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‎Leaving Laodicea | Steve McCranie

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Have you ever felt like your spiritual life is lukewarm and lacking?

If so, this podcast is for you. In Leaving Laodicea, we will explore truths that will allow us to embrace the Higher Christian Life or experience the "abundant life" (John 10:10) as Jesus called it. You'll find practical tips and tools on how to live a more victorious life in Christ.

Leaving Laodicea is a podcast by Steve McCranie for those who are dissatisfied with the lukewarmness of their own spiritual lives and desire… Continue Reading >>
Have you ever felt like your spiritual life is lukewarm and lacking?

If so, this podcast is for you. In Leaving Laodicea, we will explore truths that will allow us to embrace the Higher Christian Life or experience the "abundant life" (John 10:10) as Jesus called it. You'll find practical tips and tools on how to live a more victorious life in Christ.

Leaving Laodicea is a podcast by Steve McCranie for those who are dissatisfied with the lukewarmness of their own spiritual lives and desire to grow spiritually by walking through Scripture with fresh eyes and discovering new insights into God's Word.

So what do we do? We change, we commit, we refocus, we refuse to allow yesterday's failures to define our relationship with Christ today. So join us as we strive for the Higher Christian Life while we learn how to Leave Laodicea behind. << Show Less
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536 - Evaluating Our Priorities in These Dark Times The Importance of Being a Faith PrepperIf you look around at our culture, you can see things are getting darker for our nation and the church. We have experienced betrayal at the highest level of our government. Our elected officials lie as if it was a spiritual gift and are never held accountable. In fact, we almost expect it from those who hold those positions. And God’s judgment is being slowly unleashed upon our land. We have record inflation, rising crime, war breaking out all over the globe, violence and hatred worn as a badge of honor, and a growing apostasy that has not only overtaken the pulpits of America, but also the pews.And every day it only seems to get worse.What are we to do? How can we protect our children and grandchildren from being groomed in school to hate their gender and crave to be something God did not create them to be? Men are no longer men and women are no longer women. We must now, like living in an asylum, call someone by their chosen pronoun, regardless of how little that pronoun resembles their reality.And to do otherwise could get you canceled, fired, arrested, or imprisoned for a hate crime, whatever that is. What a strange, evil, and insane world we have created for ourselves. No wonder God’s judgment is unfolding on His rebellious creation. And no wonder we, as believers, will also suffer the collateral damage that comes from living in silence in a world that needs our voice. We all, as the church, have blood on our hands.After all, Jesus said it rains on “the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). So you better get ready for rain.Keeping the First Thing FirstToday we are going to learn how to become a Faith Prepper. A Faith Prepper is one who sees the darkness coming and realizes the importance of having faith that can move mountains (Matt. 17:20) and will do whatever is necessary to become more like his Lord. A Faith Prepper is the “prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,” and not the “simple who pass on and are punished” (Prov. 22:3). He sees the big picture and understands the core truths of this life. In essence, a Faith Prepper is one who has the priorities of their life arranged correctly, putting God first and everything else, including self, second.Here are few things a Faith Prepper understands.• God is sovereign. Let that sink in for a moment. When you get a grasp of what this entails, everything in your life changes.• He is a King, and we are citizens of His Kingdom.• The highest satisfaction in life is to surrender our lives to Him, the One who created us and gives us breath and to trust Him for all things, now and forever. From His perspective, nothing else really matters.• We surrender our lives to Him by faith. Faith in His Word, faith in His promises, faith in His character and attributes, and faith in His faithfulness.• And if we trust Him for all things, He promises us immense blessings, both now and forever.Becoming a Faith Prepper is to take God at His Word and believe whatever He says, no matter what. And when we believe His Word and act upon it like we truly trusted what God said, we can experience the promises that accompany faith and obedience. And those promises are beyond comprehension (1 Cor. 2:9). Literally.But often we miss the promises and blessings of God because we place ourselves first and leave Him and His glory a distant second. And when we do, God will chastise us, as a loving Father, to bring us back into the fold of His blessing.And there is no better example of this than in the small, two chapter book of Haggai.Join us as we look at the book of Haggai and discover the importance of putting God first in all things before He allows us to suffer the consequences of our selfishness and lack of faith. And no one, trust me, wants to be on the receiving end of the consequences of our sin.To download the slides for this message, click – HEREOur Latest Posts:535: What We Know to be True About Christ<a href="https://www.leavinglaodicea.com/whatever-the-problem-the-lord-is-near-534/" rel="noopener norefe
