We’re in remodeling mode at Chapel Ministries and Time in the Chapel. Oh, don’t you worry, the content will remain the same but the look of it is getting a face-lift. We’ve streamlined, a bit. We’ve modernized, a bit. This page will be the home of all the teaching content. We’ve switched to podcast format to improve your access to our programs. Like most podcasts, you are welcome to come back as often as you like and you can even download the lessons
Resurrection Part 2-Questions and Answers
In this episode we continue our in-depth look at the Resurrection. Although I say “in-depth”, the reality is that we are really only presenting a very small portion of the whole topic. After all, as I say to you all the time, it is impossible for a finite mind to fully grasp the infinite. We certainly do our best. We constantly push the boundaries of our human intellectual abilities but, nonetheless, we will ultimately have to bypass “knowing” and simply embrace “believing”.
That notwithstanding, in this second part of the series we pick up where we left off last time. Here we are focusing on the importance of the witnesses. Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t just head on to heaven once He rose? A fairly sizable portion of the story of the Gospel is dedicated to telling us what Jesus did AFTER He died. It actually extends PAST the Gospels and into the Acts of the Apostles. Interestingly, there’s not a lot of details given on those appearances. There is a line or two on what He said but, by and large, it seems almost random…almost…anticlimactic. Before this there was that emotional scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by the dramatic arrest, trial and sentencing. Then there was the horror of those dying moments on the cross. On the face of it, the appearances seem like merely a postscript of some sort. Now, I get why we’re told about the appearance to Mary Magdalene. It was a tender moment between a dedicated servant and her Risen Lord. I understand the appearances to Peter. The man was not only going to be important to the future church but He was also a dear friend of Jesus who was, no doubt, suffering from the shame of the night of the arrest. Our Merciful Lord wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to comfort a nearly broken man. That’s just the kind of Person we serve. Those appearances make sense because they just demonstrate the personality of Jesus so well; but why those two on the road to Emmaus? We don’t even know who they were. Luke says one of them was named Cleopas but that’s all we know. (Luke 24:18). Mark doesn’t even give us that many details in his re-telling of the story (Mark 16:12). How about Paul’s reference to the appearance Jesus made “to 500 brethren at once”? (1st Corinthians 15:6) There we get no information; no names, no locations. The same can be said about the so-called Ascension. We are told by Luke in chapter 1 verse 6 of the Acts of the Apostles that “they” were come together but we can’t be certain who the “they” consisted of. We can be fairly confident that the remaining eleven apostles were there but was that all? The point is we aren’t told and, as you regulars know, when we aren’t told something in the Bible, it isn’t important. It can be plainly seen that in most of the post-Resurrection appearances that are recorded in Scripture, the “who” was not as important as the “why”. Jesus’ appearances have a purpose. That is what we discuss in this episode. So, take a moment to pray for understanding and then have a listen to part 2 of our Resurrection series. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit gives you an appreciation of the incredible love and mercy that God showed when He allowed us to get that ever-so-brief look at His most Precious Son.
Resurrection Part 1-Why Bother?
In the past, I have been accused (with an inference of derision) of being a Christian “apologist”. In case you don’t know, an apologist is defined by Webster’s as someone “who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something”. Well, I thought that’s what guys like me are supposed to do. In fact, isn’t that what we’re all supposed to do? Isn’t that what Peter meant when he said:
(1Pe 3:15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
I don’t believe in arguing about the things of God. I normally don’t engage in debate about these sorts of things but I have and will continue to present the things of God in a way that will allow the listener or reader to make an informed decision. If you want to call that “defending” the Faith; that’s fine with me. I simply want to encourage a habit of critical thinking and I believe that’s God’s Way, as well. God is not afraid of our questions. He’s not afraid of our doubts. He knows our limitations because, frankly, He set them. He established the boundaries of our intellect, for some reason, and so He is aware of how much we can learn and it is obvious that He has a lot more confidence in our intelligence than most of our church leaders do.
