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Posts Tagged ‘understanding’

Where Faith and the World Collide

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 29, 2010


With all these ridiculous “religious knowledge” surveys going around, I got to thinking about “faith” and just what it is.

I think there are two primary pieces to the “religious” experience with which some just don’t understand– Faith and Hope. I will address faith here.

There are two facts about faith that must be understood:

  1. True faith is not blind
  2. True faith is not void of substance

Those that steer clear of faith in God tend to do so because they see it as a futile, wishful-thinking belief system empty of reason, understanding and wisdom. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Faith is not a childish look into a fantasy world, but a childlike trust in a revealed reality.  The goal in faith is to connect with God through relationship.  The problem is that if you try to prove God to yourself first, you fail to take the path God intended for you to take to produce faith in you.

Faith follows a specific path – Obedience to Jesus first, revelation of Jesus second and finally faith in Jesus is born.  Notice that all three have their source in Jesus.

God calls us to a path that begins with him.  Faith is not based on my understanding but His understanding.  I have to trust Him first, demonstrated through obedience, and then I can receive a faith that comes from God, for He rewards those that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Abraham is a perfect example.  He walked with very little faith for most of His life.  Yes, he followed God’s leading and that was out of obedience, but never really trusted him.  God said, “leave your family”, but Abraham took his father.  God promised him that his children would be plentiful, but he lied about his wife to protect his life.

It wasn’t until Abraham was challenged to give back to God the only son he had been given by God, through a black and white act of obedience, that Abraham achieved the level of obedience to God that God was looking for.  Just as Abraham was about to plunge the knife into his son as a sacrifice to God, and angel stopped him and said these powerful words, “Now I know that you fear me, for you did not withhold your son from me.” (Genesis 22:12). It was during the trek to the altar that Abraham answered his son’s question concerning what they were going to sacrifice with, “God will provide”. (Genesis 22:8)

The scriptures say multiple times that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom“. Strangely enough, the path to faith comes through a fear in God which produces in us obedience.

Once we obey, God can then respond in building up our faith.

You see, if the faith you have is your own, it is bound to fail.  But if the faith you have comes from God, then the source is solid and produces in you a revelation of God that makes Him real in you.

Nature cries out that there is a God, but it doesn’t tell you how to establish relations with Him.  Only when God reveals himself to you through faith, do you discover that your faith is a sure foundation.

Posted in Faith, Hope and Love | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

100 Biblical Commands from the Mouth of Jesus

Posted by undergroundchurch on November 11, 2009


I quickly went through the New Testament and wrote out the 100 commands given by Jesus himself.    I define a command as a sentence that begins with an action word (e.g. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…”).   I try not to repeat commands or list commands given for a specific reason to an individual that doesn’t generally apply to us today (e.g. “Go!”, said to the demons in the possessed man of Matthew 8). Enjoy and feel free to comment on any left out.

By the way, as you read it, imagine that He is saying these things directly to you… kinda humbling.aslan

