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548:  Keeping First Things First… Always

548: Keeping First Things First… Always

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We are the Light of the World… Maybe

The problem today in our culture is not the increasing darkness, but the ever-diminishing light in believers.  For darkness is defined as the absence of light.  And when light appears, it immediately vanquishes darkness without a struggle.  But there is more.  Scripture tells us that Christ is light, and therefore, so are we.  We are children of light and are commanded to “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).  And Scripture describes the enemy as darkness.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John (the Baptist).  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light (Christ), that all through him might believe.  He was not that Light (Christ), but was sent to bear witness of that Light (Christ).
Summary: That was the true Light (Christ) which gives light to every man (was) coming into the world – John 1:6-9.

But it gets even better.  Consider what John later says about light.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light (to what degree) and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him (light), and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if (condition) we walk in the light (to what degree) as He is in the light, (result) we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin – 1 John 1:6-7.

So it appears the problem today with encroaching darkness is us, those who are light, yet hide our light from the world (Matt. 5:14-16).  Why do we do that?  Maybe it’s because we fear the darkness.  Or maybe we fear the persecution of the world, of being canceled, mocked, de-platformed, or whatever the darkness tries to do to conceal our light.  But no matter.  We have the mandate from our Lord to “let our light shine before men” (Matt. 5:16).

So maybe we should be about just that.  Remember:

Fact: For you were once darkness, but now you are light (where) in the Lord.
Command:  Walk as children of light – Ephesians 5:8.

Note: We are now (present tense) light in the Lord. We possess the Holy Spirit and take on the nature of Christ (Rom. 8:29), who is Light (1 John 1:5).  And that makes us divinely powerful in Him.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

How Do We Live as Light in the World?

So how are we to be light in this dark world?  And how do we fight against the darkness?  Let me tell you how not to fight against the darkness.  Not with anger, revenge, politics, or personal strength.  None of the Rambo stuff.  Nor by plotting, or scheming, or manipulating circumstances to meet our end.  No, that’s what the darkness does.  We let Him do the fighting for us and rest in His promises and commands.

In Him (Christ) was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (katalambánō – to take, apprehend, overcome, to seize the position of and defeat, to gain control) it – John 1:4-5.

Did you get that?

When we surrender ourselves to the Lord, we allow Him to fight our battles for us (which was His whole plan in the first place).  We find this command to surrender ourselves all throughout Scripture.  Remember, He gets the glory when we allow Him to fight our battles for us, just like a loving Father.  And He has promises for those who choose to trust Him, even in the thick of battle.

Remember the questions in Romans 8?

“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?” – Romans 8:33.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” – Romans 8:35.
And the one where our faith either grows or fails… “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors (how) through Him who loved us” – Romans 8:37.

And we pray and put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18).  Not sure what that means or why we should do it?  Then keep listening.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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547:  Regeneration – The Greatest Deception in the Church

547: Regeneration – The Greatest Deception in the Church

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The Mark of the End Times?  Deception  

In Matthew 24, Jesus revealed to His disciples the signs to look for when the end of the age appears.  And the number one sign is deception.  He actually began this teaching this way: “Take heed that no one deceives you” (Matt. 24:4).  And how will they, and you and me, be deceived?  Jesus said Satan would unleash all he has in his bag of tricks.

First, “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matt. 24:5).

Next, we have false prophets who claim to speak for God.  “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matt. 24:11).

This is followed by more false prophets pointing now to false christs who will perform counterfeit signs and wonders that only the real Christ should be able to do.  In fact, the deception is so great, that all but the elect will be deceived.  “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (Matthew 24:24).

Scripture warns us it is going to get bad.  Real bad.  And real fast.

But there is a deception going on right now in the church that is just as bad as what is to come, maybe worse.  And this deception strikes at the core of our eternal salvation.  It is literally a matter of heaven and hell.

Have You Experienced Regeneration?

It is the deception regarding your salvation.  Are you really saved?  And if so, how do you know?  Is it based on a prayer you prayed or an emotion you experienced, or is it something else?  How do you know you are really saved?

When we are asked that question, we often rely on external evidence.  But for many in the church today, the external evidence of true salvation is sadly missing.  Why?  Because of a lack of regeneration.

Let me explain.

When salvation truly takes place, everything changes.  God doesn’t make us better or allow us to keep parts of ourselves He now sanctifies.  No, the Scriptures teach everything is now new (born again) and the old has passed away, been buried, done away with.  Hence, the external evidence should be a radically changed life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; (defined as) old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new – 2 Corinthians 5:17.

But the key to understanding the difference between regeneration (being born again) and faith and conversion (saying the sinner’s prayer), is best explained by trying to understand what this verse really means.