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536 - Evaluating Our Priorities in These Dark Times The Importance of Being a Faith PrepperIf you look around at our culture, you can see things are getting darker for our nation and the church. We have experienced betrayal at the highest level of our government. Our elected officials lie as if it was a spiritual gift and are never held accountable. In fact, we almost expect it from those who hold those positions. And God’s judgment is being slowly unleashed upon our land. We have record inflation, rising crime, war breaking out all over the globe, violence and hatred worn as a badge of honor, and a growing apostasy that has not only overtaken the pulpits of America, but also the pews.And every day it only seems to get worse.What are we to do? How can we protect our children and grandchildren from being groomed in school to hate their gender and crave to be something God did not create them to be? Men are no longer men and women are no longer women. We must now, like living in an asylum, call someone by their chosen pronoun, regardless of how little that pronoun resembles their reality.And to do otherwise could get you canceled, fired, arrested, or imprisoned for a hate crime, whatever that is. What a strange, evil, and insane world we have created for ourselves. No wonder God’s judgment is unfolding on His rebellious creation. And no wonder we, as believers, will also suffer the collateral damage that comes from living in silence in a world that needs our voice. We all, as the church, have blood on our hands.After all, Jesus said it rains on “the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). So you better get ready for rain.Keeping the First Thing FirstToday we are going to learn how to become a Faith Prepper. A Faith Prepper is one who sees the darkness coming and realizes the importance of having faith that can move mountains (Matt. 17:20) and will do whatever is necessary to become more like his Lord. A Faith Prepper is the “prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,” and not the “simple who pass on and are punished” (Prov. 22:3). He sees the big picture and understands the core truths of this life. In essence, a Faith Prepper is one who has the priorities of their life arranged correctly, putting God first and everything else, including self, second.Here are few things a Faith Prepper understands.• God is sovereign. Let that sink in for a moment. When you get a grasp of what this entails, everything in your life changes.• He is a King, and we are citizens of His Kingdom.• The highest satisfaction in life is to surrender our lives to Him, the One who created us and gives us breath and to trust Him for all things, now and forever. From His perspective, nothing else really matters.• We surrender our lives to Him by faith. Faith in His Word, faith in His promises, faith in His character and attributes, and faith in His faithfulness.• And if we trust Him for all things, He promises us immense blessings, both now and forever.Becoming a Faith Prepper is to take God at His Word and believe whatever He says, no matter what. And when we believe His Word and act upon it like we truly trusted what God said, we can experience the promises that accompany faith and obedience. And those promises are beyond comprehension (1 Cor. 2:9). Literally.But often we miss the promises and blessings of God because we place ourselves first and leave Him and His glory a distant second. And when we do, God will chastise us, as a loving Father, to bring us back into the fold of His blessing.And there is no better example of this than in the small, two chapter book of Haggai.Join us as we look at the book of Haggai and discover the importance of putting God first in all things before He allows us to suffer the consequences of our selfishness and lack of faith. And no one, trust me, wants to be on the receiving end of the consequences of our sin.To download the slides for this message, click – HEREOur Latest Posts:535: What We Know to be True About Christ<a href="https://www.leavinglaodicea.com/whatever-the-problem-the-lord-is-near-534/" rel="noopener norefe
535 - What We Know to be True About Christ The Importance of Looking BackAs we have been preparing ourselves spiritually for the dark, troubling times ahead, it is quite helpful to pause and take a moment and remember what we know to be true about Christ. This is the discipline of looking back. God commanded the children of Israel to make a pillar of twelve stones at their crossing of the Jordan River. Why? So when their children’s children would ask them what the stones meant, it was a reminder to look back and remember how faithful God was to them then, and is still faithful today.It was a way God provided to grow the faith of His children as they entered the promise land. And it also works for us today.So let’s look at some truths about the Lord and our relationship with Him that don’t change with time. And in doing so, let’s pray our faith will be strengthened for the days ahead.Here are a few things we know about God and His relationship with us.• God is Sovereign.• There is nothing greater or higher than God.• God created everything, including us, for a purpose.• Knowing God’s purpose for creating us and serving our Creator is the most important thing we can do.• It is a great and indescribable blessing for a lowly creation like us to be able to have a relationship with their Creator. Yet that is what our Creator has allowed.• God is also a King and has a Kingdom.• As King in His Kingdom, He rules supremely.• We have been granted citizenship into His Kingdom.• And we have been granted this great gift on the basis of God’s grace and mercy, and not on our own merit.