Posts Tagged With: New Testament

The FIRST of Some Pretty Amazing Firsts

If this doesn’t send shivers up your spine, I don’t know what will.

In this PODCAST, you are about to hear an absolutely amazing story about a most-remarkable individual, whom we barely met last week—Simon the Samaritan Sorcerer.

A man, BTW, whose eternal destiny—when all is said and done—remains a question mark, shrouded in mystery.

For of Simon we read,

“Then Simon himself believed and was baptized” (Acts 8:13).

So far, so good!

But then we read a mere 8 short verses later,

“But Peter replied… ‘Your heart is not right with God.’”

Uh oh.

Simon the Samaritan Sorcerer—A living, breathing contradiction—as we might expect from someone trafficking on dark side.

There is so much to this story that it is hard to know where to begin. So we will start with this…

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Problem Solved!

It was a scandal in the making.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, a vast cultural divide threatened to rip asunder the fragile fabric of unity these first believers in Jesus earlier enjoyed.

As we learned last week (Podcast #27), the story begins,

“But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.”

That was, as you will remember, a dire situation for these precious widows. Dire in the extreme. Women who had lost their husbands, and who were now among the most vulnerable in that male-dominated society. Females forced to live in a world that diminished women to a subservient status. One that rendered them uneducated, unskilled, unemployable, utterly without resources. Totally dependent.

Now that they had become followers of Jesus, they could not return to their synagogues for support. Not to worry. We read earlier in Acts 2 that

“(These first believers) would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it… and shared their food happily and freely.”

Not any more.

Last week, we went into much detail about the collision of cultures faced by these early believers. A vast cultural divide between the Greek-speaking (Hellenistic) believers who were in the minority, and Hebrew-speaking believers who were in the majority. A cultural divide of church-splitting potential.

So wide a divide that the majority discriminated against the minority to the risk of the lives of Greek-speaking widows.

This was serious. So serious that the Apostles (all Twelve of the Apostles) were forced to drop everything in order to address problem.

Their solution was nothing short of brilliant! For them. And for us!

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your God-Given Prayer Language

As you will hear in this PODCAST, I stand in awe of our ancestors in the faith, the very first community of Christ-followers ever to walk this planet.

By way of introduction, do you remember when, so very long ago, we studied the Sermon on the Mount?

Let me remind you that Jesus introduced His signature sermon with 8 pronouncements of God’s blessing—We call them the Beatitudes. The most enigmatic of the 8 being Beatitude #3 that goes like this:

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

You are about to see in full color, in High Definition, exactly what meek looks like, courtesy of our earliest brothers and sisters in the faith.

Before we get to that, there is one additional Beatitude to which I want to direct your attention. It happens to be Beatitude #8, the last of Jesus’ pronouncements of God’s blessing. It reads:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10).

Did you know that the words persecute/persecution/persecuted occur in the Bible a combined 142 times? In the minds of the biblical writers, it was a foregone conclusion that they and all of God’s people would be persecuted for our faith.

Jesus certainly understood this, He being the ultimate example of someone who was continuously hounded, hunted, and finally executed—persecuted—for His faith.

Persecution, Jesus repeatedly reminded His disciples, was the price tag for becoming one of His followers.

Perscute—to pursue in a hostile manner, to harass, to trouble, to molest, to mistreat.

Well, Jesus’ many warnings were now coming true for these very first committed Christ-followers. Indeed, what we are about to learn here in Acts 4 was only the beginning.

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The God of the Surprise

We may not know his name.

But as you will hear in this PODCAST, we surely know his story. As did some 5000 men plus countless women and children, whose lives—after hearing this man’s story—would never be the same again.

This one story—the first of fourteen separate and specific miracles recorded in the book of Acts—exemplifies why I sometimes refer to God as “The God of the surprise.”

Both then and now, God can and will—when we least expect it—apply His divine touch to our circumstances that seem to us to be impossible.

Trust me, to this man who had been lame from birth for now more than forty years (Acts 4:22), his tragic circumstance was definition of impossible. Yet, as Jesus once declared to His watching and wondering disciples (this in Matthew 19),

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

He is, and ever shall be, “The God of the surprise.”

Here’s the point. A grand and glorious point indeed: Within the boundaries of God’s perfect will, there is no such thing as a hopeless situation.

Once God enters picture,

“Hope always burns eternal.”

If we learn nothing else from this man, learn this: God can and will insert Himself into our most impossible-seeming situations any time He wants to.

For over forty years, this desperate man had no idea that this day would ever come. But come, it did! In God’s perfect timing, for God’s eternal purposes—including the eternal salvation of literally thousands of people.

Such is our hope! Our hope that with God there is ALWAYS hope. A glorious theme echoed throughout the entire Bible.

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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Behold the Lamb

web-happy-lambThere is a beautiful and breathtaking symmetry to the life and ministry of Jesus.