Therefore, if (since, because) anyone (personal) is (what) in Christ (salvation), he is (present tense) a new (kainós – qualitatively new, original and of a kind not seen before) creation (ktísis – an object brought into creation or existence by God); (defined as) old things have passed away (to pass out of use or go out of existence); behold, all things (pas – each, every, the whole, in entirety without exception) have become (gínomai – to begin to be, to come into existence after not existing) new (kainós) – 2 Corinthians 5:17.

This is a picture of true salvation.  It is a description of regeneration.  Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He imparts new spiritual life to us.  How regeneration happens is a mystery to us.  But the fact that it does is the bedrock of the assurance of our salvation.  There are many Scriptures that speak of a spiritual interaction between our spirit and the Holy Spirit.  So the question would be:  Have you had this kind of interaction with the Spirit?

Which brings us to the internal evidence of salvation.  Consider this truth:

The Spirit (emphatic) Himself (what) bears witness (summarturéō – to testify, to witness, to confirm, to provide supporting evidence) with our spirit (human spirit) that we are children of God – Romans 8:16.

Ouch.  How does that happen?  And what resulted from His confirmation?  How has that experience, Spirit to spirit, changed your life from that point until today?  And if His confirmation of your sonship hasn’t changed your life, Spirit to spirit, should it have?  In what way?  Can you see where deception could creep in?

I sure hope so, because it is a damning deception.  Join us today as we look into the truth of regeneration as we: Examine yourselves as to whether (what) you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you are disqualified – 2 Corinthians 13:5.

And nobody wants to find themselves disqualified (adókimos – fraudulent, unapproved, unworthy, spurious, worthless, corrupted).


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546:  Spiritual Preparation for the Lord’s Supper, Revisited

546: Spiritual Preparation for the Lord’s Supper, Revisited

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The Two Ordinances of the Church  

There are two ordinances the church celebrates: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Baptism is a once in a lifetime event for the believer that publicly displays their passage from death to life through the salvation offered by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is a picture of being “born again” (John 3:3, 7).  The Lord’s Supper is something different.  It is an event of self-examination and repentance that is celebrated on an ongoing basis, as often as the church desires, whether it be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or whenever they choose.

The Lord’s Supper is a reenactment of the Last Passover celebrated by Jesus and His disciples, but with one significant change.  During the Last Passover, Jesus gave deeper meaning to the wine and bread.  He said the bread represents His body that was to be “broken” for them (1 Cor. 11:24).  And the wine represents a new covenant He made with us through the shedding of His blood on the cross (1 Cor. 11:25).  Only Jesus didn’t use the word represents.  I did.  He said the bread is His body, and the wine is His blood.  And this is where the plot thickens somewhat.

“Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me” – 1 Corinthians 11:24.

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” – Mathew 26:27-28.

And the debate about the literal or symbolic use of bread and wine has continued until this day, so we won’t spend our time running down that rabbit hole.  But what we are going to look at is the meaning of what this all conveys, especially when Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:24-25), and how celebrating this feast proclaims “the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).

Which leads us to ask a few questions.

Question:  What happens at the Lord’s Supper?
Answer:  That really depends on you.

How much have you prepared to commune with the Lord today?  Do you have an expectation of meeting with Him?  And if so, how have you prepared yourself to meet with Him?  Do you realize the Lord of the Universe has invited you to come to His table?  And are you coming to His table in a “worthy manner” befitting Him (1 Cor. 11:27)?

Question:  Ok, then what is supposed to happen at the Lord’s Supper?
Answer:  Again, that really depends on you.

Jesus specifically set this time apart for us to experience an intimate communion with Him.  So it is much more than a religious sacrament.  It is actually a time for us to repent of our sins, cleanse our hearts before Him, and then partake in the sufferings (death) and blessings (resurrection) with Him.

We are to experience this union (key phrase) with Him in our soul, not just in our minds.  And the way to do that (the “how” questions) begins with your spiritual preparation and prayer.  After all, He has invited you to dine with Him at His table at His request.

The 1860 Revival of Cape Town 

For over 38 years, Andrew Murray senior, the father of the well-known pastor and devotional writer, Andrew Murray, prayed for revival to take place in the Cape Colony in South Africa.  And for 38 years, nothing.  Then, in 1860, when his son Andrew Murray was a young 32-year-old pastor of a small church, revival broke out, and everything changed.  In fact, eyewitness accounts (this one from Servaas Hofmeyr) of the revival and its aftermath describe it like this:

“Before the days of Revival, the situation of our congregation was lamentable.  Love of the world and sin; no earnestness or heartfelt desire for salvation; sinning and idleness, that was the order of the day for most.  When the Lord started to move among us, how intense were the prayers for revival and the cries for mercy!  ‘I am lost!’ cries one here.  ‘Lord, help me!’ cries another.  Anxious cries were uttered, heart rendering testimonies of conversion were heard.  Visions were seen.  Corporate prayer, even behind bushes and rocks, on mountains and in ravines, men, women, greyheads, children, gentlemen, servants all kneeling on the same ground crying for mercy.  And none of this was expected by anyone, nor prepared by anyone, nor worked up, or preached by anyone.  It was all the Spirit of God, and not for a few hours or days, but months long.”

