Posts Tagged With: fall

God, bless You!

Image courtesy of Sabbath Truth

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, Peter begins his first lovely little letter literally with a literary explosion. It’s as if he has so much that he wants to say so quickly, that the syllables come pouring out of him like a waterfall of words.

Believe it or not, verse 3 all the way to verse 12 is one long and winding and wondrously scenic sentence. You heard that right. A grand total of 315 words (in the NLT), all of which form one single sentence. Only the first part of which we will discuss now, with so much more rich and glorious truth to follow in the coming weeks.

There is an life-altering, soul-stirring insight embedded in verse 3 that we would do well to consider. Since verses 1 & 2 serve as Peter’s greeting, the letter itself actually begins with Verse 3.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

A rather remarkable statement given dire circumstances in which Peter’s original readers were living. We’ve already detailed them for you in the previous two podcasts. I’ll simply remind you that due to circumstances beyond their control—an empire-wide persecution at the bloody hands the infamously ruthless Nero—these were precious people—committed Christ-followers each, each our ancestors in faith—who had literally lost everything.

Even to the point of potentially losing their freedom and even their lives.

Theirs were the darkest of clouds with no silver linings.

A very fragile people living on the precipice with no safety net, clinging to their lives lived under the capricious actions of an unpredictable madman.

So if you were Peter, someone who fully understood and appreciated their seemingly insurmountable challenges—fears, insecurities, uncertainties—why would you begin your letter to them with the words,

“Blessed be the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

Does that not sound like a typically empty Christian cliché?

What prompted Peter to write with such audacity as to command his readers—including us—to bless God:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Even in the absolute worst of circumstances?

Obviously, Peter’s words, “Bless be the God,” did not come out of a vacuum. Fact is, there is a long and rich history to these words, and the life-altering, soul-stirring insight embedded within them.

Peter’s opening line was anything but a cutesy little Christian cliché. Not to his original readers. After hearing this podcast, not to us.

Although this does raise one intriguing question:

Bless God?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

I thought God blesses us.

How in the world do you and I bless God?

The answer to that question will change your life.

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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“I Want to See.”

99222_origMeet Blind Bartimaeus, a man who seems at first blush to be nothing more than a bit player in this most dramatic and poignant moment.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, this wasn’t the first time that Jesus healed a blind man. Nor is this the first time we have talked about Jesus healing a blind man. Last November, Podcast 141, comes to mind. So I would totally understand if you were tempted to bring to this story a sense of “been there, done that,” Déjà vu all over again. Like, if you’ve seen one blind-man-healing, you’ve seen them all, right? WRONG!

As I said just a moment ago, this story is both dramatic and poignant.

The implications of this story, both for the Jews of Jesus’ day, and for the entire world in our day, cannot be overstated. This story is indeed dramatic, dramatic in the extreme.

Nor can we overstate the emotional state Jesus must have been in at this most significant moment of His ministry, as the final chapter of His life is about to unfold. Emotions that infuse this story with feeling from start to finish. A story poignant to a palpable degree.

To be perfectly honest, there is so much going on here that I’m really in a quandary as to where to start. So let me start with this: In the Middle East, both in Jesus’ day, and in our own day, Symbolism = Substance.

Symbolism = Substance. IOW, as I’ve said so often, the Bible is God’s picture book. The biblical writers were painters. The visual means something. Symbolism = Substance.

In this story about yes, yet another blind man being healed by Jesus, it really is all about the optics. The symbolism. The connections that the original readers would have made in their minds as they read Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s account of this miracle

The symbolism of What happened (the healing of Blind Bartimaeus), When it happened (c. AD 30, just days before Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem), and Where happened (Jericho).

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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Lightning Strike

lightningYou and I are embroiled in a cosmic collision of good and evil, a spiritual war that is taking place in real time, in the present tense, on a scale of epic proportions.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, there can be no doubt in any thinking person’s mind that this war is real, and that it has a profound affect upon our world and our lives.

Even an atheist who denounces the existence of God as a delusion, the reality of Satan as a myth, and the authority of Scripture as a collection of fairy tales, cannot deny that operating in our world today is a force for righteousness and a force for unrighteousness, and the daily-if-not-hourly collision of the two.

This is how the Apostle Paul described this to the Christ-followers in Ephesus:

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

Words that are downright sobering, if not outright chilling. But words that are equally revealing and encouraging.

Sobering and chilling because who are we to stand firm against an unseen enemy like that? Specifically, the Devil and his many demons?

Revealing because this does indeed describe exactly what we are witnessing in our world on a daily basis.

Encouraging because as Paul made clear in Ephesians 6, as Jesus made equally clear and His 70 messengers indeed experienced here in Luke 10, this war is eminently winnable.

Indeed, as you will soon hear, this war has Already.Been.Won.

We are less than 6 months from the crucifixion. Jesus will spend these final days visiting every town and village in the South of the Land: Judea and Perea. In anticipation of His visits, Jesus sent out 70 emissaries to prepare the way.

He sent them out as gentle lambs in the midst of ferocious wolves, an unmistakable allusion to the hostile spiritual climate they were about to enter. This was but the latest skirmish in an ongoing spiritual war.

The battle lines were drawn. The harvest was ready. Even as they stood on the cusp of the Crucifixion, there was a godly remnant primed and ready to hear and receive their message:

God’s peace could be theirs.

So off they went, on a several-weeks’ excursion into enemy territory, all to bring God’s message of peace to the tormented souls just trying to survive day-by-day.

Back to Jesus they finally returned, in order to give Him their reports and to debrief their experiences. Which is where we join the narrative here in Luke 10:17…

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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From Crash and Burn to Rise and Shine (An Epic Tale of Gracious-Filled Redemption)

roosterIt was without a doubt the absolute worst day of Peter’s long and storied and challenging life. As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, we’re talking about one particular Saturday — the day after the crucifixion.

The day after Peter had denied Jesus three times before Jesus’ accusers. The Saturday before the very first Easter Sunday.

And since for the precious and beloved people at Safe Haven, I happened to give this message on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Thus, we would do well to consider exactly what was going on and why during that singularly fateful day.

A very dark day in otherwise dazzling life of Peter.

You talk about an epic fail, a spectacular fall from grace, a stunningly unpredictable turn of events, and crash and burn of mind-numbing proportions… Here’s a quick thumbnail of how Peter’s not-so-Good-Friday developed, leading up to his Horribly-Bad-Saturday before Easter.

A day Peter no doubt spent cowering in a corner…

  • Disgusted by the arrest of his rabbi;
  • Devastated by execution of his hero, mentor, friend;
  • Demoralized by the death of his dream of freedom from the oppressions of Romans;

A man whose faith was now in a free-fall. If there was any faith left in the man to fall.

The week leading up to Peter’s Not-So-Good-Friday and Horribly-Bad-Saturday began the Sunday before, Palm Sunday, with the event we commonly call the Triumphal Entry.

Jerusalem swelled to overflowing by the multiplied thousands upon thousands of pilgrims streaming into the Holy City in preparation for Passover. Every person in the place was there in commemoration of the Israelites’ deliverance from four hundred grueling years of oppression by the Egyptians, AND in feverish anticipation of what they hoped and prayed was their imminent deliverance from the brutal, barbaric, and oh.so.bloody occupation by the Romans.

Messianic fervor was always at its highest in the week leading up to Passover. You can understand why. Freedom was in the air.

But in this podcast, I don’t want you merely to understand why. I want you to feel why.

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 as you listen.

And PLEASE “Share” a link to this podcast with a loved one or friend.

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