnestly in prayer” (Colossians
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4:2). Should these prayers be in our native language only? Praying in the spirit is a “secret weapon” that many Christians have missed.
Every year, many churches observe Pentecost…which occurs 50 days after Passover. As we have noted, Pentecost was when the early church received the power of the Holy Spirit. How many of us have heard about Pentecost and/or speaking in tongues in the pulpit? How many of us have seen the Holy Spirit noticeably working in our midst? If not, where has this power gone? The power of the Holy Spirit has clearly been given to us! Even if the church we attend isn’t operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t mean that we need to live without the Comforter in our lives.
Our prayer language (speaking in tongues) is a gift that we receive when we are born again. This language is not something that we can understand in our native tongue, but it is called “the tongues of men or angels.” (1 Corinthians 13:1a NKJV)
The following is a list of the scriptural benefits or reasons for “speaking in tongues” by Rev. Paul Norcross (Kingdom Faith Ministries). Be encouraged to search the Word of God for this secret weapon of truth.
18 Scriptural Reasons for Speaking in Tongues (Maybe 19) by Paul Norcross
(S.I.T. = Speaking in Tongues)
1. S.I.T is rest to our souls – a refreshing. Isaiah 28:11-12; I Cor. 14:21-22
2. S.I.T. edifies you. I Cor. 14:4
3. S.I.T. speaks to God mysteries. I Cor. 14:2
4. S.I.T. speaks the wonderful works of God. Acts 2:11
5. S.I.T. magnifies God. Acts 10:46
6. S.I.T. is perfect prayer for yourself. I Cor. 14:14-15; Rom. 8:26-28
7. S.I.T. is perfect intercession for others. Rom. 8:26-28; Eph. 6:18; I Tim. 2:1
8. S.I.T. gives thanks well. I Cor. 14:17
9. S.I.T. strengthens you with might in your inner man. Eph. 3:16
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10. S.I.T. (“quickens”) gives life to your mortal bodies. Rom 8:11
11. S.I.T. puts to death the deeds of the body (“mortifies the flesh”). Rom. 8:13
12. S.I.T. gives us the “spirit of adoption” – an intimacy with Christ. Rom. 8:15
13. S.I.T. bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Rom. 8:16
14. S.I.T. confirms you are “joint heirs with Christ.” Rom. 8:17
15. S.I.T. is a sign for unbelievers. I Cor. 14:22; Mark 16:17
16. S.I.T. builds up your faith. Jude 20
17. S.I.T. helps us be filled to capacity with the Spirit. Eph. 5: 18-19
18. S.I.T. keeps us from being deceived. John 16:13; I John 2:26-27; Rom. 8:16
19. S.I.T. helps build your immune system 30-40% according to Dr. Carl Peterson, brain specialist at the former ORU Hospital in Tulsa, OK. It also activates a portion of the brain that does not have other known activity to medical science. (We do not find this in scripture, but it is very thought provoking.)
Please make sure to visit Kingdom Faith Ministry by clicking the KFM button listed on our page (www.theheraldofhope.com)
John 4:23-24 (NKJV) But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
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Chapter 14 - Discerning the Times
Can You Turn Back Time?
There is certainly a fascination with what many people consider “The Good Old Days.” Our society is ripe with nostalgic sentiment. There is a longing for a place and time of more simple pleasures and ease of life. There is a homesickness amongst many for the “past” and what it represents in the minds of those who want to return to a less complicated life. Original Twilight Zone fans will remember the episode of the tired, stressed out businessman who hates the pressures of his modern world and just wants to check-out of reality and escape to the idyllic town of Willoughby. That episode aired in 1960. Imagine how many more many people desire to escape the disorder of today! Facebook users are increasingly inundated with the “A Look Back” feature on their news-feed which displays photos and posts from up to as much as 5 years ago. There have been many times when we have sensed the longing in other’s comments regarding their glimpse into these posts, especially when reminiscing about their children who have grown up far too fast. We all feel it, as time keeps on ticking into the future.
What time is it today on God’s calendar? Can we look at the news, political unrest, social issues changing almost daily and not have a ‘sense’ that things are rapidly changing and not for the better? Is this the time spoken of in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NLT): “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”
From a Biblical perspective, the answer is “Yes!” Can time be turned back? Or does it repeat itself? Jesus said of a coming time when it would be like the depravity of Noah’s time. (Some bible translations may spell his name as Noe.)
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Luke 17:26-27 (NKJV) And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Noah’s generation was considered evil by God, and He decided to destroy both man and all of creation from the earth.
Genesis 6:5 (NIV) The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
Genesis 6:8-9 (AMPC) But Noah found grace (favor) in the eyes of the Lord. This is the history of the generations of Noah. Noah was a just and righteous man, blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked [in habitual fellowship] with God.
Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. He was a righteous man who was blameless, whose blood line had not been tainted by the giants roaming the earth and terrorizing the population. [The ‘giants’ in Gen. 6:4 (Hebr. Nephilim) were the progeny of the ‘sons of God’ (angels who left their former estate) and bore children with the daughters of men.] The fact of these part fallen angel/part human offspring is a truth that is not being taught in many churches around the world. The Nephilim were part of the lost antediluvian (pre-flood) world.
