A short reflection on Acts Chapter 4

Acts 4:13-22 AMP
Now when the men of the Sanhedrin (that is the Jewish High Court) saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained [ordinary] men, they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus. [14] And seeing the man who had been healed standing there with them, they had nothing to say in reply. [15] But after ordering them to step out of the Council [chamber], they began to confer among themselves, [16] saying, “What are we to do with these men? For the fact that an extraordinary miracle has taken place through them is public knowledge and clearly evident to all the residents of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. [17] But to keep it from spreading further among the people and the nation, let us [sternly] warn them not to speak again to anyone in this name.” [18] So they sent for them, and commanded them not to speak [as His representatives] or teach at all in the name of Jesus [using Him as their authority]. [19] But Peter and John replied to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you and obey you rather than God, you must judge [for yourselves]; [20] for we, on our part, cannot stop telling [people] about what we have seen and heard.” [21] When the rulers and Council members had threatened them further, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because [of their fear] of the people, for they, the people, were all praising and glorifying and honouring God for what had happened; [22] for the man to whom this sign (or attesting miracle) of healing had happened was more than forty years old.
Acts 4:29-31 AMP
And now, Lord, observe their threats [take them into account] and grant that Your bond-servants may declare Your message [of salvation] with great confidence, [30] while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders (attesting miracles) take place through the name [and the authority and power] of Your holy Servant and Son Jesus.” [31] And when they had prayed, the place where they were meeting together was shaken [a sign of God’s presence]; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness and courage.

Acts chapter 4 is such a great chapter, there are so many things you can take from it. It has so many facets that I’m sure our minister could do a whole sermon series just on this one chapter

Verses 1 – 4 tell of how on that day 5,000 men, because only the men mattered in those days, 5,000 men believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and were saved. We may assume that there at least that number of women plus several thousand children, so maybe 10, 11 or 12,000 people came to Christ that day. By way of thanks, Peter and John get arrested and thrown into jail for the night. But were they bothered? No, I expect they added a few more believers during their night in jail because they were fired up and unstoppable.
Verses 8 – 12 are a complete mini gospel all on their own telling the story of Jesus in five short verses
13 – 22 is the trial before the Sanhedrin and a lesson in defiant apologetics.
29 – 31 shows how powerful spirit filled prayer brings a powerful and earth moving response from the Lord.
And finally 32 – 37, a model for the church about the love of the brothers and sisters, their fellowship and their sacrificial provision for each other.

Three things to take from the parts of passage we read above.

  1. Verse 13. Now when the men of the Sanhedrin saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained [ordinary] men, they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus.

The Sanhedrin were in awe of these uneducated men. Why? Because they could see that they had been with Jesus. They grasped the fact that they had been with the Risen Lord, it does not say that it was reported to them, nor does it say that they had foreknowledge that they had been with Jesus, it came to them as a realisation, these men were so different to others of their class, they had such boldness, eloquence and authority when they spoke that the only explanation was that they had been with the Risen Lord. Their very appearance said everything about them. They must have been so filled with the Holy Spirit that they were leaking, and anyone who saw them knew that they had been with Jesus. Even the Sanhedrin, who were a stiff-necked people with hearts of stone.

  1. Verse 19, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you and obey you rather than God, you must judge [for yourselves]; [20] for we, on our part, cannot stop telling [people] about what we have seen and heard.

Why would they want to do that? They had been threatened and ordered by the highest court in the land not to speak of Him again. Why? Simple, because they were not under earthly authority, they were under heavenly authority. It reminds us of when Jesus said in Luke 19.40, If I may paraphrase it a little, If we keep silent, the stones will cry out in praise. They had no fear of men only a fear of the Lord.

  1. And finally, Verse 23, When the rulers and Council members had threatened them further, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because [of their fear] of the people, for they, the people, were all praising and glorifying and honouring God for what had happened;

The fear we have here is a mortal fear, fear for their own safety, they were frightened that the people would turn against them and may even start a riot and attack the Sanhedrin.
What we do not have here is any fear of the Lord. The Sanhedrin, the religious leaders of the day had no fear of God! Now in biblical terms, a fear of the people is quite different from a fear of the Lord. Fear of people is all about personal safety and self-preservation, a fear of the Lord is a reverential fear, and awestruck veneration because of God’s holiness.
So, here we have the so called holy men, (that’s holy with a small h), the holy men of Israel showing no fear in God but only self interest in their own position and fear of the mob.

Now the peroration. (That’s a new word I learnt this week). We are not the religious leaders of our day, who preach a gospel to keep us safe and not to offend the ears of those who hear, we want to preach the uncomfortable and true gospel with the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, so that people will be astounded, and begin to recognise that we too have been with Jesus. And secondly, we want to pray as they prayed, when they prayed they prayed in the Spirit, they went to the mercy seat with Christ seated under the wings of the Cherubim, not as Moses did, in the tent of meeting in the desert, but into the heavenly realms, and so, verse 31 again, and when they had prayed, the place where they were meeting together was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness and courage, and that is my prayer for us all today.

