Leaving Laodicea
458 - “I Am the True Vine”

458 - “I Am the True Vine”

May 20, 2020

For the past two months, our nation has been held in the grips of, as President Trump said, an "invisible enemy."   But this "invisible enemy" is not Covid-19.  Nor is it the loss of jobs and the bankruptcy of thousands of small businesses and the inevitable collateral effect that will have on our economy for years, maybe even decades, to come.  No, the "invisible enemy" we face is fear.  And fear is a result of a lack of faith, and a lack of faith renders even the strongest believer useless as His light-bearer (Matt. 5:14-16).

But we know that.  Yet, for some strange reason, it doesn't seem to have any effect on us.  Why?

Because many of us as believers in the West have surrendered our rights and privileges as children of God (Romans 8:16-17), in order to live comfortable lives in this fallen world.  We have made ourselves, as James tells us, "an enemy of God" because of our "friendship with the world" (James 4:4).  Just spend a few minutes on Facebook and you can see the narcissistic cancer that runs unchecked in our culture today... even in the church.

These are truly desperate times.

But what are we to do?  How can we prepare ourselves for what the Lord is allowing to happen?  And what lesson is there to be learned from watching Him bring our evil and proud society to its knees by events beyond anyone's control?  What do we need to do?

Simply this:  We need to grow in our faith and our relationship with our Lord like never before.  Like there is no tomorrow.  Because there might not be.  We are not guaranteed tomorrow (James 4:13-16).  No one is.

Now is the time for serious soul-searching.  Now is the time to put Him first in all things and to lay up for ourselves "treasures in heaven" and not spend our lives collecting trinkets and toys on earth (Matt. 6:19-20).  And the best way to do this is to truly understand what our life is all about and why God created each of us in the first place.

Welcome to John 15.


The Vine and the Branches

For the next few weeks, we will be taking a detailed look at John 15 and our Lord's teaching about His relationship with His Father and our relationship with Him.  We will see the example of a vine, a vinedresser, and branches.  And most importantly, we will grow to understand the importance of fruit.  More fruit (John 15:2).  Much fruit (John 15:5). 

And fruit that will last and remain when all else fails (John 15:16). Jesus began this incredible teaching by saying He is the true Vine, and His Father is the Vinedresser (John 15:1).  Have you ever thought about the nature of a vine, its branches, and the vinedresser?  After all, this is the example Jesus chose to teach us about this relationship.

    • The vine is planted by the vinedresser wherever the vinedresser desires.  The vine has no say on where it is planted.
    • The vine is cared for by the vinedresser.
    • The vine is dependent totally on the vinedresser.
    • The vine’s only function is to produce fruit.
    • But the fruit is for the benefit of the vinedresser.
    • The glory of the vinedresser is his vine, but only if it produces fruit.
    • And the glory of the vine is its fruit.
    • The only function of the branch is to bear the fruit produced by the vine and for the glory of the vinedresser.  It is good for nothing else.

And this is only the beginning.  Join with us as we endeavor to grow closer to the Lord by becoming a fruitful branch of His vine, for the glory of the Vinedresser.  Because at this time in our history, nothing else really matters.

The following is a study on John 15:1-2 on the Vine and the Branches.

To download the slides to this message, click - HERE

455 - What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

455 - What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

April 19, 2020

As we begin our study on John the Baptist, we are going to take the Scripture accounts of his life from all four gospels and merge them into one single narrative.  But rest assured, all you will see is nothing but Scripture.  Nothing has been added.  This helps us get a complete view of John's incredible ministry, the man Jesus said was without rival in all of humanity (Matthew 11:11).

The following is the beginning of John's ministry as told from Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:4-8 and Luke 3:1-18.

(LK) Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

(MT) In those days John the Baptist (MK) came baptizing in the wilderness (MT) of Judea. (LK) And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, (MT) saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"  For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, (LK) saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'" (MT) Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. (MK) Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, (MT) and all the region around the Jordan went out to him (MK) and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

(MT) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, (LK) he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, (MT) "Brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.'  For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.  And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.  Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (LK) So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"  He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise." Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"  And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you."  Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?"  So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages."

Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, (MK) and he preached, (LK) saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water (MT) unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry, [and] (MK) whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.  I indeed baptized you with water, but (LK) He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”  And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.

But there is so much more.  And note the substance of John's preaching.  It was of repentance and the coming Kingdom of Heaven.  Are they both related?  Absolutely.