Genesis 6:4 (TLB) In those days, and even afterwards, when the evil beings from the spirit world were sexually involved with human women, their children became giants, of whom so many legends are told.
Genesis 6:4 (AMP) There were Nephilim (men of stature, notorious men) on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God lived with the daughters of men, and they gave birth to their children…
But are these giants again roaming the earth? Have they perhaps reappeared in different form? Are the thoughts and inclinations of the human heart “only evil all the time”? Who can determine if this is true?
These are questions we must ask in order to glean truth from Jesus’ earlier statement that in the last days it will be like it was in the days of Noah.
1 Chronicles 28:9 (NKJV) says: “…for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts.”
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What more do we need to understand in order to not only survive, but also to thrive in these last days? We are now the “righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe”. (Romans 3:22 NKJV) We can find favor (grace) with God because of our faith in His Son.
Can we turn back time? NO. What then, can we do in this present time, in order to remain “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might? (Ephesians 6:10)
We can “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18 NKJV) and keep “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13 NKJV)
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
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Red Sky at Night
“Red sky at Night, sailors’ delight, red sky in morning, sailors’ warning.”
Many people who sail boats know this saying. They can read the signs in the sky and can discern a time for safe sailing. Jesus said a similar thing to the Pharisees and Sadducees who could discern the weather but not the times in which they were living.
Matthew 16:1-3 (NKJV) Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.
Luke 12:56 (NKJV) Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time were seeking a sign that He was the Messiah. They refused to see the truth that Jesus came to fulfill while on earth. There are many people today who are “seeking the signs of the times” but they are not able to discern the truth.
In these scriptures, the word ‘discern’ means: to interpret, examine, prove, know, realize, recognize, understand, perceive, discern.
The word ‘time or times’ means: an opportune time, an appointed time or season.
Many people today would agree that we are in a season or appointed time that the bible describes as the “end times.”
Luke 21:25-26 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves
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roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
Jesus does want us to understand these times and the environment in which we are living, but with a spiritual perception which is far more complete than our five senses alone. When we see “wars, rumors of wars, nations rising against nations, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:6-7), is this the sign of His coming and the end of the age? (Matthew 24:3)
2 Timothy 3:1 (AMPC) says, “But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear].”
Currently in the United States, and in many countries around the world, God’s people are faced with stress and trouble from within. “Perilous times” certainly relates to the conditions of the world as mentioned in Matthew 24, but it also relates to the great level of agitation we are facing as a society. The most optimal level of proof for this is in literally witnessing the large numbers of people viewing “evil as good and good as evil.”
Isaiah 5:20 (NIV) Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
The fact that we have a massive outlet for expressing views through the media has exasperated this situation. Just about any Internet search looking for information concerning Christian news or information will lead you to comments left by Internet Trolls whose only aim is to cause strife. (From Wikipedia- In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community.) Another blatant example of “stress and trouble” comes from the language used and twisted by those who call “evil good and good evil.” One of their most striking terms is the word “hater.” People who adhere to biblical values, even when correctly done in thoughtfulness and caring, are often branded as haters. Why? Because they believe scripture is true and have not given in to the collective mantra of “do whatever feels right.” Thankfully, the Lord made it very clear in those same scriptures, that we should expect this type of opposition. In other words, He prepared us for these times so that we could discern them!
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Jude 1:10 (GNT) But these people attack with insults anything they do not understand; and those things that they know by instinct, like wild animals, are the very things that destroy them.
Are we able to discern the times? YES. Can we see the signs in the environment as well as signs in society that show we are living in the last days? YES. Jesus said these last days would be perilous. Can we perceive His presence and the nearness of His return? YES. Jesus will shed His light more clearly in our hearts so that can discern the world around us. The Holy Spirit will teach us and show us things to come. (John 16:13) For God will reveal such things to us through His Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10) We have a spirit, soul, and body and are no longer a natural being but a spiritual being. We can discern spiritual things by the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (AMP) But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters].
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Chapter 15 - Signs in the Heavens
What Did The Wise Men See In The Heavens?
Matthew 2:10 (NIV) When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
Since the beginning of human history, people have been both fascinated and curious about the vast cosmos called the universe. There has always been a draw or a pull within humans to the massive unknown called “space”. Our current imaginations have created epic movies such as Star Wars and Star Trek. Our visions have put men on the moon and have created space stations and incredible satellite systems. Space continues to fascinate us, but contrary to what most of us have been taught, early man was not primitive in his understanding of the heavens. Unfortunately, the fall of man (through disobedience in the Garden of Eden) created a separation from God which allowed satan to set up his earthly kingdom of deception, confusion, and ignorance.
However, God placed a story about the true light of the world, Jesus, Our Redeemer, Who would be born of a Virgin (Virgo) and fulfill His earthly destiny: be crucified, buried, and resurrected, and return as a mighty King, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Leo).
So, what did the Wise Men (Magi) see? The astrologers at the time of Jesus were called Magi: They are mentioned in Matthew 2 as ‘Visitors from the East.’ The Magi understood the ancient text written in the stars.
