THE SECOND LENTEN MESSAGE: PETER IN PRISON, THE WORLD IN PRISON.

GM: TROUBLE IN JAMAICA, IN AMERICA AND THE CROSS OF CHRIST
Peter, the Apostle was in trouble. In fact in desperate trouble! King Herod, had put to death James, the brother of John. And the Jews were pleased. So he proceeded to lock up Peter, and had in mind a more public destruction of this man of God.

And history, as written in the Holy Scriptures, recorded the fact that, ‘ but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.’ Acts 12:5 NIV.
Jamaica is in trouble. In fact in desperate trouble! So too America.

The actors are different but the script remains the same. Evil has invaded the prevailing culture. The same one who history records in the Holy Scriptures,  ‘ has come to steal, to kill and to destroy ‘, is working furiously, and  having orchestrated the death of many, is now poised to destroy.

Whether it be ‘crack cocaine’,  the addiction to which  devastated the lives of many inner city youths, in ‘ the hood’. Or heroin which is currently wreaking havoc in middle and upper  class America!

Whether it be the ‘ gun culture’ in Jamaica or Scamming, fueled by political tribalism, greed, poverty, or the current hot debate’ #kartel  and dancehall music mash up Jamaica.

Whether it be the almost ubiquitous  engagement in pornography, facilitated but certainly not caused by the  widespread access to the Internet,  by the young and not so young. Of which #backitup…like a dumper truck, and #getonbaad in the streets, #dancehall and #carnival, are but minor but public manifestations.

Thus seriously undermining moral values and promoting unbridled sexual desires and activity in our schools.

Whether it be the calculated erosion of family life, the basic unit of any society. Manifest in particular, but not solely, by the ‘ sperm donor syndrome’.
Whether it be the unfortunate loss of  hundreds of thousands of life caused by AIDS,  the millions killed by  abortions, or genocide which has wiped out populations.

Many other examples abound. But,

having killed, evil, continues to plot it’s ultimate goal.  Destruction. The ‘ overthrow of the Sovereign God’. The Holy One of Israel. Thus making the Church irrelevant  and the Atonement for Sin,  wrought by Jesus of Nazareth, descended from David, merely a fictitious tale.
Then history records,  as reported  in Holy Scriptures, that in response to earnestly prayers of the Church, God sent an Angel to rescue Peter.
Not the Army or the Police. Not a set of lawyers to argue his case. Not the media to expose this egregious wrong. Not a set of business people to purchase his freedom. Not politicians to order his release. No. Just one Angel.

” They passed  the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him”. Acts 12:10. NIV.

And so Chris Tigreen whose meditation on this story led me to read it, writes in his One Year Wonder of The Cross Devotional.

In part.

INTENSE

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
……..This was a desperate prayer – a gut-wrenching, sweat-inducing prayer accompanied by loud crying and tears.  The  kind of prayer that seems to reach God’s heart better than any other.
That kind of prayer can come only in the intersection of two conditions: extreme need and an awareness of God’s ability and willingness to meet it. Desperation alone will not drive us to that kind of prayer; without us knowing who God is, extreme need leads only to frustration. No, in order to have any hope in a crisis, we have to bank on the character of the One who is above it.

In the midst of this remarkable story of the  assault on the members of the early church, and the urgent lessons which our society ought to learn from it, including taking Lent seriously,  the Lord led me to post on Facebook.
March 4.

When we have a 16 year old girl accused of murder, time for Repentance #AshWednesday

March 5.

One of the saddest features of Islam, is that it rejects the Cross, declaring it inappropriate that a major prophet of God should come to such an ignominious end. The Koran sees no need for the sin-bearing death of a Saviour – The Cross of Christ by Rev. John Stott #AshWednesday #Lent #GoodFriday

There is a core to the proclamation of both apostles, Peter and Paul,  which might be reconstructed ( from their sermons in the book of Acts as follows.
” Jesus was a man who was accredited by God through miracles and anointed by the Spirit to do good and to heal. Despite this, he was Crucified through the agency of wicked men, though also by God’s purpose according to the Scriptures that the Messiah must suffer.
Then God reversed the human verdict on Jesus by raising him  from the dead, and also according to Scriptures, and as attested by apostolic eyewitnesses. Next God exalted him to the place of high honour as Lord and Saviour.

