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Right Start Radio is a ministry of the Grace Polaris Church of Columbus, Ohio, and was started over 40 years ago with Pastor Jim Custer producing and then delivering it to local radio stations. Today Right Start can be heard in Ohio, Northern Kentucky, Gainesville and New Plymouth, New Zealand. Right Start is an outreach ministry with a three-fold aim: 1) Stimulate an interest in understanding the Word of God among believers (Colossians 1:28). 2) Strengthen local churches by providing a teac ...
 
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You have a 'To Do' list, and some of the items have been there a long time. Jesus had a 'Must' list. Yesterday we started picking out the times in Luke's Gospel when the Lord said He was constrained to do something. We'll complete our list of 11 "Musts," today. More than one of them have to do with fulfilling Scripture. Jesus made the startling sta…
 
We won't have meaning in our lives without a mission. We're stressed. We feel like a little too much is expected of us, sometimes - or much too much. But the pressure of responsibility is a distinguishing feature of Jesus' ministry, as noted by Luke. Today we begin a short series on The Life and Work of Dr. Luke. He gave us some observations that n…
 
John may not have invented baptism, but he sure did popularize it! The Jews were familiar with ritual washings, and they used to baptize their new converts to Judaism. John used it as a sign of repentance and commitment to a new way of life. When Christ and Christians adopted water baptism, the symbolism grew much deeper, but it all goes back to wh…
 
Let's talk about sons! Boys - what can you do with them? If you've got 2 sons, one will say "Yes, sir," and then disobey; the other one will say "No," and then obey. Jesus has some thoughts about those lads. Then He tells another parable involving a son, and has a question about the Son of David. But first, let's recap, as Jim's talking about Jesus…
 
Are you going up to the Temple...or going down to the river? Change is difficult for human beings, and the change that John was instituting was epic. If you were used to sacrificing an animal to cover a sin - and this had to be done by a priest, in the prescribed way, in only one place - then water baptism must have seemed very strange. God was doi…
 
There are two kinds of people in the world: The wet, and the dry! We may be balk at dividing all of humanity into two groups, but God does not. The Great Divide is between His kids, and the children of the devil; the saved and the lost. In Israel during Jesus' ministry the two crucial categories were: those who had been baptized by John, and those …
 
For a while the ministries of John and Jesus were contemporaneous; but they were never competitive. Some people imagine that the huggable Jesus came to tear down the religion of the grumpy God of the Old Testament. No way: the Lord didn't even take issue with the prophet we call John the Baptist. He took the baton from John in stride. Their two min…
 
John the Baptizer was the linchpin of God's program. We've paid too little attention to the human "messenger" that Jesus picked as the GOAT - the Greatest of All Time, or at least of Old Covenant times. John is the hinge between the Testaments, he's indispensable. And yet, imprisoned by Herod, still waiting for the King to take the throne of David,…
 
Have you ever been ambushed by your own assumptions? Few of us have had our expectations exploded quite as thoroughly as John the Baptist did. He was a prophet of fire, working for a God who has been called a "consuming fire." When John yields the stage to the One who "baptizes in fire," he expects there to be...well...fire! But divine judgment wou…
 
"Messiah is coming;" John preached - "watch out!" God's Anointed One, as John the Baptist envisioned Him, wasn't here to hand out candy and preach platitudes; He was here to clean up. The symbols John used for Him were the axe, the winnowing fork, and "unquenchable fire." He was right about all that, of course, but mistaken, too. This investigation…
 
John the Introducer knew who Jesus was - not "just" the Lamb of God, but the Son of God! Think about what rare company John the Baptist was in. When he was let in on the secret of Jesus' divine nature, only a few people had shared that knowledge. Mary, Joseph, maybe some magi or shepherds. And those who did know, and were still alive, had waited 30…
 
God never learns. That sounds like an insult, doesn't it? "God never learns." If we said that about a human it would be a put-down. But the Omniscient One doesn't have anything to discover. And this presents a bit of a problem when we insist, as we do, that the baby Jesus was God. The key to this mystery resides in the son of Zacharias and Elizabet…
 
Do we have the Gospel According to Mary? Luke's account reveals the innermost thoughts of Jesus' mother at critical moments in His life. It's clear that we do have Mary's version of events, and much more, in the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Yesterday Pastor Jim wanted to give us a better appreciation of Dr. Luke, in order to gain more clari…
 
What did Jesus know, and when did He know it? Since we believe that the "Word was made flesh," in such a way that Jesus wasn't half-man and half-God, but somehow fully man and fully God, how did that work itself out in His life? How did He come to know His identity? Was there a process of discovery, or a sudden revelation? This isn't just a questio…
 
Captivity is always an option. It's strange to think that a freed slave would voluntarily go back into bondage. But the ancient Israelites wanted to do it. Paul saw an entire church - the church in Galatia - that apparently found servitude appealing. And we have to admit that being a free and responsible person is sometimes a burden. How can we sta…
 
