Posts Tagged With: apostle

“About That Time…”

Acts 12 begins with this poignant—or pregnant with meaning—phrase, Κατ᾽ἐκ-ε-νον δ τν και-ρν,

“About that time…”

Words that, as you will hear in this PODCAST, could just as well have been translated,

“At the same time…”

“In the meantime…”

Or,

“Meanwhile…”

  • Meaning that while our old friend from last week, the Prophet Agabus, was in beautiful downtown Antioch 300 miles to the North, warning of a coming famine to Jerusalem and Judea in the South…
  • Meaning that while the predominantly non-Jewish believers in Jesus were taking up a love offering to help to alleviate mass starvation and woeful suffering among their Jewish brothers and sisters in Jesus in Jerusalem and throughout Judea…
  • Meaning that while this gloriously beautiful unity of all of these first-generation Christ-followers was being realized throughout Israel and beyond…

Κατ᾽ἐκ-ε-νον δ τν και-ρν, “In the meantime,” much was going on in Holy City of Jerusalem itself—gut-wrenching, faith-challenging, life-altering events that rocked the world of these early believers. Profound challenges that had nothing to do with Agabus’ future famine about which they didn’t yet know.

Our passage tonight—a modest four verses in total—goes to the very heart of the #1 longing of every human heart—including our own.

As well as the #1 question that has plagued the human race since time immemorial, including us.

Four short verses that describe what was going in lives of early believers particularly, and the residents of Jerusalem generally.

“About that time…”

All of this, ALL of this, so insightful for us, today, in our time.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Love Offering

On its surface, storyline in these final verses of Acts 11 is really pretty simple.

And as you will hear in this PODCAST, this story is as heartwarming as it is simple.

This story is also—and so importantly—equally trend-setting. So much will be set in motion that affects how we do things (or ought to do things) even today!

So.Much.Here, my friends, to give you and me pause to ponder, to think, to process.

Trust me. You are in for a rich and rewarding excursion into the depths of God’s Holy Word.

So get ready for your personal edification to take an exciting and exponential leap forward.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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On the Road Again

The Treasury in Petra

It had to be a rather rude awakening to be sure—Paul’s initial introduction to the unenviable life of an apostle.

As we will learn in this PODCAST, there is much—much more than we could possibly imagine—behind Paul’s otherwise enigmatic statement in 1 Corinthians 4:9, a rare moment of personal reflection (and dare-I-say exasperation and frustration) in the writings of this most-prolific apostle:

“I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people and angels alike.”

Well, here in Acts 9, the Apostle to us Gentiles endured quite the humiliating spectacle indeed.

It was hardly the homecoming our new friend, the Apostle Paul, had anticipated as he entered archway in the main gate leading to Straight Street in Damascus.

Was his heart all a-flutter? Mine would have been.

After a three-year absence from its legendary landscape, his formal training as an apostle now complete. I have to believe that Saul-now-Paul had much upon which he would have liked to reflect.

  • Perhaps a quiet, private, personal rendezvous with the spot on the road where he first met Jesus?
  • Maybe a knock on the door of Judas’ house, where he was graciously housed for three days as a man-struck-blind?
  • How about cup of Turkish coffee with Ananias, the man tasked with, and understandably fearful of, being first follower of Jesus to approach just-converted Saul?
  • Possibly some visits to the synagogues where he first preached, “Jesus is indeed the Son of God”?

Paul’s heart had to be pitter-pattering with excited anticipation as he once-again approached the storied city.

But alas. A happy homecoming wasn’t in cards that fate dealt this soon-to-be-suffering servant of Jesus.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Saul Goes to Seminary

Do you know what I love about Bible?

Well, truth be told, there are a lot of things that I love about the Bible. Far too many to tell in this PODCAST.

But certainly residing at or near the top of my rather lengthy list is this: The window the biblical writers open to the growth and maturity of its principle players.

Case in point: The Apostle Paul.

Paul did not emerge from his road to Damascus encounter with Jesus a wholly-mature believer. Nor did Paul burst on the scene armed with a fully-formed theology that would become the capstone of his prolific writings. Paul had to grow in his faith as a committed Christ-follower just like the rest of us.

I love that!

Paul moved from a measurably primitive understanding of Jesus to a remarkably profound comprehension of who Jesus was and is and all that Jesus did and accomplished. This growth, this development, this maturity takes place right before our wondering eyes ever to behold in all of its spiritual splendor.

In short, Paul was a person in process, just like us! A process well-documented in the New Testament that as we are about to learn slowly-but-surely took place over many, many years.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Remarkable Man to Whom was Passed the Torch of Torah

Hate is a horrible thing.