Christmas – What’s it all about.

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Christmas,

It’s all about the children,

It’s all about parties and fun.

It’s turkey and crackers and vino,

And a nice little glass of Blue Nun.

There’s Santa, there’s Rudolf and Blitzen

Mince pie, some milk, and a carrot.

Left out on the Christmas evening,

Hoping Santa will not leave us rot.

There’s presents, there’s pudding and cake,

Chocolates and socks by the ton

And a perfume that smells slightly dodgy.

But no mention of God’s Holy One.

But stop, yes stop, let’s think this through

Is it really ‘bout just having fun?

Is this really how God had designed it?

To honour the birth of his son?

The angels they sung out their glad tidings

Not expecting this this season to fade

Into seasons without any meaning

With Jesus just left where he laid.

So, let us remember this Christmas

Whilst let us not spoil any fun.

It’s not about all of the children

It’s really about just the one.

© joseph r mason 2020

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All the earth we bow to You

A Song of Praise, loosely based on Psalm 66.

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Oh Holy Spirit come today,

We in repentance bow.

Revival bless and come we pray

It’s what our land needs now.

All the earth we bow to You,

How awesome are Your deeds?

All the earth bow down to You,

Supplier of our needs.

Shout with joy to God all earth,

Sing glory to His name.

He rules forever by His power

Forever He’s the same.

(Yes), All the earth we bow to You,

How awesome are Your deeds?

All the earth bow down to You,

Supplier of our needs.

So come and listen all who fear,

Let’s tell of what He’s done.

He has heard my every prayer,

His praise is on my tongue.

(Yes), All the earth we bow to You,

How awesome are Your deeds?

All the earth bow down to You,

Supplier of our needs.

Praise be to God who is on high,

He heard my voice in prayer.

He won’t withhold His love from me,

Rescue me from satans snare.

(Yes), All the earth we bow to You,

How awesome are Your deeds?

All the earth bow down to You,

Supplier of our needs.

So, shout with joy to God all earth,

Sing glory to His name.

He rules forever by His power

Forever He’s the same.

(Yes), All the earth we bow to You,

How awesome are Your deeds?

All the earth bow down to You,

Supplier of our needs.

©joseph r mason 2020

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SO MANY VOICES

(C) calvarydayton


“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”

Matthew 27:22

Following Jesus requires listening for his voice. The problem is that we let too many other voices drown out Jesus’ voice.

First is the voice of compromise. It says, “Everything is negotiable.” With Jesus, however, there is no dealing. No negotiation. No compromise. With him it is all or nothing.

Second is the voice of expedience. It says, “I have other affairs to attend to, for I am a busy person.” Our agendas are full. We are a people of pragmatism. Let’s get on it and get it over with.

Third is the voice of politics. This voice asks the question, “Is it popular?” The voice of politics lacks the courage to stand up for what is right.

But finally, there is the voice of God. The still small voice speaks to the heart, saying, “Follow Jesus.” It is the voice rapping on the door of our heart asking us to obey. It doesn’t plead or demand or beg. It yearns, but it does not yell.

How many people do you think leave a church service in which the gospel is preached, knowing they should respond to Jesus but don’t? Our hearts can become calloused. The more we refuse to listen to God, the harder our hearts become. Ignore the voice and fail to heed it, and eventually the voice of God can hardly be heard.

Pilate heard so many voices that day as he pondered what to do with Jesus. He heard the voice of compromise, the voice of expedience, and the voice of politics. So many voices. He even heard the voice of God. How could he not? Jesus was standing right in front of him.

So many voices. What voice will you listen to?

All Hallows Eve.

© Shutterstock – True Touch Lifestyle

October ends with Halloween

A pointless celebration.

For ghosts and ghouls do not exist

‘cept in imagination.

All Hallows Eve, its proper name

The night before all saint’s day.

To celebrate the saints of old

And I would just like to say.

Halloween is just not us,

Imported from the States.

And of the many things that come our way,

It’s not one of the greats.

So you can keep your Halloween,

Your pumpkins, trick or treat.

Frightening the old and frail,

That live along our street.

We can’t abide your Halloween,

and we don’t want it here.

It’s not the ghosts who frighten me

It’s God the one I fear.

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https://josephmasonauthor.com/about/

The Potters Wheel.

A Poem for National Poetry Day 2020 on October 1st.

The potter sits at his spinning wheel

hands slippery with water and clay.

Thumbs dig deep as his fingers feel

a bowl curling up on the way.

It pleases him to see its form,

with its wafer thin shape at the edge,

it’s everyday life, to him it’s the norm,

a finished and fine featheredge.

A slip of the hand, the work is a ruin

returned to a pottage of clay.

Fear not, he thinks, I know what I’m doing,

there’s plenty more time in the day.

The clay, is it just like a person?

Fragile and easily damaged?

Ruined by one stupid action,

left as a wreck if mismanaged.

But that’s not the end of the story,

like clay, we can all be reformed.

Remoulded, rejiggered more finely

I know, I’m reliably informed.

It says so quite plain in the bible

Jeremiah, in chapter eighteen

When broken and down we are liable

Be made best that we’ve ever been.