The Word of God Came to John

Did you catch the open phrase of John's ministry?  It says "the word of God came to John in the wilderness" (Luke 3:2).  How did that happen?  What was that like?  Does God still reveal Himself to others as He did to John?  Or has that time of specific, intimate instruction from God to man somehow ceased?  And if the "word of God" doesn't come to individuals today, did God stop transmitting or did we stop receiving?  These are important questions you must answer for yourself as you grow in your understanding of Him.  But remember, God can do anything He wants to anyone under any circumstance and at any time that pleases Him, period.  And He doesn't ask you or me for permission or how comfortable we feel about what He is doing.  We just hang on for the ride.

That's why it says in Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

Did you get that?  Ask or think.  It may take a measure of faith to ask God for something, but it takes even less to think it.  And God can do "exceedingly abundantly" beyond what we dream about in the solitude of our mind late at night but would never allow it to pass our lips and be heard by others.  God has them both covered.

Join with us as we look at the life of the greatest man that ever lived, according to Jesus.  And I think He is a perfect judge of character.  Don't you?

The following is a study on the Beginning of the Ministry of John the Baptist and the Preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven.

453 - Increase our Faith!

453 - Increase our Faith!

April 11, 2020

As I have been sharing with you since late last year, the times we are facing as believers, and as a church and a nation, demand faith.  But not faith as usual or faith that is comfortable.  We need mature faith, secure faith, maybe even radical faith to believe what our Lord says about everything, and then act on that belief like we truly believe what we claim to believe.

In fact, one of the signs of maturity in our walk with Christ is our ability to drown out the voices of our culture, and even our own voice of fear, doubt, and insecurity, and live in the joy of sheer trust in His character, His Word, and His promises (and warnings).  Our desire is to learn how to trust as a little child does his loving father, without question, and with great joy.  And for logical, pragmatic, even somewhat cynical people, that leap in trust can be quite difficult.

"But where does faith come from?" many often ask.  The disciples recognized their need for more genuine, mature, seasoned faith when it came to continually having to forgive someone who sinned against them over and over again with no true sign of repentance.  When faced with that impossible task, they cried out to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5).

Our need for more faith is apparent.  But where do we go to increase our faith?


Faith and the Word of God

In Romans 10, after speaking about Israel's need to hear the gospel, Paul then makes this most revealing statement:

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom. 10:17)

Or, to put it another way, "faith comes by hearing the word of God."  And it's really just that simple.  The object of what we are to hear to increase our faith is the Word of God.

If you have been in church for any amount of time, you know that on Easter you will hear a sermon about the resurrection, just like you will hear about the birth of Jesus during December.  It's just what we in the church do.  It's almost a sacred tradition.

This means that many of us have heard dozens of sermons about the empty tomb every late March or early April.  And if we're not careful, the wonder of the resurrection may get dull by rote habit or tradition.  Remember, familiarity often breeds contempt.

But this Sunday, I want God's Word to bring the sermon and not me.  I want each of us to have our faith increased by hearing His Word, and not by hearing a pastor (like me) expound on His Word.  In essence, let's go directly to the source for the pure milk of His Word and not settle for the homogenized, skim stuff.

Therefore, I have taken the liberty of reading a combined account of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord taken from the four gospel accounts.  In other words, what you will hear is everything Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote so we can get a perfect picture of everything that transpired with our Lord and His disciples from His death until His ascension.  And to be quite honest, I have preached these passages for decades and yet found myself mesmerized as I marveled at the picture they present when combined and synthesized together.

What you will hear is pure Scripture (although I do make a comment or two.  Sorry, can't help it.  It's in my nature).  And I will let you know the source from where I am reading before I read.

So join with me today as we let the Holy Spirit, using Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, present our Easter sermon for us.  I will simply try to act as the host or facilitator, bring a few comments of clarification or questions, as we listen to this wondrous story.

The following is a study on the Resurrection of Christ as told from all four gospel accounts.

452 - How to Hear God’s Voice

452 - How to Hear God’s Voice

April 3, 2020

As we see the day of His return approaching, we must be more diligent to make sure we don't fall for the great deception Jesus spoke about (Matt. 24:4) and prepare ourselves for the coming apostasy (2 Thes. 2:3). Why?  Because as our Lord warned the deception would be so great even the elect, if possible, would be deceived and fall away (Matt. 24:214). So what are we to do?  How do we become a faith prepper and guard ourselves against such great deception?  The answer is simple to understand, yet difficult to do.  In Cliff Notes style:

You must personally experience God yourself. Second-hand faith won't cut it. Your faith must be first-person, personal. You cannot live on the faith of another. And your encounters with God must be on-going and habitual. Especially as we see the darkness approaching. This is what becoming a faith prepper is all about.

