Posts Tagged With: gospel

One Little Word That Makes ALL the Difference

Ironies abound, in the four verses I just read to you. A full compliment of ten ironies by my count. Ten!

The most soul-stirring and hope-producing irony being this—the takeaway of this PODCAST:

“Your most influential, inspirational, impactful life-message—greatest chapter of your story—will come not out of your successes, but out of your failures.”

To invoke Jesus’ masterful metaphor — “You ARE the light of the world.”

That being true, your brightest beacon of light will shine forth from the depths of your darkest hour.

And no, I am not referring to the failure of the thousands who gathered at the Temple on this day in Acts 3 to hear Peter indict them for their greatest failure, as stunning as that failure certainly was.

There is buried within the syllables of this story an even greater failure.

An absolutely epic fail, one that hinges on exactly one word—one word about which I will tell you as you get into this podcast. A failure that underscores the blessed reality that…

“Your most influential, inspirational, impactful life-message—greatest chapter of your story—will come not out of your successes, but out of your failures.”

Call it the backdoor blessing of this amazing story. A God-blessed reality that stands in stark contrast to the what was without a doubt the weirdest experience I have ever had when speaking in a seminary chapel…

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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Jesus’ Leadership Manifesto (An Encore Podcast)

While I am away speaking at a Junior High/Middle School Camp at a place near and dear to my heart–Hartland Christian Camp–may I welcome to the Upper Room, and Jesus’ farewell address to His beloved disciples.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, as we break the seal on this, Jesus’ final night before the crucifixion, I do so with something of a lump in my throat and the pinkish hue of embarrassment upon my otherwise rosy cheeks. This because this particular portion of the grand story of Jesus’ life and ministry hits me most personally. And if, as they say, “Confession is good for the soul,” then I make my confession to you, my beloved little Safe Haven family, tonight.

There is embedded within this most amazing scene, Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, a timeless lesson that, if only I could turn back the hands of the clock and the passage of time, I would have taken to heart way back when I was just starting out in my ministry.

This pointed and practical warning is as timely today as it was that night in that Upper Room when Jesus gave it to His disciples.

A timeless truth that has come to define my life and, more to the point, my ministry today. A living lesson of which you are the beneficiaries.

As we detailed last week, this so-called “Last Supper” was a modified Passover seder. I say modified because as we learned last week, the word seder means “order.” As in a carefully choreographed, specifically scripted order to the meal.

Yet, at certain significant points along the way, Jesus purposefully departed from that thousands-year-old order and added to that script.

Just as Jesus did here, in John 13, at the very beginning of their meal together.

It was certainly customary — very much a part of the script — for the host (Jesus) to wash His hands ceremonially as meal began. But why did He then wash His disciples’ feet?

Especially given that every other departure that Jesus made from the seder script expanded or enhanced the significance of their celebration of Passover, especially in light of His coming death as ultimate Passover Lamb.

Every departure, except for this one: Jesus washing His disciples’ feet.

A beautiful gesture, to be sure. The quintessential picture of loving humility and servanthood. So much so that foot washing in some Christian traditions even today, has been elevated to a sacrament or ordinance equal to that of Communion and Baptism.

You talk about, Paint the picture, Rabbi? How about Jesus kneeling as a slave to wash His disciples’ feet (including Judas’ feet) as a three-dimensional, high definition picture of this? (The this to be explained in the remainder of this Podcast.)

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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Dramatic Words of a Dying Man (Part 3)

darknesscross-e1458908003261Caiaphas, the high priest that year, must have been fit to be tied.

Well, somewhat so.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, it was Passover. The Holy City, Jerusalem, was teaming with pilgrims. The all-important 3 PM Passover sacrifice at the Temple was fast-approaching.

It was arguably single most financially-flourishing day of the year (second only, perhaps, to the Day of Atonement) as far as the corrupt Temple Industrial Complex over which Caiaphas presided was concerned. There was money to be made this day. Lots and lots of money.

But the heavens seemed to conspire against Caiaphas.

Of all the luck (bad luck indeed), a most-rare, hauntingly-eerie atmospheric anomaly threatened to diminish severely Caiaphas’ shady haul of ill-gotten shekels.

At 12 PM, high noon, a mere three hours before the afternoon sacrifice, the sky turned ominously dark. If it stayed that way, there would be no 3 PM Passover Lamb sacrificed that day.

Well, according to Matthew 27 — Read ’em and weep, Caiaphas. 

“At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until 3 o’clock.”

A darkness that drove everyone away from the cross as they scrambled for shelter from the encroaching gloom of that midday backness.