  1. Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. – Matthew 4:10
  2. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. – Matthew 4:17
  3. Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men – Matthew 4:19
  4. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven (when people persecute you for Jesus sake) – Matthew 5:12
  5. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven – Matthew 5:16
  6. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (in regard to worshiping God) – Matthew 5:23
  7. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. – Matthew 5:25
  8. Gouge it out and throw it away (if your eye causes you to sin) – Matthew 5:29
  9. Cut it off and throw it away (if you hand causes you to sin) – Matthew 5:30
  10. Do not swear at all (in making oaths) – Matthew 5:34
  11. Do not resist an evil person. – Matthew 5:39
  12. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. – Matthew 5:42
  13. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you – Matthew 5:44
  14. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48
  15. Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them – Matthew 6:1
  16. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (when giving) – Matthew 6:3
  17. Go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen (when you pray, not being like the hypocrites that make a big deal out of praying) – Matthew 6:6
  18. Do not look somber as the hypocrites do… put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting –  Matthew 6:17,18
  19. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth – Matthew 6:19
  20. Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven – Matthew 6:20
  21. Do not worry about your life – Matthew 6:25
  22. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33
  23. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. – Matthew 6:34
  24. Do not judge, or you too will be judged. – Matthew 7:1
  25. First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  – Matthew 7:4
  26. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. – Matthew 7:6
  27. Ask and it will be given to you; – Matthew 7:7
  28. seek and you will find; – Matthew 7:7
  29. knock and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7
  30. Do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets – Matthew 7:12
  31. Enter through the narrow gate. – Matthew 7:13
  32. Watch out for false prophets. –  Matthew 7:15
  33. Go! It will be done just as you believed it would. (To the centurion because of his faith)- Matthew 8:13
  34. Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead. – Matthew 8:22
  35. Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven. – Matthew 9:2
  36. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. – Matthew 9:38
  37. Be on your guard against men – Matthew 10:17
  38. Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. (when you are arrested) – Matthew 10:19
  39. Do not be afraid of them (those that persecute you) – Matthew 10:26
  40. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. – Matthew 10:28
  41. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.- Matthew 11:28,29
  42. Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid. (to the disciples in the boat)- Matthew 14:27
  43. Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. – Matthew 16:5
  44. Get behind me, Satan! –  Matthew 16:23
  45. Go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you (if your brother sins against you) – Matthew 18:15
  46. Take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (If your brother that sins against you does not repent) – Matthew 18:16
  47. Tell it to the church – (If your brother that sins against you still doesn’t repent) – Matthew 18:17
  48. Treat him as a pagan – (If your brother still refuses to repent) – Matthew 18:17
  49. Seventy-seven times (number of times in a day you should forgive someone) –  Matthew 18:22
  50. Let man not separate. (What God has brought together in marriage) – Matthew 19:6
  51. Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. – Matthew 19:14
  52. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. (on giving) – Matthew 22:21
  53. You are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. – Matthew 23:8
  54. Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. – Matthew 24:4,5
  55. learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. (being aware of the end times) – Matthew 24:32,33
  56. Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. – Matthew 24:42
  57. Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. – Matthew 26:40
  58. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. – Matthew 28:19
  59. Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. – Mark 6:31
  60. Listen to him! (God speaking to the disciples about Jesus) – Mark 9:7
  61. Have faith in God – Mark 11:22
  62. Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. – Mark 16:15
  63. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you – Luke 6:28
  64. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful – Luke 6:36
  65. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned – Luke 6:37
  66. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. – Luke 6:37
  67. Give, and it will be given to you. – Luke 6:38
  68. Peace be with you. – Luke 24:36
  69. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you. – John 5:14
  70. Stop grumbling among yourselves – John 6:43
  71. Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment. – John 7:24
  72. Go now and leave your life of sin. – John 8:11
  73. Take away the stone. – John 11:38
  74. Leave her alone – John 12:7
  75. Father, glorify your name! – John 12:28
  76. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light. – John 12:36
  77. What you are about to do, do quickly – John 13:27
  78. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34
  79. Do not let your hearts be troubled. – John 14:1
  80. Trust in God; – John 14:1
  81. trust also in me. – John 14:1
  82. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me – John 14:11
  83. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. – John 15:4
  84. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. – John 16:24
  85. Receive the Holy Spirit. – John 20:22
  86. Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. – John 21:6
  87. Feed my lambs – John 21:15
  88. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. – Acts 1:4
  89. Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. – Revelation 1:11
  90. Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. – Revelation 1:17
  91. Remember the height from which you have fallen! –  Revelation 2:5
  92. Repent and do the things you did at first. – Revelation 2:5
  93. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. – Revelation 2:10
  94. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. – Revelation 2:10
  95. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. – Revelation 2:16
  96. Wake up! – Revelation 3:2
  97. Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. – Revelation 3:2
  98. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. – Revelation 3:18
  99. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. – Revelation 3:22
  100. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. – Revelation 22:20

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About Hell: The World of the Dead

Posted by undergroundchurch on November 2, 2009


Hell Defined

The term “hell” evokes images of a burning lake of fire, smoke and eternal torment, and while these are true, the use of the term distorts the complete biblical description of hell.  The term itself comes from Anglo-Saxon and German roots and simply meant “underworld”.  Unfortunately for the English reader, the term often hides the original Greek and Hebrew words used in the Bible, so it becomes easy for the reader to get a distorted understanding.   It is important to look at the Hebrew or Greek word being used and the context in which it is used to get a more clear understanding.

