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Time in the Chapel
49 minutes | 2 years ago
Feast of Tabernacles, Part 2
Symbols of Jewish fall festival of Sukkot, lulav – etrog, palm branch, myrtle and willow Feast of Tabernacles, Part 2 Scripture, like all other, so-called, religious documents is heavily criticized. The skeptics…and there are plenty of skeptics, claim that what we consider sacred is, in fact, silly. Of course, most of the more reputable and scholarly types wouldn’t put it like that (I only did for the alliterative value ). Sure, you will encounter such caustic commentary from the occasional anonymous Internet troll but they really don’t matter. The critics that I believe are the most dangerous are the ones that have all those little letters at the end of their signature line, e.g. PhD, ThD, PsyD. We are conditioned to believe that if there is a “D” associated with someone’s educational credentials then that person is to be listened to unquestionably. Occasionally someone with different letters may nudge their way in. We may have trouble with M.Phil or even the tricky sideways ThM. Many (not all, of course) of these very impressive sounding acronym-defined experts claim that the Bible shouldn’t be taken too seriously; after all it’s “only religious”. Yes, I’m beating that drum again but I’m only doing so because their drums keep getting louder and louder. The critics are increasingly attacking not only the Bible but anyone foolish enough to follow it. Those of us that ignore the experts and do take the Bible seriously are not only being marginalized but, of late, vilified. It seems if you think the Bible is worth adhering to then you are to be considered a bigoted, womanizing, colonizing, murderous, multi-phobe. We’ve even stopped debating or even considering that the Bible may be accurate. It just isn’t discussed anymore as if it has already been “officially” deemed a fable. Now, lest you think I’m merely talking about the pagans and atheists of the world, let me tell you, some of the most vociferous and vicious opponents of a literal interpretation of the Bible answer to “Pastor”, “Reverend”, or “Minister”. Now, I could really go on and on with this attack on the attackers but I don’t want to drift too far from my point. The key to believing the Bible is believing in Jesus. No, I’m not saying just believe that there once was a person named Jesus but believe in the Jesus that Jesus said Jesus was. If we can come to the conclusion that Jesus was actually everything that He said He was then all else in the Bible falls into place. Once you can accept that Jesus was, for example, the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) then you would not have a problem believing that Moses struck a rock with his staff and water flowed out of it (Numbers 20:11). You see, both of those passages are there to tell a story about Christ. Not knowing…or believing that that water flowing from the struck rock was a picture of Christ makes it seem like nonsense. Once you know…or believe “why”, the “how” is immaterial. Knowing…and/or, again, believing that Christ is thread that runs throughout the Word of God gives Life and Meaning to it. If you can believe that Jesus was sent of His Father as He said He was (John 20:21 and many others) and that the entire Bible talks about that then Scripture becomes a cohesive narrative like none other…ever. That miracle effectively makes all other reported miracles not only believable, but certain. The Seven Feasts of Israel exemplify the above Truth in grand and glorious style. In this episode we wrap up our discussion of the Feast of Tabernacles. This is another one of those lessons that will either thrill your soul or cause you to question my integrity. It will either intrigue you or repel you. It is our argument in this episode that a close and objective view of the Biblical…and, surprisingly, traditional details of this festival will lead to the Truth that Jesus is the Coming King. Like all seven of these Feasts, Christ is the object, purpose and fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. Need some convincing? Then have a listen to today’s lesson. However, before you do, might I suggest that if you are a saved Christian that you take a few moments to seek the Lord’s Wisdom by going to Him in prayer. Ask Him to reveal to you His Mind on these matters so that you can better uncover the invaluable treasures of Scripture. Pray that God will open your spirit to His as you diligently, honestly and sincerely seek His Truth.