It was a time of spiritual wonder.  In fact, a local pastor described it by saying:

“Prayer meetings were overflowing and full of fire and zeal.  Early in the morning and late at night, people would come singing to God’s house.  Repentance, renewal, rebirth, and devotion were deepened, and vision widened.  Cases of heartfelt conversion occurred daily.”

Sounds like something right out of Acts 2, doesn’t it?

So what is the point of the 1860 revival and how does it relate to the Lord’s Supper?  Simply this, in 1887 Andrew Murray wrote a book titled, The Lord’s Table:  A Help to the Right Observance of the Holy Supper.  And in this book, Andrew Murray gave clear instructions and, most importantly, heart-felt prayers that helped those who were experiencing revival in his time to spiritually prepare for the Lord’s Supper.  And by following the instructions of someone who has experienced what we are striving for, we can hope for the same results.

You can download the bookHERE.  And I would encourage you to listen to this message as we move forward in likeness to Him as we, at the same time, leave lukewarmness and apathy (Laodicea) behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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545:  You Do or Don’t Do, There is No Try

545: You Do or Don’t Do, There is No Try

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Trust Grows One Promise at a Time

Undeniably, one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life is the idea of surrender and sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2), or of fully understanding the implications of Jesus being not only our Savior, but also our Lord.  Yep, it’s that sinister, four letter word that spells disaster for most… Lord.  Recognizing the Lordship of Jesus means He is predominant over everything, including you and me, what we want to do, and when we want to do it.  And pride always seems like the last holdout of our sinful flesh to recognize His Lordship and fall under its authority.

That’s why the Lord never promises to make us better.  He promises to make us new, to be born again (John 3:16).  For there is nothing in our old life that has any place or serves any value in our new life.  Our old nature is continually at odds with our new nature and only one can reign supreme (Rom. 7:15-25).  And the process of feeding one and starving the other is what we call practical sanctification.  But we’ll dive into that topic on another day.

In order for us to allow Christ to live His life through us, we have to have a changed nature and, especially, a changed mind.  Therefore, Scripture states when we surrender our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1), God miraculously “transforms us by the renewing of our mind” (Rom. 12:2).  And our mind is renewed when we choose (our action) to live by faith and not by what we see, think, or feel.  It is faith, and only faith, that activates all the promises of God.  For without faith, His promises are simply words to us because we refuse to empower them into our lives by believing them as true, and then living like they are.

And what is faith?  Basically, it is believing without seeing (Heb. 11:1).  It is confidently trusting without question or apprehension or doubt.  But our faith cannot be in God’s promises alone.  It must also be in His character, love, integrity, faithfulness, and truthfulness.  In essence, our faith must rest in God and we must believe God is who He says He is, without wavering (Jas. 1:6).

We Must Believe What God Says is True

Since our faith in God grows incrementally or in steps (just like our faith in anything grows), we are going to look at one familiar if/then promise and see if we can trust what He says.  And we find this promise in Proverbs 3:5-6, the if/then promise of God giving us direction for our lives.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths – Proverbs 3:5-6.

First, note the conditions and the promise.  And also the qualifier for the key component, trust.

(if) Trust in the LORD (qualifier) with all your heart,
and (if) lean not on your own understanding;
(if) in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and (then) He shall direct your paths.

Do: Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
Don’t: and lean not on your own understanding;
Do: in all your ways acknowledge Him,
Promise: and He shall direct your paths.

Then, let’s see what the first segment of this truth actually says.

Trust (bāṭaḥ – to be confident, to have faith, to believe.  It expresses the feeling of safety and security that is felt when one can completely rely on someone or something else)

in the Lord (yehōwāh YHWH – the proper name for the God of Israel, the name by which He revealed Himself to Moses, He is the “I AM THAT I AM”)

I am to trust the God who is the ever-present one (Heb. 11:6), the self-existent and self-sufficient God who needs nothing and is dependent on no one.  All of creation is dependent on Him for life, purpose, and existence.  It is the name of God who sent Moses to Pharaoh with a divine mission of deliverance (Ex. 3:14).  He is the God who directed Moses’ paths back then, just as He promises to direct mine, even today.  He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  I am to trust the God Whose name is so sacred, the ancient Hebrews refused to write it unless they ritually cleansed themselves first.  And God, whose primary trait is revealed to us as holy, has chosen to make us holy in His sight.

