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Podcast 298:  Pray Until You Pray!

Podcast 298: Pray Until You Pray!

What is the most urgent need in the church today?

The need for purity in sexual matters.
To end abortion and homosexuality in our nation.
Financial integrity in all matters and generosity to others.
Greater evangelism and church planting.
Disciplined, Biblical thinking— a Christian worldview.
To end the plague of divorce in the church.

No, the most urgent need in the church is for a deeper knowledge of God (Col. 1:10).  And how do we go about meeting that need?  Just keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 1:3 and prayer.

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Podcast 292:  Backsliding and the Nazi War Machine

Podcast 292: Backsliding and the Nazi War Machine

Sometimes, when it comes to living our life in Christ in a way that pleases the Lord, encouragement can come from someone whose name is not found in the Bible.  Case in point: Winston Churchill.  Consider the following:

“Never give in.  Never give in.  Never, never, never, never— in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.  Never yield to force.  Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Churchill was talking about the Nazi war machine, but our encouragement comes when we see his words as regarding Satan and the desires of our fallen flesh. Our enemy is far greater than the Nazis.  We struggle against Satan and our own captivating selves.

To find out more on how to prevent spiritual backsliding, keep listening.

The following is a study on Proverbs 14:12-14.

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No Wheelbarrow, No Salvation!

No Wheelbarrow, No Salvation!

One of the greatest tightrope walkers the world has ever seen was a man named Charles Blondin— or, as he was known internationally, the Great Blondin.  Charles Blondin was born on February 28, 1924 and rose to international fame by being the first person to tightrope across Niagara Falls.  He was a master showman, highly skilled at his craft, and gifted with a unique, riveting flair for the dramatic.  For the better part of three decades he entertained huge, mesmerized audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

But his greatest feat took place on June 30, 1959, when he became the first man to cross the great Niagara Gorge or, as we call it today, Niagara Falls.

On that day over twenty-five thousand people gathered on both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls to watch the Great Blondin attempt the impossible.  He was to walk on a thin rope only 2 inches in diameter and made entirely of hemp, stretched 1,100 feet across the gorge, and suspended 160 feet above the raging river— all without any safety net or harness.  One small slip, one slight loss of concentration and focus, one unforeseen gust of wind, and the Great Blondin would fall 16 stories to his death.

The crowd watched with nervous anticipation and he slowly, carefully, step by step, one foot in front of the other, made his way along the swaying rope, crossing a distance of over three football fields in 23 minutes.  When he finally reached the Canadian side, the crowd burst into a roar of triumphant applause.

But the Great Blondin wasn’t finished.

Over the next few days he walked across Niagara Falls many times and each time with increasing dramatic theatrics.  Today’s walk, it seemed, must be greater than yesterday’s show.  One time he walked across blindfolded.  Another time on wooden stilts.  Still another while wearing shackles and another while wearing a gunny sack.  He crossed riding a bicycle, he crossed in the dark, and one time he carried a stove on his back and cooked and ate an omelet over the middle of the Falls.  With each crossing he pushed the limit of what the audience believed he could do and each time they responded in praise and adulation for the Great Blondin.  It seemed they believed he could do anything on a tightrope. “Nothing,” they said, “was too difficult for the Great Blondin!”

One day he walked across Niagara Falls pushing a wooden wheelbarrow.  The audience enthusiastically cheered .  Then he placed 350 pounds of cement in the wheelbarrow and made the return trip.  When he arrived back at the American side, the crowds broke into thunderous applause.

Looking at a man who seemed to be cheering the loudest, the Great Blondin asked him, “Do you believe I am able to carry a man across in this wheelbarrow?”  The man eagerly proclaimed, “Yes!  I believe you can.  In fact, I know you can!”  To which the Great Blondin replied, “Then get in.”

The man refused.

Blondin then turned and addressed the watching crowd.  “Do you believe I am able to carry a man across the Falls in this wheelbarrow?”  They all responded loudly, “Yes!”  And again, “Which one of you will get into the wheelbarrow and let me push him across?”

