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Day 74: The Walking Dead

Posted by undergroundchurch on February 24, 2014


Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

Since Genesis 3, God has demanded sacrifice. The first 4,000 years of this proved that no sacrifice but the life of a person was able to cover the sin of a person (e.g. A lamb does not equal a person in value; that is why they were constantly sacrificing).

When Jesus came, he, being God, was worth the lives of every person ever to walk the planet. His sacrifice was enough to cover all sin, and it does for all who receive this sacrifice.

Ironically, the sacrifice that brings life to all, also requires that we die to self.

For you have died, and your life has been safely guarded by the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you, too, will be revealed with him in glory. – Colossians 3:3,4

The problem is that I’m still breathing, which means though I’m dead, I’m also alive and kicking. The problem with the walking dead is that they still get into mischief. As the old saying goes, “the problem with being a living sacrifice is that you can get up off the altar.”

This concept of dying to self is all over the Bible, virtually on every page – especially in the New Testament. It’s talked about so much because it is so hard to do. One way to succeed is to follow the SHAPERS principle:

  • Submit to God
  • Humble yourself
  • Allow the Holy Spirit to lead
  • Pray
  • Ears to heaven
  • Repent
  • Serve others

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Positioning Yourself

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 2, 2011


The last message that helped define a new paradigm for me occurred about 5 years ago from someone at IHOP (International House of Prayer).  Once again, they shake my paradigm.

The message from Wes Martin called “The Great Exchange” [mp3] / [Notes] rebooted my thinking on fasting. ¬†For as long as I can remember, fasting always seemed like it belonged to the spiritual elite. Just the thought of fasting evoked thoughts of monks in clay buildings, swamis on mountain tops and camel skinned, locust eating prophets in the desert. ¬†However, that thinking poorly reflects the true purpose of fasting.

Wes points out many critical points why fasting must be part of every believer’s life.

It Expresses our Yearning for His Return

Matthew 9:14-15 – Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, ‚ÄúWhy do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?‚ÄĚ 15 Jesus said to them, ‚ÄúCan the friends of the Bridegroom mourn as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.‚ÄĚ

Jesus tells the Pharisees that after He leaves, they will fast. Why? The theme says it all… “a desire to be with the Bridegroom.” As the bride of Christ, believers should desire to be with the Lord and express it. Jesus tells us that we “will” express it through fasting.

God’s Strength Manifests in our Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He has said to me, ‚ÄúMy grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.‚ÄĚ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ‚Äôs sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (strong in spirit, supernatural strength) (NASB).

What better way to become weak than not eat.  You constantly think about food, your become weak, tired and fuzzy in your thoughts. You position yourself for God to manifest Himself in you and through you.

You Become and Example to a Younger Generation

1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

Do you want people imitating your spiritual walk, or do you need to point them to someone else for guidance? The only hope for passing on a spiritual legacy to the next generation lies in the present generation.

The Goal

Fasting positions you in a place where God can manifest Himself in your life. ¬†Fasting does not “bargain” with God nor is it for the “spiritual elite”. God gave all believers the honor of fasting and praying.

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Prayer the Nehemiah Way – Part 8 of 8

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 8, 2009


See Part 7

Here we are at the final prayer of Nehemiah, and it is truly the final prayer recorded.

Remember me with favor, O my God – Nehemiah 13:31

Once again, we look at the motives of Nehemiah. ¬†This seems like a selfish prayer at first glance, but it is the first time he actually prays simply for himself, and given his job performance, I’d say it’s about time.

This is the last verse in the book, and he has fought a hard fight; he has finished strong; he has run his race. ¬†He has poured his heart and soul into the restoration of Jerusalem and now he prays to God, “Remember me”.

I don’t want this statement to be misconstrued, but you can unselfishly ask for blessing when your lifestyle isn’t built on being blessed; however, if you live for blessing, you might want to look hard at your motives.

Nehemiah sacrified. David sacrificed. Moses sacrificed. ¬†Many in the scriptures gave all they had in their journey with God. ¬†When they spoke of being blessed by God, their hearts were already in the mindset of serving God without self-interest. ¬†The mission was all about God’s plan. ¬†There is no shame in asking for blessing, especially when your life is devoted to the cause of God.

God loves to bless, but He is not frivolous about it either. ¬†He doesn’t just aimlessly toss about blessings. ¬†Blessings have a positive short-term effect, but if the one being blessed is not grounded properly in Christ, then the blessing will dry up and the one being blessed will not grow, but become dependent on receiving blessings in order to maintain their spiritual walk.

