Episode 93 | JOYRide, part 5: Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-kveei-c2ea73

 

In this episode, Rev. Todd concludes the five-part series entitled, JOYride. This message, specifically entitled, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”, focuses on the prodigal son parable and the value in turning back toward home when we feel lost. This message is based on Luke 15:11-32.

EPISODE NOTES:

A LOOK BACK: Meet Antichrist

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

Episode 92 | Road Less Traveled

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-m44uj-c20b84

In this episode, Rev. Todd continues the five-part series entitled, JOYride. This message, specifically entitled, “Road Less Traveled”, is about the need to the need to travel down the less traveled road of compassionate care for others. This message is based on Luke 10:25-37.

EPISODE NOTES:

God’s People, part 210: Unrepentant

Read Matthew 11:20-24

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.” (Matthew 10:14-15, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

hardened-heart2Part 210: Unrepentant. Today’s passage deals with people in the collective. In other words, we’re not dealing with individual people, but entire cities (more likely villages) of people. To be specific, Jesus is calling out the cities of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Before going further, let’s investigate those particular cities. Korazin was one the Eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee on the Plain of Korazin. According to the Babylonian Talmud it was known for its grain and may have been a region around Cana of Galilee and not just a single village.

Bethsaida was a city east of the Jordan River, where it emptied into the Sea of Galilee, located in an uncultivated area used for grazing. It believed that it might be the sight from which Jesus fed the 5,000 men (15,000 if you count the women and children present) with five loaves and two fish. Bethsaida was actually the hometown of Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John.

Capernaum was a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee and was the hometown of Matthew the Tax Collector. This was also the place from which Jesus operated his Galilean ministry out of. In fact, Mark 2:1 implies that Jesus called Capernaum his home during his active years in ministry. So, Jesus spent a lot of time in Capernaum and performed many miracles there, as he did in the previous two cities/villages mentioned.

Yet the villages themselves did not largely accept Jesus. In fact, he met quite a bit f of resistance from the religious leaders and from the people. That is not to say that everyone in those villages rejected Jesus. Clearly, there were people who supported him; however, most of the people were moved to repentance by Jesus, his ministry, and his miracles.

Thus, Jesus says that it will be better for Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom on the day of judgment than it will be for those villages. Harsh, right? Why would Jesus say that. Actually, Jesus answered that question for us: “For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse…For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today”  (Matthew 11:21, 23, NLT).

What Jesus was lamenting over was the fact that they were witnessing the very presence and power of God before them and still there hearts were hardened. Tyre, Sidon and Sodom were rough places with wicked people; however, they did not have the benefit of seeing God face-to-face. Had they, Jesus concluded, they would have gladly repented and turned back to God. The sin of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum was their pride. They saw themselves as not needing a Savior, and they did not recognize God in Jesus because of their prideful, hardened hearts.

That should be a challenge to us. Where do we house the villages of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum within us. What parts of us do we deem untouchable? What aspects of our lives are we NOT willing to repent and let go of? Do we bear a hardened heart toward God? Are we unrepentant? Let us be challenged to head toward the light so such parts of us might be exposed and eradicated for the Glory of God and the transformation of the world.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Sin leads to wickedness and to hearts that become hardened to things of the Spirit.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin

PRAYER
Lord, soften those parts of my heart that keep me from full repentance. Forgive me I pray. Amen.

God’s People, part 209: Messengers

Read Matthew 11:1-19

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Oberzell_Alte_Kirche_Decke_Johannes_im_KerkerPart 209: Messengers. Once again, we are talking about John the Baptists’ followers. While the Gospel of John has the Baptist completely recognizing who Jesus was, calling him the “Lamb of God” (John 1:26), and confessing that Christ “must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30, NLT). While these words are poetic reflections of what did end up happening, it is not likely that John the Baptist necessarily understood that to be the truth.

The Synoptic Gospels indicate otherwise, actually. John must have held out hope that Jesus was the Messiah, there’s enough evidence for that; however, the passage in Matthew that you read for this devotion is evidence that John had doubts as to whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. Those doubts get clearly expressed through the Baptist’s messengers.

These messengers were disciples of John the Baptist and where caring for him while he was locked away in prison. They would bring messages to John and they would also deliver messages from him. In today’s passage, we see them doing just that; they’re delivering a message from their teacher to Jesus: “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Matthew 11:3, NLT)

John the Baptist, the faithful prophet who preached the coming of the Messiah and repentance of sins in the Judaean wilderness, was doubting as to whether Jesus was the real deal. As a result, he sent messengers to carry those doubts to Jesus in order to see how he responded to them.