They all refused.

No one was willing to get into the wheelbarrow.  No one was willing to place their life in the hands of the Great Blondin.  No one was willing to have him push them across the Falls, yet they all firmly believed he could do it.  In fact, they’d just seen him push 350 pounds of cement across in that very wheelbarrow but refused, to the man, to get into the wheelbarrow themselves.  Why?  What’s the disconnect between faith and trust.  What’s the difference between simple belief in something or someone and trusting them with your very life?

Simply this: It’s the difference between saving faith and non-saving faith.  It’s the difference between true salvation and being deceived into thinking you belong to Christ.  It’s the difference between the wide road of destruction and the narrow path of eternal life Jesus warned about (Matt. 7:13-14).  And it’s the difference between a living eternity in heaven with Christ and all that means, or a horrid eternity of dark torment in hell.

It’s the difference between life and death, light and darkness, heaven and hell.


No Wheelbarrow, No Salvation

Are you one of the ones that believe the Great Blondin can do what you’ve seen him do, yet you refuse to place your life in his hands, you refuse to get into the wheelbarrow?

You see, eternal life with Christ does not come from simple, cognitive belief.  Just believing is not enough.  You might believe in Jesus.  You might even believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for your sins.  You may even believe He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  You may even go so far as to believe Jesus will someday come again to defeat Satan and bring in eternal righteousness.  You may even believe that day is coming soon… but none of that belief alone leads to salvation.  None.

Why?  Because Satan also believes the same things about Jesus (James 2:19).  In fact, Satan doesn’t just believe, he knows Jesus is the Son of God.  Satan knows He rose from the dead and he knows Jesus is coming soon to judge the living and the dead and that thought makes him tremble (1 Tim 4:1).  Yet Satan defiantly refuses to bend his knee to the Lordship of Jesus (Rom. 10:9) and Satan will spend eternity in “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).  Do you believe like Satan believes?

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Your life now and your future eternity can be different.  But please know, your time is running out.

Head knowledge, mental assent, is not enough for salvation.  Believing the Great Blondin can take a man across Niagara Falls in a wheelbarrow is not enough— unless you are willing to be that man.  You’ve got to be willing to get into that wheelbarrow.  You can’t watch from the sidelines and think you’re saved.  You’ve got to place your faith and trust, your entire life into the hands of the Lord Jesus, for salvation to take place.  You’ve got to surrender your will to Him, everything.

Jesus’ terms are simple:  It’s all or nothing.  Jesus gives you all that He is for all that you are.  It’s called the Great Exchange: His Perfect Life for Your Broken Life.  You give Him your life, all of your life, the good and the bad, and He comes to live in You.  Permanently.  Forever.

You must die for Him to live.  It’s called being born again and it’s the most amazing thing this side of heaven (John 3:3-4).


Not What We Say, But What We Do

If you claim to be a Christian, you’re probably pretty mad right now that I would be so bold as to “judge” you and your spiritual life.  And I know that if you had a Facebook page, you would probably put “Follower of Jesus” or “Christian” or something like that as your religion tag.  But look at your life.  Look at the fruits of your years of living.  How much of it has any eternal value or significance?  How much of what you do every day gives glory to the God you claim to serve?  How much of your actions and deeds are good, holy, just and righteous?  Jesus called them fruits, “spiritual fruits” that the Holy Spirit alone gives those who belong to Him (Matt. 7:16-20).  In fact, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Did you get that?  It’s not those who say they believe in Jesus that will enter the kingdom of heaven, it’s those who “do the will of the Father.”  It’s not our words, but spiritual fruits that only the Holy Spirit gives.

Examine yourself.  Are these the spiritual fruits you have manifest in your life?  If not, be honest with yourself.  You know you’re not a Christian.  And if you would let yourself think beyond the immediate, you know you’re not going to heaven.

