Posts Tagged With: heart

Turning Point at Tabgha — A Redemption Story

In Mark 16 we read,

The angel said to the women, “But go, tell His disciples — and Peter…”

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, kudos to Peter for allowing Mark to include this rather inglorious detail about this darkest hour of Peter’s storied life. If the trajectory of Peter’s faith journey was filled with ups and downs, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, here Peter hits rock bottom.

What was the significance of the angel’s words to the women,

“But go, tell His disciples — and Peter…”?

More than you and I could ever imagine. An epic story of falling and rising, regret and redemption.

You want to see redemption in real time, here it is. A story of hope and promise that you will not want to miss.

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 Church Discipline

The Lost Sheep A U SoordI was away this week, sharing a precious memorial service for my dearly beloved mom with my family. Consequently, I have selected one of the MOST IMPORTANT podcasts that we have recorded in our Jesus in HD series.

In this Encore PODCAST, as we continue in our chronological study of the life and ministry of Jesus, we come to Matthew 18:15-17 — one of the most seriously significant passages in all of the New Testament, the so-called “Church Discipline” passage.

Church Discipline, a teaching in many local churches that really rose into prominence in the late 1970’s and became quite the trend.

I can remember attending church leadership conferences back then and hearing pastors — I’ll use word “boast.” — of the fact that they recently removed individuals from their congregations, thereby “preserving the purity of their churches.” Others would then oooh and ahhh at the boldness of these pastors in confronting the sin in his church and taking decisive action in order to preserve the purity of his church by the process of Church Discipline as outline by Jesus here in Matthew 18.

Today, one of this nation’s leading Church Discipline proponents insists that church discipline, as outlined in Matthew 18, is one of the marks of a healthy church. He writes this on his website, clearly articulating the prevailing view of Church Discipline, and indeed includes this as one of his main talking points as he addresses pastors’ conferences throughout the country, encouraging them to do the same:

“Church discipline is the act of correcting sin in the life of the body, including the possible final step of excluding a professing Christian from membership in the church and participation in the Lord’s Supper because of serious unrepentant sin.”

Consequently, it has become standard practice to “exclude” or remove or excommunicate (you choose the term) unrepentant sinners from their local churches. This notion of Church Discipline is certainly included in many if not most of our evangelical churches’ bylaws.

Well, in light of the above definition — More importantly, in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 — I must ask, Is that really what Jesus taught to His disciples and to us?

Let’s discover the answer 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 as you listen.

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“From That Time On…”

Plan-to-Kill-JesusJohn 11:53 (NLT) is a most remarkable statement. It reads,

“So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death.”

As you’ll hear in this PODCAST, I’ll tell you exactly to what John referred with the phrase, “From that time on…” Again, this is most remarkable.

But before we get to that, consider this: It is, in my humble estimation, the Single.Most.Misunderstood parable in the entire New Testament. No exaggeration.

The parable to which I refer is most commonly entitled, “The Rich Man and Lazarus,” and it is found in Luke 16.

Now, you might be wondering, What does this parable in Luke 16 have to do with John 11 wherein the religious leaders “from that time on… began to plot Jesus’ death?”

Honestly, it has everything to do with John 11.

So much so, that if you don’t understand this parable — the meaning of it, and just as importantly, the timing of it — you won’t understand John 11. You won’t understand the motivations of those who began to plot Jesus’ death.

In terms of how hard a person’s heart can become, this is nothing short of breathtaking. Breathtaking.

Now, I’ve got to tell you here at the outset, I am so excited about this discussion for a number of reasons.

  • First, we are going to learn together how properly to interpret a parable, along with what never to do when trying to understand a parable.
  • Second, we are going to see in real time the lengths to which Jesus went to reach out to these murderous religious leaders, all an expression of His love undying love for them.
  • Third, we are going to lay the foundation for all that is to follow, both the why and the how of the coming events that inexorably lead to the crucifixion of Jesus.

To once-more-quote that telling phrase from John 11, “From that time on…” Jesus days are numbered. And that now of days will now rapidly grow smaller.

The curtain is now coming down fast and furious on Jesus’ life.

This here in John 11 truly is a watershed moment.

What I need you to understand is this: In the chronology of Jesus’ life and ministry, the plot to kill Jesus in John 11 is linked directly to the parable Luke 16.

Let me read to you the parable, and then we will talk about.

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 Fox in the Henhouse

Jerusalem-4There is No.Clearer.Picture in all of the Bible of the heart of God towards sinners — I’m talking the hardest of hardhearted sinners — than this one right here in Luke 13.

