Posts Tagged With: Paul

The Most Important Person of Whom You Have (Perhaps) Never Heard

His name was Matthias.

I wouldn’t blame you a bit if you had no recollection of this selfless servant of Christ.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Matthias is mentioned only twice in the NT, both times here in Acts 1 (verses 23 and 26).

At first blush, Matthias may appear to be just a footnote in the ever-developing drama of redemption. But I can assure you that he is anything but.

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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Dramatic Words of a Dying Man

crosses1“Jesus said…”

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, the fact of the matter is this: Jesus said seven statements, this as His life was literally dripping out of Him drop by precious drop. Each one of the seven — when considered separately — tells a most-dramatic tale. All of the seven — when considered collectively — give us an unparalleled insight into the heart of Jesus.

It was, after all, Jesus who much earlier in His ministry said this:

“For whatever is in your heart determines what you say” (Matthew 12).

On yet another occasion, Luke 6, Jesus said,

“What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

So if we want to know what is in Jesus’ heart, we need look no further than what Jesus said. His words.

And as we are about to learn, what Jesus said from the cross, in the closing moments of His storied life, reveals perhaps most clearly of all exactly what was in His sizable heart. What a beautiful heart His was and is.

So join me now at the foot of the cross as we hear for ourselves the final words of Jesus as His innocent and holy life comes to a violently calamitous close.

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’ One Worry Concerning YOU (and Me)

john17-24On this Thursday night of Jesus’ final week, mere hours before the crucifixion, Jesus was worried about His disciples.

And as you are about to hear in this PODCAST, He was worried for a very good reason.

I don’t know if you have ever associated the word worry with Jesus, but as you will hear, in this case, at this time, in this place, that word worry is most appropriate.

Don’t worry (pun intended). I’m not trying to get all psychoanalytical on you. I am not fluent in psychobabble. And I’m not about to subject Jesus to a psychoanalysis.

But let us not overlook the fact that this is one of those rare glimpses into Jesus’ mind and heart on this — the single most traumatic night of His storied life.

What we see is a most-endearing picture of Jesus in all of His humanness on full display before disciples. I say endearing because the fact of the matter is this:

Jesus is equally worried about you. And that for the exact same Very.Good.Reason.

So what did Jesus do in response to His loving concern, His worry, His anxiety about His disciples? His loving concern, His worry, His anxiety about you?

Here’s a hint: What He did was AMAZING!

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God bless you richly as you listen.

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Demystifying the End Times (Part 3)

Revelation-of-saint-john-devine-600x401Picture him there, a grizzled, stooped, aged apostle, marooned on an island of rock, confined to a cave.

See him in your mind’s eye, with quill to parchment, writing fast and furiously in a mad dash to record everything that he is now seeing and hearing.

Our old (and at the time of his writing Revelation) very old friend, the beloved apostle John.

Writing, as you will hear in this PODCAST, what sounds like fantastical tale in specific, yet an all-too-plausible scenario in the abstract. A story that brings to a climax the epic collision that has plagued this planet and every person who has ever trod its blood-soaked soil since the beginning of history.

The climax of the collision of good versus evil.

As we were so graphically reminded just last Thursday in the south of France.

Here in Revelation both good and evil are personified.

Here the wellsprings of good and evil are identified by name.

Here this human-history-long all-out war finally, mercifully coming to its end, thankfully with good as the victor, and evil as the loser.

When I mentioned a moment ago that this epic tale sounds fantastical in the specific, understand that we are talking about spirits, angels, demons, devil, Jesus. A unique combination of physical and spiritual forces fighting to the death that sounds like the kind of stuff ready-made for a Hollywood blockbuster.

I wouldn’t blame anyone for rolling their eyes and curving their lips into a smirk that says, You don’t really believe all of this, do you?

+ Just this week, I was listening online to a TED talk (Technology, Entertainment and Design), brings together elites, the intelligentsia of world, during which a TED talk presenter mercilessly mocked and ridiculed people of faith who believe in things like you will hear when I read to you from Revelation 16.

I will be the first to admit that what we are about to outline in this podcast indeed sounds fantastical — in the specific. But in the abstract, no one can deny that there is operating in our world today two distinct colliding forces: one for good, and one for evil.

About that, nobody laughs.

Whether its on the grand scale of someone in a van mowing down innocent pedestrians gathered in the south of France for a Bastille Day celebration. Or as modest as a child throwing a bit of a temper tantrum because he or she doesn’t get what they want.

Let the record show that a good many TED talks are devoted in one way or another to just that collision.

It is as though we are caught between two worlds: One of unbridled evil in which people do to people horrifically unimaginable things. While at the same time, others of us try our best each day to surrender to our better angels, as even TED Talk presenters will sometimes call them. And when they do indeed invoke that phrase, our better angels, no one in that elite audience of the world’s intelligentsia laughs. (I guess its OK to invoke the image of angels in the abstract, just not in the specific.)

Well, in this study, we will invoke the image of angels, good and evil, and a whole lot more, and will do so without laughing because this is deadly serious.

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 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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Lightning Strike

lightningYou and I are embroiled in a cosmic collision of good and evil, a spiritual war that is taking place in real time, in the present tense, on a scale of epic proportions.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, there can be no doubt in any thinking person’s mind that this war is real, and that it has a profound affect upon our world and our lives.

Even an atheist who denounces the existence of God as a delusion, the reality of Satan as a myth, and the authority of Scripture as a collection of fairy tales, cannot deny that operating in our world today is a force for righteousness and a force for unrighteousness, and the daily-if-not-hourly collision of the two.

This is how the Apostle Paul described this to the Christ-followers in Ephesus:

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

Words that are downright sobering, if not outright chilling. But words that are equally revealing and encouraging.