The Introduction of Death

The world of the dead actually changes at least three times in the Bible, and each change comes from a key event that occurs between man and God.

The first change occurs in the garden east in Eden.  God tells Adam that if he eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he will die.  Death is first introduced here.

God originally intended that man would never die.  Death was not part of God’s “perfect” original plan.  We introduced it into our own lives through disobedience to God.  But now that man could die, he had to have a destination.  God told Adam that he was created from dust and so dust would be where he would return (Genesis 3:19).

Though the body dies and its molecules are spread throughout the earth, the spirit lives on, and so would need an eternal home.  Heaven was the first thing God created (Genesis 1:1), but was there another place?  Is heaven the only place for the souls of the dead to dwell eternally?

Strangely enough, heaven is not an Old Testament teaching of man’s eternal home.  Only two people were possibly caught up to be with God in heaven, and for the record, neither one of them died – Enoch and Elijah. The rest had a destination, but it isn’t where you might think.

The Land of the Dead: Adam to Jesus

The Old Testament does not really talk about “hell” in the manner most of us understand.  It speaks of a place called Sheol a bi-level subterranean cavity where the dead would go.  Sheol’s unique layout allowed for both the righteous and the wicked a place to go once they died.  Most writers understood that sheol was their resting place after death, and they knew that God would not leave them there (c.f. Psalm 16:10, Psalm 49:15).  A deep portion or “pit” (c.f. Psalm 30:3) existed for the wicked while sheol in general was for the righteous.

God didn’t created sheol or hell after the fall of man; it must have been a part of the original creation and most likely was not intended for man’s eternal abode anymore than heaven was intended for man’s eternal abode since the earth itself was made for him. So, technically speaking, both heaven and hell (as you may understand it) up to the time of Jesus were pretty much void of humans, sheol on the other hand, contained every human that ever died.

However, It was Jesus himself that gave us the best understanding of this place called sheol in the Hebrew and Hades in the Greek.

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” – Luke 16:19ff

Jesus describes the land of the dead as a place that consists of a peaceful side and a place of fire and torment with a huge chasm that separated them.   They could even see each other and even speak to each other across the chasm.

Sheol or Hades is finally described just before Jesus dies on the Cross.  However, the death of Jesus would bring about a second change in the man’s destination in the afterlife.

Land of the Dead: Jesus to the Second Coming

Up until the death of Jesus, people were saved through the sacrifice of bulls and goats, but this sacrifice was not enough to take care of the original seed of sin within man.  Only through the death of Jesus would the payment be possible for every person to actually live with God.  Hades would not be the same once Jesus died.  Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:8-10 that Jesus went down to the depths of the earth and led captivity out.  He took those that we with Abraham in the “paradise” side of hades to heaven because only through the blood of His death could there be a reconciliation to God.

Those on the torment side of hades remained there and are still there to this day.  When you die now, your temporary destination is either heaven or hades’ bad side and it all hinges on your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

A final configuration of the world of the dead will take place in the near future and the Bible once again shows how it’s going to unfold.

Land of the Dead: At the End of Time

There are two other terms in the New Testament translated as “hell” besides hades – tartarous and ghenna.

Tartarous is the place where the angels that sinned are kept in chains (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6).  This place only contains the wicked angels that fell with Satan and/or the ones that mated with human women prior to the flood (c.f. Genesis 6:2).  Either way, it is a very deep part of “hell” and only contains angels.

The second word is the one we understand as the true “hell”.  Ghenna, which is defined as the second death (Revelation 20:14)… the lake of fire, where the worm does not die and the torment is eternal.

Nobody occupies ghenna yet.  In fact, the first inhabitants will be the antichrist and the false prophet (Revelation 19:20) After this, Satan is bound and thrown into Tartarous with the rest of the sinning angels.

