Who Else Wants Fullness of Joy!

Haagen-DazsA pint of Haagen-Dazs!  Chocolate-chocolate chip!
By the last spoonful I’ll be
joy unspeakable and full of creamy glory!

And full of pounds.  That too.

Alas, that’s not the way to the fullness of joy the Bible promises.  Joy is the second of nine fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

   Of the spirit means it has nothing to do with physical circumstances,  material matters, luck in lotteries, or hoggin’ anything.   It’s different from happiness (hap means “chance”), and we can rejoice even in godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:9).
   Joy’s second position speaks loudly of its importance.  Lists in the Bible teach through their inspired order.  “God is love” (1 John 4:8), but God the Father and Jesus Christ are also pure joy.  Like all nine fruits, joy is part of their essence and nature.

John, often called the apostle of love, seems to write about joy just about as much and is the one who wrote that “our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.  And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:3-4).  I feel privileged to be part of that “we” in writing to you about how you can choose to be part of “building the family of God.”

♥   The fullness  of joy promised for us—NOW—comes from being locked into  fulfilling God’s purpose.  How could we not be joyful when we have been granted a relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ and have the hope of living forever in their Family and Kingdom!

toolboxDavid wrote that “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psa. 16:11).  Are we fellowshipping with the Father and Son today through prayer, Bible study, fasting and mediation—the main tools in our Christian toolbox?

Better yet, are They living in us through the power of their Holy Spirit?   Are we putting on the new man or woman of joy (Eph. 4:24)?  The proof is in the putting.

♥  Fullness of joy is upward, outward and forward—through loving God and loving others and, as Pumbaa put it so lovably in Lion King, “You gotta put your past  behind you.”  Paul put it so biblically in Phlp. 3:13-14.

We will have this joy all the time—unconditional joy—even when  going through “a  time to weep” and “a time to mourn” (Eccles. 3:4).  Even “a time to gain” (spooning into the pint of Haagen-Dazs) and “a time to lose” (after lamenting the last creamy bite).

The angels announced to shepherds “good tidings of great joy” that Jesus Christ would bring (Luke 2:10).  Later our Savior said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

So can you blame Christians for hoping to “prosper in all things and be in health” (1 John 3:2)?  John prayed that for Gaius like we would wish it upon our Christian brothers and sisters.

But Heb. 12:2 is a key scripture about

A required component of full joy that we must be prepared for

“Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (where Psa. 16:11 says is the scene of pleasures forevermore).

♥   The whip cream and cherry on top, promised by Jesus for fullness of joy, is suffering.  He warned us that we must take up our cross and follow Him.  “If  we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12, King James Version).

Paul said we must “rejoice in hope” and “glory in tribulations” (Rom. 5:3).  Peter added that we must not “think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings” (1 Pet. 4:12-13).  James demands what humanly seems impossible:  “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3).

This fruit of the spirit called joy is humanly not possible.  We can’t work it up.  “Have a drink and loosen up.”  Wrong spirit!

We must ask for the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised that if we ask in His name, “you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).

Jesus said to ask for this joy along with the other eight fruits of the Holy Spirit.  He assured us that “If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).

So why didn’t I ask for too long a time?  I knew that if we ask for joy, it’s not going to be just funneled into us; typically we’ll face a trial that forces us to develop the joy we don’t naturally have.  So I held back from asking for the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  I figure I had enough trials without asking for it!

But why should I miss out?  God promises to not give us more than we can handle (1 Cor. 10:13), and He never has in my life.

So who else would like fullness of joy?

And oh, by the way, if you have a pint you won’t be eating, I know someone you could make deliriously happy.

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“I Hate Organized Religion!”

Maybe you think this.  What with
pe
dophiles transferred hush-hush to an unsuspecting parish,
greedy preachers coveting power,
and never-ending division and hurt.
Last year only 26% of Americans
regularly attended church or synagogue.

What could make anyone love organized religion?
Something must because we are commanded to
not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together,
as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another,
and so much the more as you see
the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25).

God and the Word lived together in peace and mutual joy before anything else existed (John 1:1).  Revelation 4 shows how Their throne room is organized with four living creatures, 24 elders and hosts of angels.  Up there, positioned just right in the north (Isa. 14:13), “everyone says, ‘Glory!'” (Psa. 29:9).  Today we can boldly come before Their throne of grace 24/7 whenever we choose (Heb. 4:16).

