Are Prayers More Effective Where Two or Three Are Gathered?

Are Prayers More Effective Where Two or Three Are Gathered? I answered that question on this episode of Real Truth Real Quick.

Show Notes:

Principles:

1. God is always in our midst because we are His people.

2. The authority of the church isn’t supposed to rest on any one individual.

3. God is in the midst of believers when they are: yielded to His Spirit, and are accurately dividing God’s Word as workmen who show themselves approved.

4. The context for understanding Matthew 18:20 is church discipline and authority more than the ability to have your prayers answered.

5. As ambassadors of Christ, the way we represent Jesus, both individually and collectively should bring glory to the Father; not lead others astray.

Scripture:

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Matthew 28:20 “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 6:6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Psalm 141:5 “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it…”

Matthew 18:18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 18:19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.”

James 3:1 “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”

Tweetable Truth: You can get two or three people that agree on the wrong thing, and God will not be there in the midst of them.

Other Resources:

Should a Local Church Have a Higher Standard For Membership Than Membership in Heaven?

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What Is Promise Keepers and Why Is It Coming Back?

What Is Promise Keepers and Why Is It Coming Back? I answered that question on this week’s episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.

Show Notes:

Principles:

  1. “Toxic masculinity” is unbiblical masculinity. 
  2. God is the ultimate promise keeper. If we are followers of Christ, we should be more conformed to His image.
  3. Nobody suffers more than women and children when men live unfaithful lives.
  4. We don’t need men to just join a Promise Keepers group, we need men who will do the things that Scripture calls men to do.

Scripture:

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

For a deeper study, read the account of Elijah on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18:16 – 46.

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die,…” 1 Kings 19:4

“Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18

“And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:15

“not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25

Principles:

Promise Keepers is an opportunity to:

1. Strengthen the hearts of men  

2. Increase people’s devotion to Christ

3. Strengthen the local church

Additional Resources:

Call to Action: Set your alarm daily for 7:31 to pray for the 2020 Promise Keepers event.

Who is Ken Harrison of Promise Keepers? 

5 Characteristics of a Godly Man

What Does It Mean to Be A Man After God’s Own Heart?

For more information on Promise Keepers, click here.

What Are The Top Ten Most Viewed Episodes of 2019?

What Are The Top Ten Most Viewed Episodes of 2019? I answered that question on this episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.

Show Notes:

1. Why Does God Seek to Kill Moses in Exodus 4:24?

2. How Old Is the Earth? 3. Is Watermark Community Church a Cult?

4. What Should We Make of Kanye’s Profession of Faith and Celebrity Conversions in General?

5. What Are Altar Calls, and Are They Biblical? 6. What Is One of the Biggest Mistakes a Pastor Can Make?

7. What Does Jesus Mean When He Says to Hate Your Family in Luke 14:26?

8. Can You Be a Christian and Not Be Part of a Local Church?

9. How Do I Know Who God Wants Me to Marry?

10. What Is The Meaning of Jesus’ Exception Clause in Matthew 19:9?

Additional Resources:

Why Does the Bible Say, “Jacob I Loved and Esau I Hated?” 

Why Is It Front Page News When A Celebrity Announces He Is Gay? 

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Need hope and perspective? Consider the position of Jesus’ father, Joseph

That makes whatever we are facing seem a little less overwhelming, doesn’t it? 

Need hope and perspective? Consider the position of Jesus’ father, Joseph

That makes whatever we are facing seem a little less overwhelming, doesn’t it? 

Whatever challenges you face as you head into 2020, but I am certain they are not as great as the one Joseph faced over 2000 New Years ago. 

“Hey Joseph, there’s a bit of a situation with your fiancé, Mary. Now don’t freak out—and don’t break up—but let’s just say she’s coming with some baggage. The kind that will arrive in about nine months. By the way, His name is Jesus, and He’s the Son of God.”