Coincidence? No way!

Now there would be no Passover Lamb sacrificed at 3 PM on this day.

Or would there?

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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Dramatic Words of a Dying Man (Part 2)

tissot-woman-behold-your-son-sabat-mater-369x730Welcome back to the foot of the cross.

In this PODCAST, we are now in that six-hour window of time — between 9 AM and 3 PM.

9 AM when the Romans nailed Jesus to His cross; 3 PM, that moment when Jesus finally succumbed to His brutal beatings, His massive blood loss, and the tortures of crucifixion — finally and mercifully to die.

Within that six-hour window, Jesus spoke seven times. The final words of His earthly life pre-resurrection. As we noted last week, a complete, seven-sayings, last lingering look into Jesus’ beautiful, sizable, and irresistible soul.

The first two of these sayings we discussed last week.

We’ll consider the middle two now.

And the final three we’ll explain next week.

Let me give you a heads-up. Get yourself ready for a rollercoaster of a ride tonight. This because the first of the two that we consider now is without a doubt the most emotional of the seven. I dare say, this may well be the single most emotional scene in the entire Bible. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

The second of the two statements that we consider now is equally without a doubt the most dramatic of the seven. I dare say, this is the single most dramatic scene in the entire Bible. No question about that.

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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Jesus Walks the Way of Sorrows

praetorium4It is called, appropriately enough, the Via Dolorosa, Latin for “The Way of Sorrows.”

For Jesus, it absolutely was a way of sorrows — every single excruciatingly painful step of it, from the Antonia Fortress (where Pilate sentenced Him), to Golgotha (where Jesus’ execution awaited Him).

In this PODCAST, we will walk that path together.

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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Of Slugs and Kings

creationNot to be clichéd! But if the words, “Mission Accomplished” ever meant anything to anyone in any situation, they absolutely apply here in John 17.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, this is the moment, courtesy of John, now forever frozen in time.

The singular moment toward which all of human history, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, had been slowly but steadily building.

The seminal moment from which the remainder of human history, down to our present day, has been rapidly descending.

The consequential moment when Jesus could literally look up to Heaven and finally acknowledge,

“I brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.”

Such mystery, such majesty, in these few words.

Indeed, a Mission — the Mission — Accomplished!

That mission that Jesus Himself defined when He said in referring to Himself,

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10).

Which, as you are about to learn, means far more than pulling people out of Hell. Indeed, infinitely more!

When the biblical writers, as well as Jesus, use the words “save” or “saved,” it means far more than whether we are going to Heaven or Hell when we die. Sadly, most of our Gospel-presentations focus almost exclusively on that locational / destinational dynamic.

However, a most compelling fact emerges from the first few words of Jesus’ prayer here in John 17.

As we are about to learn, if one’s view of his or her salvation centers primarily upon the notion that salvation is basically a “Get Out of Hell Free” card, we miss so much precious truth. So.Much.More than our finite minds can even begin fully to appreciate.

But try to appreciate it, we must.

So in an effort to appreciate it, let me take you on a bit of a journey, far back in time, to a faraway place, in order to show you where and why this journey originally began. All the way back to what is arguably the single most important verse in all of the Bible.

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 Steady Hand on the Wheel (of YOUR Life)

jesus-sailorIt was an epic one-two punch to the gut. Jesus’ gut, not to put too fine a point on it.

A brutal betrayal coupled with a devastating denial by two of Jesus’ handpicked and beloved disciples.

In this PODCAST, I am referring of course to Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s three-time denial.

If there is a silver lining to these increasingly billowing clouds, it is this: There is a clear pattern emerging here in John 13. A pattern that tells quite a tale, striking subtext to the entire crucifixion story.

A pattern that should illuminate for you a bright, blazing beacon of hope to light your way during your darkest hours and most difficult days.

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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Jesus’ Leadership Manifesto

45615Welcome to the Upper Room, and Jesus’ farewell address to His beloved disciples.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, as we break the seal on this, Jesus’ final night before the crucifixion, I do so with something of a lump in my throat and the pinkish hue of embarrassment upon my otherwise rosy cheeks.

This because this particular portion of the grand story of Jesus’ life and ministry hits me most personally. And if, as they say, “Confession is good for the soul,” then I make my confession to you, my beloved little Safe Haven family, tonight.

There is embedded within this most amazing scene, Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, a timeless lesson that, if only I could turn back the hands of the clock and the passage of time, I would have taken to heart way back when I was just starting out in my ministry.