A Scriptural snapshot that will go a long way to defining your biblical view of God and your biblical understanding of Jesus, both as a man and as God.

If you think of the Bible as a picture book, Luke paints for us a portrait of Jesus that is, quite frankly, irresistible, and most refreshing to my soul. It will be to yours as well. Guaranteed.

One that comes to us, ironically enough, thanks to a small cadre of good Pharisees. Yes! Heard me right. Good Pharisees.

The Pharisees as a group, as we have discussed in weeks gone by, and as you therefore understand, were historically among Jesus’ chief tormentors. That being said, there were in the minority some good Pharisees.

  • Nicodemus comes to mind as a good Pharisee, one who lovingly cared for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion.
  • In Mark 12, Jesus told a good Pharisee that he was “not far from the Kingdom of God.”
  • In Acts 15, reference is made to a number of good Pharisees who were committed Christ-followers.
  • And here in Luke 13, we find a small group of good Pharisees who traveled likely from Galilee to Perea to warn Jesus about the murderous intentions of Antipas.

This, my dear friends, is quite a gripping story.

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 LOVES the Little Children

jesusloveschildrenIn this week’s PODCAST, courtesy of the disciples, we get a rare-yet-precious glimpse into the heart of Jesus, the heart of God.

A truly remarkable glimpse. An ironic glimpse.

Ironic because as you will soon hear, the Gospel writers go to great lengths in this story to show us this side of God’s heart. Yet, it is an aspect of God that is rarely talked about. Inexplicably, it receives scant attention.

But we’ll balance the books in this podcast.

And in doing so, tender and heartwarming as this story is, we will hear Jesus will make one of the most severe statements of His entire 3 ½ year ministry. He will trumpet a dire warning and wave a red flag that needs like never before to be waved today, throughout our country and around the world.

You are in for an eye-opening treat, guaranteed. 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, if you think about it and are so inclined, consider sharing a link to this podcast with you loved ones and friends.

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How to Know God’s Will for Your Life (It Truly is This Easy!)

fork-in-the-road1As you are about to hear in this week’s PODCAST, knowing God’s will for you life is far easier than you may have been led to believe — Far easier. Uncomplicated. Abundantly knowable. Readily understandable.

In a word, God WANTS you and me to know His will for our lives.

The reason for this discussion this week is the fact that last week I inadvertently created a vacuum. I made a point last week (not even the main point of the message, but a valid and timely point nonetheless). Last week we discussed the fact that we have come to a place in our day where far too many Christians rather cavalierly throw around the phrase,

“God told me…” “God spoke to me and said…” “God is telling me…”

or its equivalent. Does that ring a bell?

And we noted then that, Look, words mean things.

When we or others invoke such phrases as, “God told me…” “God spoke to me and said…” “God is telling me…” what are we really claiming? Did we hear an audible voice, such as the voice heard in our passage for this podcast?

And what is the person to whom we claim, “God told me…” supposed to do with that?

More to the point, if God does not reveal His will to us through an audible voice, how then does He reveal His will to us?

How am I supposed to know where God wants me to live? Where am I supposed to work? Do I go to college? Join the military? Get married and start a family?

How does God reveal His will for my life, and YOURS?

After you hear this, there will be no doubt as to the answers to those and many, many other questions. This really is a practical and straightforward as it gets.

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.

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“Bye-Bye Jesus!”

blp398254As you will hear in this PODCAST, on the night before He went to the cross, Jesus made a series of remarkable statements to His disciples, in the Upper Room, during their final Passover Seder together.

John 13-17, those 5 chapters, are often referred to as Upper Room Discourse. They contain rich and rewarding teaching that we’ll dissect and digest in, oh… 3 years or so when we get there. 😉

There is, however, in that wide swath of Scriptural truth one statement that I want to highlight here, that really sets the stage for this discussion.

In John 14, Jesus said this to His disciple Philip, in front of the other 10 (Judas having left to betray Jesus):

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! (vs. 9)

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!

When we began this study of Jesus in HD, we said then, and I remind you frequently, that we are on a journey of discovery. Over two years ago now, we embarked together on an ongoing quest to discover exactly who Jesus is.

In this statement in John 14, Jesus assured us that as we discover together who Jesus is, we are equalling discovering who God is. And this discovery has been nothing short of EXCITING!!!

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!

What we learn about Jesus, we learn about God.

Jesus’ heart is God’s heart.

What Jesus is like, God is like.

What Jesus thinks is what God thinks.

What would Jesus do is what God would do.

And Oh.What.Pleasant.Surprises we have discovered along the way. Soul-enriching, spirit-reviving surprises, that we have uncovered together.