67 minutes | 2 years ago
Feast of Tabernacles, Part 1
“View Of Jerusalem with the Temple of Solomon”by Philippe de Champaigne, 17th CenturyImage in the Public Domain Feast of Tabernacles, Part 1 Throughout Scripture, time and again God is seen stretching a Helping Hand to His people. His entire Book is a record of His love and care for them. God not only chronicled the many times He provided for the nation Israel but He insisted that they celebrate what He has done for them. You see, it’s not only important to God that His children praise Him for His constant provision but it’s also important for His children to remember the many ways He’s supported and cared for them. It is a lesson for all of us because when we remember the Lord’s tender love and help, we call to mind His abilities and willingness to lift us above whatever is pressing against us. That is precisely God’s purpose in giving the Feast of Tabernacles. In today’s episode we discuss not only the Scriptural but the traditional details of the Feast the Jewish people call Sukkot (or Succoth). God intended this Feast to be a reminder of the time He provided for the nation of Israel when they were fleeing the Egyptians following the Exodus. It is a celebration of God’s Faithfulness and mankind’s total but joyous dependence on Him. (Of course, there is another reason for this celebration but you’ll have to wait for Part 2 to hear about that. Can you guess? I’m sure you can.) In this podcast we have decided to go into some depth describing the ancient Talmudic traditions that have grown up around God’s original Feast. We learn that Sukkot is greatly loved by the Jewish people and has been for millennia. In this first part we concentrate on the ancient festivities and see that even tradition can be used to shed Scriptural light on Truth. I want to remind you that we are discussing matters of eternal importance. You may think that these sorts of things are for the Jew only but everything in God’s Word can be applied to everyone; Jew, Christian…even non-believer. It is all so vital and that is why we urge you each time to take a moment to pray before you begin the study. There is so much to learn and so much to meditate on that we must be certain that God is with us, guiding us and showing us what His Word has to say. So, I strongly suggest that you go to the Father in prayer and ask Him to assist you as you hear His Word taught so that you may glean from it every precious gem that will lead you closer to Him.
67 minutes | 2 years ago
Yom Kippur 2019
Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur by Maurycy Gottlieb, 1878Note the solemnity of the moment.Image in the Public Domain Yom Kippur 2019 There are many things that separate man from the beasts: intelligence, communication skills, sophisticated social order; the list goes on but the one I want to point out here is not so flattering. The animal kingdom is much better at facing reality than humans are. When an animal sees something good to eat, it eats. When an animal finds a safe place to rest, it rests. When an animal senses danger, it does something about it. It either fights or flees. This is where humans fail. Too often when we sense danger, we ignore it. You want proof? How about cigarette smoking, alcoholism and obesity. But there is a far greater danger that countless millions ignore every day: (Heb 10:30) For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.(Heb 10:31) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. “Oh, but we don’t like to concentrate on that in our ministry. We’d rather talk about the love of God.” How very human of you. You see danger, you ignore it. The cynic will accuse God of being dark and vengeful and repressive because He says things like, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) or “all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23) . We wonder why God is being so mean. Why doesn’t He just ignore it like we do? Suppose you’ve been driving all night through the Mojave desert. It’s dark. You’ve been on the road for hours and you decide to pull over just to get a little sleep. A few hours later, you are rudely awakened by a sheriff’s deputy banging on your window and shouting at you. You think, “Now, can’t he see that I’m tired and need some rest?” Next thing you know you hear a freight train speeding toward you. In the darkness and due to your unfamiliarity with your surroundings you parked your car on active train tracks. In a flash, that cop goes from obnoxious blowhard to live saver. God is pointing out your desperate, sinful condition because it is placing you in danger. The Bible makes it clear: We are helpless, hopeless sinners. As much as God loves us all…and He does love us all, He will not ignore sin. Now, this is not the place to discuss “why”. In fact, if you accept that He will not ignore sin than the “why” question doesn’t matter because once you come to the conclusion that God is holy and you’re not you will be driven to the REAL question, “What can I do about it?” Well, your mood isn’t going to improve because the answer to the question, “What can I do about my sin separating me from God” is…nothing. But, ironically…and with God there is SOOO much irony…ironically, though God is ALWAYS the offended party, He is also the only one who can make things right and the ENTIRE Bible is a record of His remedy. By the way, the only way you can make sense of the Bible, the only way the Bible will bring you joy is if you look at it as a picture of “The Atonement”. The Bible isn’t a history book, although there is history in it. The Bible isn’t a morality guide, although there is morality in it. The Bible is not a world peace plan, although there is peace in it. God’s Book is a prescription for removing sin and reuniting His people and the Seven Feasts of Israel are all of that in miniature. Today we talk about one of the most well-known of all the Seven Feasts: Yom Kippur; in the English, The Day of Atonement. God gave this Feast to His children to demonstrate all of what we’ve said thus far: He will not tolerate sin; it must be paid for; and we will NEED a substitute…a PERFECT substitute as payment. In the Old Testament, God established an elaborate system of offerings designed to do two things: Atone for sin and to tell a story. Join us for this podcast as we find out what that story really is. Spoiler alert: It’s Jesus! But before you begin, make sure that you are prepared in your mind, heart and spirit. Take a few moments and go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to allow you to see wondrous things out of His Law (Psalm 119:18). Plead with God…pleading means it’s important to you…show God that what He requires is important to you so PLEAD with Him to send His Spirit to fill you with His Truth.