He now posesses full authority both to save those who repent , believe and are baptized in his name, bestowing on them the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit, and to judge those who reject him”.
The Doctrine of the Death of Christ from the New Testament sermons by Peter and Paul as recorded by Luke. The Cross of Christ by Rev John Stott

Places #Kartel and #Trump  in perspective as ‘ all have sinned’. #AshWednesday #Lent  #GoodFriday #Easter

Love is patient…kind…does not envy….is not proud…is not rude…is not self-seeking….is not easily angered….keeps no records of wrongs….does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth….protects…trusts…hopes….perseveres.

1 Corinthians.  13
The goal of Christian discipleship is to be conformed to the image of Christ; who came to model the character of God for us and then sent His Spirit to live within us…..

Only God’s Spirit can give us that kind of love. Ask for that kind of love today. Ask the Spirit to show you God’s love, to fill you with it, and enable you to live it and show it to others. It’s a prayer He is certain to answer.

Chris Tiegreen ” Where Love Begins ”

#earlymorningdevotions #Lent

March 6

Breathe on me O breath of God,

Fill me with life anew.

That I may love what thou dost love.

And do what thou wouldst  do

Not just #Kartel and #Extortion  and #youngalbusiness and  #rapeculture ( the problem)  #Tabourinewarriors  ( part of the solution) and the creation of #Garrisoncommunities with #wrongaddresses that mash up Jamaica,  but #Pantheism ; a ‘ comfortable God’ of love who  is in everybody, does not interfere, and makes no demands, and does not recognize Sin vs. The God of
#GoodFriday  #Easter and #Judgment  #CSLewis #Miracles

O Jesus, I have promised to serve thee to the end…Be Thou forever near me my Master and my friend. I shall not fear the battle if thou art my side, nor wander from the pathway if thou wilt be my guide……. O let me feel thee near me; the world is ever near; I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear; my foes are ever near me, around me and within; but, Jesus, draw thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.
Final Comments. Three issues arise from the Facebook postings and Chris Tiegreen’s meditation.
One is that evil is working within the church to undermine its credibility. And not just attacking it from without!

Hence the Daily Gleaner’s  front page report this morning that a pastor convicted of sexually assaulting a minor has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

 

And there is more. Much more. Including the rise to prominence of the ‘ Prosperity Gospel ‘. Which is no gospel at all. And the little understood,  but  nontheless very dangerous doctrine creeping insidiously  into the church and society – Pantheism. That God is a God of love,  is everywhere, and is in everybody.  And makes no demands on us,  except to ‘ love one another’. Thus making Sin and the Cross ‘ unnecessary’. A doctrine straight from the pit of hell. But very  appealing to those looking for  what the great German martyr,  and theologian, Bonhoeffer,   terms ‘ cheap grace’.
It is for this reason that as believers,  we need to, urgently and consistently, remind ourselves of the Doctrine of Sin, and why Jesus died.  And Lent is a gift from God for the church and society to ‘ think on these things’. For Sin underrated and ill understood and unrepented,  will continue to undermine, but never, destroy the church; against which ‘ the gates of hell shall not prevail ‘.
Two,  is that, unless we love all people,  sacrificially, as Christ did, Muslims, Jews, non religious, backsliders….better characterized  known as ‘disobedient ‘ Christians….atheists, cynics,…Kartel, Trump, …. even if ‘ we can preach like Paul ‘, our Christianity will make a lot of noise, trigger a lot of headlines ( and even beyond the headlines) but will achieve little in the struggle against evil.

So let us resolve to pray earnestly, and live,  the words of that wonderful hymn.
Breathe on me O breath of God,

Fill me with life anew.

That I may love what thou dost love.

And do what thou wouldst  do…..first verse.
Three, that which  has foiled evil ever since, and before, the church was established by our Lord Jesus, is the fervent prayers of the righteous.  Sinners justified by the Blood of Christ, and counted righteous by God!
A mystery. But a profund truth. And in the same way that our Lord Jesus Christ committed Himself to a life of fervent prayer….his sweat was like drops of blood as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane…..we too, as His disciples need to urgently and consistently engage in gut-wrenching, sweat-inducing prayer. For our nation. For the  non-religious. For Muslims. For Hindus. In love, and according to the various ministries and gifts given to each one, by the Holy Spirit. For the building of the Church and to the Glory of God. So that the Son of Man might be lifted up and all who believe in Him may receive eternal life…..the Gospel lesson from John 3, appointed for our church tomorrow.
And who knows if the Lord will send One single Angel to rescue Jamaica, and America and other parts of the world from evil.

Peace.

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