The Mystery of God’s Voice

We’ve been in a three part series on how to hear the voice of God. First, we covered methods. Then we discussed motives. This week, we will talk about mystery.

Matthew 16: 13-18

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (vs.13)

In other words, which disciple can hear the voice of God in an unfavorable situation?  

Who is Jesus in the midst of a global pandemic? Who is Jesus when you physically cannot go to church? How do we answer this question?

Peter answers: The Messiah, the Savior of the World, the KING of the Kingdom. Peter received a revelation from God. He received a mystery of God’s voice. He didn’t understand fully, but received it fully.

Let’s look at some background info on the situation. Caesarea Philippi was a place of pagan worship. There were caves located at the entrance to the district where sexually immoral practices were conducted by the locals in an attempt to lure “gods of fertility” out of the caves. It was believed that their gods of fertility would retreat into the caves and die, and need to be resurrected by the sexual practices of the pagan worshippers. This was a place that no Jewish disciple would have ever approached. Jesus marches the disciples right into Caesarea Philippi and asks the question —-Who do you say I am?

In this passage of Matthew 16, Jesus is referring to the building of His church:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (vs. 18)

At that time, Jesus had not yet established His church. In fact, this is the first instance of the word “church” in the New Testament. The word church, as used by Jesus, is derived from the Greek ekklesia, (phonetic: EKLAYSEEYA) which means the “called out” or “assembly.”

In other words, the church that Jesus is referencing as His church is the assembly of people who have been called out of the world by the gospel of Christ. (You are watching this now as the EKKLESIA.

You are the called out ones. The Assembly. 

Bible scholars debate the actual meaning of the phrase “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” One of the better interpretations to the meaning of this phrase is as follows. In ancient times, the cities were surrounded by walls with gates, and in battles, the gates of these cities would usually be the first place their enemies assaulted. This was because the protection of the city was determined by the strength or power of its gates.

As such, the “gates of hell” or “gates of Hades” means the power of Hades. The name “Hades” was originally the name of the god who presided over the realm of the dead and was often referred to as the “house of Hades.” It designated the place to which everyone who departs this life descends, regardless of their moral character. In the New Testament, Hades is the realm of the dead, and in this verse, Hades or hell is represented as a mighty city with its gates representing its power.

Jesus refers here to His impending death. Though He would be crucified and buried, (a parallel to the death and resurrection of the pagan fertility god worship, like two opposing kingdoms), He would rise from the dead and build His church. Jesus is emphasizing the fact that the powers of death could not hold Him in. Not only would the church be established in spite of the powers of Hades or hell, but the church would thrive in spite of these powers.

The church will never fail, though generation after generation succumbs to the power of physical death, yet other generations will arise to perpetuate the church. And it will continue until it has fulfilled its mission on earth as Jesus has commanded:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).

It is clear that Jesus was declaring that death has no power to hold God’s people captive. Its gates are not strong enough to overpower and keep imprisoned the church of God.

The Lord has conquered death (Romans 8:2; Acts 2:24). And because “death no longer is master over Him” (Romans 6:9), it is no longer master over those who belong to Him.

Satan has the power of death, and will always use that power to try to destroy the church of Christ. But we have this promise from Jesus that His church, the “called out” will prevail: “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

WHY would God lead us here? Why would God do this?

In order to establish the church, you have to be willing to step into the places you were told to stay away from. Doctors and nurses are walking into the gates of Hell. The number one need expressed to our church was counseling. Maybe home has been a place you told yourself you will stay away from and now you find yourself at the gates of hell. Quarantined 24/7 with the people you said you wouldn’t spend more than 15 minutes with.

It’s at the gates of hell that Jesus reveals the pure power of the kingdom. 

It’s at the gates of hell that the reality of His promises come true.

This is a gates of hell moment and we need people like Peter to hear the voice of God giving them a revelation of who Jesus is in a quarantine!

New Year,
New You

This free ebook resource, “New Year, New Me” will take you from chaos to clarity.


Overcome Self-Pity

In John 21, Jesus comes back from death and invites the disciples to breakfast. They had all recently failed him. They scattered out of fear before the crucifixion. They had returned back to the mundane after the crucifixion, even though they spent three years in ministry training, witnessing the majestic. 