Blessing from God is always good, but if we are ill equiped to handle the blessing, then we can become prideful, selfsh, greedy, and simply unchanged.  Blessings actually have very little imact on our spiritual outcome.

I have often wondered why so many believers have so many struggles, so many heart aches, and so much pain. ¬†I know this doesn’t preach well (as they might say), but it might be that the only way God can get us to the point of talking with him is when we are afflicted.

You know that I’m right; you just are having a hard time admitting it. ¬†When is it tougher to get on your face before God in humility, when things are going great or when things are terrible? ¬†The Bible tells us plainly that Suffering produced Perseverance and Perseverance produces Character and Character produces Hope! (Romans 5:3-5) ¬†The path to hope begins with the fundamental understanding of suffering.

Paul understood this all too well. ¬†In fact, he is the only person I know that was called by Jesus with these words, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:16) Tell the truth, would you become a Christian if Jesus said that to you?

Paul understood, as Nehemiah understood, because he said, “I want to know Jesus in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering”.

If you don’t hear anything I say, hear this, “You will never know Jesus fully until you know him in his suffering.”

Christianity is not meant to be pretty, it is a battle Рa bloody battle that started with the battle wounds Jesus bore on the Cross.  We struggle and fight everyday, and we win battles everyday, and that is the point.  In winning a battle, we grow.  We struggle and train hard for this race.  We fall down, but we get back up.  We fight knowing that we will be the victors in the end.  It is the actual struggle that God uses to make us stronger.  Deliverance out of struggle never made any Christian stronger.

Too many preach a message of Christianity that gives the listener enough head knowledge to be dangerous, especially to themselves, but they aren’t taught that the Christian walk is not a cake walk. For when they find that the battle gets hot, they struggle and fail because they weren’t told ahead of time that while Jesus may have promised roses, he also promised thorns on those very roses.

Don’t be afraid of the struggle; dive right in. ¬†Know that your successful journey gives you every right and privilege to pray as many have prayed in the past, “Remember me with favor, O God!”

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Prayer the Nehemiah Way, Part 4 of 8

Posted by undergroundchurch on August 31, 2009


Part 3

The prayer is not recorded, but the verse is very telling,

But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat – Nehemiah 4:9

There are three basic approaches to dealing with situations in your life:

  • Prayer and action
  • Action alone
  • Prayer with no action.¬†

As with most things, the choice you make does say something of your faith in God, and so, I want to look primarily at the first and last approach together since the second one is pretty much a lack of faith in God and more a faith in your own abilities.

Faith – Make Your Move

Many people say that¬†“faith” is letting go and letting God do it, and it may be true in some cases, but not always.¬† The key to a prayer of faith is that you go to God first.¬† Faith is found in the action taken first.¬† If a overwhelming situation arises and you spend your first bit of time trying to resolve it, then your faith is more in your actions than in the ability of God.¬†

So the first move in any situation should be toward God, and it is the sign of a good relationship with God.  You understand who you are and who He is. 

Once you make that move toward God, you then have two options Рwait and work. 

Faith that Waits

God is not confined by your timelines.¬† He doesn’t run a McDonalds.¬† He is very patient which can be very frustrating to us.¬† The reason His movements don’t match up with our reason is because He operates outside of the space/time continuum.¬† He sees the beginning and the end at the same time; we don’t.¬†

Sometimes, when we pray, we need to wait and do nothing.¬† But when do we do nothing?¬† When should we let go and “let God”?¬†

This question is found more in what you know you should do verses what you feel you should do.¬† Trust your understanding of God’s¬†faithfulness and not your emotions.¬†¬†He works¬†in¬†perfect wisdom.¬†

For example, if you see a need that your involvement in could jeopardize a Godly outcome because of you interference, it might be wise to just simply pray.¬† When in doubt, you can’t really go wrong just praying.¬† Become an intercessor; become a person that stands in the gap and help that person or situation through a spiritual battle.¬† They don’t need to even know, but I will say that if you intercede on someones behalf in a driven manner, you will make a huge impact in the spiritual world on their behalf.

Faith that Works

But there are times with faith needs to be followed with action.  Do you think that if you break an arm and pray to God, that you should just sit there and do nothing, or should you go to the hospital? If you go to the hospital, are you acting in faith or denying the power of God? 

By going to God first, you are demonstrating faith.  You are giving him the first move.  Sometimes, he answers yes, other times he answers no or wait, but should we just sit there if he seems silent?

Nehemiah didn’t pray the prayer he prayed, which was for protection from the enemy, then just foolishly go about his day.¬† He prayed for protection, then, as one writer wrote, “he picked up his weapons and went to work on the wall saying, ‘God I trust you, and I am picking up every tool available to me so that I will be ready when you call me to action.'”