49 minutes | 2 years ago
The Blowing of the Shofar Rosh Hashanah Perhaps no single event in all of history has had more impact on Judaism than the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. (we don’t use C.E. around here). Prior to 70 A.D. all the way back to shortly after the return from Babylonian exile and then before that 70 years all the way back to Solomon, all the worship activities were conducted at and within the Temple. After Titus swept through Jerusalem, less than 40 years after the death of Jesus, the devastation was unspeakable and the Temple lay in ruin and remains in ruin to this very day. Without the Temple, Jewish worship was drastically and tragically altered. No Temple, no altars. No altars, no sacrifices. No sacrifices and nothing would be the same. Even the revered celebrations of the magnificent Seven Feasts of Israel radically changed from the original intent to the point that the rich Biblical meaning and symbolism are, now, largely hidden from the typical Jewish worshiper and Christian seeker-after-truth. That’s why it is vital for every child of God to return to Scripture to try and rediscover why God instituted these wonder filled celebrations. In this episode we renew our series on the Seven Feasts that God gave Israel. This time we begin by talking about the “Fall” festivals, starting with Rosh Hashanah, otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets. Now, that doesn’t mean the Hebrew phrase “Rosh Hashanah” has anything to do with trumpets. The literal translation is “head of the year” or the more useful and commonly used looser translation, “new year”. Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish (civil) New Year. “Then why is it also called ‘Feast of Trumpets'”? Well, here is one of those radical changes to the Jewish system of worship we spoke of a moment ago. To hear the details, join us for this week’s podcast. But before you press “play” make sure you’re spirit is prepared and your heart is open and your mind is clear. The best way to do all of that…and, frankly, ANYTHING, is to ask for God’s help. Go to God and pray that He will assist you in understanding these crucial, vital, unmatched in the human realm celebrations that He gave His people. Ask for God’s Spirit of Truth to guide you as you strive to grasp what He has presented in His Word. Ask Him to permit you to see all that He is saying so that you can fully honor Him and His Son and come to a saving knowledge of all that He has done to bring you closer to Him.
65 minutes | 2 years ago
Psalm 22 Part 2
Jesus on the Road to Emmaus by Gebhard FugelThis image is in the Public Domain Psalm 22 Part 2 Bible scholars don’t always get it right. Just because they went to a top notch seminary or Bible College or Christian university doesn’t mean they’re infallible. No one is infallible. No one. Case in point, Bible scholars have unofficially titled Psalm 22 as “The Psalm of the Cross”. Well, as I argued in the last episode and I’ll demonstrate in this one, that moniker sells this beauty short. I mean, if all we had was the Cross, we’d be no better off than we were before Jesus came to the earth and, frankly, neither would God. Let’s just say it. If all Jesus had to look forward to was the Cross then I don’t believe he would have ever shed His Heavenly Glory and “took upon Him the form of a servant” and “the likeness of men”. (Heb 12:2) …Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus endured the cross; part 1, because joy lay ahead; part 2. If you were with us for our first installment in this series then I have no doubt that you were astounded by the accuracy of Psalm 22 in its prediction of the thoughts of the Man dying on the Cross. It is that startling exactness that, no doubt, motivated the scholars to label this the “Psalm of the Cross”. However, as incredible as the description of the cross is in this Hebrew Hymn so is the prediction of the aftermath of the cross. The JOY that motivated Jesus to endure His grisly Death is also found in Psalm 22. Hebrews 12:2, as quoted above, shows us that the joy that was set before Him included Jesus sitting down (the more modern way to put it) at the right hand of the throne of God. Well, how did Jesus get from the Cross to the right hand of the throne of God? Resurrection! Jesus rose and Psalm 22 is so wonderful, it tells us about that experience too! Join us for this, the second part of our Psalm 22 series. We purposely split it up because there are two distinct themes: the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. This section of God’s Word is a very big challenge to Bible critics and those that deny that Jesus is the Messiah. If you find it more comfortable to doubt that God exists or that Jesus is His Son or that the Bible is a true and reliable book then I suggest you skip this episode because all it’s going to do is make you uncomfortable by throwing a very serious challenge at your doubt. On the other hand, if you are truly interested in knowing whether or not what God says in Scripture is something you can hang your eternal soul on then I encourage you to listen in. But before you do I want to suggest you take a few minutes and go to God in prayer and ask Him to open your heart to Truth. Ask Him to help you put away old prejudices and the strong delusion of the world so that you can see clearly what is real and right. If your spirit longs for answers ask God to take you by the hand and lead you to His Wisdom.
