The Spirit of a Magician and Apostasy – Part 1

(links for the first 3 parts of the Spirit of a Magician series at the end)

“But relative to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and our gathering together to [meet] Him, … Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the son of doom (of perdition)… II Thessalonians 2:1-3

UNDERSTANDING THE STAKES

Many Christians are talking about a great revival and harvest before the second coming of Jesus. While we certainly pray for and pursue this, we shouldn’t ignore that Bible prophecy speaks of a great falling away, rather than a great revival, immediately preceding the Lord’s return. And it’s happening all around us. The Greek word translated “apostasy” refers to a defection from, falling away from, or forsaking of Truth. Though apostasy can occur for multiple reasons, the great end times apostasy described in II Thessalonians 2 has a few defining characteristics that are important for us to understand.

The first one we should notice is a connection to “the man of lawlessness” – and that lawlessness seems to be a central theme of this chapter.

Although the error of lawlessness is drastically on the rise, it isn’t a new problem just now appearing in the last days. Paul said the “mystery of lawlessness” was already at work at the time he wrote this letter (v.7). While this deception may present itself one way to the world, the enemy knows exactly how to dress it up for church as well. Because of this, the church has tragically battled this error since its beginning. But God has turned that to our advantage – since it was identified and addressed for the first believers in Scripture, and therefore for us as well.

There are numerous warnings about lawlessness in the New Testament. Depending on what translation you use, you might not always see that precise word, but “lawlessness” can accurately convey the idea of several Greek words.

One of the most terrifying warnings comes from the glimpse of judgment day that Jesus gave us:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23 (see v. 13-27)

(The Greek for “practice lawlessness” here is ergazomai anomia, with a present middle or passive deponent participle verb form.)

I can’t imagine anything worse than the horror of this situation. These people believe they’re saved and about to be welcomed into Heaven. They call Jesus Lord! They’ve even operated in power in His Name! Yet Jesus turns them away! Why!? He said they practiced lawlessness instead of doing God’s will. When we contemplate the terror of many who will realize too late that they were deceived about their salvation due to practicing lawlessness, combined with Paul’s warning that lawlessness is at the root of the great end times apostasy – nothing could be more important than understanding what Jesus and Paul are talking about if we want to avoid being among the MANY who will face this never-ending nightmare.

PRACTICING LAWLESSNESS DEFINED

If we follow the principle of Biblical interpretation of letting Scripture define Scripture, we see that the Holy Spirit clearly defined what practicing lawlessness means.

“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness [ignoring God’s law by action or neglect or by tolerating wrongdoing—being unrestrained by His commands and His will].” I John 3:4

The Greek word translated sin is hamartia. The Greek word translated lawlessness is anomia –the condition of one without law, due to ignorance, violation, or contempt.

Here the Holy Spirit (through John) equates the two as one and the same. So while the idea of lawlessness may often evoke images of anarchy – of ruffians prowling the streets committing crimes – this definition is far too limited. The reality is that practicing lawlessness simply refers to practicing ANY kind of sin. This should bring the danger of this deception much closer to home for all.

John goes on to say that those who are truly born of God, who abide in Him, and who can accurately be identified as righteous are those who practice righteousness, not sin. He said we cannot continue to practice sin because we’ve been born of the Seed of God (we are born of His Word and Spirit and our nature now comes from Him). In the same way, he clarified that those who are continuing to practice sin aren’t born of God, and don’t really know Him – they’re still of the devil, and their actions express his nature (I Jn 3:6-10). After attempting to set the record straight with this very simple standard for discernment (reminiscent of Jesus’ good trees bear good fruit / bad trees bear bad fruit standard in Mt 7:15-20, and His spiritual paternity test in Jn 8:31-47), John said – “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are clearly identified” (v10). The purpose is not for condemnation (at least not presently), but for accurate identification – to prevent the kind of horrific deception seen in Mt 7 about whether we (or others) are truly saved. John urged us not to be deceived about this issue (v.7-8), as did other New Testament authors (Eph 5:5-6 -see 1-20 , Gal 5:19-21, I Cor 5, Heb 10:24-39, II Pt 2, etc)

(For those familiar with a different view of this passage based on KJV, please see the special note at the end.)

Through this we understand that some were already falling prey to the deception that we can be born again (saved), righteous, and “in Christ” (abiding in Him), in spite of continuing to practice sin/lawlessness. So John (like Jesus) gave this spiritual DNA test to help all determine, “Who’s your daddy.” If we discover we don’t like the answer – thank God we learned the truth in time to change!

So the error of lawlessness can be defined as the belief that Christians can practice sin/lawlessness, yet still be saved – that children of God can live in sin without it affecting their salvation, righteousness, or right standing with God “in Christ.”

WHERE DOES THIS ERROR COME FROM?

After speaking about the coming judgment, God’s desire for all to repent, and our need to live godly and holy lives as we wait for That Day, Peter echoed Jesus’ warning that the error of the lawless could cause us to fall and end in destruction. He revealed this error was coming from distortions of Paul’s teachings, as well as other Scriptures.

“He [Paul] writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” II Peter 3:16-17 (see II Peter 3)

(The Greek word here is athesmos – one who breaks through the restraint of law and gratifies his lusts.)

This exposes the spirit of a magician’s involvement in this deception. This error is not coming primarily from without, but stealthily from within – through some “magic” with God’s Word (as discussed in previous posts). The Greek word translated distort is strebloō and means “to twist, turn awry, to pervert, of one who wrests or tortures language in a false sense.”

I certainly don’t believe this means all those teaching this error are intentionally trying to deceive. Though some are wolves sent to harm the flock (Acts 20:26-32), others are simply deceived themselves and unaware (as Peter indicates – “ignorant”, not in the sense of stupid, just unaware of truth).

We know Paul is often distinguished as the apostle of grace. As we begin to understand this error and the passages used to promote it, it’s clear that the error of lawlessness comes from a distortion and misrepresentation of true grace. It takes the truth that we are no longer under the law, but grace, to an extreme of error that we are therefore without law or lawless. We can easily see how the spirit of a magician could pull off this grand illusion for multitudes who aren’t rooted and grounded in the whole counsel of God’s Word.

FINDING CLARITY

Thankfully Paul clarified that though he was not under the law (of Moses), neither was he without law or lawless; he said he was bound to or under the law of Christ (I Cor 9:20-21). The change of priesthood resulted in a change of law (Heb 7:12). God’s law went from external stone tablets to being written internally on our hearts. In doing so, it also changed from only applying to external actions to also applying internally at a heart level (Ez 36:26-27, Jer 31:31-33, Heb 8:7-12; 10:14-18). So while Jesus freed us from the many civil and ceremonial Mosaic laws, He actually took God’s eternal moral laws to a higher/deeper standard than before – all the way to our inner life, the thoughts and imaginations of the heart (Mt 5-7, etc). He reconfirmed His moral laws throughout the New Testament, and said that those who reject and deny them reject and deny Him (Eph 4-6, Col 3:1-17, I Thess 4:1-8, Titus 1:16, Jms 4:4, Jude v.4, etc.). And while all He taught us can be boiled down to loving God first, and loving others with His love (Mt 22:34-40, Rom 13:9-10), we can’t throw out His specific blueprints in His Word of what that love looks like and substitute our own – unless we want to be deceived and deceive others (Jn 14:15-26, I Jn 2:3-6; 15-17, I Jn 5:1-5).

