504:  God Uses Ordinary Men in Extraordinary Ways

504: God Uses Ordinary Men in Extraordinary Ways

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Are You an Ordinary Man?

We are truly living in troubling times.  Not times unknown to believers in the past, but times the church of today is ill-equipped to manage.  But there is hope.  And this hope is found in our faith in the One who “declares the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10)— the Lord Jesus Christ.  Remember, extraordinary times call for extraordinary people.  Or, more accurately, it requires ordinary people doing extraordinary things by the power of the Holy Spirit living in them.

This leads to a few questions we will try to answer.  One, what holds us back from being all God created us to be?  Two, what does God need for us to be in the waning hours of the American experiment?  And finally, what are our children going to remember about us when they look back on these troubling days?

Sobering questions.  But do we have any answers?

In 2nd Timothy, Paul is giving final instructions to the one who will carry on without him.  Timothy was a man that struggled with timidity and fear (2 Tim. 1:7) and avoided confrontation to the point of appearing ashamed of his calling and the testimony of Christ (2 Tim. 1:8).  In fact, Paul’s first words to Timothy were to urge him not to leave for greener pastures, not to throw in the towel, but stay and see the task to the end (1 Tim. 1:3).  And his final words to Timothy were to remain steadfast to his calling and don’t quit.

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry – 2 Timothy 4:5.

These are the same words we need to hear as the church today.  Following Christ, standing for truth, speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves (Prov. 24:11), always comes at a cost.  So what are we to do?  We should start by remembering where we have fallen and do the things we did at the beginning (Rev. 2:5).

But there is more.

Stir Up the Gift of God in You

There comes the point in every Christian’s life when they simply must choose.  We must choose to either stand for Christ and all that means or cower under the world’s pressure to be forced into its mold.  We must be willing to suffer misunderstanding, cancellation, loss of jobs or family relationships, even overt suffering and persecution in our commitment and faithfulness to Him.  After all, all our heroes have done the same when they had to choose.  Why should we think we are exempt?

And we know that all we lack, He supplies.  All we don’t have or can’t do, He can.  No matter how broken or ordinary we may be, He is strong, mighty, invincible, and He lives in us.  So there is no excuse.

The only thing lacking is our commitment.  So, like Paul’s words to Timothy, we need to rekindle the spark of His life in us and surrender anew all we are not, to the One who is everything.

Therefore I remind you to stir up (or rekindle) the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands – 2 Timothy 1:6.

And then watch what the Lord will do through you.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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503:  How to Respond During Dark Times

503: How to Respond During Dark Times

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Who Do You Trust?

Great question.  But the answer is usually less than encouraging.  Who do we trust?  The government?  Not so much.  The organized church?  Probably not as much as we did in the past.  The media?  Please.  The educational system?  Hollywood?  Our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram friends?  Nope.  So who do we trust to tell us the truth?  Or where do we go for truth?  What source can we truly depend on today?

You know the answer to that question.  Our source for truth is God and what we need in these dark times is His wisdom.  But this raises even more questions, such as how do we find the wisdom of God?  I mean, where would I begin to look for His wisdom?  And is His wisdom something like the force in Star Wars?  Is it an attribute or characteristic or power of God that He lends to us for a season or for a particular purpose?  Or is it something else?

The best way to answer that question is found in an amazing verse in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth.  In this statement, we are told God placed all His wisdom in His Son.  So the more we have of Jesus, the more we have of God’s wisdom, which is, again, the point of the Higher Christian Life.

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us (1) wisdom from God and (2) righteousness and (3) sanctification and (4) redemption that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” – 1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

Did you get that?  We are “in Christ Jesus” by the sovereign act of God.  And, Jesus “became” or “began to be” for us the wisdom from God or the wisdom of God.  So, Jesus is what we need, all we have ever needed.   But I think we always knew that.  Yet, we still struggle with these nagging questions.