102 minutes | 2 years ago
Psalm 22 Part 1 with Communion
Manuscript Leaf With The CrucifixionFrom a Missal_ca 1270–80Image in the Public Domain Psalm 22 Part 1 with Communion The thing I hear most often from my friends and acquaintances who do not fully agree with my views is that we shouldn’t take the Bible too seriously. I’ve never really heard anyone “denounce” the Bible or call for the end of the use of the Bible in society; at least not anyone most of us would take seriously. With only a few exceptions, perhaps, some lonely, attention-starved Internet trolls, most people are polite in their rejection of what the church still considers (for the time being) its most important document. Most people I encounter…especially those who know what I do with my life are civil, albeit a bit condescending. I often hear things like, “Well, it’s just a bunch of stories” or “It’s not perfect because it’s just a book written by men” or “Society has evolved since it was written. It’s no longer relevant.” The interesting thing about those who make these and similarly dismissive comments is that it is unlikely that any of them have spent more than 5 hours of their lives studying that which they criticize. It’s actually quite unique in the human social experience, I believe. In most other subject areas it would be considered rude to comment on the value or validity of something before having, at least, some knowledge of it. Although, I do admit, with the rise of social media more and more seem to willingly and actively participate in discussions on just about any topic regardless of their fitness to do so. Despite the fact there is a fairly sizable proportion of Biblical critics who refuse to change their position on the truth of Scripture, I believe there are still quite a few who just need to take a closer look. Today (and next time) we are talking about Psalm 22. This is where staying “on the fence” gets really tough. You see, besides just being one of the finest of the Hebrew worship songs, Psalm 22 is a remarkably accurate prophecy. Perhaps you didn’t know that the Psalms aren’t just a collection of Jewish hymns but that they’re also rich in prophetic imagery especially as it relates to the coming Messiah. In fact, Jesus Himself once said: (Luk 24:44) …all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Jesus said the psalms, along with other Old Testament Scripture, spoke of Him. Join us for this episode as we begin to unpack the remarkably prophetic Psalm 22. I especially encourage those of you who are still not sure if the Bible is sent from God Himself to have a listen. BUT if you are one of those who are not yet convinced that Scripture is “inspired” I’m going to ask you to withhold judgment until you have fully examined this startling example of God’s Holy Spirit working through the pens of men. It may take more than just our little two part series to get you all the information you need on this topic. Like every subject we teach on, I encourage all of you to do your own research. I never want you to solely rely on our teaching as you pursue a better understanding of God through His Word but I believe this is a good place to start. We do our best to strip away the tradition and religion and get to the heart of what the Bible is really saying. Psalm 22 was written for YOU. Psalm 22 was written with a purpose in mind. God is reaching His Hand out to you, grab it and let Him draw you closer through what He has said in Scripture. In this episode we also celebrate a Communion. If you’ve never done that with us before I would encourage you to pay as close attention as you can to the first 20 minutes or so of the program. It is in that segment where we cover some of the more important aspects of “Going to the Table of the Lord”. (If this is not the first time you’ve celebrated the Communion with us on a podcast then you’ve probably heard that first part already. If you prefer to skip ahead to the message just go to the 22 minute, 27 second mark of the podcast. That’s where the new content begins.) Just as a reminder, let me suggest that before you start the podcast that you take a few minutes and go to the Lord in prayer. We discuss eternal things on this program and the best way to get the most out of it is to have the Holy Spirit “alongside” assisting your understanding. Jesus is standing by, waiting for your prayers. Go to the Father and ask Him to open your heart and mind so that you can grow ever closer to Him.
