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LIVING ON THE BRINK

Like most of America, Sunday night our TV was tuned to the Super Bowl. All the hype, all the work, all of America’s attention lives on the brink of a Super Bowl Champion each February. And for those short two or three hours many lives swing in the balances.


Then it’s over—in a heartbeat the dreams of some become reality, while for others, hopes of fame and fortune are dashed. Sunday night, Peyton Manning engraved his place in the legends of football history. While one of the Carolina Panther players sat on the bench sobbing. Yes, a big ole burly football player, having spent months, years, of his life to end up with nothing. Zero, Zilch. Always to be remembered as Losers of Super Bowl Fifty.

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Living along the brink of whatever consumes you often brings profound sorrow, especially when that consuming force is a vanishing idol that allures, tempts, and teases. A fickle dream, rewarding some. Crushing others. Yet when all is said and done, how will the way you have lived count for eternity?


For good, or for evil? For despair or hope?

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Few of us will ever compete in a super bowl or anything like that here on this earth, but God’s Word tells us of a time when, like the scoreboard clock of the 2016 game ran down, and the game was history, God will say: Time is over, Son. Go get my children.


“And the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And 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”
(I Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV).


But many will be left behind. Left to face the wrath of God that will be poured out on this earth for seven years. Scripture tells us of horrendous judgments for all who’ve scoffed, refused, and denied Jesus—Jesus who died so they might have been redeemed and forgiven because God’s mercy and grace. Yet, they chose death rather than life. Darkness over Light. And God will give them what they chose.

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Wait a minute, you say. I’ve been told God is love. Where’d this wrath business come from?


Would you be angry if your son was put to death for something he didn’t do and then the real perpetrator kicked you to the curb? Shouted your name in profanity? Did everything they could do to hurt you? We’re talking a major portion of humanity that lives as though God is dead. Are you foolish enough to believe the Sovereign God of the Universe will hold them guiltless just because they refused to trust Jesus to pay for their sin? God left the Book of Revelation to describe for us, in great detail, what the just and righteous punishment will be for those who by rejecting Jesus also rejected God, will be…in that day.


Every football team believes all their Super Bowl hype. All the words flung out by the media and fans. And each team believes their own press. Well, we have a Super Enemy who’s been flinging his deceptive lies at mankind since the beginning. And the sad part is…many have and still believe those lies. And they will be left sobbing on the benches when the multi-dimensional truth of God’s character is suddenly revealed in real time and mind-boggling color.


God has revealed His since truth, through His Word, since the beginning. But those left behind will be forced to face the reality they lived life along the savage brink of deception and lies, purposefully neglecting His Truth.

DSCF5461And tragically, many of those left behind will be church members. Church members who knew in their heads about Jesus, but their hearts were far from Him. Church members busy living on the brink, clinging to their latest obsession. Too busy indulging the lusts of their flesh. Too busy absorbed by the culture around them, rather than reading and learning the truth from the Word of God. That’s not fair! They will scream. I don’t understand all that Bible mumbo-jumbo.

DSCF3164And they’re right, they can’t understand, because they were never changed. Never “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11 NAS).


In ancient times God instructed all Jewish males to be circumcised when they were eight days old. This was a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham. A covenant where His people were to come apart and be different. But in Deuteronomy 30:6 God told His people about a new circumcision that was to come:


“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live”
(Deuteronomy 30:6 NKJV).


This is the circumcision Paul was telling the Church at Colossae about. And these were some of Abraham’s descendants God was speaking of in the Book of Deuteronomy. Descendants who had come to understand the mystery of the Church—Gentile and Jew in one body in Christ Jesus. People whose hearts were truly changed by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of His testimony.


But in plain English, many today walk the aisle of a local church, maybe get dunked in the pool, but never experience change. Change that comes only when a heart is truly repentant. Real change brought about by the Holy Spirit living inside you, remodeling, transforming you into the image of Christ.

 

The others? No change—not in this lifetime. Not interested in putting sins to death. No desire to know who God really is. Or surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They don’t want change. They wanted bonfirefire-insurance They’d rather spend time wrapped up with the things of the here and now, rather than studying and abiding in the Word of God. Indulging fleshly lusts rather than being concerned and repentant about what grieves the Spirit of God.