Surprises about the heart of Jesus; surprises about the heart of God.

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.

THANK YOU for listening! God bless you as you listen.

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Amazing Love, How Can It Be?

jesus_heals_blind_man2Well, I’ve got good news for you. Great news, at least as far as Jesus and His disciples were concerned. Just in case you were worried about this.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Jesus finally got a break in the action.

Finally, mercifully, after His enormously long and draining and tiring day — in which He taught a series of seven parables, sailed to the other side of the sea, stilled a raging storm, sent two thousand or more demons to flight, healed a bleeding woman, raised a dead girl, all of which we have discussed in minute detail over the past (if you can believe it) 4 months — this one singularly momentous day has now finally come to an end.

Then, after an indefinite period of time, Jesus and His disciples once again took to the road.

No sooner did Jesus get out the door, He was met by two blind men, begging Him to heal them.

It is most intriguing to me that of the three Gospel-writers — Matthew, Mark, and Luke — who gave us the record of Jesus’ so-called longest day, it is only Matthew who recorded this encounter with the two blind men.

I have got to ask the reason why. Why did Matthew, and only Matthew include this story? Especially given the fact that we have seen Jesus heal the blind before. This was old news.

Or was it?

Trust me when I suggest that after hearing about this singularly significant story, you may never view God’s love for you the same way again.

Yes, THIS story is THAT significant.

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.

HAPPY LISTENING, and God bless you as you listen.

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Shattered Dreams, Broken Hearts, Unfulfilled Longings

Broken-PromisesIt’s one of the most beautiful verses in all of Scripture… which, ironically, may not actually be in the Bible.

But as you will learn in this PODCAST, it really doesn’t matter. Because what Matthew quite possibly did not write, Paul most certainly did.

Paul ascribed glorious praise and power to His sovereign God who quite possibly Broke.Paul’s.Heart.

Paul’s heart broken by a shattered dream, an unfulfilled longing.

Yet through Paul’s resilience, we can and WILL derive much comfort in the face of our own shattered dreams, broken hearts, and unfulfilled longings.

This podcast is for you!

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

HAPPY LISTENING, and may God richly bless you as you do.

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Rejection: What Should I Do When It Happens to Me?

rejectionIt’s one of the saddest verses in all of the Bible, and yet (ironically) one of the most encouraging. Especially for one very special junior high student.

The verse to which I refer is John 1:11, which reads in the New Living Translation,

Jesus came to his own people, and EVEN THEY rejected him (emphasis added).

In other words, Jesus wasn’t only rejected by His own people. Jesus was rejected by nearly everyone.

A sad verse indeed. Yet a verse that means the world to at least one junior higher who shared with me that if he was given the chance to ask God any question, he would ask Him this:

How did you feel when you were all alone, when your friends left you?  What should I do when this happens to me?

Imagine those heart-wrenching words coming from a twelve year old. Far too young to feel the torment of rejection. But feel it, he did. He does. And truth be told, throughout his life, he will feel it again and again and again.

Just like us.

And I can tell you from personal experience spanning now some six decades, and having felt the rejection of more people than I can count, reeling from rejection never gets any easier. Especially when the person who rejects us is someone whose approval and acceptance we desperately seek, want, or need.

How would Jesus have answered this student’s question?

Before I attempt to answer on His behalf (something I am always hesitant to do), let me first frame the answer by pointing out the following:

The rejection of Jesus became for Him a fact of His troubled life, His entire life. From birth to death.

His own mother was ostracized by her community because the word was whispered around that she got pregnant outside of marriage. Knowing that Joseph was not Jesus’ father, some concluded that Mary had been raped by a Roman soldier. Others merely concluded that Mary had violated her engagement by cheating on her husband-to-be.

Jesus carried that stigma throughout his adult life. His enemies even used it to cheap-shot Jesus when they mocked Him by asking Him (John 8:19, Amplified Bible),

Where is this father of Yours?

They took another shot at Him in John 8:41,

We are not illegitimate children and born out of fornication.

Implication: We’re not illegitimate children, like you!

What a hateful and hurtful thing to say.

Next, imagine this: When Herod heard that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem, he immediately ordered every Jewish baby boy two years of age and under to be barbarically butchered in a vain attempt to kill the baby Jesus in His crib. You talk about rejection. Just imagine what it would be like a) to be hunted by the government as an enemy of the state, and b) to have on your conscience the deaths of dozens of baby boys, all because the authorities were trying to kill you!

We know that Jesus’ own brothers rejected Him (John 7:5).

