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Repentance or Remorse, Heaven or Hell

Repentance or Remorse, Heaven or Hell


They are Not the Same Thing

Last Sunday in church we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and focused on the need we have for self-examination.  I know what you’re thinking, self-examination and the Lord’s Supper don’t seem to go together— at least not in my prior church experience.

I remember all my formative years in a Southern Baptist church and how the Lord’s Supper seemed like just another religious ritual, full of pomp and fluff and feel-good stuff, always heavy on form and light on substance.  There was a great emphasis, an overriding emphasis, on the service looking good and proper from the pews and not necessarily impacting the heart.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about… the deacons standing in military formation, the white linen sheets that covered the “remembrance” table, the solemn looks on the faces of the participants— nobody talking, nobody moving, nobody breathing.

Remember?  Then the elements were passed out as quickly as possible while the organ, or piano, or keyboard, or CD player filled the sanctuary with Christian-like instrumental background music.  Religious Muzak.

We took the bread (uh, actually it was more like a cardboard dough droplet) and the grape juice and followed, on cue, the preacher as he told us when to eat and when to drink and when to pray and when to go home.  When he raised his plastic 1/4 of a shot glass of grape juice, so did we.  When he put the dough droplet in his mouth and looked down in his best “this is a serious moment” preacher posture, we did the same.  When he closed his eyes and prayed, we closed our eyes and prayed as well.

“Great.  All done.  Now we’ve celebrated the Lord’s death until He returns.  Can’t wait until next time.  Let’s hit the road!”

But for me, something was missing, something was conspicuously absent—  almost by design—  and it left me hungry and longing for more.  It was like I was only privy to half the truth about the Lord’s Supper and what it all meant.

Looking back, every preacher I ever sat under would read the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 in their best James Earl Jones baritone voice as they began the ceremony.  They would say:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood ; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Got it.  But once I became a preacher, I continued reading:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.  But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.  For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

Oh, I see.  This paints a completely different picture altogether.  The proverbial “horse of a different color.”

It seems that one of the reasons for the Lord’s Supper is for each of us to take time and draw a line in the sand, as they say, and examine ourselves to make sure we are not taking this Supper in, as Paul puts it, an “unworthy manner.”  And if we do, Scripture says we will bring judgment upon ourselves like many did in the early church, where they became sick and some actually died.

“So this is serious business and not just some lame religious formality.”  Uh, hello.

In our church, I actually try to discourage people from participating in the Lord’s Supper unless they have first thoroughly examined themselves, repented of any known sins, reconciled any fractured relationships, forgiven any unforgivable person, “climb every mountain and ford every stream,” and agreed willingly to obey the Lord in any area of their lives they had previously shaken their fist in His face and defiantly told Him, “No Way, Jose!”  Only after a time of intense self-examination do we ask our people to come and partake of this ordinance with a clean and pure heart and in a “worthy” manner.


Repentance or Remorse

This Sunday, the “unworthy” area we specifically focused on was that of true repentance or simply heart-felt remorse.  How important is the distinction between the two?  It’s essential, vital— one of the non-negotiable of the Christian faith.  One leads to life and the other to death.  One is a a small, hand-painted, inconspicuous sign pointing to the turnstile that leads to eternal life and the other is a bright, flashing, neon sign boldly beckoning all to take the wide path of destruction. (Matt 7:13-14)

“Don’t you think that maybe you’re making a bit too much of this?” I don’t think so.

Consider the definition of repentance.  The root meaning of to repent (Gk: metanoeo) is “to think differently” or “to reconsider.”  Virtually all Greek lexicons agree that to metaneois means “to reconsider” or, as we commonly used it today, “to change one’s mind.” *  But don’t make the mistake of thinking that true repentance is simply mental gymnastics.  No, true repentance involves not only the cognitive change in our way of thinking about sin, but also the will and volition to have our lives changed by Christ to bear more of His fruit and to conform more to His likeness.

Plus, it’s a key, essential, do-or-die element in salvation.  Without repentance and faith, there is no eternal life, no matter what Joel Osteen tells you.  Take a look at the following few Scriptures and note that repentance is more than thinking differently about sin, it is actually changing one’s behavior.

We’ll begin in the Old Testament:

2 Chronicles 7:14
“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and (what) turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Note, not just “changing one’s mind about sin” but “turning from their wicked ways.”

Isaiah 1:15-17
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are covered with blood.  Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.  Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

Again note, there is action involved, the “fruits in keeping with repentance” that John the Baptist and others talked about. (Luke 3:7-8 and Acts 26:19-20)

Isaiah 55:6-7
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked (what) forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

Forsaking sin and seeking God is the repentance and faith of salvation.

Plus, in the New Testament, repentance was the cornerstone of the preaching of Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul and the early church.  And it always involved more than just feeling sorry for your sins. “Oh, you poor, poor, lil’ sinner.”

Let’s just look at the message preached by our Lord:

Luke 5:30-32
The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”  And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to (what) repentance.”

Mark 1:1-15
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 3:3
And he (Jesus) came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Even in the Great Commission, Jesus connects repentance and faith as the message to be proclaimed to the entire world.

Luke 24:44-48
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.”

In summary, repentance is a change of mind or attitude toward sin, one’s own sin in particular. It includes remorse (sorrow, grief) and also a sincere desire to be rid of it (the kind David expresses in Psalm 51), as well as a determination to forsake sin and walk before God (see Acts 14:15). *


But What About Remorse?

Great question.  What about remorse?  Isn’t feeling sorrow or guilt or shame for your sin enough?  After all, isn’t changing one’s mind about sin and feeling bad about it what repentance is all about?