Do I get the jab or not?
What if I can’t see my family unless I get vaccinated?
What if my employer requires it?
What if I lose friends over this?
There are so many opinions out there.  Who do I trust?
What am I to do?  Or better yet, what does God want me to do?

Do you see the need for God’s wisdom and the ability to hear His voice as He speaks His will to us?

Taking Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life

The greatest need for us as believers facing dark and uncertain times is the ability to hear from God and understand His wisdom in our lives.  And this can only take place when we spend the necessary time pouring over His Word and applying it to our lives.  But we won’t know what His Word means unless we first understand what it says.  Remember, it is called Bible study… and not Bible reading or skimming.

I will make a bold statement.  I firmly believe God can and will speak to you about anything He wants using whatever verse you may now be studying, Old or New Testament; it doesn’t matter. Why?  Because He is God.

To prove this point, we will look at one verse chosen at random, Proverbs 21:1, and look at it in such as way as to determine precisely what it says, and then glean from it the wisdom we need for today.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes – Proverbs 21:1.

Now, let’s begin by simply defining some terms.

The king’s (meleḵ – a male, sovereign ruler, one with power and authority over a kingdom)
heart (lēḇ – the seat of one’s inner nature, the focus of a person’s thoughts [mind], volition, emotions, and knowledge of right from wrong [conscience])
is (present tense)
in the hand (yāḏ – physical hand, strength, power, possession, control, and care)
of the LORD (yehōwāh – the proper name of the God of Israel, understood as “I AM THAT I AM”).

Like (just as, in the same way, similar to)
the rivers (peleg̱ – stream, a channel, canal, a natural body of running water flowing on or under the Earth)
of water (same as in English);
He (God)
turns it (nāṭāh – to stretch out, extend, to direct the course, to determine the direction)
wherever (compound word – all and direction)
He (God)
wishes (to delight in, take pleasure in, desire).

Do you think God can speak to us about this dark time in which we live from this one Old Testament verse?  You’re in for a great surprise.  Because He can.  And He will.

So join us today as we discover the depth of His Word and of His great desire to communicate His wisdom to us through His Word.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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502: The Lord’s Supper and the Higher Christian Life

502: The Lord’s Supper and the Higher Christian Life

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Jesus First Became a Bondservant…

There are many questions Christians have about the Lord’s Supper, and not all of them revolve around the nature of the substance of the bread and wine.  There is the question about timing, how often are we to celebrate it?  And then questions about meaning, is it symbolic, or does it truly transfer some tangible grace to those who partake?

But the biggest question, for me, is in regards to its significance.  After all, there is a judgment attached to the Lord’s Supper.  The Scriptures teach those who partake of it in an “unworthy manner” will bring judgment upon themselves, even to the point of sickness and death.  That’s right.  Read it yourself in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30.

That seems a bit heavy-handed to me.  Does it to you?

That is until I began to see a deeper meaning in the Lord’s Supper, something right below the surface.  For years, when Jesus broke the bread and gave it to His disciples, we focused on “this is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19), referring almost exclusively to the physical suffering and death of Jesus on the cross for our sins.  And that is true.  But there may be more we have been missing.

And when Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20), again, we usually interpret that to only mean the physical shedding of His blood as His sacrifice for our sins.  And that is also true.  But there could be more to this than meets the eye.

Since we tend to think linearly, we often jump from the Upper Room, with the bread and wine, to the cross, with His broken body and shed blood, and assume we have the point of the Lord’s Supper all wrapped up in a neat package.  But what we miss is what happened between these two, the turmoil in the garden, where Jesus had to determine for Himself if He would fulfill His commitment to His Father that He made long before He came as a Babe in Bethlehem.

Never forget, between the upper room and the cross, was the garden.  And it may be that what happened in the garden is what the Lord wants us to remember every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Let’s look at the commitment Jesus made to His Father.

