September 25, 2023

Ep.1300: I’m a New Christian! Now What?

Uncovering the many “need to know” aspects of living for Jesus

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CHAPTERS

[00:17:47]
Why do we have to label our lives in an honest way in order to change?


[00:36:03]
How do we begin the work of necessary Christian transformation?


[00:51:59]
What principles do we live by in order to be like Jesus?


Theme Scripture: Galatians 3:26-27

To claim the name of Christ and call ourselves Christians means we are claiming ourselves to be separate from the world. This sounds like a noble claim - and it is - though sometimes you’d never know it. Think about how many people make this claim and bear the Christian label but seem to be just like everyone else. This is a sad testimony to how, over time, Christian practices have been severely diluted. In many cases, this watered-down approach is to the point of not even being able to recognize true Christian principles. For someone who has just come to Christ, this can be a serious challenge. Are these new Christians being guided into the process of following Jesus’ footsteps, or to some other examples? What should any and every new Christian be focused on learning and growing towards?

Continue Reading

Let’s begin with the bottom line.

To be a Christian is work, and this work actually begins even before we claim the name of Jesus. The seemingly little-known fact of the matter is, we don’t simply choose to be Christians; rather, we are called to be Christians. We know this because it was a plain statement of Jesus that he gave as a response to some who were grumbling at his teachings. He said, “No one comes to me except the Father draw him.” So, where is the work? It begins with being open to God’s call. Because this call is NOT an audible voice, those who are called need to be attuned to the change God is drawing them to.

Our response.

Once we are aware of this drawing, our next task is to respond. Jesus informed us throughs parables that responding to the call of discipleship requires an investment of thought and consideration. For many of us, our experience in coming to Christ was energized and emotional. We realized that we were sinners, and we ran towards Jesus for the forgiveness of those sins. While this certainly is a good beginning, it is not what true discipleship is all about. You don’t simply get emotional and then essentially sign a contract that requires you deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Jesus!

Hearing this approach to being a Christian can come across as depressing. All we have talked about is work, thinking, sacrifice and dying for Jesus. Is it really all just work and effort? Of course not! There is MUCH more to this call. Check out our September 25, 2023 podcast, “I’m a New Christian! Now What?” for more. Along with the work, we also examine the blessings. After all, Jesus said that his true followers would be with him in heaven. He said that God’s spirit would dwell within them and guide them. He said that he would give them rest, that his "yoke is easy" and his "burden is light.” Join us as we look at the whole of the journey that true Christians are called to take. It is so worth it!

 

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September 18, 2023

Ep.1299: Who is God? (Part III)

The revolutionary changes Jesus taught us to better understand God

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:12:57]
Why was Jesus calling God his Father such a big deal?


[00:30:09]
Why isn't the title of Father used much in the book of Acts?


[00:47:51]
What is so special about calling God, Abba Father?


Theme Scripture: Genesis 1:1

As we have discovered from Parts I and II of this series, God is the Mighty One who has power and authority. He is the Self-Existing One who created humanity in His image for the purpose of having a personal relationship with them. Planet Earth was and is to be the eternal habitation of this human family. As God revealed Himself through man’s experiences, many aspects of His character became evident. He is the Supreme and Exalted Sovereign. He is all-sufficient and caring, and He continually provides. Not only is He "Jehovah Elohim" of individuals, but He is "Jehovah of Hosts." He sanctifies, shepherds and brings peace to those who follow Him. He is our rock, our fortress, and through His providence, He provides salvation. This is a mere sampling of the breadth of God’s character as revealed in the Old Testament.

Continue Reading

New Testament/New Depth

With the depth of explanation of who God in the Old Testament, you would think there would be little to add or clarify in the New Testament. Well, nothing could be further from the truth! The New Testament does far more than expand our understanding of God’s name, nature and character. It opens up a whole level of meaning and gives us a whole new depth of appreciation as well.

The way this all happens is really quite simple. In the first two parts of this series, we saw specific and dynamic patterns unfold. The further God’s plan unfolded, the more clearly He was able to be understood. In the beginning, God was the God of power and authority. After all, He created the heavens and the earth. He then became known as the God of relationship as it was revealed that the entire creative process was to accommodate His human creation. Fast forward, and Abraham became a "friend" of God. Fast forward again to when Israel was delivered from slavery and God became the "Lord of Hosts!" From there, He was sanctifier, protector, shepherd, and so much more. As time went on, so the understanding of God increased.