Answer.  Not even close.  This is the well-traveled, wide path that leads to destruction our Lord talked about in His Sermon on the Mount.  Let me elaborate.

Like God, we are also triune in nature— spirit, body and soul.  We are, in fact, a spirit created in the image of God.  We, as a spirit, live in a body that allows us to interact with the physical environment that surrounds us.  And we possess a soul, which is the center of our mind (intellect), emotion (feelings), will (choice), and conscience (moral capacity).  It is in our soul that we choose to “walk according to the flesh or according to the spirit” (Gal. 5:16).  It is our soul that chooses, like Mary, to magnify the Lord (Luke 1:46) and it is our soul that is often troubled, weary and in need of refreshing or restoration by the Lord (Psalm 23:3).

It is also in our soul that true remorse for sin is felt and, if genuine, becomes redeeming repentance.  But, it is also in the soul that remorse can remain remorse and never bring changes in the actions and attitudes of the person that the Scripture refers to as “fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:7-8).

When a person is under the conviction of the Word by the Holy Spirit, all aspects of the soul are brought into play.  The mind (intellect) must understand the message preached, the standard of God, compared to the fallen life of man.  This understanding brings with it emotion (sorrow, remorse, shame, guilt) for the sin we have committed and the need for forgiveness.  If true repentance follows, then the will (choice, volition) will move to commit to a new way of living, to get rid of the sin and unrighteousness and replace it with righteousness.  In other words, to live a holy life like Christ commands us to.

For repentance to take place, all three— mind, emotion and will— must be active in the life of the repentant sinner.  If only the first two occur, mind and emotion, then the end result is not repentance, but remorse, and salvation does not take place.  Again, we are back on the Yellow Brick Road, leading to death and destruction.

Let me give you a couple of examples from Scripture.


Repentance Example: Acts 2

Peter preaches his incredibly bold and confrontational sermon to a great crowd gathered on the day of Pentecost.  He challenges and accuses them of the murder of Jesus, God’s own Son (Acts 2:22-24). He then appeals to their mind by asserting facts about Jesus:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain (mind) that God has made Him both Lord and Christ— this Jesus who you crucified.” (Act 2:36)

And what was the result?  They were grieved, guilt-ridden, pained, and in great remorse.  So much so they asked Peter and the others what they must to do alleviate the pain of their guilt, shame and sorrow.  Remember?

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart (guilt, remorse, sorrow), and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what must we do?” (Acts 2:37)

Now this is where we separate the truly repentant from those who are only sorry for their sin.  Peter replies to them:

Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:39.

And some did.  And some didn’t.

In fact, the account tells us a couple of verses later that “3,000 souls” were added to the church that day.  Just 3,000.  Of the great multitude that heard Peter’s message and called out with the others in the pain of their guilt and remorse, “Brethren, what must we do?”— 3,000 chose to respond (will and volition) with repentance and follow in baptism while the others fixated at remorse only and chose not to respond to Peter’s call.

When the soul understand the message (mind, intellect – Step One) and the emotions bring guilt, sorrow and remorse (feelings – Step Two), the individual stands at a crossroads.  How am I to get rid of these unpleasant feelings of guilt, remorse and sorrow for my sin?  I can repent of them and ask the Lord to forgive me, vowing never to commit them again (will, volition – Step Three).  Or, I can walk away and drown them out in drink, food, sex, drugs, entertainment or whatever poison you use to numb your conscience. One path leads to life and one path leads to death.


Remorse Example: Judas, Rich Young Ruler

The Scriptures also show us examples of those who stopped, dug in their heels, and fixated at Step Two – Remorse.  Remember Judas?  He felt remorse for betraying Jesus and returned the 30 pieces of sliver to, in some sort of perverted way, try to remove the pain of his guilt.  “I have sinned (mind and intellect) and betrayed innocent blood!” he cried (Matthew 27:4).  He returned the silver and went out and committed suicide to rid himself of the pain of remorse.  Did he repent?  Scripture says, no.

The following Scripture flow will help illustrate this point:

Intellect:

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned… (Matthew 27:3a)

Emotion (Remorse):

he felt (what) remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3b-5).

Act of the Will (Volition) – Fruits of Repentance:  None

The Rich Young Ruler fell into the same trap.

Intellect:

And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”  The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” (Matthew 19:16, 20).

Emotion (Remorse):

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. (Matthew 19:20-21)

Act of the Will (Volition) Fruits of Repentance:  None

Same thing with King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:24-25.


* (Systematic Theology, Geisler, Vol. 3, page 512, Bethany House, 2004. Minneapolis, MN.)
* Cottrell, Jack. The Faith Once for All. Joplin, Mo.: College Press Publishing Company, 2002.)


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542:  How to Get Answers to the “How” Questions

542: How to Get Answers to the “How” Questions

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We Need Practical Application, Not Just Theory

In our educational system, the old adage goes, “Those who do, do.  And those who don’t do, teach.”  And the truth sometimes stings, but it is still truth.  In college, for example, most of the professors who teach business classes, even on a graduate level, have never run a business themselves.  They can teach you what others say to do to be successful in the business world, yet they have never lived under the pressure of having to make payroll or survive a tax audit.

And for some strange reason, we are content with learning from those who can only point the way to the Emerald City, but not lead us to where it is because they have never been there themselves.  This is the definition of Convoluted Logic 101.  But, I digress.

Often, we find the same mindset when looking at Scriptures.  We see theory and commands given, sometimes with a reason, yet it is seldom followed up with practical application.  We are told what to do and why, but the “how” part of the equation is missing.  And what we desperately need in our darkening culture is an answer to our many “how” questions.

