Posts Tagged With: Matthew

The Great Commission (AKA Jesus Ministry Model)

Welcome to the conclusion of Jesus in HD!

It’s been 205 podcasts in coming, but here it is. On deck, Peter in HD and the bright and beautiful book of Acts.

That will be next week. But for now, it is universally referred to as “Great Commission.”

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST… Yes, I will readily agree that Jesus’ words here at the tail-end of Matthew’s glorious gospel are indeed “great.” And yes, they do in fact contain a “commission.”

Jesus’ final commission to His disciples, to make disciples.

But I would prefer to think of this as Jesus’ Ministry Model — both in terms of what He wants us (all of us, each of us) to do, and how He wants us to do it.

A ministry model that Jesus intended for us to follow (as Jesus said) “to the very end of the age.”

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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YOUR Wedding Day Approaches (Sooner Than You May Think!)

WeddingAs you will hear in this PODCAST, we are fast-approaching the end of our mini-series within a series, this one having to do with all-things End-Times related.

We are, as you well-know, well into the Olivet Discourse. Jesus’ primary teaching on End-Times events, as given on the Tuesday of His final week on earth.

In two weeks, we will pivot to the Thursday of Jesus’ final week, including His Upper Room Discourse.

It is curiously intriguing to me in the first letter that the Apostle Paul ever penned, 1 Thessalonians, he devoted so much of that letter to a discussion of the End Times. Which tells me that even from the very beginning, the first generation of committed Christ-followers had questions about Jesus’ return, even as they watched and waited for Jesus to come back.

There was then, as there is today, much confusion about what was going to happen and when it would happen.

One of the most encouraging things that Paul wrote — you could consider it Paul’s commentary on this podcast’s Matthew 25 passage — was this:

“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that THE DAY OF THE LORD will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day… Since we belong to the day, stay alert and be clearheaded… For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ… Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (Just a few of the highlights of 1 Thessalonians 5)

So let’s now heed Paul’s loving encouragement and be clearheaded about what he called “the Day of the Lord.” A vitally important, oft-repeated biblical phrase.

Now listen carefully: Over the past few weeks, we have gone to great lengths to distinguish between such things as the Rapture, the Antichrist, the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ, Millennium, Eternal State, and all-things in between.

We who are of a Western Mindset obsess over the order of things (those perennially bestselling prophecy charts, along with all of their precisely-placed arrows).

As westerners, it is woven into every strand of our western DNA to focus on Form (how something fits, with an emphasis on symmetry, balance, order, everything in its proper place, everything perfectly fitted together). But those of a Middle Eastern Mindset were much more concerned over function — not on how things fit together, but rather on what things do. Not on how something fits, but what something does.

As you are about to hear, this will have a profound impact on your own personal Bible study.

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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Demystifying the End Times (Part 2)

danger11“Watch out that no one deceives you.”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, given the wild-eyed speculations with which Christian community has historically been bombarded regarding all-things prophecy-related, Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 give us a good warning indeed. A warning which explains why we want to take a sober, strictly-biblical look at what Jesus taught in Matthew 24 – 25 about His Second Coming and the end of the age.

Let me remind you that we are now on Tuesday of Jesus’ final week, a mere seventy-two hours before His crucifixion.

For the disciples, not to mention Jesus Himself, a head-spinning turbulent few days had just passed, highlighted by the Triumphal Entry and the Cleansing of the Temple. Yet, without trying to be cliched about it, they hadn’t seen anything yet.

And frankly, neither have we.

So for the moment, as they took a brief breather to gather their thoughts and emotions, Jesus and the twelve disciples huddled on the Mount of Olives and took in the breathtaking view laid out before them.

We can only imagine how many confusing thoughts were cascading through the disciples’ collective minds. So it’s no wonder that even in this moment of solitude that might have otherwise provided some much-needed quiet contemplation, they asked Jesus the question that was now haunting their hearts.

Naturally, they wondered about the future and how all of this 3+ year wild-ride they had been on with Jesus would end.

So, in response to their question, Jesus told them.

Ergo, the Olivet Discourse.

Though the Olivet Discourse centers primarily upon the events of the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation, which we will distinguish in this podcast, I thought it would be most-beneficial to give you a complete overview of the entire prophetic puzzle and its 7 principal pieces before we break down Jesus’ Olivet Discourse.

Last week, we discussed Rapture and AntiChrist. (Podcast #171)

This week, we’ll consider the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation.

