Posts Tagged With: temple

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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Let There be No Doubt”

“Let There be No Doubt.”

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, If you were going to compose a title for this, only the second sermon Peter ever preached, you could not do much better than this: “Let There be No Doubt.”

By the time Peter draws this homiletic masterpiece to its rousing conclusion, there will be no doubt in the minds of his hearers.

  • No doubt about who Jesus is.
  • No doubt about who they are.
  • No doubt about what they have done.
  • And no doubt about what they now need to do.

“Let There be No Doubt.” A sermon made all the more remarkable given who preached it: an uneducated fisherman who just weeks before had denied, disowned, and so completely denounced Jesus that he quit as a disciple and returned to fishing.

A man who wept bitter/angry tears in the wake of his profound disappointment and deep disillusionment as he watched in horror as Jesus was led away in chains, to be killed as a common criminal by the very people—the barbaric, interloping, country-occupying, universally-hated Romans—whom Peter thought Jesus had come finally to vanquish completely, to expel from the land permanently, and to send sailing back to Italy disgracefully.

To channel Peter’s own words (2 Peter 2), no doubt written with his own dismal failure in mind, Peter had become

“A dog that had returned to its vomit, a washed pig who had returned to the mud.”

Yet in spite of all of that, Jesus met Peter on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, where they had shared so many precious memories together. And there, Jesus graciously gave Peter a second chance.

  • Yes. Peter! Who had recently pompously proclaimed (in John 13) “I am ready to die for you.”
  • Yes. Peter! Who then proceeded on that same night to completely collapse under the gaze of a servant girl.
  • Yes. Peter! Who for a second time was asked by Jesus to “Follow Me,” this time with the caveat that if Peter said “Yes” to that offer, it would cost him his life.
  • Now, barely two months later, here in Acts 3. Yes. Peter! Who now would make good on Jesus’ offer by literally putting his life on line as he stood before thousands, and thundered in the Temple courts for all to hear these extraordinary words…

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 God of the Surprise

We may not know his name.

But as you will hear in this PODCAST, we surely know his story. As did some 5000 men plus countless women and children, whose lives—after hearing this man’s story—would never be the same again.

This one story—the first of fourteen separate and specific miracles recorded in the book of Acts—exemplifies why I sometimes refer to God as “The God of the surprise.”

Both then and now, God can and will—when we least expect it—apply His divine touch to our circumstances that seem to us to be impossible.

Trust me, to this man who had been lame from birth for now more than forty years (Acts 4:22), his tragic circumstance was definition of impossible. Yet, as Jesus once declared to His watching and wondering disciples (this in Matthew 19),

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

He is, and ever shall be, “The God of the surprise.”

Here’s the point. A grand and glorious point indeed: Within the boundaries of God’s perfect will, there is no such thing as a hopeless situation.

Once God enters picture,

“Hope always burns eternal.”

If we learn nothing else from this man, learn this: God can and will insert Himself into our most impossible-seeming situations any time He wants to.

For over forty years, this desperate man had no idea that this day would ever come. But come, it did! In God’s perfect timing, for God’s eternal purposes—including the eternal salvation of literally thousands of people.

Such is our hope! Our hope that with God there is ALWAYS hope. A glorious theme echoed throughout the entire Bible.

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 Dazzling Day of Astonishing Amazement

“For more than forty years.”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, five simple words, easily missed if we hastily read the account as recorded for us by Dr. Luke.

Five astonishing words that unlock this entire episode in the life of the first early church in Jerusalem.

“For more than forty years.”

For more than forty years, everywhere this man went someone had to carry him.

For more than forty years this man never knew the simple pleasure of standing on his own two feet.

For more than forty years this man knew nothing of the joys of going for a walk, let alone a jog.

For more than forty years he could never once kick a soccer ball, hit a baseball, throw a football, or run through the waves as they lapped upon the shore of the Mediterranean.

For more than forty years this man never knew a healthy day—never knew for even a minute what it would be like to have two legs that weren’t as limp as dishrags.

For more than forty years this man had in his legs no feeling, no movement, no sensations of any kind.

For more than forty years this man could go up to the Temple courts to beg, but never into Temple to worship since he was prohibited from doing so in Leviticus 21.

For more than forty years this man knew nothing but the prospect of yet another day spent stretching out his arms, reaching out his hands, and begging for alms.

For more than forty years he was forced to endure being ignored, refused, looked down upon, and judged as a sinner.

Such was the life of one man for more than forty years.

This poor beggar, bereft of health, robbed of any hope of self-respect, devoid of any semblance of a life.

Until this day when Peter and John showed up.

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 Day in the Life of the (First) Early Church

These were exhilarating times indeed for that original company of committed Christ-followers.