This morning my heart was convicted by Paul’s words as I understood a little more about who God is, and what Jesus accomplished for me.


“For in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him (Jesus) you have been made complete, and He (Jesus) is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him (Jesus) you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him (Jesus) in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him (Jesus) through faith in the working of God, who raised Him (Jesus) from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He (God) made you alive with Him (Jesus), having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He (God) has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross”
(Colossians 2:9-14 NAS). Emphasis in parenthesis mine.


Or if you have been saved by grace, through faith, you are:


• Complete in Christ Jesus
• Circumcised with a circumcision without hands
• Buried with Jesus in baptism
• Raised up with Jesus through faith in God
• When you were dead in trespasses and uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with Jesus.
• Forgiven by God of all your trespasses
• The certificate of your debt—God nailed it to the cross

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Where are you walking this morning? On the narrow path that leads to life? Or are you racing along the brink of deception, comfortable with an unchanged life, always grasping yet never receiving His peace? His hope?


Perhaps you’ve been sitting on the sidelines of life, weeping over past failures. God doesn’t want you to remain there. His grace is sufficient to cover any sin. Sufficient to stand you on your feet again and wash you in Jesus’ blood. He will wrap you in His mercy and grace, and redeem and restore you to Himself. That’s why Jesus died. But you must recognize your need, then ask and receive, then trust and obey. He will do the rest.


Perhaps you are walking each day to please Him, bearing the fruit of all He’s done for you with thankful heart? How does this scripture impact your life today?


I’d like to hear from you.

 

WHEN WE SEE JESUS

 

“…and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet…then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lamp stands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him. I fell at His feet as dead…” (Revelation 1:10-17 NKJV).

I write about real time people and paint the same—no sci-fi—no paranormal. So when it comes to grasping today’s scripture on the canvas of my mind, I come up lacking in an ability to describe or completely comprehend the majesty and power of this Revelation Jesus.

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We’ve painted Jesus on the cross, growing too familiar and insensitive to that graphic scene of depravity, unable to imagine the horror our Lord endured for the likes of us. Oh we’re quite comfortable with the picture of Him calming the sea, healing the sick, bursting from the tomb, or sitting in a meadow, smiling at a group of happy children.
But the cross is empty. And the tomb is vacant. He’s not there! That part of His work is finished and we must adjust our hearts and minds to King Jesus—at the right hand of the Father—King of Kings and Lord of Lords, clothed in regal garments, having taken His place as the sovereign ruler of the Universe.

I fear we’ve denigrated and isolated the Lord to the artists’ images painted over the centuries.
When we see Him, likely as not, the image we’re going to behold will be much like what John saw in the 1st Chapter of Revelation. King Jesus—In all His power, majesty, and might! And I’m betting our reactions will be just like John’s.
We don’t like the mental image of Jesus at the Temple—angry, whip in hand, tossing tables, rebuking the merchants, and driving evil from His Father’s house. ‘Cause that pricks our minds and prompts us to ask, What in my life displeases You?
And goodness! He called the religious leaders snakes, vipers, hypocrites, white-washed tombs. Do any of us qualify for a rebuke like that today? It’s much easier to focus on a one dimensional loving Savior who requires nothing in return. But is that a relationship?

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Whether you believe God’s Word or not in no way changes the Word, or who Jesus is, or what is to come. But the light of His knowledge and power is meant to change us. Change our behavior. Purify our hearts. And transform us to perform our mission as His Body—the Church.

Colossians 1:15-18 tells us about Jesus—who He is and what’s He’s done and what He’s going to be and do for eternity.
• He is the image of the invisible God
• The firstborn of all creation
• By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth

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• He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together
• He is also the head of the body, the church
• He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead
• He Himself will come to have first place in everything
Jesus Christ is God’s plan from the beginning.
In the 19th Chapter of Revelation John tells us of seeing the Lord Jesus again. This time he paints a word picture of our Conquering King and the heavenly armies with Him—you and me!
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-16 NKJV).

No, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is not a single dimensioned—ooey, gooey personality of blubbering-dismissive-nonsensical-amnesia-laden thoughts and words flower-child. He is the exact representation of God the Father, who chose to take into His perfect body the sins of all creation and paid the death penalty for all who choose to believe His sacrifice was sufficient to present us blameless before God. He is the personification of love. Sacrificial love.

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Remember the word pictures of God the Father in the Old Testament. Better yet, go back and look up the references to The Angel of the Lord, or The Captain of the Hosts of the Lord’s Armies—our Lord Jesus Christ in a pre-incarnate appearance. How did those folks act when they saw Him?
In the first chapter of Hebrews God has preserved these words:
“God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they…
…to the Son He says: Your throne, O God is forever and ever. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore, God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
You Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”

Last week’s blog talked about our position as soldiers of The Kingdom. We love the recruitment and social life of His righteous kingdom, but when we get down to the arduous task of crucifying our old selves—boot camp—most of us would-be-soldiers duck out the back door, don’t we? Choosing to lounge in the crowded grandstands of life rather than building the spiritual muscles necessary to be a soldier of the cross.
Jesus tells us, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14 KJV). “Ask and you shall be given. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7KJV).
Why don’t we ask Him to change us? Could it be we haven’t surrendered to His lordship? Or perhaps we just don’t want to change.

John 8:58, and 24 tells us:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was I AM.”

Exodus 3:14 says:
“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

And in John 10:30 Jesus affirms:
“I and My Father are one.”

So precious one, where does the power come from to live your life filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding? A life where you are walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience?
This is the same power that resurrected Christ from the grave and made Him the firstborn of all creation. But God’s not going to hold you down and plug you into a holy socket for instant rehabilitation. No, it’s your choice. A life-long proving and testing ground of learning to abide in Jesus. Allowing the Spirit of God to fill you to capacity. Choosing every day to surrender your will for His will. Accepting the Holy Spirit’s teaching, changing, and transforming you into a power-filled soldier in the Lord’s Army.

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In light of all you’ve read in the scriptures in this blog today, if you choose to sit on the sidelines, refusing this transformation and the power Jesus offers, who else are you refusing? And what will you say to Him in that day?
More important—what will He say to you? Enter in, or depart from Me. I never knew you?

OFFENSE OR DEFENSE?

Which is best?
In truth both are necessary, and there’s an old saying, “The best defense is a good offense.” But as fallible humans, we always take everything to one extreme or the other, don’t we?
Take prayer for example. Can you recall a recent prayer time in your church group? Is it an exercise in the power of God or pitiful complaints about our comfort? Most likely it’s a Helpingtime of mopping up the battle field casualties—and goes something like this: Dear Lord, please heal (you fill in the blank) and (fill in the blank again) has lost his job and needs to feed his family. Heartfelt prayers? You bet. Necessary prayers? Of course, we are instructed to pray for one another. But do these prayers ever get to the real heart of God’s will, or are they just an exercise in triage?
We’re kinda like Gideon in the Book of Judges. The Angel of the Lord found Gideon hiding in the wine vat during a time of enemy attacks and addressed him: “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12 NASB). And can’t you just hear Gideon whisper, Who me?
Yet God in fact made that young man into a mighty warrior for the Lord, and that’s His instruction and plan for you and me!David
I was skimming over Paul’s words in Colossians during Bible study this morning,
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…” (Colossians 1:9 NASB).