59 minutes | 2 years ago
What Time I am Afraid…
David Strangling the Lion by Claude MellanThis is how we all envision the mighty King David but Psalm 56 gives us another view.Image in the Public Domain What Time I am Afraid… We’ve all heard stories of men and women who seem to bravely and unhesitatingly face incredible and, sometimes, terrifying situations. We love to say that they’re “fearless”. But is “fearless” even possible? Looking up the word “fearless” in the dictionary yields such expected definitions as “free from fear” or “without fear”. Yes, we will encourage and/or embolden and/or strengthen one another by saying “be not afraid”. Psychologists try to give us “the formula for living without fear”. You may have even read on a church billboard that God promises freedom from fear. Well, God doesn’t actually take away fear but, instead, He prepares you for it. He doesn’t isolate you from fear, He carries you through it. Scientists love to point out that the numbers of people claiming to be religious or even believing in God are dropping. They get all giddy when survey after survey shows that people have become increasingly uninterested in going to church. Science feels vindicated by these trends. The intelligentsia have claimed that they’ve been saying all along that people only turn to religion when times are bad and that now that science and government have it all figured out, people don’t feel they need God anymore. As long as they have science and government then what could possibly go wrong? “Thanks to us,” they say…”they” being either science or government, take your pick. “Thanks to us,” they say, “people are happy and they don’t need church. The citizens of the world have awoken and don’t go for those religious fables anymore. After all, they don’t need them. They have us. God doesn’t love them. We do. God doesn’t take care of them. We (science and/or government) do.” Karl Marx once famously said “religion is the opiate of the masses.” Nowadays, it’s seems to me, that science and government…and ACTUAL opiates (created by science and permitted by government) are the opiates of the masses. Science and government and chemical dependence have become the favored vehicle of happiness, of late. That’s the new religion that, by the way, Karl Marx would be very proud of. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no anarchist nor do I advocate ignorance. I believe in order and knowledge but I just believe that neither science nor government (nor chemistry) has as many answers as they think they do…certainly not as much as they say they do. Religious expression may be dropping but it’s not because people are all of the sudden happy and well-adjusted. In fact, quite the opposite. Honest science is actually telling us that depression is on the rise around the world. (Interesting, but somehow related side note, the article linked above cites INCREASED longevity of life, a direct result of more science in our lives, as one of the factors LEADING to higher rates of depression. Remember when science convinced us that we’d be happier if we lived longer? Yeah, that doesn’t seem to check out.) No, people are not skipping church because they’re happy. They’re skipping church because church stopped making sense to the church goer. The message from the pulpit has drifted away from Truth. God wired us for Truth and when we don’t receive Truth there is a disconnect in our spirits. You see, despite what critics and even churchmen try to tell you, God isn’t a choice of last resort. God isn’t someone to look up only when your stomach is rumbling or your hands are shaking and I honestly believe only people in a real relationship with the Father know that and what’s more, the Bible isn’t some talisman to rub when you’ve missed your last two car payments. The Bible is our guide to getting closer to God. Scripture is what the Holy Spirit uses to reveal to us God’s True Nature and once we know what He is really like, we don’t find ourselves going to Him less often; when we start to see God and His Son in their true roles in our lives we will find ourselves turning to prayer, worship and praise more often! Listen, you can’t blame the drop in church attendance on the Heavenly Subject Matter. Instead blame the earthly, earth-centered, backside protecting, people-pleasing and, too often, greedy teachers who are misrepresenting God. If you think the Bible is irrelevant then I blame you, your teachers (which include your preacher, pastors and priests) and the devil. If you’re taught properly and you want to learn Truth then you’ll find out that God and His Word are your only True Path to eventual, ultimate and eternal joy. I’m not saying you’ll get all of this at once. It takes time to wipe off, shake off and tear off the effects of this hostile world but little by little you will discover that in Scripture are the keys to living and life. That is why we teach from the Bible and one of our favorite places to teach from is the Book of Psalms. As you’ve heard me exclaim so many times in the past, the Sweet Psalmist never fails to hit directly at the heart of a humble seeker-after-God. We can learn so much about how to love God, fear God, serve God and please God through these gems of the Hebrew Hymnal and the one we teach on in this episode, I believe, is one of the finest examples of this truth. Psalm 56 describes the experiences of a well established, long time child of God and that includes, believe it or not, what it’s like to be gripped by fear. Yes, you can be close to God and still be afraid, at times, and God chose one history’s mightiest warriors to demonstrate that to us. Join us as we take an emotional journey through Psalm 56. In this episode we not only find out about fear but we find out how we should deal with fear. Despite what the critics may say, this portion of Scripture will reach directly into your life and present to you an effective, time-tested, king-approved method of overcoming this most basic of all human emotions: fear. Let me, however, remind you that the best way to prepare yourself for a study of Scripture is to go to God in prayer beforehand and ask Him for His guidance. He is more than eager to assist you in discovering what He has always wanted: a long-lasting…in fact, eternal relationship with Him. The only real way to fully understand God and His Word is to have His Spirit working with you, opening your heart and mind to eternal things. Go to Him now and He will join you in your journey of discovery.