Hopefully all will understand that John (In I Jn 3) didn’t mean that a true Christian will never sin, or even that we’d never struggle with a sin and have to walk through a process with the Lord to crucify the flesh in that area in order to overcome (I Cor 9:24-10:14, Gal 5:16-26, Col 3:1-10). Even those who abide in Him as He tells us to (Jn 15) will still be in the process of transformation to become more and more like Him until we leave this earth (Rom 12:1-2, II Cor 3:12-18, I Pt 1:13-19). We must daily depend on His grace to empower us to live as He calls us to, His mercy to forgive us when we fail, and His blood to continually cleanse us as we walk with Him in the Light/Truth (I Jn 1:5-10 ). None of us have any hope of meeting God’s standard of sinless perfection apart from receiving Jesus’ righteousness and holiness as a gift through faith in Him, either before or after we’re born again. But once we’re born again we have a new heart that longs to do God’s will. We have His divine power and His divine nature/character within us to help us live as He calls us to (II Pt 1:1-12). We have the conviction, power, and fruit of His Spirit to help us, His love that constrains and compels us, His grace that teaches and empowers us to say “no” to sin, His spiritual armor and weapons to overcome, and His loving discipline as our Father to correct us when we err, just to name a few (Romans 13:9-14, II Cor 5:14-15; 10:3-6, Gal 5:13-26, Eph 6:10-19, Phil 2:12-16, Titus 2:11-15, Heb 12 ). When He makes a tree good (a new creation), He expects our fruit to be good (Mt 12:33-37, Lk 3:1-18; 13:1-9, Jn 15:1-17, Acts 26:20, Rev 19:7-8). So we cannot continue in (practice) sin – not without hardening our hearts, deafening our ears, and searing our consciences to continue breaking through all His boundaries to a place that’s no longer truly “in Christ” according to His Word (I Jn 2:3-6, II Cor 13:5, I Tim 4:1-2, Heb 3:7-19; 10:24-39, 12:25-29, II Pt 2, Rev 2-3, etc).

So practicing or continuing in sin or lawlessness that Jesus, Paul, John, Peter, and others refer to is a form of acceptance of sin – it’s no longer something we repent of (turn away from), no longer something we hate or grieve over, no longer something we’re committed to cooperating with the power and nature of Christ in us to crucify, change, and overcome (I Cor 5, II Cor 12:20-21, James 4:1-10, Rev 2-3) . Instead, it’s become our norm, our habit, our way of life. Perhaps it’s something we plan for. Perhaps it’s something we delight in and love, or accept and approve of (II Thess 2:12, Rom 1:32). And though few may recognize it – it causes us to serve a different master and lord (Jn 8:31-47, Rom 6, II Pt 2:19).

RESTORING LORDSHIP

Jude gave additional insight about this distortion of grace –

“For certain men have crept in stealthily [gaining entrance secretly by a side door]. Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality, and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).” Jude v4 AMPC

(The Greek word here is aselgeia – often translated licentiousness or lasciviousness.)

The AMP expounds that they view God’s grace “as an opportunity to do whatever they want.” This highlights the true source of this error, through its similarity to the first law of satanism, “Do as thou wilt.” This is the exact opposite and inversion of Jesus’ example for us of submission to God – “Not my will, but Thine be done.

We should notice that Jude said those involved in this error disown and deny our Master and Lord Jesus. Peter said the same (II Pt 2). Again, it’s important to remember this is not deception from outside the church, causing people to deny their faith in Jesus. It’s coming from within the church, through distortions of God’s Word. Both Peter and Jude went on to say that these people reject and despise “authority” (II Pt 2:10, Jude v8). This Greek word, kyriotēs, can also be translated LORDSHIP. Those deceived by the error of lawlessness still claim faith in Jesus as their Savior, but these errors cause them to deny and disown Him as Master and Lord – in the sense that they reject His Lordship over their lives. It’s vital to understand that they don’t do so by purposefully denying or renouncing Him as Lord with words. Instead this denial and rejection occurs through their actions/sin (I Thess 4:1-8, Titus 1:16, Jms 4:4, Heb 10:26-39).

Peter said the result of these errors is to malign and defame (to blaspheme) the true Way (II Pt 2:1-2). So these distortions of grace produce a counterfeit form of Christianity that blasphemes and maligns true Christianity (which can happen in several ways). It leads people to believe they can receive Jesus as their Savior without truly receiving Him as their Lord (by living under His Lordship) – that they can be saved, but continue practicing sin. In doing so, it creates “another gospel”, “another spirit”, and “another Jesus” (II Cor 11:1-4), no longer the Jesus, Holy Spirit, and gospel revealed in God’s Word.

Now we can clearly understand the deception Jesus was exposing in the judgment scene of Matthew 7. The many still called Him Lord, but they didn’t really live under His Lordship (doing the will of the Father). Though they operated in power in His Name, they didn’t operate in His character – they practiced lawlessness/sin. They fell prey to this counterfeit form of Christianity.

It is this incomplete gospel that causes the New Testament to seem so confusing and contradictory to many. When we define saving faith as only receiving Jesus as Savior ~ Scriptures that command ongoing repentance from sin and obedience to God’s moral standards sound like they’re polluting grace and faith with law and works (and those speaking these truths end up being labeled legalists, Pharisees, and worse – blaspheming and maligning the true Way). So many today have ended up rejecting much of the New Testament because they can’t reconcile it with the version of the gospel, grace, and Jesus they’ve received.

But when we understand the Biblical truth that saving faith involves receiving Jesus as our Lord as well as Savior, we begin to see consistency instead of contradiction throughout the New Testament. This explains why the NT authors say we must repent of sin and live holy lives – and why the Biblical definition of the Gospel includes repentance from sin, instructions for holy living, and warning of judgment for those who refuse (Lk 3:3-18, Acts 3:19-26; 14:15; 17:30-31; 24:14-25, 26:18-20, Rom 2:1-16, II Cor 6:14-7:1, Col 1:28-29, II Thess 1, Heb 10:26-39, I Pt 1, etc). The New Testament authors are all consistent in these truths.

It is this complete gospel that is the power of God to save us and set us free from every form of bondage to the enemy.

As Jesus revealed – the gospel of lawlessness will not save.

RESTORING TRUTH

Though it’s shocking for many of us to imagine, Paul said God would actually give people over to this deception of lawlessness because they failed to love Truth, and instead delighted in sin. (II Thess 2, Rom 1) So the antidote to this deception is to make sure we love Truth and pursue Truth (not sin) – even truth that is challenging, unpopular, that brings persecution, and that puts us in opposition with the world.

