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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?


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.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Seven Steps on How to Meditate on God’s Word

Seven Steps on How to Meditate on God’s Word

How to Meditate on God’s Word

Biblical Meditation is a spiritual practice that involves deeply focusing on a specific subject, text, or verse in Scripture to gain a greater understanding and personal connection to what the Lord is trying to say to us.  This practice allows us to grow closer to Him in ways we may have never discovered before.  And this spiritual practice has been used for centuries by great Christian leaders such as Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, Amy Carmichael, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So, it seems we are in very good company.

While reading is a valuable tool for gathering information and familiarizing yourself with a text, meditation goes beyond surface-level comprehension to engage with the deeper meanings and personal applications of God’s Word.  When meditating on Scripture, the goal is not merely to acquire knowledge but to internalize His teachings, allowing them to shape our character and guide our actions.

Meditating vs Reading or Studying

Meditating on Scripture differs from simply reading in several ways:

Depth of focus:  While reading, we might be tempted to quickly move from one verse or passage to another, often seeking to cover as much material as possible.  In contrast, meditation involves a more focused and deliberate approach, concentrating on a specific verse or passage to uncover all it has to say to us.

Personal application:  Reading Scripture might provide an intellectual understanding of the text, but meditation seeks to go beyond understanding to apply the teachings to our life.  This involves reflecting on how the Scripture relates to our experiences, challenges, and spiritual growth, and determining our specific actions to implement its teachings.

Prolonged engagement:  Meditation requires spending an extended amount of time with a particular verse or passage.  This may involve reading and re-reading the text, pondering its meaning, and praying for guidance and understanding.  This extended engagement allows the Scripture to take root in our heart and mind, fostering a more profound and lasting impact.

Prayerful approach:  When meditating on Scripture, prayer plays a vital role in inviting the Holy Spirit to guide our understanding and application of the text.  This prayerful approach acknowledges that true wisdom and insight come from God and deepens our connection with Him.

Seven Steps to Biblical Meditation

Here are seven practical steps to learn how to meditate on God’s Word (we will present these in outline form):

1.  Choose a Passage or Verse:  Selecting a Scripture that speaks to your heart or relates to a specific area in your life is important for focused meditation.  Here are some suggestions for choosing a passage:

a.  Follow a Bible reading plan:  Many Bible reading plans can guide you through the entire Bible or specific themes over a set period.  Following a plan can expose you to various scriptures and provide a structure for meditation.

b.  Use a devotional:  Devotionals often provide a daily or weekly scripture selection, accompanied by a brief commentary or reflection.  These can serve as an excellent starting point for your meditation.  I would suggest the classic, “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.  You can find an online version of it at

c.  Seek Scriptures related to your current situation:  If you are experiencing challenges, search for Scriptures that address those issues, such as verses on faith during times of doubt, or verses on comfort during times of grief.

d.  Select verses that align with your spiritual goals:  If you aim to grow in a specific aspect of your faith, choose Scriptures that encourage that growth, such as verses on forgiveness, love, or patience.

e.  Explore the teachings of Jesus:  The Gospels are filled with the teachings and parables of Jesus, which can provide profound insights for meditation and reflection.

2.  Pray for Guidance:  Before you begin, pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you in understanding the chosen passage.  Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “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.”  Prayer is essential when meditating on God’s Word, as it opens our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  Here are some suggestions for prayer:

a.  Begin with gratitude:  Start your prayer by thanking God for the gift of His Word and the opportunity to learn from it.

b.  Ask for understanding:  Request that the Holy Spirit grants you wisdom and discernment as you read and meditate on the chosen scripture.  Proverbs 2:6 reminds us, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

c.  Seek personal application:  Pray for guidance in applying the teachings of the scripture to your life.  James 1:22 encourages us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

d.  Pray for transformation:  Ask God to use His Word to transform your heart and mind, conforming you more closely to His image.  Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  Remember, transformation to the image of Christ is the goal of Biblical meditation, and just about everything else in your spiritual life.

3.  Read and Re-read the Passage:  Read the selected Scripture slowly and intentionally, allowing the words to sink in.  And then re-read the passage multiple times to gain a deeper understanding.  Here are some suggestions for effectively reading and re-reading the passage:

a.  Read aloud:  Reading the passage aloud can help you focus on the words and their meaning, as well as create a more immersive experience.

b.  Use different translations:  Comparing multiple translations can provide fresh perspectives and clarity on the passage’s meaning.  Consider reading the passage in a few translations other than the New King James Version (NKJV), such as the New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), or New American Standard Bible (NASB).  The Bibles listed above are all in the top ten most read in the US.

c.  Break the passage into smaller sections:  Divide the passage into smaller sections or individual verses, and focus on one section at a time, or one verse at a time.  This can help you delve deeper into the meaning of each part of the Scripture and not get overwhelmed.

d.  Notice keywords and phrases:  As you re-read the passage, take note of recurring words or phrases, as they can reveal key themes and messages.  Look for the small words, for they often pack the most meaning.

4.  Reflect and Ponder:  Consider the meaning and implications of the passage in your life.  Joshua 1:8 tells us, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.”  Note, you shall not read it day and night, but meditate in it.  There must be something to this time-honored spiritual discipline.  Here are some ways to reflect and ponder on the Scripture:

a.  Ask questions:  As you read, ask yourself questions about the passage, such as “What is the main message?” or “How does this apply to my life?”  Remember, all Scripture is given for you to grow in your faith and become the man or woman of God He intended you to be. (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  So ask questions, fully expecting God to give you the answers.  Because He will.

b.  Consider historical and cultural context:  Gaining an understanding of the passage’s historical and cultural context can help you better grasp its meaning. Consult Bible commentaries, study notes, or other resources to learn more about the context in which the Scripture was written. You can utilize the free resources online at or consider purchasing deeper Bible study tools such as

c.  Connect the passage to other Scriptures:  Look for connections to other parts of the Bible, as this can help you gain a broader understanding of the passage and its themes.  Cross-references and study notes can be helpful in identifying these connections.  A Thompson Chain-Letter Reference Bible can be an invaluable resource for doing this.

d.  Meditate on specific words or phrases:  If a particular word or phrase stands out to you, spend time meditating on its meaning and significance.  Consider how it relates to the overall message of the passage and how it might apply to your life.