And next week, we’ll round out this introductory overview by highlighting the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the Eternal State.

However, before we get embroiled in the Tribulation, as you will hear here, I must first make one especially helpful, clarifying remark about the Rapture.

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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“I Want to See.”

99222_origMeet Blind Bartimaeus, a man who seems at first blush to be nothing more than a bit player in this most dramatic and poignant moment.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, this wasn’t the first time that Jesus healed a blind man. Nor is this the first time we have talked about Jesus healing a blind man. Last November, Podcast 141, comes to mind. So I would totally understand if you were tempted to bring to this story a sense of “been there, done that,” Déjà vu all over again. Like, if you’ve seen one blind-man-healing, you’ve seen them all, right? WRONG!

As I said just a moment ago, this story is both dramatic and poignant.

The implications of this story, both for the Jews of Jesus’ day, and for the entire world in our day, cannot be overstated. This story is indeed dramatic, dramatic in the extreme.

Nor can we overstate the emotional state Jesus must have been in at this most significant moment of His ministry, as the final chapter of His life is about to unfold. Emotions that infuse this story with feeling from start to finish. A story poignant to a palpable degree.

To be perfectly honest, there is so much going on here that I’m really in a quandary as to where to start. So let me start with this: In the Middle East, both in Jesus’ day, and in our own day, Symbolism = Substance.

Symbolism = Substance. IOW, as I’ve said so often, the Bible is God’s picture book. The biblical writers were painters. The visual means something. Symbolism = Substance.

In this story about yes, yet another blind man being healed by Jesus, it really is all about the optics. The symbolism. The connections that the original readers would have made in their minds as they read Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s account of this miracle

The symbolism of What happened (the healing of Blind Bartimaeus), When it happened (c. AD 30, just days before Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem), and Where happened (Jericho).

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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So Near, and Yet So Far

rich-young-ruler-3You could call this story an epic “Opportunity Lost.”

You talk about a guy presented with a once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity, an opportunity that he squandered. An opportunity that he squandered Badly.And.Sadly.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, this is an offer rarely made, and shockingly dismissed.

A young man who burst on the scene like a blazing comet streaking overhead, only to flame out and fall out of the sky to come crashing and burning to earth.

What a story!

One thing’s for sure. Jesus never took a class on Personal Evangelism, witnessing, soul winning, or whatever you want to call it. Because, to be honest, Jesus Broke.Every.Rule of personal evangelism in this very personal encounter.

Here you have what we call in our contemporary Christian culture a seeker coming to Jesus to ask Him one question. THE question. The single most important question.

A softball question that any one of us could answer.

His question?

“What should I do to inherit eternal life?”

This young man asked Jesus exactly the right question, to which Jesus gave him exactly the wrong answer!

Or did He?

Don’t fault me for asking that. Jesus’ own disciples thought that Jesus gave him the wrong answer. Check it out: The disciples were “astounded and astonished” when they heard Jesus’ answer.

All this guy needed to do, all that Jesus needed to tell him to do, was to pray a “Jesus, come into my heart” prayer, right? Yet, by the time Jesus got done with him? The young man walked away.

In the words of the noted Lutheran New Testament scholar, R.C.H. Lenski,

“Picture him: an exemplary young man in early manhood, fine and clean morally as the phrase now goes… wealthy… with a strong religious bent… a pillar (in the community)… Where is the church that would not give him a prominent place?… Yet all this is in the eyes of Jesus… worthless.”

Yeah verily, I will add, so worthless that Jesus offended him. Lost him. Drove him away.

Know why?

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 First Noel

12390995_10153185910760841_423099692962636577_nIt is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and meaningful of our Christmas carols.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, its seven stanzas tell the complete story of Christmas, brilliantly combining both Matthew’s and Luke’s Nativity narratives.

The carol to which I refer? The First Noel.

The First Noel, the angel did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay. In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep, on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Chorus: Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star shining in the east beyond them far. And to the earth it gave great light, and so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star three wise men came from country afar. To seek for a king was their intent, and to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest, o’er Bethlehem it took it rest. And there it did both stop and stay right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then did they know assuredly within that house the King did lay. They entered in then for to see, and found the Babe in poverty.

Then entered in those wise men three, fell reverently upon their knee, and offered there in His presence their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense.

Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord, that hath made heaven and earth of naught, and with his blood mankind hath bought.

