80 episodes

Struggling with your spiritual life?

If you are like most believers, your spiritual life has been a series of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, two steps forward followed by two steps back, and is less than what you would call consistently abundant. But it doesn't have to be that way. It's not just about what happens when you die, but what it means to live in victory with Christ today.

The Higher Christian Life is a podcast by Steve McCranie that will help you experience, in real-time, the "Abundant Life" Jesus promised.

So join us as we rediscover the blessings of the Higher Christian Life.

The Higher Christian Life Steve McCranie

    • Religion & Spirituality

Struggling with your spiritual life?

If you are like most believers, your spiritual life has been a series of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, two steps forward followed by two steps back, and is less than what you would call consistently abundant. But it doesn't have to be that way. It's not just about what happens when you die, but what it means to live in victory with Christ today.

The Higher Christian Life is a podcast by Steve McCranie that will help you experience, in real-time, the "Abundant Life" Jesus promised.

So join us as we rediscover the blessings of the Higher Christian Life.

    080 - How to Hear God’s Voice When He Speaks

    080 - How to Hear God’s Voice When He Speaks

    “Follow Me, and I Will Make You… Whatever I Want”In the Gospels, we encounter a radical figure who issues a bold invitation to those He calls unto Himself: “Follow Me.” These words, spoken by Jesus, are not merely a suggestion but a summons, a mandate to leave life as we have always known it and embark on a journey that has no end— at least on this side of heaven. His invitation is to die to self, to follow Him wholeheartedly, and to imitate Him in all aspects of life.
    Or, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him to come and die.” But what does it really mean to follow Jesus, especially in the context of the 21st-century woke Christian culture we find ourselves in? How can we be faithful disciples of our Lord?
    What Does it Mean to Follow Jesus?The essence of Jesus’ call to “Follow Me” is about more than just physically moving from where you are to where He is. It’s an invitation to a new way of life. It’s about leaving behind old priorities and identities (like nets or tax booths in the Gospels) and embracing a new identity rooted in faith and obedience to Christ. And this call is marked by a willingness to let go of personal ambitions and possessions, or to take up one’s cross (Matt. 16:24), and to enter a life of service and mission with Him, by following Him. It’s about embracing all that Christ offers: His teachings, His lifestyle, His ambition, His mission, His sacrifice, and the purpose of His life.
    Ok, got that.
    I’ve heard sermons about giving all to Christ for as long as I can remember. But ‌every time I try to truly follow Him wholeheartedly, I seem to fail. Sometimes miserably. There has to be something I’m missing— maybe some key ingredient I have somehow overlooked.
    And, to be honest, there is.
    The Importance of Hearing His Voice When He SpeaksBut there is also one vital aspect of following Jesus that is often neglected in our preaching and church practices— and that is being able, or acquiring the ability, to hear His voice when He speaks to you. Otherwise, how can you follow Him? For without His direction, you’re basically flying blind. I mean, how can you know what He wants you to do? How can He encourage you, instruct you, or even rebuke you? And how can you have fellowship with Him or grow in the likeness of Him if you can’t hear Him when He speaks?
    Remember, one vital and essential key to following Jesus is to speak to Him and have Him speak back to you. This is the essence of a relationship with the Lord. All relationships, with God or with someone else, are built on two-way communication and not a single monologue from only one partner. And without a relationship… well, we’re just talking about religion. And nobody wants religion.
    Some FAQs About Hearing His VoiceSo let me ask you, are you a follower of Jesus? Do you hear His voice when He speaks to you? And if you’re not sure, let me answer just a few questions you may have.
    Q: How do I know if it’s God speaking to me?
    A: God’s voice will never contradict Scripture. Never. And His voice brings peace and clarity in confusing situations, often challenges us to grow spiritually, and is always consistent with His character of love. Plus, and I know this may sound mystical, but when God speaks, you will recognize His voice like His sheep do their Shepherd (John 10:3-4). Or, to put it another way, there is no way you cannot hear His voice if you belong to Him as one of His sheep. Read the chapter yourself.
    Q: What if I don’t hear anything?
    A: God can even speak in silence. These times of silence may be...

