367:  The Difference Between Receiving and Entering the Kingdom

367: The Difference Between Receiving and Entering the Kingdom

Jesus spent much of His Sermon on the Mount preaching about the Kingdom.  What’s the Kingdom like?  What are the unique realities that belong only to those in the Kingdom?  Are there promises to those who live in the Kingdom?  And, if so, what are they?  How does one receive the Kingdom and, more importantly, how does one enter into the Kingdom?

The key is found in Mark 10:15:  “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Did you catch that?  Receiving must precede entering when it comes to the Kingdom.  Do you want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Matthew 5:19.

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Our Permission to Dream

Our Permission to Dream

What if God was bigger than the box in which we try to place Him?  Wouldn’t that be incredible?  You and I both know that He is bigger than anything we can imagine.  But nevertheless, we have a tendency to always try to place Him in a box that allows us to understand Him on our terms.

Think of the boxes in which we try to place Him.  We have our experience box that rejects God moving in any way other than what we have experienced in the past.  This box makes our experience with Him as the defining element of His character and the full expression of His will.  God can never be bigger than He has been in our past. He becomes one-dimensional, myopic, and is not allowed to do anything that makes us feel uncomfortable or stretches and expands our faith.

We have our denominational box that limits God to the tenets of our theology, our sacred creeds, or our agreed upon statements of faith.  But this box assumes we know all there is to know about the Unknowable One, the One who defies human description.  This box cannot be true.  For how can the created know all there is to know about the Creator, no matter how infested the created is with pride and arrogance and self-exaltation?

Then we have our spiritual maturity box.  This box states that the way God is dealing with us right now, at this present moment, at our current level of maturity, is how He deals with everyone.  Why?  Because we can’t accept the fact there may be others who are more mature than we are in the things of the Lord.  That would make us feel uncomfortable.  Or, worse yet, convicted.  And there are other boxes we conjure with different labels.  We have our faith box, our feelings box, and the like.  But God cannot be contained by the constraints of our fear or insecurity.

God is beyond all that.  He’s incredible.  He’s beyond comprehension.  He cannot be understood or described by mere human words.  It is foolishness to assume we can know the Almighty and all His ways.  Why?  Because He says about Himself in Isaiah,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Often we find ourselves hamstrung and impotent in our spiritual lives, when compared with Scripture, because of the limitations we place on our God by the box we try to force Him into.


The Early Church

We see God do incredible things in the book of Acts— unparalleled things compared to what we see Him doing in the church today.  Because that fact alone makes us feel so uncomfortable, we go to great lengths to try to convince ourselves that His moving like He did was for them alone, at that time in history, but not for us today.  Why?  Why would we assume that?  Then we go through great theological gymnastics to somehow try to prove that the “abundant ” life Jesus promised (John 10:10), as revealed to us in the book of Acts, was only for them, and not for us.  They got to experience true intimacy with the Lord, and we are left standing alone, jilted at the altar.

But what if all that changed?

What if we got the opportunity to be able to see God for who He really is?  What if we began to understand the Holy Spirit as being more than just an attribute of God, or a characteristic of God, or just some innate power coming from God that we ask for when we need it?  What if our eyes were opened and we began to see and experience the Holy Spirit as Jesus revealed Him?  What if we truly believed, and rested on that belief, that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth that will “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:27)?  What if we took Jesus at His word when we said, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (the Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7)?

How would that change your life?  And how would it change your experience with His church?

These are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself of late.  In all my years of ministry, I’ve had the nagging feeling that I’m missing something, that I am somehow coming up short.  I’ve felt there’s more to this life in Christ than what I was taught in Seminary or that I have experienced in all my years in church.

Have you ever felt the same?

Do you see how the church is portrayed in the book of Acts and then wonder what happened between then and now?  I do.  And it drives me to hunger for more of Him.

What if we had the confidence, as the Scripture states, to go “boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16)?  Not just mental assent to the truth of this verse, but to know this truth deep down where our hurts and fears reside.  What if this promise became a living reality in our lives?

What if we really believed that God loves us, no matter what, and listens to our prayers?  Would that change your prayer life?  It would mine.  Would you seek Him first in your frustrations and disappointments, or would you continue to try to manipulate people and circumstances to your own advantage?

What if we truly believed what it says in Romans about each of us?  God tells us “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17).  Do you feel like a child of God?  Do you think of yourself as a child of God?  And more than that, do you live like an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ?  But that’s who God says we are, no matter how strange and foreign it may seem.


Back to Acts

Together, we’re going to take the book of Acts and try to understand it through new eyes.  Not our 21st century eyes of doubt, cynicism and failure, but through the eyes of the Spirit and in childlike, trusting faith.  We want to see the Lord for what He says, and what He does, and believe His words are true for us today.  We want to understand the book of Acts as not some ancient story about how the church was, and can never be again, but for how things should be. How things could be. And hopefully, how they are.

We want permission to be able to dream again.

So join with me as we strive to uncover the truth about who Christ is and how the Holy Spirit works in our life by looking at an in-depth study of the church in the book of Acts.

It should be quite a ride.  I hope you’ll join with me.

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366:  The Downside of Revival

366: The Downside of Revival

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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365:  Revival, God’s Way

365: Revival, God’s Way

One of the greatest needs in the life of the believer today is revival.  Revival is defined as “a restoration of life, consciousness, vigor, or strength. It is an awakening to something previously dormant.  It is an improvement in the condition or strength of something or someone.”  Spurgeon said revival means “to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired; to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished.”

But how does revival come about?
What does true revival look like?
How does it change the person being revived?
Are there stages or steps to revival?
And how can we have revival now, today, in our lives and in the church?

Are you interested in finding out more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on revival.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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364:  Why Did God Choose to Save You?

364: Why Did God Choose to Save You?

Great question.  Why did God choose to save each of us?  Was it because He wanted to make our life better?  And, if so, what does “better” mean?  And “better” from whose perspective?  His?  Or ours?  Maybe He chose to save us to give our life purpose and meaning.  And what would that purpose be?  And whose purpose are we talking about?  God’s?  Or ours?

See the problem?  When we view the purpose of our salvation from how it affects us, we tend to become self-centered and inner-focused.  But it’s not about us, it’s all about Him.  Totally for Him and Him alone.

Want to discover the true reason God chose to save you?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on total surrender.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

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