Bible Reading
And my mind slammed on the brakes and backed-up. Heard of what? My eyes retraced his prior words. “…since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all of the saints;” (Colossians 1:4 NASB). So, Paul’s praying for fellow Christians in Colossae. And I asked the question where was Paul when he was writing this letter to these folks? Short answer—in prison in Rome—a long, long way from Colossae.
I don’t know about you, but if I were in prison I wonder if I’d be praying without ceasing for anyone but me. Nah, I’d be whining, pray for me! But I scanned through to the end of the book and only in the last few words to the Colossians does Paul say, “Remember my imprisonment.”
But the remainder of what Paul said in this letter, written probably two or three years before He was executed, clangs a clarion call through the two thousand plus years of history in between that should jar us to the reality of why we’re here. In 2016. What we are supposed to be doing? And pokes a finger at just how deceived and distracted we’ve become. More concerned with our physical comforts than the mission God laid before us.
Jesus tells you and me, “We have not, because we ask not.” Paul could never be accused of not asking. And with boldness! Listen to how this apostle prayed and ask yourself: Has anyone Prayingever prayed like that for me? Or have I ever prayed like that for anyone else? And don’t Paul’s petitions go to the root of the problems of those he prayed for?
• That you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding
• That you will walk in a manner worthy of the LordThe way
• To please Him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God
• Strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience
• Joyously giving thanks to the Father
Why?
• He has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Because?
• He rescues us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption—the forgiveness of sins.

Any way
Folks, we are hiding in the wine vats of political correctness. Deceived about how love acts. And what love is and does. Choosing to live like powerless paupers while the shroud of darkness seeps, sucks, and smothers our peace and freedom bought and paid for by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We’ve ignored or forgotten our mission.
The Word of God instructs us: “Come boldly before the Throne of Grace to find mercy and help in time of need.” But we have lapsed into a full-time anemic defense, attempting to manage the casualties and bury the dead, forgetting we are valiant warriors for the Kingdom of God—accountable to the King of Kings and Lords of Lords for every idle word—even in prayer. Because, unlike the church in Colossae, we have the manual!
I challenge you, because I’ve challenged myself, to pick up your Sword of the Spirit and begin praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ like Paul prayed for these brothers and sisters struggling under the growing harsh control of Rome and the persecution he knew was sure to come.
And pray like your life depends on it—it does ‘til Jesus comes.Hannah

 

And by what authority can we expect results? That’s the subject of next week’s blog!

A must read today!

dragonflydanele

merry christmas

Dear Friends,

My family has several Christmas traditions. Some of them are wonderful—like my father reading the Christmas story while we sit by the tree—and some are perfectly dreadful. For instance, on Christmas Day, we cut up hard-boiled eggs and put them into our gravy. (((Gack!))) (((Gack!!))) (((Gack!))) I can’t wrap my head around that one—I mean, don’t you want gravy to be smooth rather than lumpy? Why cram it full of gross egg chunks? Even though half my family agrees with me—and one year we even held a family vote—eggy gravy has continued to stick around. But even worse than eggy gravy is what happens on Christmas Eve. I shudder every time I think about it. My family eats boogers. (((DOUBLE GACK!!!!))) Well, not actual boogers, but they might as well be. We eat oysters.

oysterLet me pause for a moment while I silently gag. I can’t imagine why

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Interviewed by writer and friend Danele Rotharmel.

dragonflydanele

DiAne Gates

Dear Friends,

I’d like to introduce you to a sweet friend of mine, DiAne Gates. DiAne is such an incredible person!! She has been such an encouragement to me, and she always has a kind word to say. Not only is DiAne a terrific author, but she’s also a magnificent photographer. I always look for her pictures online—they brighten my day. I’m so happy to have DiAne on my blog today, she’s someone special.

Danele: Hello, DiAne! It’s great to be able to talk with you!

DiAne: Danele, I’m honored to be here. Love your posts, and the best perk of those lonely hours banging the keyboard is the blessing of all my new writer friends.

Danele: That’s one of the things I really enjoy about Prism Book Group–the authors support each other. You’re right—it’s such a blessing! Now, DiAne, I can’t wait to hear more about you, so let’s jump…

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Lost But Not Lost

Many of you have read Danele’s posts here and this post will give you an up close and personal glimpse into Who and what she is today!

dragonflydanele

2I’ve been asked what it feels like to have partial amnesia, and my answer is always the same—it’s VERY FRUSTRATING!! There’s something really hideous about having your memories stolen from you. As awful as my amnesia was, when I became ill, it wasn’t the only mental battle I faced. The carbon monoxide poisoning and multiple chemical sensitivity really did a number on my brain. I had trouble concentrating, and my mind suddenly seemed wired incorrectly. When I would empty the dishwasher, I would be convinced that I was doing everything right, but later, I would find dishes in the oven and in the trashcan. It was like my mind was playing tricks on me. It was scary and very upsetting.

