Posts Tagged With: Sermon on the Mount

How Firm a Foundation!!!

Rendering of Caesarea Philippi courtesy of Chris Edmondson

You are in for a real treat, I do believe.

As you are about to hear in this week’s PODCAST, it’s one of the most basic principles of proper biblical interpretation, the ground rule of hermeneutics.

Ready? Here it is: “The Bible is the best commentary on itself.”

Ever heard that before? Well, you’re going to get a classic example of that rock-solid (pun intended) truism right now.

Let’s start with this: Peter, it seems, was obsessed with  stones and rocks. And that for a very good reason.

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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Peter’s (and Paul’s) Impassioned Plea (Which BTW Echoes My Own)

Melchizedek Blessing Abraham by Walter Rane

Twitter has become the bane of my daily existence.

(You’ll discover why as you listen to this PODCAST.)

How I LONG—with every fiber of my being, with every beat of my hyperactive heart—for a kinder, gentler Christianity.

So did Peter.

So did Paul.

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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Money Matters

online-greetingI’m off doing my camp speaking thing. (I sure would appreciate your prayers: for me, but especially for the campers who are stuck having to listen to me for the week. But I digress.)

Anyway, in this encore PODCAST, you will learn one singularly simple concept which, if you take it to heart, will change your life forever.

It is my sense that in contemporary Christian culture in America, we have lost sight of the elegant simplicity spoken of in the New Testament. And consequently, we have lost so much of God’s blessing in the process.

So here’s to simplicity, with the hope that your life overflows with God’s bountiful blessing as we together apply this principle to our lives.

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.

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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So Near, and Yet So Far

rich-young-ruler-3You could call this story an epic “Opportunity Lost.”

You talk about a guy presented with a once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity, an opportunity that he squandered. An opportunity that he squandered Badly.And.Sadly.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, this is an offer rarely made, and shockingly dismissed.

A young man who burst on the scene like a blazing comet streaking overhead, only to flame out and fall out of the sky to come crashing and burning to earth.

What a story!

One thing’s for sure. Jesus never took a class on Personal Evangelism, witnessing, soul winning, or whatever you want to call it. Because, to be honest, Jesus Broke.Every.Rule of personal evangelism in this very personal encounter.

Here you have what we call in our contemporary Christian culture a seeker coming to Jesus to ask Him one question. THE question. The single most important question.

A softball question that any one of us could answer.

His question?

“What should I do to inherit eternal life?”

This young man asked Jesus exactly the right question, to which Jesus gave him exactly the wrong answer!

Or did He?

Don’t fault me for asking that. Jesus’ own disciples thought that Jesus gave him the wrong answer. Check it out: The disciples were “astounded and astonished” when they heard Jesus’ answer.

All this guy needed to do, all that Jesus needed to tell him to do, was to pray a “Jesus, come into my heart” prayer, right? Yet, by the time Jesus got done with him? The young man walked away.

In the words of the noted Lutheran New Testament scholar, R.C.H. Lenski,

“Picture him: an exemplary young man in early manhood, fine and clean morally as the phrase now goes… wealthy… with a strong religious bent… a pillar (in the community)… Where is the church that would not give him a prominent place?… Yet all this is in the eyes of Jesus… worthless.”

Yeah verily, I will add, so worthless that Jesus offended him. Lost him. Drove him away.

Know 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 richly as you listen.

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God WILL Answer Your EVERY Prayer (Seriously! IF You Pray Like This…)

How-To-Pray-More-EffectivelyWelcome to this Jesus in HD Encore PODCAST.

I am coming off of an exhilarating week with the best students in the world, the Joshua Wilderness Institute students. So in my absence, and for your edification and enjoyment, I have reached way back into the archives, all the way to Podcast #61.

This was at the time a wonderfully received and enormously helpful discussion that brought so much peace to so many troubled (and sometimes tortured) souls.

If you were ever going to hear just one message on the mysterious and majestic practice we call prayer, let this one be the one. For here we come to the crux of the matter regarding this glorious thing we call prayer.

So much is going to become so clear in just the next few minutes: Questions about unanswered prayers. Questions about why God even designed this thing called prayer. Questions about the purpose of prayer. Questions about what we ought to pray for, and what we don’t need to pray for.  Why prayer sometimes doesn’t seem to work. Yet why every time we pray biblically, it ALWAYS works.

So much to talk about. I am so glad you are here to share in this discussion with us.

PLEASE NOTE that depending upon your web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

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

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If It Ain’t Broke, BREAK IT!

Jesus_or_barabbasMy heart goes out to Jesus.

After preparing for this week’s PODCAST, I feel such a profound sense of compassion for Him.

Thing of it is… I knew that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day hated Him. I understood that at this point in His ministry they no longer regarded Him as an irritation to be tolerated or a troublesome teacher to be discredited. Now they saw Him as a colossal threat to be killed. I got all of that.

