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The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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The Lost Art of Listening

The Lost Art of Listening

We live in a world that was birthed in the bed of rebellion.  From Eve’s rebellion in the Garden to the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, we see the sin of rebellion, the open, hostile, rejection of authority, as one of the bedrocks of human existence.

But it’s beginning is far older than the book of Genesis.  For it was rebellion that caused the Lord to banish Satan and his followers from heaven and cast them down to the earth (Isaiah 14:13-15).  That’s why Satan is known as the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).  In fact, Satan even boasted of this when he tried to tempt Jesus by offering to give Him “all the kingdoms of the world” if He would just “worship before me” (Luke 4:5-6).

And what is at the root of all rebellion?  Pride.

It was pride that brought low mighty King Nebuchadnezzar and drove him out into the fields, living on all fours and eating grass, humbled like an animal (Dan. 4:33).  It was pride that led Pharaoh to vainly fight against the Lord and not only see the destruction of all Egypt, but of his own house and family as well. It was pride that almost kept Naaman from being healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5;11) and pride that saw Haman hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai (Esther 7:10).  And it was the sin of pride that led Peter to foolishly exalt his commitment to Jesus as greater than the other disciples when he said, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be” (Mark 14:29).

But the Lord says He hates “pride and arrogance and the evil way” (Prov. 8:13) and that the prideful are so enamored with themselves they do not “seek God” nor is God “in any of their thoughts” (Psalm 10:4).  They are clueless, self-deceived, and so inward-focused they can see nothing but themselves.  They have themselves become the center of their self-created universe, the most valued and important thing in their lives, and their personal happiness and pleasure is the all-consuming passion of their short, sad lives.  But the Lord promises to humble the man who exalts himself (Matt. 23:12) and to bring to nothing the one who arrogantly smirks at both God and others (Isaiah 2:11).

The future of the proud and rebellious is indeed bleak.
 

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337:  What is the Prayer of Faith?

337: What is the Prayer of Faith?

Some of the most wonderful yet confusing verses in the entire New Testament are found in the last chapter of the book of James.  Do you know what these verses mean:

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much – James 5:13-16

Are you suffering?  Do you know those who are sick?  Do you know what the prayer of faith is and what is involved in calling for the elders and having them anoint you with oil?  Are these verses somewhat confusing to you?

If so, then keep listening.
 

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The Life of a Fool

The Life of a Fool

In the Proverbs we are presented with the contrast between two types of individuals: the wise man and the fool.  We’ve already seen how the “wise man will hear and increase learning” and how a “man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5).  And now we’re introduced to the man who lives at the other end of the spectrum— the fool.

But what is a fool?  And what is it about a fool that compels him to “despise wisdom and instruction?” (Prov. 1:7).


The Fool Defined

When we use the term fool today we think of someone who acts unwisely or imprudently, maybe a silly person who tries to dupe, trick or prank us.  We often equate the term with being stupid, simple or naive.  But the word, as used in the Proverbs, has a much sinister meaning.

In Proverbs 1:7 the Hebrew word for fool is eviyl and means “foolish in the sense of one who hates wisdom and walks in folly by despising wisdom and morality.”  It describes one who “mocks when found guilty, one who is continually quarrelsome and one who is licentious in his behavior.”

After all, the Proverbs say that “fools hate knowledge” (Prov. 1:22) and “fools die for lack of wisdom” (Prov. 10:21).  The heart of a fool, the very center of their being “proclaims foolishness” (Prov. 12:23) and it’s against their very nature, in fact, “it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil” and do what is right (Prov. 13:19).  Fools “mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9), and their mouth not only “feeds on foolishness” but “pours forth foolishness” like a flood (Prov. 15:2, 14).

Therefore, one who lives and thinks this way would naturally despise any “wisdom and instruction” that points out the errors in their actions or lifestyle.  Why?  Because “the foolishness of a man twists (or, perverts) his way, and his heart frets (or, is enraged) against the Lord” (Prov. 19:3) and the “way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (Prov. 12:15).  Plus, you can “grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him” (Prov. 27:22).  Their foolishness is embedded in their nature, it’s part of their DNA, it’s in the marrow of their bones.
 

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336:  Tough Words to Fathers and Children

336: Tough Words to Fathers and Children

In Colossians 3 the Lord confronts us with a checklist that deals with the proper attitudes we are to have in our most cherished relationships: wife to husband and husband to wife, children to parents and fathers to children, and employers to employees and employees to their employers.