92 minutes | 2 years ago
David and Bathsheba Georg Pencz (German, Wroclaw ca. 1500–1550 Leipzig) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1966 (66.529.82) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/336291 Psalm 51 One of the reasons that the Bible is so often rejected is because it is constantly reminding us that we’re sinners. Of course, no one will admit it but people don’t like to hear that. Not even the proudest, loudest reprobate likes to face that he was “shapen in iniquity”. It’s not that anyone really thinks that they’re unblemished by faults and failures. I’ve never met anyone nor heard of anyone who claimed to be pure. Most people admit to, at least, one or two past mistakes. “No one’s perfect” rolls very easily and naturally off all tongues but the problem with the Bible is that it makes you regret sin and what’s worse is it insists that you REPENT of your sins. “Hey, I’m willing to admit I’m no saint but that doesn’t mean I have to stop doing whatever I want.” (Isa 55:9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. “You see, it’s stuff like that. I don’t like when God says things like ‘his ways are higher than mine.'” The Bible makes very clear that in order to approach God we must come in utter humility. In fact, we must be willing to face more than humility, we must crawl to God in humiliation. (Mat 7:14) …narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. The original in Matthew 7:14 is a picture of a tight space that is contracted with pressure. In other words, it is uncomfortable. The way to life…eternal life, a life with God is not easy because, among other things, it involves stepping out in humility and humiliation. Few people are willing to go so far as to say they are a lowdown, lousy, miserable sinner…even if they KNOW that they are…in order to gain life but that is the only way God will have you. “Okay, I hear you. I’m a sinner and I want to change. I don’t want to offend God and man anymore but I don’t know what to do.” In response to that I would give my usual answer: Turn to God’s Word. In this episode we discover the beauty of Psalm 51. This is one of the, so-called, Penitential Psalms; penitential meaning something that expresses regret and sorrow for some sort of transgression or offense. In it David perfectly presents the model by which all men and women should come to God. Psalm 51 is a picture of utter shame and disgrace for sin. During this discussion we take time to cover the “back story” of this Psalm. We go over the event that led David to such a state of despair as described in excruciating, yet, poetic detail in this well-known portion of what Spurgeon calls the “Treasury of David”. This Psalm has been referred to and relied upon and meditated over by countless humbled sinners down through millennia as an introduction to their own cries for mercy and forgiveness. With tear clouded eyes we begin our frightened, saddened, burdened pleas for redemption by saying with David, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” Even if your heart and conscience is, at the moment, clear of a conviction of moral and spiritual failure (don’t know too many of those but nonetheless) you should join us just to see inside the broken, crushed heart of one of the most mighty, favored men in all of human history. If I were a betting man, I would wager that there aren’t too many people out there who aren’t touched by the wretched remorse of a broken king. Perhaps it would be best that before you start the podcast you take a moment to ask God to open your heart to, what I suspect, are the many ways you have failed Him. You may think I’m being a little presumptuous but if you’re even a little bit like me, you have a few offenses that need reconciliation. It’s okay. God already knows who we are. He just wants to make sure WE know who we are because once you and me and God are all in agreement on the miserable human condition then He can do something with us. So, go to the Spirit of Truth and ask Him to reveal to you…you, so that Psalm 51 will be your call to action to set the record straight, put your old self away and start the process of the complete renewal in His Power.
