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The Lord had a word for me. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it. I think it might help someone else.

People are naturally analytical, some more than others. We are taught, throughout our formative years, to analyze everything. Those with higher analytical ability tend to get further on in life… in the natural.

When it comes to the supernatural, analysis can be a terrible distraction. Thinking can get in the way of believing, and some of us simply think too much.

For example: It is not necessary to accurately delineate, diagram, and describe the parts of a Christian identified in Scripture (e.g., heart, mind, soul, and strength). In fact, like many mysteries in God’s kingdom, it may be impossible. The Scientific Method is not fit for supernatural investigations and outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »

Recently, we wrote about Suffering’s Role in Overcoming Our Flesh – how God uses suffering to drive a wedge between our spirit man and our flesh. You may recall that suffering exposes the character of our flesh (whiny, self-centered, blame-shifting, etc.) while at the same time encouraging us, as born-of-God spirit beings, to turn to God for comfort, endurance, and direction.

In the same way, the chaos we will continue to face through much of the 2020s is intended by God to drive a wedge between our spirit man and the world. The individuals, families, and fellowships who choose God’s way through the chaos will enjoy His grace and glory. Sadly, others will allow the chaos to further conform them to the world.

So, how do we join God in the process and help others do the same? The answer can be found in a few familiar passages.

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3-4

Separation from our flesh and the world begins with trust in the LORD – for His grace and faithfulness in the process (Step 1). It will help to know that “the land” is His kingdom, and “delight” means to be soft (i.e., surrendered to His molding hands). The LORD owns the process and knows best how to apply it to His people.

Furthermore, the LORD puts His desire for separation into our hearts. These heart ties draw us into His presence and love, and sustain us when separation from our flesh and the world becomes difficult and painful. The Holy Spirit patiently waits for us to invite Him to stir up the desire of our heart for separation unto the LORD (Step 2). Read the rest of this entry »

…we have known that of God we are, and the whole world in the evil doth lie… 1John 5:19 (YLT)

There are two kingdoms and many nations. The nations of this world lie under the power of the evil one. Notice this is not the literal reading of 1John 5:19, as translated and quoted by many. There is another enemy involved: “the evil”, which is our rebellious and carnal mind. Nevertheless, the dominion of Satan over this world and its nations is convincingly conveyed elsewhere.

And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” Luke 4:6

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience… Ephesians 2:1-2

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 2Corinthians 4:3-4

The United States of America (and every other nation) lies under the power of Satan. It may claim to be “One Nation Under God”, but claims do not make themselves true. This claim can only be true in as much as America is submitted to the reign of God Almighty. Functioning as a democratic republic, where the rights of individuals is paramount, is a difficult to impossible place to start. Read the rest of this entry »

It seems like a good time to republish this article. I pray God will use it to renew your mind regarding America and the church.

Let me begin by saying that I am not proposing an answer to this question. I honestly want to know what Christians mean when they ask me to pray for America. What do they mean when they pray for America?

You may be wondering why this is difficult for me. I suspect it has to do with the definition of terms. I suspect America does not mean the same thing to everyone. Furthermore, I suspect – if you are one of the “pray for America” folks – the following will not sit well with you.

Please don’t dismiss me. I am just looking for answers.

Did you know that America was the number one producer of pornography in the world; and the number one benefactor of the sex slave trade? America also leads the world in the number of incarcerated individuals; a strong indication that America is number one in the practice of lawlessness.

It may sound like I have answered my own question: America needs prayer because America is in grave danger of going the way of many kingdoms before her. And we can’t have that; right? We love America.

Honestly, if that was all there was, I wouldn’t be asking the question. Here’s another: Why do we love America so much that we would pray for her – and be offended when others question why?

This is the crux of my struggle. How much do we love America? Has America become the idol of the church? Read the rest of this entry »

This article is NOT about American political parties and their platforms; it will not suggest how a Christian should vote. The purpose of this article is to encourage Christians to consider, personally and in community, how a citizen of God’s kingdom should be thinking about the election.

The short answer is “not like the world”. The vast majority of those reading this article know they have been called to a different perspective; we have the mind of Christ and are seated with Him in heavenly places. We hope you will consider this as a timely reminder and a tool to help others think like kingdom citizens.

The following includes a number of questions intended to facilitate group discussion. Some answers have been provided, but you and your spheres of influence will likely have your own (and most of those will be correct). Including God in the conversation will facilitate the hearing of faith for everyone involved.

