405 - Come and Die

June 2, 2017

In his classic book, the Costs of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer sums up the teaching of Jesus in this one phrase:  "When Christ calls a man, he calls him to come and die."  That's die to self.  Die to our dreams.  Die to our reputation.  Die to our wants and rights.  Die to our families, friends, and future.  And die to our very lives.

We see Jesus continually calling men "to forsake all and follow Him" (Luke 5:11)  Consider the following.

Matthew 16:24-26 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him (1) deny himself, and (2) take up his cross, and (3) follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Note the order.  First, there is the desire to "come after" Jesus.  This is followed by the list of conditions to "deny" yourself and then visibly and publicly show others your self denial by taking up your cross.  And finally, after the conditions are met, the desire is fulfilled.  Only then does Jesus say, "follow Me."

Which raises a few questions.  Do you follow Jesus?  Have you died to yourself?  If so, in what way?  Can others tell?  Are there areas in your life you have refused to die to?  And if so, what are you prepared to do about it?

Do you want to know more about what it means to follow Jesus?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 21:19-25.

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404 - Do You Enjoy God?

May 28, 2017

When it comes to worship, some of the most profound words are those of Jesus to the Samarian woman He met at Jacob's well in the city of Sychar (John 4:5).  It was here that Jesus gave us clear instructions on the type of worship the Father seeks.

John 4:23-24 - “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true (one who cannot lie, real, genuine, sincere) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit (human) and truth (reality, the essence of a matter); for the Father is seeking (to look for, search, strive to find) such to worship (to kiss, adore, fall or prostrate before, pay reverence) Him.  God is Spirit (Holy Spirit), and those who worship Him must (what must be done from duty) worship in spirit (human) and truth.”

Which, as usual, raises a few questions.

What is worship?
What’s the difference between worship and true worship?
What is true worship like internally?
What is true worship like externally? And what does true worship look like today?

One last thought, in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the first question goes like this:

Question:  What is the chief end of man?
Answer:  The chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.

Did you catch that?  We glorify by enjoying Him forever.  So, do you enjoy God?  Do you love your time with Him?  Is that time the highlight of your day?  Do you know how to worship Him in spirit and truth?  If not, then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 4:23-34.

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400 - Count the Cost, Pay the Price

May 8, 2017

Life teaches us that anything worth having has a price attached to it.  Nothing of value, other than salvation, comes free.  "No pain, no gain," as the saying goes.  Jesus spoke that same truth in Luke 14:26-33. And the same principle applies when it comes to understanding and experiencing spiritual gifts.  There are some things we must do and some things we can expect.  Let's look at our part first:

You must have a desire for more of the Lord.  A desire for the Spirit's gifts.  But that desire means more than calm, wishful, thinking.  Consider the following

1 Corinthians 14:1 - Pursue love (agápē), and desire (zēlóō - to burn with zeal, to be heated or to boil with envy, to lust, covet) spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

Then you must cultivate a vibrant prayer life.  This takes time and effort.  But the rewards are life-changing.

And finally, you must be willing to fast.  Why?  Because the Lord links fasting, for some reason, with prayer and spiritual fervency.  They seem to come in a package.  Two for the price of one.

Do you want to know more about growing deep in your intimacy of the Lord?  Do you want to begin living in the realm of the gifts the Spirit has given you?  Do you want to let Him manifest HImself to the world through you (1 Cor. 12:7)?  Great.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

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396 - The Holy Spirit in the Early Church

April 10, 2017

Trying to live the Christian life in the flesh is exhausting and, quite honestly, impossible.  But that's how many believers live today.  They start out well, full of hope and empowered by the Spirit, and then digress into a life of flesh, pride, and reliance on human wisdom rather than the wisdom of God.  But the early church shows us the "abundant life" Jesus promised those who follow Him fleshed out in real time (John 10:10).

And it's all based on faith.

Look at the faith involved in the healing of the lame man at the Gate Beautiful.  Question:  Whose faith is the agent God uses to perform this sign and wonder?

Acts 3:6-7 - Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

Note what happened here.  Peter had something that he was able to give to the lame beggar.  What was that?  And how did Peter know he possessed whatever he possessed?  And the healing took place, not when Peter spoke the affirmation, but when he "took him by the right hand and lifted him up" (Acts 3:7).  That's faith.  But whose?  The beggar's?  Not really.  It was the faith of Peter.

What does this mean?  And what can we learn about exercising our Spiritual gifts in the world today?  Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Acts 3:1-10.

