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The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Leaving Laodicea | Steve McCranie

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466:  How to Seek God’s Face

466: How to Seek God’s Face

One of the four requirements found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a cryptic command to “seek” God’s face.  Note, not His hand, nor His blessings or grace, but simply to seek God’s face.  What does that mean?  And how is that done?

Think, how do we begin the process of seeking God’s face?  What does the Scripture say about that?  Is it something I should be doing?  Are there any requirements or things we first must do to be ushered into the presence of God?  What is it like to “behold the face of God”?  Is that even possible?   If I do seek God’s face, won’t I die?  And if I actually do experience the presence of God, how will that experience change my life?

It’s maybe not as simple as we were led to believe.

In Psalm 24, we find the requirements God demands to have unhindered intimacy with Him, or to seek His face.  These are not suggestions, but are aspects of our sanctification that allow us to “be holy, for I am Holy” by experience (1 Peter 1:16), and not just theologically or positionally in Christ.

Note the question and answer in Psalm 24:3-4:

Question:  Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?  Or who may stand in His holy place?
Answer:  He who has clean hands (outward holiness) and a pure heart (inward holiness), who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.

Also, note the distinction between outward and inward holiness.  It’s the same distinction we find in the Sermon on the Mount.  For example, let’s look at Matthew 5:21-22:

Outward:  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.'”
Inward:  “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”

And there is so much more we can learn about God’s requirements or standards that must be met to have the kind of intimacy with Him described as “seeking His face” and finding it. 

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465:  The Forgotten Discipline of Fasting

465: The Forgotten Discipline of Fasting

Often the church chooses to let go and forget the disciplines that served her so well in the past.  We feel they have served their purpose and then callously throw them aside for something more trendy, modern, and popular.  And this is especially true of the forgotten discipline of fasting.

I mean, who really wants to fast?  And isn’t fasting some Medevial Christian ritual that we stopped doing centuries ago?  Plus, if I fast, won’t it mark me as some sort of fanatic or Christian extremist?  If I fast, won’t I really be just starving myself?  That can’t be healthy.  And I’m not sure there are any real-time benefits for fasting (other than losing weight).  Why?  Because I don’t know anyone who fasts.  In fact, I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who fasts.

So what’s the big deal?

Jesus expected His disciples to pray.  He said, in the Sermon on the Mount, “when” you pray, and not “if”.

Matthew 6:5 – “And when (not, if) you pray…”
Matthew 6:6 – “But you, when (not, if) you pray…”
Matthew 6:7 – “And when (not, if) you pray…”

But look at what the Lord says about fasting.  He assumes it is something His disciples would do, like praying, and not something that was optional.

Matthew 6:16 – Moreover, when (not, if) you fast…”
Matthew 6:17 – “But you, when (not, if) you fast…”

And, like with His teaching on prayer, Jesus speaks about the motives behind fasting and not if His disciples should practice it.  That was a given.  It was assumed.

There is much to learn about this all-important forgotten Christian discipline called fasting.  Join us today as we dig deeper into the amazing world of fasting.

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464:  The Disciples of Jesus and John

464: The Disciples of Jesus and John

As we look deeper into the relationship between the disciples of Jesus and John the Baptist, a few questions come to the surface.  Why did John still have disciples after he proclaimed Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:34)?  And why is there a perceived tension between the disciples of Jesus and the disciples of John?  In fact, you can almost feel the tension when John’s disciples confront Jesus and chastise Him for not doing what they, and the Pharisees, were doing regarding fasting.

Matthew 9:14 – Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?”

Or, to put it another way, “Why are we doing things right, and You are not teaching Your disciples to follow us?”

But there is more here than meets the eye.  When John proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God, only two of John’s disciples followed Jesus.  The rest, it appears, remained loyal to John and continued with him in the ministry of baptism.  How is that even possible?

John 1:35-37 – Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples.  And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

We will also see the blessings that come from following Jesus into the great faith adventure, like these two did, rather than remaining in our comfort zone with John.  There is much to learn about the difference between the good, and the best, for each of us.

So join us today as we seek to follow Jesus more.