I was also having hallucinations. Light switches would creep up the walls and the waves in the ocean painting above my couch would move. I even saw a feathered frog jumping…

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HOLDING ON–TO WHAT?

I buckled the seat belt and glanced around the cabin of the plane. Full flight—not an empty seat. And I shifted closer to my husband for take-off. While my son is a fighter pilot who loves his airplane and delights in zooming through the skies at mach speed, no way does that strand of flight genes flow in these veins. Now I just had endure this three plus hours to get home.

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Vacation in Seattle had been wonderful, and I kinda looked forward to the interrupted time to edit my WIP (work in progress) Twisted. Kinda.

About fifteen minutes into the flight the captain instructed the flight attendants to immediately take their seats and buckle up. The voice instructed passengers not to move about the cabin for the next little bit, and those seat-command-lights flashed on.

Dick patted my arm and smiled. Every muscle in my body tensed. I didn’t return his smile.
The bumping began—then worsened. I closed my notebook, stuffed it back inside the bag and grabbed his hand in a death-lock. We dipped and the plane jarred from side to side.
I pushed his hand away and clutched the gray, drop-down tray in front of me, and hung on. But the bumps and rolls continued. Seconds? Minutes? Hours? My hands hurt from holding that plastic so tight. And all that raced through my mind, over and over, “Lord, help us! Please help us.”
“You’re holding onto the wrong thing.” The clear, concise words, sounded in my head and heart.
“What?” I quipped.
“You are holding onto the wrong thing.” The calm voice of the Spirit of God repeated as loud and real as if He were sitting in Dick’s seat.
I stared at my fists clinging to a gray plastic and the stupid absurdity of my actions crystallized. If the plane went down so would I—clinging to that insignificant tray.
The bumping continued, but I loosened my grip and tore my hands away from that false hope of stability and confessed what God already knew. I was wrong. And anxious. And was indeed holding onto the wrong thing.

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Though the bumping didn’t stop, I felt God’s presence and peace wrap me, body, soul and spirit, in His sovereign arms—after I put away foolish substitutes and trusted Him to care for me.
During this Christmas Season, that question has played through my mind many times since that high-flite-testing.

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Amid the hustle and bustle, what insignificant, useless things are you holding onto?
Are you clenching your fists at God because He took your loved one home this year? Are you determined to keep all things as they were before their death—accusing God of taking someone you can’t live without? Are you holding onto anger, anxiousness, and agitation?
Or are you so spun up over the world events crumbling around us you can’t enter into the truth of the Christmas celebration? Are you holding onto the hope of salvation through the right candidate, right political party, or right Congress to set this nation back on it’s godly foundation?

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What shape and color plastic are you holding onto?
What deception have you allowed to creep in and cloud your ability to see the Light of Christ?
What turbulent situation is robbing you of faith, peace, and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ to give you help, hope, and healing?

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Dick leaned over and whispered, “It’ll be over soon. We’re just flying over the Cascades.”
I had no idea flying over mountains in the atmosphere of the afternoon would cause turbulence. Did you? We had flown over them in the early morning and it had been smooth. I was ignorant of the facts.
And many of us, even those who believe in Christ Jesus, and have been washed in His blood, don’t know the facts of the truth of His Word. And, like my ignorance of the cause of the bumps and rolls, they are ignorant of what God tells us about who He is, who we are in Him, and what is to come.
And how we are to behave in the process.

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But He has preserved His love letters. His instructions on how to make it through these harsh and barren times. And it’s not too late to educate yourself.
Will you search His Truth?
Will you choose to release your grip on your understanding in order to embrace the truths and peace of His Word?
Will you make a daily practice of focusing on the only One who can deliver you through the storms and tragedies of life? Jesus—born to die so you might live in the joy of His presence—right now and forever.

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“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:5-7 NAS).

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 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; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3 NAS).

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