Chorus: Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.

Let’s talk about those Wise Men, mysterious Magi.

And the star, what it was and why they followed it.

And their gifts, and their amazing significance.

From all of us at the Safe Haven, to all of you, A Very Merry Christmas!ThreeWiseMenblueskyandstars

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Forgive and (Don’t) Forget

Please-forgive-me-to-cute-kittyAs you will hear in this PODCAST, in Matthew 18:21, Peter asked a profoundly important question. A question that haunted him. And if we are honest, a question that at times haunts us.

Matthew 18:21 reads,

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Can you think of any question that hits us more profoundly right where we live than this one? There is not a one of us who hasn’t been hurt significantly by someone or someones in the past.

Perhaps in the very recent past.

Perhaps this person or these persons continue to hurt us even now, in the present.

Consequently, this whole issue of forgiveness — what it means and what it does not mean — could not come too soon, could not be more practical.

Especially given the timing and location of Peter’s question. Something that you will hear in this podcast.

Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Let’s talk about this.

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God bless you as you listen. And if it is a blessing to you, please SHARE a link to this podcast with your family and friends.

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The Epic (and I Do Mean EPIC) Handoff

2009-11-26T221005Z_01_DET12_RTRIDSP_0_NFL“Epic,” as in Your-Salvation-and-Mine-Rides-or-Falls-on-This. I kid you not.

This PODCAST is going to be fun, and so instructive. Instructive on two levels.

1. Instructive as we discover together exactly what Jesus meant here in Matthew 18:18-20.

2. Instructive as we are handed, courtesy of Jesus, an opportunity to learn what to do, and perhaps more importantly, what not to do with the Bible.

As you are about to hear, we must bring to this passage every interpretive tool in the tool box in order to arrive at an accurate interpretation and application of this passage.

Let me put it this way: The Apostle Paul encouraged his protégé, young Pastor Timothy, to…

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth, (2 Timothy 2:15).

Do you know why Paul encouraged Timothy to handle the word of truth correctly? Because there were then, as there are now, scores of people — pastors, teachers, conference speakers, authors, commentators — who routinely handle the word of truth incorrectly.

In 1 Timothy 1:3, Paul similarly wrote Timothy,

I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth.

Why write this? Because there were Sunday school teachers or small group leaders in Timothy’s church who were teaching error.

It is so easy to make the Bible say whatever we want it to say. It is so easy, too easy, to carelessly teach what the Bible does not say.

Case in point: Matthew 18:18-20. A commonly-quoted passage made to mean all sorts of things that, to be perfectly honest with you, Jesus never intended. A passage so often applied in ways that Jesus did not have in mind. He would cringe today to see what so many have done with this passage.

And, as you are about to see, this passage will indeed require us to bring to its interpretation and application a whole set of interpretive tools — a knowledge of language, history, geography, culture, chronology, context, literary & Jewish background — all in an effort to understand what Jesus did indeed intend to convey to His disciples and to us at a singularly watershed moment in Jesus’ ministry.

So in this podcast, dear friend, we have a lot to talk about.

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

God bless you as you listen.

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A Cup of Cold (Refreshing, Thirst-Quenching, Life-Giving) Water

platesThis is going to be So.Much.Fun for me. (And for you, I hope!) So indulge me here, because I LOVE this stuff.

Look carefully and you might see my bemused smile on my face! It is just so comical to me how easily we take what Jesus made so simple, only to make it so insufferably complicated.

And to be perfectly honest with you, I am awestruck. That’s the tone with which I want to teach this PODCAST’s passage.

I am awestruck at Jesus’ ability to say so much in so little, so many thoughts communicated in so few words. All of which so practical, helpful, relevant, refreshing, and inspiring to us today.

Let me set it up like this: You know the guy in the circus with the hundred plates spinning on a hundred poles? OK. So here’s my question: What does that picture of a hundred plates spinning high atop a hundred poles have to do with this portrait that Jesus paints here in Matthew 10?

The simple, uncomplicated picture of giving someone who is thirsty a cup of cold water? A picture, BTW, that forms the conclusion to Jesus’ training manual for ministry. The ministry manual that we have been studying for lo these eleven weeks or so. The Ministry Manual that Jesus gave to His apostles to prepare them for their very first missions trip.

What do spinning plates have to do with a cup of cold water? As you are about to hear, Everything. Everything.

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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