Hate unbridled and unchecked is a murderous thing.

Hate in name of God is terrifying and terrorizing thing.

And as you are about to hear in this PODCAST, hate in the name of God is indeed a terrorizing thing because such religious hatred is actually viewed by the hater as a righteous thing.

Just ask a certain Pharisee—emphasis upon that lofty religious title, Pharisee, since it goes to the very heart of this story—named Saul. Yes! Saul was a Pharisee.

On the night before He was executed, as Jesus and His now-eleven disciples were slinking through the dark alleys of Jerusalem, literally one step ahead of His betraying-disciple Judas, the Temple guards, and the Roman cohort that Judas was leading to arrest and ultimately to crucify Jesus, Jesus made this chilling statement which should have given His disciples pause, assuming that in that desperate hour they had presence of mind to pause.

It’s found in John 16:2, where Jesus said this:

“The time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.”

A prediction, a prophecy that has historically come to pass in our day—the bitter result of religious extremism—far too many times to count. Bloodshed in the name of God. Be that blood shed at the hands of the Christian Crusaders, Muslim suicide bombers, or a now-ranking member of Sanhedrin—keep that label in mind; it too goes to heart of this story—Saul.

From where did Saul’s unbridled fury, his murderous hatred for Jesus and all things Jesus-related come?

Tonight, we will consider together much of what is often overlooked in any discussion about Saul-to-become-Paul’s background.

All of which will expose the degree to which God went when preparing His “Apostle to the Gentiles.”

Indeed, Paul will write in wonder in Galatians 2:8,

“For by God’s power I was made an apostle to the Gentiles.”

That power was clearly at work in Paul’s/Saul’s past. And as you are about to hear, that power was equally at work in Saul’s present here in Acts 9.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Great Commission (AKA Jesus Ministry Model)

Welcome to the conclusion of Jesus in HD!

It’s been 205 podcasts in coming, but here it is. On deck, Peter in HD and the bright and beautiful book of Acts.

That will be next week. But for now, it is universally referred to as “Great Commission.”

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST… Yes, I will readily agree that Jesus’ words here at the tail-end of Matthew’s glorious gospel are indeed “great.” And yes, they do in fact contain a “commission.”

Jesus’ final commission to His disciples, to make disciples.

But I would prefer to think of this as Jesus’ Ministry Model — both in terms of what He wants us (all of us, each of us) to do, and how He wants us to do it.

A ministry model that Jesus intended for us to follow (as Jesus said) “to the very end of the age.”

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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“Even Though He was One of the Twelve” (An Encore Podcast)

judas-pouch_200No matter how you cut it, this man was an enigma.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, this man — handpicked by Jesus and elevated to the rarified air of the apostles — repaid Jesus’ generosity by betraying Him to His executioners.

Is there any human emotion more painful than that of betrayal? 

Ever felt it? Betrayal?

That midnight darkness of the soul that enshrouds us like an impenetrable fog when we have dared to trust someone — with our deepest feelings, our most hidden secrets, as if we have just entrusted to the person our very hearts, perhaps our very lives — only to have him or her shatter our hearts and break our trust by their soul-crushing betrayal.

Jesus sure felt it. The pangs of betrayal. Boy, did He ever!

That moment frozen in time when for the first time you see with crystal-clarity that you have been played.

Well, for 3½ years Jesus had been played. 

Where did this man — Judas Iscariot — come from? What causes a man to make the fateful plunge from believer to betrayer? What do we really know about him?

You are about to find out.

But even more importantly, you are about to see the heart of Jesus in action as He responds in real time to this real threat posed by this very real con-man, the Apostle Judas Iscariot. 

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

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Judas the Betrayer

judas-brought-again-the-thirty-pieces-of-silver-to-the-chief-priests-and-eldersIt’s getting real. Real fast.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, something in the last few days of Jesus’ final week triggered Judas to do the unthinkable.

You talk about someone selling their soul to the devil, literally or figuratively? Well, Judas did both. Judas sold his soul to the devil, literally and figuratively.

“Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.”

Why here? Why now? Why this?

In order to answer these and additional questions, let’s meet Judas the Betrayer up close and personal.

A fitting title because the very first time we encounter this tragic individual, we are introduced to him with these telling words: “Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).”

How would you like that as your moniker?

Who was this guy? And what does it all mean for us today?