• As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have certain responsibilities and duties to our King.• And our King gives us the power to carry these out.• This amazing power comes from the King Himself, who has chosen to live in us, His citizens, in the Person of the Holy Spirit.• Therefore, the King is always with us.• He will not, nor ever has, left us alone or as orphans.• So we are empowered and protected by our King.• But our King also loves us.• So much so, our King has adopted us as His children, and has given us an inheritance as such.Ah, and it gets even better.God Wants Us to Know Him PersonallyMore than being simply a citizen of His Kingdom, God has better plans for those He loves. He wants us to know and experience Him as Father.• In fact God, our King, loves us so much that He wants us to know Him, not just as King, but as Father.• So, our God and King, is also our Father.• Which means we can know Him as Father.• And He invites us to come to Him as His children.• Jesus, God’s Son, is the One who revealed God, our King, to us as our Father.• And in doing so, we became joint-heirs with Christ of all that belongs to our Father, the King.• Now, there is no fear in approaching God, for He is our Father and loves us as His children.• And as His children, we have access to Him. We can boldly come before His throne.• Since God is Sovereign and there is nothing greater than Him, it would stand to reason the greatest joy in life comes from finding our pleasure in Him.• And, like Jesus His Son, our greatest joy is to devote our life to doing the will of the Father (John 6:38) and the things that please Him (John 8:29).• Only then can we experience the blessings that come from being a child of God and a son of the King.• But there is a problem we each face.• We have an enemy.• There is a sinister creation of God that wants to destroy the work of God and deflect the glory of God to himself, and not where it rightfully belongs.• This enemy is Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and deceiver of the whole world (Rev. 12:9).• And since Satan cannot attack God (for Satan is also a created being), he instead attacks those God love
534 - Whatever the Problem, the “Lord is Near” The Lord is Near to All Who Call Upon Him…Often, when tough times come, much like we are experiencing as a culture and as the church today, God seems distant. We pray, and receive no answer. We worship, only to feel alone. And when we attend church, well, it sometimes seems like something we do out of duty and not out of passion or love. Have you ever felt this way when surrounded by the uncertainties of life? And if so, have you ever wondered why and what you can do about it?David did. And so have millions of believers down through the ages.In David’s last Psalm, he reveals so much of what we need to embrace today. He tells us how to worship the Lord in dark times and when life couldn’t get any better. And he uses a powerful word that has fallen out of vogue today— extol. Look at how David begins this Psalm.I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever – Psalm 145:1-2.In just these two sentences, David claims he will do four things because of his love for the Lord and because of God’s unsearchable greatness (Psalm 145:3). He will,• Extol You…• Bless Your name…• Bless You…• Praise Your name…But what do these words mean? And what can we learn about our Lord through these actions of David?• extol (rûm) means “to raise, to lift up, to be exalted”• bless (bāraḵ) means “to kneel, to bend one’s knee in honor, submission, and blessing, to speak words of excellence about”• praise (hālal) means “to commend, boast, shout out affirmations of greatness, to worship, to exclaim Hallelujah”And as you can see, these words mean more than simply, “Have a blessed day.” They convey the idea of submission to a power greater than we are, to kneel before our mighty King. Which is exactly what David calls God when he says, “My God, O King.”To All Who Call Upon Him in Truth – Psalm 145:18But there is so much more. It seems God always anticipates our questions in advance and gives us the answer when we simply keep reading. And this is never more true than it is in this Psalm.• What is it about God and His Kingdom that elicits such praise? Keep reading verse 3.• What are we to do with the greatness of God? How are we to respond? Do we proclaim it from the rooftops? Or keep it hidden under a basket on a table? Keep reading verses 4 to 6.• But what does it look like when the church praises God for His greatness? How is that to be done? See verse 7.• And what specifically about God’s goodness are we to be remembering and sharing? Again, keep reading the next few verses.Get the point? Read it for yourself and see if every question and fear you have about praising the Lord with a full and sincere heart is not answered in this Psalm by simply reading more. It is like we are having a conversation with the Lord Himself and He is telling us what we need to know.One final thought.The most powerful truth in this Psalm is found in verse 18. Here we see God’s promise to be near all (key word) who call upon Him. And that all includes you and me and people we like and people we don’t. God promises to be near to all who call upon Him in truth (Psalm 145:18).The LORD is near to all (kōl – each, every, everything, the whole, entire, in totality and without exception) who call upon Him, to all (kōl – each, every, everything, the whole, entire, in totality and without exception) who call upon Him in truth.Know the Lord is near, whatever your circumstances. And He is near no matter what happens in the future. So what are we to fear? Nothing. Why? Because nothing, good or bad, can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).Rest in that today.To download the slides for this message, click – HERE<h