One of the profound moments for us in our journey was when the Lord reminded us that Jesus is full of both Grace AND Truth (Jn 1:17)– and that one to the exclusion of the other is error. Truth without Grace will result in Legalism. But Grace without Truth will result in Lawlessness. There’s a ditch on both sides of the road.

In the first part of this series, I referenced the key Paul gave us to love truth and avoid deception – to hold fast to the teachings that have been passed on to us, referring to the teachings that are now preserved for us in God’s Word. Paul wasn’t talking about the subjective “your truth vs. my truth” we hear so much about today. He was referring to the objective standard of Truth God has given us. So to love Truth, we must love God’s Word; Jesus said God’s Word IS TRUTH. (John 17:17)

In the second part of this series, I mentioned the similar antidote Jesus gave us to His terrifying warning about practicing lawlessness (in Mt 7). The key He gave to avoid falling prey to this deception is to build our lives on His teachings, on the Rock of His Word – not to merely be hearers of it, but to truly be doers, who put it into action (or PRACTICE) (Mt 7:13-27, Jms 1:21-27). Of course, we know from His Word we have no hope of living as He tells us to apart from being born again of His Spirit and continually filled with His Spirit as we abide/remain in intimate relationship with Him (through His Word and Spirit). Only then can we follow the law of Christ under His Lordship and grace.

God forbid that a failure to understand and restore these truths would result in the great end times harvest many are pursuing and the great end times apostasy foretold actually being one and the same event – through making many false converts through a false grace and gospel to a false Jesus. May every counterfeit be exposed in the light of God’s Truth, and may all know the Truth and be truly saved and set free.

“But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude v17-25

 Do not be unequally bound together with unbelievers [do not make mismatched alliances with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership can righteousness have with lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial (Satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said:

“I will dwell among them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 “So come out from among unbelievers and be separate,” says the Lord, “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will graciously receive you and welcome you [with favor], 18 And I will be a Father to you, And you will be My sons and daughters,” Says the Lord Almighty.

1Therefore, since we have these [great and wonderful] promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, completing holiness [living a consecrated life—a life set apart for God’s purpose] in the fear of God. II Corinthians 6:14-7:1

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the Law but under grace? Far from it! 16 Do you not know that the one to whom you present yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of that same one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and after being freed from sin, you became slaves to righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented the parts of your body as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your body’s parts as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in relation to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:15-23

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Previous posts in this series:

Exposing the Spirit of a Magician

Part of the Spirit of a Magician’s Grand Finale

The Spirit of a Magician and Supernatural Power

(also mentioned)

The First Law of satanism

footnote for those w/ different understanding of I John 3 from KJV:

Unfortunately, some who use only the KJV have been led to dangerous misinterpretations of I John 3, due to its insufficient translation of Greek verb forms. These misinterpretations have actually led some Christians to believe the exact opposite of what the passage is truly saying. Though they rightly realize John couldn’t possibly be saying that a Christian cannot sin (v.9, since no one has ever been perfect but Jesus), they mistakenly reason that John must have meant it’s our born again spirit that cannot sin. From this they conclude that our spirits remain perfect and untouched by sin committed in the body, so that even if someone is living in willful sin, their spirit remains sinless and they remain saved as long as they still “believe in Jesus”. This contradicts not only the accurate translation of this passage, but many other NT passages as well. A study of this chapter in the Greek and/or reading it from a translation that accurately captures the Greek (such as the AMP, AMPC, NASB) will dispel confusion and bring clear understanding. I realize some reject this truth, claiming that translators have added words to Scripture that aren’t there (such as “practice” or “continue” in sin). But the reality is they have not added words; they’ve simply properly translated the present active Greek verb tenses that John used.

The Spirit of a Magician and Supernatural Power

For many, the word “magician” may only evoke images of someone on a stage performing various tricks, mind manipulation, and optical illusions for an audience as a form of entertainment. However, in recent years, due to the regrettably foreseen explosion of the occult in our nation and world, some may now be expanding their definition to include a more Biblically-based understanding.

In Scripture, we see magicians listed among other occult occupations and practices we’re told to avoid such as sorcery, witchcraft, wizardry, divination, fortune-telling, horoscopes/astrologers, necromancy, mediums, soothsayers, enchanters, charmers, etc. (Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:6, 27, Deut. 18:9-14, II Kings 21:6/II Chron. 33:6, Isaiah 8:19-22, Micah 5:12, etc.).

Some have suggested these practices are “works of the flesh” (sin, Gal. 5:16-21), but don’t actually involve supernatural forces/power. Much of the church’s general lack of understanding about this, coupled with enjoyment of Lewis and Tolkien-type fantasy (due to their Christian authors and themes), has unfortunately led many to join with the world in throwing open the doors to the increased popularization of the occult through seemingly harmless books and movies.

However, in Scripture we see magicians (and other occultists) engaged not just in mere tricks and illusion, but in actual supernatural power – mimicking, counterfeiting, and rivaling in many cases that of the true power of God. In Exodus, magicians performed copy-cat wonders to oppose God’s purpose through His true servants (Moses and Aaron), further hardening Pharaoh’s heart toward God and His people. After the initial supernatural acts of God displayed by Moses and Aaron, we repeatedly see, “But the magicians did the same thing with their enchantments and secret arts.” (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7) Eventually the true power of God could not be replicated by their magic and they acknowledged His handiwork, yet did not repent. (Ex. 8:18-19)

This account alerts us to the indispensable lesson that not everything supernatural comes from God. Scripture warns that we must “test the spirits” and learn to discern the source behind the supernatural things we encounter and experience. (Isaiah 8:20, I John 4:1-3, Gal. 1:3-9, I Thess. 5:19-22, II Tim. 3:14-17, etc.)

Occult and pagan practices were much more prevalent prior to and during the time of the birth of the church. Thankfully, as Christianity spread, many cultures were eventually transformed to the kind of Judeo-Christian societies that most of us have tragically taken for granted. However, end-times’ prophecy warns not only of the moral degeneration of society, but also alludes to a resurgence of dark spiritual power – informing us that supernatural signs, wonders, and miracles done by the power of satan and his demons will captivate and deceive the world, its leaders, and even cause a great falling away (apostasy) of many Christians from true faith during the time of the lawless one and antichrist. (II Thess. 2:9-12, Mt. 24:24, Rev. 16:13-14)

Perhaps you can see the stage rapidly being set for this to be fulfilled.

During an interview between a former Hollywood actress and a former psychic, both of whom are now born again and living for Jesus, the actress said when she was in Hollywood (10-15 yrs ago), maybe 5-10% of pop culture included some sort of witchcraft, occult, and new age influence. But today it’s completely flipped, so that around 90% of what’s being produced (even children’s programs) includes witchcraft, occult, and new age influence, while only about 10% does not. I don’t know if her stats were based on an actual study, but if you’re familiar with what’s coming out of the entertainment industry, this dramatic increase of occult programing and content has likely not escaped your attention. And its impact on the culture is undeniable. Most of us probably didn’t know anyone who identified as a witch/wiccan or other form of occultist when we were growing up. But today you most likely do, whether you’re aware of it or not.

