418 - What Happens When Our Prayers Go Unanswered

September 18, 2017

Some of the hardest questions in the Christian life have to do with God not answering our prayers— no matter how much we pray or how much faith we can collectively muster.  Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?  Why didn’t God do what I prayed He would do?  Why doesn’t God love me?  Because if He did, He would not have let happen what happened?  Where was God during my time of deepest need?  I prayed to God for ________ and it did not happen.

Which inevitably leads us to ask this:  Why God?  Is the problem with me?  Am I not doing enough to get my prayers answered?  Or is the problem with You?  Are You showing favorites and am I on the bottom of Your list?  What's the problem?  Help me understand this, God, because this is hurtful and doesn't make any sense.

You're Right, It Doesn't Make Much Sense

And the reason for that is our reliance on Cliff Note theology.  We grab a few Scriptures, usually out of context, and hold on to them like a life preserver vainly trying to get them to say something they don't.  Consider these:

1 John 5:14-15 - Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Did you notice something?  The key, according to this verse, is praying "according to His will."  When that happens, badda bing, badda boom, prayers get answered.  But when we ask for something not according to the will of God, all bets are off.  The answer will be, "Not today, not ever."

Matthew 18:19 - “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven."

First, this statement by our Lord has nothing to do with prayer, but with dealing with a sinning believer.  And even if it did give us a prescription for prayer, can two people agree for world peace and the end of all wars, and it be a guarantee from the Lord?  I think not.  Why?  Because God has already revealed to us that in the future we "will hear of wars and rumors of wars" (Matt. 24:6).  God has already spoken prophetic truth to us and won't violate His Word because of our prayers.

Do you want to know the reason God often doesn't answer our prayers?  Because the reason will change the way you look at God and prayer from this point forward.  If you want to know more, then keep listening.

The following is a study on prayer.

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416 - The Church in a Bad Marriage

August 25, 2017

The word Pergamos comes from a combination of two Greek words that mean "mixed, objectionable" and "marriage."  Pergamos therefore means a "mixed marriage" that is "objectionable" to God.  Prophetically, it represents the marriage of the church and state where the state elevates the church to a place of acceptance or political correctness at the expense of the church’s devotion to God.

Look at what the Lord had to say about this church:

"But I have a few things against you, because you have there (in the church) those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those (in the church) who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate" - Revelation 2:14-15.

The Sin of Compromise

The church, although commended by Christ for the fact they have not denied His name under severe trials and suffering (Rev. 2:13), nevertheless dropped the ball and allowed those into the church who were heretics and sought to drive the believers away from God and into sin.  And the church did nothing about it.  Why?  Because, like the church of today, they allowed themselves to compromise with the world and allow all sorts of worldliness into His church.  And they also showed a glaring lack of discernment and church discipline.

Sadly, the same can be said of the church today.  Which raises a couple of questions:

How should we, as His church, respond to compromise and worldliness in the church?
What can we do as a congregation to foster a spirit of holiness in our time together?
What can you, as a member of His body, do to present yourself before Him spotless?
What areas of your life need to be addressed?
And what are you prepared to do about it?

The following is a study on Jesus' letter to the church at Pergamos, Revelation 2:12-17.

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415 - The Curse of God’s Abandonment

August 24, 2017

There's a time when the Lord gives us what we want: freedom, autonomy, independence, and to have no authority over our lives but ourselves.  That's right.  God gives us over to our selfish, carnal attitudes and allows us to experience the consequences of our sins.  It's like He says, "Ok, you want to go your own way?  Have at it.  I'll be here when you come to your senses."  It's the story of the prodigal son played out in our lives in real time.

This is called the curse of God's abandonment.  It's when He removes His protecting grace from our lives and our nation and let's us see how we like life without Him.  And the results are catastrophic.

Samson, after having his hair cut by Delilah, woke up to confront his enemies still believing he had the same strength as before because his God was with him.  But that was not the case.  He said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!”  But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him (Judges 16:20).  Samson was experiencing the abandonment of God.

God Gave Them Up

In Romans 1 we see three examples of this very act of God's abandonment:

Therefore God also gave them up – Romans 1:24.

For this reason God gave them up – Romans 1:26.

God gave them over – Romans 1:28.

But who are the "them" in these verses?  The lost?  The unregenerate?  Those nations that reject truth and justice?  Yes.  But if you will study these verses closely you will find the object of God's curse of abandonment is also the church.  It includes His wayward believers.  It includes you and me.

Does this seem strange to you?  Maybe hard to believe?  Then I suggest you keep listening and find out the truth for yourself.  And remember, "judgment begins at the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17).  Are you ready?

The following is a study on the Curse of the Abandonment of God.

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414 - The Blessings of Persecution

August 20, 2017

Sometimes there are passages in the Scripture that confound even the most mature Believer.  These are the ones that seem to defy logic, ones that fly in the face of our cherished sensibilities.  For example, in Luke 6:30 the Lord tells us to "Give to everyone who asks of you.  And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back."  But Jesus gives no qualifier in this verse.  The person who asks for your stuff may be a bum, a greedy businessman, or the government.  How are we supposed to follow that command?

