Leaving Laodicea
329 - How to Approach the Lord

329 - How to Approach the Lord

November 23, 2015
The Scriptures talk much about how to approach the Lord or how to "come into His presence" (Ps. 95:2).  From the words to Moses at the burning bush:  "Do not draw near this place.  Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground" (Ex. 3:5), to the invitation from Christ:  "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28)— we see examples of how to come near to the Holy One.

But there's one place in Scripture that reveals more about how to approach the Lord than any other.  And that is found in Psalm 100.  Or, as Spurgeon called it, "the ol' one hundred."

So join with me as we discover what it means to "Come before His presence with singing" and to "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise" (Ps. 100:2, 4).  I think you'll be surprised.  Why?  Because it doesn't mean what you think it means.

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Psalm 100:1-5.

328 - Your True Nature = Your First Thought

328 - Your True Nature = Your First Thought

November 15, 2015
Believe it or not, your first thought about something is a telling indicator of your core nature.  It's your knee-jerk reaction that shows what you are made of and who you belong to— the god of this world or the One you claim as your Lord.

Ask yourself this:  When you're faced with a problem or an inconvenience, what’s your first thought?

Is it, how does this problem affect me?
Or, is it how does this problem affect my family, or others, or the ones I love?

Is your first thought about you?  Or is it about the welfare of others?

Your answer may be a key indicator as to your true nature.  And your true nature is the single, most important indicator as to whether or not you're saved.  Confused?  Maybe a bit angry?  Good.  Then keep listening to find out what you need to do.

The following is a study on Colossians 2:11-15.

325 - He is De-Vine and We are De-Branch

325 - He is De-Vine and We are De-Branch

October 27, 2015
From John 15:

John 15:1 – “I am (Jesus) the true (or, genuine, perfect, real, essential, enduring, not true as opposed to false) vine and My Father (God the Father) is the vinedresser (or, farmer, gardener, husbandman, a tiller of the soil, a vine keeper).”

But it gets better.

John 15:2 – “Every (or, all, each and every one, the whole, in totality, lacking none) branch in (abiding in) Me (Jesus) that does not bear fruit He (the Vinedresser) takes away (or, lifts up, elevates, raises up, to raise from the ground, to carry, to bear, to remove from its place); and every (or, all, each and every one, the whole, in totality, lacking none) branch that bears fruit He (the Vinedresser) prunes (or, cleans, makes pure, spotless, and without stain; to purify from filth, to cleanse from defilement), (why) that it may bear more fruit.”

And then the key word:  abide.  To abide means “to remain, to rest, to dwell, to live.  Also, to spend time, to continue steadfast, to persevere, to tarry, to continue, to remain in or with someone, to remain united with someone, being of one heart, one mind, and one will.  It defines something that remains where it is, continues in a fixed state, or endures. ”

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 15:1-3.

315 - True Comfort in the Midst of Horrific Pain

315 - True Comfort in the Midst of Horrific Pain

July 30, 2015
When Jesus tried to comfort His disciples He went about it in a way that seems foreign to us.  We comfort by trying to take the pain away, by saying some soothing words that aren't always true.

We say, "Hey, don't worry about it, don't cry, everything's going to be alright"— even when we know it won't.

But Jesus comforted His disciples by pointing to the big picture, the grand scheme, to life beyond the here and now.  He had them look beyond their current pain and predicament to the reality of eternity.  And in that light, how bad can a few passing problems in this life really be?

He said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3).

Jesus is preparing a place for me, and He's coming back for me, so I can be where He is.  Changes everything, doesn't it?

The following is a study on John 14:1-6.

310 - Is it Possible to Love Like Jesus?

310 - Is it Possible to Love Like Jesus?

July 1, 2015
After Judas left the others in the Upper Room to go finalize his act of grand betrayal, Jesus affectionately spoke to those who remained, calling them His "little children" (John 13:33).  He then gave them a new command.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love (agape) one another; as I have loved (agape) you, that you also love (agape) one another.  By this (your love for one another) all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another" (John 13:34-35).

Question:  How is that even possible?  How are we to love each other the way Christ loves us?  What does that look like in real life?  And why is our love for each other the defining mark of being a disciple of Christ?