Makes whatever we are facing seem a little less overwhelming, doesn’t it? I know you have real issues: broken families, failing health, addictions, unemployment, overwhelming debt, or a host of other problems. But understanding the significance of the news Joseph received in Matthew 1 can provide us a lot of perspective, and a lot of hope. And who couldn’t use a little more of both as 2020 comes crashing onto the scene?

Want some perspective? There is nothing you or I are going to face this year that the good hand of our sovereign Lord doesn’t already know all about. And just like God brought comfort to Joseph in the midst of his confusion, he wants to bring comfort and assurance to you. Your situation might be a result of man’s (or your) rebellion more than God’s revelation, but take comfort in knowing that whatever your situation, the Lord wants to bring insight, wisdom, instruction and peace into your heart as you deal with it.

Need some hope? How about the hope of knowing that the result of Joseph facing his challenge with grace ended up being part of God’s provision to bring grace into the world. Aren’t we glad that this unplanned pregnancy didn’t meet a tragic end, and as a result we can enter into today, tomorrow and even death pregnant with hope?

This year I resolve to know more about God’s perspective and hope than ever before. I invite you to join me. Check out jointhejourney.com and jump into his word daily with me.

Are There Different Levels of Sin?

Are There Different Levels of Sin? I answered that question on this episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.

Principles:

  1. There are certainly different consequences to certain wrong behaviors.
  2. We don’t go to heaven because of what we do or don’t do. We go to heaven because we trust in what Christ has done.
  3. All sins separate us from God. All sins demand a gracious work  from a gracious Savior.
  4. A sin is a sin when talking about what separates you from God, but ammends often look different depending on the harm done to the other person.

Scripture:

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people,  but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.”   Matthew 12:31

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10

“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” Isaiah 59:2

“…and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ 

shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” Matthew 5:22

“or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”   Matthew 5:48

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3

“…not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;” 1 Thessalonians 4:5

“and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also  told you before and solemnly warned you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6

“And in as much as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” Hebrews 9:27

“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a citadel.” Proverbs 18:19

Additional Resources:

Is There an Unforgivable Sin? https://youtu.be/-YgJbxQJbys

Is There Such A Thing As An Unforgivable Sin? – Version 2 https://youtu.be/DtyqK8ilGa8

Does A Person Who Commits Suicide Go To Heaven? https://youtu.be/ylRE0kLz8p4

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Should a Local Church Have a Higher Standard For Membership Than Membership in Heaven?

Should a Local Church Have a Higher Standard For Membership Than Membership in Heaven? I answered that question this week’s episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.


Show Notes:

Principles:

  1. The local church is not a means of salvation.
  2. The local church is a means of santification, and a means to which you can experience the grace and mercies of God.
  3. We’re saved by grace through faith alone, but the faith which saves is never alone. It should be accompanied by good works.
  4. Membership in a local church is a part of the sanctification process, and it is the job of spritual leaders to protect the flock from perverse teachers and their teachings.
  5. Good shepherds protect the flock from wolves and even unruly (bully) sheep.

Scripture:

“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;” Acts 20:29

“and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:30

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” 1 Timothy 4:1

“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;”   Romans 10:9

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”   Matthew 18:15

“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you…”   Matthew 18:16

“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”   Matthew 18:17

“It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.” 1 Corinthians 5:1

“You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed 

from your midst.” 1 Corinthians 5:2

“For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though 

I were present.” 1 Corinthians 5:3

“I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 5:5

Additional Resources:

How Do I Know If I Am Saved?

What Does the Bible Say About Covenant Membership and Church Discipline?

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What Does It Mean to “Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go”?

What Does It Mean to “Train up a Child in the Way He Should Go”? I answered that question on this episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.

Show Notes:

Principles:

1. Proverbs are not promises, they are observations and principles that are largely true.

2. How can a kid not grow up to be a fool? Don’t allow them to learn the ways of the world from a rebellious, self – seeking, foolish authority figure.

3. Children repeat the patterns they see modeled for them as they grow up.

4. Children see how important Scripture is when their parents live their lives devoted to it.

5. Children are impacted when they witness their parents living “on mission” (having already determined they are going to do what God says to do).