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463:  The Prayer Life of Jesus

463: The Prayer Life of Jesus

We have been looking at the four conditions/requirements found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to have God forgive our national sin and heal our land.  The first of these conditions is for God’s people to humble themselves.  And the second, equally as difficult as the first, is to pray.  But what kind of prayer satisfies the condition?  And what is the content of that prayer?  Can it be a short prayer or does it have to be long and intense?  Can we pray with our eyes open, sitting down, all alone?  Or do we have to agonize in prayer, on our knees, among a great throng of people?  There are so many questions the text doesn’t answer.  So, to find what we are looking for, we will look at the prayer life of Jesus and see what we can learn from HIm.

I can’t think of a better teacher, can you?

There is much we can learn about Jesus’ commitment to prayer.  Much we can incorporate in our own lives.  For example:

Jesus got up early to pray, way before dawn (Mark 1:35).

He separated Himself from distractions and went away from everyone to a secluded place to pray (Mark 1:35).

Jesus often prayed to be able to know His Father’s will.  Just like us (Mark 14:36).

Often, Jesus spent the entire night in prayer (Luke 6:12).

The focus of Jesus’ prayers, on many occasions, was the welfare of those He loved (John 7:15).

Jesus agonized in prayer (Luke 22:44).

And Jesus often prayed alone (Matthew 14:23).

And finally, Jesus offered to His disciples then, and to us today, a lesson on how to pray.  We find this in Matthew 6:9-15.  It is known as the Lord’s Prayer but it is much more than that.  Infinitely more.

Remember again, the passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14 with both the conditions and promises:

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

So join with us as we learn about the prayer life of Jesus.

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462:  Learning How to Humble Yourself

462: Learning How to Humble Yourself

We have before us, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, an incredible if/then promise from God’s Word.  If we meet the requirements, the if’s, then God will respond in ways that only He can, the then’s.  And the promise of God is that He will forgive our national sin and heal our broken and troubled land.  There are four requirements and three promises in this passage.  The first requirement is for God’s people, you and I, to humble ourselves before the Lord.  Or, to make it more personal, God is telling His people to humble yourselves before He will move.

But what does that mean?  How is that done?  Are there some steps we can use to learn how to humble ourselves?  And, if so, what are they?

In this message, we will discover ten practical steps to learn how to humble ourselves before the Lord and others.  These steps are Biblical and simple, but incredibly hard, especially for those in our culture that have learned that humility and meekness somehow equate with wimpiness.  But nothing could be further from the truth.

As an example, we will look at a Greek word study showing the Biblical definition and history of the word, meek.  Unlike how we understand the word and the concept behind it today, both Moses and Jesus were described as meek.  So it has to mean something more than a man without leadership qualities who is incapable of making a decision.  It has to mean something else.  And when you understand the true meaning of meekness and humility, as used in Biblical times, I think it will help you understand how important and Christ-like it is to humble yourself before God and others.

Remember, the passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14 with both the conditions and promises:

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

The following is a study on 2 Chronicles 7:14 and How to Humble Yourself.

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461:  The Last Great Awakening

461: The Last Great Awakening

There is no need to spend any time talking about the lukewarm condition of the church in the West.  We all know.  In fact, we are all part of the problem.  And since we know and are part of the problem, we tend to just assume this is the way things are, and it’s best to just sit back, relax, and live with it.  But that’s a recipe for even more failure.  The spiritual event that will shock the church out of apathy and lukewarmness is what we call an “awakening.”  What we need is another Great Awakening like we experienced as a church and a nation in the past.  And maybe, this will be the last Great Awakening before the Lord comes.

But what is a Great Awakening and how does it happen?

A “spiritual awakening” can be defined as: “a socially-transforming spiritual movement.”  We can see “socially-transforming spiritual movements” all across our land, but not for the better. The spirit behind the rioting, hatred, anger, and destruction is demonic, and not of God.  It appears the dark side has beaten us to the punch when it comes to transforming our society.  But, according to God’s Word, that can always change.

A “revival”, on the other hand, is an individual or personal “spiritual rebirth which transforms a person, church, or community into the likeness of New Testament Christianity.”  But note, a personal revival must come before a national awakening.  The smaller gives way to the larger, the personal to the corporate, but only after some time.  It usually starts small before igniting.

As believers, our hope is for the Lord to bring a great time of revival and personal spiritual awakening to His church.  Then, when the fires of church revival are burning, we hope for a national great awakening.

But how are we to prepare ourselves for this great event?  What can we do to help bring this all about?  Are there certain requirements the church has to meet in order for God to heal a broken, sinful nation?  And, if so, what are these all-important requirements?

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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

Come and join us as we discover the joy of Leaving Laodicea behind.