Do you want to find out if it is even possible to love like Jesus?  If so, keep listening.

The following is a study on John 13:31-38.

305 - How to Love Those Who Hurt Us

305 - How to Love Those Who Hurt Us

May 17, 2015
One truth in the Christian life is that we have all been hurt by those we love and by those who we thought loved us.  Whether it's our spouse, our family, a former close friend, or someone in the church, we've all suffered from the words or actions of someone else we trusted.  And the scars run deep.

So what do we do?  Mostly, we withdraw, vowing to never trust again.  We pull up the drawbridge, turn out the light, and hide alone deep in our room.  Simon and Garfunkel, many years ago, captured this so well in their song, I Am a Rock.

I've built walls, a fortress deep and mighty, that none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock, I am an island.

Don't talk of love, I've heard the words before; It's sleeping in my memory.
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock, I am an island.

But the Christian life is not meant to be lived in bitterness, fear and unforgiveness.  Why?  Because Christ purchased our freedom and freely offers that freedom to us.  It's ours for the asking.
To find out how to love those who have hurt you or the ones you love, keep listening.

The following is a study on 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13.

301 - How Can We Know the All-Knowing One?

301 - How Can We Know the All-Knowing One?

April 17, 2015
Paul's prayer for the church at Colosse was that they would be "filled with the knowledge of His will" and they would "increase in the knowledge of God" (Col. 1:9-10).  

How is that even possible?
How do we increase in the knowledge of God?
How do we grow closer to Him?
How can we learn to hear His voice?
And how can we live in the center of His will?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?  If so, keep listening for the answers.

The following is a study on Colossians 1:9-11.

300 - The Cleansing of Your Temple

300 - The Cleansing of Your Temple

April 8, 2015
In Matthew 21 we see Jesus enter the temple of God, and He violently "drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves" (Matt. 21:12).  And He proclaimed God's temple was to be a "house of prayer" and not the "den of thieves" they had made it (Matt. 21:13).  And once that cleansing was done, something amazing happened.

Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them (Matt. 21:14).

Did you catch that?  First, a cleansing to turn the temple into a house of purity.  Next, the declaration that His house is a house of prayer.  Then, it becomes a house of power when the blind and lame are healed "in the temple" (Matt. 21:14).  And finally, it becomes a house of praise (Matt. 21:16).

Could the same thing happen to you?  Absolutely.  Keep listening and find out how.

The following is a study on Matthew 21:12-16.

299 - How Can God Love Us as Much as He Says He Does?

299 - How Can God Love Us as Much as He Says He Does?

April 1, 2015
The truth found in the Scriptures is that God loves us with an everlasting love, even when we don't love Him.  In fact, at the point of our deepest sin and rebellion, at the time of our greatest rejection of Him, at the very moment of our disdain for the sacrifice of His Son, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).  And He expects, even commands, us to love each other with the kind of love He has for us.

Which leads us to ask a couple of questions.

How can we love others with God’s love when we find it so hard to feel loved by God ourselves?
Does God sometimes hide from us and our pain?
And, if not, why does He allow pain and suffering to happen to me and my family?
Where is His love during those bad times?

Troubling questions.  Do you want to know the answers?  If so, keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 1:3-5.

297 - Living in Christian Community

297 - Living in Christian Community

March 17, 2015
We have unfortunately let the emerging church people hijack the term community, or fellowship, or koinonia, and turn it into something orthodox Christianity now rejects.  And that is a shame.  Nevertheless, community is how the Lord intended us to live.  Not convinced?  Then read the first few chapters in the book of Acts.

But a few questions remain.  

How can we “esteem others better than ourselves”?  (Phil. 2:3).
How can we “love (agape) one another as Christ has loved (agape) us”?  (John 13:34).
How can we live in fellowship (koinōnia) together, “bearing each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ?”  (Gal. 6:2).
How can we live in Christian community with each other, as a loving family, as part of His body functioning together as one?
Do we even want to live that way?
And, if we do, what would motivate us to love each other more than we love ourselves and to forgive each other— no matter what?
Is that even possible today?

Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 1:2 and grace and peace.