In essence, you must know God.  Intimately.  Personally.   And you do that by learning to hear His voice.

"And this is eternal life, that they may know (ginōskō) You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3)

The key to not falling for falsehood and deception is an experience with God.  After all, a relationship between two people must include talking and listening from both parties.  And so it is the same with each of us and the Lord.  We talk. We ask. We beg. Sometimes we demand.  But does God ever speak personally to us?  If so, how?  And how often?


How To Hear God's Voice

The key to learning to hear God's voice is desire.  Do you have a desire to thirst after Him and His righteousness more than you do, for example, to keep abreast of current events?  Do you watch FOX News more than you spend time in His Word?  Are you on Facebook more than on your knees in prayer?  If so, why are we surprised we seldom if ever, hear the voice of our Lord? Remember, a key characteristic of being one of the Lord's sheep is being able to hear His voice.

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know (ginōskō) them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27)

Did you get that?  Jesus' sheep hear His voice.  It's the defining characteristic of being His sheep.  But what does that say if we don't hear His voice?  What are the implications? The key to intimacy with anyone is communication. That’s two-way communication.  Between each of us and the Lord.  So one of the most important things we can learn in our life with Christ is how to hear his voice? Do you long to hear His voice?  Do you have a hard time differentiating between His voice and your own voice?  If so, keep on listening.

The following is a study on How to Hear God's Voice.

451 - Everything Follows Faith

451 - Everything Follows Faith

April 3, 2020

One of the questions each of us will have to come to grips with as we see the time of our Lord's return approaching is this:  Do you believe what you say you believe?  Or, more pointedly, how does your life reflect what you claim to believe?  In other words, do we really believe everything the Scriptures say about God, this world, heaven and hell, our lives, the future, whatever?  Or are we somehow hedging our bet in His Word to fit what we feel or think?   Consider the following scriptures and ask yourself if you truly believe what they say.

But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Do you believe this statement to be true of you?  If so, make it personal by putting your name in the place of "those".

But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for (your name) who love Him."

Let's try one more.  Do you believe this statement to be true?

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

If you believe God can do more than you can ask or think, then put your name in this verse.  Make it first-person, personal.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that (I can) ask or think, according to the power that works in (me), to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

So why is this important?  Because your relationship with God, your intimacy with the Father, will rise and fall on your belief in Him and in His character. Your beliefs always determine your actions.  Always.  In everything.  For example, if you don't believe God can do "exceedingly abundantly above all that (I can) ask or think," then you will be overcome by your doubts and fears and feel like a helpless kitten abandoned in the dark.  But if you believe God is who He says He is, then you will be invincible in faith before anything that comes your way.

Why?  Because everything follows faith!


Everything Follows Faith

Search your soul and ask yourself the following questions:

Do you really believe what the Scriptures say about God, life, His church, and you?
Do you really think it’s possible to learn how to hear His voice speak to you in a way that is unmistakable?
Do you believe you will ever experience an outpouring of His Spirit like what is revealed in Scripture during your lifetime?

Or let's hit a little closer to home.

Do you believe these statements are true?
Do you believe what God's Word proclaims is true as reality, and not necessarily what we see, feel, or hear?
How are you going to begin to change your life to live in His Kingdom and not in the world that is fallen and passing away?
And are you ready to begin today?

If you answer yes to the last question, you are just beginning the great adventure.  So hang on, it's going to be quite a ride!

The following is a study on Faith and Actions and focuses on Numbers 9 and 2 Kings 8.

449 - The Limitations of Apologetics

449 - The Limitations of Apologetics

February 18, 2020

As the Scriptures claim, one of the greatest signs of the end is the mass defection or apostasy from the Christian faith by those who once claimed to be believers.  Paul, in his letter to Timothy, warns that the "Spirit expressly says that (when) in latter times (who) some (what) will depart from the faith, (how) giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1).  This great apostasy is characterized by a rebellion or revolt against God and His Word.  And it is promoted by those who once claimed Jesus as Lord but are now "giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."  Peter says "scoffers will come in the last days" (2 Peter 3:3-4).  Jude calls them "mockers" (Jude 17-19).

So what are we to do in the face of this great apostasy?  How do we answer skeptics when they demand we "prove our God exists?"  How do we defend our faith in the unseen God?  What are we to do?  Historically, the answer has been to study up on apologetics and be prepared to go toe to toe with those who demand answers from us void of faith.  But is that the real purpose of apologetics?  I'm not so sure.