533 - Is There Something Better than Answered Prayer? Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him for a DayWhen it comes to our understanding of the Kingdom of God, what makes the early church different from us is they lived in the realm of knowing God as their King and they served Him on earth while maintaining the rights and privileges of being a citizen of His Kingdom. We talk about it; they lived it. We have a theological understanding of the Kingdom; they functioned like card-carrying citizens of His Kingdom. And the difference between their lives and ours is, well, profound.The early Christians, and many since then, have relished in the confidence and boldness that comes from knowing they are a child of the King and living in His grand and protected Kingdom. Remember, nothing can happen to a citizen of the Kingdom that surprises the King. And nothing can happen to a child of the King unless the King thought it best.This is where faith trumps our fallen senses. This is where we can experience the joy and boldness that comes from knowing and living like we have God Himself, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, living and abiding in us. And this is the realm of life when we take God at His Word and trust what He says, no matter what. It is literally walking by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).For example, consider the following familiar verse.Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand – Philippians 4:4-5.How is this humanly possible? We are commanded, no matter what happens to us by evil people or institutions, to let our mercy and tolerance and unassertiveness be known, by experience in real life and in real time, to all, even to those who hate us and want to destroy us. How can we have the depth of love and grace and confidence to live like that? What did the early church believe that we don’t?Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him for a LifetimeBut there is more. We continue reading in Philippians.Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:6-7.This passage promises we will receive peace if we trust God with everything. Got that. But also notice what it doesn’t promise.• This promise doesn’t guarantee God will remove you from whatever situation you are worried about.• This promise doesn’t guarantee you won’t feel pain or loss or suffer death?• And this promise doesn’t guarantee a humanly positive outcome, no matter how hard we pray.But what it does promise is the peace of God which the world, including each of us, cannot fully fathom or understand. And God’s peace will guard our emotions and thoughts through the Lord Jesus, no matter how bad our situation might seem in the flesh. After all, we serve a great King who knows best. And if He wanted to answer our prayers like we desire, He both could and would, if He wanted to. But if He doesn’t, there is a reason we often cannot see, or don’t want to see, because we think we know best.So is there something more important than having God answer our prayers? Absolutely. What does this saying mean?Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.And this same principle works in our prayer life. Spiritually, we could say it this way.Answer a specific prayer, and you teach a man to expect God to give him what he prays for.Teach a man the goodness of God, and He will grow into the likeness of His Lord and trust Him no matter the outcome. One is temporal, the other eternal.More important than getting our prayers answered is experiencing the peace that only our Sovereign God can give. God knew this. And the early church knew this. Therefore, no matter how dire their circumstances, they trusted and rested in Him and His goodness. And He took care of the rest.Do you live like this? Would you like to live like this? If so, keep listening.To download the slides for this message, click – HEREOur Latest Posts:<a href="https://www.leavinglaodicea.com/pulling-back-the-curtain-of-the-kingdom-of-god-532/" rel="noopener n
532 - Pulling Back the Curtain of the Kingdom of God The Two Dimensions of the Kingdom of God We have spent some time discovering incredible truths about the Kingdom of God and its dual dimensions. For the Kingdom manifests itself today, in our daily lives, and also tomorrow, when Christ the King comes and ushers in the fulfillment of His Kingdom. In other words, the Kingdom is manifest in several realms and the Gospels speak of entering the Kingdom of God both today, and tomorrow.Let me explain.First, and most important, the Kingdom of God is His rule and reign over creation. Where He rules and reigns, there is His Kingdom. Today, presently, it is not a physical Kingdom. But it will be someday. And that is the tomorrow realm of His Kingdom.The Kingdom of God is the acknowledgement and submission to God’s will, which is His rule and reign in your life, and receiving the promised blessings that naturally follow obedience. However, the New Testament clearly shows that the will of God will not be perfectly realized in this age. At best, we experience a taste of what God is like. We still see in a “mirror, dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12).For now (at this present time, today) we see in a mirror, dimly (dark, that which is difficult or impossible to understand, in riddles), but then (when He appears, future) face to face (countenance, personal presence, what is before one’s eyes). Now (at the present time, today) I know (ginṓskō) in part (allotment, share, portion), but