God and the Word wanted to share Their joyous Way of Life with others.  They organized to the nth degree of detail a plan guaranteed to bring it about according to Their master timing.

First They created angels who would serve Their children “who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).  The angels were organized under three archangels—Lucifer, Gabriel and Michael.

Those who think church division justifies hating organized religion should note that even the perfect God was hit by division from Lucifer who became satan.  Later They allowed the adversary to bedevil Their church with recurring division.  There is always somebody new to “be of” (1 Cor. 1:12).

An organized creation

Then God and  the  Word created the earth and its privileged spot in the universe—all of it organized so flawlessly and precisely—so that Their children could look up and marvel in amazement.  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).  Without excuse.

On the sixth day, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).  After the God kind.  They were not animals as evolutionists would later ape the claim.  Charles Darwin prophesied correctly that the lack of intermediate species would disprove his theory.

Organized days to worship

On the seventh day, God specified the day to worship Them.  It’s crucial for each of us to look in our own Bible for which day of the week They sanctified (Gen. 2:2-3).  The organized religion which later claimed authority to change the weekly day of worship readily admits that the Bible still teaches the original day.  That’s because keeping the Sabbath is a sign of who are God’s people and Who is the Creator Who sanctifies them (Exo. 31:13-17).  For keeping the Sabbath on the day organized by God,  “Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father” (Isa. 58:14).  It’s an absolute joy to worship with other brothers and sisters in Christ on this day each week!

God also gave His people “feasts of the Lord … holy convocations” (Lev. 23:2).  God organized these annual festivals to teach Their amazing plan to reproduce themselves.  By keeping the seven annual festivals, you can come to understand Their plan a little more fully each year (Psa. 110:10).

The Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and Eighth Day are coming in less than two months—who else wants to experience the joy and understanding from keeping what God has organized!  This is my 48th year to be so blessed by them!  You have time to learn about them and keep them this year.

In fact, it was on God’s Holy Day of Pentecost from Mt. Sinai that They gave Their law and 10 Commandments.  These were—and will—always be the basis of Their Way of Life because “the law is holy,  and the commandment holy and just and good” (Rom. 7:12).

An organized Church with a challenging commission

Jesus came to earth and promised “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).  On Pentecost 31 A.D. He started it and also made available the power of the Holy Spirit.  He ordained offices—of servant leaders—“for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).

Jesus organized this one spiritual Church of God and commissioned it—us—to preach the gospel into all the world (Matt. 24:14) and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).  Forget “just you and me, Lord.”

Thanks to this wonderful organization, on our just-completed family camping trip to California, Mary and I were able to worship in Reno, NV and San Jose, CA with other brothers and sisters in Christ even though we didn’t know who would be there.  We arrive and find

Family of  the Holy Spirit

God the Father and Jesus Christ have organized everything Their children need to worship Them, become like Them, and live like Them for all eternity in the God Family and Kingdom.

Frustrated by over 33,800 competing denominations?  We need to heed the shocking warning in 2 Cor. 11:15 about who is behind this organized religion.  Please read it for yourself.

But the joyful truth is that “There is one body and One Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4).

God and the Word have organized Their religion that will result in God the Father, Jesus Christ and billions of God children for all eternity.

You gotta love it!

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“It’s OK”

As he entered the hall for the funeral,
the pastor was having a bad day himself.
He saw the widow up ahead,
how she looked overcome with grief,
and humanly he wanted to avoid her and
just go get the memorial service over with and go home. 

But he knew it was his calling and duty so he searched his brain trying to come up with something comforting to say.  He looked at her tears and his mind was a blank.  Finally to break the silence, all he could say was … “It’s OK.”

What a  pathetic thing to say, he thought as he sat down and waited to speak for the ceremony.  That made him feel even worse.

While speaking from upfront during the service, he noticed that the widow was energized  and smiling.  His curiosity made him eager to go to her after the ceremony and ask her what happened.

Exulting and beaming, she told him, “I thought I had done something so horribly wrong that caused my husband to die.  I thought God must be punishing me.  For weeks I’ve been beseeching God in prayer, ‘Am I OK with you?'”

♥ ♥   ♥    ♥     ♥      ♥       ♥        ♥         ♥          ♥           ♥            ♥             ♥              ♥                ♥

This pastor thought he had been so inept and utterly failed the widow.  Humanly it looked like he said something utterly inadequate for the monumental occasion!  Instead God inspired him to say exactly what the widow needed to hear.