But what I love so much about John 21 is that Jesus never mentions any of that…He simply invites them back to the table when He returns. He prepares food for them and then invites them back to a place of intimacy and provision. He invites them back to the place for proximity. He invites them back to family. After breakfast, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” …and then proceeds to give Peter his next assignment. 

Isn’t it just like Jesus to give you another assignment after failure? Isn’t it just like Jesus to refuse to allow you to default back to the mediocrity of your old life? 

I failed marriage and I failed fatherhood—BUT GOD. He keeps inviting me back to the table. He keeps giving me new assignments. He keeps honoring me while I become what He’s honoring in faith. I don’t know who this is for, but Jesus always makes it harder for us to go back to the life we left to follow Him. The best is waiting for you at the table. Come eat.

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

(John 21:1-13)

Do you love me? FEED MY SHEEP. 

Jesus is putting something on display. He is feeding them breakfast. Jesus is inviting them to the table….and asking that they now invite others to the table. When Jesus appeared they didn’t recognize it was Jesus, but they obeyed… 

Peter and the disciples were going to be sent out to groups of people that would not know Jesus, but will obey and respond to the call. 

Jesus is inviting us back to the table with him…. 

But He is also asking us: will you continue to invite people back to YOUR table when they reject you? When they gossip about you? When they hurt you?

Peter, if you love me, love people the way I love you.

The disciples may not have listened to a carpenter tell them how to be fishermen. Sometimes we have our own mind made up. We are so secure in how WE do things, in how WE do ministry, but if we will be fishermen who are willing to listen to a carpenter, and put our nets down on the other side, we will have more than we can contain.

Jesus is always inviting us to the table. He keeps inviting us back. 

Jesus intentionally did not mention to Peter his failure. As a matter of fact, previously, He sent an angel messenger to tell His disciples and ALSO tell Peter, I am risen! In other words, look Peter right in the eyes and say, “Peter, your ministry isn’t over, it’s just getting started!” Jesus is risen!!

Breakfast is a ritual. Jesus invited Peter back to the ritual.

Sometimes, we are too busy striving to honor the ritual, too busy trying to make it happen for ourselves that we forgot the ritual. You’re not too busy for church…you’re striving too much to stop for the ritual. 

Working hard without Jesus hardly works. Obedience to Jesus always carries bigger results than hard work without obedience.  

Self pity occurs when we are more concerned with what we think we should have than what God already gave us. 

Self pity occurs when we are more concerned with what we want to do than the mission right in front of us. 

Self pity is a barrier to progress. It’s easier to return back to something familiar, to mediocrity. To go back to breakfast and miss the ritual.  But you can’t even be good at your old life. You old life doesn’t satisfy. 

JESUS in His mercy comes TO YOU. 

Even when JESUS is attempting to save you, you won’t be able to recognize its HIM DOING IT. Jesus is trying to use CHURCH and PASTORS but you can’t recognize HIM.

The disciples couldn’t recognize Jesus, but they obeyed. Sometimes you can’t tell it’s Jesus, but you still need to OBEY.

How do you get freedom from self pity?


New Year,
New You

This free ebook resource, “New Year, New Me” will take you from chaos to clarity.


Default Mode: Do You Want to Get Well?

I want to start this post by taking you back 2000 years ago to a pool called Bethesda, beside which is a man who has been unwell, an invalid, for 38 years. This man lies beside the pool and watches as others go into it and receive healing while he sits there at the edge day after day after day.

Fast forward 2000 years and you see you, phone in hand. You’re scrolling through Instagram loving the post of the couple who just bought their forever home while you’re still living in a 600 square foot apartment, or the post of your best friend who just got engaged while you’re still single but so very desperate to mingle, or the post of that V1 Dream Team member who recently surrendered his life to Christ and has experienced radical growth and freedom while you’re still searching for yours after all these years of following Him.