then (when He appears, future) I shall know (epiginṓskō) just as I also (likewise, in addition to) am known (epiginṓskō) – 1 Corinthians 13:12.Now we can know and experience the Kingdom of God, His rule and reign over all creation, in part, dimly, incompletely, but we can experience it, nonetheless. But when He comes and ushers in the full manifestation of the Kingdom, then we will know in full, completely, in the same way we will also be known in full, completely, with nothing to hide.Or, as it says, “face to face.”Tasting of the Kingdom of God in this LifeLet’s dig a bit deeper with just a question or two.Question: When does all this happen? When is the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God?Answer: At the Second Coming of ChristThere are two comings of Christ, one past and one future. First, Jesus came in a manger, as a baby to live as a man on earth. And next, He will come in glory, when He comes to set up His Kingdom, defeat the usurper, and rule and reign on this earth for 1,000 years.Since there are two comings of Christ, there are also two manifestations of His Kingdom we can experience. One we can experience in part while on earth. And the other we experience in power and glory when Christ returns. But the good news is that now, while we are living on earth, we can experience a taste, a foreshadowing, a hint of what life in His Kingdom will be like. And we can know what blessings He has in store for those who obey Him and submit to His rule and reign voluntarily and out of love.Much like the disciples did on the Mount of Transfiguration. What? Really?Yes, really. Join us as we discover how to experience the Kingdom of God today by looking at what happened with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (and the words He spoke right before that event). There are some hidden gems in this amazing story. Are you interested? Intrigued? Then keep listening.To download the slides for this message, click – HEREOur Latest Posts:531: What Jesus Said About His Coming Kingdom530: What Does it Mean to be a Child of Royalty?529: Paradigm Shift: Embracing Power Evangelism528: Living as a Cherished Child of the King527: The Worst Thing for a Christian… Getting
531 - What Jesus Said About His Coming Kingdom Jesus Always Seemed to Talk About the KingdomWe have been looking at the truths the early church held dear that allowed them to thrive during dark, troubling times. And one primary truth was their understanding of the Kingdom of God and all its implications. They understood God as their King, and as King, their Sovereign. Therefore, they didn’t fear what the enemy may do to them or how their physical needs were to be met or, frankly, anything. After all, they served the King of kings and Lord or lords who had repeatedly proven His faithfulness to them. So what could man do to them (Psalm 118:6)?And because of this confidence they held in His Kingdom, they lived in a constant state of expectation of what their King could, and would, do. Every day with Him was like a grand adventure.Plus, they knew the Kingdom of God was the central theme in the preaching of Jesus. And many of them must have heard hundreds of messages, parables, statements, examples, or stories by Jesus in order to show them the vastness of God’s Kingdom.Jesus began His ministry, like John the Baptist, preaching, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). He constantly taught about the Kingdom during His time on earth with parables, miracles, signs and wonders, all designed to proclaim that the Kingdom had now come to them (Matthew 13). When He sent out the twelve disciples, He instructed them to preach, like He had, the “Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7). And later, when He sent out the seventy, He gave them the same message to proclaim accompanied with miracles to authenticate their claim, “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.'” (Luke 10:9). And after the resurrection and until His ascension, He spoke about “things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).As you can see, Jesus continually spoke about the Kingdom. But what exactly did He say?But What Did He Say About the Coming Kingdom? Before we even broach that subject, there are some questions we need to ask about what Jesus said about the Kingdom. For much of what He says, at least on the surface, seems confusing.• What is the Kingdom of God?• How do we explain the Kingdom is both here, and the Kingdom is also imminent? How can it be both?• Is it a physical Kingdom? Or is it something in the hearts of men?• Where is the King right now? And when will He come to set up His Kingdom?• What is our place in the Kingdom of God?• How does our life change when we realize we belong to a King, and live in His Kingdom?• Are the rules of life different in His Kingdom than what we are experiencing now? And if so, how? In what way?• Does Satan have a kingdom? And if so, what is the extent of his power?• Since we live in the Kingdom of God, what are our responsibilities as subjects of the Great King?• And are we subjects only? Or do we have a deeper intimacy with the King?• Is the Kingdom spoken about in the Old Testament?• And how will we be able to understand some of the confusing truths about the Kingdom?And this is only the beginning. We will answer, in time, every one of these questions about the Kingdom and more. But let’s start with a simple definition of the Kingdom. What is the Kingdom of God?We know a kingdom is a territory over which a king reigns. Since God is Creator of all, then His Kingdom must include every created thing. So that would mean the Kingdom of God is wherever God reigns. And since He reigns everywhere, in one respect, the Kingdom of God is everywhere.But it’s not that simple. Not even close. There is more to the Kingdom of God than you think.Join us as we discover the wondrous reality of the Kingdom of God that Jesus spent so much time talking about and how we, as His children and heirs (Rom. 8:16-17), fit into the grand scheme of God’s Kingdom as we learn how to leave Laodicea (lukewarmness) behind.To download the slides for this message, click – HEREOur Latest Posts:<p
