Posts Tagged With: revelation

The Forgotten Half of THE Greatest Story

Today is Easter Sunday.

BUT, as you are about to hear in this PODCAST, today is infinitely, eternally so much more than that.

A day of incomparable significance. 

“Christ IS risen. He is risen INDEED.”

But that is only half the story.

Ready to hear the other half?

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

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Mysterious Member of the Trinity (Part 2)

flickr-holy-spirit-stained-glassYou could call the Holy Spirit Jesus’ going away present, first to His disciples, and then, of course, to each of us. As you will hear in this PODCAST, we’re talking about The Third Member of Trinity, the Mysterious Member of the Trinity.

Here in John 14-17 — the so-called Upper Room Discourse, even though as we noted last week, Jesus taught the amazing truths of John 15-17 after He and the disciples-minus-Judas had hastily departed the Upper Room, steps ahead of the Judas-led-posse seeking Jesus’ arrest — we have the first extended theological discussion of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, actually in the entire Bible.

Up until now the biblical writers have been largely silent regarding the multifaceted ministry of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit is mentioned throughout the Old Testament. But the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is not developed in the Old Testament. This, as you are about to hear, for very good reason, one that harkens all the way back to the very first podcast in this series.

So here we have, in the Upper Room Discourse, one of the very few places in Scripture where the biblical writers (in this case, John) devote much ink and parchment to a discussion of the Mysterious Member of the Trinity.

One of three principle themes that Jesus develops in this, His  farewell address to His men, literally minutes before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Underscoring this entire Upper Room Discourse is a vitally

important principle to which Jesus alluded in High Priestly Prayer that we will study in detail in John 17. A declarative sentence of very few words that speaks volumes as to how Jesus wants His committed followers then and now to engage the world in which we live.

John 17:15: “Father, I do not ask you to take my followers out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”

HOW UTTERLY IRONIC!!! (I’ll tell just how ironic in this podcast. Enjoy!)

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 Sheep and the Goats

51-fcimi7fl-_sx303_bo1204203200_Let me tell you! If you want to see in crystal-clarity the character and the heart of God, this is it. Right here, right now, in real time, in this PODCAST.

This in a breathtaking public display for all the world to see, at which the whole world will marvel. The broken heart of our God whom Peter described as “not wanting anyone to be destroyed (a word that means to destroy fully, to bring to nothing) but (who) wants everyone to repent.”

This portrait of our God — Who persistently pursues everyone in every way, making every effort to bring every sinner to repentance — comes at very end of Olivet Discourse in Matthew 25.

Here we will see, in this parable of the end of the age, the eternal separation of committed Christ-followers from those who defiantly and unrepentantly want nothing to do with Jesus. Plus, we will see their ultimate eternal destiny in what Jesus called “the eternal fire prepared for devil and his demons.”

An unpleasant topic, to be sure. But a #Most.Important.One, because we are talking about the eternal destinies of multiplied millions of people.

Specifically, what did Jesus mean by eternal fire? For whom is it intended? What happens to those goats (in contrast to His sheep) who are sadly, tragically, yet-justly cast into the eternal fire?

And of course, at the heart of this entire discussion sits this all-important and all too-common question: Does the loving God of the Bible — who defines Himself as not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent — really send people to Hell?

Allow me to set up this discussion in this way: I find it most-intriguing, and most-ironic in a most-purposeful sort of way that Jesus’ Hebrew name Yeshua, means “God Saves.” That’s right out of first chapter of the New Testament (Matthew 1:21): “Mary will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Now watch this. Only God could create this wonder of the words. This, as you are about to hear, is not coincidental.

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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The Great Tribulation

coming_backAs you are about to hear in this PODCAST, with Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:15, words that describe a singularly hair-raising event, the Great Tribulation will begin.

A 3½-year period of unprecedented spiritual defection and oppression, along with its resultant worldwide suffering on a scale never seen before on this planet.

Don’t take my word for that. Take Jesus’ word for that. In Matthew 24:21,

“For then there will be great tribulation, greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again.”

