Posts Tagged With: Jesus

Divide and Conquer

Spoiler Alert: As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, one of the disadvantages of words on a page is that we cannot hear tone; we do not see body language nor facial expression.

In this message, I am attempting tonight to place myself in Peter’s sandals, sit myself at Luke’s writing table, and to teach tonight’s passage—one of most important in NT—in the tone and with the emotions with which Peter confronted a potentially explosive situation; with which Luke recorded this nearly-catastrophic confrontation.

I do not think it a stretch that Peter was caught completely off guard, taken totally aback, disheartened and likely exasperated by the severe reaction he received upon his return to his beloved Jerusalem.

So on the one hand, I speak to you from a broken heart, as I believe Peter’s was broken too.

On other hand, this story in Acts 11 has a glorious ending; and so shall we! God will bring beauty for these ashes! As He always does. As He ALWAYS does.

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 (Not-So) Silent Saturday

It is one of the most enigmatic statements in all of Scripture.

Ironically, as you are about to hear in this PODCAST, this mysterious statement follows one of the clearest, most-unambiguous and glorious proclamations in all of Holy Writ.

Two statements: one perplexing, one perfectly understandable, both written by our old friend Peter.

Timely statements each, given that the Easter season is upon us.

Two statements that beg us to answer two compelling questions:

1. Where did Jesus go during the hours between Friday night and Sunday morning?

2. What did Jesus do during those hours between His crucifixion and resurrection?

My friends, you are about to hear an amazing story seldom talked about precisely because it is so enigmatic—“difficult to interpret or understand; mysterious.”

Words that, when understood properly, bless our lives immeasurably.

You are in for an Easter treat.

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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You Want Me to Go WHERE? You Want Me to Do WHAT?

I want you to imagine for a moment this scenario. (As you will hear in this PODCAST, a potentially familiar biblical story to you.)

That being said, see if you can guess the name of its principle player.

His people were ravaged by a barbarically blood-thirsty Empire, the armies of which decimated his land, desecrated his holy places, and butchered his people.

His hatred for these pagan barbarians flamed in his guts with the white-hot fury of volcanic rage. A smoldering-just-beneath-the-surface-anger that could have understandably erupted into a deadly confrontation at the slightest provocation.

But God is a God of mercy, isn’t he?

So He asked this man to set aside his prejudices, to extinguish the fiery rage that blazed within him. And in the face of the mountain of abuses he and his people suffered at the hands of these hedonistic heathens, these merciless marauders, to travel into the very power-center of this occupying power in order to share with the people there the Good News of God’s redemptive love.

The notion that he would engage these interlopers on any level was utterly repugnant to him. Not to mention his absolute inability even to entertain the slightest possibility that some such as these might spend an eternity with him in Heaven.

He didn’t want God to save them; He wanted God to obliterate them.

So down to the seaport city of Joppa he went (that’s your clue to this mystery man’s identity) where he confronted a personal crisis of faith unlike he had ever experienced before.

Does he walk away in rebellion against God? Does he get into a boat and sail away, in direct defiance of God’s revealed will?

Or does he submit himself to the task to which God called him, knowing full-well that in doing so he may-well place himself squarely in the crosshairs of his sworn enemy?

To whom am I referring? Who was this singularly-selected servant of God, forced to face such a potentially life-threatening, history-altering choice?

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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“YOU are the Salt of the Earth.”

I cannot think of a more beautiful tribute to committed Christ-followers everywhere—including YOU—than Jesus’ words here in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth.”

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, Jesus, ever the master of the metaphor, came up with a doozie with this one.

“You are the salt of the earth.”

I am excited about this for a couple of compelling reasons:

1. The rich and rewarding meaning of this metaphor, which we will get to in a moment.

2. “You are the salt of the earth” provides us with a wonderfully enriching teachable moment, one where I get to take you behind the scenes, as it were, and demonstrate for you in real time how we arrive at the proper interpretation of a passage—this passage in Matthew 5—and from there how to make an appropriate application of a passage—any passage—to our lives today.

So you’re getting a two-for-the-price-of-one in this podcast — What the passage means, and how we arrive at its meaning.

Because truth be told, one of the reasons the Church in America is, IMHO, sadly diminishing its influence in our world today is precisely because of a misunderstanding and misapplication of this beautiful verse, “You are the salt of the earth.”