And Then He Came in the Likeness of Men

In Philippians 2, we have a scene before us that reveals the Lord Jesus making Himself (His action) a “bondservant” (doúlos) of His Father and then, as a bondservant, a voluntary slave, becoming obedient to His Father “to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8).  And in this passage, we see the depth of the relationship between the Father and His Son and the reason for the suffering of Jesus in the garden.  Consider the following:

Let this mind (phronéō – to think, to have the mindset) be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being (to be or exist in a state or condition) in the form (morphḗ – shape, essence, replica, the expression of something that reflects or manifests fully and truly the essence of what something is) of God, did not consider (hēgéomai – view, regard, esteem, count, reckon) it robbery (taking something by force) to be equal (ísos – alike in quantity, quality, dignity) with God, but (His action) made Himself of no reputation (kenóō – to make empty or void, of no value), (to what degree) taking the form (morphḗ – shape, essence, replica, the expression of something that reflects or manifests fully and truly the essence of what something is) of a bondservant (doúlos – a slave, one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will being altogether consumed in the will of the other), and coming in the likeness (homoíōma – similitude, resemblance) of men.

And being found (or recognized) in appearance (schḗma – form, external appearance, mode) as a man, He (Christ’s actions) humbled Himself (tapeinóō – to bring low, to abase, to render oneself to a low condition) and became obedient (hupḗkoo –to submit to) to the point of death, even the death of the cross – Philippians 2:5-8.

Note the order:  First, Jesus voluntarily became a “bondservant” to His Father (not to any man), and then came in the “likeness of men.”   What does this order imply?

Simply this, there may be more to the Lord’s Supper than we have previously recognized.  And the meaning may be more than just remembering the physical suffering and death of our Lord on the cross.  It may also point to our need to reconfirm the promise we made to the Father when we first came to faith in Him— the promise of ourselves and our total surrender and commitment to Him.  Do you remember?

There is much to see in this passage.  So join us as we rediscover the wonder of the Lord’s Supper as we embrace the Higher Christian Life.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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501:  To Reckon or Not Reckon, that is the Question

501: To Reckon or Not Reckon, that is the Question

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The Cross Not Only Paid For Your Sins…

We have been looking at the three key truths that will allow you to experience the surrender that leads to the Higher Christian Life.  Let’s take a moment for a quick review.

Truth One – You are incapable of pleasing God or producing anything good with your flesh (your sinful nature) no matter how hard you try.  It cannot be done, has never been done, will never be done, by anybody, ever.  And you can find the foundation of Truth One in Romans 7:15-25, especially verse 18.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find – Romans 7:18.

So Truth One states you can’t, no matter how hard you try.  But Truth Two reveals He can, beyond all you can imagine.  Truth Two reminds us that God has given you the Holy Spirit to live in you.  And one of His purposes for His Spirit dwelling in you is to work in you “both to will and to do (why) for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  In other words, the Holy Spirit now living in you is able to do in you “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20).  And, by the way, the power that works “in us” is none other than the Holy Spirit.  (Note:  Did you notice how many times the phrase “in you” was used in this paragraph?  It is not something to gloss over lightly).

This brings us to Truth Three.   But first, a bit of warning.  Truth three is not something to be believed only, but to be experienced, just like the Higher Christian Life.  For without experiencing this truth, firsthand, you will not gain the wonderful benefit of it nor the changed life that comes with it.  Finally, all the benefits of Truth Three are contingent on faith.  And it is in your faith the enemy will attack.  Maybe even today.  So be forewarned.

Let’s look at Truth Three.

You Are Also to “Reckon” Yourself Dead to Sin

Truth Three states that when Christ was crucified, He took with Him to the cross not only your sins, but also your sinful nature (the “old man”).  Let that truth sink in for a moment.

Remember, your “old man” refers to your unregenerate human spirit consisting of the Adamic life prior to salvation.  And the “new man” refers to the regenerate human spirit, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Basically, the “old man” is all that you were before salvation, and the “new man” is all that you have become after salvation.  You can find these terms used in Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22 and 24, and Colossians 3:9-10, among other places.  It should be a familiar concept to you.  But one not usually carried to its logical conclusion.

