Posts Tagged With: Messiah

One Little Word That Makes ALL the Difference

Ironies abound, in the four verses I just read to you. A full compliment of ten ironies by my count. Ten!

The most soul-stirring and hope-producing irony being this—the takeaway of this PODCAST:

“Your most influential, inspirational, impactful life-message—greatest chapter of your story—will come not out of your successes, but out of your failures.”

To invoke Jesus’ masterful metaphor — “You ARE the light of the world.”

That being true, your brightest beacon of light will shine forth from the depths of your darkest hour.

And no, I am not referring to the failure of the thousands who gathered at the Temple on this day in Acts 3 to hear Peter indict them for their greatest failure, as stunning as that failure certainly was.

There is buried within the syllables of this story an even greater failure.

An absolutely epic fail, one that hinges on exactly one word—one word about which I will tell you as you get into this podcast. A failure that underscores the blessed reality that…

“Your most influential, inspirational, impactful life-message—greatest chapter of your story—will come not out of your successes, but out of your failures.”

Call it the backdoor blessing of this amazing story. A God-blessed reality that stands in stark contrast to the what was without a doubt the weirdest experience I have ever had when speaking in a seminary chapel…

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 Gold Standard of Our Faith

psalm-22They say that “For every sigh, there’s a psalm.” As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, they are 100% correct.

What an absolutely, beautifully inspired collection of very real, honest, soul-soaring, gut-wrenching human expressions is contained within its 150 chapters.

So many verses of its 150 songs are profoundly personal prayers that you and I can pray right back to God, giving us an immediate connection with the principle players in the biblical drama.

Psalms, the single most emotion-filled book in the Bible. Yes, indeed. For every sigh, there IS a psalm.

If variety is the spice of life, then the Book of Psalms

is a pretty spicy book. One that includes hymns of praise, thanksgiving, godly wisdom and sound theology, expressions of our doubts and fears balanced by an unshakable faith in God through good times and bad. Imprecatory psalms that are cries for God’s justice and vengeance in an unjust world. Songs of lament that give voice to the many challenges of our painful lives.

There are also historical psalms that remind the worshipper of God’s faithfulness in the past. And for our purposes in this podcast, prophetical psalms. Songs that flood our souls with the confident hope that God will keep His many precious promises in future, just as He has in the past.

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 Walks the Way of Sorrows

praetorium4It is called, appropriately enough, the Via Dolorosa, Latin for “The Way of Sorrows.”

For Jesus, it absolutely was a way of sorrows — every single excruciatingly painful step of it, from the Antonia Fortress (where Pilate sentenced Him), to Golgotha (where Jesus’ execution awaited Him).

In this PODCAST, we will walk that path 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 richly as you listen.

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Gethsemane


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They say that “one picture is worth a thousand words.”

Sometimes, on rare occasions, one word is worth a thousand pictures. As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, this is one of those occasions.

In this case, that one word is “Gethsemane.”

As in the Garden of Gethsemane, that very garden to which John referred when he wrote,

“On the other side (of the Kidron Valley) there was a garden, and Jesus and his disciples went into it.” 

I would not be overstating the case to suggest that everything you and I need to understand about the Gospel is contained in that one word all-telling, “Gethsemane.”

Gethsemane, ironically a place of peaceful repose, first pops up on our radar in Matthew’s account of this anything-but-peace-filled night. He wrote with no explanation,

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’”

garden-2No explanation was needed, at least for Matthew’s original readers. All would have been abundantly familiar with the modest-sized cultivated enclosure nestled snuggly into the base of the Mount of Olives. A scenic/welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem in general and the Temple complex in particular.

Now, courtesy of this podcast, let me take you there.

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 Signs of the Times (Part 1)

its_timeWelcome to the Olivet Discourse. The End Times prophetic address that Jesus gave to His disciples high atop the Mount of Olives, immediately to the East of the Holy City, Jerusalem.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, that lovely little land that we affectionately call Israel is the center of the world.

Literally and metaphorically.

Literally, because Israel is the place where the three major continents — Europe, Asia, and Africa — tenderly touch and affectionately kiss each other. Which goes a long way to explaining why God chose this modest piece of real estate — a mere 150 miles long (North-South), 50 miles wide (West-East) — as stage for the Greatest Story Ever Told.