And that breaks my heart.  I know we, the church, have failed you many times and haven’t lived the Christ-like example we should before you.  I ask for your forgiveness for our failures. But I also ask you don’t judge Jesus by me or any other Christian.  We’re a poor example of who He is.  He’s all love and, as you know, we’re not.  He’s gracious and forgiving, and we’re not. He’s more than I can describe and more than you’ll ever need or want— but you must put your trust, your entire life into His hands and let Him change you from the person you are into His own image, the person He created you to be.  He doesn’t want to make you better, He wants to make you new.


Just Ask

All you have to do is ask— and then get into the wheelbarrow and let Him take you wherever He wants.  You must put your entire life into His hands and hold nothing back.

My dream and prayer is for you to know and experience Jesus for who He really is and not who you think He is or who the church has portrayed Him to be.  He’s far more than anything you can imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).  In fact, my prayer for you has been the same as Paul’s prayer for those he loved.  He says to those he loves the same thing I want to say to you:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Eph. 1:17-21).

Don’t wait.  Get into the wheelbarrow.  Give everything to Him.  Ask Him, beg Him to be the Lord of your life and watch the transforming power of His Spirit change everything about you and make the rest of your life a blessing to many.

Ask Him today.

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Podcast 270:  “O Lord, hear!  O Lord, forgive!”

Podcast 270: “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive!”

Daniel has been in captivity for close to 67 years and understands, from the writings of Jeremiah, that this captivity will only last 70 years.  In 3 more years— freedom.  And Daniel is close to 80 years old when he discovers this truth.

So what does he do?  He prays.  But not like you and I pray.  No, Daniel prays and cries for mercy for his sins, the sins of his people, and the sins of the land.  Daniel prays for his nation like you and I should pray for ours.

Consider the end of his prayer:

“O Lord, hear!  O Lord, forgive!  O Lord, listen and act!  Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (Dan. 9:19).

What happens when we, the church, begin to pray like Daniel?  Listen to find out more.

This is a study on Daniel 9:1-19.

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The Fatal Sin of Self-Deception

The Fatal Sin of Self-Deception

Sometimes, living in the land where tolerance is deemed the greatest virtue— sometimes we as Christians fail to realize just how lost our lost friends and family truly are.  Often we consider them “good” people that would be better still if they would just add our Jesus to their own intrinsic, innate goodness.

“Frank is such a good person.  Just think how much better he’ll be when he gives his life to Jesus.”  Or, “My boy is a good boy.  I know he gets into trouble a bit, but he’s got a good heart.”  Or, “I feel pretty good about myself.  Why do I need Jesus to make me better?  I’m doing OK just as I am.”

When we try to tell them about Jesus we go to great lengths to skirt the offensive issue of their sin and instead play up their value and virtue and inherent righteousness and then try to sell them on Jesus “who will take what is good in them and make it even better.”— like pitching a new and improved model of themselves.  “Step right up and come to Jesus.  He will take the parts of you that you don’t like and change them right before your very eyes.  He’s the Master Fixer-Upper.  Just what the doctor ordered.  So who needs Jesus to bless your life?  Come on, step right up.  Who wants to be first?”

Sound familiar?

But none of this is true, Biblically.  It may be the way we do things in our culture and the way we try to live out the great commission without being offensive or intolerant, but none of it is true.  Jesus never promised to make our life better on this earth.  Never.  He never promised to make us better.  He promised to make us new.  The old man is not improved, he dies.  And in the old man’s place a new man is born again, created in the image of Christ, for the glory of the Father (2 Cor. 5:17).

Everything changes.  Including you and me.

God doesn’t take our old heart and make it better.  He makes it new.  Why?  Because there’s nothing of value in our old heart to update or improve.  Jeremiah 17:9 states: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”  Get that?  Deceitful and desperately wicked above all things.  Not much good to salvage here.


The Plague of Spiritual Ignorance and Self-Deception

But our lost friends are deceived in thinking their sin is not bad enough to merit judgment or Hell.  They’re duped into thinking they don’t need to change.  After all, they do plenty of good things they feel good about and the good things they do outweigh the bad things and they net, at least in their own eyes, on the good side.  Hence, bottom line in their thinking, they’re OK with the Big Man in the Sky, just like they are.