Let me give you a simple example from a well-known passage.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that (what) you (something I need to do and not something God does for me) present your bodies a living sacrifice (ok, but how?), holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service – Romans 12:1.

We know what the truth means and the reason why it is given, but often struggle with the “how” to do it.  This verse talks about theory and the reason why, but is conspicuously short when it comes to the how part.

I mean, how do I present my body as a living sacrifice?  And what does living sacrifice even mean?  And why only my body?   What about my mind, soul, spirit, or anything else I can offer?  What is this passage saying and how is it done in real time?


But Sometimes We are Given the Application

Sometimes, the Lord provides for us some concrete examples to the commands He gives us.  And sometimes these examples show us the depth of the command and the cost of obedience.  Let me share a few from the Sermon on the Mount.

Theory: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person.”

Application: (How?)  “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also” – Matthew 5:38-40.

And the application continues.

Application: (How?) “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” – Matthew 5:41-42.

And then Jesus gives us more theory, more commands that He chooses not to reveal the application.  Why?  Because the reason should be enough.

Theory: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” – Matthew 43-44.

Application: (How?) None

Reason: “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” – Matthew 5:45.

And to understand the command based on the reason alone, assumes an inner desire to be more like our Lord.  Or an experience with the Higher Christian Life.

Is being like your heavenly Father enough for you, or do you need a bullet-point list to follow?  Are you content with theory, or do you require the Law to follow?

Join us as we begin our journey of discovery to uncover the answers to the “how” questions in Scripture as we learn to leave Laodicea behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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541:  Connecting Narcissism and the Debased Mind

541: Connecting Narcissism and the Debased Mind

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The Three Phases of a Dying Culture

In Romans 1, the Holy Spirit reveals the three phases a dying culture goes through when God removes His hand of grace and allows a people to experience the consequences of their own sin.  We have seen this unfold in our own country over the last 60 years.  And unfortunately, once a culture reaches the third phase, the debased mind, there is no return.  The dye is cast, and the day of grace has passed.

These three phases are introduced by the phrase, “God gave them over” or “God gave them up” (Rom: 1:24, 26, 28).  Literally, it describes a people who have rejected His Word, demanded their independence, and received just that.  God removes His hand of protection and allows those in active rebellion to experience, first-hand, the consequences of their sin as they strive, by their actions, to look less and less like Jesus and become more and more like Satan.

And we can see the downward trajectory our own culture is following.  The first phase, or the first curse of God on a culture under judgment, is sexual sin.  We experienced the beginning of this in the 60s.  And now, on every level, we are living in a sex saturated society.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature (flesh, their bodies) rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen – Romans 1:24-25.

No longer satisfied with sexual sin, the next curse, phase two, is homosexuality.  Our collective “coming out” as a culture began in the late 80s and homosexuality is now an accepted part of the fabric of who we are as a people, regardless of what the Word of God says.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due – Romans 1:26-27.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the third and final phase is what the Scripture calls a “debased mind.”  No longer do we even think logically as a people.  Now, men can choose to become women and have children, or so we affirm, regardless of what history, science, and logic tell us.  We teach our children they can choose their gender while in kindergarten before they are old enough to read without help or have mastered their multiplication tables.  And then we encourage them to undergo medical mutilations in order for them to feel better about being who God did not create them to be.  This is a debased mind.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting – Romans 1:28.

But there is more.  If you look around, you will see the plague of what we call narcissism infecting the psyche of our society.  Everywhere we turn, someone is talking about the pain and suffering they have experienced by a loved one who is a narcissist.

Is there a connection between the “debased mind” in Romans 1:28 and the growing epidemic of narcissism we see today?  In a word, absolutely.


A Debased Mind is Another Term for Narcissism

Narcissism is not a mental disorder.  It is a spiritual curse that has infected the members of our society and has caused untold misery to those who have fallen prey to the deceit and manipulation of a narcissist.  And narcissism is the perfect description of what God calls a “debased mind.”  In fact, narcissism is the literal personification of the personality and characteristics of Satan himself, clearly manifested in a human being.

Let me give you a brief description of a narcissist.

•   Obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence.
•   Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by other special or unique people of high status.
•   Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation.
•   Feels entitled.  Expects unreasonable or special and favorable priority treatment.
•   Uses others to achieve his or her own ends.
•   Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others.
•   Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her.
•   Arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.

And this is only scratching the surface.  Go Google narcissism yourself and you will see the depth of this spiritual disorder.  Yet compare the characteristics of a narcissist with what Scripture describes as a “debased mind” and you’ll see this is all part of the final curse of God, phase three, before He brings a culture down to destruction.   And we are well on our way.

The following, from Romans 1:18-32, is the description of both a narcissist and one who has a “debased mind.”