A 2019 Boston Globe article entitled, “‘Looking for a little magic’: Millennials and Gen Z embrace witchy, New Age spiritualism”, says,

“For these generations, raised on a steady diet of “Harry Potter” and a stable Internet connection, witchcraft and New Age practices are a source of comfort and spiritual fulfillment in increasingly fraught times.”

The article states that often these young people have been disillusioned by organized religion and many are seeking power and control in a world that feels grim and hopeless. Two warlocks who “operate an empire of witch-related enterprises” said,

“Our Number 1 customers are regular, everyday people looking for a little magic in their lives. They don’t necessarily want to become witches, but they want magic’s power to help them change something in their lives.”

The conclusion quotes a woman claiming,

“It’s low stakes. There’s nothing negative in this type of approach to spirituality. It’s all just about like energy and the universe. …What’s the harm in it? It’s just fun.”

On the contrary, this is the highest-of-stakes error when we know from Scripture that it opens the door to demons, deception, and apart from repentance and receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, will end in eternal darkness and death. (Rev. 21:8; 22:15)

Just as God’s power is seen throughout Scripture from cover to cover, magicians and those operating in satan’s power are also seen throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Paul indicated that just like the Egyptian magicians, Jannes and Jambres, who opposed Moses, there were and would continue to be those like them, who captivate and deceive people and are hostile to and oppose the Truth. (Acts 13:6-12; II Tim. 3) I believe end-times’ prophecy may be showing us that the parallels between Exodus and Revelation (the final Exodus from this earth and age) extend beyond just the plagues. The parallels also seem to include the enemy using his counterfeit supernatural power through his servants to oppose God’s true servants/messengers and His genuine power, and the refusal of those in the enemy’s kingdom to repent in spite of acknowledging the work of God (in addition to previous citations about supernatural works by the power of satan/demons – Rev 11; 18:23-24, Rev 9:20-21; 16:8-11).

I believe we are truly witnessing the culmination of the ages and seeing the groundwork for the embrace of the antichrist and his kingdom quickly laid. May God help us be prepared to help as many as possible escape the deception overtaking the earth before the point of no return.

🙏

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Boston Globe article: https://www.bostonglobe.com/…/ojetIu5fYahXu4…/story.html

referenced interview: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3304381969820981 OR https://www.brighteon.com/7ee9139f-8372-43c0-9876-d47d4f239ab5

Previous posts in this series

Exposing the Spirit of a Magician

Part of the Spirit of a Magician’s Grand Finale

(also on Facebook –Exposing the Spirit of a Magician , Part of the Spirit of a Magician’s Grand Finale )

Other related blogs

As It Was In the Days Of Noah

When Marvel Meets Real Life

Are You Full of It

Part of the Spirit of a Magician’s Grand Finale

(Previous post in this series: Exposing the Spirit of a Magician)

Another occasion where the Lord spoke dramatically to me in defense of His Word was many years ago when someone first presented the idea to us that the gospels are not really supposed to be considered part of the New Testament, diminishing their relevance and significance for Christians today.

We were loaned a book that promoted this concept. The author – apparently unable to reconcile his version of grace and the gospel with the teachings of Jesus – wrote this book to argue that the gospels were actually only intended for the Jews, not for believers today. He claimed they were intended only for a brief inter-testamental period to help the Jews transition from the law to grace. Therefore, he proposed that Jesus’ teachings were never intended for Christians living under grace …

This was not a widespread idea we were hearing at the time; just one person offering one book. I took the book home, in spite of feeling “a check” (caution, misgiving) in my spirit about this premise. From its temporary perch on our guest bed, where I could see it each time I passed by the room, it provoked an ongoing deliberation about whether or not to invest time reading it.

Finally, I prayed, “Lord, I really don’t want to waste time reading that if it’s not true and not of You. So please just tell me what YOU have to say about it. Are Jesus’ teachings still for the church today?”

As I turned to walk out of the room, the Lord spoke so strongly to my spirit that it stopped me in my tracks. Similar to what I described in the first “magician” post, it “felt” audible, though I don’t believe it was, resonating so loudly it arrested me.

His response:

“..GO and make disciples of ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and TEACHING THEM TO OBEY EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED YOU. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Immediately, I recognized this as Jesus’ great commission to his first disciples/apostles, after His resurrection and before His ascension (Matthew 28:19-20). This was not a passage I’d been recently studying or thinking about. It was not on my radar screen during the discussion with our friend or in the time afterward of debating about whether to read the book. But in that moment I asked the Lord for wisdom, He brought it to my remembrance in a powerful way.

I was in AWE! With ONE passage He refuted the entire premise of the book. Jesus made clear that His teachings to the disciples were not just for the Jews during an extremely brief inter-testamental period. According to Him, they were intended to be taught to ALL NATIONS. Nor did He affirm that they’re only given to us as helpful or good advice, but not authoritative for the lives of “post-resurrection” believers, as some say. The same Jesus who died to deliver us from the curse of the law also said we’re to follow and obey the things He taught and commanded (under His Lordship and grace).

I wish I could say that was the only time we ever encountered this teaching, and that it was duly discarded in the trash bin of baseless heresies without being seriously entertained by the church. But unfortunately, we ran into it again several years later being taught in a setting with international influence by someone new to authority there. This was during the same season the Lord revealed the spirit of a magician and how he operates to deceive even the elect. Apparently this spirit even seeks to make entire books and sections of Scripture disappear, and in this particular case his magic was connected to his end-times finale. I was so thankful the Lord had already settled this matter for us years earlier in such an unforgettable way.

I imagine even those who have never heard this teaching directly may have encountered its effects in some form – and the effects of similar ideas that imply we can have a version of the gospel, grace, salvation, and Jesus divorced from the teachings of the real Jesus revealed in Scripture. I pray all will understand that this is no minor matter, but one of paramount importance.

When warning us that in the end He will turn away MANY who were tragically deceived about their salvation, Jesus revealed that even though those He will turn away acknowledge Him as Lord, they did not truly live under His Lordship – they practiced lawlessness (sin). But thankfully He immediately gave us the remedy to avoid this horrifying fate – to hear His words and act upon/obey them – to build our lives on the Rock of His Word/teachings. (Mt 7:21-29) This is not a contradiction to being saved by grace through faith. It is simply understanding the vital truth that Jesus does not offer Himself to us as Savior unless we also truly receive Him as our Lord. May we continue in His teachings and become His true disciples, that we may continually know the truth that sets us free in every area of our lives (John 8:30-59).

“Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son.” II John 1:9

“And this is how we may discern [daily, by experience] that we are coming to know Him [to perceive, recognize, understand, and become better acquainted with Him]: if we keep (bear in mind, observe, practice) His teachings (precepts, commandments). Whoever says, I know Him [I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him] but fails to keep and obey His commandments (teachings) is a liar, and the Truth is not in him. But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected (completed, reached maturity). By this we may perceive (know, recognize, and be sure) that we are in Him: Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.” I John 2:3-6

If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever— The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come [back] to you. Just a little while now, and the world will not see Me any more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you. The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.] Judas, not Iscariot, asked Him, Lord, how is it that You will reveal Yourself [make Yourself real] to us and not to the world? Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him. Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching. And the teaching which you hear and heed is not Mine, but [comes] from the Father Who sent Me. I have told you these things while I am still with you. But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you. John 14:15-26

see also Luke 9:25-26 , John 12:44-50, Romans 6:15-18, I John 5:1-5

Previous post in this series: Exposing the Spirit of a Magician

Next post in this series: The Spirit of a Magician and Supernatural Power

Exposing the Spirit of a Magician

More than 11 years ago, Jesse and I watched in anguish as a guest minister captivated a room full of hungry and sincere seekers with his ear-tickling message. Though we felt the Word was being dangerously mishandled and misrepresented, it seemed we were alone in our concerns. The widespread reaction from those around us indicated that they were being wowed by his revelations from the Word as they clapped, shouted, and cheered in approval.

This was not the first time we’d experienced this in the preceding months, but it was by far the most dramatic instance. We left feeling such heaviness and grief over what we’d seen and heard.

Since we always want to humble ourselves in a situation of disagreement and ask the Lord if perhaps we’re the ones not seeing, hearing, perceiving, discerning, interpreting, or understanding correctly, we began to question – Is there something wrong with US? Why does it seem like we’re the only ones seeing and hearing this differently, believing his message was error, when everyone else seemed so enthralled?

I cried out from the depths of my heart silently about all this as we drove home, and then finally said out loud “Lord, What WAS That?!”

Immediately, I saw what may have been the clearest vision I’ve ever seen (like a movie on the screen of my mind). In the vision I saw a magician performing a magic act – and the Lord spoke so loudly to my spirit that it resonated as if it could have been audible, “You have just seen a magic show with My Word.”

The magician presented Scripture, then “sawed it in two” – not only separating it from the whole counsel of Scripture, but from the context of the New Testament, from its specific book, and even from its immediate context. Next, through sleight of hand and misdirection, he made parts of it seem to disappear – drawing our attention only to the parts he wanted us to see while distracting our attention away from the parts he didn’t want us to notice. Next he combined these partial verses with other verses he’d performed the same kind of magic on and when the process was complete, he presented his final revelation, “Tada!” The audience erupted with excitement and applause. The illusion – and deception – was a spectacular success.

In the following days, the Lord began to reveal more about the “spirit of a magician” and its prominent role in the great end-times deception that Scripture warns about in II Thessalonians 2 and other places. Without going into depth about that in this post (lest it become excruciatingly long), for now I just hope to point out Paul’s counsel for how to avoid this great deception that Jesus warned could deceive even the elect if possible (Mt 24:24).

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” II Thessalonians 2:15

Paul points us back to the teachings and letters we now have recorded for us in the New Testament as the antidote to this deception.

But with the spirit of a magician at work, even those who claim to believe the Word can still be at risk of being deceived. So may we read and study the Word in context – the whole counsel of the Word, rather than just our favorite encouraging verses. May we read and study systematically, rather than only studying topically for proof texts to confirm what we already believe. May we ask God to guide us into all Truth as we study, and to protect and deliver us from all error. May we pray to always LOVE Truth, to always welcome, receive, believe it, and align our lives to it – and to be set free from any way we’ve continued to love or take pleasure in any sin or unrighteousness (v10-12), or have exchanged the Truth for a lie (Romans 1).

The greater implications of the post Friday, showing how many leaders have even departed from a Biblical world view, is that the stage is already set for this widespread deception (and some may suggest it’s already unfolding in a measure). Since this spirit can only captivate and capture a people that does not deeply know and love the Word, more than ever, it’s time to be like the Bereans who diligently examined the Word to see if the things they were being taught were true. (Acts 17:11)

“For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.” II Timothy 4:3-4

Next post in this series: Part of the Spirit of a Magician’s Grand Finale

Stability in Instability: Activating Core Strength

In the midst of all the unrest, uncertainty, & instability going on in circumstances around us, the Lord has been emphasizing STABILITY.

(From Webster’s)
Stability:
1: the quality, state, or degree of being stable: [-firmly established: FIXED, STEADFAST; not changing or fluctuating: UNVARYING; PERMANENT, ENDURING; steady in purpose: firm in resolution; not subject to insecurity or emotional illness: SANE, RATIONAL]
a: the strength to stand or endure : FIRMNESS
b: the property of a body that causes it when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion to develop forces or moments that restore the original condition


(additional insight from yourdictionary.com)
Stability … not prone to wild fluctuations in emotion. An example of stability is a calm, stable life where you don’t have wild ups and downs.
composure; self-possession
-The tendency to recover from perturbations (anxieties or disturbances from what is normal, especially when the deviation is caused by an outside influence.)

I was reminded of one of TD Jakes’ sermons in the past year where he lamented about how much he abhors exercise balls because they make him unstable, yet it’s in this instability that we are trained to become stable by learning to access and develop “CORE STRENGTH.”

While we know core strength alludes to something within, as believers, we realize this strength doesn’t originate with us, but from the One who lives within.

God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

That passage goes on to say in verse 5 ~

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

And we know many more verses echo these truths of God as our Strength & of Him living in us, if we have received Jesus as Lord & Savior. So in times of instability, God is our Core Strength we must access to stabilize us.

Since we’ve been trying to be more faithful and diligent about declaring Psalm 91 in faith over ourselves and the whole Body of Christ during this time, I was also immediately reminded that this passage (at least in the AMPC translation) reveals the key to stability:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain STABLE and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. Psalm 91:1

So we access our Core Strength to become Stable in the midst of Instability
~ by remembering that God dwells in us (renewing our minds to the full implications of this phenomenal reality by letting His Word dwell richly in us, and learning to draw on the glorious riches of Christ in us by faith – John 14, Eph 1-3, Col 1:27; 3:16, Rom 8:11; 12:2, etc.)
~ AND by making sure we are also intentionally continuing to dwell and abide in Him/His Word (through intimate relationship and by taking our position by faith of being seated with & in Christ in Heavenly places – John 8:31-32, John 15, Eph 2:6, I John 2-3).

This stability comes from locating any way we’re out of balance and unstable due to placing too much “weight” (our confidence, trust, faith, & hope) on peripheral/external things that cannot support us, and instead shifting our weight (confidence, trust, faith, & hope) back to the core/center of our lives ~ to our unchanging God & His unfailing Word/promises.

From this position, we can best exercise our faith muscles to develop the “rock hard” spiritual abs that will help us have the strength, stability, balance, and (internal) posture we need and desire (II Peter 1:2-11 AMPC).
After all He is “the ROCK” (Gen 49:24, Deut 32:4, I Sam 2:2, II Sam 22, and too many more to list) ~ a description intended to evoke the ideas of stability, security, & reliability.