5.  Write Down Your Thoughts and Discoveries:  Write down your thoughts, insights, and any questions that arise during meditation.  This will help you process and remember what you’ve learned.  Here are some suggestions for doing just that:

a.  Summarize the passage:  Write a brief summary of the chosen scripture to help solidify your understanding of its main message.  Put this in your own words.

b.  Record personal insights:  Jot down any insights, revelations, or personal connections you make during your meditation.  You may want to put these in the margins of your Bible, along with the date, so you can go back later and see how you’ve grown in your relationship with the Lord.

c.  List questions and areas for further study:  Note any questions or areas you’d like to explore further, either through personal study or with a spiritual mentor.  And then make it a priority to find the answers to your questions before moving on to another topic.

d.  Write a prayer:  Express your gratitude, requests for guidance, and commitment to applying the passage to your life through a written prayer.

6.  Apply the Scripture to Your Life:  Consider how the passage can be implemented in your daily life, and make a commitment to put it into practice.  This is where transformation takes place. Here are some ways to apply the passage:

a.  Identify specific actions:  Determine concrete actions you can take to implement the Scripture’s teachings in your life.  And then don’t let the sun go down until you have taken actions to align your life with the truths that have been revealed to you.  To quote Nike:  Just Do It!

b.  Set goals and create a plan:  Establish spiritual goals based on the passage and develop a plan to achieve them.  This may include daily habits, accountability partners, or other strategies to help you stay on track.  If you drop the ball at this point, your meditation becomes simply intellectual learning and not life transforming.

c.  Reflect on progress:  Regularly assess your progress in applying the Scripture to your life, and make adjustments as needed to stay aligned with your spiritual goals.  Do this often, even daily.

d.  Pray for perseverance:  Ask God for strength and perseverance as you strive to live out the teachings of the passage.  If you ask, He will provide.  But He does require us to ask.

7.  Share What You Have Learned (Your Transformation):  Discuss your meditation experience with a trusted friend or spiritual mentor to gain additional insights and encouragement.  And then share it with other believers in a small group setting or at church.  Be an encouragement to others as they see your determination and progress.  Here are some suggestions for sharing your insights:

a.  Join a small group or Bible study:  Engaging in regular fellowship with others who are also committed to spiritual growth can provide a supportive environment for discussing your meditation experiences.  This is one of the greatest blessings that comes from being involved in a home Bible study, separate from Sunday School or church services.  Make this a priority.

b.  Seek out a spiritual mentor:  Find a mature Christian who can provide guidance, wisdom, and encouragement as you share your insights and spiritual journey.  Remember, it is not the mature Christian’s responsibility to seek you out; it is your responsibility to seek them.  So take this to heart and make the first move by seeking them out.

c.  Share your experience with a friend:  Discussing your meditation experience with a friend can lead to deeper conversations and strengthen your relationship.  It’s always good to have someone in your corner, cheering you on as you grow closer to the Lord

d.  Testify to God’s work in your life:  Share your insights and the impact of meditating on God’s Word with your faith community, giving glory to God for the work He is doing in your life.  If they can see your transformation, which they should, they will want to know more about it.  So give God glory by telling others what He has done in your life.


In conclusion, meditating on God’s Word is an invaluable spiritual practice that allows us to draw closer to our Heavenly Father and grow in all aspects of our faith.  By intentionally and prayerfully meditating on Scripture, we can uncover deeper meanings, apply God’s truth to our lives, and experience the transformative power of His Word like never before.  And we will learn to hear His voice in the process.

I encourage each of you to make meditating on God’s Word a priority in your spiritual journey.   Set aside dedicated time each day to immerse yourself in Scripture, selecting passages and verses that resonate with your heart and speak to your current circumstances.  Engage in prayerful reflection and meditation, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide your understanding and reveal the personal applications of God’s truth.

Remember, the ultimate goal of meditating on God’s Word is not merely to gain knowledge, but to cultivate a deeper, more intimate relationship with our Creator.  As we meditate on Scripture, let us allow it to transform our hearts, renew our minds, and conform our lives to the mind and image of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).

And let us take to heart the words of Psalm 119:105, which says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  May God’s Word continually illuminate our path, guiding us in our walk with Him and equipping us to be a light in this world.  May we delight in God’s Word and meditate on it day and night, finding strength, wisdom, and encouragement in its pages.  Together, let’s embrace the life-changing power of meditating on God’s Word and experience the abundant blessings it brings to our spiritual lives.  And let’s be transformed into His likeness (Rom. 12:2).

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Why Should We Meditate on God’s Word?

Why Should We Meditate on God’s Word?

Why Should We Meditate on God’s Word?

As you know, the Bible is God’s Word and provides for us His wisdom, insight, and guidance for our lives. While reading the Bible is an essential part of our spiritual growth (along with prayer and worship), meditating on God’s Word takes our understanding to a much deeper level. Today, we will explore the advantages of meditating on God’s Word as compared to just reading it, and highlight the benefits of this spiritual discipline.

Advantages of Meditating on God’s Word

Meditating on God’s Word involves taking time to reflect, ponder, and internalize what we read in the Bible. It’s like Bible study on steroids, with no time limit. You can take as long as you want to squeeze everything out of a particular passage or truth, without feeling guilty or pressure to continue. It is not like reading, which is intellectual in nature. No, meditation is contemplative and affects the deeper part of you, the spiritual part.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for meditate, as found in Joshua 1:8, is hāg̱āh which means “to groan, growl, muse, ponder, or to reflect deeply on something.” And in the New Testament, the Greek word for meditate, taken from Philippians 4:8, is logízomai and means “to ponder, to reflect, to reason, to impute, calculate, or reckon,” which is far more involved than simply reading.

Remember, God commands us to internalize His Word by meditating on it and not by just casually reading it (Jos. 1:8). So there must be something to it. Meditating on Scripture offers us several benefits that go beyond reading alone. Let’s look at just a few.

We Gain a Deeper Understanding of God’s Word and Ourselves

First and obviously, meditation helps us to gain a deeper understanding of God’s Word. It enables us to contemplate the meaning of the text and how it applies to our lives. This, in turn, helps us to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual maturity. When we read the Bible, we are primarily focused on gathering information and knowledge. We may learn about the history of God’s people, the teachings of Jesus, and the promises of God. However, when we meditate on these same truths, we move beyond gathering information and seek to understand the meaning of the text and how it applies to our lives. We are seeking something more than history or doctrine. We are seeking transformation.