For the message (or, preaching) of the cross is foolishness (mōría - folly, absurdity, moronic, stupid, senseless, foolhardy, insane) to (who) those who are perishing (or, being destroyed completely, to render void), but to (who) us who are being saved (to deliver, make whole, preserve safe from danger, loss, or destruction) it (the message of the cross) is the power (dúnamis) of God - 1 Corinthians 1:18.

Our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic to those who are perishing.  Period.  And apologetics won't change that fact.  Think about it, our God doesn't need defending.  He can take care of Himself.  And you cannot lead someone to Christ by logically answering all their questions about faith and the Scriptures to their satisfaction.  Why?  Because faith in Him is a gift from God and, before God imparts faith to the individual, the lost are incapable of believing the Gospel.  To them, our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic.

So, is apologetics important?  Absolutely.  But not necessarily in the way you think.


Apologetics

The purpose of apologetics is for you to have all your questions answered about God and salvation and to allow your faith to grow strong.  It is not for the direct benefit of the lost.  This is what 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 shows in graphic detail.  It has always been God's plan to thwart man's wisdom by revealing Himself through something man considers foolish.  He does this to bring to nothing the wisdom of this world and, in turn, exalt faith in Him as the key that opens the door of salvation.  Consider the following from 1 Corinthians 1:21-22:

Question:  Where is the wise (or, respected, learned philosophers and experts)?
Question:  Where is the scribe (or, writers, scholars)?
Question:  Where is the disputer (or, debater, reasoner, influencer) of this age?
Question:  Has not (who) God made (what) foolish the wisdom of this world (kósmos)
Answer:  Absolutely!

But why?

For since, in the (what) wisdom of God, the world through (its) wisdom did not know (ginōskō - or choose to know) God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached (foolishness to those who are perishing) to save those who believe (faith).

The reason for apologetics is for you to be secure in your faith and not necessarily to convince someone by the power of your arguments to receive Christ.  That is a sovereign act of God alone.  And prior to the impartation of faith in the elect, our most important argument is foolishness (stupid, ridiculous, moronic, insane) to those who are perishing.  Jesus never gave signs for others to believe in Him. So let me ask you just a few questions about your belief vs. God's wisdom.

  • Do you believe in the creation account in Genesis?
  • Do you believe in the virgin birth?
  • Do you believe in the floating ax head?
  • Do you believe in the lion’s den or the fiery furnace?
  • Do you believe in the fall of Jericho?
  • Do you believe a good God sometimes does things that don’t seem so good to us today?
  • Do you believe God rewards faith and punishes unbelief?

Are there parts of His Word that you don’t believe?  If so, you are on very dangerous ground.  Why?  Because Jesus said the deception in the last days would be so great that, if it was possible, even the elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24).  And that includes you and me.

As we see the day of His return approaching, it is vital to know what we believe to be true.  For help in securing your belief against apostasy, keep listening.

The following is a study on the Limitations of Apologetics as found in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

448 - Narcissism:  The Ultimate End Time Personality Disorder

448 - Narcissism: The Ultimate End Time Personality Disorder

February 15, 2020

Jesus chastised the religious elite of His day for their confidence in predicting things like the weather, but not being able to discern the signs of the times.  In fact, He called them hypocrites.  Remember?  "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.'  Hypocrites!  You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times" - Matthew 16:2-3.  I wonder if He would say the same about His church today?  After all, it appears we all seem to know everything about everything.  Just ask us.

It seems we resemble those that Isaiah was called to address.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight - Isaiah 5:20-21.

But there is one prophetic statement of Jesus regarding the times before us that is hard for many, including me, to understand.  That is until today.  Jesus said "because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Matt. 24:12).  Got that.  He also promised that "a man's enemies will be those of his own household" (Matt. 10:36).  How is that possible?  How can our love for our spouse or children grow so cold we will treat them as enemies to the extent of hatred and betrayal? (Matt. 24:10).  How can that be true?  What sort of perverted human would turn on his own family for the sake of himself?  What kind of depraved mind or personality disorder would produce sociopaths with a love this cold?

In a word, it's called narcissism.  And it is the ultimate end-time personality disorder.


Narcissism

In general, narcissism or narcissistic traits can be described as follows:

  • They have an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
  • They have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration.
  • They expect and demand to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it.
  • They exaggerate their achievements and talents.
  • They are preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate.
  • They believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people.'
  • They monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior (which is just about everyone).
  • They expect and demand special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations.
  • They habitually take advantage of others to get what they want.
  • They have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others.
  • They are envious of others and believe others envy them.
  • They behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious.
  • They Insist on having the best of everything because they are entitled.