All of that to say that, in this ministry, I won’t apologize for being…an apologist. I trust you and I trust the Spirit of Truth to do His job and guide you (and me) into all Truth (John 15:26). This lesson is the beginning of a series and this series is going to challenge you. We will be taking a detailed look at the most important event in human history: the Resurrection of Jesus. Why is that important? Well, that is the point of this first installment. It is here that we examine whether or not believing Jesus rose from the tomb is important. I mean, we talk a lot about the “Risen Christ” in church. At Easter time (I don’t like that word but that’s for another day) we plaster all over the place “He is Risen!” We see it on church billboards, in the pastor’s newsletter, we post it on Facebook and even occasionally (with ever-dwindling frequency) give each other greeting cards that tell us that the tomb was empty. But, do we really believe it? It’s pretty spectacular, when you think about it. A dead man is placed in a grave and He is not there 3 days later. And, listen, that does not mean He’s now a ghost…whatever that is. We don’t have trouble with the concept of someone’s spirit going…somewhere after they die. That is NOT what happened in this instance. His BODY rose. He had a body. What was once dead flesh got up and left that boulder-sealed cave. Can you believe that? By the way, that’s a legitimate question. I want to know. Can you believe that Jesus rose, BODILY, from the dead because if you can’t or you won’t then Paul says your faith is in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:17) Now, if you need more information to make a decision, I get that. That’s okay. That’s why this series is here. We want to make sure to give you as much information as possible so you CAN decide because decide you must and, if we fail at that, we hope that, at least, this series gives you a genuine desire to learn enough to make a decision. I am hoping you’ll see how important this is and that you take it upon yourself to seek out Truth…no matter the personal cost. This is NOT to be taken lightly. The Resurrection is the central, pivotal fact of human history. The Resurrection is the dividing line between the saved and the damned. Those that accept its Truth will live and those that don’t…won’t. So, I implore you with every ounce of my being to find a way to bring yourself to full acceptance of the Truth of the Resurrection. May I humbly suggest that you start by listening in to this series. If nothing else, it should give you a foundation upon which to build your continued pursuit of the most startling claim in human history. BUT before you do ANYTHING take this to God in prayer. Ask Him to guide you. Ask Him to show you Truth and, I believe, He will open up His Word to you in ways that may surprise you. If your heart is sincere and you truly want what He wants, God will answer your doubts and strengthen your Faith.
Discern (with Communion)
One of the most commonly known church rituals is the taking of Communion. In fact, that’s really one of the biggest problems in all of Christianity. We have become so used to the Communion that it’s lost any semblance of sacredness. Most of us could go through the rituals with our eyes closed. Most of us are so familiar with the way the Communion is celebrated we’ve long ago stopped thinking about it. The Table of the Lord has become just another routine in a world of full of routines. We put no more thought into it than we do making our coffee in the morning. AND YET, Paul says not thinking about it when we partake will bring judgment on us. (1 Corinthians 11:29) But the greatest tragedy of this is the fact that Jesus Himself said, “…do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) The unfortunate truth, however, is that Jesus is the LAST thing most remember when they take communion. The one thing Jesus asked us to do with regard to the Table, we neglect to do. In this ministry, we are trying to regain the dignity of this beautiful, little ceremony. We spend a great deal of time teaching about how important the Table of the Lord is and we try to instill in you a deeper respect for this Jesus-given sacrament. In this lesson we concentrate on Paul’s warning about discernment. We also celebrate the Table of the Lord in this episode so be sure you listen closely to the first section of the podcast so that you can be prepared if you decide to join in. BUT, before you do any of that, before you start to listen to this podcast make sure you take a moment to pray. It is always best to prepare your heart and mind so that God’s Spirit can effectively share with you the Truth of God’s Word.
