Posts Tagged With: signs of the times

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.

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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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The Signs of the Times (Part 1)

its_timeWelcome to the Olivet Discourse. The End Times prophetic address that Jesus gave to His disciples high atop the Mount of Olives, immediately to the East of the Holy City, Jerusalem.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, that lovely little land that we affectionately call Israel is the center of the world.

Literally and metaphorically.

Literally, because Israel is the place where the three major continents — Europe, Asia, and Africa — tenderly touch and affectionately kiss each other. Which goes a long way to explaining why God chose this modest piece of real estate — a mere 150 miles long (North-South), 50 miles wide (West-East) — as stage for the Greatest Story Ever Told.

Metaphorically the center of the world because throughout all of human history, the eyes of world have ever been focused squarely on the Middle East — so called because it sits in the middle or center of the world. And in center of the Middle East sits Israel.

So Israel is indeed the center of the world.

That said, Jerusalem is the center of Israel, and the Temple is the center of Jerusalem.

So it is no wonder that Jesus and His disciples took a timeout from all of the hubbub of activities on this Tuesday of Jesus’ final week, exactly three days before Jesus would go to the cross.

As they sat upon the Mount of Olives taking in that breathtaking view of the Holy City and its glorious Temple — God’s House, what Jesus called “My Father’s House,” what many of our Jewish friends call “The House” — the disciples were moved by that spectacular panoramic portrait to ask Jesus these two most important questions in Matthew 24:

“What will be the sign of your coming?”

and

“What will be the sign of the end of the age?”

Jesus’ answer to those questions comprise what we now call the Olivet Discourse, spanning two full chapters, Matthew 24 – 25.

As you are about to hear, there are Two All-Important Interpretive Keys to understanding these all-important prophetic chapters.

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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How to Repair a Broken World (It’s Easier Than You May Think!)

tikkun-olam_bet_shalom_barcelonaAs I publish this week’s PODCAST, I am brimming with optimism.

Whether you realize it or not, we are blessed with a singular privilege: To be alive at this time, in this place, at this precise moment in human history.

As you will hear in this study of Luke 10, we have been handed a golden opportunity to fulfill that which is the highest calling that can be bestowed on any human being.

Lofty words, those. But words that I believe with all of my heart.

After hearing this podcast, I believe that you will too.

Last week, I introduced you to the foundational purpose statement that defines why exactly our Jewish friends are God’s Chosen People. Do you remember what it is? Tikkun ha-olam. Which is defined by our Jewish friends as “repairing the world,” ideally by bringing the world under the rule of God in the world.

In the words of the rabbis, Tikkun ha-olam “is deeply embedded in the Jewish ethos.” Indeed, defines it. The acknowledgement, the understanding that our world as a whole, and that every one of us who lives in this world is broken and in need of repair.

Tikkun ha-olam: A repair that can only come when the world which God created submits to its Creator.

Which brings us to Jesus’ instructions in Luke 10.

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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