Watch how this plays out so clearly in Romans 6.  First, the foundation:

For if (since, because) we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be (united together) in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that (what) our old man was crucified with Him, (why) that the body of sin might be done away with, (why) that we should no longer be slaves of sin – Romans 6:5-6.

Next, the logical progression based on the foundation:

For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if (since, because) we died (how) with Christ, we believe (our choice, see below) that we shall also live (how) with Him, (how) knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. (why) Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died (past tense), He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives (present tense), He lives to God – Romans 6:7-10.

And finally, the conclusion about our old man and his death on the cross.  But remember, this truth only becomes real to you by experience.  Or, as Romans says, when you “reckon yourself” to this truth.

Likewise (in the same manner) you (personal) also (like others who have experienced what you now seek), reckon (to impute, consider, count, reason, think, to be of the conviction) yourselves (personal) to be (present tense, currently, at this very moment, right now) dead indeed (truly, on the one hand) to sin, but (on the other hand) alive to God (how) in Christ Jesus our Lord – Romans 6:11.

Note the obvious, if you “reckon yourself” to this truth, its power becomes real to you.  But if by doubt or disbelief you refuse to believe what the Scriptures say about you and your old nature, you will still struggle with failure because, per Truth One, “you are incapable of pleasing God or producing anything good with your flesh (your sinful nature) no matter how hard you try.”  The choice of either being an overcomer or one who lives in constant defeat is based on the content of your faith.  You will either “reckon yourself” to be what the Scriptures say you are, or you will choose to take your eyes off Jesus and focus on the waves and sink like Peter (Matt. 14:30).

The choice is always yours.  Always.

The following is the sermon that goes into much greater detail about Truth Three than I can present in a short blog post.  I know it is much longer than the usual podcasts, but I would encourage you to listen and let your mind embrace the possibilities of Truth Three.  And remember, Satan cannot attack the truth.  He cannot make Truth Three not be true.  But he can, and he will attack your faith and belief in Truth Three.  And if he succeeds, the power found in Truth Three will be lost to you, and you will languish in defeat with your life of holiness and most likely fail to experience all of the Higher Christian Life.  Or, if you simply trust Him and “reckon” (to impute, consider, count, reason, think, to be of the conviction) yourself to be what the Scriptures say, then watch out, for the best is yet to come.

So choose wisely.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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500:  I Believe God is Able, But is He Willing?

500: I Believe God is Able, But is He Willing?

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I Believe God is Able

There is an account in Matthew 9 where two blind beggars followed Jesus and continued to cry out to Him hoping to get His attention and receive their sight.  After all, He had healed others, maybe He would heal them also.  Jesus, ignoring their cries, entered into a house when the two men barged in refusing to be deterred from their search for Jesus.  When Jesus saw them He asked a simple question, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt. 9:28).  In essence, He asked them if they believed He had the power, the authority, sufficient to give them back their sight.  And they answered, in faith, “Yes, Lord.”

Jesus then touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be to you.” (Matt. 9:29).  And the Scripture says “their eyes were opened.”

But what was the object of their faith?  Was it in Jesus’ ability to heal them?  Probably.  After all, that’s what Jesus was questioning them about.  He was saying, “Do you believe I am able to do this for you?”  And, by faith, they said, yes.  But they also had to believe Jesus was willing to heal them.  Otherwise, they would have never followed Him as they did and cry out to get His attention.  And if you look at the sequence of faith in this healing account, you will find belief in His willingness came before faith in His ability.

There is much to learn in this regarding the Higher Christian Life.

Just think, what keeps us from having the faith of Abraham or Noah or Moses or the Apostles or those listed in Hebrews 11?  Or what hinders us from having the faith we once had when we were young in the Lord and followed Him with reckless abandon?  It is usually summed up in this one statement: “I know God can, and I know that He is able.  I just don’t think He will.”  And this sentiment about God plays out in our lives like this:

“I would surrender my life to God if I could trust Him to truly take care of me.  And since I can’t trust Him to do that, I’ll just have to keep looking out for myself.”

