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.
April 23, 2017
One of the greatest blessings the church has experienced has become its greatest curse. And that is wealth. Opulence. The ability to run ahead of God rather than waiting on Him to provide what His church needs and when it needs it. Then there’s the great blessing that comes with persecution that a wealthy church always views as a curse. How did it become so upside down?
The early church understood the blessings that come with persecution. Because they remembered the promise of Jesus when He preached His sermon on the mount where He said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11-12).
And later, Paul would tell his son Timothy that “Yes, and all who (condition) desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (result) will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). Do you see the condition and the result? If you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, which most Christians would say they do, then you will suffer persecution because of your godly life in Christ. It’s a given. A promise.
And the opposite of this promise is also true. If you are not suffering persecution, then it stands to reason you do not desire to live godly in Christ Jesus. Sobering, isn’t it? This is not how the early church lived. They embraced every opportunity to live godly in Christ, regardless of how they suffered. Do you want to know more about people who love Jesus that way? Good. Then keep listening.
The following is a study on Acts 4:1-35.
October 3, 2016
Often we preach about the need for revival in the church and in our own lives. We hold the virtues and blessings of revival up high, for all to see, yet fail to talk about the dark side of revival, the downside of totally surrendering to Him.
And that downside is satanic attack.
For the novice, this attack can be devastating because they are often ill-prepared to stand against it. For the more mature believer, the attack is just another affirmation they are living as light and walking where the enemy dwells.
Do you know how to prepare for a spiritual attack? Do you know how to stand when the day of evil comes (Eph. 6:13)? If not, then keep listening.
The following is a study on Spiritual Warfare.
August 7, 2016
Consider these if / then passages:
"(then) Blessed are those (if) who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for (then) theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (then) Blessed are you (if) when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (then) Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for (then) great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:10-12).
Yes, and all who (if) desire to live godly in Christ Jesus (then) will suffer persecution. (2 Tim. 3:12).
Which leads us to ask a few questions:
Question: Will you face persecution?
Answer: That depends.
Question: Depends on what?
Answer: On how committed you are to live Godly in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:12).
To find out more about persecution and the if / then passages, keep listening.
The following is a study on Matthew 5:10-12.
December 7, 2015
Sometimes, life throws us a curveball. Scripture tells us to expect "trials and tribulations" (James 1:2) and even "persecutions" (2 Tim. 3:12)— but what seems to knock us down the hardest are the things we don't see coming, just the bad stuff that happens to fallen people living in a fallen world.
All people, both good and bad, sometimes get cancer, lose their jobs, or suffer from broken relationships. No one is promised an easy road this side of heaven. Which, if you think about it, should make heaven more appealing. But often it doesn’t. Instead, we get overwhelmed and depressed by daily life.
Did you ever wonder why? And have you ever wondered why your prayer life gets overwhelmed by the problems of life when it should be the other way around? If so, this message is for you. To find out more, keep listening.
The following is a study on Prayer and Luke 18:1-8.
August 2, 2015
When Paul says, "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ" (Col. 1:24), we scratch our heads and wonder how that could be?
How could a man, even the over-the-top Apostle Paul, actually rejoice in his sufferings? Especially when we realize Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter to the church at Colossae. How is that even possible?
And what is there to rejoice about? We, in our culture, rejoice when our suffering is over. Yet Paul rejoices in the midst of his suffering.
What can we learn from this? Much. So keep listening to find out more.
The following is a study on Colossians 1:24-29.
July 27, 2015
To totally commit our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ is the first thing we must do to spiritually prepare for the coming persecution in this country. And, as we said last week, the way to do that is found in the words of John the Baptist. John said, when comparing his ministry with that of his Lord:
"He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).
The first statement, the "I must decrease" part is easy to understand yet difficult to apply. But what about the second statement, the "He must increase" part? What does that mean? How can I, a mere mortal, make Jesus more than He already is? Or, what can I give Him, who created everything, that He doesn't already possess?
Keep listening as we begin to answer this all-important question that will give us practical steps to total commitment.
The following is a study on Total Commitment.
July 19, 2015
As we face coming persecution in this country, one of the most important preparations we can make is to totally commit our lives to the living Lord Jesus. But that raises a few questions.
What does total commitment look like?
And what does total commitment really mean?
How can I be totally committed to Jesus?
Where do I start?
What do I do?
The answer is two-fold and is crystallized in the words of John the Baptist. He said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Ah, that's it. First, Jesus must increase and, second, I must decrease. Or is it the other way around?
These are vital questions that need to be answered, and answered now. Keep listening to find out more.
The following is a study on Total Commitment.
July 6, 2015
We know it's coming. We can see the signs of it everywhere. Persecution for the church has now come to our own shores and, quite honestly, we are ill prepared for it. Which raises the all important question: Is there something we can do now, before the persecution begins in earnest, to prepare for what is soon to happen?
And the answer is, yes.
One, we can prepare spiritually by totally committing our life into the hands of the living Lord Jesus, come what may.
Two, we can prepare physically by disengaging from the world's system and begin to live in His Kingdom.
Three, we can prepare emotionally by embracing persecution as a means of furthering the Gospel by looking beyond our own circumstances and looking only at Him.
And we can begin to prepare today.
The following is a lesson on Preparing for the Coming Persecution in America.