Sobering and chilling because who are we to stand firm against an unseen enemy like that? Specifically, the Devil and his many demons?

Revealing because this does indeed describe exactly what we are witnessing in our world on a daily basis.

Encouraging because as Paul made clear in Ephesians 6, as Jesus made equally clear and His 70 messengers indeed experienced here in Luke 10, this war is eminently winnable.

Indeed, as you will soon hear, this war has Already.Been.Won.

We are less than 6 months from the crucifixion. Jesus will spend these final days visiting every town and village in the South of the Land: Judea and Perea. In anticipation of His visits, Jesus sent out 70 emissaries to prepare the way.

He sent them out as gentle lambs in the midst of ferocious wolves, an unmistakable allusion to the hostile spiritual climate they were about to enter. This was but the latest skirmish in an ongoing spiritual war.

The battle lines were drawn. The harvest was ready. Even as they stood on the cusp of the Crucifixion, there was a godly remnant primed and ready to hear and receive their message:

God’s peace could be theirs.

So off they went, on a several-weeks’ excursion into enemy territory, all to bring God’s message of peace to the tormented souls just trying to survive day-by-day.

Back to Jesus they finally returned, in order to give Him their reports and to debrief their experiences. Which is where we join the narrative here in Luke 10:17…

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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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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What I Wish I Knew Then That I Know Now (A First-Person Rendition)

if-i-knew2As you will hear in this PODCAST, I have now reached a point in my life and ministry where I am easily bemused. Bemused by a question that I get asked more and more frequently.

When I am out speaking at a camp or a conference, often times a young man or woman just starting out in the ministry, or headed for his first ministry, will with furrowed brow and pen poised at the ready ask me this singularly significant question:

What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

Meaning, if I could turn the clock back and start over completely…

What is the ONE THING that you know now that you wish you had known then?

What one lesson have you learned over your now forty-two years and counting of ministry that you wish you had learned right out of the chute, right at the beginning?

Ironically enough, it is the very lesson that Jesus sought to communicate to His men here in Matthew 10, this right at the beginning of their first missions trip.

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HAPPY LISTENING.

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God bless you as you listen.

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God’s Way Out of Worry

1619375_10151957200015841_1701684413_nWhat you are about to read below is just a small but tantalizing taste of what you will hear in this PODCAST, my expanded paraphrase of that wonderful passage, Philippians 4:6-9.  

You can hear the podcast in its entirety by clicking on this podcast player:

Concerning your many personal problems, let me encourage you to do what I do. Over time (of which I have a lot, sitting here in this prison), I have actually trained myself not to worry about anything, but rather to pray about everything. I share with God everything – my joys and sorrows, my victories and my defeats, my thrills along with my spills, my hopes and fears, everything.

And every time I do, He answers my prayers. Not necessarily by giving me everything I want. No! No loving parent would do that – not an earthly father, nor certainly our Heavenly Father. Instead, He does something so much better. He floods my soul with His peace – the quiet contentment and calm assurance that everything is going to be OK.

I can’t explain it. It is in every sense of the word a miracle of God’s loving touch. But especially during those times when I would otherwise be freaking out, it’s like God whispers to me in His wee small voice, “Hey, I’m here. I know what you’re going through. I’m on top of it. I’ve got your back. I will fix this – in my own way and in my own time. So… relax.”

Yes, that’s it! By His grace, because of His grace, I have learned how to mentally and emotionally relax.

Let me teach you this one simple principle: When we worry about stuff, when we become anxious, when we do freak out, we are not dealing with realities. We are mentally inventing fantasies, most of which will never come to pass.

But even if our fears do come to pass, that’s the point, isn’t it? They come to pass. Our problems won’t last forever!

Far too often, we negatively worry about the things that we imagine might happen, instead of positively channeling our energies into dealing with what really happens. What a waste of mental, emotional, and spiritual energy!

So I offer to you this challenge: Develop the mental discipline to think only about those things which are true, that are real. As someone who loves you more than you could ever know, I beg of you to train yourself to think only those thoughts that bring honor to God, rather than thoughts that cause you to doubt God. Doubts about whether or not God is big enough or loving enough to handle your present trials. Trust me, He can handle them. And He will handle them.

Think only those thoughts that are wholesome, not worrisome. Try not to allow your mind to meander into places that will emotionally bring you down, rather than to lovely places that will spiritually build you up.

Mentally focus on the promises of God that will cause you to praise Him, rather than your unfounded fears that will only cause you to question Him.

If nothing else, try to follow my example. I have certainly had my share of struggles. You know about the personal pains that I have endured, and continue to endure. You know that I could make the argument that life has unfairly dealt me — an apostle — a losing hand. But you also know that I choose to regard my present circumstances, even in this prison, as though our good God is dealing me a winning hand. Because you know what? In the end, I will win! And so will you!

Oh, my dear Philippian friends, how I long for you to put into practice all of lessons that I have taught you, both when I was with you, and now as I write to you. All of the principles that you are watching me in real time apply to my own life. In short, how I long for you to learn how to luxuriate in God’s peace, just like I strive to do today, and every single day.

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Shattered Dreams, Broken Hearts, Unfulfilled Longings

Broken-PromisesIt’s one of the most beautiful verses in all of Scripture… which, ironically, may not actually be in the Bible.

But as you will learn in this PODCAST, it really doesn’t matter. Because what Matthew quite possibly did not write, Paul most certainly did.

Paul ascribed glorious praise and power to His sovereign God who quite possibly Broke.Paul’s.Heart.

Paul’s heart broken by a shattered dream, an unfulfilled longing.

Yet through Paul’s resilience, we can and WILL derive much comfort in the face of our own shattered dreams, broken hearts, and unfulfilled longings.

This podcast is for you!

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

HAPPY LISTENING, and may God richly bless you as you do.

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