The Bible spends a great deal of time talking about something we now refer to as the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. It is really one of the most fascinating topics in Scripture. Some of you know that it was designed by God and built by Moses and the Israelites to be a place where God could dwell among His people (Exodus 25:8). Now, this episode does not feature a discussion on the Tabernacle; for that you can check here and here. However, I want to point out, briefly, that according to God’s instructions, just past the entrance to the outer court of the Tabernacle complex, was placed the Brazen Altar. It was at this altar that the various sacrifices of the people were brought. This was where the payment for sin was offered. Now, I bring that up to say that in God’s Plan, forgiveness of sin is only the beginning. ALL of the rest of the Tabernacle, a type and shadow of, among other things, the life of the Christian, lies ahead. When you accept Christ into your life as your sin bearer, as your sin offering, you’ve only really only just started your journey. Jesus characterized it as being “born again”. That’s something you hear a lot in evangelical churches; don’t you? They talk a lot about the “born again experience”. The church world is geared toward bringing the sinner to the altar but fails to take them past it. The saved are left in spiritual infancy…standing around the altar, never venturing out too far. We actively teach and emphasize and focus on, for example, the first 11 chapters of Romans but for some reason we don’t, then, move on to chapter 12. Yes, the glory of Christ’s work on our behalf is in full view for three-quarters of Paul’s Christian manifesto and it’s magnificent, glorious, wonderful…but Paul never intended us to stop there. Through those opening chapters he highlights marvelous things like receiving righteousness of God by Faith (Romans 3:22) and how Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6) and how we now have life in Christ and that we are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). On and on it goes regarding our Salvation. Many of you are quite familiar with most of that. Those verses are heard regularly on Sundays and we praise God for them…but there is actually more. Once Paul has those things out of the way…once he feels we get it, he says:
(Romans 12:1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
In this lesson we talk about what comes next. We lay out the “why” of Salvation. You’ve heard plenty about the “how” and “who” but not so much about the “why”. There is more to our lives than waiting around for the Rapture. You were born for a reason and it’s not limited to the pursuit of a ticket to heaven. God wants us to offer ourselves for His purposes and for His pleasure and He makes that clear throughout His Word. So, take a moment to pray for the assistance of God’s Spirit of Truth. Ask God to open up eternal things. Pray that He will guide you to a better understanding of your place in His Kingdom. Once you’ve done so, press the “Play Button” and listen in as we teach on this most important topic out of God’s Word.
Not to start out sounding like an old man…old men use…perhaps overuse the phrase “these days”, but I can’t avoid it this time. These days…(shudder) it is very difficult to be an honest Christian AND bring unbelievers to Christ. It’s not that the need isn’t there. Certainly you can see the state the human race is in. And, you know what, there certainly isn’t a lack of those who say they are willing to reach out to the “lost” as the Bible calls the unsaved. Seminaries are full. Bible Colleges are springing up everywhere. And, why not? In America, at least, being a pastor has turned into a pretty sweet gig. Some of the most ostentatiously wealthy people in this country founded or pastor or are, otherwise, employed by what is, now, known (at times, derisively) as “megachurches”. There is plenty of demand and, on the surface, at least, there appears to be plenty of supply. Churches are bursting at the seams, in some places. Mission trips are packed and plentiful. Heck, people are insisting, through the ubiquitous use of bumper stickers, that we should “keep Christ in Christmas”. So, why does it still feel like there is a worldwide spiritual crisis that never seems to dissipate, even just a little? You want to know what I think? You probably said “no” but I’m going to pretend you didn’t. I think the problem with the packed church yet spiritually bankrupt world is directly traceable to the pulpit. We, long ago, changed the message. Maybe the word “change” is not the one I’m looking for. It’s probably better to say that the