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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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