About a 1000 years after the antichrist and prophet are cast into ghenna, Satan is release from tartarous and tries to battle God where he is quickly caught and thrown into ghenna.  The remaining people are judged and all those in Hades are brought before God. Anyone whose name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life is thrown into ghenna.  Therefore, Hades is emptied of the remaining people and ghenna is filled. (Revelation 20)

The final phase is for God to destroy heaven and earth and rebuild them both.  He then empties heaven of its human inhabitants, places them in the New Jerusalem, which he prepared for them and places it earth along with the believers where they will live with God for eternity.

So in the end, all is as God originally intended.  God is with man on earth as he was with Adam in the Garden, Satan is defeated and sin is no more.

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Love is Tough!

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 25, 2009


In our Sunday school class today, the teacher, asked a question with no answer given – “Why is it so hard to do right and so easy to sin?”

Paul asked the same question (Romans 7:7-25) and posed this thought:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

First thing to understand… sin is fun!

If it weren’t appealing, nobody would sin.  Try tempting me with brussel sprouts.  Now try tempting me with a chocolate chip cookie.  Your success in tempting me lies in direct proportion to the pleasure I get from said temptation.

Second thing to understand… sin is natural.

You do not need to teach children how to do bad things.

If you say, “stop!”

They go.

If you tell them, “Don’t touch!”

They touch.  You get the point.

You need to teach them how to do good, and they learn very slowly usually complaining all along the way.  Our selfish nature drives our sin nature and causes us to constantly desire to do what we should not do.

Third thing to understand… obeying God costs you everything.

I know that you don’t want to hear that.  But I can’t take credit for it.  Jesus said,

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)

Doing the right thing means that you probably won’t be “pleasing yourself”, at least, you won’t be gratifying your “sinful nature”

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. – Ephesians 2:1-3

God told Adam, “Don’t eat from that tree.”  The devil told him, “God doesn’t love you, he is holding back the truth.”  Adam made a choice to satisfy his flesh.  Doing right would have meant that he would have had to trust that God knew what was best and that he, Adam, didn’t need to know everything.

All of this is both the blessing and curse of Love.  You must be given a choice not to love in order to show love.  And we show God love by obeying Him. Even the angels had this opportunity.

When Lucifer tried to take over heaven, he took 1/3 of the angels with him in his deception.  Two-thirds chose to trust God, the rest thought he was holding out on them.

Final thing you need to understand… You can trust God!

Yes, at times it seems that he is holding out on you, and to be honest, He might be.  But I can guarantee one thing,  if He is holding out, it is for your good, not your harm.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)

The key to it all is to…

“Trust the Lord with all your heart and not to lean on your own understanding.  Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will direct your path!” (Proverbs 3:5,6)

It’s a battle to do right, but it is definitely worth it in the end.

Posted in Faith, Hope and Love | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Some Thoughts on the End Times – Part 1

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 1, 2009


I might as well do what everybody else seems to do and give a quick thought [teaching] on the End Times.

However, you probably won’t find this quite is comfortable sounding as the Sunday morning version.

Most End Time teaching basically follow this format.

  • The End Comes
  • The Church is Raptured
  • All chaos errupts
  • Jesus comes with all the believers and reigns a 1000 years
  • Final judgement
  • Everyone designated for Hell go there, those designated for Heaven, go there

I may have left out some detail, but you get the gist.

The biggest problem I personally have with this format is that

  1. It isn’t exactly a healthy and accurate assessement and
  2. It gives a false sense that the Church is not going to experience trouble

I call this Sunday morning approach the “Escapist Syndrome

Basically, the Book of Revelation is approached as a letter for those who are left behind.  What I find strange about that is that a large portion of the church teaching that I hear around the nation is on a subject that, according to the syndrome, doesn’t even apply to them.

2 Thessalonian 2:3 and 1 Timothy 4:1 along with other scriptures, speak of a “falling away” in the last days. This has to be about believers, because non-believers can’t fall away by definition. I have always thought that apathy would be the culprit, which may still be the case.  But I fear that there is going to be another unintended consequence to current teaching that will cause many to flee the faith.