So we have a lot going on here in this Jesus in HD Encore Podcast—an encore because I am currently leading a Study Tour in Israel, returning to Peter in HD next 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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“A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet.”

Her Hebrew name was Tabitha.

And as you will hear in this PODCAST, Dorcas was her Greek name.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Well, she may have had nothing to do with Romeo and Juliet. But fact is, Tabitha by any other name, AKA Dorcas, would still be as sweet, kind, and beautiful. For both Tabitha and Dorcas both mean “Gazelle.” Distinctly beautiful names each, both of which speak to the inner beauty and kindness and sweetness that radiated from this singularly special woman.

So special that Luke singled her out in order specifically to tell her exemplary story. As did Peter, who at news of her untimely demise literally—at a moment’s notice—dropped everything in order to be at her bedside within hours of her passing.

  • What was it about this woman that would cause the lead apostle to rush to her side upon hearing sad news?
  • What was it about this woman that brought life in the prominent seaside town of Joppa to come to a screeching halt at the moment of her death?
  • What was it about this woman that so profoundly challenges each of us today to ask ourselves one profoundly challenging question, the answer to which is so stunningly simple?

Are you ready to meet Tabitha, the graceful gazelle?

I believe the best way to proceed is simply to read to you her story as recounted/recorded by Luke, inserting clarifying commentary along the way. This in order to add the colors and contours that Luke’s original readers would have enjoyed that we

might otherwise miss.

Trust me. As you meet her, you will never view your life the same way again.

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 the Road Again

The Treasury in Petra

It had to be a rather rude awakening to be sure—Paul’s initial introduction to the unenviable life of an apostle.

As we will learn in this PODCAST, there is much—much more than we could possibly imagine—behind Paul’s otherwise enigmatic statement in 1 Corinthians 4:9, a rare moment of personal reflection (and dare-I-say exasperation and frustration) in the writings of this most-prolific apostle:

“I sometimes think God has put us apostles on display, like prisoners of war at the end of a victor’s parade, condemned to die. We have become a spectacle to the entire world—to people and angels alike.”

Well, here in Acts 9, the Apostle to us Gentiles endured quite the humiliating spectacle indeed.

It was hardly the homecoming our new friend, the Apostle Paul, had anticipated as he entered archway in the main gate leading to Straight Street in Damascus.

Was his heart all a-flutter? Mine would have been.

After a three-year absence from its legendary landscape, his formal training as an apostle now complete. I have to believe that Saul-now-Paul had much upon which he would have liked to reflect.

  • Perhaps a quiet, private, personal rendezvous with the spot on the road where he first met Jesus?
  • Maybe a knock on the door of Judas’ house, where he was graciously housed for three days as a man-struck-blind?
  • How about cup of Turkish coffee with Ananias, the man tasked with, and understandably fearful of, being first follower of Jesus to approach just-converted Saul?
  • Possibly some visits to the synagogues where he first preached, “Jesus is indeed the Son of God”?

Paul’s heart had to be pitter-pattering with excited anticipation as he once-again approached the storied city.

But alas. A happy homecoming wasn’t in cards that fate dealt this soon-to-be-suffering servant of Jesus.

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 Goes to Seminary

Do you know what I love about Bible?

Well, truth be told, there are a lot of things that I love about the Bible. Far too many to tell in this PODCAST.

But certainly residing at or near the top of my rather lengthy list is this: The window the biblical writers open to the growth and maturity of its principle players.

Case in point: The Apostle Paul.

Paul did not emerge from his road to Damascus encounter with Jesus a wholly-mature believer. Nor did Paul burst on the scene armed with a fully-formed theology that would become the capstone of his prolific writings. Paul had to grow in his faith as a committed Christ-follower just like the rest of us.

I love that!

Paul moved from a measurably primitive understanding of Jesus to a remarkably profound comprehension of who Jesus was and is and all that Jesus did and accomplished. This growth, this development, this maturity takes place right before our wondering eyes ever to behold in all of its spiritual splendor.

In short, Paul was a person in process, just like us! A process well-documented in the New Testament that as we are about to learn slowly-but-surely took place over many, many years.

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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“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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