Faith is like a battle our military fights today.  There are various elements involved from the bombers above, to the ships at sea to the troops on the ground. Each has a mission and it is a very bad thing when they all move at the same time.  If the troops on the front line go charging in just as the bombers are dropping their payloads, there are going to be a lot of dead allies. 

God moves and works in ways that we don’t always see.¬† Just go to him first, pick up every tool you can find and ready all weapons then wait for the call to march.

Don’t be afraid of praying then moving.¬† It is not a lack of faith, it is a voice that say, “Lord, here I am, and I am ready for what you would have me to do.”

This concept is echoed in the entire book of James.  So adamant James was about the link between faith and action that the early church struggled whether to include James in the Scriptures.  The key to understanding this link, as I have already shown, is to start with faith and end with works.  Works should only reflect the faith you have already. 

Trust God always, and ready yourself to be called upon if God decides He is going to use you to answer your own prayer.

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Prayer the Nehemiah Way, Part 3 of 8

Posted by undergroundchurch on August 30, 2009


See Part 2
 

The Prayer:

Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.  Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders. (4:4,5)

When Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those that persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), I think he was thinking of a prayer just like this.

One thing you will notice about Nehemiah is that he knew he was walking into a very dangerous situation when he traveled back to Jerusalem.  There were people in the land that wanted to stop any rebuilding of Jerusalem.  They would taunt the workers day and night, but there were some things you notice in Nehemiah that are critical to understanding Jesus message.

First, Nehemiah expressed his anger toward his enemies to God. ¬†It is not easy to come right out and “love” your enemy. ¬†By its very definition, this is not possible. ¬†However, what Nehemiah does is direct his anger toward God. ¬†He doesn’t carry out anger on his enemy. ¬†This is essential to a good witness. ¬†How can you tell someone about the love of God when you are expressing anger and hate?

David did this quite often.  He would be abused by his enemies and then take that anger to God.  When he later encountered his enemies, he took mercy on them.  Had he not directed his anger to God, he may have sinned by doing something to his enemies that would displease God.

When you get angry, don’t sin (See Ephesian 4:26). ¬†Remember that prayer is simply conversations with God. ¬†That is what you need to have so that God can relieve you of the anger and let you see more clearly.

Finally, he leaves the judgment of his enemies to God alone. ¬†This is important. ¬†You do not have the right as a believer to carry out judgment on others. ¬†It is God’s to avenge. ¬†It is also perfectly fine for you to acknowledge to God that you’d like Him to avenge. ¬†This is not contrary to the “pray for those that persecute you”, it is simply being honest.

You may also want to include prayers like, “forgive me for my anger”, “help me love my enemy”, and others similar to this if you find yourself praying for vengence.

Certainly the goal of a believer is to mature, and as you do, you will find that your enemies have less impact on your spiritual well-being.  David late in his life actually passed by one of his enemies as insults were being hurled at him.  He calmly let it happen even supposing that they could be words from God to keep him humble (2 Samuel 16:5-14).  When reading stories about David like that, keep in mind that God considered him a man after his own heart.

So in short, don’t take matters into your own hands with your enemies and those that want to hurt you; go to God first, release your frustration, ask for a change of heart and react with the wisdom God gives you.

See Part 4

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Prayer the Nehemiah Way Part 2 of 8

Posted by undergroundchurch on August 27, 2009


Click here for Part 1

Nehemiah 1:4-11

Here’s the setup, Israel has been in captivity for almost 70 years.¬† Nehemiah inquires about Jerusalem and the land of Israel, and when he hears the report, he wept, mourned for several days, fasted and prayed.

I have to stop right here and ask a very probing question, “When was the last time you were moved to tears with the things that move the heart of God?”¬† I’m not talking about troubles you are going through; I mean the very things that drive the plan of God.¬† When was the last time you wept for a lost soul or the social deprevation of our nation or the nation of Israel (as in Nehemiah’s case)?¬† If we aren’t closely interested in the things that move God, we can’t expect to move God when we want something.

It wasn’t until after days of fasting and prayer that we actually get to see the prayer he writes down in verses 4-11.¬†

Notice the prayer:

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.¬†8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

¬†10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
      I was cupbearer to the king.

It’s important to see the pattern of this prayer because it was answered in a big way (read the rest of the book to find out).

