Posts Tagged With: Jesus

“All for the Want of a Nail”

I believe that I can say this without equivocation. See if by the end of this PODCAST, you agree with me.

My unequivocal observation? He is the single-most important person in the New Testament of whom you have never heard.

There is an overarching theme to this discussion, born out of this story. One that relates directly to something that Jesus said.

You talk about Paint the picture, Rabbi. This story here in Acts 9 paints THIS amazing picture.

Jesus said, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” That was in Matthew 19.

So important is this principle that Jesus repeated it in the very next chapter:

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”

Whatever did Jesus mean? More to the point: What does this look like? Paint the picture, Rabbi.

Fortunately for us, Jesus is about to paint this picture—as beautiful a picture as you’d ever want to see—courtesy of Saul here in Acts 9, as illustrated so wonderfully in the lives of two otherwise anonymous individuals.

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, the Man Who Had It (And Lost It) All

You talk about a rising rockstar.

You are about to meet him in this PODCAST, up close and personal: Saul of Tarsus. Disciple of the renowned Rabbi Gamaliel. One of the Jerusalem-based Pharisees. Soon to become a voting-member of Israel’s Supreme Court—the Sanhedrin.

This was a guy whose career-path was rocketing skyward in an ever-ascending trajectory to greatness.

In terms of his religious tradition, passed on to him by his Pharisee-father, Saul was a guy who had it all—

  • A rapidly-increasing influence.
  • A growing respect among his peers.
  • Certainly the pride of his parents.
  • The possibility of fortune to go along with his ever-expanding fame.
  • And, of course, to his way of thinking, the super-abundant approval of God, along with all of God’s bountiful blessings that Saul though he deserved, and that allowed Saul to justify to himself his murderous rage.

Indeed, Saul had it all.

And consequently, Saul had it all to lose.

And lose it, he did. In the blink of an eye, literally.

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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“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night…”

The Christmas story is without a doubt #QuiteAStory.

A familiar story. A profound story. An oft-repeated story.

So familiar is this story that I really do not need to comment on it.

Or do I?

As you will hear in this PODCAST, the principal parts of the story are well-known. The principal players in this biblical drama are names everyone has heard — Mary, Joseph, Jesus.

Yet, with all of that familiarity, there is one little tidbit of information — one word, really — that absolutely jumps off the page at me.

  • One word that puts the entire Christmas story into its proper perspective.
  • One word that goes straight to the heart of who Jesus was, who God is, what the Gospel is all about.
  • One word that goes straight to the heart of who we are.

One word…

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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Simon the Samaritan Sorcerer

His legacy is forever set in stone, indelibly etched in granite as Simon the Sorcerer.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, Simon the Sorcerer is the very first person we meet outside of the cozy confines of the Holy City, Jerusalem. #ThisIsHuge!

You talk about a guy who had the deck stacked against him, meet this Simon the Samaritan Sorcerer.

That gasp you just heard was the rush of disbelieving air exploding out of the collapsing lungs of Luke’s original readers.

Trust me: We should gasp too!

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 Trial!

Let me take you back to Tuesday of Jesus’ final week.

On that Tuesday, as you will hear in this PODCAST, Jesus made a most-remarkable promise to His disciples, and by extension, to us.

Allow me to remind you of what happened in Luke 21:

“Some of his disciples began talking about the majestic stonework of the Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls. But Jesus said, ‘The time is coming when all these things will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!’”

Now listen to His promise: 

“But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!”

At the time, the disciples had no idea what Jesus meant by all of that. Now, here, in Acts 4, just 8-ten or so weeks later, they suddenly knew exactly what Jesus meant by all of that.

For first time in the now-nearly two thousand year history of Church, an earsplitting thunderclap of persecution now sounded throughout the Holy City, Jerusalem. So true to Jesus’ prediction made in Luke 21, Peter and John were unceremoniously dragged into prison, and held in there there overnight.

The next morning they were hauled before the highest levels of their religious hierarchy to stand trial.

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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Times of Refreshment WILL Come. That’s a Promise!

“Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today,” Acts 3:24.

What a remarkable statement.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, with those eleven words, Peter alerted that unsuspecting crowd that had gathered at the Temple for their daily 3PM prayers that the singular message of the entire OT was now beginning to be fulfilled right before their amazed and curious eyes.