Metaphorically the center of the world because throughout all of human history, the eyes of world have ever been focused squarely on the Middle East — so called because it sits in the middle or center of the world. And in center of the Middle East sits Israel.

So Israel is indeed the center of the world.

That said, Jerusalem is the center of Israel, and the Temple is the center of Jerusalem.

So it is no wonder that Jesus and His disciples took a timeout from all of the hubbub of activities on this Tuesday of Jesus’ final week, exactly three days before Jesus would go to the cross.

As they sat upon the Mount of Olives taking in that breathtaking view of the Holy City and its glorious Temple — God’s House, what Jesus called “My Father’s House,” what many of our Jewish friends call “The House” — the disciples were moved by that spectacular panoramic portrait to ask Jesus these two most important questions in Matthew 24:

“What will be the sign of your coming?”

and

“What will be the sign of the end of the age?”

Jesus’ answer to those questions comprise what we now call the Olivet Discourse, spanning two full chapters, Matthew 24 – 25.

As you are about to hear, there are Two All-Important Interpretive Keys to understanding these all-important prophetic chapters.

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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O Little Town of Bethlehem

bethlehem

Bethlehem. 

Why in the world did God choose to have His Son born in Bethlehem?

He could have chosen Jerusalem. The Holy City was then home to the Temple, and the epicenter of all things religious. For that matter, He could have chosen Rome, Athens, Corinth, Alexandria, or any number of major metropolitan centers of ancient world influence.

Why in the world did God choose Bethlehem?

Well, for the answer to that singularly significant question, we have to go all the way back to the beginnings of the Bible. There you will read this in Genesis 14:18, about Abraham and his first meeting with the mysterious Melchizedek, the king of Salem, Shalom, Peace. Arguably the first reference in the Bible to what would later become the City of Peace, Jeru-salem

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.

Hmmm. What were they doing, Abraham and Melchizedek? Certainly not celebrating Communion with that bread and wine. And more to the point, What does this baffling bit of trivia have to do with Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem?

On the surface, nothing. Dig a little deeper, it means everything.

The backstory of their tête-à-tête is straightforward and rather simple: Returning from a period of conflict over the capture of his nephew Lot, Abraham now craved a much-needed period of peace. So did Melchizedek. In order to establish an unbreakable bond of peace, in order to confirm an indestructible contract of commitment to one another, in order to seal a deal of an abiding agreement of love and loyalty to one another, Abraham and Melchizedek broke bread together.

The breaking of bread was in biblical times, and is even today in the Middle East, the culturally-binding symbol of a relationship of love, loyalty, and commitment between two parties.

Breaking bread. The sharing of the very sustenance of life with one another, the symbolism of which binds the two lives together in a mutual pledge of life, love, loyalty, and peace.

It is no wonder that bread is specifically mentioned in the Bible 448 times. 

It is no wonder that in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us specifically to pray for our daily bread, a regular reminder of the unbreakable relationship of life, loveloyalty, and peace that we now share with God Himself.

It is no wonder that when Jesus fed the five thousand, He broke bread with them.

It is no wonder that Jesus referred to Himself as “the bread of life,” adding in John 8, 

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. 

“Forever.” An unbreakable bond indeed!

It is no wonder that on the night before the crucifixion, as Jesus shared one last supper with His disciples, He broke bread with them.

It is no wonder that after Jesus was nailed to the cross, as the body of the one who called Himself “the bread of life” was beaten and broken for us, that it can now be said of us who love Him, 

We have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us (Romans 5:1).

It is no wonder that the first committed Christ-followers (according to Acts 2) broke bread from house to house. 

Bread: the God-given, Bible-driven symbol of two persons who desperately long to establish between them an unbreakable bond of life, love, loyalty, and peace.

So it is no wonder that God chose “His only begotten Son” to be born not in Jerusalem, not in Rome or Athens, not in Corinth or Alexandria, nor in any major metropolitan city of great influence. No.

When God sent His Son, He chose to have Him be born in the humble hamlet of Bethlehem. Or as it is called in Hebrew, Beit Lehem, which in English reads, “the house of (Care to make a guess?) bread.”

———————-

This is just one of the five Scriptural snapshots of Christmas that we shared with our beloved Safe Haven family last Saturday night. You can hear all five in this podcast by clicking HERE.

From my heart to yours, a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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