From the end of the earth will I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me, a strong tower against the adversary.I will dwell in Your tabernacle forever; let me find refuge and trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear, revere, and honor Your name. Psalm 61:2-5

So we don’t have to get offended when evolutionists suggest we came from a rock! On this point we can just agree (though our understanding of what this means should certainly be different).
Yes, we came from a Rock; A Rock is our Father! (Deut 32:18, Psalm 89:26)
God is the Rock from which we were cut & our forefathers of faith are the quarry from which we were hewn. (Isaiah 51)
And Jesus & His Kingdom are the Rock cut from a Mountain that will crush all other kingdoms, bringing them to an end, & will fill the whole earth (Daniel 2).

The stability we want & need comes from building our lives on Him & the Rock of His Word.

So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock. 25 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation (a constant SOURCE of STABILITY) for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
Isaiah 33:5-6

Based on the words the Lord has been giving, He wants us to develop this stability so that we have the ability to keep walking in the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith/faithfulness, & self control) no matter what is happening in our circumstances and regardless of how we may feel.
(As discussed in “Training for Reigning” ~ it is not only patience that requires crucifixion of the flesh to consistently walk in as we should, but ALL the fruit of the Spirit. Help us Jesus!)

(As also discussed in past posts) Though we all prefer the times when faith empowers us to escape from trouble, there are unfortunately other times when God wants our faith to empower us to endure through ~ inheriting the promised victory by faith AND patience (James 1:2-4, Heb 6:11-15, Romans 4:16-22- another STABLE reference in AMPC).

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked. 14 For the Lord will not cast off nor spurn His people, neither will He abandon His heritage. Psalm 94:12-14

He (the righteous) will not be moved (shaken) forever; the righteous (the upright, in right standing with God) shall be in everlasting remembrance. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is firmly fixed {This Hebrew word also means STABLE}, trusting (leaning on and being confident) in the Lord. His heart is established and steady, he will not be afraid while he waits to see his desire established upon his adversaries. Psalm 112:6-8

(see also Destroying the destroyer)
This truth is not intended to absolve us from doing all the other things the Word tells us to do regarding putting on the whole armor of God and fighting spiritual warfare (taking authority over the enemy, resisting him, and driving him out of our promised land). We certainly don’t want to mistake stability for passivity. But it’s intended to give us the sure footing from which to fight the good fight of faith.

To draw from another familiar metaphor in Scripture, He wants hope, which in Bible terms refers to a confident expectation and assurance of good, to be an ANCHOR for our soul (our mind, will, & emotions), keeping us stable & secure, even in tumultuous circumstances.

This stability in the midst of instability is intended to be a sign to the enemy of his impending defeat & our imminent victory.

And do not [for a moment] be frightened or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries, for such [constancy and fearlessness] will be a clear sign (proof and seal) to them of [their impending] destruction, but [a sure token and evidence] of your deliverance and salvation, and that from God. Philippians 1:28

~ As well as a testimony to those who don’t yet know the Lord of where they can find stability when the world is shaking (Psalm 46, Psalm 91, Hebrews 12:18-29).

… but now He has given a promise: Yet once more I will shake and make tremble not only the earth but also the [starry] heavens. 27 Now this expression, Yet once more, indicates the final removal and transformation of all [that can be] shaken—that is, of that which has been created—in order that what cannot be shaken may remain and continue. Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and STABLE and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe; 29 For our God [is indeed] a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29

My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved. With God rests my salvation and my glory; He is my Rock of unyielding strength and impenetrable hardness, and my refuge is in God! Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us (a fortress and a high tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! Psalm 62:5-8

I will leave you with a devotional that was in my Bible when I looked up the Philippians 1 passage mentioned above. I was so blessed to see this additional confirmation of the theme God was emphasizing, through this encouragement to develop a “rock-like temperament” in the face of threats and troubles. Praying for us all!

Destroying the destroyer

At the end of January, before the “world stopped”, I was meditating on some Scriptures from a page of verses I had entitled, “The Lord is a Man of War”. I felt the Lord was highlighting the word “DESTROY” from John 10:10 and I John 3:8 – the former revealing that the THIEF (satan) comes to steal, kill, & DESTROY – but the latter revealing that Jesus came to DESTROY the works of the devil.
So I combined the two together in one confession:
“The thief comes only to steal, kill, & destroy, but Jesus came that we might have God’s abundant, full to overflowing life. (John 10:10) He came to DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL. (I John 3:8) Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday, today, & forever. (Hebrews 13:8) So when the devil comes & works to destroy, Jesus comes & DESTROYS his works!”

Immediately after that, I began reading some of the words the Lord had given in answer to our seeking wisdom re anything we need to know & understand about the “Ready or Not, Here I Come” words He’d given last year (https://www.facebook.com/lauratyree/posts/10155860300345047). I opened to a passage He gave Jesse in Daniel 7, and was amazed not only by the text (in answer to that question), but also by the devotional on the side of the page confirming what I felt He was emphasizing just moments before.

I’m thankful He gave this encouragement on the precipice of the current chaos. May we all be encouraged by the truth revealed in this passage – that even though it may appear the enemy is prevailing for a season, even when he seeks to wear us out in our warfare against him, his time is short; his defeat is sealed. May we continue to #HoldfasttoGodspromises & #Outlastthedevil

Praying for us all & believing for God to take all the enemy has intended for harm in this situation & turn it around for our good & His glory in Ephesians 3:20 ways!

Overcoming Overwhelm: Annihilating ALL the “ANDs”

Recently, my family was encouraged to reread the book of Joshua as we participate in some special times of prayer for my dad’s healing. While several read through it in the first week, knowing dad’s treatment was scheduled to be spread out over several months, I chose to just mix in a chapter every 3rd day so I could continue my regular Bible reading as well. I figured I could use the ongoing inspiration from Joshua as the months went on.

This week I read chapters 10 and 11, which list many battles Israel had to fight to possess what was promised, and their unbroken string of victories. In between these readings, our family received a message from my Mom, listing all the things we’re asking and believing for Dad to be healed from as we continue our special times of prayer for him. I was thankful to see that in spite of the number of things on the list, they were continuing to request prayers for complete healing. We let her know we were standing in agreement in faith. Still, I knew from my own battles that when the list is that long, it’s tempting to feel overwhelmed. I was reminded of a time in recent years when I cried out to the Lord, “It’s TOO MUCH!”, and how He ministered to me so personally and specifically, reminding me that we can safely sail through any storm, no matter how severe or how much troubled water surrounds us, as long as we keep the storm on the OUTSIDE. It’s only when we let the storm on the INSIDE that the troubled waters become “too much” and we’re in danger of sinking.

Yesterday, as I read Joshua 11, I felt the Lord was once again giving the precise encouragement we needed in response to Mom’s message.

The chapter starts out listing the myriad of kings and people that all came together to fight Israel – stating that they were like the sand on the seashore.

It was not difficult to identify and commiserate with how Joshua could feel when he no longer had only one enemy at a time to fight, but it was this AND that AND the other AND AND AND…. All the ANDs of Mom’s prayer request the day before immediately came to mind; our own ANDs were not far behind.