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Matthew 2:1-3 (ESV)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;
Herod was deeply disturbed because he had heard from the chief priests the story in the stars that foretold of a coming King. This “King of the Jews” threatened king Herod’s throne. The story written in scriptures is familiar to many people, as Christians traditionally celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. His birth was the solution to the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden.
Genesis 3:1 (NKJV)
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
“Has God indeed said…” is the same type of questioning that the tempter, satan, pressed Jesus with while He was in the wilderness. Jesus answered him each time saying, “It is written…” The Word of God was written in the heavens from the beginning of time as “signs and seasons, and for days and years”. (Genesis 1:14) Satan’s wily deception of Eve in the Garden of Eden was met with his fate that is forever engraved in the stars.
Genesis 3:14-15 (AMP)
The LORD God said to the serpent….
“And I will put enmity (open hostility)
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed (offspring) and her Seed;
He shall [fatally] bruise your head,
And you shall [only] bruise His heel.”
NOTE* Genesis 3:15 This is the first prophecy about the Messiah (Christ), who through His death on the cross and resurrection would ultimately defeat Satan, the power behind the serpent, with a death blow. (Is 9:6; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:31; Rom 16:20; Gal 4:4; Rev 12:17)
It was always God’s intention that Jesus would come and dwell among us…. however, when He did, Jesus was among a rebellious creation…. one that would
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need to be turned back towards Him. God’s plan for man’s redemption was foretold in the heavenly Mazzaroth. Only a few could understand its story. For the most part, the truth of this story has been lost to many people today. The heavens declare the glory of God and tell the story of Jesus Christ that is written in Genesis through Revelation.
This same story in the stars continues to speak… can we understand and know the meaning of their movements? Can they tell our heavenly destiny with the Lord Jesus Christ? What do the constellations in the zodiac (Mazzaroth) declare?
Psalm 19:1-6 (NLT)
The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
and follows its course to the other end.
Nothing can hide from its heat.
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The Mazzaroth- God’s True Zodiac
Colossians 2:8 (GNT)
See to it, then, that no one enslaves you by means of the worthless deceit [deception] of human wisdom, which comes from the teachings handed down by human beings and from the ruling spirits of the universe, and not from Christ.
In the 1986 movie, “Labyrinth,” the goblin king (played by David Bowie) used all sorts of tricks and wizardry to deceive the heroine, Sarah, (played by Jennifer Connelly) into abandoning her quest to save her baby brother from the king’s capture. There is a spiritual element in this movie that probably few would ever notice…. The deception of the Labyrinth world parallels the deception found in our own world. No one wants to be deceived, yet it is a spiritual force with which we need to battle on a regular basis. The prince of this world is named Satan and he is a thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy according to John 10:10. Like the “Labyrinth,” we find ourselves in a world full of “smoke and mirrors” which can make our journey not only difficult but also perilous. We would like to reveal the truth about what we know today as the Zodiac. There is a tradition which is still alive today in the form of horoscopes and Zodiac birth chart readings. Why are we, believers of the One true God and His Son Jesus Christ, discussing something in which the church has rightly taught to stay away from? Because the Zodiac is a counterfeit that was derived from the truth, in order to deceive and blind us from God’s story written in the heavens.
In Chapter 38 of the book of Job, The Lord God reveals His omnipotence in how He made the heavens and earth all that is in them.
Job 38:31-33 (NKJV)
“Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?
Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?”
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Note: Mazzaroth means constellations.
Psalm 147:4 (KJV)
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
The Mazzaroth (Zodiac in the Greek) tells a story:
We can “look at the star names to see the message of Messiah. This reveals the true message of the constellation picture.” (Part II, “The Christology of the Constellations”, Christological Astronomy, by Dale M. Sides, p.64, 2011)
There are 12 major constellations, each with 3 subordinate constellations, called decans. Each has significant meaning in the story of Jesus Christ.
The following is HIS STORY (the story of Jesus Christ) in the heavens:
Virgo: The Virgin – The Promised Seed of the Woman
1. Coma – The Desired of all nations.
2. Centaurus - The despised sin offering.
3. Bootes – The coming One.
Libra: The Scales – The Redeemer’s Atoning Work
1. Crux – The Cross endured.
2. Lupus, or Victima - The Victim slain.
3. Cornoa - The Crown bestowed.
Scorpio: The Scorpion – The Redeemer’s Conflict
1. Ophiuchus – The serpent holder, the man grasping the serpent.
2. Serpens – The serpent assaulting the man’s heel.
3. Hercules – The mighty man. A man kneeling on one knee, humbled in the conflict, but holding aloft the tokens of victory, with his foot on the head of the Dragon.