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased (morally reprehensible, worthless, deceitful, corrupted) mind (that which is responsible for one’s thoughts and feelings, the seat of reason), to do those things which are not fitting; being filled (to contain as much as possible, to fill completely, to overflow) with all (pás)
unrighteousness (failure to adhere to moral principles, commands, or laws, doing what is wrong),
sexual immorality,
wickedness (evil nature, depravity, malice, the perverting of virtue and moral principles),
covetousness (greed, desire, lust, envy for wealth),
maliciousness (mental wickedness); full (filled up, stuffed, to the brim) of
envy (jealousy, resentment felt at the sight of excellence or happiness),
murder,
strife (bitter conflict, contention, discord),
deceit (to bait, fraud, guile, treachery),
evil-mindedness (character trait that feels a need to see others suffer); they are
whisperers (gossiper, secret slanderer),
backbiters (one who attacks the reputation of another by slander),
haters of God,
violent (an insolent persecutor of others who mistreats them for pleasure, which the affliction of the wrong brings him),
proud (arrogant, haughty, contemptuous, one characterized by feelings of unwarranted importance),
boasters (braggart, arrogant, one who is self-exalting, having self-absorbed conceit in their own superiority),
inventors of evil things (one who comes up with new ways to exhibit wicked, evil, and morally objectionable behavior),
disobedient (unwilling to be persuaded, unbelieving, rejecting authority) to parents,
undiscerning (without insight or understanding, lacking the ability to understand the meaning or importance of something),
untrustworthy (without faithfulness, a breaker of a covenant),
unloving (without family love or the natural affection between family members),
unforgiving (incapable of reconciliation, being in a state of war perpetually),
unmerciful (having or showing no mercy);
who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice (one who does repeatedly, continually, habitually) such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve (to agree, think well of, take pleasure in) of those who practice (one who does repeatedly, continually, habitually) them – Romans 1:28-32.

Frightening, isn’t it?  Join us as we discover the depth of the narcissistic, “debased mind” described in Romans 1, and how it prophetically points to the soon return of Jesus Christ.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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540:  We Have Asked God to Judge Our Nation

540: We Have Asked God to Judge Our Nation

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And Unfortunately, He Has Granted Our Request

It appears we, as a culture and a nation, may have tested the patience of God one time too many.  We have, for example, murdered over 60 million innocent, unborn children in their mother’s womb while the church has basically remained silent.  As Ruth Graham once said, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”  And just this week, after the Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe v. Wade, President Biden signed an Executive Order basically promoting abortion in our nation.  So the killing will continue, and God’s judgment is sure to come.

As a nation, we have asked, and are still asking with even a louder voice, for the Lord’s judgment.  How?  By killing more babies and shaking our fist in His face in open, blatant defiance.  And when the judgment falls (and I believe we are now under His judgment), the church is not immune.  Again, why?  Because we have remained silent while His little ones die in agony.  And God is not blind to our sin.

Remember this truth:

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? – 1 Peter 4:17.

So the question is this: When God judges a nation, what happens to the people in that nation that love Him and live righteously?  Are they swept away with the unrighteous?  Or does God preserve them, like He did His children during the plagues of Egypt, by sequestering them in the land of Goshen?

Does judgment, like rain, fall on the just and the unjust at the same time?


What Happens to Us When Judgment Comes?

That is a great question, and only God knows the answer.  But we can get some insight and encouragement by looking at the first chapter of the small book of Nahum.

In Nahum, God is proclaiming His judgment on the city of Nineveh.  As you will recall, Nineveh was the city to which Jonah went to preach judgment, leading to repentance, although reluctantly.  And one of the greatest miracles in all the Old Testament happened after the hapless preaching of Jonah.  That evil fortress of a city repented and a great revival broke out at the preaching of God’s Word.  Child sacrifices ceased, the king called the city to repentance, and God forestalled His hand of judgment and offered Nineveh His grace.

But by the time of Nahum, over a hundred years had passed and Nineveh had gone back to their sinful ways.  The city was awash in idolatry and God, once again, was bringing judgment on those who had rejected His ways.

The first chapter of Nahum comprises 15 verses of railing judgment against the citizens of that great city.  Nahum uses phrases like “the Lord avenges” and the “Lord will take vengeance” (1:2).  He talks about the Lord’s “indignation” and the “fierceness of His anger” (1:6).  Nahum describes the coming judgment as “they shall be devoured like stubble fully dried” (1:10), and he records God saying, “I will dig your grave, for you are vile” (1:14).  Needless to say, God is not pleased with the people of Nineveh who have spurned His grace and spit in the face of His mercy.

So judgment is on its way, and it will come swiftly.

But the encouraging word for us, who also face the judgment of God, is found in verse 7.  It is the only positive verse in this chapter.  In this statement, God lets us know what He does with those who still love Him yet live among those He judges.  Nahum 1:7 reads:

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows (yāḏaʿ) those who trust in Him – Nahum 1:7.

Or, to define some terms:

The LORD is good (of moral excellence), a stronghold (refuge, fortress, shelter, a place where one turns for assistance or protection) in the day of trouble (distress, anguish, an oppressive state of physical, mental, social, or economic adversity); and He knows (yāḏaʿ) those who trust in Him – Nahum 1:7.

What does it mean, “He knows those who trust in Him”?  The Hebrew word translated know is yāḏaʿ and is translated in the Septuagint as ginōskō.  So what does this passage say now?  And what are the implications for you and me in the times in which we live?  Remember how Jesus used that word to describe His relationship with His sheep?

“I am the good shepherd; and I know (ginōskō) My sheep, and am known (ginōskō) by My own.  As the Father knows (ginōskō) Me, even so I know (ginōskō) the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” – John 10:14-15.

Note the qualifier: “those who trust in Him.”  The word trust means “to seek, to take refuge.  Literally, the word is used in reference to seeking a tree’s shade or protection from the heat.”  Elsewhere in the Old Testament it is translated as “take refuge, put their trust, put my trust, sought refuge, take shelter, and trust or trusts.”

Now, read the promise in context.  Note the judgments of God on a former repentant city that returned to idolatry, violence, and sin (3:1).  But also note how God promises His love and attention to those who trust Him, even while living in a nation/city under judgment.  Can you see any parallels to our situation today?  Do you see how our Lord can rescue the righteous from His judgment even though they live in a culture under His judgment?  Do you believe that is true, even today?