But in spite of all of those enemies who had simultaneously gathered together against them, God commanded them not to be afraid and promised again that He had given all their enemies into their hands. True to His promise, as they did their part to fight, ALL of those ANDs were “utterly destroyed;” “NONE were left!” They possessed the WHOLE promised land, “And the land had rest from war!”

Though there has, and perhaps always will be, teaching that encourages us to just make peace with having enemies in our land (those things that deny and defy God’s promises), encouraging us to choose to see them not as enemies, but as necessary blessings in disguise, Israel’s mandate to possess the promised land, utterly driving out and destroying all their enemies till none remained is our type and shadow, revealing God’s true will. So this is what we continue to believe for as we fight with our spiritual weapons that are mighty for the overthrow and destruction of all that exalts itself against the truth of God’s Word/promises. Though we’re not claiming we can reach a point where we’ll never face another war over our promised land (at least not until Heaven), God has revealed through Israel His desire is that we have “rest from war” ~ that our enemies be utterly destroyed till none remain and we truly possess the whole land.

So no matter how many enemies have simultaneously gathered against you today, we pray this encourages you to be strong and courageous and to keep fighting the good fight of faith toward this end.

(this inset below was between Joshua 10 & 11 in my Bible)

❤️
🙏

Not Impressed

(FB post from November 13, 2017)

Impressive” was the word the parade of doctors and medical professionals, who came to see the spectacle, kept using to describe Jesse‘s streaking in the hospital over the weekend.

No, this was not the kind of streaking that might occur if a heavily sedated patient revolted against his hospital gown and tried to escape the premises. This was the kind of red streaking up the hand and arm that signaled a serious infection was attacking his body – the kind of streaking that caused an urgent care visit to become an ER visit, and an ER visit to become an overnight hospital stay. 

It certainly wasn’t the way we planned to spend the weekend. But J’s self “surgery” Friday evening to remove what he believed to be a leftover piece of splinter from an infected knot on his finger, rapidly turned into a race to prevent sepsis by Saturday afternoon. According to the ER, he got help just in time. 

The overnight hospital stay, so they could give J multiple rounds of IV antibiotics and make sure the infection was responding, was less than comfortable. Between the numerous nurse checks in the night, the conversations I could hear through the walls, the recliner I tried for way too long to get comfortable in, and J’s snoring, I think I only managed 3 hours of sleep. But to me, that snoring was one of the most beautiful sounds I’d ever heard. It meant J was alive and that the antibiotics were doing their job, since he was symptom free enough to sleep.

We still aren’t sure what caused a splinter to become a near life-threatening event. J hadn’t been careless. Several of the medical staff who helped us confessed to having done the same kind of self-surgery J had done to remove a splinter a hundred times. As one friend said, “it sounds suspiciously like an attack.”

As I thought about the doctors using the word “Impressive” to describe the situation, I was reminded of a phrase one of our teachers often uses in response to the enemy’s attacks ~ 

“I’m not impressed.” 

She and her husband use this phrase to minimize focus on what the enemy is trying to do in a given situation and to shift their focus to how much GREATER God is in His ability to destroy the works of the enemy and enable us to overcome. 

So we are choosing not to be impressed by how the enemy was able to so quickly turn such a simple thing into something so serious, but instead to be impressed by all God did, and all the people He used, to enable J to get the help he needed to #overcome – #JustInTime.

Thank you to all of you dear ones who prayed and are continuing to pray us through.  
Here are a few pics – gotta LOVE those happy hospital socks!


#Notimpressedbytheenemy

#ImpressedbyJESUS
#StandingOnThePromises
#NoWeaponFormedWillProsper
#WeOvercomeByTheBloodOfTheLambAndTheWordOfOurTestimony
#GratefultoGod
#HappyHospitalSocks

An Invitation To A Treasure Hunt

And I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, Who calls you by your name. Isaiah 45:3

“A treasure hunter is a person who, as either a vocation or avocation, searches for sunken, buried, lost, or hidden treasure and other artifacts.” (Wikipedia)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a treasure hunter? To experience the perilous adventures of Indiana Jones or the table-turning transformation of the Count of Monte Cristo?

What would you do if you were given a treasure map to riches beyond comprehension and a guarantee that if you would do whatever it took to seek it out, you would find it? If you really BELIEVED it was true, what would you be willing to sacrifice and invest to make that happen?

Sunday night, we watched the movie National Treasure for the first time in years. After the movie, Jesse put on some of the extras, including one about modern day treasure hunters. As I watched, at first I was struck with amazement by their passion and pursuit. I wondered how much money they were spending on each expedition. I wondered how much time. It seemed some were “spending” their very lives (even losing their lives, as in this story I found about a modern day treasure hunt here in Colorado). But when they began to show some of the treasures they had found, I was then struck with a sense of sadness. While I’m sure some of it had historic significance, or monetary value, most of it just looked like “stuff.” Someone else’s old “stuff” who was now long gone. No matter how great it’s worth at one time to the original owners, it was now no longer of any value to them. They couldn’t take it with them when they left this life, and it certainly can’t help them where they are today (whether in eternal life or eternal death). Yet, now other people are consuming their lives and resources tracking down and digging that “stuff” out of dirt, sand, and sea. I realize that for some people, it’s an occupation; for others, a hobby. But I couldn’t help but wonder how many were wasting their entire lives on a trivial pursuit for things they may never find and that, even if they did, would no more benefit them in the end than they benefited others who at one time possessed them. But, it was late – and I was tired. Maybe I was thinking too much, getting too deep, or being overly spiritual and just needed to lighten up….

Moments later, as we went to bed, I was amazed by the Lord’s response to these swirling thoughts, through the word He gave us from Letter’s from God:

“I have bought you a Kingdom and purchased for you a glorious life. I paid with My Son. He gave His life and blood to purchase for you a destiny. It cost Us everything.
The value cannot be measured; it is beyond estimation. There is NO GREATER TREASURE THAT YOU COULD EVER SEEK, FIND, or WANT. The world longs for what I have bought for you. They spend their lives looking in all the wrong places. Life after life is wasted, searching in the coffins of false saviors and dead saints. They spend their life’s savings traveling and digging for the elusive fountain of youth, the holy grail, and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They die looking, when what they want and need is standing right next to them. I AM the Desire of all nations. I AM the Missing Piece to the human heart. I AM the only One who can fill the black hole of the soul. I AM the Purchaser of your soul, bought and paid for with sacred blood and perfect obedience. …SPEND YOUR LIFE DISCOVERING THE TREASURE and spending your inheritance. Give it away and it automatically multiplies. There is an UNENDING SUPPLY waiting for your FAITH to UNLOCK.

Wow! I love how often the Lord speaks to us through the movies and about the movies we watch, always reminding us that He is WITH US at all times, attentive to and interested in everything we do. And I love that He took this opportunity when our thoughts were turned to treasure hunting to remind us of the limitless treasures available to us in Him, and that Faith is the Key that will unlock the vaults of the glorious riches of our inheritance. (Maybe it’s time to go back to re-read the incalculable wealth series .)

