Posts Tagged With: hate

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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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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Forcing the Devil to Flee

resistIt is, without a doubt, one of the most precious truths in all of the Bible. From the lips of Jesus Himself to the seventy upon their return from their first mission’s trip, in this PODCAST you will hear Him say,

“I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”

Fact: Satan is a fallen foe.

Fact: The devil has been defeated.

As we have discussed for the past two weeks, Fact: Satan is not losing the war; he has already lost it.

There is a day coming, sooner rather than later, when in the words of John,

“The devil who deceived them (will be) thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20).

There is a day coming, sooner rather than later, when at the mere mention of Jesus’ name,

“every knee will bow (including the devil and every one of his demonic minions)… and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2).

The day has already come when, in the words of James,

“the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror,” (James 2).

So yes, Satan IS a fallen foe. The devil IS — right now, in real time — a thoroughly defeated foe.

Consequently, there is a verse. Or more accurately, a part of a verse. A half of a verse. One that is buried in the very back of the Bible. In the Apostle John’s first letter, chapter 4. Fourteen words (in the NASB) to be exact.

One sentence we will now highlight and underscore and amplify. A precious truth that perfectly frames any discussion of spiritual warfare and our vulnerability to what Paul described as

“all the schemes, strategies, and deceits of the devil.”

A fundamental fact of our faith that you will now hear, and cherish, in 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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A Marvelous Way to Live!

Unhappy ChristmasFor many of us, this enigmatic passage, that we explain in this PODCAST, is coming at Just.The.Right.Time, given that Christmas is right around the corner.

I have talked to too many people already this month who have admitted to me that in one way or the other, despite what the carol says, Christmas is not “the most wonderful time of the year.” 

This because, among other things, they are dreading having to get together with certain family members or “friends” who are, to put this as delicately as possible, difficult to deal with. Difficult to be with. Difficult to spend time with. 

EGR-types of people. EGR? Ever hear of those?

Extra-Grace-Required-types of people.

Do you know anyone like that?

So this passage is indeed coming at just the right time.

At the same time, ironically, it’s an impossible passage. Impossible in that no one, NO ONE, can possibly take the words of this passage, as they appear here at face value, and apply them to our lives.

No one can. Because if we did, then it would mean that… say, for example… if someone likes your car better than theirs, according to this passage they only need to ask you for your car, and you would have to toss them the keys.

Or if they like your house better than their house or apartment, and ask you for your house, you would have to hand over the deed to them.

Or if someone jumps you in a parking lot and starts to pummel you, according to this passage you could not defend yourself. You just have to lay there and let them beat you to a bloody pulp.

Is that really what Jesus meant to suggest here in Matthew 5:38-42?

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

OK, let me be honest with you. Taken at face value, there are some serious issues with this passage. A problematic passage to say the least.

First, because if we truly live this out…

Don’t resist an evil person… Give to him who asks you…

…If we (as the clichés go) turn the other cheek, go the extra mile…

If we do indeed let people knock us around, or give anyone anything of ours that they want, even more than they want, anytime they want it, then what we’re saying is that we are biblically obligated to passively submit to anyone’s abuses, everyone’s abuses, any where, at any time.

Can you even begin to imagine what the implications of that would be? Just try to imagine what would happen if word got out about those Christians over there, that you can take from them anything you want, anytime you want it. Money. Possessions. Property. It’s yours for the asking.

Is that really what Jesus was preaching here in Matthew 5:38-42?

Second, if that was indeed what Jesus was preaching here.. 

But I tell you not to resist an evil person. 

…Then we have a clearcut contradiction of Scripture. Because James (Jesus’ brother) just as clearly wrote, 

Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

And Peter added his voice to James when he wrote…

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him (1 Peter 5:8-9).

And finally, just to add one more tantalizing layer of complication to this already complicated passage, not only is there an apparent contradiction between what Jesus preached and what James and Peter wrote, but we also have an apparent contradiction between Jesus’ own words and Jesus’ own actions

Let me phrase this as a question: Did Jesus practice what He preached…

But I tell you not to resist an evil person.

…when Jesus did this to some evil people?

Jesus took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins. Jesus said to the people who had been selling doves, “Get those doves out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace” (John 2:15-16).

Hmmm. Sounds a little like resistance to me…

OK, so what’s going on here?

One are just one CLICK away from finding out. Just in time for Christmas!

A truly marvelous way to live.

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

HAPPY LISTENING, from my heart to yours.

And if it is indeed a blessing, PLEASE “Like” this blog, and PLEASE “Share” the link to this podcast with your family and friends.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Why, Oh Why, Have We Done This to You???

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a compelling, truthful, tell-it-like-it-is, brutally honest video worth?

As a guy who has been in church leadership for over 40 years, trust me when I say how sincerely sorry I am that so many have done so much damage to so many of you. We were wrong. Dead wrong. And for that I humbly apologize.

This video says it so much better than I ever could precisely why the Safe Haven was born.

PLEASE share this link with all of your friends. The message of this video needs to be heard far and wide!

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