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Sagittarius: The Archer – The Redeemer’s Triumph
1. Lyra – The Harp, praise prepared for the Conqueror.
2. Ara – The Altar, consuming fire prepared for His enemies.
3. Draco – The Dragon, the Old Serpent – The Devil, cast down from heaven.
Capricornus: The Fish-Goat – The Goat of Atonement Slain for the Redeemed: The Blessings Procured
1. Sagitta – The Arrow of God sent forth.
2. Aquila – The Eagle, the smitten One falling.
3. Delphinus – The Dolphin, the dead One rising again.
Aquarius: The Water-Bearer – The Living Waters of Blessing Poured Forth for the Redeemed: The Blessings Ensured
1. Piscis Australis – The Southern Fish, blessings bestowed.
2. Pagasus – The Winged Horse, blessings quickly coming.
3. Cygnus – The Swan, the Blesser surely returning.
Pisces: The Fishes – The Redeemed Blessed Though Bound: The Blessings in Abeyance
1. The Band – Bound, but binding their great enemy Cetus, the sea monster.
2. Andromeda – The Chained Woman, the Redeemed in their bondage and affliction.
3. Cepheus – The King, their Redeemer coming to rule.
Aries: The Ram or Lamb – The Lamb was Slain, Prepared for Victory, The Blessings Consummated
1. Cassiopeia – The Enthroned Woman, the captive delivered, and preparing for her husband, the Redeemer.
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2. Cetus – The Sea Monster, the great enemy bound.
3. Perseus – The Breaker, delivering the Redeemed.
Taurus: The Bull – Messiah, the coming judge of all the earth, Messiah coming to rule.
1. Orion – The Glorious One; light breaking forth in the person of the Redeemer.
2. Eridanus – The river of the judge; wrath breaking forth for His enemies.
3. Auriga – The Shepherd; safety for the Redeemed in the day of that wrath.
Gemini: The Twins – The twofold nature of the King; Messiah’s Reign as Prince of Princes
1. Lepus – The Hare, or the enemy trodden under foot.
2. Canis Major – The Dog, or Sirius, the coming glorious Prince of Princes.
3. Canis Minor – The second Dog, or Procyon, the exalted Redeemer.
Cancer: The Crab – Messiah’s Redeemed Possessions, held fast.
1. Ursa Minor – The Lesser Bear; the lesser sheepfold.
2. Ursa Major – The Great Bear; the fold and the flock.
3. Argo – The Ship; the redeemed pilgrims safe at home.
Leo: The Lion – The Lion of the Tribe of Judah aroused for the rending of the Enemy; Messiah’s Consummated Triumph
1. Hydra – The Serpent; that old Serpent, the Devil, destroyed.
2. Crater – The Cup of Divine wrath poured out upon him.
3. Corvus – The Crow, or Raven; birds of prey devouring him.
[The Witness of the Stars, E.W. Bullinger, original 1893, reprinted 1970-1980, and Christological Astronomy, Dale M. Sides, 2011]
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Have some of us ever read our Horoscope or had a Zodiac birth chart done? If so, don’t feel badly. Remember what was written in Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” We’ve all been misled in life but God’s Spirit of Truth is always available to us. Thankfully, we have the resources of these modern-day magi we mentioned to help us understand this area of God’s truth. We recommend the works of Helena Lehman at Pillar of Enoch Ministry for in depth articles on the topic of sacred (Christological) astronomy.
Also, many of us have gone through life (like we have), thinking we were born under a particular constellation (i.e. Aries). It is possible to find our true Christological Profile which reveals a different placement of the sun on the day of our births, as well as a complete understanding of our ‘birth’ characteristics as designed by God. (Psalm 139:13, 16)
Visit the Christological Profile Computer Program at LMCI Ministries (lmci.org) to find out more about individual Christological Profiles, as shown in the heavenly Mazzaroth. Dale Sides has developed a Christological Profile Computer Program which gives a precise analysis of our individual birth charts based upon God’s Word as written in the heavens.
We pray that this information has increased your HOPE in our wonderful Savior Jesus Christ.
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Chapter 16 – End Times
Time, Times and Half a Time
We believe the bible makes it clear that we are living in the last part of the latter days. The latter days actually refers to the time of the resurrection of Jesus Christ until His return on the earth to set up a new kingdom. Yes, it’s been going on for over 2000 years! We understand that it can seem unfathomable to seriously contemplate the end of this world as we know it, and the beginning of a new world ruled by Jesus. Also, that it will probably occur in our lifetimes, but, we believe it is true. The knowledge of that blessed hope is to encourage us! There are many false teachings out there and sadly, much of it comes from within different segments of the Christian church. Sometimes, the teachings express disbelief in the workings of the Holy Spirit as evidence of the last days. We know scripture tells us otherwise:
Acts 2:17 (CEB) In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams.
The Spirit of God is alive and very active in these days, and we have personally experienced this through rhema (Greek for things uttered or said) from the Holy Spirit. For those concerned about sola scriptura (meaning anything from God must come from the bible, we agree with the intention Martin Luther had in implementing that standard. However, we feel the current application is often misunderstood. Sola Scriptura (scripture only) is a thinking tool we need to use along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to navigate our lives in this world. Why would Jesus leave us the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) if we can’t listen to Him?
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John 16:7 (AMP) "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]."
The Greek word for Comforter, parakletos, means: counselor, intercessor, helper, one who encourages and comforts; in the New Testament, it refers to the Holy Spirit and to Jesus Christ.
Now, when we do hear prophecy, see visions or dream dreams…. just like the bible said we would in the last days, then of course, we rely on the bible to help us check the authenticity. If prophecy doesn’t align with scripture it isn’t prophecy! All true prophecy reveals Jesus Christ.