Meditation involves reflecting on the words of Scripture, even the small ones, and considering their context and significance as we seek to understand their deeper meaning. As we meditate on God’s Word, we gain insight into the character and personality of God, His plan for our lives, and His will for the future. We come to understand the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and how it impacts our lives more than we ever could by just reading. It’s like we no longer “see in a mirror dimly,” but finally “face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12). And nothing can help you experience His Word quicker than meditation.

Meditation also allows us to explore the amazing nuances of Scripture. It helps us understand how different passages relate to each other and how they all fit into the broader narrative of the Bible. For example, we may read a passage about forgiveness and understand the concept on an intellectual level. Maybe we have experienced forgiveness in our own lives. However, through meditation, we can come to understand the depth of God’s forgiveness, what it truly costs Him, and how it applies to our lives in a practical way previously unknown to us. We can almost feel the pain and joy forgiveness brings. Biblical meditation opens up the floodgates of intimacy with God in ways difficult to describe. You’ll simply have to experience it yourself.

Through meditation, we also gain a deeper insight into ourselves, our hidden sins, our unforgiveness, and our deception. As we reflect on God’s Word, we see ourselves in light of His truth and come to understand our strengths, weaknesses, and areas of growth. We may be challenged to confront our sin and seek forgiveness or to cultivate a particular virtue or character trait. Our lives are open before Him, exposed to His truth in ways that demand a change in us. And change is good, especially if it brings us closer to being like our Lord.

We Have a Deeper Desire and Ability to Memorize Scripture

The second advantage of meditating on God’s Word is that it helps us to memorize scripture. As we meditate on the text, we repeat it to ourselves and ponder its meaning, allowing it to take root in our hearts and minds. This, in turn, makes it easier to recall in times of need.

Memorizing scripture is essential for spiritual growth and is particularly helpful when facing challenges or temptations (Ps. 119:11). In times of stress or uncertainty, we may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. However, if we have stored God’s Word in our hearts and minds, we can draw on it for guidance and comfort.

For example, if we are facing a difficult financial decision, especially during these troubling times, we can recall from memory the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This verse reminds us to seek God’s will above all else and trust that He will provide for our needs, no matter how big or insurmountable they may seem. Remember, in context, when Jesus said that “all these things shall be added to you,” He is talking about everything we worry about, food, clothing, housing, how we are going to live, etc., and He gives us clear instructions on how to trust Him for everything. If you meditate on this truth, it will change the way you view the future. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself.

Similarly, if we are struggling with fear or anxiety about an uncertain future, we can recall from memory, 24/7, the familiar words of Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; (why) for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” This verse reminds us that God is with us even in the darkest times and always offers comfort and strength to His children. And this truth alone should put a smile on our face.

Furthermore, memorizing Scripture helps us to internalize God’s Word and apply it to our lives. As we store it in our hearts and minds, it becomes a part of who we are, shaping our thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. We become more like Christ, we have our mind renewed by His Word (Rom. 12:2), and we find ourselves thinking like Jesus (1 Cor. 2:16). This, in turn, leads to spiritual growth and transformation. And even if we are unaware of it, transformation is what we are looking for the most.

Meditation Leads to Transformation

Finally, meditation on God’s Word leads to transformation. As we meditate on God’s Word, we allow it to shape our thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. This leads to spiritual growth and a closer relationship with God. Through meditation, we become more like Christ, reflecting His character in our lives.

How is that done, specifically?

When we meditate on God’s Word, we are intentionally focusing on its meaning, significance, and implication for our lives. This practice of meditation leads to transformation in several ways.

First, biblical meditation allows us to understand God’s will for our lives. As we reflect on the words of Scripture, we gain insight into God’s character, His plan for salvation, and how we should live as His followers. We are challenged to confront our sin and seek forgiveness, to cultivate virtues such as love, kindness, and compassion, and to prioritize our relationship with God above all else. This understanding of God’s will leads to transformation as we align our lives with His truth and seek to follow His guidance.

Second, Biblical meditation allows us to internalize God’s Word. As we meditate on Scripture, we store it in our hearts and minds, making it a part of who we are. This internalization of God’s Word shapes our thoughts, attitudes, and behavior, leading to spiritual growth and transformation. We begin to see the world through the lens of God’s truth, and we are better equipped to make decisions and respond to challenges in a way that pleases Him.

Third, Biblical meditation leads to a closer relationship with God. Always. It’s a given. As we meditate on God’s Word, we draw closer to Him and experience His presence and guidance in a deeper way than we may have ever done before. Our hearts become aligned with His will, and we begin to reflect His character in our lives. We become more like Christ, growing in humility, love, and compassion, and reflecting His grace and truth to those around us.

This is why it is called a transformation, for that is exactly what it is. We become less. He becomes more. And the whole world will see the change we have allowed Christ, through His Word, to make in us.


Meditating on God’s Word is a powerful, time-honored spiritual practice that offers amazing benefits for our growth and spiritual transformation as followers of Christ. But it takes time. This is not a sprint, but a marathon. By taking time to reflect on the words of scripture, we deepen our understanding of God’s Word, naturally memorize key verses, and allow God’s Word to transform us from the inside out. Through meditation, we draw closer to God, experience greater peace and joy, and are better equipped to resist temptation. While reading the Bible is an essential part of our spiritual growth, meditating on it takes us deeper, transforming our hearts and minds and bringing us into a closer relationship with God.

And isn’t that what we are all striving for? To be more like Christ? So again, don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. And to help you do just that, next time I will give you some practical steps to help you meditate on His Word and reap the amazing benefits that come with it.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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The Just Shall Live By Faith… Just Like You

The Just Shall Live By Faith… Just Like You

What Does it Mean to Live by Faith?

As we strive to become more of a faith prepper, we know the most important thing we can do is learn to live by faith, and not just give faith lip service.  After all, the single verse that changed Martin Luther’s life and led to the Reformation was Romans 1:17, which states, “The just shall live by faith.”  We focus on the “just’ and “faith” aspect of this passage.  But what about “live”?  How do we “live by faith”?

The answer is simple.  To live by faith, we have to trust our Lord in everything, in every aspect of our life, and not just in the areas we can’t seem to take care of ourselves.  God is not our co-pilot or a genie in a bottle.  We have to accept and live as if we truly believe what the Lord says about His Word and our relationship with Him.  And when we begin to understand that relationship, from a Biblical perspective, we may find ourselves surprised at how much we have missed the mark and fallen for something our pride demands and not what the Word reveals.

Let me give you one example (we’ll look at more in the days to come).

