Faith Prepper

Preparing for the Coming Darkness
445:  What it Means to Follow Jesus

445: What it Means to Follow Jesus

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, His initial message was the same as John the Baptist.  He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).  And throughout the next three years, one underlying theme in His teaching was about life in His Kingdom.  When Jesus sent out His disciples to preach His message, He said, “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’ ” (Matt. 8:11).  Jesus even told those close to Him why He spoke to the crowds in parables.  And His answer had to do with concealing from some the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven.  He 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).

Finally, He shared parables specifically pointed to revealing what the kingdom of heaven, His Kingdom, was like.  He said it was like a “man who sowed good seed in his field” (Matt. 13:24).  Or, it was like a “mustard seed” which, being small, grew into a tree “so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matt. 13:31).  Jesus likened His Kingdom to “leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Matt. 13:33).  And to express how wonderful His Kingdom is for those who possess it, He said it was like a “treasure hidden in a field” (Matt. 13:44) or a “pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:46) that was worth all one had on earth.

Jesus then asked His disciples, “Have you understood all these things?”  They said to Him, “Yes, Lord” (Matt. 13:51).

I wonder what our answer would be today?  Do we understand His Kingdom?  Do we fully know what it means to follow Him?  Can we honestly say we are proficient in following Jesus?

I’m not so sure.  And maybe you aren’t either.

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444: It All Comes Down to Denial

444: It All Comes Down to Denial

When Jesus instructed His disciples, and the others, about what it meant to follow Him in Matthew 16:24-25, He spoke of “desire to come after me” and then “let him deny himself.”  We looked at desire in our last message, and now we will turn our focus to what He meant by “deny himself.”  Note the requirement and sequence in the verse below.  First, there must be desire (“if anyone desires to come after Me”).  Then, a denial and the corresponding action showing the commitment to deny himself (“take up his cross”).  And finally, the invitation to “follow Me.”  Jesus shows surrendering to Him must follow in this order.  In essence, first meet the conditions, and then come “follow Me.”

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” – Matthew 16:24-25.

The word deny (aparnéomai) when followed by the pronoun heautón (oneself, himself) means “to deny oneself, or to disown and renounce self and to subjugate all works, interests, benefits, and enjoyments to another.”  The word is also translated “to speak against, contradict, to avoid, reject, nullify, to stand firm against, resist, oppose.”

When Jesus said we must “deny” ourselves, the impact of our denial affects all areas of our life.

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443: It All Comes Down to Desire

443: It All Comes Down to Desire

On any given Sunday, if a pastor asks by a show of hands how many in the congregation consider themselves followers of Christ, most would raise their hands.  But if he followed up that question with: “And how many of you know what it means to be a follower of Jesus today?” – the number of raised hands would drop considerably.  Maybe even to none.  Why?  Because our view today of following Jesus is a far cry from what it meant in the time of Jesus.  Think about it for a moment.  Today, following Jesus means agreeing to a set of doctrinal facts, going to church regularly, tithing, volunteering for some service ministry, adhering to a moral code, and reading and praying as often as we can.  But in the New Testament, following Jesus meant something quite different.

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).  Note the components of His invitation.  First, it begins with a conditional clause, if, like a classic if / then statement.  “If you desire to come after Me, then these are the conditions.”  Next, we have self-denial or self-subjugation to God.  “If you desire to come after Me, the first condition is to deny yourself.”  And finally, we are now privy to the degree to which self-denial must take place.  “If you desire to come after Me, the first condition is to deny yourself even to the point of death, and a horrific death at that.”  And only then does Jesus say, “and follow Me.”  First, meet the conditions, and then “follow Me.”

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442:  How to Surrender Your Life to Him

442: How to Surrender Your Life to Him

We have looked at what it takes to become a Faith Prepper over the last few weeks.  We did this by learning to pray at all times by letting the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, direct your prayers.   And we also spent some time learning how to trust at all times by allowing your faith to grow by having it exercised in often unpleasant situations.  But even with all of this, we still are plagued with a few questions.

How do we go from talking about faith to living by faith?
How do we learn to trust the Lord in all things?
How do we know and understand His will?
What are the practical steps we need to take to surrender our all to Him?
And how can we go about doing just that?

The answer, according to Scripture, is found in the single word, surrender.  It means “to yield, give up or over, submit, abandon, relinquish, cede, waive, or capitulate.  From the Christian perspective, it means to relinquish ownership of what we consider ours: our property, rights, time, decisions, future, independence, basically our life.

Surrender, like most things, is a choice.

The classic passage on total surrender is found in Galatians 2:20.  It reads: “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.”

But there is so much more.

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Current Events:  Deal with the Devil – Canada and Israel

Current Events: Deal with the Devil – Canada and Israel

The following is an article by Hal Lindsey.  It is just another sign that its time you became a Faith Prepper.  Why?  Because times for believers, especially in the United States, are going to get real bad, real fast.  It is time to take the words of Jesus seriously and prepare your faith to have it severely tested.  Soon.

So get prepared now!


 
Nikki Haley, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, recently characterized a Canadian vote at the UN as “a deal with the devil.”

That’s strong language coming from a well-regarded diplomat.  I assume she meant it figuratively.  But something literal is at work.  Canada’s recent about-face on Israel is a capitulation to the growing forces of darkness in our world.  In recent years, the nations of the UN have been making a lot of deals with the devil – the actual devil.