Another example deals with how we respond to a personal attack.  Jesus said, "But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also" (Matt. 5:39-40).  How does this play out in real life in real time?  If the church followed this command the future of the legal profession would be in great peril.

But one of the hardest teachings in Scripture, especially to an opulent, narcissistic church like we have today, is the idea that suffering or persecution could be a good thing.  That sentiment is hard to swallow, let alone believe.  How could persecution be a good thing?  Ever?  To anybody?

The Church at Smyrna

In the second of our Lord's seven personal epistles to His church, found in Revelation 2 and 3, He has nothing but kind words to say about the church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11).   And the primary characteristic of this church was their faithful perseverance under extreme persecution that lasted centuries.  We would be well advised as a church, and as individuals, to emulate in our life what brought this church such praise from our Lord.

To find out more about the Lord's letter to the church at Smyrna, and what we can learn about our own view of suffering, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna, Revelation 2:8-11.

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413 - The Importance of Baptism

August 17, 2017

Baptism has fallen out of favor in the church today.  Many people are confused about baptism. And since there seems to be such a wide diversity of opinion about what baptism means and how important it is, many in the church have relegated it to an archaic, antiquated ritual and not much more.  And that is a grave mistake.  Why?  Because baptism is your first act of obedience as a Christian.

Many in the church who call themselves Christians have not been baptized according to the New Testament baptism.  That may include some of you who are listening to this podcast.  But think, if we are unfaithful to the first command of obedience to our Lord who saved us, it makes it much easier to disobey His other commands.  Does this describe you?

The question we ask today is why don't people get baptized?  And there are at least five reasons: ignorance, pride, indifference, rebellion, or because they are simply lost.  In this message we will look at each of these in detail.

Are you confused about baptism and why it seemed so important in New Testament times but not so much today?  If that describes you, then keep listening.

The following is a study on baptism.

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411 - We Will Not Be Equal in the Kingdom of God

July 10, 2017

We will not all be equal in heaven.  Now we're not talking about salvation, but of rewards.  All of us are equal in regards to salvation because it is a gift given freely to those who believe.  In this, there is no question.  But what we do with our salvation is another matter.  And we will be rewarded for our faithfulness to Him in this life.  Consider the following:

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 - For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with (1) gold, silver, precious stones, (2) wood, hay, straw, each one’s (personal) work will become clear; (how) for the Day will declare it, (how) because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s (personal) work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures (gold, silver, precious stones), he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned (wood, hay, straw), he will suffer loss (of reward); but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Charles Stanley also spoke of this in his book, Eternal Security.  He said, “Some believers will be entrusted with certain privileges; others will not. Some will reign with Christ; others will not (2 Timothy 2:12). Some will be rich in the kingdom of God; others will be poor (Luke 12:21, 33).  Some will be given true riches; others will not.  Some will be given heavenly treasures of their own; others will not.  Some will rule and reign with Christ; others will not.  Privilege in the kingdom of God is determined by one’s faithfulness in this life.  It is true that there will be equality in terms of our inclusion in the kingdom of God, but not in our rank and privilege.”

Does this sound troubling to you?  Maybe confusing?  If so, keep listening to learn more.

The following is a study on the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Marriage Ceremony of the Lamb.

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410 - Standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ

July 2, 2017

The Judgement Seat of Christ is the first of seven great judgments that will occur.  And for the believer, it's the most important.  Why?  Because at this judgment all church-age believers will appear before Christ to give an account of their lives for reward.  Or, in the case of many, no reward.  Consider the following:

2 Corinthians 5:10 - For we (Paul includes himself) must (not optional) all appear before the judgment seat (bḗma) of Christ, (why) that each one (personal and individual) may receive (review and reward) the things done in the body, (review) according to what he has done, (reward) whether good or bad.

These are some of the main areas that will be examined when we stand before the Lord:

  1. How we treat other believers (Matthew 10:41-42; Hebrews 6:10)
  2. How we employ our God-given talents and abilities (Matthew 25:14-29; Luke 19:11-26; 1 Corinthians 12:4, 7; 2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Peter 4:10)
  3. How we use our money (Matthew 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
  4. How well we endure personal injustice and being mistreated (Matthew 5:11-12; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 6:27-28, 35; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Peter 4:12-13)
  5. How we endure suffering and trials (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)
  6. How we spend our time (Psalm 90:9-12; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5; 1 Peter 1:17)
  7. How we run the particular race God has given us (1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 2:16; 3:12-14; Hebrews 12:1)
  8. How effectively we control our fleshly appetites (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)
  9. How many souls we witness to and win for Christ (Daniel 12:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
  10. How much the Rapture means to us and shapes our lives (2 Timothy 4:8)
  11. How faithful we are to God’s Word and God’s people (Acts 20:26-28; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; Hebrews 13:17; James 3:1; 1 Peter 5:1-2; 2 John 1:7-8)
  12. How hospitable we are to strangers (Matthew 25:35-36; Luke 14:12-14)
  13. How faithful we are in our vocations (Colossians 3:22-24)
  14. How we support others in ministry (Matthew 10:40-42)
  15. How we use our tongues (Matthew 12:36; James 3:1-12)

Are you ready to stand before the Lord and have your life judged by His standards?  Because it will happen. There is no escape.  And if not, what are you prepared to do about it?  What changes are you willing to make in this life to be rewarded for in the next?  But be warned, time is running out.