Case in point, as you will hear in this PODCAST, here in John 12, the beloved disciple brings us full circle. You may not see that now. But trust me, you will by the time we conclude this discussion.

Let me give you one tantalizing little hint: This beautiful symmetry to which I refer has little to do with palm branches, but everything to do with lambs.

Now watch this: When John introduced us to Jesus for the very first time, this is what he wrote:

“The next day John (the baptizer) saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”

That’s in John 1.

Here in John 12, this is what we read:

“The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city.”

Now listen: In both cases, at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry in John 1, and here at the very ending of Jesus’ ministry in John 12, it’s all about a lamb.

I know that as you read any or all of the accounts of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem as recorded in all four of the Gospels, you may not see a lamb. But trust me, it’s there. Front and center, it’s there.

Just as it is in John 1, so it is here in John 12, Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Miss that, and you miss the whole point of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry, on this — the Sunday before Passover.

Which raises a most intriguing question: Why did Jesus choose to ride into Jerusalem on that Sunday? Jesus could have ridden into Jerusalem on Saturday (If He did, we would call it Palm Saturday!), or on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday.

Why did Jesus choose to ride in on the Sunday before Passover? Answer that, and you get the whole picture.

Here’s a secondary question: Since Passover did not officially begin until that Thursday night (Remember Jesus sharing with the disciples their final Passover seder in Upper room on Thursday night?), why were so many pilgrims in Jerusalem so early on that Sunday?

Answer that, and you get the whole picture.

Which underscores this point: The Bible is God’s picture book, and Jesus’ Triumphal Entry is yet another three-dimensional, High Definition portrait of breathtaking significance. A panoramic masterpiece that, though we studied one portion of the Triumphal Entry last week (Daniel’s prophecy), this picture is far too important to ignore this 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.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beginning at the Beginning (A Throwback Thursday Podcast)

cropped-untitled-2-sign-2.jpegWelcome to this introductory lesson that launched the series: Jesus in High Definition.

Two and a half years ago, my faith was in a free-fall. I needed to get back to the basics. Wipe the slate completely clean. Forget about everything I thought I knew and believed about who Jesus was. Forget everything I had ever been taught about who Jesus was. Forget everything I myself had ever taught about who Jesus was.

Back to the beginning I went. With no preconceived ideas about this man, Jesus, I started with His birth and began moving slowly and deliberately throughout His life and ministry. 

At Safe Haven, 116 podcasts later, we are at about the halfway mark. It would be the height of understatement for me to suggest that this study has been for me absolutely REVOLUTIONARY. A picture of Jesus is emerging each and every week that is paradigm-shifting in the extreme.

This little blog post is my way of inviting you to come along for the ride. Depending upon your responses, each Thursday I’ll post the next podcast in the series. That way, you won’t have to jump in at #116. You can hear it as we gave it — every week — over the last many months.

I sure hope that you enjoy it!

By harmonizing the four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — we will study the life of Christ in chronological order, from the first utterances of the angels heralding His birth, to His crucifixion and resurrection. It is our sincere hope and expectation that as we immerse ourselves in Jesus’ life and ministry, we will fall more deeply in love with Him (I certainly have!), and become more and more like Him (I certainly hope that I am).

In this first lesson, we will provide you with an overview of the entire Bible — think of it as looking at the boxtop of a puzzle — so that we will understand exactly where the individual “pieces” of the Gospels fall within the grand sweep of the biblical drama.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy our study of Jesus in HD.

PLEASE NOTE: With some browsers, it may take up to 60 seconds before the podcast will begin to play.

God bless you as you listen. And please, invite others to join us on this journey.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Swimming in a Sea of Tranquility

lake_tranquility-1920x1200In this PODCAST, we will discover together an amazing privilege that is ours, especially given tormented world in which we live.

We have been given a unique gift of God’s blessing that Jesus Himself empowers us to bestow on His behalf to others.

Just so you know, this is the kind of person I long to be.

This blessing and privilege defines a pretty amazing purpose statement for our lives.

This is HUGE!

There are so many troubled people in this tortured world of ours. In case you hadn’t noticed, this world has become a #Very.Scary.Place. There seems to be a fog of uncertainty that leaves many of us reeling from feelings of unease in our world today — on a global level, as well as on a personal one. It seems to so many as if the world spinning out of control, as if their world is spinning out of control. To the point where God’s peace is the polar-opposite of what people experience in their self-medicated souls.

Something that is as unsettlingly true in our day as it was in Jesus’ day. Believe me: Life was tough then too.

So in this passage, a very gentle Jesus, who sees people then and now as harassed, helpless, confused, fearful, insecure, fragile… Precious people whom Jesus describes as vulnerable sheep without a loving, caring shepherd.

To people just like them, He then and He now offers the blessing of His peace: the calm contentment that in a world spinning increasingly out of control, Jesus is and ever shall be very much in control.