Crucified with Christ

One of the hallmark truths of the Higher Christian Life is found in Galatians 2:20. This powerful verse says:

“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.”

I know you are probably familiar with this passage and may have memorized it at Vacation Bible School many years ago.  But often familiarity breeds contempt.  And many times we fail to understand a passage because we already think we know what it says and have become comfortable with our own interpretation.  This verse is no exception.  But what does it actually say?  And what does it mean?

Clearly, Galatians 2:20 states we have been (past tense) “crucified with Christ” and have experienced, at least spiritually, the death of our flesh.  He died and, therefore, we died with Him.  And He rose again and, therefore, we are “born again” (John 3:3).  This is not a new truth.  In fact, we affirm this every time we baptize someone.  Remember what is spoken?  They talk about being dead and buried with Christ (as the person is submerged into the water), and then raised to a newness of life in Him (as they are brought back up).  The imagery is of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ that is now applied to us as we are “born again” in His image.  Do you see Galatians 2:20 portrayed in this?

But it goes on and addresses the practical side of salvation.  Since we have been “crucified with Christ” we now no longer have a life of our own, but it belongs to Christ who now lives in us.  Read it carefully.  Slowly.  And let each word speak truth about our dependent relationship with Him.

“I have been crucified with Christ; (therefore) it is no longer I who live, (so who now lives in my place?) but Christ lives in me.”

Or, as Colossians 3:3 says so emphatically, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  This is the perfect description of what it means to be “in Christ,” which is a phrase used in the New Testament over 85 times, so it must be an important concept for us to understand.

Christ Lives in Me

So I have died with Him, or I am now identified with His death.  This is a vital concept to grasp in understanding the breadth of our salvation.  And since I have died, like He died, the living part of me does not live for its own glory or purpose or benefit.  No, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”  The breath I take, the thoughts I think, the decisions I make, the essence of who I am in my own eyes has now died in order for a greater good to redeem and take control of what I once was.

It is called the Great Exchange.  I give all that I am (broken, sinful, plagued by pride and selfishness, and unable to stand in the presence of a holy God because of my iniquity, unrighteousness, and lack of holiness), and I receive by grace, as an underserved gift, all that Christ is (holy, blameless, perfect, complete, and righteous).  And now, because of this exchange and His death on the cross, which paid the penalty for my sins, I no longer fear God, but have bold access to His throne (Heb. 4:16), where I find grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness, and where God no longer holds my sins against me because when He sees me, He no longer sees my unrighteousness, but the imputed righteousness of His Son given to me (2 Cor. 5:21).  When God sees me, He sees His Son.

Does it get any better than this?  I think not.

But the conditions of this Great Exchange are determined by God and they are, like most things with Him, all or nothing.  God does not promise to make us better.  He promises to put us to death and then raise us up in the image of His Son.  Let that sink in for a moment.  There is nothing in our life God wants to upload into the new creation He makes in us (2 Cor. 5:17).  Nothing.  He starts with a clean slate, a fresh beginning.  Therefore, our flesh, and all that word entails, must be put to death in order for Christ to live His life in us.  Light and darkness cannot co-exist.  Why?  Because darkness hates the light, for light exposes its evil deeds (John 3:19-21).

The more we die to ourselves, the more He lives in us.  And the more we hold on to what we want or what our flesh craves, the more we grieve the spirit (Eph. 4:30) and live a life of spiritual defeat, shame, and lukewarmness (Rev. 3:16).  And there is no victory in living a life of compromise, of hedging our bet, of having a Plan B, or a lack of commitment.  Heroes are not made by compromise, but by total abandonment to something greater than themselves.  And for us, that something is Christ.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

So how does this play out in real life?  Just like it plays out in every aspect of life, by faith and commitment.  Or, as Yoda said, “You do, or you don’t do, there is no try.”  Victory is all or nothing.  In or out.  Hot or cold, with nothing in between.  That is the only way to experience victory in our spiritual life.

Let’s close by looking at the practical side of Galatians 2:20.

“and the life which I now live in the flesh (after I have been crucified with Christ and He now lives in me) I live (how) by faith in (what) the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

There is really not much more to add to what this truth already says.  The life we live now, today, in the flesh, we live by faith (trust, confidence, assurance) in Christ, the Son of God.  Not faith in our ability to will ourselves, by sheer determination, to do good things.  Not faith in the innate goodness in our hearts, no matter what Disney might say (Jer. 17:9).  And not faith that God will judge on a sliding scale and measure our good stuff against our bad stuff and be pleased that His child scored a C- on our final report card.  As if He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us barely pass.

No.  It is faith in Christ Jesus, the Son of God.  It is faith in His promises that all (that’s you and me) who the Father gives Him will come to Him (John 6:37), and that no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28-29).  It’s faith in the character of God.  That He is longsuffering, loving, patient and kind, and not willing for any to perish, but all to come to repentance and eternal life (2 Pet. 3:9).  And faith in His Word, that it means what it says and our life should line up to its truth, and not what we conceive in our minds or what we want it to say.

And this faith cannot be in words only or simply mental assent to this truth.  Faith must be acted upon.  It must be exercised and lived out in real-time.  And it has to be tested to grow strong.  But God has not left us alone, as orphans, to live this life of faith (John 14:18).  No, He has given us Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit, to live the life of Christ in us.  And we will explore the Spirit’s role in our life of faith next.  So stay tuned.

Remember, “the just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17).   And so can you.

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What it Means to Surrender Your Life and Will to the Lord

What it Means to Surrender Your Life and Will to the Lord

What Does it Mean to Surrender to Him?

To totally surrender to the Lord means to surrender your entire self, including your thoughts, desires, and actions, to God by recognizing and acknowledging His sovereignty and trusting in His plan for your life.  It involves letting go of control and submitting to God’s will, as well as striving to daily live in obedience to His teachings and commands.  And make no mistake, it is a very hard thing to do and can only be done by faith.

After all, it takes faith to truly surrender to God and accept that He knows what’s best for you and has your best interests at heart.  Therefore, surrendering means you must let go of all doubts, anxieties, and fears in order to trust Him fully.  And that, for many, is a difficult thing to do.  It requires you to put aside your ego and pride (which is difficult), and to trust in God that you cannot see or fully understand (which is even more difficult).