When I heard the pastor tell this story, I remember thinking, great, you must be a man of God because

I have never once said just the right words

But then I had to ask myself:  How do I know?

The times when somebody said just the right words that motivated me or turned  me around, they didn’t know how much they had helped me.

In 1979 an article in our international church  newspaper had one sentence buried in the middle, probably expressing utter frustration over a current issue, “I wish everybody who didn’t want to be here would leave and those who do would come.”  In my mind that sentence was God speaking directly to me to move there.  It  was as clear as if I heard His actual voice.  Subsequent events in the next few weeks  showed God was with me in  making the move.  The writer never knew how profoundly his sentence changed the course of my life!

This should give us hope for the time coming when God tells us He wants us to witness on His behalf, but “do not worry about how or what you should answer,  or what you should say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12).

God named Cyrus about 150 years before he was born and then at the right time “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus” so that he made the decree God wanted for that very time (Ezra 1:1).  It is thought that perhaps God used the elderly Daniel to show Cyrus what prophecy said it was time for him to do.  Proverbs says God turns kings like a river (Prov. 25:1).

apples of  gold.jpgThis should give us hope for loved ones that God knows exactly what words of gold in a setting of silver (Prov. 25:11) they need to hear, and can inspire somebody to say them at just the right time they will be receptive.

If we are asking God to guide us and our words

it just might be us whom God uses to give them just the encouraging words they need.  After all, He can speak through jackasses! (Num. 22:28).  The donkey was not too stubborn to insist on his way instead of letting God use him as an instrument!

And what about us for

The times we need  encouraging words

We  see prophecy marching on toward its initial horribleness.  God has it all under control.  He declared the end from the beginning and will do all His pleasure (Isa. 46:10, 41:22).

We should be studying His Bible daily while asking Him prayerfully to guide what we study to provide what we need to hear.  God has encouraging words daily for us if we are humble  to receive them.

“It’s OK.”

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Designer Pumps & Wedding Dresses for Men & Women

red pumpsIsabelle Marant and Chloe win acclaim for their stilettos, wedges and boots.
Men are pained to ponder
how women walk in them!

When it comes to designer pumps,
nobody beats your human heart.

Men and women,
God fashions our hearts (Psa. 33:15).

♥  Your first heart cell beat as early as four weeks.
♥   Your heart beats about 100,000 times per day, 35 million times per year, 2.5 billion times a lifetime.
♥   Men average about 70 heartbeats per minute, women about 78.
♥   About the size of two hands clasped together, your heart weighs about 10 oz., slightly less than a can of soda.
♥   Through heart valves about the size of a half dollar, your heart circulates about six quarts of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels that if laid end to end, would wrap around the world more than twice.
♥   Each minute your heart circulates 1-1/2 gallons of blood, which in your lifetime would fill 1,000,000 barrels—enough for three supertankers.

God circulates this absolute miracle to all His children. But the real miracle is that

God fashions our hearts “individually” (Psa. 33:15)

“Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever” (Deut. 5:29)Is our Great Designer talking about a hard-working muscle in our chest?  Of Kors not!  He wants us to “gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Pet. 1:13).

Parents learn that each of their children have different temperament, aptitudes and talents and must be worked with individually.   God our Father and Jesus Christ our Brother know us intimately and have amazing designs for our future.  All men and women, including Yves Laurent, will have opportunity to become Saints.

God has given us talents—-maybe five, two or one (Matt. 25:15).  God distributes gifts of their Spirit to each individually, as They will, for the profit of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7, 11).  The sewing we do is of Kingdom seed so many will have opportunity to reap.

God is pumped when we

♥   Passionately desire to build our relationship with Him.
♥   Model “Thy Kingdom Come” not Heidi Klum.
♥   “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Php. 2:12).
♥   “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man” (Prov. 3:3-4).
♥   Seek the Christian Door and open every time Jesus knocks.  Instead of sashaying down a runway, we “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
♥   Adorn ourselves—even in summer—in “modest apparel,” not with gawdy get-up (1 Tim. 2:9) so at the wedding to the King of Kings we will be “arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:8).

Sound Farfetched?  Not if we men and women are helping God fashion our hearts individually.

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Wanted: Prove Readers Not Proofreaders

When I read I can’t help proofreading,
and it makes me cringe at some scriptures.

Why didn’t God write them plain?