I sure hope so.  So join us as we discover how to rest in His love, even while our culture falls in around our ears as we learn how to leave Laodicea behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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539:  The Timeless Wisdom of Oswald Chambers

539: The Timeless Wisdom of Oswald Chambers

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The Gift of Spiritual Mentorship

One unappreciated gift given the church is the fact we have those who are older and wiser than we are to help guide our way in this life with Christ.  After all, it is no merit for a son to make the same mistakes his father did.   Each generation must learn how to make their own way in this fallen world, but only a fool fails to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before.

So today, we are going to glean some insight into the full, abundant life with Christ, the Higher Christian Life, as it is called, from a man who is speaking to us from a position of victory.  And that man is Oswald Chambers.  You may recognize his name from the classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, that was compiled from his teachings in 1929 by his wife, Biddy.

Oswald Chambers, who died in 1917 at the age of 43, lived what he speaks about and can show us, by experience, how to achieve the spiritual victory that only comes from complete, absolute surrender.  Confusing?  I know.  But let’s look at a few of Oswald’s statements and pray to learn from him what we need to know regarding faith and surrender.


Oswald Chambers on Faith and Surrender

From Oswald Chambers:

•   “It takes me a long while to realize that God has no respect for anything I bring Him.  All He wants from me is unconditional surrender.”
•   “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you cannot understand at the time.
•   “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”
•   “Get into the habit of saying, ‘Speak, Lord,’ and life will become a romance.”
•   “Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way.
•   “Seeing is never believing: we interpret what we see in the light of what we believe.  Faith is confidence in God before you see God emerging, therefore the nature of faith is that it must be tried.”
•   “When I see Jesus Christ, I simply want to be what He wants me to be.”
•   “The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting.”
•   “Sin is not wrong doing, it is wrong BEING, deliberate and emphatic independence from God.”
•   “Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything.  Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.”
•   “Keep your life in constant contact with God so that His surprising power may break out on the right hand and on the left.  Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes.”
•   “If my ruling disposition is self-interest, I perceive that everything that happens to me is always for or against my self-interest; if, on the other hand, my ruling disposition is obedience to God, I perceive Him to be at work for my perfecting in everything that happens to me.”
•   “Am I as spontaneously kind to God as I used to be, or am I only expecting God to be kind to me?  Am I full of the little things that cheer His heart over me, or am I whimpering because things are going hardly with me (or not going my way)?  There is no joy in the soul that has forgotten what God prizes.”

And finally, two of my favorites.

•   “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
•   “How many people have you made homesick for God?”

And with this, we are only getting our feet wet.  There is so much more we will discover in this message.  So join us as we learn about faith and surrender through the experienced eyes of our mentor, Oswald Chambers.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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538:  “What Do I Truly Believe About…?” Revisited

538: “What Do I Truly Believe About…?” Revisited

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Every Good Thing Has a Potential Dark Side

With every good thing, there is always a potential dark side, or the possibility of collateral damages or unforeseen consequences that often come with it.  The blessings of rain sometimes come with a flood.  And pain accompanies the joy of childbirth.  Or, as Newton’s law of motion states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  So let me give you a few examples from last week.  These are some of the recent rulings from the Supreme Court.

•   June 23rd – New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruden, Superintendent of New York State Police.  This, on the surface, was a victory for the Second Amendment, effectively banning Draconian laws in New York that limited the ability to receive a concealed carry permit in that state.

•   June 24th – Kennedy v. Bremerton School District.  This ruling was a victory for religious freedoms and the ability to pray in a school setting.  It drove a small stake in the heart of those who claim the separation of church and state is enshrined in the Constitution, which it is not.

•   June 24th – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  In this controversial ruling, the Supreme Court ended the federal protection and sanction of abortion rights granted in Roe v. Wade back in 1973, and now placed the legality and regulation of abortion back on the shoulder of each state, where it should be.  For the Pro-Life movement, this was their greatest victory in sixty years.

•   June 30th – West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency.  In this ruling, the Supreme Court cut away at some of the power and authority assumed by the three letter agencies within our government, EPA, CIA, FBI, IRS, CDC, NSA, DHS, etc., and returned their usurped power back to the legislative branch and our elected officials.  This was a victory for economic freedom and small businesses across America.

So that’s the good news.  Now for the rest of the story, the “equal and opposite reaction.”


What Do I Believe About the Future of America and the Church?

Our enemy is now enraged.  That’s right, Christians are being called the new Taliban by members of congress, and the media is portraying us as bigoted insurrectionists who are the biggest threat to our democracy and the future of America.  Yep, the enemy is you and me.  And this is only the beginning.

On January 13, 2021, we asked the following question: What do I believe?  And what am I willing to do about what I believe?  We put it this way:

•   What am I willing to die for?
•   What is the mission and calling of my life?
•   What means the most to me?
•   And what truth will I not compromise on?

The purpose of that message was to encourage you to define what matters most to you and what you see the next few years looking like and plan accordingly, especially spiritually.  It was a call to become a faith prepper.

I shared then what I believed the future looked like and have tried to funnel every decision over the last eighteen months through that grid.  This is what I shared on Sunday, January 13, 2021.

•   I believe we are entering the end times.
•   I believe things will get very bad in the US over the next two years.
•   I believe inflation is a certainty.
•   I believe there will be shortages of food, gas, etc.
•   I believe we will face persecution as Christians.
•   I believe there is a great possibility of civil war.
•   And I believe we must prepare spiritually right now!