That is why total surrender is an act of faith.  It requires humility and understanding that God is sovereign— He creates, sustains, and ultimately controls all things, even you. This means that no matter how bad things seem, you know God will not abandon you during your trials (Heb. 13:5), and He will always be with you, no matter what (Matt. 28:20).  All you have to do is cry out for His help and strength, and He will give you the courage, hope, and grace you need, even in your darkest hour (Heb. 4:16).

In Scripture, Jesus often speaks about the need for complete surrender to His will.  When He says “Abide in me,” (John 15:4), Jesus is showing how you need to stay close to Him, connected to Him, by trusting His plan for your life as if you had no control over any of it whatsoever.  You are called not only to accept, but also embrace and delight in Him as your Lord and Savior; otherwise, nothing else matters, not even your own desires or ambitions.

Totally surrendering means tuning out the world’s voice (and your voice) and instead choosing to listen intently only to what God whispers within you— then choosing, often minute by minute, to live in obedience according to His commands.  His voice may call you toward what seems like darkness or difficulties, but it will eventually lead you towards everlasting light.  The journey itself might feel difficult at times, but when you rely on Him completely, knowing everything will turn out for your good in the end no matter how hard it gets along the way (Rom. 8:28)— that is true faith, inspired by the courage of Christ Himself, which proves invaluable when facing hardships like He did.

To surrender your life and will is to turn away from the world and its temptations, and instead focus on living a life full of faith in Jesus Christ.  It involves trusting that God has a plan for you that may not be immediately clear, but is ultimately for your best.

When you are willing to fully surrender your life and will to Him, you must come before God with an open heart and mind.  You must acknowledge that He knows more than you do; that His wisdom is greater than yours; and that His commands are above all else. This requires humility and a deep understanding of how much God loves you, even when His commands seem difficult or counter-intuitive.  You must also take time to quiet yourself before Him so that you can recognize the Holy Spirit’s promptings within you, which will guide you toward living out His will in the most meaningful way imaginable (Eph. 3:20-21).

How Can I Surrender My Life to Him?

Surrendering your life to Jesus means making Him the priority in all areas of your life.  This may seem daunting, but there are many practical ways you can cultivate this priority in your day-to-day routine.

First, establish a regular prayer and devotional time that is specifically set aside for speaking with God, studying His Word, and reflecting on His promises.  As you commit to spending intentional time in the presence of the Lord each day, you will grow more aware of how He wants you to live out your faith in every area of your life.  And you will learn to hear His voice.

Second, seek counsel from others who are further along the journey of surrender than you are. When you’re struggling with something and feel overwhelmed by your circumstances, it’s helpful to talk to someone who has already gone through what you’re experiencing.  Consider connecting with mentors for advice or join a Bible study group. This will provide an additional source of strength as you learn from those who have been down similar roads before you.  After all, there are no bragging rights for making the same mistake someone else did.  So learn from the victories and mistakes of others.

Third, put into practice what Jesus has taught you— even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable to do so. While it may be convenient to ignore some inconvenient truths laid out in Scripture, true surrender requires you to take up your cross daily and live according to His commands (Luke 9:23).  You must also be willing to practice love towards others even when they hurt you— as Jesus did when He was crucified for you on the cross— and serve selflessly with no expectation of reward or recognition here on earth (Matt. 5:44).

Fourth, you need to evaluate the content of your entertainment.  We all have down time where we relax and watch TV or scroll through our phones, but it’s important to make sure you’re not allowing the media to shape your mind in ways contrary to God’s will.  Instead, use that time to read books or listen to messages that challenge your faith and spur you on in living a life wholly surrendered to Jesus (Heb. 10:24).

Fifth, choose people who are also pursuing surrendering their lives to Jesus as companions and mentors.  Having a supportive group of like-minded individuals around you can help you stay focused on what truly matters— living a life devoted entirely to your Lord (Rom. 12:1-2).

Sixth, engage in consistent ministry and spiritual activities, such as serving those who are less fortunate than you and getting involved in local church initiatives.  As you put others first, just as Jesus did, you get a glimpse of how He wants you to live out your faith each day.  And this shows you that when you put Him first, He will take care of everything else (Matt. 6:33).

Seventh, be honest with God and practice personal confession.  You can’t expect to be surrendered to Jesus when you’re not willing to take responsibility for your shortcomings. When you confess your sins and admit the times you have fallen short, it allows you to forgive yourself and receive forgiveness and healing from God (1 John 1:9).

Finally, give thanks in all things.  When you make Jesus your priority, it becomes easier to recognize the blessings He has given you even in difficult times. This awareness helps you stay grounded in gratitude, which leads you closer in relationship with Him every day (Col. 4:2).

A life committed wholly to Jesus requires commitment because true discipleship follows none other than Him completely.  Ultimately, when you choose to surrender to God by turning away from distractions and submitting your entire life into Christ’s care, you are naturally reminded daily that Jesus is worth more than anything else you could ever desire or achieve.  And as long as you keep Him at the center of all things, nothing will stand in your way when striving for complete surrender.

So why don’t you surrender your life to Him now?

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Repentance or Remorse, Heaven or Hell

Repentance or Remorse, Heaven or Hell

They are Not the Same Thing

Last Sunday in church we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and focused on the need we have for self-examination.  I know what you’re thinking, self-examination and the Lord’s Supper don’t seem to go together— at least not in my prior church experience.

I remember all my formative years in a Southern Baptist church and how the Lord’s Supper seemed like just another religious ritual, full of pomp and fluff and feel-good stuff, always heavy on form and light on substance.  There was a great emphasis, an overriding emphasis, on the service looking good and proper from the pews and not necessarily impacting the heart.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about… the deacons standing in military formation, the white linen sheets that covered the “remembrance” table, the solemn looks on the faces of the participants— nobody talking, nobody moving, nobody breathing.

Remember?  Then the elements were passed out as quickly as possible while the organ, or piano, or keyboard, or CD player filled the sanctuary with Christian-like instrumental background music.  Religious Muzak.

We took the bread (uh, actually it was more like a cardboard dough droplet) and the grape juice and followed, on cue, the preacher as he told us when to eat and when to drink and when to pray and when to go home.  When he raised his plastic 1/4 of a shot glass of grape juice, so did we.  When he put the dough droplet in his mouth and looked down in his best “this is a serious moment” preacher posture, we did the same.  When he closed his eyes and prayed, we closed our eyes and prayed as well.

“Great.  All done.  Now we’ve celebrated the Lord’s death until He returns.  Can’t wait until next time.  Let’s hit the road!”