"Father," a radically new title

Now the New Testament rolls in, and it’s time for Jesus to come as the Messiah. This would represent THE single most significant step forward in all of God’s plan. Jesus would come to cancel all of sin for all of humanity through his sacrifice. Such a world-changing step brought a world-changing view of God along with it. And it all came down to one simple common word that had been used through every generation of humanity’s history: Father.

Jesus proclaimed God to be his Father. This had never happened before and would have been a shocking change. More than this, Jesus said that those who followed him would also be able to claim God as their Father! What did all of this mean? Check out our September 18, 2023 podcast, “Who is God? (Part III)” for more. We delve deeply into this amazing description of God and all that it implies. Join us as we work to wrap our own minds around this profound, reverent and inspirational way to better understand God our Father!

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Ep.1298: Who is God? (Part II)

Honoring God’s name, and how He was described in the Old Testament

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:53]
Why is God called Jehovah Sabaoth?


[00:30:48]
How is God our shepherd and the God of peace?


[00:46:11]
Psalm 18 describes God in what ten ways in only two verses?


Theme Scripture: Genesis 1:1

So many people believe God is a man-made myth. They see Him as a figment of the imagination of religious zealots who desperately seek some kind of higher power. When you look at mythological gods or the gods of some religious factions, you can certainly see the reasoning for that point. However, when we look at the God of the Bible, it has to be an entirely different story. What other book, what other belief system, gives you such a detailed and specific approach to knowing who God is the way the Bible does? In Part I of our series, we focused on God’s introduction to the world of humanity in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. We then focused on how God revealed Himself to Abraham. As we begin this second part of our series, we recap how God has been revealed through creation and Abraham. This sets the stage for the next steps of seeing who God is.

Continue Reading

His personal name revealed for the first time.

In Part II, our next focus is on how God revealed Himself to Moses. If you recall, Moses had been exiled from Egypt and had spent 40 years away from that country. He was drawn to know who God is, so he climbed up Mount Horeb. God presented Himself to Moses through an angel and a bush that burned but was not consumed. While it was here God told Moses of the task to deliver His people out from slavery in Egypt, there was an even bigger message to be given. It was the revealment of God’s name.

Moses was being assigned a task that was clearly over his head and needed dramatic assurance of how it could even be accomplished. God responded by describing Himself as, “I Am that I Am.” He is the Self-Existing one, the God above all who was, is and always will be. He would deliver the enslaved Hebrews, and Moses would be His representative. The lessons for us here are many if we are seeking to serve God. Are we positioned to do what He would have us do? Do we realize the might and power of His very nature, His wisdom, and His plans?

To know the name of God is to know a solemn and reverent truth.

To watch the power of God unfold before you and through you is another matter entirely. This is what Moses experienced. God’s power and plan freed the Hebrews from their generational slavery in Egypt. As they were being led out of that nightmarish captivity, God was declared to have yet another description added to His name. He, the Self-Existing One was now the Lord of all the millions who were being freed. He would become known as the "Lord of hosts," or Jehovah Sabaoth.

As dramatic as all of this is, it only scratches the surface of understanding God. Check out our September 11, 2023 podcast, “Who Is God? (Part II)” for more. We take the discoveries of Part I and use them as a foundation to reach towards an ever-higher understanding of God in Part II. There is SO much to learn! Join us for this ever-expanding discovery into the magnitude of our mighty God!

 

 

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September 10, 2023

Ep.: Did the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus really happen?

Yes, the account of Exodus is indeed a reliable account from eyewitnesses. It properly narrates the work of God in directing Moses in his God given task of leading the Israelites out of captivity — just as God promised to Abraham, that he would do (Genesis 15:13, 14). Not only did God work mighty acts to deliver Israel, but when in the wilderness at Mount Sinai, God, through an angel, spoke the 10 commandments to all the people of Israel, verbally, out of heaven — the whole camp heard the words. Note the record of this in Exodus 19:25 through Exodus 20:19. (Only later did Moses ascend the mount and bring down the written tablets.)

People who do not believe in God, or question the integrity of the Bible, assume that any reference to such mighty acts of God are false. In which case every thing that seems odd to them in the account given, are taken to be signs of some false narrative.