In this PODCAST, and in the upcoming weeks, it will be our privilege to relive these salad days of the first ekklesia—in Jerusalem—as we join in a virtual sense these first precious believers, our ancestors in the faith.

Last week, we looked at the four foundational dynamics that characterized this first early church. Foundational for them; foundational for us. You will remember that we considered each of these in some detail—that marvelous biblical blueprint for every local church, both then and now! The elegant simplicity and sincerity of which was breathtaking for us to behold.

Now, we will consider a day in the life of these very first committed Christ-followers. The precious and precarious first hours of this first church’s delicate-if-exuberant infancy.

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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The Rip Heard ‘Round the World

screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-11-21-04-amThink of it. As you will hear in this PODCAST

Promptly at 3 PM…

Exactly at That.Very.Moment when Jesus breathed His last…

Precisely to the second when Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished. Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit”…

This happened:

“Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

Do you have any idea what that means? It will take the remainder of this discussion for us even to begin to understand What.That.Means.

Why did God tear the veil?

It was obviously God who ripped it. No human hand could possibly tear it. That veil was an elaborately woven fabric that stood 60 feet high, equal in height to a seven-story building. No one could tear that curtain. Only God could tear that curtain.

Which only amplifies the question, 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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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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Demystifying the End Times (Part 2)

danger11“Watch out that no one deceives you.”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, given the wild-eyed speculations with which Christian community has historically been bombarded regarding all-things prophecy-related, Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 give us a good warning indeed. A warning which explains why we want to take a sober, strictly-biblical look at what Jesus taught in Matthew 24 – 25 about His Second Coming and the end of the age.

Let me remind you that we are now on Tuesday of Jesus’ final week, a mere seventy-two hours before His crucifixion.

For the disciples, not to mention Jesus Himself, a head-spinning turbulent few days had just passed, highlighted by the Triumphal Entry and the Cleansing of the Temple. Yet, without trying to be cliched about it, they hadn’t seen anything yet.

And frankly, neither have we.

So for the moment, as they took a brief breather to gather their thoughts and emotions, Jesus and the twelve disciples huddled on the Mount of Olives and took in the breathtaking view laid out before them.

We can only imagine how many confusing thoughts were cascading through the disciples’ collective minds. So it’s no wonder that even in this moment of solitude that might have otherwise provided some much-needed quiet contemplation, they asked Jesus the question that was now haunting their hearts.

Naturally, they wondered about the future and how all of this 3+ year wild-ride they had been on with Jesus would end.

So, in response to their question, Jesus told them.

Ergo, the Olivet Discourse.

Though the Olivet Discourse centers primarily upon the events of the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation, which we will distinguish in this podcast, I thought it would be most-beneficial to give you a complete overview of the entire prophetic puzzle and its 7 principal pieces before we break down Jesus’ Olivet Discourse.

Last week, we discussed Rapture and AntiChrist. (Podcast #171)

This week, we’ll consider the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation.

And next week, we’ll round out this introductory overview by highlighting the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the Eternal State.

However, before we get embroiled in the Tribulation, as you will hear here, I must first make one especially helpful, clarifying remark about the Rapture.

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 House

JEWISH_TEMPLE00000018Welcome to Monday of Jesus’ last week, His Passion week, the final few days leading up to His coming crucifixion.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, At the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, way back in John 2 (Podcast #21), Jesus cleansed the Temple for the first time. Now here in Mark 11, at the very end of His ministry, Jesus cleansed the Temple for the second time.

A display of uncharacteristic anger, rare to be sure. But a shocking display of anger nonetheless. Quite out of character for a Jesus who described Himself, and who consistently showed Himself to be a Very.Gentle.Jesus.

As Jesus walked through the Temple courts that day, something set Him off.

Yes, He was understandably upset about the fleecing of the flock that was going on here. To be perfectly pointed about it, these religious leaders were making bank by selling God. Religion had become big business. By the time of Jesus, the Temple Industrial Complex was alive and well and oh-so-lucrative.

Sadly, they had discovered in that day what so many Christian leaders have discovered today: God sells. Jesus sells. Then and now, there is money to be made in Jesus’ name. A boatload of money.

That being said, there was something of even greater offense to Jesus going on there in the Temple courts. You might not see it at first blush. But trust me, it is there, front and center. As you will soon see.

I’ll give you a hint: God desperately longs to dwell among His people, literally. That is a thread that is woven throughout the pages of the Bible.

God desperately longs to dwell among His people, literally. All of His people, Jew and Gentile alike, “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5).

From the very first pages of the Bible (Genesis), through to the very last pages of the Bible (Revelation), God desperately longs to dwell among His people.

That theological thread that ties the entire Bible together runs right through this story here in Mark 11, as Jesus cleansed the Temple for the second time.

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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