This pointed and practical warning is as timely today as it was that night in that Upper Room when Jesus gave it to His disciples.

A timeless truth that has come to define my life and, more to the point, my ministry today. A living lesson of which you are the beneficiaries.

As we detailed last week, this so-called “Last Supper” was a modified Passover seder. I say modified because as we learned last week, the word seder means “order.” As in a carefully choreographed, specifically scripted order to the meal.

Yet, at certain significant points along the way, Jesus purposefully departed from that thousands-year-old order and added to that script.

Just as Jesus did here, in John 13, at the very beginning of their meal together.

It was certainly customary — very much a part of the script — for the host (Jesus) to wash His hands ceremonially as meal began. But why did He then wash His disciples’ feet?

Especially given that every other departure that Jesus made from the seder script expanded or enhanced the significance of their celebration of Passover, especially in light of His coming death as ultimate Passover Lamb.

Every departure, except for this one: Jesus washing His disciples’ feet.

A beautiful gesture, to be sure. The quintessential picture of loving humility and servanthood. So much so that foot washing in some Christian traditions even today, has been elevated to a sacrament or ordinance equal to that of Communion and Baptism.

You talk about, Paint the picture, Rabbi? How about Jesus kneeling as a slave to wash His disciples’ feet (including Judas’ feet) as a three-dimensional, high definition picture of this? (The this to be explained in the remainder of this Podcast.)

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 Second Coming of Jesus

meggidoAs you will hear in this PODCAST, with Jesus’ words here in Matthew 24, the climax of human history as we know it will occur.

No one will miss it. No one will mistake it. Everyone will know exactly what it is that is happening and why it is happening!

The “it” to which I refer and which I intentionally repeated in the above sentences is Jesus’ Second Coming.

What did Jesus say? “Then all the tribes of the earth… will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

Quite a contrast to Jesus’ first coming, which you will remember was seen only by a few lowly shepherds out in the remote regions of Bethlehem. When Jesus came the first time, He came not with power and great glory, but as a newborn baby laid in an animal’s manger in the cold of a cave.

That was Jesus’ First Coming. In the run-up to the crucifixion, the disciples were understandably fixated on the future, specifically on Jesus’ Second Coming.

They were waiting; we are waiting. They were longing; we are longing. They were asking; we are asking: “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

In giving His answer, Jesus said this:

“That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 24:39).

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).

“You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matthew 24:44).

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne” (Matthew 25:31).

That’s what Jesus said just in Olivet Discourse. Indeed, the whole point of the Olivet Discourse is Jesus’ Second Coming.

So with all of that background, let’s discover together what Jesus taught us in the Olivet Discourse about His Second Coming.

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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Behold the Lamb

web-happy-lambThere is a beautiful and breathtaking symmetry to the life and ministry of Jesus.

Case in point, as you will hear in this PODCAST, here in John 12, the beloved disciple brings us full circle. You may not see that now. But trust me, you will by the time we conclude this discussion.

Let me give you one tantalizing little hint: This beautiful symmetry to which I refer has little to do with palm branches, but everything to do with lambs.

Now watch this: When John introduced us to Jesus for the very first time, this is what he wrote:

“The next day John (the baptizer) saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”

That’s in John 1.

Here in John 12, this is what we read:

“The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city.”

Now listen: In both cases, at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry in John 1, and here at the very ending of Jesus’ ministry in John 12, it’s all about a lamb.

I know that as you read any or all of the accounts of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem as recorded in all four of the Gospels, you may not see a lamb. But trust me, it’s there. Front and center, it’s there.

Just as it is in John 1, so it is here in John 12, Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Miss that, and you miss the whole point of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry, on this — the Sunday before Passover.

Which raises a most intriguing question: Why did Jesus choose to ride into Jerusalem on that Sunday? Jesus could have ridden into Jerusalem on Saturday (If He did, we would call it Palm Saturday!), or on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday.

Why did Jesus choose to ride in on the Sunday before Passover? Answer that, and you get the whole picture.

Here’s a secondary question: Since Passover did not officially begin until that Thursday night (Remember Jesus sharing with the disciples their final Passover seder in Upper room on Thursday night?), why were so many pilgrims in Jerusalem so early on that Sunday?

Answer that, and you get the whole picture.

Which underscores this point: The Bible is God’s picture book, and Jesus’ Triumphal Entry is yet another three-dimensional, High Definition portrait of breathtaking significance. A panoramic masterpiece that, though we studied one portion of the Triumphal Entry last week (Daniel’s prophecy), this picture is far too important to ignore this week.

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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