There is a phobia, I believe, in pulpits to talk about bad things.  Blessings and prosperity, God’s best for your life, God loves you, all have their place, but we are inundated by an unhealthy amount of rose petal teaching. Even roses, though, have thorns, and the teachings of Jesus, Paul, James, and John do a much better job painting reality and have a much more balanced approach to understanding the end times than we American Christians pocesses.

The Right Balance

Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” – Mark 4:16 and 17

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35-40

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:9-13

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. – John 15:20

And I could go on and on.

I think that church leaders fear that if the truth of persecution, the reality of hard times, and the fate of being hated as Jesus was hated were preached from a pulpit, they wouldn’t fill the chairs on a Sunday morning, but I think that the greater disservice is not telling followers of Christ the truth.  Tough times are coming! The church in America will be one day like the church in China and North Korea having to hide their $10,000 signs and abandon the $20 million buildings.  It is only a matter of time.

But in it all, no matter what happens, Jesus prepared us for this inevitable outcome.  All the prayer in the world, though it may delay it, will not stop it because it is part of the Plan of God.

I will end this part with what I consider to be the problem facing the future church because of the methodology of church teaching today.

The falling away will most likely come from Christians who have succumbed to the escapism syndrome and when the persecution in American and other “free nations” comes, they will ask the question,

Why? Why didn’t you tell me?  Why did you get my hopes up?  Why didn’t you prepare me?”

And they simply won’t have the strength to stand up under the pressure because they will feel betrayed and misled.  They will think that Jesus is not ever coming back because they never thought they’d be thrown into a prison in America just because they gathered with like believers.  The concerns of their world will outweigh their perceived need for a savior.

They thought is was all about prosperity and glory, but will find that the reality of the coming of the Son of Man will be like the birth of a child.  It will be painful while the child prepares to arrive, but the joy for those that endure to the end will be like holding that little baby in the arms.  All the pain in the birthing process will quickly fade in the joy of a new life with Christ forever.

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The Power of the Blood

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 12, 2009


I was asked the question, “Is it within our power to ‘plead the Blood of Jesus’?”  Since I know that many people practice this, in the spirit of truth, I wanted to tackle it; therefore, here is the answer I believe the Bible gives.

The blood of Jesus has one expressed Biblical purpose – to bring you life through salvation by bringing you near to God.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7,8)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53)

There is a concluding thought to this in Revelation where the saints, that’s us, overcome the enemy by two things – the blood of the Lamb and word of our testimony.  (Revelation 12:11)

The power of this is two-fold.  First, the Blood of Jesus set up the ability for anyone to overcome the hold that death and Satan has on them.  That is, salvation is available to them because of the shed blood of Jesus.

For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness from sin (Hebrews 9:22)

Second, the testimony is your confession of Christ, which is your part in the salvation experience.  When you confess Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, you are expressing the testimony or witness that Jesus is your Lord.  That’s why confession is so important.  Just as a side note: Many people pray “sinners prayers” when they get saved.  This is not necessary and again is not in the Bible.  You need to “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Romans 10:9 and 10).  That is your testimonial expression that will overcome the enemy in the end.

The Blood Jesus shed is extremely powerful; it redeems you from the seed of sin that you were born with, but that is really where the power ends.  There are other means, other gifts, powers and responsibilities given to the believer to deal with other things in your and other’s lives.  But to the extent that you “plead the blood of Jesus over someone’s life” or “plead the blood of Jesus over a situation“, that is a misuse of the authority, and not as effective as simply praying in earnest for that person or situation.

We’ll look a little deeper into the power you do and don’t have in another post.

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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 – a 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 5 of 8

Posted by undergroundchurch on September 1, 2009


Part 4

This prayer occurred earlier with Nehemiah, but I think this is the best point to talk about it.  Again, the content of the prayer is not mentioned, but the purpose is quite clear.

The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king. (2:4)

Nehemiah was just hanging around the king very sad after his prayer and fasting about Jerusalem’s plight. The king recognized the heaviness of Nehemiah’s heart, then asked the question, “What is it you want?”

The king was actually setting up Nehemiah for a blessing by the power of God. This is one of those situations where everything seems to be going perfect, a blessing comes, the stars align, all the players seem to be in the perfect spot.  The immediate tendency for most of us is to just go with the flow. 

