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.
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.
January 9, 2017
When we have the desire to know more about the gifts given each of us by the Holy Spirit, and our responsibility in exercising those gifts, we are faced with a couple of questions. Especially when we see that the purpose of those gifts is to give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to manifest or express Himself to others. Consider the following:
1 Corinthians 12:7 - But the manifestation (expression) of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
How does the Holy Spirit manifest or express Himself in the world today?
Does the Holy Spirit give His gifts to everyone that belongs to Christ?
Does that include you?
What gift or gifts has He given you?
And why did He give you His gifts?
So He could express Himself to others through each of us.
Do you realize the reason the Holy Spirit gives us His gifts is to manifest Himself to others through us? Let that sink in for a moment.
According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, all the gifts that follow (word of wisdom and knowledge, faith, healings, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, and tongues) are all given so He can use these gifts to express Himself through us to others.
Do you know what that means? Can you see the implications of that verse and what it means for you and me and the church today? If not, then keep listening.
The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:9.
January 4, 2017
Many of us make resolutions this time of year. It just seems natural. Maybe we want to lose weight, get out of debt, or finish a long neglected project around the house. But as a Christian, we want to somehow make our resolutions more spiritual. That also seems natural. So we often resolve something like this:
"I want to read my Bible more."
"I want to pray more."
"I want to share my faith more."
"I want to love more, forgive more, worship more."
"I want to live more like a Christian."
"I want to know more of God and have myself conformed to the image of His Son."
But the key to discovering the "abundant life" (John 10:10) Jesus spoke about is not in keeping resolutions, no matter how good they may be. It's living a life of holiness. It's practicing sanctification. It's being set apart or consecrated unto God. After all, we belong to Him.
But sanctification never takes place unless we first understand the way God's if / then promises work. The promise comes after the condition. The then follows the if. Consider the following:
Proverbs 3:5-6 - 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.
(condition one) Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
(condition two) and lean not on your own understanding;
(condition three) in all your ways acknowledge Him,
(promise) and He shall direct your paths.
Want to know more. Then keep listening.
The following is a study on Proverbs 3:5-6.
January 2, 2017
When we read the reason God gave each of us spiritual gifts, we find they are an expression or representation of the Holy Spirit to a lost world in dire need of Him. Think about it, the Holy Spirit lives in each of us as a deposit or guarantee of our future inheritance in Him (Eph. 1:14). In essence, no Holy Spirit, no salvation. And because the Holy Spirit now lives in each of us, He also graciously gives us certain gifts that come from Him. Some of these gifts we readily embrace. Others we feel less than excited about. But regardless of our personal feelings about what the Holy Spirit has blessed us with, we are given these gifts for the benefit of others. They are to be used for others as a clear expression of Him who now lives in us.
Consider the following:
1 Corinthians 12:7 – But the manifestation (expression, to make visible or observable) of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is given (to bestow, to give freely of one’s own accord and with goodwill) to each one (to each and every one separately and individually) for the profit (benefit, advantage, usefulness, help, to bring together for the benefit of another) of all.
Does this also apply to the "gifts of healings" and the "working of miracles" in the verses that follow? What about tongues and the interpretation of tongues? How about the gift of discerning of spirits? Now it gets a little squirrely, doesn’t it? Do you have questions about these gifts? Are you wondering how your experience lines up with the Scriptural teaching about spiritual gifts? Do you feel confused and somewhat in the dark when it comes to these controversial gifts? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most of the church feels the same way. Want some answers? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on 1 Corinthians 12:9-10.
November 21, 2016
In the final few words in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul leaves them with some heartfelt, bullet-point warnings and admonitions that speak to living in the Kingdom. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 he said,
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
If you look closer, you will see this is another classic, life-changing if / then passage. If we do the first three, then we won't experience the last. Or, if we don't do the first three, then the last, quenching the Spirit, is ours as a consequence of the first three. And who in their right mind wants to willingly quench the Spirit of God in our life. But there is so much more to be found here. Interested? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19.
October 31, 2016
When we look at the chilling words of Jesus that tell us "unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20) we are perplexed. And rightly so. When we then see the requirement of becoming a "new creation" in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) in order to possess the "righteousness that exceeds that of the scribe and Pharisees," we are faced with even more than questions.
Are you a new creation in Christ?
Has God changed you from the inside out?
Do you possess a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees?
If so, how do you know?
Can your friends and family tell?
And then one more:
Does this describe you?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law - Galatians 5:22-23
Have you ever asked yourself these questions? How did you answer? What does it mean if your answer to these questions are, no? To find out more, keep listening.
The following is a study on Matthew 5:20.
October 19, 2016
Some of the most chilling words of Jesus begin with a condition that seems impossible to meet. He begins this by saying:
“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20).
But what does this mean? Who were the scribes and Pharisees and what was the characteristic of their righteousness? What is the nature of the righteousness that must exceed their righteousness and how is that righteousness obtained? And once it is obtained, how do we know? How can we be sure? In what way does our righteousness have to exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees? And finally, what does Jesus mean when He says, "You will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven"?
These are tough questions. Important questions. Eternal questions.
Do you want to know more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on Matthew 5:20.
August 7, 2016
Many Scriptures speak of things we must "do" as followers of Christ. Some of them are:
You are to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).
You are to "walk according to the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16).
You must "present your bodies as a living sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1).
But when we find some passages that speak about who we are (in contrast to what we do), they should stop us cold in our tracks. These are Scriptures that define and describe us from the Lord's perspective.
In Matthew 5 we find two of these: "You are the salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:11), and "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:12-14). And the implications of these are profound. Want to discover more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on Matthew 5:11.
July 10, 2016
At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said,
Matthew 5:6 - "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."
And then we later find the Apostle Paul saying of Christ:
1 Corinthians 1:30 - But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
Are these two passages related? Has Christ really become for us true righteousness? And, if so, what does that say about what we "hunger and thirst" for?
To find out more, keep listening.
The following is a study on Matthew 5:6.