    • 36 min
    079 - Embracing the Call to Radical Christianity

    079 - Embracing the Call to Radical Christianity

    Challenging the Status QuoWe live in a world where the term “radical” often evokes images of extremism and division and has developed a rather nasty reputation in our culture since the ’60s. Therefore, it may come as a surprise that at the very heart of Christian discipleship lies a call to a radically different way of life. This radical lifestyle is not about taking up arms or shouting louder than the voices of opposition. Instead, it’s about embracing a radical love, a radical commitment, radical obedience and sacrifice, and a radical transformation that only comes from fully embracing the life and teachings of Jesus Christ himself— who was the greatest radical who ever lived.
    That’s right. Let that thought sink in for a moment.
    What is a Radical, and Why Should I Care?But first, to set the stage, let’s define what the word “radical” means. According to Webster, “radical” is ‌defined as “something (or someone) new and different in contrast to what is traditional or ordinary.” In other words, being “radical” is a relative term based on a comparison with what society deems common or ordinary or what we refer to as the “status quo.” This means it is the ordinary and traditional aspects of a society that determine, right or wrong, if something (teachings or ideas) or someone (individual or actions) is radical or revolutionary. Consider that last statement carefully. Note where the power to make the determination lies (mainstream opinion and not actual truth). Do you see the problem?
    When a culture refers to individuals or their beliefs and practices as radical, it means they are considered extreme, controversial, and even dangerous to the mainstream. And since they could harm the status quo by threatening change or something even more frightening, accountability— those accused of being radical are often marginalized, excluded, punished, canceled, and eventually eliminated for the good of the whole, or at least for the good of the power elites who govern the whole.
    But What About Jesus?This compels us to address the question nobody wants to ask. Namely, is it OK, maybe even expected, for the Christian life to be viewed as radical by our lost and dying culture that rejects the claims and teachings of Christ? And if so, are our Christian ideas and actions supposed to challenge the status quo of our society (both secular and sacred) at this point in history? Or do we just blend into the woodwork and hope the culture will leave us alone to do the religious things we want? Which is it? You can’t have it both ways. But we all know that.
    To answer this question, we need only look at Jesus’ teachings and how the mainstream reacted to His life. Were He and His message considered radical and revolutionary by the Jewish establishment of His time? Was He viewed as a threat, a danger to the profitable inner workings of their religious complex? How did they view, for example, His cleaning out the corruption in the Temple by overturning the tables of the money changers (Matt. 21:12-13)? How did they respond when He called them out as hypocrites and encouraged the people to follow God and not man-made traditions (Matt. 23)? And what did they finally do to silence His voice? Exactly.
    It would appear, from any honest assessment, that the powers-to-be viewed Jesus as a radical and revolutionary and, as such, had Him put to death. And we are called to follow in His footsteps, to be the light of the world (which exposes darkness, John 3:19) and the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). Remember?
    We Follow a Risen Savior (Who Was a Radical)Consider a brief overview of the radical life and teachings of our Lord. Let’s begin with some of His radical...

    • 52 min
    078 - How to Prepare Yourself to Meet With God

    078 - How to Prepare Yourself to Meet With God

    Disclaimer: Let’s Define Some TermsAs we discovered in Part One of How to Experience God When You Pray— when we talk about experiencing God in prayer, we are specifically defining prayer as more than a monologue, but something even deeper. It is a true, two-way conversation with God, where you speak, and He listens, and He speaks, and you hear His voice. Then, as the abundant life revealed (John 10:10), we rinse and repeat, as often as we like, and grow in our relationship with Him through a true conversation in prayer. Nothing is greater than having God personally speak into your life. And your prayer life and intimacy with God will be completely revolutionized when you experience His presence when you pray.
    In this post, we will examine some ways to prepare ourselves to experience God when we pray.
    Our Preparation for PrayerWhen you went on your first date with the person who later became your spouse, do you remember the preparation you made to meet with the person you wanted to build a relationship with? I do. I remember it was very important for me to make a good first impression. Why? Well, to do otherwise was failure— and nobody wants to fail on a first date.
    So I dressed in some reasonably nice clothes, or at least what was clean and didn’t smell too bad. Granted, it was not my Sunday Best, but it was the best I had for a first date. I made sure I brushed my teeth, ran a comb through my hair, forcefully tamed any unruly eyebrow hairs, and tried to bring out the best of me when I was meeting Karen. And why wouldn’t I? After all, I was enamored with this woman, totally smitten, or as the owl said in Bambi, twitterpated. I wanted to build a long-term relationship with her and hopefully, someday, maybe, if I got really lucky and won the lottery, make her my wife.
    So preparation was important— really important. Because you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
    Preparing to Enter His PresenceAnd if this is true about a first date, how much more is it true about entering into the presence of God in prayer? This means that when we pray, when we desire to have a direct, personal conversation with the Creator of the Universe— when we speak to the Almighty and expect to be heard and then expect Him to stoop to our level and respond, there must be some prior preparation that takes place. After all, we take the time to update our resume and try to look our best and learn about the company before we sit down for a job interview, don’t we? And we would never go to our childhood friend’s wedding in the same clothes we wore while mowing the yard, would we? And most certainly, we brush our teeth, sometimes twice, before sitting in the dentist’s chair. So if we make preparations before these events, how much more before we bow our heads in prayer?
    Let me list three steps we need to do before boldly entering into His presence in prayer. But be warned, each of these is vital for experiencing Him when you pray.
    First, We Must Prepare Our Hearts to Meet With HimJesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, (why) for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8), which is exactly what we are hoping to accomplish through prayer. We want to experience His presence— and that begins with preparing our hearts before Him. Since God is holy, we must make ourselves as holy as we can by confessing our sins and asking for His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). This way, we can come to Him as He requires, with “clean...