And they are everywhere!  They multiply like kudzu.

Narcissism may very well be the ultimate personality disorder of the end-times.  And it certainly fits the Laodicean church model.  In fact, psychologists believe that in the last 15 years over 30% of our population now registers on the narcissism spectrum.  And that number grows daily.

So what are we to do?  Great question.  Keep listening to find out more.

The following is a study on Narcissism and the End Times.

447 - The Two Invitations

447 - The Two Invitations

January 23, 2020

One of the vital truths regarding our desire to follow Christ is to fully understand our union with Him.  After all, we are invited to become one with Him and are described in Scripture as being "in Christ."  In Romans 8 we are called “children of God” that are "adopted" into His family and are now "joint heirs with Christ."  Romans 6 tells us our old man has died and Christ now lives in us in the Presence of the Holy Spirit.  But do we really understand the implication of what this means?

Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, states "Union with Christ is a phrase that summarizes several different relationships between believers and Christ, through which Christians receive every benefit of salvation. These relationships include the fact that (1) we are in Christ, (2) Christ is in us, (3) we are like Christ, and (4) we are with Christ."   Ok, I've got that.  But is there more to this union with Christ than dry theology?  Can I really experience union with Him?  And, if so, how is that done?  What do I have to do to experience the fullness of my union, my relationship, with Christ?

Great questions.   And the simple answer is, "Yes, you can know the wonder of our union with Him."  And the wonder of it comes with the invitation of Christ to be joined with Him.

Consider the following invitation found in Matthew 11:28.  It is a familiar passage:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Now, let's see what it means by defining a few terms.

"Come to Me, all you who labor (to be worn out, fatigued, faint, weary) and are heavy laden (to overload, heavily burdened, like with the freight of a ship), and I will give you rest (to cease from labor, to refresh, relax, loosen, to be at peace or rest)."

Do you see the trust relationship implied in this invitation?  Do you see Christ's invitation to let Him carry your troubles and you rest in Him?  To be united in Him?

Many of us struggle with this and ask how is that accomplished?  How can I truly experience rest in Him?  Is it just a mental thing?  Or is it some sort of resolution I make and then fail at when things get uncertain or tough?  Is it a mantra I go over and over again in my mind, like "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can"?  Or is it something else?

Oh, it is definitely something else.  Let's look at the second invitation.


To Abide in Him

The second invitation reveals to us the "how" of our union and complete trust in Him.  This invitation is found in John 15:4, and elsewhere in that chapter.

"Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me."

Note the two-fold relationship.  One, I abide in Christ.  And two, He abides in me.  This is vital.  And "abide" means, "to remain, dwell, live, to make one's home, to be united with one heart, mind, and will."  So I "remain" and "make my home" in Christ, "to be united with one heart, mind, and will" with Him.  And He will "remain" and "make His home" in me, "to be united with one heart, mind, and will" with Me.  This is what it means to abide.

As you listen to this podcast in order to understand more of this marvelous relationship we have with the Lord, remember the following:

The branch (you and I) does not produce the fruit.  That comes from the Vine (Christ). The branch does not secure the nutrients necessary to produce the fruit.  That again comes from the Vine (Christ). The branch does not position the buds to get the most sunlight.  The Vinedresser (Father) does that. The branch does not prune dead wood.  Again, that is the Father's job. The branch does not provide water nor sunlight. The branch does not participate in harvesting. The branch (you and I) only bears the work of the Vine (Jesus) for the glory of the Vinedresser (the Father).

The key to all Christ has provided for us is found in a dependent, branch to vine, relationship with Him.  He would not require from us what He has not equipped us to give.  This kind of life is possible and provided for you and is the default position as a believer in Christ.  But to experience the fullness of this relationship, we must surrender our petty desires to Him.

So, once again, the choice is ours.  We can continue to live in lukewarm Laodicea satisfied with less than the abundant life Christ promised.  Or we can jump into the deep end of the pool and surrender all to Him.  It's not complicated.  It's just hard.  What do you want to do?  The ball is in your court.

The following is a study on being Fully Surrendered to God from John 15.

446 - Experiencing the Fullness of the Holy Spirit

446 - Experiencing the Fullness of the Holy Spirit

January 20, 2020

How does one receive the Holy Spirit?   Simple.  As Peter said in Acts 2:38-39, you "repent" and "believe."  Which just happens to be the same requirements for salvation.  After all, the guarantee of our inheritance in Him is the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14).  This is a truth most Christians know and understand.  No Holy Spirit, no salvation.  It's as simple as that.

