Posts Tagged With: Tel Aviv

God, bless You!

Image courtesy of Sabbath Truth

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, Peter begins his first lovely little letter literally with a literary explosion. It’s as if he has so much that he wants to say so quickly, that the syllables come pouring out of him like a waterfall of words.

Believe it or not, verse 3 all the way to verse 12 is one long and winding and wondrously scenic sentence. You heard that right. A grand total of 315 words (in the NLT), all of which form one single sentence. Only the first part of which we will discuss now, with so much more rich and glorious truth to follow in the coming weeks.

There is an life-altering, soul-stirring insight embedded in verse 3 that we would do well to consider. Since verses 1 & 2 serve as Peter’s greeting, the letter itself actually begins with Verse 3.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

A rather remarkable statement given dire circumstances in which Peter’s original readers were living. We’ve already detailed them for you in the previous two podcasts. I’ll simply remind you that due to circumstances beyond their control—an empire-wide persecution at the bloody hands the infamously ruthless Nero—these were precious people—committed Christ-followers each, each our ancestors in faith—who had literally lost everything.

Even to the point of potentially losing their freedom and even their lives.

Theirs were the darkest of clouds with no silver linings.

A very fragile people living on the precipice with no safety net, clinging to their lives lived under the capricious actions of an unpredictable madman.

So if you were Peter, someone who fully understood and appreciated their seemingly insurmountable challenges—fears, insecurities, uncertainties—why would you begin your letter to them with the words,

“Blessed be the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

Does that not sound like a typically empty Christian cliché?

What prompted Peter to write with such audacity as to command his readers—including us—to bless God:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Even in the absolute worst of circumstances?

Obviously, Peter’s words, “Bless be the God,” did not come out of a vacuum. Fact is, there is a long and rich history to these words, and the life-altering, soul-stirring insight embedded within them.

Peter’s opening line was anything but a cutesy little Christian cliché. Not to his original readers. After hearing this podcast, not to us.

Although this does raise one intriguing question:

Bless God?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

I thought God blesses us.

How in the world do you and I bless God?

The answer to that question will change your life.

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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“Who is Winning the Shephelah?”

Rose of Sharon

I need to read Acts 9:35 to you its context.

As you are about to learn in this PODCAST, there is so much more here than meets the eye. At least that meets our eyes.

Acts 9:35 is a truly remarkable statement for original readers of the book of Acts. It will soon be truly remarkable for us. For this one verse exposes the underlying reality in the spiritual climate of the Land that you and I might easily miss. As well as the ongoing spiritual battle for our souls that is being waged every minute of every day in our lives today.

A truly remarkable verse.

So hear it as I begin at verse 32.

“Meanwhile, Peter traveled from place to place, and he came down to visit the believers in the town of Lydda. There he met a man named Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!’ And he was healed instantly.”

Now verse 35, 

“Then the whole population of Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around, and they turned to the Lord.”

Anything jaw-dropping strike you about those words? Are we missing anything here? I’ll give you a hint: Yes! We are missing a ton! All of which has to do with these two telling locations: One a town—Lydda; the other a region—Sharon.

Foreign to us; all-too-familiar to the people of that land at that time.

It’s the old story: We cannot understand the biblical play if we don’t understand the stage on which the play is performed.

So in this podcast, I’ll take you on a fascinating tour of the stage.

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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What Does It Feel Like to be God? (Here’s His SURPRISING Answer)

SongOfSolomon6.3We are, as you well know, engaged in a fascinating election cycle — one that I have been following with great interest.

Last week, one prominent commentator told of the time when, shortly after the swearing-in of a relatively recent President, he asked him,

“What does it feel like to be President?”

His answer, in case you are interested, was this:

“I suddenly realized that everything I say will profoundly affect something somewhere in the world.”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, that question, “What does it feel like to be President?” piqued my curiosity. Truth be told, there have been times when I have curiously wondered how God would respond if we were to ask Him,

“What does it feel like to be God?”

The thing is, God has already answered that question.

God has told us exactly what it feels like to be God.

Fact is, His answer might honestly surprise you. Surprise you in a profoundly emotional way. It sure does me!

Now, in considering His answer that question, “What does it feel like to be God?” we have to start with this.

Jesus said this in John 4:24, “God is spirit.” God is, in that sense, ineffable. Meaning, inexpressible, indescribable, like nothing we’ve ever known before.

As God Himself said to Isaiah, in chapter 55,

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

God is, by His own definition, utterly incomprehensible. So in an effort to help us relate to Him at least on some level, God chose to describe Himself to us using word pictures. Very meaningful word pictures.

Remember how I’ve told you Bible is picture book? Remember how I’ve told you that after stating a proposition, a good rabbi will always paint the picture?

For instance, the biblical writer states the proposition, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). He then follows this proposition by painting word pictures which describe what God’s love looks like.

So through the quills of the biblical writers, God was forever providing Scriptural snapshots what He is like, of which there are several throughout pages of Bible.

The Lord is my shepherd, He shelters us under His wings, He is our rock, mountain, fortress. So, so many.

The technical term for these portraits is anthropomorphisms, morphe (form), anthropos (human, man) — God describing Himself in forms, images, pictures we humans can understand.

OK, now watch this: Of all of the pictures that God painted (anthropomorphisms each), there are basically two iconic images of God in the Bible. As if to say,

Of all of the pictures that I have drawn of Myself for you, there are two predominant portraits of Me that I want you never to forget. Shepherd, Bird, Rock, Mountain, Fortress, so many others — these are great, accurate, and most helpful. But if you are going to remember only two, and forever cherish these two in your hearts, these are the two I want you never to forget: One in the Old Testament, and one in the New Testament.

If you think about it, God chose the two most intimate, precious, personal, and cherished of all human relationships.

You are in for quite a treat, and a stunning surprise as you listen.

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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