68 minutes | 2 years ago
Approaching God on My Own Terms (with Communion)
Johannes Sadeler I (Netherlandish, Brussels 1550–1600 Venice (?)) The sacrifice of Abel (plate 1 from The Story of Cain and Abel), 1576 Netherlandish, Engraving; Sheet: 8 1/8 × 11 3/16 in. (20.7 × 28.4 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1953 (53.601.17(62)) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/700567 Approaching God on My Own Terms (with Communion) What Cain and Abel Can Teach Us You know, atheism is not the biggest threat to the survival of the church. Actually it’s not even close. In fact, atheism is so innocuous in its effect on the cause of Christ that it’s not even mentioned anywhere in Scripture. Among all the thousands of characters in the Bible there is not ONE atheist. Not even Satan is an atheist. The biggest threat to the church is what theologians call apostasy. Nothing got the ancient Israelites in more trouble than apostasy. Nothing riled Jesus up more than apostasy. In case you don’t know, apostasy means the rejection or renunciation of a religious (and sometimes political) belief. (Mat 15:6) …Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Human attitude toward “religion” is a very funny thing and, frankly, always has been. We are forever changing our view of what is sacred. Of course, there is no doubt that Satan is behind all that changing but, nonetheless, we’re not without blame. A brief history of human religion could be mapped thusly: In the beginning everyone believed in the One True God. Adam and his family, at first, knew of no other worship worthy Being than God Himself. Satan stepped in and convinced them that their kind should share in some of that worship worthiness. Before long some people started putting other people in the place of God. After the expulsion from the Garden nature turned hostile toward us. Some people turned to the One True God for help. They probably didn’t like how and the speed at which He answered their pleas for protection so they turned to those people that other people were now worshiping. Some were satisfied and added to the ranks of people who worshiped other people. Some were not and decided that the best way to quell the hostility of nature was to try and please it. What’s more pleasing than having someone bow down to you? So, some people started worshiping nature and animals. Then mankind started finding shiny metal in the ground and thought, “Hmmm, that’s pretty enough to worship”, so they started making their people gods and animal gods out of gold and silver and since those ended up prettier and less smelly than the real things they started worshiping the shiny people and animal gods. Eventually Jesus comes along and personifies what the world should be worshiping. He does and says some wonderful worship-generating things and many people decide He’s the one to whom all worship should flow. That works out for a little while and, in fact, the number of people agreeing on Jesus as their God actually grows rapidly and significantly but then, slowly, the old pattern returns. This time, however, for the most part, Jesus is the one that is still considered worship-worthy but humans become unsatisfied with HOW to worship the worship-worthy. That’s the mess we’re in now. Yes, you’re right. It’s not a new mess but its damage is nonetheless real. When people decide that they don’t like the current god and that they would prefer a god they can deal with or use or hide from they tend to change the Truth to fit their fancy. There is no more glaring example of this deviation from Truth than at the Table of the Lord. In this ministry we’ve joined forces, at least in spirit, with other like-minded ministries around the world who are attempting to return the dignity to this simple and lovely ceremony. The church has decided down through the centuries that simple and lovely is not enough. They have come to the conclusion that ornate and spectacular is more to God’s liking. They have decided that God would be more pleased with pomp and circumstance than solemnity and reverence. Let me be clear, I am not impugning anyone’s motive (at least, not here). I believe, in the beginning, most are driven by an enthusiasm for the Glorification of God. However, purity of motivation is no excuse for presuming to have the authority to change the way God wants things done. He clearly wrote down in His Word how we are to celebrate this sweet memorial and any modification of “thus sayeth the Lord” is not acceptable (and actually comes with consequences). Please join us for this episode as we take some time to discuss how mankind tends to try and change God into something they can approve of. Here we attempt to highlight the danger of the human propensity to redefine The Divine to fit our own agenda. The ultimate purpose of this discussion is to point out how much the Communion has drifted from that simple little celebration that Jesus instituted in the Upper Room. In this episode, as you may have guessed, we also celebrate a Communion. If you’ve never done that with us before I would encourage you to pay as close attention as you can to the first 20 minutes or so of the program. It is in that segment where we cover some of the more important aspects of “Going to the Table of the Lord”. (If this is not the first time you’ve celebrated with us on a podcast then chances are you’ve heard that first part already since we include it with every Communion podcast. If you prefer to skip ahead to the message just go to the 22 minute, 27 second (22:27) point of the podcast. That’s where the new content begins. As always, I want to encourage you to go to God in prayer before you begin this podcast. I believe it’s always a good idea to begin any study of God’s Word by acknowledging that without Him your search for Truth will ultimately be unsuccessful. I urge you to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and ask Him to bless your effort to get to know Him better. Prayer is as vital a research tool as any other.