What I didn’t get until this week was how toxic — both to Jesus and to the precious people to whom He ministered — the religious environment in which Jesus found Himself had become. Even more significantly, the source of its toxicity. And even more significantly, what it means to our lives today.

 

The challenges He faced within His own religious tradition were overwhelming. So are ours. Trust me when I say that we have a sympathetic Savior who knows all about it. He’s been there, and lives to tell the tale.

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.

BE ENCOURAGED, and HAPPY LISTENING!!!

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THE Definitive Word on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

divorceWhile I am away speaking at one of my all-time favorite places on Earth (Hartland Christian Camp), the topic of this encore PODCAST is one of those subjects that touches us all, deeply and profoundly.

The ripples of any divorce, every divorce spread their concentric circles far and wide.

Which compels us to take a sober look at exactly what Jesus DID SAY HERE in Matthew 5:31-32, as well as — and perhaps especially — what Jesus DID NOT SAY HERE.

Because once again, this is one of those passages which, when lifted out of its context — both Scriptural and Cultural — is so often and so tragically made to say something other than what Jesus intended for it to say. Heaping truck loads of unnecessary grief and guilt upon poor precious people who are just trying by God’s grace to rebuild their broken lives.

Trust me! Over the years, having dealt up close and personal with many, many people, I have heard some of the most atrocious applications of this passage. This to the point where emotionally and spiritually fragile individuals, whose lives have just been rocked by their own tragic divorces, now have whatever fragments they have left of their broken lives crushed by well-meaning, but grossly misinformed, Christians errantly and judgmentally spouting this passage. And then in fine Pharisee-esque style, walk away from them, leaving untold wreckage in their wakes.

Not here. Not in this PODCAST. No way!

Jesus doesn’t do that.

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.

God bless you as you listen.

And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share this podcast with your friends.

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Two Roads, Two Gates, Two Destinies

You know what? Sometimes things really are as simple as they seem.

This ironic little truism was never more true than Jesus’ words here at the tail end of the SOTM.

 

Boy, if you ever wanted snappy little snapshot of God’s heart AND men’s hearts, it’s all right here in these five words,

Enter by the narrow gate.

This is our 73rd installment of Jesus in HD.

cropped-untitled-2-sign-2.jpeg

When we began this series back on November 9, 2012, we stated our primary foundational premise, one (I am pleased to say) from which we have yet to depart. That foundational premise being this: We were going to lay aside all preconceived ideas of who Jesus is, and take a fresh new look at the four Gospels, which is to say, a fresh new look at the life/ministry of Jesus from birth – death – resurrection – ascension. And we will discover anew exactly who Jesus really is.

This approach has served us well, yielding for us some fresh and refreshing new insights / a whole new portrait of just who Jesus was and is.

This never more true as when we come to a passage like the one we are considering tonight.

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How NOT to be Torn into Pieces (Spiritual Abuse, Part 5)

How’s this for one weird command?

Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Really? Did Jesus really say that? Did Jesus really mean that? Did Jesus really command us to do that?

Yes, He did.

PEARLS

So I’ve got to ask: In this context of Matthew 7:1-6, who are the people who are unholy? Who are the pigs (ceremonially unclean animals)? Wanna take a guess?

According to the context of the passage, people who krino others, who “judge” others, are the objects of Jesus’ command, those whom He referred to as “unholy” and “pigs.”

It ought to give us pause. Jesus compared those who “judge” others to unholy and unclean “attackers.”

According to Jesus, what should be our response to those who do judge others/krino us? What should be our response to someone whom Jesus proclaims as unholy and unclean?

This will indeed sound harsh. It needs to be harsh. Harsh words for those of us on the receiving end of such harsh judgmental treatment. Because nothing less than your soul and mine is at stake here. And let me respectfully remind you that Jesus said this, not me! What should be our responses to those who do “judge” us or “judge” others? To Spiritual Abusers? Ready?

Have nothing to do with them.

What should be our responses to those who do appoint themselves as our judges? Who mask their judgment by invoking the culturally Christian mantra, “I’m holding you accountable”?

Have nothing to do with them.

Don’t try to reason with them. Don’t get into an argument with them. Don’t try to correct them. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t debate them. Or in Jesus’ words, Don’t cast your pearls before those who cast stones either in your direction or in the direction of others.

Have nothing to do with them.

Our souls are simply too precious and too fragile to be crushed under heavy loads of guilt heaped upon us courtesy of finger-wagging, verse-spewing, “Christians.”

pig

We are under absolutely under no biblical obligation to tolerate Spiritual Abuse at the hands of another. If that is the price that we must pay to have a relationship with these individuals, then the cost of these relationships is far too much to pay.

Have nothing to do with them.