It is easy to read this negatively; however, I do not think that Matthew saw this as a negative thing. Doubt is a normal part of life and, if one considers John’s imprisonment, the Baptist was experiencing extreme persecution and hardship! He no doubt felt isolated, alone and confused. He sat in isolation in the depths of Herod’s dungeon, wondering if everything had been in vain.

So, how did Jesus respond? “Jesus told them, ‘Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.’ And he added, ‘God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.’” (Matthew 11:4-6, NLT)

Jesus did not stop there, because his intent was not to scold John. Instead, he continued on by praising him. “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is” (Matthew 11:11, NLT)! The last sentence was not a slight toward John the Baptist, but a reminder of the economy of heaven. The least shall be greatest and the greatest shall be the least. In fact, in John’s current situation he was certainly the least of these and Jesus is reminding him and us that God prioritizes those who are “the least of these” and the distressed.

Friends, this is a message to us as well. It is easy for us to get caught up in our circumstances and to begin to question whether or not Jesus is who he says he is. It is natural, in such times, for us to begin to doubt God. The doubt, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, it’s how we respond to it that gives our doubt any value. The question for us is this, are we better off in our circumstances without Christ, or are we better in them with Christ.

Today, we are being challenged to place our faith back in Christ. There is no need to shame ourselves over our own doubt. If someone as strong in his faith as John the Baptist could find himself in doubt, then we will certainly have those moments too. The challenge is to recognize that and to remember that Jesus is who he says he is and he has the power to bring hope, healing and wholeness to us once more. In that hope, stand assured that you might grow in your faith and in your service of the One who has saved you!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“You know, my faith is one that admits some doubt.” – Barack Obama

PRAYER
Lord, I believe! Help me with my unbelief. Amen.

Episode 17 | Surprised By IT

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-y4bfv-c04c3f

In this episode, fellow POJCasters, Sal and Todd discuss their favorite music, very scary movies and horrifying theology.

Party On Patrons: You can totally support us by subscribing to us on Patreon and, by doing so, you will be signing up for exclusive, bonus content, such as episode wrap-ups, extra segments and the like. We have three tiers of support and each level bears more rewards. Lots of great reasons to join. Click here for more information.

Party On JohnCast Swag: Yes, we have our own most excellent swag and you ought to support us by buying some! But don’t take our word for it: “Y’all need to buy some” – Rev. Evan Rohrs-Dodge

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EPISODE NOTES:

He Brews Segment

Sal

Todd

Most Excellent Music Segment

Sal

Todd

Very Scary Movies

Sal

Todd

Surprised by IT

Episode 91 | U-Turn Revisited

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-wcdt9-c03444

In this episode, Rev. Todd took a pause in the JOYride series in order to revisit the U-Turn message from last week to add some extra insight into it. Next week, the 5 part series, JOYride will resume.

EPISODE NOTES:

God’s People, part 208: Silenced

Read Matthew 9:32-34

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“But Jesus reprimanded him. ‘Be quiet! Come out of the man,’ he ordered.”  (Mark 1:25, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

JesusHealingDemonPossessedManPart 208: Silenced. In today’s passage, we have yet another encounter between Jesus and a demon. That particular demon, according to the account, had taken away the man’s ability to speak and communicate. Once he was brought before Jesus, the Lord cast out the demon and the man was instantly able to speak.

When it comes to passages such as this it is hard to not begin to think like a person living in the 21st century. We become suspicious of such accounts because of our scientific understanding. For instance, was this man TRULY possessed by a demon or was this a medical or psychological condition that kept him from being able to speak?

It is easy to get lost in such thoughts, but to do so would be to miss the entire point. Whether this was a medical condition or whether it was the resul of demonic-possession, the point is that once this man encountered Jesus he was healed. Jesus healed this man of what was plaguing him and he was able to speak. It’s is a miracle no matter how one looks at it.

We should be careful  to not see a demon behind every illness. Such theology is bad and can be deadly. With that said, that does not mean we should completely deny the existence of demons and evil spirits. It is very possible that this man was, in fact, afflicted by demons and that Jesus did exactly what the account says he did.