And what happens next is the same thing that happened 2000 years ago, Jesus walks up to you, just as He walked up to the invalid, opens His mouth and asks, “Do you want to get well?” Now I can’t be positive but at this point I’m sure both you and the invalid are offended, because you would think the answer to this question would be an automatic yes. However, the invalid’s response was not yes, but an excuse: “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” What would your response be if Jesus came up to you and asked you, “Do you want to buy a house?” Would your response be, “Yes,” or, “Well I live in the most expensive city in the US?” If He asked, “Do you want to get married?” Would your response be, “Yes,” or, “There are no good, Christian men?” If Jesus asked if you want to be set free would you respond, “Yes,” or would your response be, “My pastor doesn’t have time for me?”

When you are in default mode you will not even take the opportunity to get well.

People who are in default mode, when asked if they want to get well, will always have an excuse. But thank Jesus He doesn’t take our excuses when we offer them! We can give Him an infinite amount of excuses, reasons, for why we can’t “get well” but even in the midst of all of those excuses Jesus can still deliver the cure, because the details of your circumstance really do not matter to Jesus. They do not stop His ability to heal. Jesus told the man to pick up his mat and walk and he did it despite his circumstances and excuses.

But the first step to getting free is to get real. We have this idea that we have to clean ourselves up first, that we have to make ourselves a candidate for the cure. This story of the man at the pool disproves that. This man didn’t put on his Sunday best and show up to church so that he qualified for his healing. No, Jesus came to him in his funk and He will come to you in yours because you are loved by Jesus despite everything that you do and you will never be able to fathom the extent of His Goodness in your life!

Some of you still don’t believe me because you have too much religion in your heart and not enough relationship with Jesus. Religion can only change your behavior, not your heart. You’re disqualifying yourself from the miracle because you think you haven’t done enough: you haven’t fasted enough, read His Word enough, you still have alcohol in your system, whatever it is. Let me rock your whole perspective on that: when asked who healed him, the former invalid didn’t even know Jesus’s name! Jesus wants to radically change your life before you even really know who He is! Now I do believe that belief is a prerequisite to a miracle, but sometimes in God’s goodness, even while we haven’t figured it all out, He just wants to overwhelm us with His goodness.

It is not your works that will heal you. Default mode has made you predictable. The enemy knows what you’re going to do next. He knew the invalid would just sit and wait by the pool just like he knows your default when life gets tough is to stress eat, down some alcohol, spend money you don’t have, etc. But thankfully God knows the x-factor: your destiny, your purpose. You want to get out of that predictable default mode, become unpredictable and reach your destiny? Actually do what Jesus is telling you to do! Do that early morning workout instead of hitting the snooze button five times! Invest in yourself so you can learn the skills that will get you a job that you actually love! Plant yourself and serve in your local church because #gafftapesaveslives and you are more likely to receive healing and freedom in serving than you are in a meeting with your pastor!

Lastly and most importantly: stop sinning. Healing the man at the pool of Bethesda was a miracle, but another miracle happens when Jesus tells you to stop sinning and you do it. Despite the fact that the miracle of walking and the miracle of stopping sinning require the same amount of obedience most Christians will believe in the miracle of walking, but not the miracle of being able to stop sinning. Yet the purpose of every miracle is, “Stop sinning.” Do not use your freedom to run back into the bowels of hell, back into default mode, but into the arms of your Savior.

New Year,
New You

This free ebook resource, “New Year, New Me” will take you from chaos to clarity.


This May Be a Drill, But Offense is Real!

Picture this: you’re 7 years old, learning about how your heart has four chambers when all of a sudden you hear this blaring siren sound. Your teacher begins to usher your class into a straight line and out of the building. Unless you were home schooled (like my girls) you experienced this modern phenomenon called a fire drill at least once a year for each year you were in school. You may even have to do these still at your job.

Why do we have these drills? Because our ability to respond well to a fire in a large group situation is not trusted. Now I don’t know about you, but I have never experienced a fire in real life. I have however experienced offense on a daily basis. We all do, yet most of us have never been trained to respond well to offense in a one-on-one situation, let alone a group situation. Really we should have had offense drills and not fire drills. So consider this your first official offense drill!