So there wouldn’t possibly be any contradictions.  The day when I write a book, if some guy named John W. Haley writes a classic about its “alleged contradictions,” I’d be mortified and go fix each one of the issues.  I’d want my words of life to be understood by every reader.

I’d want people talking about the amazing way I caravanned  Joseph from slave to the #2 man in charge in Egypt so I could then have Jacob’s family positioned in Egypt ready to be delivered from slavery via the Red Sea.

Jacob into EgyptInstead they get sidetracked into worrying about just how many of Jacob’s family trekked to Egypt—70 or 75?  Too bad we don’t have a selfie providing an indisputable count!

Since the Old Testament scriptures all agree on 70 (Gen. 46:27, Ex. 1:1-5 and Deut. 10:20), a believing proofreader would be tempted to change Stephen’s 75 (Acts 7:14-15) and wonder if that might have kept him from being stoned!

Alas, such a well-meaning proofreader would change an inspired reasoned defense as a stellar example of apologetics into never-ending apologies.

What?!  And take away the need for all the interesting intricate explanations about how 70 and 75 were both right.  It’s all great fun for those who love studying genealogies.   Paul did his part to promote that, probably quite unintentionally, by mentioning “baptism for the dead” (1 Cor. 15:29).

Does  it really matter:  70 or 75?  Whoever went, went.   The big deal is that then Jacob multiplied like crazy.  Until it was time for God to deliver them from Pharaoh (representing satan) and Egypt (sin) and open up the Red Sea for their passage (baptism) to the Promised Land.   Seventy or 75, Cecil B. DeMille makes his blockbuster.

But baptism is another matter.  It does matter (John 3:5, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38).  Paul everywhere in his many writings taught that baptism is an outward expression of a person changed inside.  What good could it possibly do for a person to be baptized on behalf of another who by now could have no insides left!

So this proofreader would like to help out Paul and make it “baptism for the hope of the dead,” which of course is the resurrection, which is what Paul was expounding in 1 Cor. 15.

But  beware!  The author of  the Bible ends His book by warning that He doesn’t want my help!!  He promises plagues for adding to His book and blotting out of His Book of Life for taking away words (Rev. 22:18-19).  OK, I put away my red pen!

Here’s why

God says He deliberately wrote His book so people would be puzzled by it “that they might go and fall backward, and be broken and  snared and caught” (Isa. 28:13).

When His disciples asked Jesus why He spoke in parables, He didn’t agree with the common belief that He did it so people could easily understand his everyday stories.  Rather, Jesus said “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matt. 13:11).

Bottom line, God the Father controls when He decides it’s the best time to open our minds to understand His plan of salvation that’s revealed in His book (John 6:44).

Those who died unbaptized will have their chance to be resurrected and become a saint in the really latter days—called  the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-12).

“All  scripture is inspired by God” (2  Tim. 3:16).  It is truth (John 17:17).

God is looking for those who

♥   tremble at His word (Isa. 66:2).  Who don’t twist Paul’s writings and “the rest of the Scriptures” “to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16).

♥   receive “the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).  Not “not so.”

♥   prove all things and hold fast what is good (1 Thes. 5:21).

God wants prove readers not proofreaders.

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The Rapture of Driverless Cars

You’ve seen the bumper sticker:
When the rapture occurs, this car will be driverless.

You probably chuckle, not sweat.  The way the guy drives, you figure he won’t be counted among the righteous!  And so many cars on the road are driverless now, thanks to texters.

driverless carDaily you hear new ecstatic predictions of driverless cars:  Audi plans to introduce one by 2020.  The Chinese talk of mass production by 2021.  Intel forecasts a $7 trillion driverless car industry by 2050.

So maybe you snicker at the sticker:  “Big deal, if the secret rapture ever comes, all cars will be driverless!”  And if the same goes for the airliners, you can rejoice that there will probably be lots of empty seats to spread out in!  More left for behind!

scofferPew Research in 2010 found that only 41% of Americans believed Christ would return by 2050.  Ironically, as we careen loser to His return, scoffers will abound (2 Pet. 3:3-4).

If you know your Bible, here’s

The real secret: 

lightningThe Bible teaches no secret rapture.  When Jesus Christ returns to collect His saints, He’s coming like lightning from the east  flashing to the west (Matt. 24:27) so that “every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7)  The seventh trumpet blasts in every ear (1 Thes. 4:16-17)—enough to wake the dead!