Fireworks and freedom just seem to go together! Paul wrote a letter about Freedom in Christ, and it's full of fireworks! It's the book of Galatians. Around this Independence Day weekend it's good to think about what we're set free from; about the dangers as well as the delights of liberty; and about how to live truly free. Listen to Right Start Rad…
 
"He who laughs last laughs best." Or, "All's well that ends well." We have a number of old, "trite and true" sayings to remind us that it is in fact not the journey, but the destination, that's all-important. Today we'll conclude our series of questions, called I Wonder. And at least some of them have been questions for God, or challenges to Him. H…
 
Jesus could say, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" but we cannot. On His cross the Son of God suffered alone, except for a few friends who couldn't be of much comfort. We on our crosses may feel like we're alone - and the Enemy will try to intensify that feeling - but God is with us. We've asked some tough questions in this series, I Won…
 
If we seek the pain-free path, we'll be on the wrong road! No normal person likes pain, and our generation has become highly skilled at avoiding any kind of discomfort. Christians can rationalize our love of the soft life as "God's will to bless us." But God's will includes a cross. We've been talking specifically about Doing Good and Suffering For…
 
You keep putting good out into the world, and evil keeps coming back. But it's nothing compared to the experience of Jesus. If anyone could have been disheartened and angry because His help was repaid with hate and malice, it was Christ. He could heal a man and be accused of lawbreaking; He could reveal deep truth and be called a blasphemer. Yet He…
 
In our upside-down world, doing good is a punishable offense. I hope someone warned you that walking with Jesus would make you a target. Because that's what we all signed up for. As long as the world lies in the power of the Evil One, he will bring consequences on those who dare tell the truth, or resist him in any way. The question is, how will we…
 
God cries, "Oh, that they would consider their latter end!" When we ponder the prosperity of the wicked, as the psalmist Asaph did, we're tempted to forget that we're not seeing the end of the story. This opera isn't over yet - the plump lady is still backstage doing her vocal warmups. Jesus illustrated the truth that it's not the score at halftime…
 
It's not always the cream that rises to the top! In recent days we've acknowledged that life is unfair. And we've thought about some of the reasons why bad things happen to good people. But what about when good things are continually showered on bad people? The dross, the dregs of humanity are sometimes the "rich and famous" - and powerful. The dev…
 
Light affliction; heavy glory. Actually, Paul's formulation in 2 Corinthians is "momentary, light affliction" balanced against an "eternal weight of glory" - something to remember when those troubles don't feel so light. Are Christians crazy for looking at suffering this way, or are we just able to put our pain in perspective? Can it really be true…
 
Undeserved suffering is unfair, we agree. But what if it's unfair in a good way? Last week we began to think about the ancient and universal human question, "Why do the innocent suffer?" Or, to point the finger at our Creator: "Why does God allow unjust pain in this world?" We got some inspiring answers from Job, but today we turn to the New Testam…
 
Why do bad things happen to good people? We learn in the Bible that "There is none righteous, no, not one," and, "No one is good except God alone." Yet there is a sense in which we can talk about "good" human beings. The Lord praised Job as "blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil." And Job's book is where we go when we want t…
 
Your dad probably told you, "Life isn't fair." And if he didn't, someone should have. We live in a state of simmering moral indignation. It's not merely that the world is an unjust place, but we expect a just God to balance the books. Yet He seems indifferent, at best, to the cries of the innocent, and the crimes of the wicked. We've arrived at one…
 
God doesn't have to choose, to do good. If you and I even want to make an attempt at goodness, we have to decide, and then stick to our decision as the devil's flaming darts come our way. But God is good. It's as easy for Him to be kind as it is for us to be cranky. He is giving, we are selfish; those are our natures. Let's continue to explore this…
 
Today you'll learn the greatest secret in the world. Some days my job is even easier than usual. If I want to interest you in listening to this episode, all I have to do is read the sermon title, The Greatest Secret in the World. And we all want to know: What is that secret? Will we agree that it's the most significant piece of information known (o…
 
If you put your car in Drive and it goes backwards, something's wrong. On Friday we opened a sermon called Why Don't I Do What I Know I Should? ...and it deals with an issue that has frustrated every Christian all the way back to the Apostle Paul: If I know what is right, and I want to do what is right, why can't I do it? He cried, "O wretched man …
 
My Morality account has been hacked! Please be aware that someone pretending to be me has been saying things I certainly wouldn't say, and doing things I would never do. But he looks like me and he sounds like me, and he lives inside my skin! In our series on the big questions of life, our next stop is in Romans 7 for a look at the dilemma that all…
 
"[S]ince the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." - Romans 1:20. Yesterday we started to examine the question, Is There a God? And, as with our previous question, Why Do I Exist? Jim has 4 responses …
 
God doesn't believe in atheists. We're here for Jim's sermon, Is There a God? as part of our series on the Big Questions called, I Wonder. And we'll see right away that we have overwhelming evidence for God's existence - the problem between Him and the disbeliever lies elsewhere. The giveaway is the hatred towards this "imaginary" Being. But before…
 