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392 - The 240 Hour Prayer (and Fasting) Meeting

March 23, 2017

When the 120 met together after the ascension of Jesus, there were some logistics we often overlook when considering their 240 hour prayer meeting (Acts 1:14).  For example:

What about food?
Did they go home to eat several times a day?
Did someone have food catered in to them?
Did they go to Wal-Mart or McDonald’s daily?
Did their family drop off lunch bags each day?
Or did they go on an extended fast?
And if so, what was that like?

I believe it was a time of prayer and fasting— and not just prayer alone.  After all, that's what Jesus expected them to do (Matt. 6:16-18).   Which raises one last question: What can fasting do for me today?  Or, why should I fast since fasting seems to be passe in the church today?  Consider the following:

Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras.
Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the “first love” for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God.
Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
Fasting will encourage the Holy Spirit to quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you.
Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life and make you a channel of revival to others.
In summary, fasting opens up your spirit in ways that are hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it.

Have you ever considered adding fasting to your prayer life?  You should.  You really should.

The following is a study on Acts 1:12-14.

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388 - The True Intent of the Law

February 26, 2017

In the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus reveals to us what life is like in His Kingdom, He contrasts the Old Testament Law with its true intent.  And it does this by saying, "You have heard that it was said to those of old... but I say unto you."   Or, to put it another way, "You have an understanding about the Law and what it governs, but I want to show you the true intent of the Law and what it really means."

The Law governed external actions.  Or so it seemed to them and to us.  But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus shows us the true intent of the Law by contrasting it to the human understanding of it.  In other words, only actions matter in the mind of men.  But with God, everything comes from the heart.

"For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Do you want to know more about having a heart that is pleasing to the Lord?  Good.  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:21.

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387 - What is the “Baptism of the Spirit”?

February 21, 2017

The baptism of, or with, the Holy Spirit is defined as:

“The Baptism of, or with, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God coming upon the Believer, taking possession of his faculties, imparting to him gifts not naturally his own, but which qualify him for the service to which God has called him.”

But this just raises more questions for us to ponder.  For example:

What does it mean to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?
Is it a command from God?
Is it something we should actively seek?
What does it look like?leav
How is it obtained?
And is it even Biblical?

Want to know more?  Then keep listening as we discover the truth about this controversial subject.

The following is a study on being Baptized with the Holy Spirit.

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373 - The Love of Women and the Apathy of Men

November 15, 2016

This truth is never more apparent than at the crucifixion of Jesus. There, at the foot of His cross, standing faithful with their Lord, we find several women and only one disciple, the one characterized as the disciple "whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23). We see Mary the mother of Jesus, and her sister, Salome, the mother of James and John and the wife of Zebedee. We see Mary the wife of Clopas who, along with Mary Magdalene, kept vigil at the tomb (Matt. 27:61) and was one of the women who tried to persuade the disciples that Jesus was alive (Luke 24:10). We also see a larger group of women, possibly as many as a dozen, standing together "at a distance" from the cross (Luke 23:49).

But what we don't see are the bold, self-confident men who pledged their very lives to Christ just a few hours earlier. Nowhere is Peter, the "even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" (Matt. 26:35) disciple. Andrew, James, Matthew and the others disciples are conspicuously absent. AWOL. Scattered like dry leaves in an October wind.

The men are gone. These bastions of courage and determination fled like frightened children while the women stood faithful with their Lord to the end. Why was that? What was it about the quality of love and devotion found in these women that propelled them to such courage when the men, who should lead in that area, drifted off into the landscape? What does this show us about true faith and devotion? What does this show us about the love of women and the apparent apathy of men? And how can that change our lives today?

If you would like to explore this further, then keep listening.

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371 - What Gifts has the Spirit Given You?

November 6, 2016
For those who live in the Kingdom of Heaven, this question is of profound importance.  What gifts of the Spirit are manifested in your life? (1 Cor. 12:7).  

We know the gifts of the Spirit are listed in at least four places in the New Testament:  Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and Ephesians 4:11.

Admittedly, some of these gifts we readily embrace today.  Gifts such as teaching, showing mercy or administration we affirm as necessary and present in the church.  But those of healing, prophecy or the distinguishing between spirits?  That's a completely different issue.

But where does the truth lie?  Are spiritual gifts for the church today?  And, if so, which ones?  All of them?  Or is it just a select few?  And if a few, which ones make the cut?  And why?  By what merits?

These are just a few of the questions we are going to look at today.  Are you intrigued?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Spiritual Gifts, specifically 1 Corinthians 12:4-12.

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366 - The Downside of Revival

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.

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