The Romans, of course, eventually killed Him.

But what about the crowds? The masses of people who dogged His every step? Study the story carefully and you will discover that every single time a crowd formed to follow Him, they eventually walked away. As soon as Jesus failed to give them what they wanted, they turned tail and left Him all alone.

Perhaps the most poignant scene is in John 6, just after Jesus miraculously multiplied the loaves and the fishes. The thousands came back the next day in order to receive their next free meal. When Jesus basically told them that His purpose was not to be seen as some sanctified Meals on Wheels provider of free lunches, they walked. In the wake of the rejection of these thousands of freeloaders, Jesus sullenly turned to His twelve disciples and asked what must have been a gut-twisting question,

Will you also go away? And do you too desire to leave Me? (John 6:67, Amplified Bible)

I’ll give you just one more. Did you know that Jesus was even rejected by His Heavenly Father?

It’s true. When Jesus voluntarily took upon Himself our sins while hanging on the cross, in that terrible moment Jesus paid in our place the penalty that you and I deserve. God the Father, being so absolutely holy that He cannot even look upon sin, turned His back on His Son and abandoned Him to the white-hot fury of His wrath, as Jesus essentially went to Hell so that we wouldn’t have to. 

In that moment of absolute agony, Jesus cried out from the cross these words that ought to send chills down our spines:

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? (Matthew 27:46, New Living Translation)

Put that all together, and let me ask you: How would Jesus answer a junior high student when asked this all-consuming question,

How did you feel when you were all alone, when your friends left you?

He would probably say something like this:

It hurt. It hurt me deeply. In fact, the pain I felt every time someone rejected me was by far the worst pain that I ever felt.

And that pain hasn’t stopped. Every day, all around the world, there are people who hear about me only to reject me.

Every day, all around the world, there are people who once claimed to love me, to worship me, to pray to me, who for whatever reason abandon me and walk away.

There is no greater pain in all the world than to love someone, only to have that love rejected. There is no greater pain in all the world than to have created someone, and blessed them with this miracle that we call life, only to have them reject their Creator.

So believe me when I say that I hear your question, and I “get it.” I know up close and all-too-personal the pain behind your question.

I never wanted the people I created to reject me. And I certainly never wanted them to reject each other. And I definitely never wanted them to reject you.

I can only promise you that I will never reject you. It’s a promise that I made to you, and a promise that I will keep forever. My promise goes like this: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake (or abandon) you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Let me ask you: How would Jesus answer a junior high student when asked this all-consuming question,

What should I do when this happens to me?

I believe that Jesus would answer that question something like this:

You are my friend. You will always be my friend. And as your friend, I am going to answer your question as honestly as I can.

I know that you are hurting. Pain is never pleasant. But your negative pain can be turned into a positive purpose if you’ll consider these few ideas:

First, allow the pain of your rejection to remind you of the pain you can cause others when you reject them. 

The neat thing about pain is that pain keeps us sensitive to the feelings of others around us. Our pain can help us to be a little more patient, a little more understanding, a little more compassionate, and quite a bit more gentle in our responses to others. 

So the next time you treat someone else in an insensitive, unkind, hurtful sort of way, you may be causing them to feel the same hurt that you are feeling now.

Second, allow the pain of your rejection to remind you of the pain that I feel each and every day. Your pain is a window into my soul. You will now be able to relate to me on a much deeper personal level than you ever could if you never felt the pain of rejection. You and I now share something in common. I know all about your pain, and now you know about mine. In a sense, you and I now share an intimately personal experience. The bond that we can now build between your heart and my heart is worth the pain of rejection.

And third, please, please, please allow the pain of your rejection to become a power motivation in your life never, never, never to reject me.

There will be times when you will be tempted to think that I have failed you, or let you down. Maybe there will be a prayer that I don’t answer, a relationship that I don’t fix, a problem that I don’t solve. You may be tempted to get mad at me, or fear that I am mad at you. You might even be tempted to think that I have rejected you. But know this: I haven’t!!! It’s just that my plans for you and my thoughts about you are so great that there will be times when it’s hard for you to understand them, or you will feel the need to question them. I get that. It’s OK. You have my permission to question all of those things, and to tell me exactly how you feel. But I promise you that I will never, ever reject you.

Please don’t make the fatal mistake of rejecting me. When times get tough, let’s hold onto each other like never before. And I promise you that together, we’ll get through it just fine.

Wow. Quite the question from a junior higher to God. Thank you for being brave enough to ask it. I only hope and pray that my answer gives you some measure of the comfort of God’s grace and peace in your life.

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