  1. He starts with worship.¬† Make a note of this… ALWAYS START WITH WORSHIP!!! You can’t do too much of this.¬† As a basic practice, I spend a majority of my time when praying in this mode.¬† Here’s why, when you get to the New Jerusalem (See Revelation 21-22), you will be in a constant mode of worship.¬† It is your eternal destiny, so if you don’t enjoy it now, you might be bummed.
  2. He repents (for himself and his nation). This is crucial.¬† If you aren’t humble and spiritually clean, your worship and prayers are going to be a stench before God. Also, we believers are the ones that are given the perogotive to pray for our nation.¬† Do you think the unbeliever is going to pray?¬† “We the people” makes us a nation of people… a team.¬† You can’t blame an individual for losing the game, it’s a team event.
  3. He stood on God’s promises.¬† What God promises, he completes.¬† You can’t go wrong believing God.¬† When you review His promises, you are showing faith in God.
  4. Asks to be part of the plan of God.  He takes a step of faith to believe God for his promise.  He goes to the king to ask for permission to resolve the problem, but first, he bathed it in prayer, fasting, the word, worship, repentence and faith.

Lesson to learn, Don’t be too one dimensional in your prayer life.

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Better start praying underground

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 17, 2009


Two students in a California college are threatened with suspension when they prayed for their teacher after asking if they could pray for their teacher in the teacher’s lounge. – see article

The argument was that they were being suspended for “disruptive behavior”. The story in short is that they were alone in the teacher’s lounge praying for the sick teacher when another teacher came in and said, “You can’t do that in here.”¬† The students stopped and left.

This is just one of many signs of the times of a polictially correct society running amok. 

“Disruptive Behavior?” Fortunately, this time, the students are allowed to take their case to court to prove “that the school treated religious expression more harshly than other speech.”¬† But for this to even happen is a reality of a new society that is out to crush God.

Freedom of speech is no longer about “freedom of speech” but content of speech. If your content is not “politically correct”, you don’t have the right to speak freely.

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How to Pray in these Days

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 11, 2009


With so many things to pray about in these last days, it is important to concentrate on what’s truly important and eternal.

Prayers come in a variety of shapes and colors.¬† Some are of the bedtime variety where we ask God for blessing and protection.¬† Where God honors all prayer, these aren’t usually the most¬†intimate and passionate.

Other more popular prayers usually fall in the personal request category. We want God to do something for us whether it is for relief from a headache or a better job.¬† Again, God honors all prayer, but remember, he doesn’t always grant us our desires because we don’t really know what’s best.¬†

God has three answers to prayer requests, “Yes, No and Wait”.¬† But I find that we get better answers when we pray, “Your will be done”.¬† These usually have a greater variety of answers and prove to be much more rewarding.

Still other prayers are directed for the benefit of others.¬† These are good prayers that are less “self-centered”.¬† Always remember when praying for others that God loves them more than you ever can.¬† Don’t underestimate His desire to work in people’s lives.

These are all good prayers, and they have their place, but won’t really get you anywhere with regards to the days to come.¬† So how do you pray?

You need to pray “according to God’s will” for it to be a guarantee (1 John 5:14).¬† This is the prayer Jesus prayed in the garden, “if it be your will, take this cup. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) If you notice, Jesus has two prayer requests here – only the one that was in line with God’s will was answered.

So what is His will in the last days? 

Pray for Revival

First, we know God is going to pour out his spirit on all flesh (Joel 2:28,29; Acts 2:17,18).  Remember that the last days are not over. Greater things are still to come.  Even greater things than the early church saw (John 1:50, 5:20).  To get there, we must pray for revival.  The church must step up and step out in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We must have a heart the earnestly seeks the Lord.  This will take sacrifice, time and lots of prayer.

Pray for Repentance

Second, and probably more important is prayer for repentance.¬† You can’t pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit without praying for repentence first.¬† God isn’t going to fill dirty vessels, just empty and broken vessels.

Prayer for Results

Finally, pray for results.  What results is God looking for?

  • Growth in numbers of people being saved- God is wanting all that are willing to come to Him.¬†
  • Growth in spiritual power – the church needs to have the power to walk the walk in the world that will be out to destroy them.¬† It is not going to get easier, and it will be more important than ever for us to walk daily in the power of the Holy Spirit.¬† “Sunday morning power” won’t be enough. It will need to be a daily infusion.
  • Increase in righteousness.¬† This sort of goes with repentence, but has more to do with making right choices.¬† There will be a falling away, and it will be crucial for us to make good choices under tough pressure.
  • Soon return.¬† Revelation ends with a prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20) He promises to return, and he encourages us to pray that he come soon.¬† Our greatest day will be when we see Jesus face to face.

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