OK, it’s obviously no secret.  But don’t Christians change from physical to spirit “in the twinkling of an eye” and rise up in the air to meet Jesus in the clouds (1 Cor. 15:51-53)?  If that sounds like a rapture, the Bible calls it the first resurrection–the better one  (Heb. 11:35) with double portion for the firstborn (Deut. 21:17).   OK, but could there still be crashing cars and plummeting airliners?

A Different Place, Different Time

The rapture theory calls for Christians being whisked off  to heaven to escape the Great Tribulation.  Actually the Bible promises God’s people will be transported by “two wings of a great eagle … into the wilderness” to the Place of Safety for this same 3-1/2 years preceding Christ’s return (Rev. 12:14).

So escaping the Great Tribulation, but in the Place of Safety, not heaven.   God’s people would be resurrected from there–at the end of the 3-1/2 years, not the beginning.  A much different time!

If it’s from Petra, the mode of transportation is camels,  and those sure-footed beasts would probably easily come to a safe halt.

There are exceptions, such as the Two Witnesses, but Revelation says they rise from lying dead in a street of Jerusalem for three days (Rev. 11:8).   Nothing about any transportation carnage.

When you read about all the chaos in the book of Revelation at the time of the end, where one-fourth of the earth has been killed by the end of the fourth seal (Rev. 6:8), and the Great Tribulation will be the worst time ever experienced so that no flesh would be saved alive if Christ didn’t intervene (Matt. 24:21-22), you have to wonder how many cars and airliners will be in operation anyway.

So let’s not worry about the rapture of driverless cars ahead.  And when the seventh trump blows, here’s hoping we rise to the occasion!

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Entertaining Angels Unawares

It looks like a stranger, but it might be
an “angel unawares” (Heb. 13:1, King James Bible).

puttoThat makes no sense if you think angels resemble the putto of early Renaissance Italian art.  If you saw a Cupid flying around, you’d be aware of it!  Unless you’re from Texas or Florida and used to the size of their flying critters.

angel with haloYou’d especially notice one sporting a halo like the ancient Egyptian sun god.  Ra Ra, people would cheer and hound such  an extraterrestrial so it would hurry home rather than try to phone.  How could such an oddity visit among us incognito?

Nowhere in the Bible are there winged babies referred to as cherubs, so that idea needs to be kaputto!

When God sends angels down to earth, they blend in by appearing as adult males (Gen. 18:2, Acts 1:10).  They are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).  They usually help with physical needs, not spiritual ones—such as making sure Elijah had enough to eat before his arduous journey (1 Kings 19:5-7) and mothering Peter to slow down long enough to dress and put his sandals on when the angel sprang him out of prison (Acts 12:7-8).

Angels deliver their message in a straightforward businesslike manner and then disappear.  You won’t encounter one in a chat room.

Angels we don’t want to be unaware of

Angels want us to worship God and build a relationship with the Father and Son, not with them.  That’s true of the two-thirds good angels.

But not true of satan the devil and his one-third demons.   He swooped up to heaven wanting to be God (Isa. 14:14), and he pulls out all stops to thwart God’s would-be family.  Amazing that he gets anybody at all to openly worship him or want to become familiar with him and his demons.

His better plan is to con people into believing he doesn’t exist.   In spy thrillers, the best trick is to fake your death so the other guys aren’t watching for you anymore as you come to take them out.

devil red pitchforkClear back in April 2009 in a Barna survey, nearly six out of ten Christians either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.”  Did you catch that?  Christians!  Who read that Jesus faced the devil in the wilderness.  How  much higher is the percentage at the very end-time when satan is about to bring the greatest deception and tribulation ever suffered (Matt. 24:21).

Satan a myth?  Naturally it follows that people would be ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11).  He broadcasts powerful satanic atttitudes through his power of the air using pervasive media, culture and peer pressure (Eph. 2:2).   For the spiritually unaware, it’s just entertainment, art and life.

Such sad confusion because so many who sincerely want to be true Christians have no idea that satan has “his ministers” who “transform themselves into ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15).    Read that shocking scripture again.

Ezekiel warns about false shepherds (chapter 34) and prophets (13:3).  Matt. 24:24 sounds the alarm that satan’s “false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

So yes, let’s entertain strangers who might be good angels unawares.  But let’s be aware of the Enemy, acutely aware of his devices, resist and flee (James 4:7).

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