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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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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386 - What Does “Praying in the Spirit” Mean?

February 13, 2017

Twice in Scripture we are commanded to “pray in the Spirit.”  We see this first in Ephesians 6:18 and again in Jude 1:20.  We are not told to pray “with” the Spirit or “to” the Spirit, but pray “in” the Spirit.

Have you ever wondered what that means?  Is it praying in tongues as Paul referenced in 1 Corinthians 14:15?  No.  That’s something entirely different.

Is it something that I do or is it something the Holy Spirit does through me?  Where does my responsibility end and His activity begin?  What is the essence of “praying in the Spirit”?  Am I praying for what I want or is the Spirit praying through me according to the will of the Father?  And if that’s the case, what’s the content of that prayer?  Am I an active participant in my prayer life?  Or do I just kick back and let the Spirit take over?  And again, if so, to what extent?

Ah, so many questions.  Do you want to know the answers?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Praying in the Spirit.

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282 - Looking for Revival in All the Wrong Places

January 12, 2015
As Believers living in the Laodicean church age, we tend to re-define terms that make us feel uncomfortable.  For example, when Jesus says, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), we redefine His command to say, "Study about how others go into all the world in your annual Missions Conference and rationalize to yourself you are obeying His command by looking at African artifacts and watching a missionary slide show during your Sunday evening service."  

But that's not what Jesus said at all, is it?

We also re-define what the word "revival" means because we, as the church, are pretty much clueless as to what a true, Spirit-born revival actually looks like.  We look to follow those who tell us about revival but have never experienced revival themselves.  It's like the "blind leading the blind" (Luke 6:39).

Do you want to be different?  Do you want to learn from those who lived in a constant state of revival?  Me too.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on How Not to Find Revival from Revelation 2 and 3.

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280 - The Default Setting in Our Christian Life

January 5, 2015
Our experience may indicate otherwise, but the default setting for the Christian can be found in John 10:10 where Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."  Did you get that?  Jesus came to give us life and to give it to us abundantly.  This is the standard, the default setting in our spiritual life.

Is that what you're experiencing in your life with Christ?  If so, praise Him.  If not, why?  

Keep listening and you'll discover how to reset and restore your spiritual life back to the default, factory setting.

The following is a study on the Hindrances to Revival from Revelation 2:1-11.

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113 - Last Call

February 27, 2010
Question:  With all this talk about the imminent return of Christ, how then are we to live?  Or, in other words, how are we to respond to the certainty of His coming?  Does the book of the Revelation reveal any answers to our pressing questions?

Answer:  Absolutely.  For the Believer, we are to respond with immediate (1) obedience, (2) worship and (3) the preaching of His Word.

Does it say anything about the unbeliever, the lost? 

Oh yeah.  And that's another story entirely.  Listen to find out more.

The following is a study on Revelation 22:13-21.
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112 - Sunday School Faith Just Ain’t Gonna Cut It!

February 14, 2010
Over and over again in the last chapter of the Revelation we see the red ink words of Jesus saying, in effect, "I am coming soon." 

But do we really believe that?  Do we really think His return is imminent or do we push it off into the dark recesses of our minds to worry about another day?  But look around.  Can't you see the signs of the times?  Don't you see our society unraveling at its core?  And if He is coming soon, then we can expect dark, perilous times ahead. 

Are you ready?  You need to be.  'Cause Sunday School faith ain't gonna cut it when the great deception comes.

Listen and find out.

The following is a study on Revelation 22:6-12.
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111 - A Metric System in Heaven?

February 11, 2010
Want some proof that the words in the Revelation are to be taken literally?  Try this on for size:

"And he measured its walls (of the New Jerusalem), seventy-two yards, according to human measurement, which are also angelic measurements."  Revelation 21:17

Uh, excuse me.  Does that mean there is no metric system in heaven or could it mean that what the Bible says is exactly what the Bible means? 

Listen and find out.

The following is a study on Revelation 21:4-22:5.
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109 - The New and Improved

January 28, 2010
Do you realize how hard it is to imagine the new heaven and the new earth the Scriptures talk about?  And even if we could get our finite minds around the idea of something new (better, improved)... I mean, how can it be better than the one we see described by John in the Revelation?

It just boggles the mind.

And more than that, once we get a glimpse of all that heaven includes, life on earth seems like, as Keith Green once said, "livin' in a garbage can."

I want to go there.  Do you?

The following is a study on Revelation 21:1-3.
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108 - He (Jesus) Will Be Our Judge

January 17, 2010
I know we often see Jesus as nothing more than a guy who lived a long time ago with long hair, an earth-tone robe and maybe a bad English accent who walks around the barren Judean countryside doing Bible kinds of stuff... like feeding the hungry, healing the sick and preaching really long sermons.

We may even view Him as someone who understands our desire to sin to the point He just winks and looks the other way.  Like we would do if we had to change places.  But Jesus is not like that.  
In fact, Scripture says He will our Judge. 

Sobering, isn't it?

The following is a study on Revelation 20:11-15.
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