Jerusalem in all of its storied history had never before experienced anything like the events of the past two-to-three months. Going all the way back to Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into the Holy City, then His cleansing of the Temple, the crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Day of Pentecost. And now, for the past two-to-three months, nonstop, ongoing miracles.

All of that leading up to this: a very public, and deafeningly loud miracle—the healing of the lame man whom everyone in Temple precincts that day had passed every day on their way up to Temple.

I say loud because, as we can only imagine, when this man now went “walking and leaping and praising God” throughout Temple courts, everyone heard him.

And everyone naturally wondered, “What on earth is going on around here?”

Peter was about to tell them exactly “What on earth is going on around here?”

As it turns out, A LOT was going on around here.

Peter’s answer to that question?

“Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today.”

The entire Old Testament—every story, prophecy, promise, sacrifice, festival, feast day, type, symbol, sign—all of it pointed to that day here in Acts 3, and all that they were witnessing now.

Get ready for a wild ride, courtesy of Peter.

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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Let There be No Doubt”

“Let There be No Doubt.”

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, If you were going to compose a title for this, only the second sermon Peter ever preached, you could not do much better than this: “Let There be No Doubt.”

By the time Peter draws this homiletic masterpiece to its rousing conclusion, there will be no doubt in the minds of his hearers.

  • No doubt about who Jesus is.
  • No doubt about who they are.
  • No doubt about what they have done.
  • And no doubt about what they now need to do.

“Let There be No Doubt.” A sermon made all the more remarkable given who preached it: an uneducated fisherman who just weeks before had denied, disowned, and so completely denounced Jesus that he quit as a disciple and returned to fishing.

A man who wept bitter/angry tears in the wake of his profound disappointment and deep disillusionment as he watched in horror as Jesus was led away in chains, to be killed as a common criminal by the very people—the barbaric, interloping, country-occupying, universally-hated Romans—whom Peter thought Jesus had come finally to vanquish completely, to expel from the land permanently, and to send sailing back to Italy disgracefully.

To channel Peter’s own words (2 Peter 2), no doubt written with his own dismal failure in mind, Peter had become

“A dog that had returned to its vomit, a washed pig who had returned to the mud.”

Yet in spite of all of that, Jesus met Peter on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where they had shared so many precious memories together. And there, Jesus graciously gave Peter a second chance.

  • Yes. Peter! Who had recently pompously proclaimed (in John 13) “I am ready to die for you.”
  • Yes. Peter! Who then proceeded on that same night to completely collapse under the gaze of a servant girl.
  • Yes. Peter! Who for a second time was asked by Jesus to “Follow Me,” this time with the caveat that if Peter said “Yes” to that offer, it would cost him his life.
  • Now, barely two months later, here in Acts 3. Yes. Peter! Who now would make good on Jesus’ offer by literally putting his life on line as he stood before thousands, and thundered in the Temple courts for all to hear these extraordinary words…

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 Dazzling Day of Astonishing Amazement

“For more than forty years.”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, five simple words, easily missed if we hastily read the account as recorded for us by Dr. Luke.

Five astonishing words that unlock this entire episode in the life of the first early church in Jerusalem.

“For more than forty years.”

For more than forty years, everywhere this man went someone had to carry him.

For more than forty years this man never knew the simple pleasure of standing on his own two feet.

For more than forty years this man knew nothing of the joys of going for a walk, let alone a jog.

For more than forty years he could never once kick a soccer ball, hit a baseball, throw a football, or run through the waves as they lapped upon the shore of the Mediterranean.

For more than forty years this man never knew a healthy day—never knew for even a minute what it would be like to have two legs that weren’t as limp as dishrags.

For more than forty years this man had in his legs no feeling, no movement, no sensations of any kind.

For more than forty years this man could go up to the Temple courts to beg, but never into Temple to worship since he was prohibited from doing so in Leviticus 21.

For more than forty years this man knew nothing but the prospect of yet another day spent stretching out his arms, reaching out his hands, and begging for alms.

For more than forty years he was forced to endure being ignored, refused, looked down upon, and judged as a sinner.

Such was the life of one man for more than forty years.

This poor beggar, bereft of health, robbed of any hope of self-respect, devoid of any semblance of a life.

Until this day when Peter and John showed up.

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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