This is exactly the crowd Jesus was speaking to in John 8:33.  Jesus had repeatedly told the unbelieving Jews they were separated from the Father (John 8:19) and lost in their sins (John 8:24) and by believing in Him, and in Him alone, they would “know the truth, and the truth would make them free” (John 8:32).  But lost people chaff at the thought they’re in bondage.  They reject it because it assaults their self-image and inward sense of self-righteousness.  They hold fast to the lie, their false sense of security, that something in their past, something they have done or accomplished, something they are or will become will be sufficient to satisfy God on the day of judgment.  And for the Jews, that something was being a physical descendant of Abraham.

They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.  How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” (John 8:33).  In essence, they didn’t need what Jesus was offering because they, in their own minds, already possessed it.  The major obstacle to discovering the life and truth Jesus offers is thinking you already possess it.  And, as we and Jesus both know, they didn’t possess the “truth that will set them free” (John 8:32, 36).  Do you?

So. just how lost is a lost person?  How ignorant are they of their spiritual condition?

AW Pink says: Tell the sinner that there is no good thing in him, and he will not believe you; but tell him that he is completely the slave of sin and the captive of Satan, that he cannot think a godly thought of himself (2 Cor. 3:5), that he cannot receive God’s truth (1 Cor. 2:14), that he cannot believe (John 12:39), that he cannot please God (Rom. 8:8), that he cannot come to Christ (John 6:44), and he will indignantly deny your assertions.  So it was here in the passage before us.  When Christ said “the truth shall make you free”, the Jews replied “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to anyone.”

Today spiritual ignorance focuses on our desire to make Jesus into anything we want and to create our own religion and our own system of righteousness.  If it goes contrary to the Scriptures, then we either ignore the Scriptures, or try to explain them away by some sort of theological sleight of hand, or conclude the Scriptures are “living and breathing” and therefore do not apply to us on this point.  Whatever the reason, the outcome is that we are right and God is wrong.  After all, “we have never been in bondage to anyone!” (John 8:33).


How Lost is My Lost Loved One?

When you share your faith with a lost loved one remember just how lost, Scripturally, they truly are— regardless of how much you love them or how many charitable deeds they have racked up in their own ledger books.

Consider the pitiful state of those we are sent to love in Christ:

One, your lost family member or friend is, according the Bible, a fallen creature, totally depraved, with no soundness or goodness in him from the sole of his foot even unto the top of his head (Isa. 1:6)— regardless of how he views himself or how much self-esteem he has.

Two, your lost son or daughter is completely under the dominion of sin, they’re a “slave to sin” (John 8:34), a slave to “various lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3), so much so they “cannot cease from sin” (2 Pet. 2:14) no matter how hard they try.  Only the cross of Christ can free them from the bondage of sin (Rom. 6:18,22).  You must tell them about Christ.  And you must tell them today.

Three, your lost husband or wife has “been taken captive by the devil, by Satan, to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:26).  They now walk “according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).  They now live to fulfills the lusts of their father, the devil, Satan, even though they vehemently reject that claim (John 8:44).  They are completely dominated by Satan’s power, the “power of darkness “(Col. 1:13).

And nothing can deliver them but the power of Christ.

Our mission field, our own families, are self-deceived into thinking, like the Jews in Jesus’ day, that they need nothing.  That they possess all.  They are ignorant of their spiritual condition and it’s up to you and me individually, and the church collectively, powered by the Holy Spirit, to make disciples of those He has placed in our paths (Matt. 28:19).

Are you up for the challenge?  Are you prepared for rejection and persecution?  Are you ready to be counted worthy of suffering for our Lord (Acts 5:41)?  And are you ready to fulfill the very reason God chose you from the foundation of the world to be made in the likeness of His Son (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29)?

They let’s get busy being who we were created to be.

Come Lord Jesus.

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