Revelation 19:10b (NKJV) “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Lastly, we don’t know exactly when Jesus will return. But, we do believe we are in the “season.” The intensity surrounding the condition of the world indicating the time of His return is growing. We know Jesus could step into our time at any given moment. (Imminent = likely to happen without delay; impending)
Revelation 22:20 (NKJV) He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
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Things Are Revving Up
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future
I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I'm free
Oh, Lord, through the revolution.
These are the opening lyrics to the song “Fly Like An Eagle” released by the Steve Miller Band towards the latter part of the “Peace and Love Movement” inspired by the now iconic hippies. Although not a terribly deep song, its purpose was to evoke sentiments of revolution through human enlightenment and socialism. There is a new movement and a new revolution brewing! It comes from believers in Jesus Christ, who believe His words in scripture, and have correctly discerned the times and season of His return for His bride. This is NOT a church movement. This is a move of the Holy Spirit. We believe we can stake claim to the verse in the book of Acts in a very relevant way:
Acts 2:17 (CEB) In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams.
Yes, the Holy Spirit has been waking the Bride of Jesus (and continues) to prepare us for His soon return. The method of His return is clear in scripture.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NKJV) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And
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the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
This truth is comforting! Jesus is going to catch away the born-again believers in what most people call the “rapture.” We prefer the Greek word harpazo, because it literally means “catching away”. The harpazo is our HOPE in this lost and dying world. While we wait, we need to continue to occupy this world through being guided by His Holy Spirit. We should be reaching out to others in love with this blessed Hope. We need to remember that Jesus promised He would return, so we should continue to watch for Him.
Acts 1:9-11 (NKJV) Jesus Ascends to Heaven
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
As time continues to slip into the future, the darkness will grow. However, we have a “hope of glory” which is “Christ in us”. (Colossians 1:27)
Isaiah 60:2 (NKJV)
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
In this world we DO have tribulation, but as Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NASB)
As things in the world continue to ‘speed up’ with natural disasters, storms, chaos in global financial markets, terrorist attacks, and threats of nuclear wars, we are reminded of Jesus’ words in Rev. 22:20 “Surely I am coming quickly.” Quickly is the Greek word, tachys, which means rapidly, or swiftly. This is also the root word for a tachometer, which measures the rate of revolutions. So, as things ‘rev up’, Jesus is about to come upon the scene!
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Our blessed hope may be a mocking point for those who have not accepted the promise of Jesus Christ. He will snatch us out of this world, but we are looking up! Be encouraged to do the same. One day Jesus will carry us away and we will truly be free. “Now when these things begin to occur, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption (deliverance) is drawing near. (Luke 21:28 AMPC)
While We Are Waiting
For a pregnant woman who is anticipating the birth of her baby, the waiting period just before her child is born can be filled with excitement, anxiety, intensity, pressure, pain, and just plain exhaustion. The baby’s nursery has been made ready. The crib is waiting along with the cute little rompers, diapers, and the baby animal decorated layette complete the picture of a room ready for its new tiny occupant. The smells of baby shampoo, moisturizers and powder permeate the fresh and orderly space. The woman’s bags are packed for the hospital trip, and all she can do is WAIT!
In life, there are many ‘waiting periods’ such as when you are waiting to see the first flowers or fruit open up in the garden you planted, or when you are waiting to hear the results of an academic test, or an interview for a job that you just know you ‘nailed’ (did well, but don’t know what will happen)…
Around the world, many Christians have been ready and are waiting, eagerly expecting, “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”. (Titus 2:13)
On March 6, 2016, a word of the Lord was heard and recorded by Joanne. (By the way, we are all capable of hearing the Lord, but many do not recognize His voice.)
“This is the waiting period before I burst in the clouds to come for you…like when a woman is waiting for the baby to burst forth into life… all is set, the day and hour you do not know, but you know that the baby is coming. I AM coming sooner than you expect…”
Yes! There is an expectation that things are going to drastically change soon! So, what should we do while we are waiting? Is there anything in particular we should be doing? Will God tell us? How will we know when He does?
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Should we waiver in our hope? Or should we remain confident as Paul said in Philippians 1:6 “ … I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (AMPC)
We can be confident and ‘hold fast’ until His return.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (AMP)
Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. Therefore, let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].
There is a set purpose for us to fulfill in these last days, and we can accomplish what the Lord has given us. We can receive and begin to understand that purpose by approaching Him through prayer and praise. We must “let go” of any baggage the devil may be trying to weigh us down with, especially the lie that we aren’t “good enough” to approach God. Jesus is our mediator and our high priest. It is because of Jesus’ accomplished work on the cross, that we can trust God to use us for His glory. Then the waiting period becomes meaningful. The Lord will give us the tools and wisdom we need right now…. All we have to do is believe and ask. Our hope is in Jesus. He is our example.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right
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hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].
So, just as an expectant mother knows her long wait will result in a beautiful baby; we can know that our time here in these last days on earth (however long that may be) can be filled with an exciting expectation of Jesus coming on the scene! We can receive new strength each day from the Lord so that we can do the things that are set before us. As we expect, look for, and hope in Him, the Holy Spirit will establish us in Christ’s righteousness, and in His completed work on the cross until the day of His return.
Isaiah 40:31 Amplified Bible (AMP)
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired.