Even Christians sometimes struggle with "our purpose in life." If that's a familiar feeling, this is for you. Paul was talking to nonbelievers in Acts 17, but even believers can get a little "fuzzy" on these things sometimes. Yesterday Jim began to bring out 4 points from Paul's sermon at the Areopagus. The first reason for your existence is that G…
 
Purpose: Don't leave home without it. If we're all living pointless lives in a random universe - as many try to tell us - why are humans so desperate to find our purpose? We seem to be wired in such a way that we need meaning. We're so hungry for it that we'll sometimes latch onto a false reason for existence. Today, Jim opens a new series on the f…
 
Resurrection is everything. Paul had a lot of time to think between his various court appearances. And as he pondered his defense, and what was really being charged against him, and the ramifications of the gospel, he distilled the matter to one point: the dead will rise. And Jesus is not only the Resurrected One, but the Resurrector of all - for o…
 
Festus said, "I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night." When a new administration comes in, unscrupulous people can take advantage of the lack of historical information. The incoming ruler must move cautiously until he learns the lay of the land. The Roman governor Festus wasn't going to have the wool pulled over his eyes, if he cou…
 
Murder in the name of God? When Paul came to Jerusalem, we knew it was only a matter of time before he would run afoul of the Jewish authorities. As we're reading Acts 23, now the Roman authorities are involved, too. And apparently the Sanhedrin despaired of winning their case at law, because some of them - more than 40 - planned to take matters in…
 
Is Jesus God? Paul shouts that he's on trial for "the hope of the resurrection of the dead." And that hope doesn't just split the Sanhedrin in two; it divides the world. If Jesus not only laid down His life for us but took it up again, as He put it, then He's more than just a human being. We pick up Acts 23 after Paul has received a slap, and given…
 
In our culture there are certain things - true things - that you're not allowed to say. Just like in Paul's day. The Sanhedrin would have made a good editorial board for one of our social media platforms; apparently their plan was to censor Christianity out of existence. And maybe their biggest red flag was race. If you said that God was "color bli…
 
It's said that "A lie will go 'round the world while truth is pulling its boots on." There was "fake news" even in the first century, and the fakest was that Paul was persuading Jews to abandon their religious identity. How does one combat a lie like that? Well, the church elders in Jerusalem had an idea. ... We're hearing the second half of Pastor…
 
"Is this the hill you want to die on?" It's good to be reminded that not all arguments have to be won, that not all causes are worth the ultimate sacrifice. Paul had picked his final battle. Though it grieved those who loved him, he knew the hill he wanted to die on - or the 7 hills, we could say. In our study today, we'll make it to Jerusalem with…
 
"The buck stops here." There's nowhere else for it to go. As Paul said goodbye for the last time to the overseers and shepherds of the church in Ephesus, he charged them - not some distant, religious bureaucrats - to guard their sheep from wolves. The government of the early church was simple, personal, and local. We're in Acts, chapter 20, overhea…
 
Paul knew he had started the last lap of his race. When Jesus had set His face toward Jerusalem, His disciples didn't understand what would happen there. When Paul started his final trip toward that same city, his disciples and friends knew it was a death march. And it was heartbreaking. Jim promised we would see a Riot, a Resurrection and a Reviva…
 
"Believe whatever you like - as long as it doesn't affect my business!" Paul's attack on the goddess Diana, or Artemis, wasn't just a religious insult to the Ephesians; it must have wounded their civic pride - and most importantly, it was going to take food off their tables. Something had to be done! There was only one problem: Paul wasn't blasphem…
 
There's a book-burning in Ephesus tonight. Let's make s'mores! Authoritarians and activists burn books because they're afraid - afraid of the ideas inside them. Occultists who turn to the Lord burn their mystical books because they're renouncing dark powers - they've been set free from fear. That's what happened in the idolatrous city of Ephesus. I…
 
Paul isn't exactly touring the "garden spots." For a year-and-a-half the Apostle had ministered from that slimy "city of ill repute," Corinth. After another road trip with stops including his old stomping grounds Antioch and Jerusalem, Paul landed in Ephesus. That town was the center of Artemis-worship; and where there are idols, there are demons. …
 
Apollos was a gifted speaker... with some big holes in his theology... this could have gone really wrong! We could easily have a Cult of Apollos, the "John's Baptism Only" sect, if not for the loving guidance of two people we'll meet today. We're in Acts 18 for Following John, Finding Jesus, Part 2 Listen to Right Start Radio every Monday through F…
 
A modern-day "evangelist" might sweep into town, preach a few nights, then fly away forever. Not Paul. We've joined the traveling company of Paul, courtesy of Dr. Luke, and we see that the Apostle is no shallow showman. He's not concerned about increasing his head-count or his pocketbook; he's interested in deep roots, and lasting fruit. We'll be i…
 
What happens in Corinth, stays in Corinth. We may associate that ancient Greek city with Corinthian columns or "Corinthian leather." But historically, the name has been connected to licentiousness and vice. Our ongoing study of the book of Acts takes us to chapter 18, and we'll walk with Paul from Athens about 50 miles West, to the "sin city" of th…
 
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