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.
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.
Today we continue our fascinating series on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. In this lesson we go into depth on the various pieces of “furniture” in the Tabernacle. We explain the meaning of the materials, the placement of the objects and the everyday use of the items and show that, without a doubt, all of it is pointing to Christ. Every bit of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, in all of its many details, is given to us to tell the story of the redemption of mankind by the One we now know as Jesus of Nazareth. I know, I know it sounds hard to believe. How could something tell a story 1400 years before it happened and with this much accuracy? I just ask you to give it a chance. Listen in (as well as Part 1 in the series if you haven’t already) and keep your mind open. Don’t decide until you’ve heard the facts. That’s what this lesson presents: the facts. Before you begin, pray for understanding. Ask God to open your heart and mind so that you can see the wonders of His Word.
There is a book that is so fascinating, so incredible, so fantastic that it has captivated millions. If you read it with a sincere interest in understanding it, the expected result is deep respect and admiration (and eventually adoration) for its author. Of course, I am speaking of the Bible. Even those that criticize it or dispute the truth of its contents cannot help but admire it. After all, its pages are filled with some of the most remarkable events in all of human history; too remarkable, in fact, to be believable, is the claim of many detractors. In this ministry, we don’t spend much time trying to prove the veracity of the Bible. Sure, there is some of that here and there but don’t we ALL try to defend that which we love so dearly? That notwithstanding, most of the time we simply lay out the facts and let you decide. One of our favorite topics, something we return to time and again, is the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Not too long after the Israelites were rescued from Egypt, God told Moses to build Him a dwelling place and it was going to be like no other building ever built on earth. In fact, its primary purpose, unlike most other buildings, was not to house or contain things or people but rather the purpose of this building was to tell a story. In the building of the Tabernacle we get a glimpse of the immeasurable love God has for mankind. The Tabernacle communicates God’s mercy and provision in such a way that forces us to either go to our knees in utter reverence of His Glory or drive us away in mocking disbelief. This podcast is the first of two in a series that explores this magnificent structure. There is so much to talk about that we’ve had to split it up into two podcasts and, to be honest, that isn’t even enough. Today’s episode is far more general in nature but, nonetheless, crucial to your understanding of this wonderful topic. Make sure you take a moment or two to pray for God’s assistance and make sure you pay close attention because these are sacred things and should be given the respect they are due.
Far too often people will read the Bible or, more often, hear the Bible read and become confused, startled, disgusted and even angry with what it says. There are so many things that get in the way of the proper understanding of the things of God. Among the most insidious is our cultural mindset. Now, this, of course, isn’t a new problem. Down through the centuries, the way we have been taught by the society in which we were born and raised has had an enormous impact on our ability to learn new things. This is yet another reason why we have to make sure we take time to learn what Scripture is saying to us. So many people turn away from God because of what they have been TOLD the Bible says or, at the very least, what they BELIEVE the Bible says. In our English language versions of the Bible we see the Apostle Paul, time and again, refer to himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ”. I believe our modern use of the word “servant” does not adequately convey Paul’s view of his relationship to Our Lord. If it were possible for Paul himself to translate his letters for you and I into our modern English, he would most certainly NOT use the word “servant”. He would undoubtedly use the word “slave”. Now, why is that important? What difference does it make whether Paul meant “servant” or “slave”? Well, that is the topic of our discussion in this episode. Have a listen and decide for yourself. But, before you do that, make sure you pray that God give you spiritual ears to hear and a spiritual heart to understand. Ask Him to open up His Word in the way He originally meant it to be presented.
(Luk 18:1) And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
In this ministry we quite often teach on the subject of prayer. It is one of the most wonderful blessings we’ve ever been given…probably second only to Salvation itself. In fact, you’ve heard me argue that Salvation isn’t even possible without prayer and, so, it prayer actually be the MOST wonderful blessing of all. However, as wonderful as it is, I am convinced that we know almost nothing about it. Like so many other things in our so-called religious lives there is a lot of church tradition surrounding prayer. I would say that probably the vast majority of what we know and how we practice prayer is strictly tradition; so much so that the Bible’s version of prayer is almost completely foreign to us. Now, the reason this is so important to point out is that, as quoted above, prayer is something Jesus says we should be doing ALWAYS. That is a mighty high standard…which is, pretty much, the case with everything Jesus expects out of us. Jesus says we ought ALWAYS to pray and not to faint. That sounds impossible; doesn’t it? If you answer “yes” to that don’t feel like you’re alone in your opinion. Today’s podcast is centered on this most enigmatic statement of Our Lord’s. Have a listen…and make sure you stay all the way to the end because we’re going to go into some depth on this one and, believe me, there will be a few bends and curves along the way but hopefully by the time you get to the conclusion you will, at least, have a little better idea of what God considers prayer and maybe, just maybe, you’ll see that what Jesus is asking isn’t so impossible after all. Remember; pay close attention, pray for God’s help in your understanding (do that before you hit the “play” button) and open your Bible.
In this episode we continue our discussion of the woman with the Alabaster Box. This is one of those stories, on which, you could teach five lessons but this time we focus on another aspect of why this event was so important to Jesus…so important in fact that He made sure that those of us He has called to spread the Gospel (and that includes you) also tell this story. If you want to know what brings God pleasure, take a closer look at what this woman did.
The story of the Alabaster Box, as found in the Gospels, is a dynamic window into the mind of God. Through it we get to see what He values and expects from us. Here we see the tender heart of Jesus toward the humble and contrite sinner. Simon the Pharisee is presented to us as the contrast to the “sinful woman”. His judgmental self-righteousness receives a dignified yet effective rebuke from Our Lord and, as always, there is a lesson in all of this. We learn that it takes far more than an outward show of church-approved piety to get God’s attention. In this podcast we point out that this beautiful story is given to us to demonstrate how a true child of God expresses nothing less than a deep-felt, sincere love and gratitude for what they have received through Grace. This story is not given to us to command anything. It is given to us to simply lay out what it truly looks like when forgiveness is truly felt by the forgiven. This is Part 1. Part 2 is next week.