Offense is a huge part of today’s society. Everyone is an “expert” at something. It doesn’t matter how little experience they have, everyone is an expert. Therefore if you do not know how to deal with offense, if you do not have an unoffendable heart, your destiny is impossible to obtain in this era.
In order to combat offense, we must first know where exactly offense comes from. So here are three biblical definitions of offense:

1. Offense is the (false) belief that holding a grudge helps you and enacts revenge on the offender.

Right now you might be thinking, “Duh. That’s not new.” No, it isn’t but you still believe it. Well.*

Most of us know that cute Hallmark Bible verse that tells us to, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” In context, however, it says not only should you not hold a grudge, but also do not seek revenge. That means talk to your mom instead of just letting her see your read receipts for the texts that sent after she made a hurtful comment at Easter dinner.

2. Offense is the surprise brought on by the expectancy that people will not hurt you.

In school, you learned about the four chambers of your physical heart. Your spiritual heart has four as well; the first one being the chamber of expectations. This is where offense takes root.

Some of you reading this are wondering why you are stuck at the same level of influence and success. You want to move forward. You think it’s a brain problem. but really it’s a heart problem. There are even people of lower intelligence that are passing you up because what they lack in head knowledge they make up for in heart knowledge, and that means that they’ve let the chamber of expectations heal and they’ve learned to live unoffendable lives.
People will offend you. It’s inevitable. But being offended is always a choice and other people’s words can bend you out of shape only if you let them. You have to learn how to have an unoffendable heart. Without one, you do not have a successful future. You may get a version of success, but you cannot be fulfilled by relationships you’re constantly living in a grudge against. And you cannot avoid relationships altogether.

One of the biggest sources of offense is that we give people a standard to live up to that they never agreed to. Specifically, Christians, stop trying to give a Christian standard to somebody who is not a Christian! You’re rebuking them and trying to correct their lives before they even know the One who sets them free! If you really want to help, give them a mission and a destiny first. Recruit then rebuke. Just make sure you give them the same grace for sinning that you gave yourself three weeks ago when you screwed up.

3. Offense is the stethoscope for identity disease of the heart.

If there is one thing that Jesus hates, it’s pride. Let me repeat that: Jesus hates pride. Pride generally indicates that there is something fragmented in your identity, where you feel as if you have to compensate for it.

Romans 15:7 tells us to accept one another, but in our pride, we often read it as accept the ones that are like us. If that were the case Jesus would never have accepted you, but He accepted you broken, drug addicted, rage-filled. He loved you before you had it all together and thank God He loves you even now as you figure it out.

Pride stops you from submitting not only to God but to the authority He would place in your life. The definition of submission to authority is giving your leader permission to fail in front of you, because if you only submit to a perfect person, then as soon as they reveal their humanity, you don’t give them the same grace to be human that you give yourself. Living offended will rob you being submitted to the place you should be and the leadership you need. And you can toss it back to God, but it’s really convenient that God rarely tells you to do the thing that you don’t want to do or go to places that you don’t want to go.
The long and short of it is that living offended will rob you of the destiny that God has for you. Offense will make you a fool by God’s standard. He is the only one that can heal your offendable heart and piece your fragmented identity back together.

New Year,
New You

This free ebook resource, “New Year, New Me” will take you from chaos to clarity.


How to Simplify Your Systems for Personal Growth

But how many times do you get distracted in a typical day? Ten? Fifty? A hundred? Research indicates that the average worker is distracted once every three minutes. We’re swimming upstream against a flood of emails, notifications, texts, and drop-in visitors. You just can’t be productive in that environment.

The good news is that regaining your focus is easier than you think. Just a few simple practices can slam the door on interruptions and give you the focused time you need for high-leverage work. These are things you can start doing right now, today.

Here’s what’s you’ll gain from this episode—

  • Practical tips for creating “alone zone” for deep work.
  • The practice of “meeting free Thursdays” and how it’s impacted our business.
  • Apps and sites that can help you block distractions.
  • The types of food scientifically proven to increase mental acuity.
  • The scientific link between music and problem solving.
  • The best methods for timing breaks to keep your mind fresh.
  • How to use your the one tool you use the most as a firewall against unwanted meetings and visitors.

Plus, our producers surprised us with a pop quiz about our favorite productivity hacks. It was a ton of fun!

After you listen, we hope you’ll choose at least one or two of these simple practices and start using them today. You’ll be amazed at how it will boost your productivity.

New Year,
New You

This free ebook resource, “New Year, New Me” will take you from chaos to clarity.