Get ready for a well-deserved pat on the back, and a hearty, “Well done!”
In addition to that, welcome to Luke’s heartwarmingly endearing introduction of two precious women: Martha and her sister Mary. As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, this delightful little story now brings us full circle in our discussion of the Return of the Seventy from their very first mission’s trip.
You might remember that while debriefing their by-all-accounts exuberantly successful experience, Jesus responded to the Seventy by alluding to this landmark event:
“Yes,” Jesus told the Seventy, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!” (Luke 10:18).
That statement opened up for us an entire discussion of exactly how Satan, this now-fallen angel and defeated foe, seeks to invade our lives with his nefarious influence. We shared with you then (Podcasts #151 and 152) six ways that we can slam that door to our lives shut to Satan’s influence in our lives.
In this podcast, we’ll now look at the other side of that proposition: How Satan seeks to slam that door to our lives shut to God’s influence in our lives.
Sadly, I must say that he — Satan — has been enormously successful and effective in doing just that. I would venture to say that this is THE battle that we fight, and far-too-often lose, with the greatest frequency when it comes to spiritual warfare. Yet ironically, very few of us recognize this as a spiritual battle. And even fewer of us understand who is the architect of this strategy.
This is universal.
My friends, we have a lot to talk about.
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Which, if you think about it, and as you will hear in this PODCAST, is a most remarkable statement.
As you know, and as we have chronicled over the now 3½ years of this Jesus in High Definition study, Jesus was (to quote Isaiah):
“despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
Never will that become so heartrendingly obvious as in the days immediately preceding His crucifixion. You want to talk about HD, we’ll soon see His rejection, sorrow, and grief in all of its gripping detail.
Jesus was a Man of whom it was written, “Jesus wept.” But the fact is, as we have seen and will see as His crucifixion approaches, Jesus wept often, convulsively, with a sorrow that penetrated down to His very bones.
Had we seen Him, up close and personal, we would have looked upon a Man who looked like He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders… because He did.
But as you are about to hear, here in Luke 10, this is the one and only time that this was recorded in any of the four Gospels:
Jesus was truly happy.
In order to capture this poignant moment, frozen in time, Luke employed a particular word, used of Jesus only here, that literally means to leap for joy, to exult, to show one’s joy by leaping and skipping. A word that denotes ecstatic joy and sheer delight.
We could therefore properly translate Luke 10:21 to read,
“At that same time, Jesus jumped for joy.”
Given the rarity of such an emotion in Jesus’ storied life and ministry — punctuated as it was by the highest of highs and the lowest of lows — I want to know why Jesus jumped for joy.
And in fact, if you read Luke 10:21 carefully, the whole of the Trinity got into the act:
“At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, ‘O Father…'”
Why? What caused Jesus to experience such a bounding joy? So much joy that the entire Godhead — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — shared in His joy?
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What you are about to read below is just a small but tantalizing taste of what you will hear in this PODCAST, my expanded paraphrase of that wonderful passage, Philippians 4:6-9.
You can hear the podcast in its entirety by clicking on this podcast player:
Concerning your many personal problems, let me encourage you to do what I do. Over time (of which I have a lot, sitting here in this prison), I have actually trained myself not to worry about anything, but rather to pray about everything. I share with God everything – my joys and sorrows, my victories and my defeats, my thrills along with my spills, my hopes and fears, everything.
And every time I do, He answers my prayers. Not necessarily by giving me everything I want. No! No loving parent would do that – not an earthly father, nor certainly our Heavenly Father. Instead, He does something so much better. He floods my soul with His peace – the quiet contentment and calm assurance that everything is going to be OK.
I can’t explain it. It is in every sense of the word a miracle of God’s loving touch. But especially during those times when I would otherwise be freaking out, it’s like God whispers to me in His wee small voice, “Hey, I’m here. I know what you’re going through. I’m on top of it. I’ve got your back. I will fix this – in my own way and in my own time. So… relax.”
Yes, that’s it! By His grace, because of His grace, I have learned how to mentally and emotionally relax.
Let me teach you this one simple principle: When we worry about stuff, when we become anxious, when we do freak out, we are not dealing with realities. We are mentally inventing fantasies, most of which will never come to pass.
But even if our fears do come to pass, that’s the point, isn’t it? They come to pass. Our problems won’t last forever!
Far too often, we negatively worry about the things that we imagine might happen, instead of positively channeling our energies into dealing with what really happens. What a waste of mental, emotional, and spiritual energy!
So I offer to you this challenge: Develop the mental discipline to think only about those things which are true, that are real. As someone who loves you more than you could ever know, I beg of you to train yourself to think only those thoughts that bring honor to God, rather than thoughts that cause you to doubt God. Doubts about whether or not God is big enough or loving enough to handle your present trials. Trust me, He can handle them. And He will handle them.
Think only those thoughts that are wholesome, not worrisome. Try not to allow your mind to meander into places that will emotionally bring you down, rather than to lovely places that will spiritually build you up.
Mentally focus on the promises of God that will cause you to praise Him, rather than your unfounded fears that will only cause you to question Him.
If nothing else, try to follow my example. I have certainly had my share of struggles. You know about the personal pains that I have endured, and continue to endure. You know that I could make the argument that life has unfairly dealt me — an apostle — a losing hand. But you also know that I choose to regard my present circumstances, even in this prison, as though our good God is dealing me a winning hand. Because you know what? In the end, I will win! And so will you!
Oh, my dear Philippian friends, how I long for you to put into practice all of lessons that I have taught you, both when I was with you, and now as I write to you. All of the principles that you are watching me in real time apply to my own life. In short, how I long for you to learn how to luxuriate in God’s peace, just like I strive to do today, and every single day.