In this lesson we’re going to look at some of the tough words the Lord has to say to both fathers and their children about their relationship both to Him and to each other.

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. – Col. 3:20-21

To find out more, just keep listening.
 

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335:  The Power of Persistent, Overcoming Prayer

335: The Power of Persistent, Overcoming Prayer

During His last week with His disciples, Jesus said the following regarding a fig tree that He cursed:

“Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.  And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing (or, to have faith in, to think it’s true, to place confidence in, to entrust), you will receive” – Matthew 21:21-22.

Do you believe what Jesus said?  Do you take His words at face value or have you reduced them to some type of parable or story not to be believed literally?  And what does Jesus mean by “believing”?  How does faith impact our prayers?

Keep listening, for the answer to these and other questions may astound you.
 

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The Beginning of the Beginning

The Beginning of the Beginning

Everything has a beginning, a first start, a genesis. Everything begins somewhere.  And according to the Proverbs, there’s a beginning to knowledge, wisdom and instruction— and that glorious beginning is called “the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 1:7).

But what does it mean to “fear the Lord”?  What does that look like in real life?  If “God is love” as the Scriptures say (1 John 4:8), how are we to fear His love?  Or His mercy?  Or His grace?  Or any other aspect of His character?  How can the fear of the Lord be the beginning of anything but a dysfunctional relationship with Someone whom we’re frightened of and cower in His presence?  Fear is not a pleasant emotion that draws us closer to the one we fear.  So why would the Lord tell us that the fear of Him is the very starting point of knowledge and wisdom?  It would seem to me that love would be the beginning of our relationship with the Lord— not fear.


What Does Fear Really Mean?

And that’s the main question, isn’t it?  What do we mean by “fear”?

Our English definition of fear reads like this: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or is a threat.”  Fear is also described as the “anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur.”  You know, the fear of financial ruin, the fear of heights, the fear for one’s safety, or the fear of speaking in public.  There are countless ways to describe fear as an unpleasant emotion caused by the possibility of something bad happening to us.

But in the Scriptures, fear has an additional connotation.  To “fear the Lord” means to “honor, respect, and be in awe” of Him in addition to the idea of God Himself being “an awesome, terrifying and fearful thing.”  In other words, the “fear of the Lord” means to show profound respect while recognizing that the object of our fear is “awesome and terrifying and fearful” and can bless or crush us at any time, for any reason, at His own whim, without recourse.  He is, after all, the Creator, the Highest Authority, the Sovereign One, and we are mere mortals, just dust and ashes.

Having a healthy “fear of the Lord” should motivate us to please Him in all we do.  Why?  Because we will someday have to give an account to Him for what we’ve done, good or bad or indifferent, while living our lives on this earth (2 Cor. 5:10).  He will be our Judge, the final Arbiter of our fate, and He will judge us according to His infallible standard of righteousness and holiness and not by our lukewarm platitudes designed to excuse our apathy.

And this, my friend, should give us great pause.
 

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334:  Put On, Put Off, and Put to Death

334: Put On, Put Off, and Put to Death

In Colossians 3 we see the commands to put off, put on, and put to death various aspects of our life.  Consider the following:

put to death your members” – 3:5
“you yourself are to put off all these” – 3:8
put off the old man with his deeds” – 3:9
put on the new man who is renewed” – 3:10
put on tender mercies” – 3:12
“above all these things put on love” – 3:14

You would do well to carefully examine what about you is to be put to death (or, to mortify, kill, make dead, to deprive of force and vigor, to render powerless, impotent) and what we are to put on (or, to sink into, to clothe oneself, to be enveloped) and to put off (or, renounce, throw off, lay aside or down, to cast away).

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.
 

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333:  Are You Chosen, Holy and Beloved?

333: Are You Chosen, Holy and Beloved?

There are three words that Paul uses to describe each of us: elect (or, chosen), holy and beloved. He uses these descriptive words in the first part of Colossians 3:12.

Therefore (based on the previous verses), as the elect (or, chosen, picked out, one selected) of God (or, by God), (defined as) holy (hagios – set apart, sanctified, consecrated, a saint, a most holy thing, its fundamental idea is separation and devotion to the service of God, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement) and beloved (agapao – to be dearly loved, esteemed, to delight in).

Does this describe you?  Do you see yourself as chosen by God, holy in His sight, and beloved above all?  I sure hope so.  But if not, then keep listening.
 

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Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

Revelation 3:15-17