63 minutes | 2 years ago
A Colony of Heaven
The Reign Of HeavensAnonymousLate 17th CenturyImage in the Public Domain A Colony of Heaven “This world is not my home, I’m just a’passin’ through.” That is the well-known first verse of the classic American Gospel Hymn of the same name. All of the lyrics speak to weary Christians but I think it’s this one that is most often silently repeated as a means to comfort oneself when the burden of living for God approaches the extremes of mental, physical and spiritual endurance. Before I go much further let me say that today’s episode is for those who have already given their lives to Christ and are feeling the pressure of that decision. Now, I suppose I shouldn’t sound exclusionary. I don’t mean to. As always, anyone and everyone is invited to listen. In fact, let me even encourage non-believers and ESPECIALLY those on the proverbial “fence” to join us because this is one of those lessons that you should listen to before you opt for Christ. I believe in full disclosure. Most others in my business seem to believe in bringing in the saints at all costs…even costs measured in truthfulness and integrity. All is fair, it would seem, in love and altar calls. To me, complete honesty is far more effective in the preservation of the saints. Therefore, I believe in the “no surprises” approach to winning souls. Tell the full truth and let God and the repentant work it out. So, let me issue the following warning: If you’ve not decided for Christ yet but are considering it, today’s lesson may not provide you the motivation to make the final push, but you should still listen. So, if you’re still interested, let me finish this week’s little podcast “warm-up”. Most of you who have been at this for a while know that being a Christian is not easy. It’s true that no one is being fed to lions anymore (although violent persecution of Christians is once again on the rise around the world). Certainly when compared to the early church, being a Christian today is far less deadly. We may not be suffering much under the physical oppression of the world but we are still subject to its spiritual tyranny. (Joh 15:19) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Just as a, somewhat related, side note, it appears to me that the church world has been trying to bury that verse for the past 100 years. The church doesn’t seem to want us to be at odds with the world. From all appearances, it looks like the church wants us all to get along with the world. That sounds good and, to be honest, I would like that too but the church is far too willing to sink to the world’s level rather than bring the world up to ours…as Jesus called us to do. (Mat 28:19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:(Mat 28:20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you… You see, the problem is, doing all that teaching and baptizing is a lot of work in a world that doesn’t agree it NEEDS to be taught and baptized. Before long, the world starts to resent the effort. They take it personally (which they should) and after a while, the world looks at those who are trying to do the teaching and baptizing as as a hated enemy. Being a hated enemy is not fun. In this world, true Christians get pushed to the periphery and treated as outsiders to the point that we eventually feel like foreigners and, to be honest, that’s exactly what we are and if you know your Bible you know that condition will not change until Jesus comes to wrap this whole thing up. The commonly used aphorism of the dedicated, yet suffering saint states, “We’re in the world but not of it.” That simply means that we don’t belong here. We don’t share the world’s culture. We live here, yes. We want to live peaceably here, yes…well, mostly, yes but we must not compromise our new, heavenly culture, in order to achieve that peace. The very first sermon Jesus ever preached started out with Him saying, “Repent”. Repent means to change your thinking. Jesus calls on us to change from thinking the way the world thinks to the way He thinks. And, I don’t need to tell you this, but it’s hard. You see, part of the reason we want to accommodate the world is because the world is our hometown. We’re all born into it. We were all raised by it. Even when we’ve been a Christian for 50 years we sometimes get “nostalgic”. We’re sometimes tempted to go…back. But whenever we do, we notice how different it is and…we don’t want it to be different. We want to feel comfortable in it again and some of us don’t fight that feeling. Jesus wants us to leave the world behind and, too often, like Lot’s wife, we want to look back and, as it did for her, that’s going to cost us. So, the sign of a true, committed Christian is that they’ll look nothing like nor act anything like the rest of the world. They’ll live in other ways; love in other ways; say different things; pray different things. It’s really what makes the rest of the world so upset. The committed Christian refuses to play by their rules. Believe me, that takes some getting used to. If you are sincere about following Jesus, be prepared to be lonely BUT you’re not alone. There are, at least, a few of us…not many. There will be some who claim to be one of us but you’ll be able to pick the prayers from the players; the pretenders from the knee-benders; the false professors from the true confessors because they’ll be more like them and less like us. No matter where you are on the issue I urge you to join us for this week’s podcast. Before you do, can I suggest you search your heart to see if you are truly interested in seeking HIS will for your life and if you discover that what He wants is important, go to Him before you press play and ask Him to open your heart so that you can grasp what He is saying to you through His Word and His Spirit. Prepare your heart and mind for eternal things. Ask God to make the world fade into the background and let the light of His Son shine brightly.
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