530 - What Does it Mean to be a Child of Royalty? What Does it Mean to be a Child of Royalty…Early on, we discovered that the central message of Jesus was about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. He began His ministry preaching the same message as John the Baptist, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Then, He continued revealing the value of the Kingdom and what life was like in the Kingdom. Look at just a few of these summary verses of His ministry:And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people – Matthew 4:23.Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people – Matthew 9:35.When Jesus sent out His own disciples to preach and heal, notice what He told them.“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 10:7.Almost all the parables focused on the Kingdom (including the Kingdom parables in Matthew 13).“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants” – Matthew 18:23.“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard” – Matthew 20:1.“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son” – Matthew 22:2.“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom” – Matthew 25:1.“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them” – Matthew 25:14.Jesus even tied the message of salvation given to Nicodemus in John 3 to seeing and entering the Kingdom.Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus answered, “”Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” – John 3:3, 5.And Jesus also spoke about the Kingdom during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension. Look how the book of Acts begins.The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of (what) the things pertaining to the kingdom of God – Acts 1:1-3.But there is so much more.…When the Royalty is God Himself? What allowed the early church to thrive under great persecution was the fact they fully understood the Kingdom of God and the blessed ramifications of God being their King. But they were also fully aware they were not only subjects of the great King, but children of His. In fact, as beloved children, they became heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ.For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these (the ones led by the Spirit of God) are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” – Romans 8:14-15.But it gets better.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, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together – Romans 8:16-17.And we haven’t even looked at how much the Father loves His children, which is beyond comprehension.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord – Romans 8:35-39.So let me ask just a few questions before we close.• What does all this mean for you, as a child of royalty, right now in your present situation?• What confidence do you have knowing you are a child of God, and a joint heir with Jesus? (Rom. 8:16 17).• And how does it make you feel when you fully understand the fact that nothing, not even your sins,
529 - Paradigm Shift: Embracing Power Evangelism And Through the Hands of the Apostles…In the book of Acts, the Lord reveals to us the plan for world-evangelism according to the Holy Spirit. And it is not mass media, nor the distribution of tracts, nor great evangelistic meetings and revivals, nor any other humanly contrived system. No, it appears His method of evangelism for the early church is the presentation of the gospel accompanied by “signs and wonders” that only come from the Spirit. Or, as Peter Wagner coined the phrase, Power Evangelism.But many in the church reject this because of our fear of the Holy Spirit or the fact we don’t want to be one of those people who do and believe loopy, non-sophisticated stuff. And we go to great lengths to conceive the reason God no longer works in our lives today the way He did in the book of Acts. We call it cessationism, and it decrees we don’t need Him to move that way anymore, because we have the completed Bible.Really? Think that through for a moment.Scripture tells us about the five-fold ministry the Lord gave His church. We find that in Ephesians 4.And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ – Ephesians 4:11-13.According to this truth, the Lord gave five groups of people to the church, five ministries (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers), each empowered by the Holy Spirit with different gifts for “edifying of the body of Christ,” or the building of the church to a point of maturity. And He gave the church these five ministries for a certain time period. It says, “until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the fullness of Christ.”Look around. Are we there yet? Have we “all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God?” As Chuck Missler would say, “Not that you’d notice.”But according to the cessationist view, we only need three of the five today (evangelists, pastors, teachers). They reject apostles and prophets. Which means the church is functioning on 60% of what God originally intended. No wonder the book of Acts seems so hard to duplicate, yet alone believe. But God gave it to us as a prototype of what church and evangelism should look like.What