6. Hurt people hurt people. Children who have been raised in peaceful homes likely will create peace for others and desire more of it for themselves.

7. When you “seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness” one of the things God typically adds to you is the blessing of a generation that wants to follow in your steps.

8. Don’t just put Scripture on your wall, put it on your heart and live according to it.

9. When you passionately follow Christ, and the blessing of living according to God’s will and way is on you, your kids will be more likely to want more of the kindness of God they have witnessed.

Scripture:

“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. “ Proverbs 22:6

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” Deuteronomy 6:4

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7

“You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:8-9

“…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9

Additional Resources:

How to train up your child:
1. Have a plan ( Deuteronomy 6 )
2. You must be present to win
3. Be a parent (not a pal)
4. Passionately follow Christ

Are Family Curses Real?

What Is the Biggest Mistake Most Parents Make?

What Is a Biblical View of How To Discipline My Children?

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What is a Biblical View Of How To Discipline My Children?

What is a biblical view of how to discipline my children? I answered that question on this episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.

Show Notes:

Principles:

  1. It’s problematic when a parent’s view of discipline always involves spanking their child.
  2. Discipline that always involves spanking is lazy and not very thoughtful.
  3. The purpose of discipline should be to train your child. It is a part of the discipleship process.
  4. Love is always the motivation behind Godly discipline.
  5. The goal of discipline is not to have obedient children, but rather to raise healthy adults.
  6. Relationships without rules produce chaos.
  7. Children do childish things.
  8. Parents must determine if their child has made a childish mistake or a foolish mistake.
  9. Childish behavior needs godly patience. Foolish behavior needs godly discipline.
  10. Discipline is not for the benefit of the parent. It is for the benefit of the child as they learn that life and every good thing is found in adhering to the ways of the Lord.
  11. The ultimate goal of discipline is to conform your child to the image of Jesus Christ.

Scripture:

“The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord.” Exodus 34:5

“Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, 

and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;…” Exodus 34:6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will 

make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death.” Proverbs 19:18

“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; for now, O Ephraim, you have played the harlot, Israel has defiled itself.” Hosea 5:3

Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim and like rottenness to 

the house of Judah.   Hosea 5:12

“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.” Hosea 5:14

“A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.” Proverbs 29:1

“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” – Josh McDowell

Additonal Resources:

Parenting Resources

Is It Wrong For Parents To Spank Their Kids? 

What Is The Biggest Mistake Parents Make? 

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How Should I Respond If My Child Says They Want to Change Their Gender?

Show Notes:

How Should I Respond If My Child Says They Want to Change Their Gender? I answered that question on this episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.

Scripture:

“Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death.” Proverbs 19:18

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who hurries his footsteps errs.” Proverbs 19:2

“The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the LORD.” Proverbs 19:3

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12

Principles:

  1. Don’t be surprised when your children want childish things.
  2. Don’t confuse less common expressions of male or female with a child being misgendered.
  3. Empathize and lead.

Great parents do these things:

  1. Have a plan.  2. They are present.  3. They are a parent.

In Summary:

1. Love your child.  2. Listen to your child.  3. Help your child.

In all things remind them of the goodness of God and His way.

Additional Resources:

What is The Biggest Mistake Parents Make?
How Should Christians Respond to the Case of James Younger?

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How Christians Should Speak to Kids and Culture on the Gender Issue

Given the media’s choice to largely ignore the story, you may have missed the details about a recent court case in Dallas centered on the custody of a seven-year-old boy. The mother of the boy said that he should be identified as a girl, claiming he made that decision himself at the age of three because he liked Disney princesses and so-called “girl toys.” She saught sole custody to “transition” the boy against the father’s wishes, and administer hormone treatments as the child neared puberty. She also wanted a court order to forbid the father from calling his son “son,” speaking his name, or referring to him as a “he.” The father said that the boy still wanted to be a boy while in his custody (in fact, the mother’s own paid “experts” testified that he “does not identify with only one gender”). He also accused the mother of contributing to his son’s perceived confusion by telling him that “monsters only eat boys.” 