It’s the kind of thing that sports athletes, poker players and believers share in common – getting in a groove.  It feels good when everything is happening just right; in fact, you feel like you can take on the world.  And therein lies the danger.

I think Nehemiah knows this, and so he does the one thing that is the ultimate evidence that he fears the Lord, he prays even though it seems unnecessary.

Pride is a nasty thing, and usually attacks you when everything is going well.  He had been praying and fasting, God set up everything just right, so instead of jumping right in, he prays. This simple act kept the power of pride from rearing its ugly head.

And what about that prayer? You know the kind of prayer he prayed, “Oh, Lord! You know this is a do or die situation.  Give me wisdom, strength and favor.”  It’s one of those short prayers that reminds us and the Lord that we know that He is in charge.

Reading through the Bible you will find scores of these types of prayers.  No recorded words, just the mentioning of a prayer.  Even Jesus prayed these prayers constantly. This is how the Christian walk should be. 

When you go to that meeting at work, spend a moment and pray.  When you make a decision that is either big or small, take a moment and remember who’s in charge.

These prayers aren’t insignificant; they are telling.  They show a heart that is bent toward God and humble toward self.  These are the prayers we should pray often and everywhere.

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Independence, Interdependence and Dependence

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 2, 2009


This Fourth of July, we Americans celebrate the Independence of our country from Dependence on Britain through an Interdependence on each other. This is the summary of our nation’s title, “The United States of America”.

This principle defines freedom.  When any part of this is removed, freedom is diminished.  As Dependence upon government grows, freedom diminishes.  As Interdependence on each other lessens, freedom diminishes.  As Independence gives way to “one world governments” and we aim to please as opposed to aiming to lead, then we become less of an independent nation.

Each of these ingredients must be balanced appropriately.  Even in our own lives, true freedom comes when we are independent from sin, interdependent on one another and dependent on God.  If I become dependent on self and less of God or I believe I can be a Christian without interdependence on my fellow believers or I become more independent from God, I become more and more in bondange and less free.

Our freedom as believers is found in Christ; we must become more and more dependent on Him and less dependent on our own strengths and understanding.  Our freedom comes in relying on the gifts of others in the church through blessing one another.  When we function in the strength of a union… a body, then we truly experience power.  The hand can’t tell the foot, I don’t need you.  (1 Corinthians 12:15)

Finally, we need to be more humble in our approach and less “independent”.  We are not “know-it-alls”, we can’t be a Christian on our own, in our own strength; as we do that, we isolate ourselves from the power of God in our lives.

The church is more than a title, it is a function.  It is not a place you go, it is a state of being.

Jesus is more than an escape ticket from Hell, He is a life and freedom giver here on earth today!

So while we celebrate our Nation’s independence with all the pride and excitement it brings, so too celebrate your dependence on God, and remember that it was our nation, under God, founded on a dependence on God that made us great.

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Faith is Knowldge

Posted by undergroundchurch on April 11, 2009


Isaiah 53:11 – After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

An interesting phrase here is “by his knowledge”. Jesus’ work on the cross gives us justification from sin, this means that it is just-as-if-you’d not sinned.  He simultaneously takes on the sin that causes you death. He does this by “his knowledge”. This is the same word for the tree that helped man bring about sin in creation – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Knowledge is not always good. When knowledge becomes a substitute for faith, knowledge closes the door to the hand of God moving in your life.  An example would be allowing the understanding of our physical world to invalidate in our minds the possibilities that Jesus could walk on water or even that if you pray for someone, they could be healed. 

We take an aspirin first before praying for the pain of a headache because we trust in our knowledge of the medicine before the knowledge of God.

Jesus took a step in the knowledge of who He was and what his calling was to complete the journey.  He walked the walk, talked the talk and came through victorious.  

Remember Jesus and Satan’s conversation and how Satan tried to tempt Jesus to try a different, less painful path.  Jesus won that victory because of his knowledge of God and faith in the plan of God.

Jesus knew God, knew who he was, knew his mission, knew the outcome. Knowledge, when put on God, is faith.  Faith is not some esoterical, mystical belief of blind understanding but a knowledge that God’s way is right.

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