message has been abridged. I mean, it’s relatively difficult, nowadays, to outright lie about Scripture; people have a lot of access to the Bible and they do LOVE to correct you…if for no other reason than to feel superior. Instead, the preferred method of truth manipulation is to “cherry-pick” your way through the Bible. Highlight this part while de-emphasizing that. That way you can even provide chapter and verse and everyone is happy. Isn’t that what we’re after? Keeping the people happy? Isn’t that what makes your pastor happy? (Please don’t email me and tell me you’re the exception. I KNOW there are exceptions. If this doesn’t apply to you then just let it go.) We have full churches and empty hearts because the message isn’t complete. He loves you, yes. He wants to save you, yes. That’s the part you hear about; but there’s more. This is the part you DON’T hear about. God’s Word makes it clear that the life of the believer is not going to be smooth and silky. Does Jesus wish that “our joy would be full”?(John 15:11) He does indeed. The problem, however, is WE want to define the path to this joy. Well, God once said, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass” (Deuteronomy 33:25) Seems like an odd thing to say; don’t you think? Why would God insist on shoes made out of such materials? Tough shoes mean only one thing: tough trip. Your footwear must match your journey; right? Not that this has happened to me too many times but have you ever checked into a swanky hotel room? There are lots of little amenities provided to you for your stay. Comfy robes and splendid lotions and soaps and shampoos. There is fancy tea and sometimes delicious treats waiting for you each morning of your stay. In the more posh locales they’ll even give you fuzzy, over-sized, plush, downy-soft slippers. Now, believe it or not, all of this is a marketing ploy. They want to give you the impression that you’re in the most relaxing place on earth. Those plush slippers are right there in the open because they want your imagination to picture a laid-back, no pressure, luxurious, ultra-relaxing visit in, what is certain to seem to be one of the antechambers of heaven. Well, I think those hotels learned that little stratagem from God. However, He said that our shoes will NOT be luxurious in any sense of the word. Nothing comfy sounding about shoes made of brass and iron. Like those hotels, God is telling you what to expect. With similar intent but with opposite sense to the Ritz, God is providing the shoes BEFORE the trip begins because it’s going to bumpy, to say the least. If God insists on durable shoes you can be certain that what lies ahead will be hard. It’s likely you didn’t realize that. It’s likely no one pointed to those tough shoes and said, “Here is what God is telling you you’re going to need for your journey in life.” Now, all of this is NOT to meant to bring you down or worry you or discourage you. In fact, quite the opposite. You see the one thing that telling you only half the story does is reduce your opportunity to grow in Faith. If you think the Christian life is supposed to be all cookies and ice cream and then you start to feel the inevitable cold winds of adversity blow, you’ll either think God is cruel or forgetful or, at the very least, angry. The FULL truth of Scripture is that life does not magically transform into a lavender scented, perpetual lazy summer afternoon for His children. One more time, yes there will be great joy. Yes there is rest. Yes there will be plenty of fuzzy slipper moments. But there will also be moments…quite a few, as a matter of fact, that call for tougher shoes but that’s actually NOT the whole message either. In fact, that isn’t even the message of Deuteronomy 33:25. The message of Deuteronomy 33:25 and, frankly, the whole Bible and this week’s podcast is that those tough shoes you’ll need for the tough trip will be provided for you. That is why telling the half-truth does you no good. Let me tell you, not being told about the tough trip isn’t going to keep it from happening. It’s gonna happen. The entire Bible is geared toward increasing your Faith. Deuteronomy 33:25 is NOT telling you about the tough trip. It’s telling you about the tough shoes and who’s going to provide those for you. God wants you to know He will provide for you…no matter what your journey brings. There is so much more to learn. So, go ahead, prepare your heart and mind by asking God to send His Spirit to you and then have a listen in to this week’s lesson. Hopefully it will help you to see that God knows what the road ahead looks like for you and that He has provided all you will need to make it through.