“I want to surrender my life to the Lord because I know He is God and He is sovereign and He can do anything He wants anytime He wants.  But I just don’t think He will take care of me.  Maybe others, but just not me. So, I’ll have to keep looking out for myself.”

And then we wonder why we languish in the land of Laodicea, neither hot nor cold, longing for more in our life with Christ yet afraid to trust Him completely.

But I’m Not So Sure He is Willing

As you read the following five statements about God’s ability, ask yourself this one question:  Do you believe, knowing God is able, that He is willing to fulfill His promise to you?  If so, you are on your way to the Higher Christian Life.  But if not, you must pray and ask our Lord to forgive you for your faulty, hurtful, view of Him and His love for you.  For to think God selfish or miserly with you and not others, does not show your piety or humility.  It impugns His character and grieves His Spirit who lives in you.  Consider the following:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy – Jude 1:24.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work – 2 Corinthians 9:8.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen – Ephesians 3:20-21

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day – 2 Timothy 1:12.

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them – Hebrews 7:25.

This study is on the importance of knowing God is not only able to fulfill His promises to you, but is also willing.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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499:  “There is No Tomorrow!” – Apollo Creed

499: “There is No Tomorrow!” – Apollo Creed

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

For the referenced list of events in Germany in 1933 and 1934, click – HERE

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You Do, or You Don’t Do.  There is No Try.

Often, when it comes to the things that scare us or assault our faith, we tend to go into a brain freeze, to zone out, to habitually rationalize and procrastinate away the issue like Rocky Balboa in Rocky III when he faced fighting Clubber Lang.  He was afraid and ashamed of his fear.  He’d lost all confidence in himself.  He no longer believed he still had what he once possessed that made him Heavyweight Champion of the World.  And he was ready to give up.  When Appolo Creed kept pressuring him to work harder, Rocky’s only response was, “Tomorrow.  We’ll train tomorrow.”  To which Appolo said over and over again, “There is no tomorrow!”

We face a time in our nation when it appears God’s judgment has finally fallen.  After allowing the murder of over 65,000,000 unborn children on our watch as the church, God seems to have allowed us to experience the consequences of our sin.  Since we, as the church and as a nation, “did not like to retain God in their (our) knowledge, God gave them (us) over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting” (Rom. 1:28).  And what are those things which are not fitting?  Abortion, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, idolatry, greed, violence, rebellion, arrogance, transgenderism— you name it, we as a culture are embracing it with open arms.

There is No Tomorrow!

So what are we to do?  How bad is it really going to get?  And what can we do to have the faith necessary to persevere during the coming dark times?

These are vital questions for the church today.  Questions that must be answered.  Remember the warning from the Proverbs.  One so important, it is recorded twice:

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished – (Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12).

We can also take a lesson from history.  Note, in 1933 there were 45 million Protestants in Germany, out of a total population of 65 million.  There were also 525,000 Jews.  In 1935 there were 18,000 Protestant pastors.  Of those, 3,000 supported the German Christian Church, and 3,000 were members of the Confessing Church, of which over 700 had been arrested (this was Bonhoeffer’s church).  And the other 12,000 pastors?  They sat on the fence, apathetic, worried about their own personal circumstances.

And we know what happened in Germany over the next few years.  Could history repeat itself?  Consider what is happening in our own nation.

No vaccine, no service.
No vaccine, no travel.
No vaccine, no public gathering.
No vaccine, no job.
No vaccine, you cannot buy or sell.

And if you have a personal opinion different than the FPC (for public consumption) opinion of the nation/state, you will not be allowed to speak.

No vaccine, you are de-platformed.
No vaccine, no first amendment rights.

So keep listening and we’ll discover how to become a Faith Prepper together.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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