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Mystery of Lawlessness
While reading a suspenseful mystery novel or watching a cunning spy movie, as we sit on the edge of our seat, we may wonder who the real villain is in the story. To our surprise, events change so quickly that we must re-read the last few pages or back up the movie on Netflix to see that scene again! There are many mysteries in the bible, however, the greatest mystery to yet be revealed concerns the villain of the End times… and he is known by many names.
He is a true enigma, whose meaning is hidden and difficult to explain. Jeff Kinley, in his book, WAKE THE BRIDE, Facing These Last Days with Your Eyes Wide Open, calls him “History’s Mystery Man.” In the bible, he is known as “the prince who is to come" (Daniel 9:26); and “the man of lawlessness and the son of destruction or perdition.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Yes, humanity has known many, many evil men but this mystery man will be like no others before him. He has also been called: “the little horn (Daniel 7:8) and the rider on a white horse” (Revelation 6:2).
The name we are perhaps most familiar with is found in 1 John 2:18 (AMP):
“Children, it is the last hour [the end of this age]; and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming [the one who will oppose Christ and attempt to replace Him], even now many antichrists (false teachers) have appeared, which confirms our belief that it is the last hour.”
If this is the ‘last hour’ and the antichrist will be revealed, what does that mean for us? Can we know from scripture the order of events in these last days?
There is a “mystery of iniquity” that is spoken of in the bible. Iniquity means lawlessness.
2 Thessalonians 2:7 (AMPC)
For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until He who restrains is taken out of the way.
Note: Many believe this One Who restrains the antichrist is the Holy Spirit, who lives in all believers, and who will be removed with them at Christ’s coming for the ‘catching away’ of the Church or Bride; the rapture (harpazo).
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Verse 8 follows with a small word, “then” …. So, AFTER the Restrainer is taken out of the way (the Holy Spirit) and all those who have confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord, (who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise) have been removed from the earth in the ‘great departure’, THEN:
“And then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by the appearance of His coming. The coming of the [Antichrist, the lawless] one is through the activity of Satan, [attended] with great power [all kinds of counterfeit miracles] and [deceptive] signs and false wonders [all of them lies], and by unlimited seduction to evil and with all the deception of wickedness for those who are perishing, because they did not welcome the love of the truth [of the gospel] so as to be saved [they were spiritually blind, and rejected the truth that would have saved them].” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 AMP)
The deception is on-going, and many will continue to be deceived. The only antidote for this deception is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and call upon Him. (Romans 10:13) Do not take this lightly. God’s word clearly tells us that this deception (which has already begun) is powerful. Thankfully, Jesus is so good and so gracious to those who believe in Him. When we choose to literally call on Him, He will show us things great and mighty which otherwise we simply could not figure out on our own. (Jeremiah 33:3)
We welcome and love the TRUTH about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He gave Himself for us so that we could have everlasting life. (John 3:16) Jesus Christ is the ONLY HOPE for people who are alive today!
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Chapter 17 - Arise / The Blessed Hope
John 14:2-3 (NKJV)
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
There is a mansion that Jesus is preparing for us. A stately dwelling place that is uniquely ours. This truth is further exaggerated by the fact that the Greek word for mansions, mone, is used only once in the entire bible! When we make Jesus Christ our Lord, we can come to know Him as our heavenly Bridegroom, who will come again and receive us to Himself. Jesus will manifest Himself to us (John 14:21) and we believe He can do that now as we live here on this earth.
As we sit and wait on Him in our quiet places, the Lord Jesus will “meet with us” in a variety of ways and places. Our destination is the “third heaven” where we will dwell with Him in intimacy as His Bride.
In a vision, in a dream, or as an inner awareness of seeing these meeting places, we can meet and “dwell with the Lord Jesus.” We can experience what it is like to be “one with Him.”
We can “meet with Jesus” while:
- Walking up a hill filled with ‘ancient olive trees’
- Climbing up a rocky slope
- Sitting in the cleft of a rock overlooking the mountains and valleys
- Dining with the Master at an outdoor table under a shelter (sukkot)
- Walking in an enclosed garden with benches and water fountains
- Standing on a small wooden bridge over a stream
- Sitting in a boat on a lake
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- Walking along the beach at the ocean
- Standing at the edge of a river
Of course, much more can be added to this list, as we “sit” and wait for Him to come unto us. Jesus wants to meet with us individually, and to reveal Himself to us. Just ask Him! Our Beloved is calling….
John 14:31 b (NKJV)
Arise, let us go from here.
When we sit and focus on the Lord, Jesus, He is there with us. Find a quiet place, perhaps listen to quiet music, or read the scriptures, but wait… He will speak and show us the things He has prepared for us. Take the time to wait… Seek, ask, and knock…. The door will be opened.
Revelation 3:20-21 (NKJV)
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Song of Solomon 2:10 (TLB)
“My beloved said to me, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Song of Solomon 2:13b-14 (NKJV)
Rise up, my love, my fair one,
And come away!