For Me and Thee
There is an old Jewish saying that states, “As the bee brings home honey to its owner, but stings others; so it is with the words of the law”. The critics of the Bible claim it is filled with death and wrath and exclusion and judgment and, you know, that’s one of things the critics, actually, get right. But, unfortunately for the critic, that’s all they see. God is a just God and a just God will exact justice; He must or He can not claim to be just. Justice…even in our own little realm, can be unpleasant. I mean, it’s one of the reasons people want to avoid being on the wrong side of the law. Justice can be harsh because it has to be. So, yes, the Bible, the record of a just God, will have those elements to it. But the Bible is also full of love and tenderness and care and comfort. Not only is God a just God but He’s a loving God. We know that because of Jesus. The Apostle John makes it clear in the 1st Chapter of his Gospel that although no man has seen God, Jesus has “declared” Him. That’s the word we see in the King James. The original Greek word actually means to “lead out”; to “draw out”; to “unfold a teaching”. Part of the wonder of Jesus is that He is a picture of what God is like…partial picture, of course. You and I, in our current state could not…and, actually, maybe never, handle a full view of God. Nonetheless, what we see Jesus do, God would do.
One of the most fascinating stories found in the Bible is the miracle of the coin in the mouth of the fish. It is actually one of the most incredible miracles in all of Scripture. The details are actually astounding. So, astounding, as a matter of fact, that we have largely missed the point of the story. As we read it, we seem only able to marvel at the power Jesus has over nature. Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to stand in awe of Our Lord but we must ALWAYS look beyond the facts to get the message. That is what we do in today’s lesson. We dig into one of the best known portions of Scripture and really focus on what God wants us to know. In this story we see the side of God that the critics miss. In these passages we see the “other” reason why God is to be worshiped and adored. This story demonstrates God’s love for us as His own. It demonstrates that God is aware of us and our needs as individuals. It is a lovely, comforting reminder for when the world seems so gray and impersonal. We invite you to listen in as we teach from this uplifting, vital story from the life of Our Personal Savior, Jesus. Remember, before you begin, take a moment or two to ask for God’s Spirit to be with and lead you into the Truth of the Gospel.
We may find it difficult, at times, to talk to our friends about Jesus. Many of us want to spread the Gospel but we, very often, meet with resistance, but can you imagine what it must have been like in the beginning? When those original apostles and disciples set out to evangelize the world as Jesus commanded them to there was more than resistance; there was ignorance. Outside of Palestine no one had EVER heard of Jesus for that first few decades. Those that had been sent to convert the Gentiles had a very difficult task indeed. Of course, the apostles tasked with trying to convert the Jews didn’t have it all that easy but, at least, there was some common ground in Scripture. The Jews…including those outside of what we today call the Holy Land…the Jews of the diaspora as they’re called…may not have been easy to convince that Jesus was the Messiah but, at least, they knew what a Messiah was. The problem for the rest of the apostles was that the cultural influence of the Jews was very narrow. At that time, if you weren’t Jew by birth then most likely you had no familiarity with the Jewish religion whatsoever and you just as likely didn’t know anyone who did. The dominant cultural and religious mindset of the day in most of the known world was decidedly Greek…thanks to Alexander the Great. Not only did the famous Macedonian general conquer lands, he conquered minds. Before his rather untimely death, Alexander set out to spread Greek thinking throughout the world. And he did a pretty good job, I must say. I’m sure John the Evangelist would agree. You see, John, the writer of one of the Gospels, a few epistles and the Book of Revelation was among those apostles whose mission field was among the Gentiles. Tradition tells us that John lived in one of the MOST Gentile cities on earth, at the time: Ephesus. This was a very, Greek, VERY pagan city. In fact, Ephesus was home to the Temple of Artemis, also sometimes referred to as the Temple of Diana, one of the holiest sites in the Greek pagan religion. Trying to convince his neighbors of the Gospel of Jesus was not going to be an easy task, even for this giant of the early church; a man who knew the Messiah personally. But “For God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37) Difficult, yes. Impossible NEVER. Tune into to today’s lesson to get a glimpse into the immeasurable wisdom of our Father. The opening verses of the Gospel of John demonstrate that God has been in control from the beginning. The genius of the those first few statements is remarkable. Please join us as we take a focused look at one of history’s most incredible literary treasures. BUT, as always, before you begin, take a moment to pray for God’s Help in understanding the wonders of His Word.
