Posts Tagged With: Romans

The “Gracious” Holy Spirit

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, The Apostle Paul made an astonishing statement to the committed-Christ-Followers living in Rome.

In other words, to those living in the belly of the beast.

  • Rome. The capital of an Empire that redefined hedonism, paganism, unbridled moral perversion.
  • Rome. The city that literally drank itself into daily stupor on cheap wine and human blood.
  • Rome. The city of the Colosseum and Gladiator.
  • Rome. The city where human life held zero value.
  • Rome. The city of which Paul wrote in Romans 1, “They invent new ways of sinning… They are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse, they approve and applaud others who practice them.”
  • Rome. The epitome of a religiously/politically lethal environment for every follower of Jesus.
  • Rome. Where Peter would eventually be crucified.
  • Rome. Where Paul himself would be beheaded.

So to encourage these embattled believers living right there as residence of this ancient sin-city, Paul wrote this amazing statement in his letter to the Roman believers,

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

In a city where everyone was against these beleaguered believers in Jesus, Paul assured them that God would never be against them. God would never be against then because God was for them.

Guess what? He is for you too!

A blessedly-beautiful three-in-one proposition.

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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It’s So Sad-You-See (as in the Sadducess). It really is.

As you are about to hear in this new PODCAST, a new day dawned upon these first committed Christ-followers.

If that metaphor of a new day seemingly overstates the case, then at least we can say that a dark cloud now-shadowed the sun for these first committed Christ-followers. Not quite on the level of our eclipse; but portentous just the same. An ominous bellwether that signaled for these early believers a change in the temperature of Holy City.

For the first eight-12 weeks following Crucifixion and Resurrection, these early believers were able to bask in the glow of their newfound faith unmolested.

Not any more.

Persecution was about to break out for first time in the now-2000 year history of Church. Relatively mild at first. No one died. No one was beaten. It was limited to Peter and John.

But as you will hear, it did involve intimidation, incarceration, and threats of greater reprisals if the apostles refused to cease and desist as far as their preaching in Jesus’ name was concerned.

Refuse they did.

This was a harbinger of things to come. A dark cloud heralding a storm. A storm that continues to rage unabated to our day. Not here in America so much. But certainly in many parts of our troubled world, where committed Christ-followers today attend gatherings at great risk of life-threatening peril to themselves and their families.

As is becoming increasing clear in our ongoing study of Peter in HD, we stand in awe at the strength and resilience of these very first believers—our ancestors in faith, to whom we owe so much, and who have SO MUCH to teach us. As they will do here in this week’s 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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A Minor Prophet with a MAJOR Message

Welcome to Peter’s first-ever sermon.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, this fisherman-turned-preacher’s initial foray into the world of sermonizing is memorable in extreme.

And whether you realize it or not, Peter’s first sermon out of the gate is all about… Grasshoppers. As in locusts. Lots and lots of locusts.

A plague of locusts. A past-plague of locusts. A coming plague of locusts. And a future (even future for us) plague of locusts. See it there in Acts 2:14-16?

Listen as I read it to you, and see if you can hear ominous chomps of locusts:

Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that. No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel.”

See any locusts in that? No? Well, then, keep listening. Because as you are about to hear, it is vital that we do.

His name is Joel. He is one of so-called 12 “Minor Prophets.” But make no mistake about this: Joel may have been a “Minor Prophet.” But there was absolutely nothing minor about his message.

Let me ever-so-briefly remind you of structure of the Old Testament…

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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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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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.

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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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From Crash and Burn to Rise and Shine (An Epic Tale of Gracious-Filled Redemption)

roosterIt was without a doubt the absolute worst day of Peter’s long and storied and challenging life. As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, we’re talking about one particular Saturday — the day after the crucifixion.

The day after Peter had denied Jesus three times before Jesus’ accusers. The Saturday before the very first Easter Sunday.

And since for the precious and beloved people at Safe Haven, I happened to give this message on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Thus, we would do well to consider exactly what was going on and why during that singularly fateful day.

A very dark day in otherwise dazzling life of Peter.

You talk about an epic fail, a spectacular fall from grace, a stunningly unpredictable turn of events, and crash and burn of mind-numbing proportions… Here’s a quick thumbnail of how Peter’s not-so-Good-Friday developed, leading up to his Horribly-Bad-Saturday before Easter.

A day Peter no doubt spent cowering in a corner…

  • Disgusted by the arrest of his rabbi;
  • Devastated by execution of his hero, mentor, friend;
  • Demoralized by the death of his dream of freedom from the oppressions of Romans;

A man whose faith was now in a free-fall. If there was any faith left in the man to fall.

The week leading up to Peter’s Not-So-Good-Friday and Horribly-Bad-Saturday began the Sunday before, Palm Sunday, with the event we commonly call the Triumphal Entry.

Jerusalem swelled to overflowing by the multiplied thousands upon thousands of pilgrims streaming into the Holy City in preparation for Passover. Every person in the place was there in commemoration of the Israelites’ deliverance from four hundred grueling years of oppression by the Egyptians, AND in feverish anticipation of what they hoped and prayed was their imminent deliverance from the brutal, barbaric, and oh.so.bloody occupation by the Romans.

Messianic fervor was always at its highest in the week leading up to Passover. You can understand why. Freedom was in the air.

But in this podcast, I don’t want you merely to understand why. I want you to feel 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 as you listen.

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Paintings, My Friends. It’s All About the Paintings. (And Oh What a Painter God is!!!)

woman-paintingIn this PODCAST, so many, many questions will be answered.

How do we know there is a God?

Why does the Bible say that all people are without excuse?

How did people in the Old Testament get “saved”?

What about people who have never heard of Jesus before?

Just to name a few!!!

Open your ears. Open your eyes. Most importantly, open your heart. You will be amazed at all that you are about to learn!!!

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.

HAPPY LISTENING!!!

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Jesus Walks the Way of Sorrows

The Via Dolorosa!

What images are conjured up in your head when you hear these words? What are its sights? How about its sounds? What’s it like to walk the path that Jesus walked on His final journey to the cross?

My friends, get ready to grow some goosebumps as you listen to this PODCAST.

 

via dolorsaConsider this your very own personalized tour, with me as your humble tour guide, as together we travel the storied streets of the Via Dolorosa. A short walk riddled with “Ah Ha” moments, too many to count! Enjoy.

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

Thank you for listening. God bless you as you do!

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