There is power in the Name of Jesus

Acts 12:1-11

New Living Translation (NLT)

James Is Killed and Peter Is Imprisoned

 King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.

Peter’s Miraculous Escape from Prison

The night before Peter was to be placed on trial; he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.

So Peter left the cell, after the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.

 Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”

One small word

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).

Throughout the Bible, there are small words that make powerful impacts upon our lives. Consider the word “Let”. To “let” means that we have a responsibility in a given matter. It means that we must give permission or allow the opportunity for God to do something in our lives, or through our lives, that He desires to see happen.

When God says, “Let,” He is telling us that there is no reluctance on His part to see something happen. Therefore, it is up to us to humble ourselves before Him and respond to His command appropriately.

Here are some of the “Lets” we find in the Bible:

  • Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).
  • Dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18).
  • Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19).
  • Yet if, anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter (1 Peter 4:16).
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind (James 1:5-6).

Defy the critics and live in anticipation of Jesus’ return

Repent! Jesus is coming soon

Repent! Jesus is coming soon (Photo credit: Ben Sutherland)

Despite what critics think, there is manifestly no doubt that Jesus will return for His church when most of us least expect. His return was imminent when Saul got struck down on the Damascus road, and it is even more imminent today. However, no one knows the minute or the hour. Jesus Himself said so: “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Therefore, brothers and sisters, every Christian should live in readiness and anticipation of that day. If we do not, we may jolly well end up like the five foolish virgins.

The five foolish virgins got locked out of the banqueting hall; because of their failure to live in readiness and anticipation of the Bridegroom. They knew He was coming, but because of haphazard planning, (lack of spiritual readiness), they missed their only chance to have a seat at the banqueting table. One can only imagine how those poor women felt, when they heard the words: “Depart from me. I never knew you”.

The Bible never told us what happened to the five foolish virgins. We can only assume. However, it tells us what will happen to those of us who are not ready when Jesus returns for His church. In 2 Peter 3:10, the apostle Peter warns: “The Day of the Lord will come “like a thief in the night”. On that Day, the heavens will disappear with a roar and the elements will melt and dissolve, and the earth and everything in it will burn up”.

Just like in the days of Noah, many people doubt the word of God. Some people pretend that they believe but their actions do not match their words. Still, some people think there is plenty of time before Christ returns. Another group claims it has been two thousand years since Jesus promised His return and it is yet to happen.

Two thousand years may seem like a long time to us, but to God it is not. Here, is how the apostle Peter addressed this issue: “Moreover, dear friends, do not ignore this: with the Lord, one day is like one thousand years and one thousand years like one day. The Lord has not been slow to fulfill His promise as some people think; quite the opposite, He is patient with us; for it is not his intention that anyone should perish, but that everyone should turn from his sins” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

Finally, my dear brothers and sisters, it does not matter how long we wait. God does not count the days, and the years like we do. Furthermore, He is giving everyone a chance to repent. Therefore, the most obvious thing to do is to live in spiritual readiness and preparedness for the Bridegroom when He returns.

Remembering the historic Day of Pentecost

Icon of the Pentecost

Icon of the Pentecost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acts 2

New King James Version (NKJV)

Coming of the Holy Spirit

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Crowd’s Response

And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”

Peter’s Sermon

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.
Your young men shall see visions.
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My men servants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
21 And it shall come to pass
that whoever calls on the name of the Lord
shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God. You have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was impossible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says about Him:

‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;
Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’

29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.32 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

34 “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’

36 “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

A Vital Church Grows

40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had needed.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Are you burdened with the weight of unforgiveness?

English: White tulips

Image via Wikipedia

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15-15).

One weight that God does not want you to carry is the weight of unforgiveness. Yet many in the body of Christ find it difficult to forgive. Unforgiveness not only affects your spiritual growth, but it also weighs heavily on your emotional and physical well-being.

The apostle Peter, a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, and a stalwart of the early Church, struggled with the weight of unforgiveness. He hated the Gentiles. He referred to them as common and unclean. He even refused to preach the gospel to them. There is no evidence that the apostle Peter ever reconcile his differences with the Gentiles.

In the book of Matthew chapter 18:21-22, Jesus uses Peter’s struggle to teach us how to forgive. If we followed His instructions the world will be a better place:

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven

Unforgiveness is an attitude of the heart that abides outside the law of love. To walk in forgiveness is to walk in great spiritual freedom. Your heart is light when it does not carry grudge, bitterness, or resentment. To forgive does not mean that you agree with the offence that someone has committed, or that you support it in any way.

To forgive means that you choose to release the judgment you are carrying toward someone, even though that person did something that was unkind or unfair. The choice to forgive is not based on fairness or justice, but on mercy and grace. Mercy triumphs over judgment when you choose to forgive. Jesus did not carry any grudge against the people who nailed Him to the cross. Instead, He showed mercy by saying; “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).