But how does one experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit?  How do we find our joy in Him?  Or, how do we experience the "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8) as a daily, living reality?  How is that possible? Consider the following:

Every believer has received the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is only received by repentance and faith in Jesus at salvation.
There is a fullness of the Holy Spirit that is usually greater than what is experienced at conversion.  Your own experience confirms this truth.
As there are certain conditions for receiving the Holy Spirit, there are also certain conditions for experiencing the fullness of the Spirit.
They are primarily found in Romans 6 and 12.

Let's dig a bit deeper, shall we?


Two Words:  Deny and Surrender

The fullness of the Holy Spirit is found in the same way, and under the same conditions, as following Jesus.  Do you remember the requirements Jesus placed on those who desired to follow Him?  They are self-denial and surrender and are found in Matthew 16:24-25, among other places.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

Denial and surrender.  Or, by letting the Lord be Lord over our lives.  The same principle is required to experience the fullness of the Spirit.  To experience the fullness of the Spirit requires the absolute, unqualified surrender of your life to God, to do His will and not your own.  But this shouldn't surprise you.  You had to do this to receive salvation by declaring someone other than yourself as Lord.

Remember, when we surrender our sins and believe, we receive the Holy Spirit with salvation.  And when we surrender our lives and believe, we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  Why?   Because the receiving of the Spirit is God's answer to repentance and faith and the guarantee of our salvation.  And, in a like manner, experiencing the fullness of the Spirit is God's answer to a life surrendered to Him.  When we are saved the Spirit enters into our life.  But at surrender, the Spirit takes full possession of our lives and brings us the blessings that come from a life that is fully surrendered to God.

So the choice is ours.  We can continue to live in lukewarm Laodicea satisfied with less than the abundant life Christ promised.  Or we can jump into the deep end of the pool and surrender all to Him.  It's not complicated.  It's just hard.  What do you want to do?  The ball is in your court.

The following is a study on being Fully Surrendered to God from Romans 6.

442 - How to Surrender Your Life to Him

442 - How to Surrender Your Life to Him

December 16, 2019

We have looked at what it takes to become a Faith Prepper over the last few weeks.  We did this by learning to pray at all times by letting the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, direct your prayers.   And we also spent some time learning how to trust at all times by allowing your faith to grow by having it exercised in often unpleasant situations.  But even with all of this, we still are plagued with a few questions.

How do we go from talking about faith to living by faith?
How do we learn to trust the Lord in all things?
How do we know and understand His will?
What are the practical steps we need to take to surrender our all to Him?
And how can we go about doing just that?

The answer, according to Scripture, is found in the single word, surrender.  It means "to yield, give up or over, submit, abandon, relinquish, cede, waive, or capitulate.  From the Christian perspective, it means to relinquish ownership of what we consider ours: our property, rights, time, decisions, future, independence, basically our life.

Surrender, like most things, is a choice.

The classic passage on total surrender is found in Galatians 2:20.  It reads: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." But there is so much more.


Everybody Serves Somebody

In order to surrender our life to the Lord, we must first recognize we are created as a triune being.  We consist of three parts: mind, body, and will.  Total surrender comes when we purposely and with intention surrender all parts of ourselves to Him.

First, we must surrender our mind.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every (what)  thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ - 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

Next, we must surrender our body to the Lord. 

And then finally, we must surrender our will to the Lord.

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it" - Luke 9:23-24.  Note both "desire" and "deny himself, and take up his cross daily".  This speaks of both the surrender of the will and the body or flesh.

Remember, you are not filled with the Holy Spirit because you desire to be filled nor because you confess your sins or present your body a living sacrifice— you are filled by faith.  So it is with a surrender to the Lord.  If we are willing but find your flesh weak, God is strong and will complete what you are unable to do.  What God is initially looking for is your willingness to be all His.  It all begins with desire.

One final note, if you believe God is good and He is sovereign, can you give me one reason not to fully submit and surrender yourself to Him?

Me neither.  Other than pride.  And that's not a good thing.

So where are you in your journey to surrender your life to the Lord?  Have you surrendered yourself and left your life in His hands?  Or have you, like many today, surrendered one moment and then snatched it out of His hands the next?  Are you tired of the endless struggle and sense of failure?  If so, then keep listening.

The following is a study on How to Surrender Your Life to the Lord.