That night this verse was also in our Scripture confessions:

Thus says the Lord to His anointed, … whose right hand I have held to subdue nations before him, and I will unarm and ungird the loins of kings to open doors before him, so that gates will not be shut. I will go before you and level the mountains [to make the crooked places straight]; I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron. And I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, Who calls you by your name. Isaiah 45:1-3

And the next night, this Scripture:

We accept God’s words and store up His commands within us, turning our ears to wisdom and applying our hearts to understanding, we call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, we look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, therefore we understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (personalized from Proverbs 2:1-6)

After this, I realized that “treasure” Scriptures had been in our confession list in the days leading up to Sunday as well, before I had noticed this developing theme:

In Him (Christ) all the treasures of [divine] wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God) and [all the riches of spiritual] knowledge and enlightenment are stored up and lie hidden. Colossians 2:3

He (The LORD) will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Isaiah 33:6

It seems that God is immensely interested in treasure hunting. The fact that He uses this imagery lets us know that He has riches and treasures hidden away for us that will not be found by the casual or careless. Though they are undoubtedly God’s will for us to receive, they will not automatically come to us without effort. Discovering them will be the result of a deliberate and diligent endeavor. He has revealed to us through nature that gold, diamonds, and other precious metals and gems must be mined for. It will involve seeking, pressing in, and digging out. It will require our time, attention, focus, energy, commitment, concentration, patient persistence, and desire. He wants our lives to be consumed by this pursuit, as long as the treasure we’re seeking with such passion is Him, His Kingdom, wisdom, will, and ways. He has given us the map to limitless treasure and has guaranteed that if we seek with all our hearts, we will find it (Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 7:7-8, Hebrews 11:6). How will we respond to this invitation and opportunity? What will we be willing to sacrifice and invest to make sure it happens? As in the example at the beginning, if we really BELIEVE it’s true, we should be willing to do whatever it takes. Unlike the treasures of this world that people are giving their lives to find, this is not a treasure we will have to leave behind in the end, nor a treasure that will be unable to benefit us in the life to come. The benefit is for this life and the next (Mark 10:28-30 , Matthew 6:33).

In the movie National Treasure, Ben’s father had ceased to seek out the vast treasure he’d heard about his whole life because he had ceased to believe. Yet, despite his father’s bitter cynicism and discouraging disbelief, Ben continued to persist in his belief, to risk all in his pursuit, and was ultimately rewarded with a discovery that transformed his life and the world.

 

The kingdom of heaven is like a [very precious] treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field [securing the treasure for himself]. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, and upon finding a single pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46

 

Update 10-13-17

Yesterday, I shared with a friend that I’d fallen very far behind on reading Lana Vawser’s words (I had probably 6 wks or more of posts I hadn’t yet had a chance to read). This morning, I was awakened very early and though I certainly tried for some time, couldn’t get back to sleep. Since Lana’s posts were on my mind from the conversation yesterday, I eventually decided to get up and use the additional hours to try to catch up on some of those. Though there were posts both before and after her October 1 post that I needed to read, “for some reason,” I scrolled past other posts and stopped first on that one. Once again, I was utterly undone by God’s orchestration of confirmations when I saw that this word I began with said: 

The Lord has been strongly impressing upon my heart in the last few weeks, the importance of writing everything down that He is sharing, speaking and releasing. …
A GREAT UNLOCKING
There was a great unlocking that was taking place in the stewardship of writing down all that He says, and to meditate upon what He was saying, a whole new realm of hearing from Him and discovering His mysteries and secrets of His heart was being opened wide.
I was ministering in Launceston, Tasmania yesterday and in worship I kept seeing God’s people in scuba diving equipment and they were going to the depths of what looked like a HUGE ocean and they were discovering TREASURE they had never seen or experienced before. As they were going down to the depths I heard Proverbs 25:2:
“God conceals the revelation of His Word in the hiding place of His Glory but the honour of kings is revealed by how they thoroughly search out the deeper meaning of all God says.” (The Passion Translation)
Today, the Lord reminded me of that scuba diving vision and He said again “Write down all that I am saying and you will go deeper than you have ever been.”
There are new treasures, mysteries of God, revelation of His Word and secrets of His heart waiting for you. Chase after Him and His heart and steward what He is saying by continually writing it down, and rivers of refreshment will open up over you. …
Keep an account of all He is saying because out of that account I see a whole new depth of knowing Him and encountering Him, His heart and nature like never before and on the top of every page written in gold it says..
LIFE CHANGING!” (You can see the entire word here on FB

I pray this is as encouraging of a confirmation to you as it is to us!! #WeHearYouLord #ThankYouJesus Hold on to these words as you keep pressing in for all God has for you. Don’t give up. Even if you feel you’ve already sought certain answers wholeheartedly for a long, L-O-N-G time – that you’ve “fished all night” without receiving the clarity you expected and that it’s time to just wash your nets and go home – I pray you’ll hear the Lord challenging you, against all natural wisdom and understanding, to launch out into the deep and let down your nets again. Lord, help us all to respond to this invitation in faith. No matter how great the temptation may be to give up in certain areas, may we all still say, “Nevertheless, because You say so, I will.” (from Luke 5:5) 

Pass The Test

(FB post from April 21, 2017)

“In your anger do not sin” Ephesians 4:26

I’m so thankful God doesn’t tell us not to get angry, b/c there are sho’nuff some things in this life to make you mad.

But I’ve seen once again (repeatedly) this week that He also won’t give us any excuse, no matter how valid we think our reasons are, for holding onto unforgiveness.

If you saw the footage of the family of the man in Cleveland offering forgiveness to their precious loved one’s killer, like me, you may have been reminded that we’re called to a level of forgiveness that can seem insane – incomprehensible – something beyond what’s possible for natural man.

Yes, I’m thankful God doesn’t tell us we can never feel hurt or angry. But He also comes to us right in the middle of searing, scorching hot pain and says, “Yeah, I know what they did was wrong. I know they have no excuse. I know it hurts like crazy. But don’t let their wrong actions cause you to become just as wrong in your response. Forgive. Walk in Love. Don’t return insult for insult or injury for injury. Entrust yourself and everything to Me. If there’s any vengeance to be doled out, that’s My job. Yes, at times you must confront the wrong – but in the right spirit.”

Can you feel the flesh being crucified? Sometimes I want to say, seriously God? How can You require this level of forgiveness? Don’t I have every right to at least think badly of them … even if You won’t let me act on those feelings?

But then He reminds us we’re only being called to forgive as we’ve been forgiven (Mt 18:21-35, Mt 6:14-15, Mk 11:25-26, Col 3;13). And while maybe we could have gotten away with harboring hidden internal sin under the OT external code of law, the royal law of Christ penetrates internally all the way to the heart. Jesus gave us a Higher Standard – one that only HE can help us live. So… God, please help us do this right, b/c we sure can’t do it without You.

“Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin” ~ Ephesians 4:26

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” I Peter 3:9

“When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but he trusted [Himself and everything] to Him Who judges fairly.” I Peter 2:23

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

#LordHelpUsPassTheTest