Jesus taught, and our life experiences confirm, that dialoging with judgers is fruitless, damaging, and too often lethal to our souls. This because judgers will twist the Bible — wield their double-edged swords (Remember that metaphor from our previous discussion? — and use their swords to stab, slash, and decapitate us, decapitate you!

Or in Jesus’ own words, use their Bibles to “turn and attack us.”

Which is exactly what they do. Your soul and mine is too precious to expose ourselves to that kind of judgmental, soul-crushing, spirit-killing treatment.

Hear me: As individual Christ-followers, we are about loving, forgiving, pursuing, redeeming, returning, and welcoming home those who wander away from their ekklesias. We do so because that is what Jesus told His followers to do. The same Jesus who told His followers,

Do not judge others!

The same Jesus who told His followers that when others judge us,

Have nothing to do with them.

If you want to hear the entire discussion, click on the podcast player and get ready to be refreshed.

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“The Bible Made Me Do It!” (Spiritual Abuse, Part 4)

The deafeningly loud question that now demands an answer is,

Why our propensity to do what Jesus expressly told us not to do? Namely, “Do not judge others”?

The cause, believe it or not, lies in our faulty 4-point theology:

1. We tell people, Just pray a “Jesus Prayer,” or what is sometimes called “the Sinner’s Prayer,”and you’re in.

When we ask someone to tell us their testimony, what are we asking? When/where did you pray the “sinner’s prayer”? We have come to believe that becoming a Christian is all about “asking Jesus into your heart.” IOW, praying a Jesus prayer.

2. We then give them a birthday (You know how Jesus described our new relationship with Him as “being born again”?) a new-birth birthday present: a Bible. Which I’ll remind is called (in Hebrews 4) “a double-edged sword.”

Now that’s quite a metaphor, as you’ll see in mere moments. A double-edged sword.

3. We then teach them that they are competent to use it.

We buttress this claim of competency with verses like John 16:13, which is so typically yanked out of its context and twisted to mean something totally different than the biblical writer intended for it to mean:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

There it is, we tell our newly-born convert. Just pick up your Bible and read it. And as you read it, the Holy Spirit will personally teach you what the Bible says, what the Bible means, how the Bible should be applied not only to our lives, but to the lives of everyone around us.

I mean, this gets downright frightening! Because we put this doubled-edged sword into the hands of babes whose only claim to fame is that they prayed a prayer.

What, do tell, is the context of John 16:13? The basis of the claim of competency of brand new baby Christians to wield their swords? Listen to what Jesus actually said IN CONTEXT:

There is so much more I want to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you (Who’s the you? Who was in the Upper Room with Jesus when He said this?) into all the truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you what is yet to come.

Not to get too theological on you here. But John 16:13 is NOT what we call an Illumination verse. John 16:13 is a Revelation verse. This passage that has nothing to do with the faulty notion that you and I just pick up our Bibles and read them. And the Holy Spirit will personally teach us what the Bible says, what it means, and how it should be applied not only to our lives, but to the lives of everyone around us.

If it did, why do we need teachers? Why listen to sermons? Why read commentaries? Why study the languages–vocabulary/grammar? Why understand the culture? Why learn the geography? Why learn the history? Why learn archaeology?

John 16:13 has nothing to do with us. Jesus made this promise to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion. This verse has everything to do with the apostles writing the New Testament!

OK, so, pray a prayer and you’re in. Here’s your double-edged sword. You are competent to use it.

4. We then teach them — if you can imagine this — we teach them that the highest virtue of Christian living is to take their Bibles — their double-edged swords, lethal weapons, placed in the hands of these, what Peter called in 1 Peter 2:2, “newborn babies” — and to wield these swords at each other.

How? By “Holding.People.Accountable.” Like some self-appointed judge or Krino.)

 

Krinos who just LOVE to spot something not quite kosher in your life or mine, wag a finger of judgment at us, spew a memory verse or two, and then smugly walk away thinking that sure did serve Jesus today by taking a stand for His truth.

***And We Wonder Why So Many Sincere Christ-Followers Get Devastated By “Christians” In Church???***

We say that Christians are notorious for shooting their wounded, Yes? I’d suggest that — to use the biblical metaphor — “Christians,” not Christ-followers (You know by now how often I make that subtle-yet-significant distinction) — “Christians” are notorious for stabbing, slashing, and decapitating their wounded.

jesusdo“Christians” do that. Christ-followers don’t. Why? Because by definition, Christ-followers follow Jesus. They seek to put into practice what Jesus said. They seek to do what Jesus did. And what Jesus said, and what Jesus did was this:

Do not judge others.

“Christians” judge others. They make a sport of judging others. Christ-followers do not.

So one final question to consider: How should you and I respond to those “Christians” who do judge others? We’ll answer that question tomorrow. And the answer to that question will astound you.

But just in case you cannot wait that long, you can hear the entire discussion by clicking here:

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