The Great Tribulation, that will begin with the singular event to which Jesus alluded in Matthew 24:15, and will end with the climax of human history as we know it — the glorious Second Coming of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Permit me the briefest of reviews. It is absolutely vital that we keep the end-times timeline straight.

The next event on God’s prophetic timetable is that wondrous event we commonly call The Rapture, where Christ-followers throughout the world will “meet the Lord in the air.”

Nothing needs to happen before the Rapture, that awesome event described so vividly in 1 Thessalonians 4, 1 Corinthians 15, and alluded to by Jesus in John 14. The Rapture, or as Paul called it, Our “blessed hope.” Titus 2:13,

“While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Please note that Paul described our “blessed hope” as Jesus’ “appearing,” not His “coming,” a distinction of monumental importance.

Now again, nothing has to happen before the Rapture, where Jesus will appear in the clouds and we meet Him in the air, all of this near the beginning of Tribulation. Yes, you can indeed wake up every morning of every day with the hope-filled words flooding your troubled soul, Perhaps Today! Nothing has to happen before the Rapture.

That said, much, much has to happen before the Second Coming, where Jesus will literally come down to the earth, setting foot on the Mount of Olives, this at the very end of the Tribulation.

Most notably, what has to happen before the Second Coming? The event described by Jesus in Matthew 24:15, and by Daniel in Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11.

Hear it from Jesus’ lips to our ears:

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15).

“Let the reader understand.” Why that particular exhortation? Precisely because there is so much confusion about this prophecy, and so many who therefore do not understand.

Confusion which we will bring to a conclusion in this podcast.

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 2)

maxresdefaultBirth pains. It’s all about the birth pains.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, as we enumerate the final three of the six “signs of the times,” both Paul and Jesus made it crystal-clear that we are to think of these signs in terms of birth pains.

Paul, who borrowed this most-meaningful metaphor from Jesus, used it most-appropriately when he in Romans 8 declared, “For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

It would not surprise me one bit to hear that some of you — Or should I say some of us? — have been groaning a little more than usual this past week.

It is all about the birth pains, that increase dramatically in frequency and in intensity as the moment of birth approaches. This troubled planet of ours is undeniably in the later stages of its own labor pains, as it waits in breathless anticipation as the moment of Jesus’ return approaches.

So said Paul.

So said Jesus.

Here in Matthew 24:8, spoken in the Olivet Discourse, on the Tuesday afternoon of His final week, in reference to these “signs of the times.” Jesus said, “All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

That is precisely where we are today. Groaning, watching, and waiting for the climax of human history as we know it finally and mercifully to dawn upon us.

In Luke’s abbreviated account of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus said in reference to these same “signs of the times,” “When these things (these birth pains) begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Stand up; and lift up. Those are phrases that speak of victory, not defeat!

We don’t sit down in defeat; we stand up in victory!

We don’t hang our heads in dismal distress; we lift up our heads in victorious anticipation.

We are not defeated. Not by a long shot. We are encouraged.

These “signs of the times,” these birth pains, have indeed begun to take place. Our redemption is indeed drawing nearer, every single day!

Yes, these six “signs of the times” have always characterized our world. Yet, these is no denying the acceleration of their frequency and intensity.

Let me briefly remind you of the first three, and then we’ll discuss in some detail the final three. All with a view to standing up and lifting up our heads, not in defeat but in glorious victory.

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 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 1)

1080-Woman-looks-toward-Jerusalem-and-the-Temple-Mount-600x400I can’t tell you how excited I am in this PODCAST to break the seal on this, Jesus’ walk through the remainder of human history as we know it.

It’s typically referred to as the Olivet Discourse because Jesus gave this prophetic panorama while sitting on the Mount of Olives, immediately to the East of Jerusalem, right across the Kidron Valley from the glorious Temple. One of the most breathtaking vistas in all the world.

This is Tuesday of Jesus’ final week.

On Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday, on what they would have called Passover Lamb selection day.

On Monday, Jesus cleansed the Temple and cursed a fig tree.

This Tuesday, a scant 72 hrs before the crucifixion, was significant and confrontational in the extreme.