The Israelites did not walk lined up in single file, or even 20 abreast. They were gathered by tribes, each tribe had their respective leaders, who led their people under the direction of Moses. Regarding the Red Sea crossing, the record is that the Sea was pushed back by strong winds, which would therefore dry a large portion, not a narrow strip. After the Israelites crossed for several hours during the night, the winds shifted, the sea returned, and the Egyptians — who had been held up until the Israelites crossed — pursued them as the sea came back to strength.

Yam sûp/yam suf/yam suph in Hebrew (pronounced yahm soof and translated into English as “Red Sea”) literally means “sea of reeds” and appears many times in the Bible. In a number of these instances, it clearly refers to the body of water we know as the Red Sea (including its two northern fingers, the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Eilat or Aqaba).

As to the location of “Yam Suph,” 1 Kings 9:26 uses this expression to refer to what is now called the Gulf of Aqaba, which is the north eastern branch of the Red Sea. Whether the expression “Yam Suph” used in Exodus intends to mean one of the branches of the Red Sea, or another lake north of the western arm of the Red Sea, is an engaging area to discuss — but does not bear on the truth of the narrative. It is apparent that Jesus considered the narrative of the Old Testament respecting Moses as an accurate account, when he referred to them freely (Matthew 8:4, 19:7 among others).

 In the notable work by Kathleen Kenyon, “Digging Up Jericho,” 1957, chapter 8, “Nomadic Invaders,” discusses the mysterious Middle Bronze I invaders of Canaan. These are people who crossed the Suez, and left their hand made Middle Bronze I pottery remains across the northern Sinai. Later they journeyed southward to the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, then journeyed north east to the eastern plains of the Jordan, crossed the Jordan, took Jericho, Ai, then fanned out and took Canaan. Kenyon was unable to identify these people, because of the incorrect dating applied in those days — various writers now recognize these as the Israelites.

To learn more about the life of Moses listen to, “What Does Moses the Deliverer Teach Us About Jesus?”

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September 04, 2023

Ep.1297: Who is God? (Part I)

Piecing together an understanding of the unfathomable character of God

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CHAPTERS

[00:12:46]
God revealed His name - what does it mean for us?


[00:29:21]
How did Abraham reveal different facets of who God is?


[00:44:06]
Why is God called Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Jirah and El Olam?


Theme Scripture: Genesis 1:1

Whether we like it or not or believe it or not, the presence of powers higher than our human understanding cannot be denied. The debate begins and rages when we try to label these powers. Our human perspectives, belief systems and even how we claim to apply science all come into play here. As Christians, we by definition believe God is the ultimate source of power. We believe Him to be wise, just and loving in His expressions of that power. But how do we know this to be true? It is no surprise that the answer to knowing who God is exists in a very broad and orderly fashion in the Bible. Literally starting at the beginning will lay a foundation for us to not only begin to understand God, but to also begin to have a deep appreciation of who He really is.

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God's power and authority revealed in a name

There are several names and descriptions given to God, especially in the Old Testament. Each of them gives us a different way to grasp the Almighty’s character. For instance, the first five words of the entire Bible set a tone about who He is. Genesis 1:1 simply states, “In the beginning, God created…” This beginning refers to the creation of the earth as a habitable planet. The Hebrew word Elohim used to describe God here in this creative context is specific. Right away we know He was the initial force to make things happen. It was His plan, His power and His authority that put the development of planet Earth into motion.

Elohim is commonly used to describe God when His power and authority are being referenced. This gives us a hint as to how to understand God through Scripture. Because His character is so vast, there is no way to sum it up simply, so the Bible reveals Him in steps. When another aspect of God is being referenced or sought for, another name or description appears. In this way, we can learn to appreciate the depth of His character as our own minds become ready to receive it.

While this may sound like an easy math addition problem, it is far deeper and much more exciting. God is not systematically unveiled to us one character trait at a time; rather, it is done through the real-life experiences of those who follow Him. While this may seem less efficient, it is unspeakably more dramatic!

Who God is, as revealed to Abraham

Check out our September 4, 2023 podcast, “Who Is God? (Part I)” for more. We identify and define the keys the Old Testament puts in place to help us understand who God is. Abraham is a primary example of these keys. Throughout his life, Abraham had a myriad of experiences that challenged him, caused him to doubt and caused him to step out in faith. Through many of these times, God showed Abraham new aspects of His character. These were expressed as amazing names and descriptions of God. Join us for this thrilling journey! Truly knowing who He is may be closer than you think!

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