Allow me to set up this discussion in this way: It’s one of the most precious passages in all of the Bible. That is no exaggeration or overstatement. Yet, it gets relatively scant attention because in most of our English translations it’s rendered rather clumsily. The words of Hebrews 4:15-16 don’t exactly roll effortlessly off our tongues, with its double negatives and cultural references with which we might not be familiar. But since this is such a precious picture of exactly who Jesus is, and how Jesus relates to our lives, I’ll read it to you in the NKJV, and then paraphrase it for you so that you can hear it as original readers heard it.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Demystifying the End Times (Part 3)

Revelation-of-saint-john-devine-600x401Picture him there, a grizzled, stooped, aged apostle, marooned on an island of rock, confined to a cave.

See him in your mind’s eye, with quill to parchment, writing fast and furiously in a mad dash to record everything that he is now seeing and hearing.

Our old (and at the time of his writing Revelation) very old friend, the beloved apostle John.

Writing, as you will hear in this PODCAST, what sounds like fantastical tale in specific, yet an all-too-plausible scenario in the abstract. A story that brings to a climax the epic collision that has plagued this planet and every person who has ever trod its blood-soaked soil since the beginning of history.

The climax of the collision of good versus evil.

As we were so graphically reminded just last Thursday in the south of France.

Here in Revelation both good and evil are personified.

Here the wellsprings of good and evil are identified by name.

Here this human-history-long all-out war finally, mercifully coming to its end, thankfully with good as the victor, and evil as the loser.

When I mentioned a moment ago that this epic tale sounds fantastical in the specific, understand that we are talking about spirits, angels, demons, devil, Jesus. A unique combination of physical and spiritual forces fighting to the death that sounds like the kind of stuff ready-made for a Hollywood blockbuster.

I wouldn’t blame anyone for rolling their eyes and curving their lips into a smirk that says, You don’t really believe all of this, do you?

+ Just this week, I was listening online to a TED talk (Technology, Entertainment and Design), brings together elites, the intelligentsia of world, during which a TED talk presenter mercilessly mocked and ridiculed people of faith who believe in things like you will hear when I read to you from Revelation 16.

I will be the first to admit that what we are about to outline in this podcast indeed sounds fantastical — in the specific. But in the abstract, no one can deny that there is operating in our world today two distinct colliding forces: one for good, and one for evil.

About that, nobody laughs.

Whether its on the grand scale of someone in a van mowing down innocent pedestrians gathered in the south of France for a Bastille Day celebration. Or as modest as a child throwing a bit of a temper tantrum because he or she doesn’t get what they want.

Let the record show that a good many TED talks are devoted in one way or another to just that collision.

It is as though we are caught between two worlds: One of unbridled evil in which people do to people horrifically unimaginable things. While at the same time, others of us try our best each day to surrender to our better angels, as even TED Talk presenters will sometimes call them. And when they do indeed invoke that phrase, our better angels, no one in that elite audience of the world’s intelligentsia laughs. (I guess its OK to invoke the image of angels in the abstract, just not in the specific.)

Well, in this study, we will invoke the image of angels, good and evil, and a whole lot more, and will do so without laughing because this is deadly serious.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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A Closed Door, Or an Open Window?

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We are going to begin this week’s PODCAST precisely from where we left off in last week’s podcast.

We left off last week by considering together this most enigmatic verse (Hebrews 5:8):

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.

If you are at all uncomfortable with that, then the rest of this story will make no sense, and will leave you with an even greater discomfort.

But if you are willing to allow for the fact that “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered,” then you are in for this great big blessing: The grand and glorious realization that Jesus, just like you and just like me, learned in real time what it means to live a life of obedience to God the Father.

We stressed last week, and I will ever-so-briefly remind you now, that Jesus was fully human, just like us. Last week we discussed some of the implications of Hebrews 4:15, where the writer emphatically affirms this ever-so-comforting reality:

Jesus understands all of our human weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings and temptations we do, yet He did not sin.

Jesus experienced every human emotion, felt keenly every human feeling — including our feelings of fear, insecurity, uncertainty, abandonment, betrayal. 

I mean, you just wait until we get to the Garden of Gethsemane, at which time there will be no doubt that in Jesus 100% deity meets 100% humanity, with all that that word humanity implies.

As we saw so vividly last week, life threw at Jesus unexpected challenges, unanticipated conflicts, undeserved difficulties, uninvited troubles… Just like life throws at us.

Jesus learned, just as so many of us are now learning, that sometimes, perhaps even most times, our richest life lessons can be taught only in the crucible of calamity.

By the reading of books our minds become broad. But it is only as we walk the pathway of pain that our souls become deep.

Something that Jesus learned.

Something that we are each learning.

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed it might take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen.

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