Amazing, isn’t it?   And now, the qualifier for the word, trust.

with all (kōl – each, every, all, everything, the whole, entire, in totality, without exception)

your (personal)

heart (lēḇ – the immaterial self or the seat of one’s inner nature, such as soul, thought, understanding, knowledge, mind, will, emotions, personality, desires, volition, determination, moral character).

The word translated heart represents everything that makes you who you are, someone unique, special.

Which brings us to the crux of this message.  How can I trust Him more than I trust myself?  Or how can I trust God more than my reasoning, logic, understanding, experience, education, maturity, wisdom, feelings, sincerely held convictions, or what I know to be right and wrong or what I know works and doesn’t work for me in this world?  How is that even possible?

Join us today as we discover what happens when we take God at His Word and trust Him with all that makes us who we are, and in doing so, learn how to leave Laodicea behind.

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544:  Desire Without Effort Equals Nothing

544: Desire Without Effort Equals Nothing

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Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing

In 1974, Billy Preston, affectionally known as the fifth Beatle, had one of his major hits with the song “Nothing from Nothing,” which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in October of that year.  There was not much substance to the lyrics of his song, just a catchy phrase and an upbeat melody, but the overriding message of the title still rings true today.  If you put nothing in, you’ll get nothing out.  There is no free ride, no free lunch.  Success doesn’t just happen, it’s the result of hard work.  Nothing is ever truly free, it always costs someone, something.

Same is true in our spiritual lives.  Even the free gift of salvation cost Christ His life.  Jesus said we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, in order to follow Him (Luke 9:23).  Likewise, in the wilderness where God provided manna to feed His children for forty years, He still required them to get off their backsides and go out each morning and pick it up.  God didn’t employ Door Dash to foster their laziness.

We see God’s admonitions against the lazy and slothful throughout the Proverbs.  Let’s take this passage, for example.

The soul of a lazy man desires and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich – Proverbs 13:4.

And, as usual, we need to understand what the verse says before we can determine what it means.

The soul (nep̱eš – the inner being with its thoughts and emotions, breath, the entire person, the seat of one’s personality, their mind, will, passions, and volition, everything that makes them who they are)

of a lazy man (ʿāṣēl – sluggish, slothful, useless, someone who will always fail because of laziness that becomes moral failure, a person who is undisciplined to work or exert himself)

desires (ʾāwāh – to want strongly, to long for, to crave)

and has nothing (ʾayin – none, no, not, nothing, nonexistence, without.  Note: “he hates the process by which results are to be obtained”);

but (conjunction, contrast)

the soul (nep̱eš – the inner being with its thoughts and emotions, breath, the entire person, the seat of one’s personality, their mind, will, passions, and volition, everything that makes them who they are)

of the diligent (ḥārûṣ – sharp, industrious, a person who is characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks. Note: diligence is not satisfied with desire, but with possession)

shall be made rich (dāšēn – to be satisfied, to grow fat, having an abundance, thrive, to be made prosperous, to be richly supplied).

So what is this passage saying?  And what lessons can we take home from the life of a lazy, slothful, sluggard?

What Can We Learn from a Lazy Man?

Looking elsewhere in Proverbs, we find the lazy man will begin nothing.  He is content to live in whatever squalor his apathy and laziness provide.  He has no internal motivation to better himself other than the growl in his belly and will work only long enough to silence it for one day.  What a sad state of a human being, especially a Christian.

How long will you slumber, O sluggard? (No answer)  When will you rise from your sleep? (Again, he doesn’t know)  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man – Proverbs 6:9-11.

We also discover that, if on a wild whim, the lazy man actually begins something, he will never finish it.  Just beginning zaps all his energy and drive and whatever impulse prompted him to start, it is never enough to see the task to completion.

The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession – Proverbs 12:27.

He works to accomplish something and then lets it spoil because he is too tired or too lazy to finish what he began.

A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again – Proverbs 19:24.

And the next verse tells us the why for the lazy man’s behavior.

The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth – Proverbs 26:15.

The lazy man is full of excuses why his friends view him as a failure, or maybe a bum.  And any excuse, no matter how bizarre, seems right in his own eyes.

The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside!  I shall be slain in the streets!” – Proverbs 22:13.

And finally, the lazy man has nothing to look forward to other than a tough time.  Why?  Because he has needlessly forfeited many of the blessings belonging to him because of his unwillingness to make the effort to acquire them for himself.

The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway – Proverbs 15:19.

But note, this passage does not refer to money exclusively.  It also refers to our relationship with Him and the effort we are willing to make to grow in our faith.  After all, we put nothing in, we can expect nothing out.  We don’t show up for the game, we will not play.  It’s just that simple.  And it’s no one’s fault but our own.

Join us today and let’s discover the importance of putting in the effort spiritually to grow in our faith as we learn how to leave Laodicea behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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