It is important to stress is that the devil seeks to silence us from expressing our love of God. Conversely, the devil seeks to silence the voice of God within us. Thus, Jesus’ healing this man tells us something about the power Jesus has over the devil. While the devil tries to silence us from communing with God, and while the devil tries to silence the voice of God within us, Jesus is on the side of the silenced and puts the devil back in his place.

The most important part of any relationship is communication. If communication is severed and/or cut off, relationships fail. This is true in human relationships and it is also true in our relationship with God. Satan wants nothing more than to destroy our relationship with God. We are silenced in our relationship to God through sin and seeking our own way over God’s. What’s more, God’s voice can silenced within us by all of the temptations that attempt to lead us astray.

Of course, God’s voice can never truly be silenced, but it can grow faint beneath the layers of temptations we face. We can choose to end the silence by opening our hearts to Jesus and reestablish our communication with Him. What’s more, if we reopen our hearts up to God, we can also end being silent on our love of God. We can witness to others who have been silenced by this world and the devil. We can bring them to Jesus so that they, too, can experience liberation from the silence and establish communication with God.

The devil certainly doesn’t want you to start witnessing about Jesus, and Satan will do whatever is in his power to keep you from doing that; however, Jesus is onto Satan’s modus operandi, and the devil is powerless against Jesus! In fact, Jesus liberates us and silences Satan. So, we are being challenged to open our hearts to Jesus and to put our trust in his power to conquer the evil forces in our lives and in this world. We, who are God’s people, can and will conquer evil and spread the joy and love of Christ if we but put our trust in Him.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“God is the Creator; Satan is the counterfeiter.” – Joyce Meyer

PRAYER
Lord, heal me from the things that silence my soul and muffle the sound of your voice within me so that I may serve and glorify you. Amen.

God’s People, part 207: Followers of John

Read Matthew 9:14-17

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’”  (Matthew 11:2-3, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

John-the-Baptist-in-PrisonPart 207: Followers of John. When we think of John the Baptist, we think of the prophet who preceded Jesus, and prepared the way for the coming of Christ. We often think of a wire-haired, wild-eyed, long-bearded, fiery prophet eating honey-smothered locusts. We probably envision him shouting at the top of his raspy voice, “Make straight a path for the Lord”, all the while thousands come from around Judaea to see him and be baptized.

As for his followers, we probably envision people who were looking toward the coming of the Messiah. We envision them hanging on his every word, listening intently for some nugget of truth about when the Anointed One of God would come. We know that some may have thought he was the Messiah himself, but when they saw John baptize Jesus, we more than likely imagine all of John’s followers leaving him to follow that long-awaited Messiah.

In reality, however, that was not the case. Once Jesus began his ministry, many of John’s followers stayed with him. John continued his ministry for at least a shortwhile after Jesus’ arrival at the Jordan. The Bible is not explicit as to the timing of John’s arrest, but it is quite explicit to the fact that John’s disciples were still active and around. They carried messages back and forth to him and they delivered messages that he had for others.

For example, in Matthew 11:2-19, we’re told that John sent his disciples to Jesus to question him as to whether he was the Messiah, or if they should expect another to come. In other words, John, who was imprisoned, was experiencing doubt as to whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus’ response, in part, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:4-5, NLT).

In today’s Scripture, we see John’s disciples challenging the way Jesus was doing things. They wanted to know why Jesus and his disciples were not fasting like they and the Pharisees were. Jesus’ responded by pointing to them to himself. “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast” (Matthew 9:15, NLT).

Like John’s disciples, we tend to lose our focus on what really matters: JESUS CHRIST. We get caught up and rules and regulations. We get caught up styles of worships and interior decoration. We get caught up in politics. We get caught up in all sorts of things that seem important to us; however, they are not important compared to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We are being challenged to place our focus back on Jesus, back on the Savior of humanity. Everything we do ought to come out of our deepest desire to serve Him and bring Him glory. Everything we do needs to be out of our desire to spread the Kingdom of God and the reign of Christ. Let us be a people who are eating, sleeping, and breathing Jesus Christ and his coming Kingdom!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Christ is Lord.

PRAYER
Jesus, help me to understand what it means for you to be my Lord. I wish for you to dwell within me and direct me in all that I do. Amen.

Episode 90 | JOYride, part 3: U-Turn

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-9hcga-c03381

In this episode, Rev. Todd continues the five-part series entitled, JOYride. This message, specifically entitled, “U-Turn”, is about the need to change direction when we realize we’re going the wrong way. This message is based on Acts 9:1-6.

EPISODE NOTES:

A biweekly devotional