Let’s start with some kingdom perspective. First, all Christians are citizens of two nations or kingdoms: An earthly nation (e.g., the United States of America) and the kingdom of God. Those who are not Christians are only citizens of America. They do not understand the kingdom of God.

  1. Christians have a relationship with both nations. As citizens of America we are responsible to be good citizens and, in turn, we receive certain rights and privileges. The relationship is described as a democratic republic.
  2. As citizens of the kingdom of God, we are bondservants of the King. We have no rights beyond those given to us by the King, but we do have many incredible privileges. What are some of those? Birthright (1John 3:9, Romans 8:16), kingdom knowledge (Matthew 13:11), perspective (Ephesians 2:4-6), and defense against our spiritual enemies (Ephesians 6:10-20) – just to name a few.
  3. Furthermore, as kingdom of God citizens, we have been given certain authority to act on the King’s behalf in the nation of America. What are some of those roles? Royal priesthood, ambassadors, and agents of reconciliation (2Corinthians 5:18-20).
  4. Still, we are sojourners (1Peter 2:9-12). This world is not our home.
Second, God relates and responds differently to His kingdom people than He does to America and its citizens.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Revival is God’s people doing God’s work, God’s way.” Vance Havner (2008)

“The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His way with us.” Oswald Chambers (1995)

I recently learned an important lesson about doing things God’s way. When a local Sunday School class invited us to lead a study of the Sermon on the Mount (SOTM), I suggested a twenty-six-week series. The class leadership countered with twelve weeks or less and only thirty minutes of teaching each week!

How do you cover fifty-plus sayings of Jesus in such a limited timeframe? Concerned twelve weeks would not allow for anything more than a compromised exploration of the most important sermon ever preached and that generalizing the Sermon would not adequately encourage the doing necessary to produce strong houses (Matthew 7:24-25), I pressed for more time. The leaders stood firm.

Much to my surprise, the syllabus we developed together turned out to be God’s way for the study. He used what I would call an overly simplified approach to reveal several foundations of His kingdom and its good news. Honestly, I am amazed at the revelation and encouragement I received from the study.

In the process, I also learned that deep technical dives into Scripture are not always the best method for teaching, and that God orchestrates teaching opportunities with more consideration for the audience’s needs than the teacher’s abilities and preference.

Lastly, I was once again reminded that God has a way for everything; finding and following His ways always leads to exciting adventures and discoveries.

It should come as no surprise that Jesus has much to say about doing things God’s way: the only way He did everything (John 5:19, 30; John 12:49-50; and John 14:24). In this article, we will explore two of God’s ways for doing the sayings of Jesus. But first… Read the rest of this entry »

Faithful stewards of the mysteries of God learn that revelation begets revelation. One discovery of the truth broadens our mindset to reveal or further explain the topography and ways of the kingdom of God. It’s like a steward finding fertile ground on the backside of his master’s estate and then plowing up large nuggets of gold. For some reason, I have in my mind’s eye Jed Clampett shooting at a rabbit and discovering oil.

Anyway, back to the reality of our Father’s kingdom…

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Matthew 5:6

God is not hiding the truth from us that we might never find it. He lovingly accommodates those with an expressed interest in faithful stewardship.

In our article on Living Without Sin, we explored the separation of our spirit man – the one born of God – and our flesh. The importance of this discovery is worth repeating, in summary:

  1. God offers the grace we need to live in victory over sin. We lay hold of that grace through faith (not self-effort).
  2. Recognizing that sin resides within our flesh and not in us (those born of God) gives us clarity and great encouragement for the battle we face against the sin in our lives. God the Holy Spirit is at enmity with the sin in our flesh; not with us. He is our all-powerful ally in the war against sin.
  3. With clarity comes responsibility. As new creatures in Christ, no longer deceived about the battlefield and gloriously aware of His battle tactics, we must take ownership for putting down our flesh (by the Spirit).

This discovery – particularly #2 – leads to an incredibly encouraging revelation about the role suffering plays in the battle against our flesh and its mind.