And since I believe these things, I will once again implore you, as the church, the Bride of Christ, to consider a deeper commitment to Him than ever before.  In 2021 (now, July 4th, 2022), consider following Him this way:

•  Consider opening your home for Bible study this year.
•  Consider getting together with others for Bible study, fellowship, and prayer.
•  Consider creative ways to teach your children about the “exceeding riches of His grace” in Christ.
•  And, if you don’t feel compelled to “Go” for the gospel, then consider bringing the lost to you (both home and church) to make disciples of them.

And the time for His return and the increasing chaos that comes with it is only closer now than it was in 2021.  More than ever, we need to revisit these truths, only this time, take them seriously.  Look at the list above.  Have things grown worse in our nation over the last two years?  Are we experiencing inflation and shortages?  Are Christians now feeling the pains of persecution?  Absolutely.  What’s next?  Possible civil war?  Who knows?

What do you believe?  And what are you not willing to compromise on?

These are vital questions for the church today, but also for you and your family as we see the judgment of the Lord looming over our land.  Join us today as we talk more about what it means, on a practical level, to truly believe the Lord is coming soon and how to prepare to meet Him in the air.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Giving All of You to Receive So Much More

Giving All of You to Receive So Much More


You Give an Inch, He Goes a Mile

This morning, after a time of confession and prayer, the Lord led me to an entry in My Utmost for His Highest on March 8th.  That’s right, an entry from 117 days ago.  And it was exactly what I needed to cement what God showed me in my time of prayer.  It deals with what we will relinquish or surrender to the Lord of ourselves in order for Him to make us, or recreate us, into what He needs us to be to be used by Him.

And that’s the whole point of the Christian life, right?  To be used by Him?  To offer ourselves as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which (based on the mercies of God) is our reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).  Well, it’s the whole point of the Christian life for me.

As an encouragement to you, and to me, let me share the entry from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest for March 8th.  And I pray you will be as blessed, empowered, and inspired to live for Him as I was in reading it again.


The Surrendered Life

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” – Galatians 2:20.

To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things.  Being born again by the Spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else.  The first thing we must surrender is all of our pretense or deceit.  What our Lord wants us to present to Him is not our goodness, honesty, or our efforts to do better, but real solid sin.  Actually, that is all He can take from us.  And what He gives us in exchange for our sin is real solid righteousness.  But we must surrender all pretense that we are anything, and give up all our claims of even being worthy of God’s consideration.

Once we have done that, the Spirit of God will show us what we need to surrender next.  Along each step of this process, we will have to give up our claims to our rights to ourselves.  Are we willing to surrender our grasp on all that we possess, our desires, and everything else in our lives?  Are we ready to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?

We will suffer a sharp painful disillusionment before we fully surrender.  When people really see themselves as the Lord sees them, it is not the terribly offensive sins of the flesh that shock them, but the awful nature of the pride of their own hearts opposing Jesus Christ.  When they see themselves in the light of the Lord, the shame, horror, and desperate conviction hit home for them.

If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him.  And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.


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Day One:  Learning to Hear His Voice… Daily

Day One: Learning to Hear His Voice… Daily


Our Forty Day Adventure

Today is the first day of a 40-day adventure.  No, this adventure is not about a mission trip to Haiti or a hike down the Appalachian Trail.  This 40-day adventure is a time set aside to discover more about the Lord and to learn, specifically, how to listen when He speaks and how to hear His voice.

That’s right, it’s my desire during this adventure to draw closer to the Lord than I’ve ever been before and to learn to hear His voice. I’m not talking about hearing Him speak to me through His Word, which is wonderful.  But I long for something more personal, more intimate.  I long to hear Him speak to me like He has others in Scripture, and as He has also done for me several times in the past.  In fact, those times of hearing His voice are some of the high points in my spiritual life.


Learning How to Hear His Voice

I know what many of you may be thinking.

“Oh, here we go again.  It looks like somebody else wants to move beyond the sufficiency of Scripture.  I guess Scripture’s not enough for Steve and now He wants more than God has already provided for him.  Maybe he wants an encounter like the one described in The Shack?  Or maybe he wants to hear God speak like Sarah Young claims in Jesus Calling or something like that?  Doesn’t he know that God only speaks today through His Word?”

No, I don’t know that.  In fact, I see many places in Scripture where God speaks to His children in other ways than through the Scriptures.  Let me give you a few examples.


The Damascus Road

In Acts 9, we find Jesus verbally speaking to Paul on the Damascus Road.  It wasn’t just a command or some proclamation declared from heaven.  It was a conversation where both He and Paul spoke to each other.  And in this conversation, Jesus did not limit Himself to speaking only through the written Word, which for Paul would have been the Old Testament.  Instead, He verbally communicated His personal message and will to Paul.  And that personal message could not be found from reading, for example, the Psalms or Isaiah.

Acts 9:4-6 – Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

“Got it,” you say. “But that’s the apostle Paul.  He was an apostle and could, therefore, hear God speak to him verbally in ways He doesn’t do today, to anybody, ever.  You and I are not apostles.  We don’t even have apostles anymore.  So how God spoke to Paul back then was just for Paul— and not for us today.”

Really?  So how do we explain God speaking, just a few verses later, to a non-apostle named Ananias?  He was not an apostle like Paul.  He was just a faithful disciple of Jesus who lived in Damascus that God had chosen for a specific task.  And how was Ananias to know what specific task God had in store for him unless, somehow and in some way, God spoke to him personally?


Ananias

The Scriptures say God spoke to Ananias in a vision (Acts 9:10).  Yet it was more than a dream or vision, it was actually a conversation.  God spoke, and Ananias responded.  God gave a command, and Ananias had some questions about God’s command.  Then God answered those questions and sent Ananias on his way.  Watch the give and take of this conversation.