If you want to find out more about how to prepare yourself to face the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ, then keep listening.

The following is a study on the Judgment Seat of Christ.

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408 - The Next Event on God’s Prophetic Calendar

June 16, 2017

Jesus said, "When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’  Hypocrites!  You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times" (Matt. 16:1-2).  In essence, He was paraphrasing an ancient maritime proverb that went something like this: "Red sky at night, sailor's delight.  Red sky at morning, sailor's warning."

But the point of HIs words was to shame those of us who fail to see the signs of the times of His coming— even as they are portrayed right before our eyes.

Open Your Eyes

Take a look around.  Read your Bible.  Look at the nation of Israel.  Do they mean nothing to you regarding the soon coming of our Lord?  "Hypocrites!  You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times" (Matt. 16:2). The study of the end times, that discipline known as eschatology, is a minefield of confusion and disagreement.  And because it's so divisive and  controversial many shy away from it.  But not so with us.  We are going to take a look at the Lord's prophetic calendar to see exactly what the Scriptures tell us is right around the corner.

Are you ready?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on the End Times.

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407 - When it Comes to Worship We’re Clueless

June 15, 2017

One of the pressing questions today, as we take an honest look at the church, is what does worship look like?  Is it what we see manifested on Sunday mornings?  Is it music, a light show, an engaging speaker telling interesting and affirming stories?  Or is it something more?

The greatest verse regarding the mechanics of true worship is found in the book of Romans.  Consider the following:

Romans 12:1-2 - I beseech (parakaléō – to beg, exhort, desire, call for, encourage) you (personal) therefore (based on what was previously written), brethren (to believers), by the mercies (compassion and pity one shows for the suffering of others) of God, that you (personal) present (to place, offer) your (personal) bodies (whole person) a living (constant, enduring) sacrifice (offering, something slaughtered on the altar of God), holy (hágios - set apart, sanctified, consecrated, devoted, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth's defilement), acceptable (good, well-pleasing, that which God wills and recognizes) to (whom) God, which is your (personal) reasonable (implies intelligent meditation and reflection as pertaining to the soul) service (voluntary worship or service which conforms to human reason).  And (you) do not be conformed (syschēmatizō - to fashion alike, to conform to the same pattern outwardly) to this world (generation, culture, referring to an age or time in contrast to kósmos), but (you) be transformed (metamorphóō - to transfigure, to change one’s form) by the renewing (a qualitative renewal, a restoration or renovation which makes a person different than in the past) of your mind (intelligent understanding, perception), that you (personal) may prove (try, test, discern, distinguish, to determine whether a thing is worthy or not) what is that good (excellent, best, distinguished) and acceptable (good, well-pleasing, that which God wills and recognizes), and perfect (complete, having achieved its goal and purpose, full, wanting for nothing) will (desire, God’s gracious disposition done out of His own good pleasure) of God.

Take a few minutes and reflect on these two verses.  Have you done this?  Do you worship Him this way?  Is it even close?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Romans 12:1-2.

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406 - Remember When?

June 6, 2017

Over and over again we see the commands in Scripture to "remember" something.  Often we are to remember the commands of God (Num. 15:39-40).  Other times we are to remember what God has done for us (Deut. 5:15).  Then God Himself is said to remember His covenant with us and all living creatures (Gen. 9:15) or to not remember our sins anymore (Heb. 8:12).  Jesus told His disciples to "remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32) and in the Revelation the church at Ephesus is commanded to "remember therefore from where you have fallen" (Rev. 2:5).  We see sinful man asking God to "remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42) and the Lord asking us to "do this in remembrance of Me" (1 Cor. 11:24).  And we are told, not to "keep" the Sabbath as a command, but to "remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex. 20:8).   Why?  Because remembering who we are and what God has done for us will bring a desire to "keep" His command and make His day holy.

But did you know that one of the key prerequisites of true worship is the ability to remember who God is and what He has done for us?  Remembrance brings past realities into the present.  It makes yesterday alive today.  And it gives us courage to face tomorrow, no matter what, come what may.

Do You Remember?

Let me ask you a couple of questions:

What do you forget in the dark that you remember in the light?
What about the Lord’s Word and character do you fail to remember daily?
How has He shown Himself faithful to you?
Do you remember?

If you want to discover more about true worship through remembering, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:23-24.

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