“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”
When we continue to meet with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we begin to know that He is ours, and we are His…
Song of Songs 2:16a (NIV)
My beloved is mine and I am his;
Song of Solomon 6:3a (KJV)
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I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine
There is a progression of understanding and knowing inwardly that the Lord Jesus is really our Beloved Bridegroom and that we are His Bride. An intimacy has formed because of frequent visits with Him in the secret places. Our minds have settled on the truths of scriptures, that He will come for us and take us to be with Him for all eternity. We also know that when we see Him, we shall all be changed, and see Him like He is now, seated beside the Father. (Hebrews 12:2)
1 John 3:2 (AMPC)
Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.
Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus! Answer His call to “come up here” and be with Him…
Revelation 4:1 (NKJV)
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
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The Blessed Hope – Part 1
As the world turns and as time marches on, there is a collective feeling of unease growing on the earth. Angst (a gloomy feeling of anxiety or depression) has seeped into the collective pores of humanity. “We’ve seen it all, we’ve done it all, and we’ve imagined it all.” While some would like to believe in “world peace,” hate and violence fills the streets. With such discord, even the faithful remnant of Jesus Christ perceives the intensity of the “cosmic battle” which seems poised to consume us all. BUT GOD! Amid this turmoil, which surely is part of the end times prophesied in the Bible so long ago, we must have Hope. But, how do we receive this hope? This Hope can be so tangible that we can know it, if we allow the Holy Spirit to stir it up within each one of us. The Hope we are speaking of is the Blessed Hope in Titus 2:13 (NIV) “while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Hope is an “expectation of good” that is given to us when we believe that God gave us His only begotten son, Jesus Christ. When we ask Jesus into our hearts, we receive the blessed hope of our eternal life. This “hope” will not fade away, but will endure and keep us to the end! (John 3:16; Romans 10:9,10,13)
1 Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.
Perhaps one of the questions we ask is how can we have HOPE of a future event… the Hope of our inheritance in heaven? If our eternal life is only in the future, what about the pressures of today’s world? Can we be joyful and expectant of good things to happen in our lives now? Can we have daily patience to receive the promises of God while the world seems to be “heading down a slippery slope into a never ending black hole?” Can we “rejoice in hope; be patient in tribulation; continue steadfast in prayer?” (Romans 12:12)
Romans 8:24-25 (GNT) For it was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope. For who of us hopes for something we see? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
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We read in Colossians 1:27 that it is “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” This hope of being glorified like Jesus was in His resurrected body, is difficult to understand. Since we are the Body of Christ who will be resurrected at the “gathering together” (rapture / harpazo), how do we “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” of our lives? (Hebrews 3:6) How can we be encouraged?
The Word of God is clear about our hope and our rejoicing, not only at the end of our lives, but as we face each day…
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (AMPC) Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave]. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him through Jesus those who have fallen asleep [in death]. For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death]. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first. Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord! Therefore, comfort and encourage one another with these words.
WOW!! What a comfort to know that our loved ones who believed in Christ and have already died, will be with us at the “gathering together” of the Lord’s body. This HOPE in our bodily resurrection at the Lord’s coming for us in the clouds is an “anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” (Hebrews 6:19)
Let’s be clear: this HOPE is that Jesus Christ, Himself, will call us up to be with Him in the clouds someday soon. It is NOT when Jesus steps His foot down on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:1-4) which is called “the Day of the Lord.” That is another future event in scripture that has to do with the battle of the nations against Jerusalem.
If we believe God is faithful and His promises are true, then we can “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” (Hebrews 10:23)
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Our prayer for all of us is that we can remain HOPEFUL, and be encouraged in the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross. Each day, we desire a greater revelation of what Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished.”
Romans 15:13 (AMP) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.
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The Blessed Hope – Part 2
Martin Stewart slid Mrs. Goldstein’s divorce file back into his briefcase. One more marriage bites the dust, he muttered. Dealing with that brash woman and her demands were insufferable. However, he thought to himself, “she has the money to pay my exorbitant law fees.” Martin smiled to himself as a familiar waitress glided over to him. He was a regular at Rousseau’s and although Martin never asked the woman her name, she knew his. “Hello Mr. Stewart. May I start you off with a drink this evening?” “I’ll have my usual, dear,” said Martin. The pretty blonde smiled. Her long hair was neatly pulled up into a tight, glossy ponytail. Martin gazed over her youthful curves, then his eyes stopped at the delicate gold chain draped around her neck and he noticed the shiny cross pendant she always wore. “Hmm,” Martin wondered, “Fashion statement or fanatic?” Either way he thought the cross looked tacky. The waitress broke his reverie. “One glass of Chardonnay coming up, sir.” Martin glanced around the elaborately decorated dining area. He was glad to be heading out of the city to his upscale suburban home for the next few days. Martin worked long, hard hours to maintain the lavish lifestyle he and his family enjoyed. But, he didn’t care. He was born with an inner drive few possessed and it suited him just fine.
The waitress returned and carefully set down his glass of wine. “Would you like to order now, Mr. Stewart? Chef Louise has prepared a wonderful Langoustine Bisque today.’ Martin continued to peruse his menu when out of the corner of his eye, he perceived a flash so quick it was almost imperceptible. When he looked up, his waitress was gone! Martin gasped in shock. How could it be? The pretty blonde girl whose name he never knew, was nowhere to be seen. Martin was certain that she had been standing right there. He could still smell her perfume for goodness sakes! Martin looked down to the floor and was completely shocked to see the waitress’s clothing lying in a heap on the floor. There was no blood and the clothes weren’t torn in any way. They just innocently laid in a pile with her gold cross necklace glistening on the top.