Acts 9:10-16 – Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias, and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.  And in a vision, he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”

Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.  And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”


More Than a Daily Devotion

This conversation did not happen from Ananias reading the Old Testament during his time of daily devotions.  This was a verbal communication from God that gave direction, instruction, and explanation to a human being and occurred outside of His written Word.  It was personal, meant only for Ananias, and communicated God’s direct will to one of His children.  Not to each of us, but only to Ananias.

That’s what I’m striving for over the next 40 days.  I want my relationship to be so close to the Lord that when He speaks, I will hear and listen.  And I want to know His voice so well, like a child does his mother’s, that I won’t make the mistake of confusing His voice with my own.


Words of Encouragement

But there’s more.  In the very next chapter, we find God speaking to Peter regarding a vision he had about whether he should eat ceremonially unclean animals.  Again, this is a conversation between Peter and the Lord. It’s not Peter coming to this conclusion by reading Leviticus or Deuteronomy or some other Old Testament text and gleaning principles from them to help him make up his mind. It’s a direct conversation between God and a human being.  God gives a command and Peter responds with an objection.  Then God gives another command and addresses Peter’s objection.  Plus, the text says God had to do this three times.  Read it for yourself.

Acts 10:12-16 – In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.  And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord!  For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times.  And the object was taken up into heaven again.


Still Not Convinced?

But some may still be unconvinced that God can, and desires, to speak to us personally and directly and not necessarily always through His written Word.  After all, He is God and can do whatever He wants (Psalm 115:3).  And if it is possible to learn how to hear His voice, it seems that it should be right at the top of our to-do list.  But often it’s not.  So what do we do?

Often, when we read accounts like the one above with Peter, sometimes we conclude these encounters with God were in a dream state or vision or an early morning stupor and not a direct conversation, from lips to ears, between God and a human being. It’s true that often, in Scripture, God speaks in a dream or through a vision.  But that’s not always the case.  Consider how Jesus encouraged Paul in Acts 23.  This was a personal, intimate, one-on-one message of encouragement that was not revealed through a dream and was meant for Paul alone.  In fact, the text says the “Lord stood by him” when He spoke.

Acts 23:11 – But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

This was not a message Paul received from reading Proverbs or the creation account in Genesis.  It was a direct, personal word from the lips of the Lord to Paul.  And it shows that sometimes God speaks to us about specific needs that we have outside of, or in addition to, His Word.  It doesn’t mean God ever violates His Word or contradicts His Word, but sometimes He speaks to each of us outside of and in cooperation with His Word.

It appears the Lord has more tools in His tool belt than we allow Him to use.


Seems Logical

Think about it, you have a decision to make about taking a job offer.  Should you stay and accept the offer at Bank of America in Charlotte, North Carolina, or should you move and accept a competing offer with Capital One in McLean, Virginia?  You don’t know what to do so, as a Christian who desires to be in the center of God’s will, you ask God to tell you what offer He wants you to take.  Not to give you wisdom so you can make the decision based on salary incentives and benefits, or the relative cost of living in each area, or maybe the availability of affordable housing, and the professional growth potential each position offers— but to tell you specifically what offer He wants you to accept.

How does God do that through the Old or New Testament?  How does He communicate His desire directly to you?  Is there any verse, or passage, or story that specifically reveals to you the answer God has for you regarding the move?

Probably not.  Now there are principles in the Scriptures that may guide you in making the decision.  And there may be passages that talk about the wisdom God gives you to help you decide your future.  But for those of us who want a deeper intimacy with the Lord, we hunger for more.  I want to know exactly, precisely, specifically what God’s will is for my life and I believe I can know that best from His lips alone.  How?  Through the Scriptures?  Absolutely.  But also by His direct communication— in whatever manner He chooses to reveal Himself to me.

Because I can’t think of a particular passage in Ezekiel or Amos or 1 Corinthians that will tell me to either stay in Charlotte or move to Virginia.  Can you?


To Hear His Voice

My desire during this 40-day adventure is to learn to hear God’s voice on an ongoing basis.  Not every once in a while, but daily, hour by hour, much like a loving son longs to hear soothing words from his father. I’ve heard Him speak to me in the past, and these times have become cherished memories.  But I’m tired of living on the memories of good times, long past.  I hunger for more.  And I believe the default position for the Christian is for our Father to speak clearly to us as He has to others in His Word, and for each of us to be able to hear and understand what He is saying.

I believe we should be able to ask Him questions and receive from Him answers, much like the disciples did of Jesus.  It was natural for the disciples to ask Jesus a question and expect an answer.  Why should we expect otherwise?  After all, Jesus gave us “another (állos) Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).  And this “another (állos) Helper” is the Holy Spirit, who is just like Jesus.

But that’s something we’ll look at tomorrow.

If you’re so inclined, join with me and let’s discover together what God wants to do during this 40-day adventure with Him.  Hop on board.  It should be quite a ride.


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537:  How to Hear from God Through His Word

537: How to Hear from God Through His Word

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Have You Ever Experienced God Through His Word?

One reason most Christians fail in their Bible study is the fact they have seldom, if ever, experienced God through His Word.  Oh, they believe the Bible is the Word of God.  And they believe what it says about itself, that it is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).  In fact, they also understand the purpose of God’s Word and believe it wholeheartedly, “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).  Yet their spiritual life, and the time they spend in God’s Word, speak otherwise.