are we to do?Back to ActsWhat do we know about the church in Acts that is so foreign to us today? Let me list just a few traits they excelled in that we seem to struggle with, or reject altogether, to our own demise.One, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. We see this continually stated throughout the book of Acts.Two, they were in complete unity, even to the point of selling their possessions to meet the needs of others.Three, God performed many signs and wonders among the people. So much so that they came from outlying areas just to have Peter’s shadow fall on them (Acts 5:14-16).Four, the Lord first added, then multiplied, the number of those being saved. Almost unheard of in our church today.So, we have a choice to make. We can continue to think like Westerners, or we can think like children of the Most High God who has given us the Spirit to be filled with and to empower us. We can think like churchgoers, or we can think like those who have the written Word of God in our hands and who believe His amazing promises to each of us, all of them. And we can have faith in our experiences or in the One who redeemed us from sin and is now preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him.The choice is ours. But there is a paradigm shift coming. And to learn more about it, keep listening.To download the slides for this message, click – HEREOur Latest Posts:528: Living as a Cherished Child of the King527: The Worst Thing for a Christian… Getting Civilized!<a href="https://www.leavi
528 - Living as a Cherished Child of the King How to Thrive During Persecution and SufferingIn the book of Acts, we see the early church repeatedly being attacked, both internally and externally. And in each of these attacks, the enemies of God up their game. Their threats turn into beatings. And the beatings into death and, ultimately, banishment. Yet in all of this, the church grew and became stronger and never lost the vision of their divine calling.External Attack: Peter and John threatened by the Jewish authorities (Acts 4:18).Response: The church remained unified and spoke the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:24-31). And God moved in miraculous ways that only He can (Acts 5:12-16).Attacks from the outside only made the church stronger. So the next attack was from within.Internal Attack: Ananias and Sapphira who lied about their gift (Acts 5:1-11).Response: God quickly judged those who were threatening the unity and trust of the church (Acts 5:5, 10).Great fear came upon (1) all the church and upon (2) all those who heard these things (lost and saved) – Acts 5:11.Now, threats and beatings.External Attack: Apostles threatened with death and beaten for speaking in the name of Jesus (Acts 5:17-18, 33, 40).Response: God miraculously delivered them, and they spoke with even more boldness (Acts 5:41-42).So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ – Acts 5:41-42.Next, another attack on unity and trust of the believers.Internal Attack: Church unity and trust threatened by factions, prejudice, and selfishness (Acts 6:1).Response: Greater church responsibility and structure to ensure unity, transparency, and trust (Acts 6:3-6). And the church continued to grow.Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith – Acts 6:7.Then, threats and beatings graduated into the mob murder of Stephen and mass persecution by Saul.External Attack: An angry mob killed Stephen (Acts 6:8-7:60). And Saul persecuted the church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1).Response: The church continued to grow as they were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, preaching the Word wherever they went (Acts 8:1, 4).Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word – Acts 8:4.So who were these guys? How did they thrive under constant persecution? And what can we learn from them as we prepare for our own sanctioned persecution?What it Means to be a Child of GodThe key to boldness the early church possessed was a clear understanding of the God they served and their relationship to Him. They knew He was a King, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). They recognized the King chose them, not by any merit of their own, but by His grace, and the “good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5).The early church was encouraged by the sovereignty of their King. They knew nothing was beyond His grasp and whatever they were experiencing, both times of blessing or great turmoil, their King was still sovereign and could do anything He wanted at anytime. And no one could stay His hand (Ps. 115:3).The church functioned in the confidence of knowing how much their King loved them. And they lived in the light of the blessed knowledge that nothing, not even their sin and failure, could separate them from the love of their King (Rom. 8:31-35).And finally, their King was not some distant monarch. He was their Father, and they were His children, members of His family. In effect, they were royalty, children of the great sovereign King.• So what does all this mean for you, a child of royalty, right now in your present situation?• What confidence do you have knowing you are a child of God, and as such, a joint-heir with Jesus? (Rom. 8:16-17).• And how does it make you feel when you fully understand the fact that nothing, not even your sins, transgressions, failures, or shortcomings, can separate you from the love of your Father, the King?To find out more about this wonderful relationship we have with our Father, the King, keep listening.To download the <a href="https://leavinglaodicea.com/pdf/050922-Slides.pdf" rel="
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