But for me, something was missing, something was conspicuously absent—  almost by design—  and it left me hungry and longing for more.  It was like I was only privy to half the truth about the Lord’s Supper and what it all meant.

Looking back, every preacher I ever sat under would read the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 in their best James Earl Jones baritone voice as they began the ceremony.  They would say:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood ; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Got it.  But once I became a preacher, I continued reading:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.  But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.  For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

Oh, I see.  This paints a completely different picture altogether.  The proverbial “horse of a different color.”

It seems that one of the reasons for the Lord’s Supper is for each of us to take time and draw a line in the sand, as they say, and examine ourselves to make sure we are not taking this Supper in, as Paul puts it, an “unworthy manner.”  And if we do, Scripture says we will bring judgment upon ourselves like many did in the early church, where they became sick and some actually died.

“So this is serious business and not just some lame religious formality.”  Uh, hello.

In our church, I actually try to discourage people from participating in the Lord’s Supper unless they have first thoroughly examined themselves, repented of any known sins, reconciled any fractured relationships, forgiven any unforgivable person, “climb every mountain and ford every stream,” and agreed willingly to obey the Lord in any area of their lives they had previously shaken their fist in His face and defiantly told Him, “No Way, Jose!”  Only after a time of intense self-examination do we ask our people to come and partake of this ordinance with a clean and pure heart and in a “worthy” manner.

Repentance or Remorse

This Sunday, the “unworthy” area we specifically focused on was that of true repentance or simply heart-felt remorse.  How important is the distinction between the two?  It’s essential, vital— one of the non-negotiable of the Christian faith.  One leads to life and the other to death.  One is a a small, hand-painted, inconspicuous sign pointing to the turnstile that leads to eternal life and the other is a bright, flashing, neon sign boldly beckoning all to take the wide path of destruction. (Matt 7:13-14)

“Don’t you think that maybe you’re making a bit too much of this?” I don’t think so.

Consider the definition of repentance.  The root meaning of to repent (Gk: metanoeo) is “to think differently” or “to reconsider.”  Virtually all Greek lexicons agree that to metaneois means “to reconsider” or, as we commonly used it today, “to change one’s mind.” *  But don’t make the mistake of thinking that true repentance is simply mental gymnastics.  No, true repentance involves not only the cognitive change in our way of thinking about sin, but also the will and volition to have our lives changed by Christ to bear more of His fruit and to conform more to His likeness.

Plus, it’s a key, essential, do-or-die element in salvation.  Without repentance and faith, there is no eternal life, no matter what Joel Osteen tells you.  Take a look at the following few Scriptures and note that repentance is more than thinking differently about sin, it is actually changing one’s behavior.

We’ll begin in the Old Testament:

2 Chronicles 7:14
“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and (what) turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Note, not just “changing one’s mind about sin” but “turning from their wicked ways.”

Isaiah 1:15-17
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are covered with blood.  Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.  Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

Again note, there is action involved, the “fruits in keeping with repentance” that John the Baptist and others talked about. (Luke 3:7-8 and Acts 26:19-20)

Isaiah 55:6-7
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked (what) forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

Forsaking sin and seeking God is the repentance and faith of salvation.

Plus, in the New Testament, repentance was the cornerstone of the preaching of Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul and the early church.  And it always involved more than just feeling sorry for your sins. “Oh, you poor, poor, lil’ sinner.”

Let’s just look at the message preached by our Lord:

Luke 5:30-32
The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”  And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to (what) repentance.”

Mark 1:1-15
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 3:3
And he (Jesus) came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Even in the Great Commission, Jesus connects repentance and faith as the message to be proclaimed to the entire world.

Luke 24:44-48
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.”

In summary, repentance is a change of mind or attitude toward sin, one’s own sin in particular. It includes remorse (sorrow, grief) and also a sincere desire to be rid of it (the kind David expresses in Psalm 51), as well as a determination to forsake sin and walk before God (see Acts 14:15). *

But What About Remorse?

Great question.  What about remorse?  Isn’t feeling sorrow or guilt or shame for your sin enough?  After all, isn’t changing one’s mind about sin and feeling bad about it what repentance is all about?

Answer.  Not even close.  This is the well-traveled, wide path that leads to destruction our Lord talked about in His Sermon on the Mount.  Let me elaborate.

Like God, we are also triune in nature— spirit, body and soul.  We are, in fact, a spirit created in the image of God.  We, as a spirit, live in a body that allows us to interact with the physical environment that surrounds us.  And we possess a soul, which is the center of our mind (intellect), emotion (feelings), will (choice), and conscience (moral capacity).  It is in our soul that we choose to “walk according to the flesh or according to the spirit” (Gal. 5:16).  It is our soul that chooses, like Mary, to magnify the Lord (Luke 1:46) and it is our soul that is often troubled, weary and in need of refreshing or restoration by the Lord (Psalm 23:3).

It is also in our soul that true remorse for sin is felt and, if genuine, becomes redeeming repentance.  But, it is also in the soul that remorse can remain remorse and never bring changes in the actions and attitudes of the person that the Scripture refers to as “fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:7-8).

When a person is under the conviction of the Word by the Holy Spirit, all aspects of the soul are brought into play.  The mind (intellect) must understand the message preached, the standard of God, compared to the fallen life of man.  This understanding brings with it emotion (sorrow, remorse, shame, guilt) for the sin we have committed and the need for forgiveness.  If true repentance follows, then the will (choice, volition) will move to commit to a new way of living, to get rid of the sin and unrighteousness and replace it with righteousness.  In other words, to live a holy life like Christ commands us to.

For repentance to take place, all three— mind, emotion and will— must be active in the life of the repentant sinner.  If only the first two occur, mind and emotion, then the end result is not repentance, but remorse, and salvation does not take place.  Again, we are back on the Yellow Brick Road, leading to death and destruction.

Let me give you a couple of examples from Scripture.

Repentance Example: Acts 2

Peter preaches his incredibly bold and confrontational sermon to a great crowd gathered on the day of Pentecost.  He challenges and accuses them of the murder of Jesus, God’s own Son (Acts 2:22-24). He then appeals to their mind by asserting facts about Jesus:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain (mind) that God has made Him both Lord and Christ— this Jesus who you crucified.” (Act 2:36)

And what was the result?  They were grieved, guilt-ridden, pained, and in great remorse.  So much so they asked Peter and the others what they must to do alleviate the pain of their guilt, shame and sorrow.  Remember?