Do you know why?  It’s probably because the promise above has a qualifier.  And that qualifier means the promise is not for everyone, but only for “the man of God” (2 Tim. 3:17)  But most believers today are far from what Scripture would consider a man of God.

So how does that change?  What can we do to help thousands, if not millions, of believers who have never heard the voice of God, do just that?  What is the process?  What needs to be done?

First, we need to understand why it is so important to take personal responsibility for your spiritual life (see Romans 1:18-32).  The church cannot ride on the faith coattails of their pastor, the hired holy man, no matter how hard they try.  They must learn to mine the truths of God themselves.  And this takes time and energy, and a commitment, just like everything else of value in life.  Are you ready?


Honest Questions You Must Ask Yourself

Next, we must ask ourselves some hard questions.  And we must be honest about who we are regarding God and not who we think we are.  Let me share a few of these questions with you.

•   Do you understand what the book you hold in your hand really is? Are you aware of the constant attack against the sufficiency of His Word, and the integrity of His Word, that has been going on all around you for the last century and a half?  And are you aware of how subtle this attack is?
•   Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?  Or do you believe it contains the Word of God?  And if it truly is the Word of God, of what importance would that be to you in the way you live your life?  What would be more important to you than being able to know and hear from God through His Word?
•   What is the final authority in your life?  Is it you?  How you feel, think, or what you choose?  Or is it God?  And if so, how do you determine what God’s will is in a particular situation you are facing?  How does God, on a personal level, communicate His will or encouragement or instructions to you?  And if He does communicate with you, do you take His Word as the final authority, or do you run it through the grid of your own feelings and then choose to obey Him or go your own way?  Again, who or what is the final authority in your life?  And how is that working for you right now?
•   Has God ever revealed Himself to you in a life-changing way like He did to others in the Bible?  Maybe like Moses (Exodus 3), Joshua (Joshua 5), Elijah (1 Kings 19), or Paul in Acts 9?  Has God ever revealed Himself to you in a way that wasn’t life-changing?  Didn’t think so.
•   Have you ever truly experienced God in His Word?  And if so, what was that experience like?  How often and how long ago did it happen?  Is it a common experience for you?  Or is it something that seldom happens, if ever?
•   If you haven’t experienced God in quite some time, or ever, is that something you would like to change?  And if so, at what cost?  What would it take for you to have the desire for the “mind of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:16) or to become a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22)?

And this is just the beginning.  There is so much more we will discover in this message.  So join us as we look at the first few steps necessary to hear from God through His Word and grow closer to Him.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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536:  Evaluating Our Priorities in These Dark Times

536: Evaluating Our Priorities in These Dark Times

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The Importance of Being a Faith Prepper

If you look around at our culture, you can see things are getting darker for our nation and the church.  We have experienced betrayal at the highest level of our government.  Our elected officials lie as if it was a spiritual gift and are never held accountable.  In fact, we almost expect it from those who hold those positions.  And God’s judgment is being slowly unleashed upon our land.  We have record inflation, rising crime, war breaking out all over the globe, violence and hatred worn as a badge of honor, and a growing apostasy that has not only overtaken the pulpits of America, but also the pews.

And every day it only seems to get worse.

What are we to do?   How can we protect our children and grandchildren from being groomed in school to hate their gender and crave to be something God did not create them to be?  Men are no longer men and women are no longer women.  We must now, like living in an asylum, call someone by their chosen pronoun, regardless of how little that pronoun resembles their reality.

And to do otherwise could get you canceled, fired, arrested, or imprisoned for a hate crime, whatever that is.  What a strange, evil, and insane world we have created for ourselves.  No wonder God’s judgment is unfolding on His rebellious creation.  And no wonder we, as believers, will also suffer the collateral damage that comes from living in silence in a world that needs our voice.  We all, as the church, have blood on our hands.

After all, Jesus said it rains on “the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5:45).  So you better get ready for rain.


Keeping the First Thing First

Today we are going to learn how to become a Faith Prepper.  A Faith Prepper is one who sees the darkness coming and realizes the importance of having faith that can move mountains (Matt. 17:20) and will do whatever is necessary to become more like his Lord.  A Faith Prepper is the “prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,” and not the “simple who pass on and are punished” (Prov. 22:3).  He sees the big picture and understands the core truths of this life.  In essence, a Faith Prepper is one who has the priorities of their life arranged correctly, putting God first and everything else, including self, second.

Here are few things a Faith Prepper understands.

•   God is sovereign.  Let that sink in for a moment.  When you get a grasp of what this entails, everything in your life changes.
•   He is a King, and we are citizens of His Kingdom.
•   The highest satisfaction in life is to surrender our lives to Him, the One who created us and gives us breath and to trust Him for all things, now and forever.  From His perspective, nothing else really matters.
•   We surrender our lives to Him by faith.  Faith in His Word, faith in His promises, faith in His character and attributes, and faith in His faithfulness.
•   And if we trust Him for all things, He promises us immense blessings, both now and forever.

Becoming a Faith Prepper is to take God at His Word and believe whatever He says, no matter what.  And when we believe His Word and act upon it like we truly trusted what God said, we can experience the promises that accompany faith and obedience.  And those promises are beyond comprehension (1 Cor. 2:9).  Literally.

But often we miss the promises and blessings of God because we place ourselves first and leave Him and His glory a distant second.  And when we do, God will chastise us, as a loving Father, to bring us back into the fold of His blessing.

And there is no better example of this than in the small, two chapter book of Haggai.

Join us as we look at the book of Haggai and discover the importance of putting God first in all things before He allows us to suffer the consequences of our selfishness and lack of faith.  And no one, trust me, wants to be on the receiving end of the consequences of our sin.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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