The most amazing aspect of this is the fact that — as you are about to hear — Jesus gave us, gave YOU, the ability to confer His peace on those so desperately in need of, and craving, His peace.

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.

May God bless YOU with His peace as you listen.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the Beginning!

Welcome to this encore presentation of the introductory PODCAST that launched what was then, back in November of 2012, a brand new and exciting and life-changing series: Jesus in High Definition

I know my friends in the midwest will laugh at us here in the Pacific Northwest when I say this. But when it snows — oh, around a half an inch! — the city and state virtually shut down. Well, we are into our third straight day of snow, now approaching a full foot.

snow1

Consequently, it was not safe for our precious people to travel to the Safe Haven this week. As a result, we will seize the day and take you all the way back to the beginning, to where our study started: Jesus in High Definition, the very first lesson.

In this first lesson, we will provide you with an OVERVIEW of the entire Bible — think of it as looking at the box-top of a puzzle — so that we will understand exactly where all the individual “puzzle pieces” of the Gospels fall within the grand sweep of the biblical drama.

By harmonizing the four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — we have been studying the life of Christ in chronological order, from the first utterances of the angels heralding His birth, to His crucifixion and resurrection. 

It is our sincere hope and expectation that as we continue to immerse ourselves in Jesus’ life and ministry, we will fall more deeply in love with Him, and become more and more like Him.

Why not join us on this journey?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this little side trip back in time as we revisit our very first study in our wonderful series, Jesus in HD.

If you like it, there’s a free iTunes subscription to this weekly podcast, available HERE.

PLEASE NOTE: Depending upon your connection speed and web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds before the podcast will begin to play. Well worth waiting for!!! 😉

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mary, Did You Know???

mangerMary’s was NOT an easy life. 

Consequently, she is a woman whom I greatly admire. As should we all.

Just imagine what it must have been like to walk in her sandals, or to ride on her donkey.

At the time of the angelic visitation announcing her miraculous pregnancy, Mary was assured that her baby was the vital part of God’s plan of salvation. Not only for her, but for the whole world.

Yet we know that very late in her pregnancy, Joseph and Mary were forced to make the arduous journey from Nazareth-Bethlehem,60 miles as the crow flies. A harrowing 3 to 5 day journey under the best of conditions into what was for all intents and purposes a different country far removed from Nazareth geographically, culturally, and demographically. More like 5 to 7 days considering Mary’s condition, walking or on camelback, through treacherous terrain, exposed to the elements and the ever-present threat of bandits, all to register for yet another Roman tax.

This poor couple living, as we learn a little later in the Gospel accounts, barely above the poverty line, having even what little they had plundered by their corrupted government officials.

Mothers, think back to what it was like when you gave birth to your firstborn child – the fears, the insecurities, the feelings of inadequacy. Now imagine that when you did give birth, it was not in the clinical cleanliness of a hospital room or birthing center. Imagine you were in a cave, dark and alone, unsanitary to the extreme, no nurse, doctor, or midwife to help you, and you are all of 13 or 15 years old, in what was essentially a foreign country, away from your family, with only your fiancé to help you.

Add to all of that the political climate of the world Mary was living in – a world of crushing oppression and a brutal and barbaric military occupation. One that would soon force the holy family to flee to Egypt in the wake of Herod’s maniacal and murderous attempt to kill the baby Jesus in His crib.

Mary was completely obedient to and submissive to the will of God for her life, whatever that might be. She stepped out in obedience to God, and yet everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Which begs this question:

Why do we expect that if we are indeed obedient to the will of God, everything should go right for us, go good for us? That our obedience buys us a trouble-free existence?

Mary would beg to differ. So would Abraham.

As the OT begins, Abraham obediently followed God’s call to leave his country, his extended family, his friends, and his home, everything to travel to a Promised Land that he had never even seen before.

While en route, his beloved dad died. No sooner had he settled in that land, a severe famine hit the land and down to Egypt he was forced to go. Welcome to the Holy Land, Abraham.

Abraham did everything right, and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It happened to Abraham.

And as the NT begins, the exact same thing happened to Mary. 

Maybe, just maybe, it has happened to us. Or will happen to us. Unexpected, uninvited, and unwanted trials and tribulations may well be proof-positive that you and I are right smack dab in the middle of God’s will. Unexpected, uninvited, and unwanted trials and tribulations may well be the precursors to God’s richest blessings.

So don’t despair, no matter how rough your road. God never abandoned Abraham; He surely never abandoned Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. And we can be sure that He will never abandon us.

The pathway to God’s blessing is often strewn with boulders. Speed-bumps abound. But as we learn from this Christmas story, with Mother Mary showing us the way, God’s blessings always win out in the end.

Just one of the snapshots of Christmas from last Saturday night’s Safe Haven Christmas celebration. The podcast of the full five of these snapshots can be heard by clicking HERE.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.