    • 47 min
    077 - How to Experience God When You Pray

    077 - How to Experience God When You Pray

    The Joy of PrayerWhat if your times of prayer could become so much more than reciting words or listing random requests? What if your prayers could transport you into a holy place to experience God’s presence in a very real and tangible way? What if you began having personal, life-changing encounters with the Creator of the universe every time you prayed? And what if you had the confidence to know, to truly know— that God hears your prayers and delights in answering them? How would this change your prayer life?
    All of this is not only possible, but readily available and expected every time we pray. The problem for most, however, is that we either devalue what prayer truly is or do not fully understand who we are praying to. And if we did, how the floodgates of heaven would open and pour on us an experience with God that would rock our world and change us forever.
    Let’s explore prayer a little deeper.
    What is Prayer?— In Just a Few WordsSimply put, prayer is talking with God. Or, as the theologians would say, “Prayer is personal communication with God.”¹ Ok, got that. But what does “communication with God” really mean? In essence, “communication” is the exchange of information between two entities or individuals, both the giving and receiving of the same. And “with God” means He, the Sovereign Creator of All, the One that transcends all human thought, the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Immutable One, is on the other end of our two-way conversation.
    Let that sink in for a moment.
    When we pray, and as often as we pray, we are in the process of not only talking with God but having Him also talk with us. Prayer, just like all communication between two individuals, is not saying what you want to say and then hanging up the phone. It was never intended to be a monologue. No, prayer is a two-way conversation, both giving and receiving, between you (ultimately dust and ashes) and God (revealed in resplendent glory), whereby information (praise, requests, supplication, petitions— and His answers, instructions, commands, and encouragement ) are mutually shared. And the highest glory you can ever experience is to have the only Person worthy of praise actually speak to you personally, in direct conversation. It is a life-altering and faith-building encounter that will change everything about you in an instant.
    And this is available to each of us whenever we pray. But we have to pray, and we have to understand exactly who we are in conversation with in order to have confidence when we pray.
    Let me explain.
    Sovereign, Ruler, King… and FatherIn the Old Testament, God was often presented as unapproachable. He only met with His people once a year, nestled between the outstretched wings of the Cherubim above the Bema seat of the Ark of the Covenant, hidden behind a thick veil. Or when He revealed Himself to the masses, it was usually with fire and smoke and lightning, like on Mt. Sinai, which only reinforced His unapproachableness (Ex. 19). And when Moses asked to see His glory and His face, God said, “No.” His actual words were, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (Ex. 33:20). And regarding seeing His glory, God also said, “No.” But He did allow Moses to look at His receding glory as He passed by (Ex. 33:23). Something like, “Not My face, Moses, but you can see My back as I walk away.”
    So much for an intimate relationship with our Creator.
    But in the New Testament (and hints in the Old), Jesus reveals another aspect of God’s nature and His relationship with us. He is not a despot— a frightening, powerful King ready to abuse and punish His lowly servants for any slight infraction. No, God is our Father, with all the implications that word conveys...