  • Jesus took on the religious leaders of the day, in a blistering take-down, essentially sealing His fate. (8 times in Matthew 23, Jesus will in effect consign them all to Hell with the fateful words, “Woe to you…”)
  • Jesus explained why He cursed the fig tree (as we discussed on Podcast #170).
  • And it is also on this day that Judas will set in motion his plot to betray Jesus to the Romans, selling out his rabbi for 30 pieces of silver.

By anyone’s measure, a consequential day indeed.

Here, right smack dab in middle of this eventful day, Jesus will talk to His disciples about the end of days.

The Olivet Discourse, one that spans two chapters, Matthew 24 and 25, and 2000 years and counting of the remainder of Human History.

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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“This Your Day”

jerusalem3You talk about a collision of conflicting emotions, welcome to Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into His beloved city of Jerusalem.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, all of this emotional turmoil will come to a climax as Jesus paused during His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, gazed longingly at breathtaking panorama, and then suddenly sang this song of lament:

“If you had known, even you, especially in This.Your.Day.”

This your day.

The obvious question: What was it about this day that caused Jesus to refer to it with such a pointed specificity?

This was, of course, the day on which Jesus chose to make His return to the Holy City, and thus to trigger all of tumultuous events of His turbulent last week. It was, as you may know, the final Sunday before Passover that year, what we call Palm Sunday. This because the people gathered in their thousands, and waved palm branches all along the route of Jesus’ ride on the back of a donkey into Jerusalem.

I cannot help but to think that the words of Psalm 137 echoed through Jesus’ mind and heart as He rode into the city:

“If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.”

Jerusalem: Jesus’ beloved city indeed. Let there be no doubt that Jerusalem was, and is, and ever shall be Jesus’ highest joy. Which makes His weeping — His crying convulsively — over the Holy City on this her day all the more poignant, all the more powerfully emotional.

Now, I need you to focus on one important fact that overshadows this entire week: Jesus’ thoughts were focused like a laser beam on one particular book of the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament): the prophetic book of Daniel. How do I know this? Because on the Tuesday of this final week, a mere 48 hours after this Palm Sunday, Jesus will give to His disciples His grand and glorious Olivet Discourse, recorded in Matthew 24 – 25, and rivaled in its beauty and majesty only by the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 – 7.

That signature sermon was delivered on the Mount of the Beatitudes in Galilee. This final sermon or discourse was delivered on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem.

In that discourse, Jesus laid out for His disciples and for us the sweeping panorama of the End Times, and all that will lead up to His glorious return. The so-called Signs of Times.

We will, of course, break it down in all of its majestic splendor when we get to that Tuesday in the coming weeks.

What I need for you to note now is what Jesus said right in the middle of that discourse, the interpretive key both for that sermon and for this moment in His Triumphal Entry:

Matthew 24:15, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel let the reader understand.”

Jesus’ unmistakable reference to Daniel 9:24-27.

Now listen carefully: The Triumphal Entry sets in motion the beginnings of the fulfillment of this great prophecy in Daniel 9, what many call “The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.”

Allow me to read to you the prophecy in full, and then we’ll talk about it.

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 Wept.”

40364.pIf last week’s discussion revealed to us the iconic image of the heart of Jesus, this week’s PODCAST will unveil to us the iconic image of the humanness of Jesus.

The beloved Apostle John wrote this in the first chapter of his Gospel masterpiece:

“Jesus became human and made his home among us.”

Paul wrote this to his beloved little community of Christ-followers in Philippi:

“Though he was God…  Jesus became completely human.”

Here in John 11, we will see just how completely human Jesus truly was.

I’ll clue you in right here from the start: We are about to witness three powerful, very human emotions collide within the heart and soul of Jesus. And as a result, we will be all the richer for having witnessed this collision, each emotion in response to the death of Jesus’ dear friend, Lazarus.

You are about to take a quantum leap in your understanding of who Jesus is, in a way that you may not be anticipating as we break the seal on this (to many people) very familiar story.

This entire discussion under this overarching question: What does it feel like to be Christ-like?

Rabbi, paint picture. OK, courtesy of John, let’s paint this picture. The picture of a very human Jesus, a human side of Jesus that perhaps you have never seen before.

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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