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart (guilt, remorse, sorrow), and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what must we do?” (Acts 2:37)

Now this is where we separate the truly repentant from those who are only sorry for their sin.  Peter replies to them:

Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:39.

And some did.  And some didn’t.

In fact, the account tells us a couple of verses later that “3,000 souls” were added to the church that day.  Just 3,000.  Of the great multitude that heard Peter’s message and called out with the others in the pain of their guilt and remorse, “Brethren, what must we do?”— 3,000 chose to respond (will and volition) with repentance and follow in baptism while the others fixated at remorse only and chose not to respond to Peter’s call.

When the soul understand the message (mind, intellect – Step One) and the emotions bring guilt, sorrow and remorse (feelings – Step Two), the individual stands at a crossroads.  How am I to get rid of these unpleasant feelings of guilt, remorse and sorrow for my sin?  I can repent of them and ask the Lord to forgive me, vowing never to commit them again (will, volition – Step Three).  Or, I can walk away and drown them out in drink, food, sex, drugs, entertainment or whatever poison you use to numb your conscience. One path leads to life and one path leads to death.

Remorse Example: Judas, Rich Young Ruler

The Scriptures also show us examples of those who stopped, dug in their heels, and fixated at Step Two – Remorse.  Remember Judas?  He felt remorse for betraying Jesus and returned the 30 pieces of sliver to, in some sort of perverted way, try to remove the pain of his guilt.  “I have sinned (mind and intellect) and betrayed innocent blood!” he cried (Matthew 27:4).  He returned the silver and went out and committed suicide to rid himself of the pain of remorse.  Did he repent?  Scripture says, no.

The following Scripture flow will help illustrate this point:


Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned… (Matthew 27:3a)

Emotion (Remorse):

he felt (what) remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3b-5).

Act of the Will (Volition) – Fruits of Repentance:  None

The Rich Young Ruler fell into the same trap.


And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”  The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” (Matthew 19:16, 20).

Emotion (Remorse):

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. (Matthew 19:20-21)

Act of the Will (Volition) Fruits of Repentance:  None

Same thing with King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:24-25.

* (Systematic Theology, Geisler, Vol. 3, page 512, Bethany House, 2004. Minneapolis, MN.)
* Cottrell, Jack. The Faith Once for All. Joplin, Mo.: College Press Publishing Company, 2002.)
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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 313 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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555:  Are You Going to Church or Being the Church?

555: Are You Going to Church or Being the Church?

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What is Church?

This is a question we should ask ourselves each time we trek off to a worship service on Sunday mornings.  What is church or what is church supposed to look like?  Is church a building?  Or is it something more?  Is it something we do or something we become?  And if church is something we do, how do we do it?  How do we “do” church?  But if church is something we become, then how do we become the church and what takes place in us to become His church?  Whew.  See the problem with simple words and changing definitions?

From a doctrinal standpoint, the church is defined as “the community of all true believers for all time.”  So, the term “church” is used to apply to all those (people) whom Christ died to redeem, all those (people) saved by the death of Christ, past, present, and future.  It encompasses both the local church and the universal church (which is a topic we will address at a later time).

But note, there is no mention of a building, denomination, or tax-exempt entity.

In Scripture, the Greek word for “church” is ekklēsía and means “a called-out people, an assembly of those called by Christ into the fellowship of His salvation, a gathering or assembly of the redeemed.”

And once again, it has nothing to do with a building or a plot of real estate, a denomination or group of religious congregations, or a 501c3 organization.  It is a specific, called, and redeemed group of, get this, people.  Church is people.

In the New Testament, the word ekklēsía is used 118 times, and translates as “church” 115 of those times and “assembly” 3 other times.  The Scriptures are very clear about how the “church” (assembly of redeemed people) are to worship the Lord when they come together collectively on the Lord’s Day.  And it looks nothing like what we do today.

Ouch.  So why the disconnect between the church we see in the book of Acts and what we observe every Sunday?  Who dropped the ball or who changed the rules in the middle of the game?   I think you’ll be shocked when you find the answers to these questions.

And Why Do We Do the Things We Do on Sunday?

Let me present just a few truths about church, both Biblically and how we understand them today.  First, Christ is the one who grants membership into His church through salvation and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14).  We don’t grant anything.

Holy Spirit = Salvation
No Holy Spirit = No Salvation

It is really just that simple.

And two, Christ is the One, the only One, who is charged with building His church (Matt. 16:18).  Our job is to make disciples of those He redeems (Matt. 28:18-20).  But sometimes we get the two mixed up.  We think it’s our duty to build His church with our slick marketing schemes, flashing lights and smoke machines, mini-rock concerts passed off as worship, and sanitized TED Talks taking the place of sermons.  But it’s not.  Our job is to mature those He brings to Himself by helping them become more like Christ.

Finally, since Christ builds His church and not us, then He is the one who makes all the rules about how His church is to function, including worship, prayer, ministry, songs, and just about everything else you can think of.  Remember, He is God and we are not.

Which raises an intriguing question:

Question: So, if Christ redeems His church and then commands us to meet together in community as the called-out ones to worship Him, does He give us any guidelines as to what that is supposed to look like?

Answer:  Absolutely.  But it looks very little like what we have been doing as believers since… forever.  And much of that has to do with our reluctance to be His church rather than attend His church.  One is active, the other passive.

But what happens when a group of believers understands their place in His grand plan and becomes the church as an active participant and not as a casual observer?   And what happens when these believers fully accept the truth of the priesthood of all believers?  What would church look like then?

If you are intrigued or are not familiar with the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, then join us as we unpack this glorious truth together.

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554:  Solomon’s Life: “Stupid Is as Stupid Does”

554: Solomon’s Life: “Stupid Is as Stupid Does”

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Don’t Fall in the Same Hole Twice

In the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, once the wisest man who ever lived, tells us how he really feels about life.  He says, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2).  Or, all of life is meaningless, useless, pointless, of no real value, and a colossal waste of time.  And so is everything a man does or builds while he lives his life on earth.  Solomon continues, “What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” (Eccl. 2:3).  Really?  Sounds a bit selfish and narcissistic to me.  How about you?

But it gets worse for Solomon by the time we get to chapter two.

In chapter two, Solomon tries to find his purpose, not in serving the Lord as he did when he was a young man, but in gratifying his flesh in every way imaginable, making all of life about him.  And he knew his plan of trying to find the meaning of life in fleshly pleasure would lead to nothing, yet he continued anyway.  Why?  Maybe, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity (meaningless, pointless, futile, of no lasting value).  I said of laughter—”Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” – Ecclesiastes 2:1-2.