Kinsman Redeemer (with Communion)
The Bible tells us so many comforting things. That is one of the reasons people love it so much. But the Bible ALSO tells us more than a few discomforting things. And, that’s why so many people DON’T love the Bible so much. One of the most persistent discomforting things the Bible says is that the human race is in a very precarious position. We’re in trouble. I’m sure that those of you that are familiar with the Bible will accuse here me of understatement…and you’d be right. I am “soft-pedaling” a bit. One can’t just jump right into these sorts of things. But the Bible does use words like “wrath” and “destruction” and “torment” and phrases like “consuming fire” and “weeping abundantly”. And, by the way, if you’re only being taught the comforting things than you are not being told the whole story and whoever is the one responsible for the abbreviated version of the Bible is not doing you any favors. The Scriptures make clear that the human race is in REAL danger…outside His care. You can hardly turn a page in the Bible without being reminded of that. We were born into this world at a distinct disadvantage. Doesn’t matter if you don’t like to hear it…actually, it doesn’t even matter if you don’t believe it. Adam, the ancestor of us all, sinned and those that have been born of woman since…and that’s everyone of us, are affected. We are all tainted by the sin of Adam and, let me remind you, that we don’t do ourselves any favors either. If you’re honest you’ll admit that you do a pretty good job of being a wretched sinner even WITHOUT the stain of Adam’s rebellion. Now, of course, I’m leaving out quite a few of the details but it is not my intention here to prove any of this first part to you. Suffice it to say, you and I are born in sin and, in ourselves, we are powerless to change that. Paul refers to this condition as “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21) In every sense of the word, we are enslaved to sin; as hopeless as any other slave to throw off our own chains. Now, I don’t want you to think I’m just using poetic imagery here. I’m not that clever. This is precisely how God WANTS you to view your condition. Over and over, in the Bible, God uses the analogy of slavery to get across to us our dire circumstances. You must remember that behind everything presented in Scripture there is God’s description of His Rescue Plan. In fact, that’s the entire purpose of Scripture: to tell us about how He will make things right again. One of the clearest examples of this is found in the Book of Leviticus. It is there that we find what is now called the Law of Kinsman Redeemer. It is a beautiful picture of how Christ will provide a rescue for us. The Law of the Kinsman Redeemer is given to us to show that God will NOT leave us in our bondage to sin; to assure us that we have hope; to prove that He is always in control and His Justice and Righteousness is preserved even when He redeems “that which is lost”. Today we will be talking about the Kinsman Redeemer. ALSO…in this episode we will also be going to the Table of the Lord. Make sure you listen carefully to the first few minutes ESPECIALLY if you want to participate with us which we invite you to do. BUT, as always, before you hit “Play” take a few moments to prepare your heart and mind by going to God in prayer. Ask Him for understanding. Ask Him to guide through His Word. Once you’ve done that, dive right in.
Mankind seems to be a worshiping creature. Of that, there seems little doubt. The problem is, for some reason, mankind resists worshiping the One True God the way He has told us He wants to be worshiped. We don’t like how He says to do things so we decide to go about it our own way. We still say we love Him. We still show up on Sundays. We still even carry Bibles under our arms but, from the looks of things, we don’t open them very often or we don’t seem to care what it says. We accuse God of being too rigid or “old-fashioned”. Some people may give God a break and blame the men who wrote the Bible as if God isn’t strong enough to stop someone from writing a forged biography of His Son. Well, the Bible tells us “Be not deceived, God is not be mocked.”(Galatians 6:7) In today’s lesson we discuss the infamous Nadab and Abihu; a couple of insincere ministers of God who learned the hard way how important it is to God that we serve Him properly. And this is not just an Old Testament story. We have our own Nadabs and Abihus in our time and the purpose of today’s podcast is to point out to you that God will not ignore Strange Fire.