The Good Purpose of Suffering

Once we realize that our flesh is not a part of who we are as men and women born of God, we can use all forms of suffering to further separate our newly created self from the flesh and its mind. In a very real sense, our new, born-of-God self is not negatively affected by persecution, affliction, trial, and tribulation. Read the rest of this entry »

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Romans 12:2 reveals two important things about the Christian mind. First, there is something wrong with it; it must be “renewed, renovated, and completely changed for the better (Blue Letter Bible, Outline of Biblical Usage, 2020).” Second, without this renewal, the Christian will remain both conformed to the world and unable to know and obey God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will.

The renewal of our minds – required for our transformation into Kingdom citizens – is more challenging than most Christians recognize. We are born with a nature that works hard to interpret the things we hear and read in ways that will not disrupt our established paradigms. We prefer to trust existing interpretations of Scripture and are encouraged to do so by our teachers.

Holding fast to sound doctrine is important, but resistance to paradigm shifts can leave us short on the truth. Therefore, it is important to recognize that the combined doctrines of man fall short of explaining God and His kingdom. Our maturation as Christians requires a humble approach to learning. We would do well to maintain an objective consideration of God’s word and the vastness of its truth.

What if, instead of relying on comfortable interpretations, we accepted the word of God as it is written, allowing it to challenge our paradigms? What if, instead of applying assumptions of hyperbole or metaphor to every passage that threatens us, we wrestled to grasp the depth of God’s word? With these challenges in mind, we offer a case in point from two statements found in John’s first epistle:

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 1John 3:9

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. 1John 5:18

Taken literally, the Holy Spirit (through John) claims that every Christian does not and cannot sin, because he has been born of God, because he keeps himself (i.e., attends to carefully, takes care of, guards), and because the wicked one has no influence over him. Take a moment to consider this claim literally; resist the temptation to explain it away. The implications are astounding!! Read the rest of this entry »

Jesus gave ten examples to help us understand that the kingdom is a matter of the heart. We will conclude our review of these here, as well as draw some general conclusion from Chapter 5. In these final examples, it is particularly easy to identify the “doing” associated with Jesus’ sayings – and that is a good thing.

However, we must remember that Jesus’ focus remains on our hearts, not our performance; the goal is to be made into kingdom citizens, not to make or justify ourselves. This is a very good thing; only the most immature Christian would think they could do these sayings in their own strength.

Love, Bless, Do Good, and Pray for Your Enemies

Several times in this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has used “You have heard…” to extend and enrich our understanding of the Father’s heart desire in the Law and the Prophets. As we will now discover, not only is our understanding potentially more limited and shallower than we would like, in at least one case, it might just be wrong.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:43-45

In this case, Jesus is addressing a humanly devised extension of the Law which was not intended by God. While they were told to love their neighbor (Leviticus 19:18), God never commanded the Israelites to conversely hate their enemies.

Israel had many nations as enemies, and God did identify a few who would suffer for their opposition to His people. However, these were exceptions. In fact, it was God’s intention to bless the nations through His people (a promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3). The religious rulers of Jesus’ day had turned a few specific references into a general rule. In doing so, they caused the entire nation to lose sight of God’s eternal plan. As a side note: We would be wise to recognize our own tendencies to do this very thing, particularly those of us who are teachers and preachers of the Word. Read the rest of this entry »

Jesus gave ten examples to help us understand that the kingdom is a matter of the heart. We will explore three more here. Because they are examples, the “doing” of these sayings is easier to identify – and that is a good thing. However, we must remember that Jesus’ focus remains on our hearts, not our performance; the goal is to be made into kingdom citizens, not to make or justify ourselves.

Do Not Swear at All

Most of Jesus’ sayings in the Sermon on the Mount – you know, those sayings we are to do – are truly beyond our human ability. They are only accomplished by the life of Jesus Christ, the One who has come to live in us. Here we find an exception – one saying that appears quite easy to obey. And yet, mankind has amazingly chosen to do something in complete opposition to what Jesus has said. Truly, how do we excuse ourselves?

Consider the matter of oath taking. Jesus said:

Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. Matthew 5:33-37

Could anything be more clear? Whatever is more than our “yes” and “no” is from the evil one. Why then do so many followers of Jesus Christ submit to the courts of this nation, put one hand on a Bible, raise the other, and swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Is this not taking an oath? Does it make it okay – or does it make it worse – that a Bible is used in this process?

These questions lead us to a deeper kingdom principle; something deeper than dos and don’ts. For those with eyes to see, this is a great example of the subtly of the evil one’s deception; leading to our conformity to the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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