Posts Tagged With: Judaism

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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Jailbreak!

The (Infamous) Antonia Fortress

When we last left our old and dear friend, Peter, he was in Jerusalem, languishing in a Roman prison cell, awaiting what he thought was his certain execution.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Peter had been held in that prison for up to eight long, arduous days—the week of Passover.

So to help you feel this story—if I may put it that way—I need you to think back to one week ago.

It was exactly one week ago when we—in Peter in HD Podcast #51—met the notorious-King Herod Agrippa.

And I need you to consider two compelling/colliding realities now coming into play as far as Peter’s state-of-mind-and-heart while in prison was concerned.

My dear friends, SO MUCH for us to talk about (please forgive that dangling preposition).

And 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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Keeping It Kosher

Peter didn’t write much.

No surprise here. As you will hear in this week’s PODCAST, the hyperactive-apostle could not sit still long enough to put pen to parchment.

There is one of the four Gospels credited to Peter—but even that he could not write himself. Peter employed Mark to record his recollections. And no surprise that in reading what could-well be entitled, The Gospel According to Peter as Told to Mark, the one word that jumps out at us in Peter’s fast-paced, out-of-breath memoir is the adverb “immediately.” (Mark uses it 42 times).

All of which is to say that on the rare occasions when Peter did park himself at a desk to inscribe his insights (only twice—1 and 2 Peter!), we should sit up and take notice.

Case in point: 1 Peter 3:15.

“If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.”

Words, BTW, that define for us a biblical approach to personal evangelism—AKA witnessing, soul-winning, sharing your faith.

When they ask, we explain.

A principle that Peter learned, and learned well, here in Acts 10. The asker—Cornelius. Explainer—Peter.

Problem was—and it’s a HUGE problem indeed—Cornelius was an unclean Gentile centurion living in the unclean pagan city-capital city of Roman occupation of Peter’s land. This was for Peter One.Huge.Problem on multiple spiritually-threatening, faith-testing levels.

In order to understand, I need to put you into Peter’s sandals. And in order to put you into Peter’s sandals, I need to alert you to what has historically been the Greatest.Single.Threat to Judaism, and BTW, to us.

Now, allow me to lay out dots, and then connect these dots.

This entire discussion centers around one divine injunction, repeated several times in the Torah.

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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More Than Just a Food-Fight. So.Much.More

It was a matter of life and death. Literally.

Make no mistake about this: As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, these “rumblings of discontent,” as Luke characterized them, represented anything but some small-time, garden variety, trivial church-squabble.

What happened here in Acts 6 exposed a clash of cultures that tore asunder the awe-inspiring oneness heretofore enjoyed by the Jerusalem Christian Community.

You might remember what we observed as recently as at the end of Acts 4.

Verse 32, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”

Not any more!

Now, sadly, at the beginning of Acts 6, that blessed unity coupled with their selfless generosity Was.No.More.

Something had changed.

Their fellowship fractured. Their unity dissolved into disunity. A rift developed that literally rent the fragile fabric of unity completely in half.

Again, at the risk of sounding redundant, I must stress two vitally important points before I immerse you in the nitty-gritty of what exactly was going on here.

FIRST: We make a grave error of interpretation and application of Acts 6 if we view this not-so-exemplary episode as just the first of the kinds of common conflicts that characterize so many church squabbles and skirmishes today.

This was not some intramural argument about what style of music we should have in our worship services, or the color of carpet we should install in the new Fellowship Hall. You know—the kinds of stuff over which churches so frequently split these days.

Again, this was literally a matter of life and death. The lives of the most vulnerable of these first committed Christ-followers were in jeopardy, not because of external persecution.

SECOND: Please understand that this church fight exposed an internal underlying clash of cultures that was far more serious than we might realize.

On the surface of things, a casual reader might merely relegate this Acts 6 kerfuffle to growing pains—too many people added to the church in too short a time. Rapid growth that resulted in a first-of-its-kind food-fight within hallowed halls of that first century church. Because conflict certainly does involve growth and food. But dig a little deeper and we’ll discover that growth and food were merely symptoms of a potentially deadly disease that threatened to rot the soul of this newly-founded church.

Now listen carefully: Believe it or not, this conflict involved the exact same clash of cultures that we as committed Christ-followers are attempting to navigate even today.

It is Today as it was Then.

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 Scandal in the Making

348With this PODCAST, we break the seal on the last year of Jesus’ life here on earth.

And admittedly, His last year begins on a rather ominous note.

Immediately following this story, Jesus will leave the country. That is no exaggeration. For the first time in His storied 3½ year ministry, Jesus now has to get out of Dodge, fast!

As we have seen in past podcasts, Jesus was run out of His adopted hometown of Capernaum. He was then run out of Nazareth, His boyhood hometown. On top of that, Herod Antipas was hunting Jesus in order to kill Him (this in the wake of Herod’s senseless execution of John the Baptizer). 

And NOW we read this in Mark 7:24:

Then Jesus left Galilee and went North to the region of Tyre (in modern-day Lebanon).

Yes, indeed. Jesus was literally run out of Galilee and run out of the country. Something significant happened in this story, here in Mark 7, that forced Jesus to go North and out of the country, rather than South to the familiar environs of His beloved Jerusalem. 

What in the world happened?

What did Jesus do?

Or more accurately, what did Jesus fail to do?

A failure that caused a cataclysmic religious scandal. A scandal so serious that Jesus fled to the North. Which, by the way, is the exact same word that Matthew used in his telling of this story: “scandal.”

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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No Wonder They Hated Him, and We LOVE Him

the_promiseOK. So I’ve got to tell you that I find this entire series of events that we will be discussing in this PODCAST

 

All of which I will remind you took place in less than 36 hours…

This entire series of events that took place in just one day in the life of Jesus… I find to be remarkably REFRESHING, while at the same time to followers of Jesus’ faith utterly unsettling…

Absolutely REVOLUTIONARY to me, while at the same time to the leading rabbis of Jesus’ day disgustingly revolting…

Undeniably IRRESISTIBLE to me, while at the same time to the Torah-teachers of Jesus’ day scorchingly scandalous.

So unsettling, revolting, and scandalous that they hated Him for it. Yet so refreshing, revolutionary, and irresistible that we love Him for it!

It’s been quite a ride, really, this journey that we’re on together. Two years ago, we began our ongoing study of Jesus in High Definition. The stated purpose of which is to rediscover afresh who Jesus really is, and what Jesus is really like.

Much to my surprise and our delight, the biblical picture of Jesus that is continuously emerging EVERY SINGLE WEEK is that of a GENTLE Jesus.

A gentle Jesus who did some of the most delightfully surprising things.

A gentle Jesus who said some of the most surprisingly delightful things.

A gentle Jesus who is every sense of the word irresistible.

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.

Please, please, please share a link to this podcast with your family and friends.

God bless you as you listen.

And THANK YOU, from my heart to yours, for making this journey with me.

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#Oh.My.Word

prostituteWe could give this PODCAST a variety of titles.

The Ballad of the Broken and Battered Woman.

The Indignation of the Idolatrously “Holy” Man.

I prefer the title, Oh.My.Word, for reasons that you will soon hear.

We have come to a tipping point in the life and ministry of Jesus. After this encounter with a broken woman and a “holy” man, things will never again be the same for Jesus.

The full fury of the religious leaders will come to full flower as a result of this one meal that Jesus shared with this one man and one woman.

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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