Thankfully, after a jury recommended 11-1 to confirm the mother as sole custodian, the judge has intervened by ruling that joint custody will be maintained. The judge’s ruling will at least temporarily slow down the likelihood of the boy soon beginning harmful hormone therapies which would have suppressed his natural development. It is, however, easy to imagine a different judge deciding the opposite, perhaps in a state without the governor and other top politicians speaking out against it.

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: cases like this will come up again, and the judges sometimes will decide differently, in ways that will harm children and set dangerous precedents for others. So, if you “identify” as a Christian and as a mature adult, how should you respond?

For starters, if you have kids yourself, be a parent. It is your job to be the adult. Children will be childish, by definition. They think like children (1 Corinthians 13:11). They are not reliably knowledgeable, reasonable, or wise. They lack life experience, a firm grasp of reality, and the ability to make decisions of ultimate importance. In fact, they are legally not allowed to make any major decisions on their own, and any such agreements they try to enter into are not binding. 

You are to teach them and guide them through this early stage of life. You will often, quite literally, save them from themselves. If a kid wants to put on a cape and jump off the roof because they say they are a superhero, you don’t affirm them in that decision no matter how passionately they believe they can fly. You can try to reason with them by explaining the facts of what the consequences might be. But if they don’t listen to reason (and they often won’t), you don’t just throw up your hands and let them experience those consequences. You protect them because you love them. You are the parent and parents are there to protect, not enable.

The progressive “experts” of the day say the loving thing to do is to embrace a child’s self-proclaimed “gender identity” (a new term), and give them drugs to block puberty (and likely make them permanently infertile) so they can later more easily “transition” by surgically removing healthy organs. Considering that 80 to 95 percent of kids with gender dysphoria end up identifying by their true birth/genetic gender after puberty, helping kids prevent puberty in order to change genders seems like an especially twisted form of lifelong abuse. 

In addition to being a parent to those in your own family, you need to speak up for what is universally right for all members of the human family, and especially those who have no powerful voice of their own (Proverbs 31:8-9). A key strategy of those who seek to redefine truth or promote progressive postmodern ideologies is to try to bully those who disagree with them into silence. That’s why we have a “cancel culture,” the advancement of the idea that “words are violence,” and countless other efforts to curtail free speech and civil discourse both online and off. A loud and vocal few can sound like a majority when the majority is too afraid to speak up. The resulting “spiral of silence” leaves multitudes afraid to acknowledge the “emperor has no clothes” even in the face of his obvious nakedness. 

Speak up now, lest we are soon in a world where courts do say that it’s illegal to call your son a “son,” and judges decide for you how to raise your kids. By speaking with conviction now, you can at least take comfort in knowing it wasn’t your silence that made the abuse possible. 

Finally, above all, you should love people in word and deed. Every single one of us has areas where our natural tendency is to stray from God’s design for our lives. All of us have “gone astray”; each of us has areas where we have “turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6). None of us is without need of admonishment, encouragement, and help. When we meet someone who is struggling, we meet ourselves, and we should lovingly point them towards the same truth we want them to use for our encouragement. That especially includes the Truth that making choices which go against God’s desires will not bring ultimate joy, peace or fullness of life. 

To speak is to love. Love without truth is not loving, and truth spoken without love will not be heard.

The greatest Truth we must continually share is that even when we do make foolish or rebellious choices, God still loves us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He made provision for our sin, so that we don’t have to remain a slave to its consequences in this life or the life to come. His love waits for all who seek it. Let’s make sure we daily speak of God’s love and model its effects, so that we may make it known to every human who has lost their God-given identity as a son or daughter made in His image. 

Todd Wagner is the senior pastor at Watermark Community Church. He is the author of the book Come and See and has a weekly podcast, Real Truth Real Quick, on life, leadership and the world we live in.