    • 49 min
    076 - The God-Ordained Way to Increase Your Faith

    076 - The God-Ordained Way to Increase Your Faith

    Just Get Out of the Boat! In almost every area of life, when we commit to a plan of self-improvement, we expect to spend time, incur costs, and suffer strain during the process. It just comes with the territory. Whether we decide to get in shape and eat healthier, or go back to school and change careers— everyone seems to follow the same pattern of sacrifice that defines our struggle, and they seldom complain about it. And when we have achieved our goal, we look back at the sacrifice as a badge of honor, something we are proud of.
    Each of us embraces this journey of sacrificing our time, effort, costs, and strain in every area of life except the spiritual. For some reason, when it comes to our relationship with God or our desire for more faith, we must think it comes by osmosis to passive observers because many of us refuse to put in the time required or count the costs to achieve the results. Therefore, we really shouldn’t be surprised when nothing changes, and we’re the same as we were before.
    Remember the words attributed to Albert Einstein:
    “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
    So, if you want your faith to grow, you will have to make some changes in your life to position it to grow. Or, you will have to deliberately place yourself in situations where you can experience God’s faithfulness firsthand by voluntarily embracing the testing of your faith and the trials that inevitably follow. And you do that when you choose to refuse to rely on your own resources and commit to only trusting in Him.
    After all, this seems to be the Lord’s preferred way of increasing the faith of those who surrender to Him. He seems to put them in situations where they either trust God… or die.
    Trust God… Or, It’s CurtainsThe Scriptures are packed with accounts of God increasing the faith of His faithful in this manner. Consider the following examples:
    •   Abraham and Isaac – Genesis 22
    •   Moses at the Red Sea – Exodus 14
    •   Joshua and the Battle of Jericho – Joshua 6
    •   Gideon and His Army – Judges 7
    •   Daniel and the Lion’s Den – Daniel 6
    •   Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath – 1 Kings 17
    In each of these examples, the people made a choice to trust God, maybe more than they had before, or die. The result was that they experienced greater faith in Him than they could possibly imagine.
    So how about you? Are you ready to get out of the boat and walk to Jesus? Or are you content to remain in the supposed security of the boat and cheer others along in their faith journey?
    For me, I want to get out of the boat. And I hope you will join me.
    To download the slides for this message, click – HERE
    Our Latest Posts:75: Be Encouraged by the Small Words in Scripture
    74: The Purpose of the Christian Life – Experiencing God
    a href="https://higherchristianlife.com/experiencing-true-repentance-from-psalm-51-73/"...

    • 50 min
    075 - Be Encouraged by the Small Words in Scripture

    075 - Be Encouraged by the Small Words in Scripture

    Three Small Words from John 15In John 15, Jesus lays out our position in Christ and the key or path to the Higher Christian Life in the story of a vine and its branches. I mean, it really couldn’t be more clear. This key is found in the simple word abide.  We are to abide in Him— which means “to rest, remain, dwell, to make our home.” Or, literally, “to be united as one with Him in heart, mind, and will.” It is the definition of a fully surrendered life.
    Yet before we discover the concept of abiding in verse 5, we first must move through the first three verses of John 15, which often present a disturbing picture of God as our Father and is, more often than not, misinterpreted by well-meaning preachers and Bible scholars. And by misunderstanding the definition of three key words— takes away, prunes, and clean— we can fail to find the amazing encouragement Jesus offers those who are not quite up to meeting His standard of faithfulness or righteousness.
    Takes Away, Prunes, and CleanSo, let’s look at these three verses as they are found in our Bibles, compare them to what they say in Greek, and see if something is “lost in translation.”
    “I am the true (real, genuine, one who cannot lie) vine, and My Father is the vinedresser (farmer, one who tills the earth or ground)” – John 15:1
    This simply sets the stage and introduces the cast of characters:
    God = Vinedresser
    Jesus = Vine
    We = Branches of the Vine (John 15:5)
    He continues,
    “Every (pás) branch (where) in Me (Christ, vine) that does not bear (to bring, carry, have) fruit He (Father, vinedresser) takes away (aírō – G142); and every (pás) branch (implied, in Me) that bears (to bring, carry, have) fruit He (Father, vinedresser) prunes (kathaírō G2508), (why) that it may bear (to bring, carry, have) more fruit” – John 15:2
    We are now introduced to the first two of our three important words: aírō and kathaírō. The third one, katharós, is found in verse 3.
    “You are already clean (katharós – G2513) because of the word which I have spoken to you” – John 15:3
    Three Key WordsWe now have three Greek words that we need to define to see if our English translation does them justice. And I think, after you see the definitions for yourself, you will see it does not.
    From The New Testament Word Study Dictionary by Spiros Zodhaites:
    “takes away” – (aírō – G142)
    This word is translated as “takes away” in our English Bibles. But that is not what it means.
    prunes – (kathaírō G2508)
    And this word is translated as “prunes” in our English Bibles. And, yet again, that is not what it means in the Greek.
    clean – (katharós – G2513)
    Finally, this word is correctly translated as “clean.”  So now, what does this verse look like?
    Vine and the BranchesThe Vinedresser, our Father, no longer takes away unfruitful branches but lifts them up, supports them, and helps them once again become fruitful, just like a natural farmer would do to his crops.
    “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch (where) in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away (takes up, lifts up, elevates, to rise);
    In a phrase, he builds a trellis to support the fallen branches of His vine.
    But it gets better.
    “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch (where) in Me that does

    • 49 min

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