Martin moved through the next few hours in a stunned, almost catatonic, daze. He found out soon enough that his waitress was not the only person to simply disappear that fateful day. Somehow, Martin managed to make his way home. The highways were littered with crashed and unmanned vehicles so the commute
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was incredibly perilous. But Martin finally pulled into his driveway and ran into his home. He was relieved to find his wife sitting on the couch of their sprawling living room. She stared straight ahead at the large TV. Mascara stained her otherwise lovely face. Martin looked in horror at the TV with its images of
destruction. Along the bottom of the screen, he read the news scroll as it reported: “Millions feared missing or dead all over the world!”
Of course, Martin Stewart is a fictional character and the aforementioned scenario has not actually happened…… yet. But, a day is coming, perhaps very soon, when the scene just described, with millions of people instantly vanishing the planet earth, will occur. The event we are alluding to is called the “rapture” of the church.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NIV)
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.
The words “caught up” are the Greek word, harpazo, and the Latin word, raptura. They mean the same thing: to catch, steal, carry off, take by force. Soon, our Heavenly Father will determine that it is time for the true church to be removed from the earth so that His final plan for the apple of His eye, Israel, will be played out. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be raptured or caught up in the clouds with Him. Then, the final seven years of this world will begin. We know that this event sounds fantastic and even absurd to our natural senses, but it is true. The “catching away” of the Body of Christ truly is the culmination of the Hope we have been writing about in this book.
Titus 2:13 (JUB)
waiting for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ
What has been a great mystery for over two-thousand years is about occur!
1 Corinthians 15:51-57 (NIV)
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with
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immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
However, we know that not all people will be caught up to be with Jesus in the rapture. In fact, many people will be left behind. We don’t know how many true believers of Jesus Christ live today, because only God knows each person’s heart. The bible tells us in Romans 10:9 (NKJV) “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
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In this book, Hope Over Chaos… Transitioning from Darkness to Light, we have shown you our stories and journey from brokenness to a “oneness” with the Lord. Truly our HOPE in this chaotic world is in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, who came to earth to redeem us from the hand of the enemy.
John 3:16 (NIV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Psalm 107:2 (KJV)
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
We can “arise” and come into the presence of the Lord where we have great joy no matter what circumstances surround us. As we look to and wait on the Lord Jesus Christ, we can be strengthened within to continue the ‘race’ set before us. We can have the PEACE of the LORD in our daily lives. We can know the LOVE of the FATHER and REST and TRUST in the truth of the scriptures.
Psalm 16:11 (ESV) You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (MEV) 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.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV) But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
John 14:27 (AMPC) Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]
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1 John 4:17-18a,19 (NKJV) Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear… We love him because He first loved us.
This Aaronic Blessing is for you today:
Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV) “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”’
A personal note to the reader:
Is your heart one that loves Jesus and believes that He is your risen Savior? Then, you will be saved from eternal SEPARATION FROM GOD, and you will be saved from the wrath that God will be pouring out on an unbelieving world at the very end of the age. If you have not yet made Jesus your Lord and Savior, we encourage you to call upon the name of the Lord today. Your life will be forever changed by the blessed hope of knowing His love for you, and by knowing that you will dwell with Him forever.
Romans 10:13 (NKJV)
For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you are reading the final pages of this book, and like our character Martin Stewart, find yourself in a world suddenly changed by the disappearance of perhaps millions of people, take heart. First, believe that what we have written is true. Second, realize that you still can receive eternal salvation. Pick up a bible and start reading it. The events for the last seven years of this earth are all laid out. It will not be easy! In fact, the horrors of the time of the Great Tribulation will be unlike anything the earth has ever seen. But you can still choose Jesus Christ, Yeshua, and eternal life. He wants to save you.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 (CEB)
This is right, and it pleases God our savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Grace and Peace to you, Joanne and Sarah
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Meet the Authors
Sarah Burlingame is passionate about Biblical truth. Her diverse church background has taken her through Mainline Methodist, Evangelical, Charismatic and Roman Catholic circles. Her calling as an intercessor led her to receive a certification in Advanced Spiritual Warfare from LMCI (Liberating Ministries for Christ International) lmci.org . Sarah has served as a small group leader, worship planner, liturgical dance leader and online ministry coordinator. She holds a M.S. degree in Education and lives in northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and their sons. They attend North Rome Wesleyan Church.
Joanne Reinhart asked Jesus Christ into her heart at the age of nine in a Sunday school classroom in Maryland. Her journey with the Lord took her through various careers, colleges, and universities. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Art/Dance, Theology, and Education, and a M.S. degree in Educational Administration. Her passion for the Lord is evidenced through worship, dance, and teaching. She was liberated into her spiritual gifts and callings through the teaching resources of LMCI lmci.org . Joanne has danced and taught at Christian conferences and various churches in PA and VA. She currently teaches classical ballet and coaches dance for gymnastics. Joanne attends Wyalusing Presbyterian Church. She and her husband live in northeastern Pennsylvania.