But Solomon continued on this road to destruction anyway.  Why?  Especially when he was once the wisest man who ever lived.  My, how the mighty have fallen.

Whatever (kōl) my eyes desired (strong desire, lust) I did not keep from them.  I did not withhold my heart from any (kōl) pleasure (sensory, fleshly, the experience of pleasure), for my heart rejoiced in all my labor (trouble, toil, sorrow, painful work, the hardships of life); and this (the experience of sensory, fleshly pleasure) was my reward from all my labor (trouble, toil, sorrow, painful work, the hardships of life) – Ecclesiastes 2:10.

Solomon practiced zero self restraint.  He had no discernment of good or evil desires.  Solomon did not refuse himself anything.  He embraced unhindered lusts.  And what resulted from Solomon’s plunge into self-absorbed sin?

Then I looked (contemplated, considered) on all the works that my hands had done (what I had created, built, composed, produced, accomplished through effort) and on the labor (trouble, toil, sorrow, painful work, the hardships of life) in which I had toiled (to exert oneself, to work hard); and indeed all (work, toil, labor, pleasure, fulfilling lusts, etc.) was vanity (emptiness, meaningless, pointless, weariness, having no value or significance, futile, transitory, breath or vapor) and grasping for the wind.  There was no profit (benefit, advantage, gain) under the sun (living life on the earth) – Ecclesiastes 2:11.

Uh, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

It’s Not Too Late to Turn Around, Solomon

When you read the rest of this chapter, you will begin to experience the depth of Solomon’s despair.  He is running, as fast and far as his legs will carry him, away from the God of his youth, towards something that crumbles over time.  He is exchanging the glory of the Lord for a mirage, an image of happiness that is only a vapor.  And Solomon knows this, yet he continues to run anyway.

Let’s see what we can learn from watching Solomon implode.

Note, it has been a long time since Solomon has had an intimate relationship with His Lord.  He, like many of us, has tried to fill the void in his life with sensual pleasure, wealth, entertainment, and becoming a workaholic, hoping to once again feel what he did when God was close.  So, it is not surprising he comes to a carnal, fleshly conclusion about the meaning of life and then tries to justify it by saying God ordained it for him.

Sin has an amazing ability to make armchair prophets and theologians of those who are trying to justify their carnality, just like Solomon.  This is not the wisdom of God, but the wisdom of man.  It is nothing more than justifying the lusts of the flesh.

And the lessons from Solomon’s life?  Simply this: Don’t be like Solomon.  Be like Christ.  And leave, as fast as you can, the lukewarm spiritual life of Laodicea far behind.

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553:  Don’t be Like King Solomon, Choose Wisely

553: Don’t be Like King Solomon, Choose Wisely

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Everyone Has to Choose Between Right and Wrong

In the Christian life, God makes it pretty simple for His children to follow Him by offering them only two choices, and two outcomes.  These two choices, however, are portrayed in several different ways in Scripture.  For example, there is the choice between light and darkness, life and death, good fruit or bad fruit, the wide road or the narrow path, walking by the Spirit or by the flesh, having faith or doubt, the blessings or curses, boldness or fear, embracing truth or deception, and many other mutually exclusive examples of God’s way or the ways of man.

But essentially, they all boil down to the choice of obedience or disobedience.  And there is never a third option, no middle ground.  You are either all in or all out.  Right or wrong, with nothing in between.  Yet we all must make a similar choice in our lives.

Solomon is a chilling example of someone who chose wisely in his youth and then made disastrous choices as he got older.  He did not grow wiser with age.  When he was young, Solomon chose the wisdom of God and His intimacy over wealth, popularity, and the fleeting pleasures of sin.  But when he got older, he forgot God and followed his own heart and the wisdom of this fallen age and lost the most important things in his life… faith, purpose, and meaning.

So by the time we get to the second chapter of Ecclesiastes, we see Solomon frantically striving to find what he had forsaken, namely happiness, purpose, and meaning in his life outside of his broken relationship with the Lord, which he knew couldn’t be done.  You cannot satisfy a spiritual longing by indulging the flesh.  But, as a stubborn man like many of us, Solomon tried anyway, repeatedly.  He gave it his best shot, and each time came up empty.

Don’t Be Like Solomon, Choose Wisely

We can see the fallacy in his logic from the start.  He knows what he is about to do will lead to nothing (vanity), yet he does it just the same.

And I (his action) set my heart (lēḇ) to know (yāḏaʿ) wisdom and to know (yāḏaʿ) madness (delusion, to try anything and everything just to know the outcome, being rash and foolish to an extreme degree) and folly (foolishness, a life devoid of wisdom, understanding, prudence, self restraint).  I perceived (yāḏaʿ) that this also (among other things) is grasping for the wind – Ecclesiastes 1:17.

After determining the pursuit of wisdom was also meaningless and provided no lasting satisfaction, Solomon now goes in the opposite direction and embarks on a course of sensual pleasure to find happiness and contentment.  It was as if Solomon put his hands over his ears and filled his life with such fleshly pleasure, hoping it could drown the inner cry of his soul.  Guess how that journey turned out?

I said in my heart (lēḇ), “Come now, I will (my action) test (try, prove, to determine the true nature of something) you with mirth (the experience and manifestation of joy and gladness); therefore (conclusion) enjoy pleasure”; but surely (behold), this also was vanity (meaningless, having no value, futile, pointless, empty, like a vapor) – Ecclesiastes 2:1.

Uh, just a few questions, if I may.  If it was vanity, why did you continue in it?  Why not cut your losses and move on to something else?  Why did you continue in something you knew wouldn’t work?  Why did you not run back to your relationship with God and forget the meaningless lust of your flesh?  Why did you have to learn the same lesson over and over again?  That doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.  Does it to you?

But this is only the beginning of Solomon’s woes.  And I believe you will find, unfortunately, that you will relate to many of the ways Solomon tried to find satisfaction in life by gratifying the flesh, only to come up dry, empty, and depressed.  I know I sure have.  But his life can be a prime example of what not to do, or how to choose wisely (and not like Solomon).

So let me invite you to join us as we learn what to do, by not doing what the once wisest man who ever lived did.  Let’s learn from his mistakes so we won’t have to make them ourselves, shall we?

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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