Haley was referring to a vote on an anti-Israel resolution sponsored by North Korea. That’s right, those paragons of respect for human rights – North Korea’s government leaders – sponsored a resolution condemning Israel for “occupying” East Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.  The resolution also says that the wall Israel built “severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

That wall was built to stop terrorist activity in Israel.  It has been highly effective.  It was necessary because Palestinian leadership continues to act as a major sponsor of terrorism.  Israel tries to make peace while Palestinian leaders encourage their constituents to randomly stab people and blow things up.  When Israel responds to these terrorist acts, the Palestinians decry Israel’s actions.  Israel continues to try to make peace.  But while they work for peace, they must keep their people secure.  Thus, the wall.

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441:  Faith is Justified by Action

441: Faith is Justified by Action

We have previously looked at how to pray at all times and in all circumstances by letting the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, direct our prayers.  But next on the Faith Prepper list of required spiritual skills is learning how to trust Him at all times by allowing our faith to grow by having it exercised in often unpleasant circumstances.  After all, faith grows when it is tested.  And testing is usually unpleasant during the process but wonderful at the end.

The Greek word translated “faith” in the New Testament is pístis and means: “to win over, to persuade. Subjectively it means firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth”  This definition is used over 250 times in the New Testament alone.  Everything in the Spirit is based on faith and everything of faith is designed by God to bypass the senses.  Everything.

In addition to this, all faith is not justified by merely having it.  But all faith is justified by the action it produces.  In other words, faith by itself is worth little.  But faith, accompanied by actions or works based on that faith is alive and real.  This is exactly what James was trying to tell us in James 2:14-26.  Read it for yourself.

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440:  Taking God at His Word

440: Taking God at His Word

One of the attributes of becoming a Faith Prepper is learning how to trust God as His Word.  I know many of us will say that we do.  When pressed, almost al believers will state the mantra, “I believe everything God says, start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.”  After all, that’s the expected answer.  To say anything less would make us seem like a lukewarm believer.

But the truth is, most believers, maybe ever you, don’t truly take God’s Word as the final authority in your life.  How can I say that?  Because God’s Word speaks to just about every issue we face today yet the church seems to be divided up into various opinions that differ greatly from one another.  If God’s Word doesn’t change and is always true, how can that be?  If God’s Word says something is wrong, for example, how can any believer who claims God’s Word as the final authority in their life, have a different opinion than what the Word says?  It seems inconsistent, doesn’t it?  Hypocritical.

As the adage goes, the Scriptures are true about everything it teaches.  And it teaches about everything.

To test whether God’s Word molds your opinions or whether your opinions are determined independent of God’s Word, I have listed a number of controversial issues below.  What is your opinion on these?  And whatever your opinion is, does it line up with the Word of God?  If it doesn’t, who is wrong, and what are you prepared to do about it?

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439:  Kingdom Praying

439: Kingdom Praying

When we look at the content of the prayers of the early church we are amazed they didn’t pray like much of the church does today— for the little answerable “fix”.  Instead, they prayed for Kingdom matters, what we call Kingdom Prayers.  Let me explain.

A “little answerable” is a prayer for a little “fix” that is often related to our sense of entitlement from God.  These can be called horizontal prayers.  We lose our job so we pray for a new one.  A loved one is sick, so we pray for their healing.  We don’t have enough money to make it through the end of the month, so we pray to win the lottery.  And on the surface, these seem like proper, loving, spiritual prayers.  But that’s not how the early church prayed.

A Kingdom prayer, on the other hand, is praying for something that has lasting value and importance in the Kingdom of God.  For example, look at the following prayers and note what they are asking for (and what they are not):  Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-19, Romans 15:5-6, 13, Philippians 1:9-11, Philemon 1:4-6.

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438:  How to Pray God’s Word

438: How to Pray God’s Word

For the last couple of weeks, we have been talking about praying through Scripture to help focus our prayers and have specifically been using the book of Ephesians.  If you remember, before we began we looked at three great truths regarding using God’s Word to focus our prayers.  They are:

One, there is a direct connection between the degree that our minds are shaped by Scripture and the degree to which our prayers are answered.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” – John 15:7.

Two, God only answers the prayers and petitions that His Son had some part in asking.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him – 1 John 5:14-15.

And three, the early church prayed Scripture.  And so should we.

But today we want to focus on some of the doctrines we found in just the first chapter of Ephesians.  It is on these doctrines we have been focusing our prayers.

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437:  Our Union with Christ

437: Our Union with Christ

As we begin to look more into the idea of being a faith prepper, one of the key elements to understanding our position in Christ is to try to get a firm grasp on our union with Him.  After all, it seems the most common phrase in Scripture regarding our position is “in Christ” or “in Him”.  But what does that mean?  And what kind of union with Christ does that phrase imply?

Let’s put on our theology hats for just a moment and look at the two types of unions spoken of in Scripture about Christ.

First, our union with Christ can be seen as a federal (head) or covenantal union (called Federalism).  Romans 5:12-21 shows each of us as being in Adam before salvation and in Christ after salvation.  And God established Adam as a representative or federal head of the human race.  If Adam continued in righteousness, we would also have been considered to have continued in righteousness, being in Adam.  But if Adam sinned, we too would be considered as also having sinned, being in Adam.  This is where we begin to understand original sin.

If Adam sinned and fell by the transgression of God’s command, then we would also be considered to have sinned in him and Adam’s sin judgment and subsequent death would pass on to each of us.  And, as we know, Adam did sin and death was passed on to each of us.  This is the proof of our identification with Adam.

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