©joseph r mason 2020

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At the Potter’s House

18 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

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The true tree of life.

cross dawn dusk landscape

There is a tree that brings you life,

That takes your worries, takes your strife.

A tree that’s known by many names,

Forgives your sin and takes your blames.

The tree that’s in Golgotha set,

That takes away all we regret.

 

And that’s the only tree of life,

The one that sorts your afterlife.

I speak of course of Calvary’s tree

Where someone died for you, for me.

He’d done no wrong to call his own.

And now he sits on heavenly throne.

 

And on this tree, shaped to a cross,

Paid for my shame, my sin and dross.

There Jesus died, my pain endured,

There my sickness and pain were cured.

Give thanks to him, my sin he took.

If you don’t believe me, read the book.

 

©joseph r mason 2020

Revelation 22:14 NIV

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

John 3:16 NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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A Modern Psalm

Joseph R. Mason

Psalm_tatoo

Did the elders not seek your face?
Did they not pray out loud to you?
Did they not wait upon you
And seek your guidance?

Did we not fast and pray
To do your good pleasure?
Late into the night
To seek your true guidance?

Did we not take your precepts to the people?
Did we not tell them the word from the Lord?
Then why oh Lord have they not heard?
Why Oh Lord do they not listen to your truths?

Are we like prophets of old?
Despised in our own house.
For You will withdraw Your blessing,
From a house divided against itself.

When they say, oh Lord,
We do not like the style of worship,
Did they ask you?
Did they really seek your face?

When they say Lord,
We do not like the drums
We do not like the cymbals
Do they argue with your Psalms?

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What does Jesus have to say about homosexuality?


Gay2

I do not think there is a topic on earth that gets Evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics and Neo-Nazis quite so hysterical and united as Homosexuality. In America, they have anti-gay rallies, organised by the fundamentalist Christian church where they call for gays to be hung, why? Is it because their church loves God and believes in the Grace of Jesus? No, I don’t think so.

To them, the term “Gay Christian” is an oxymoron , according to most Evangelicals, they cannot exist. If you are gay, you cannot be a Christian. If you are a “proper” Christian, you cannot be homosexual or have same sex attraction. (SSA).

Well here’s the good news…
GOD LOVES HOMOSEXUALS. God loves sinners, he doesn’t love the sin, but still loves the sinner. Did God sent his son to earth to only save heterosexuals from their sin? No. He also sent his son to save homosexuals, to save metro-sexuals, every sexuals! He also sent his son to save gay haters, gay bashers and the mobs, even those who believe they are not sinning by hating others.

After all, what did Jesus say about everyone? “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” He said this without exception, he did not say “Love your neighbour as yourself except if he’s gay, except if they’re Muslim, except people with mental illness, except if they are socially inadequate”, he meant everyone without exception, white, black, Asian, gay, straight, disabled, mentally ill……….

So, getting back to the question, what did Jesus say about homosexuality. Well the photograph right at the beginning of this muse says it all, absolutely nothing, zilch, not a word, nowt, zero. He had a lot to say about marriage and divorce, but nothing about being gay. In America, Christians even recruit children and innocents and indoctrinate them to hate before they have even realised their own sexuality. Imagine being brought up wearing this t-shirt and finding out during your maturing years that you have same sex attraction….

Gay3

Children learning to hate.

This intolerance is why so many sons and daughters of so-called Christians commit suicide once they realise their sexual orientation goes against their upbringing. One in Four gay teenagers in America commits suicide. Is that what Jesus wants? ……Rhetorical question. I know it’s not what I want and I sincerely hope it’s not what you want either.

What are the biblical arguments against homosexuality? Here are a few. If you want an answer to the rest, them message me below.
“But don’t send me hate mail, it will have no effect on me as I am under God’s grace and protection. But it may hurt you if you are not under His grace.”

Argument 1. Nothing was recorded in the bible about Jesus preaching on homosexuality because they could not write down everything he said. There were many events, miracles, prophesies and preaches which were never recorded.

Answer 1. The bible is the inspired word of God. If God wanted it in there, it would be there. You cannot use the argument that God left it out. God’s word is complete, we should neither add anything nor take anything away. We cannot interpret His word to suit our own ends and cannot twist His word or take verses out of context just to help an argument. But remember, the NT outranks the OT. Before Christ, we were under the law of God. Now we are under the grace of God. Most of what was said in the Old Testament has been overridden by the teachings of Jesus as is shown in the next argument…..

image

Using the bible to promote Hate

Argument 2. In Leviticus 20 v13 it says “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

Answer 2: True, that is the law of Moses. But we are no longer under the law. As Paul said in Romans 6:14 “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Under grace, what a wonderful term, but what does it mean. I am afraid that it is a bit of what I call Christianise, a jumbled and archaic language used to keep non-Christians at bay! Grace is simple, it is all about the undeserved love of God. It is about Jesus, God’s son who paid for our wrong doing by taking our punishment, it about how, by putting your faith in Jesus, you can be released from sin and have an eternal life in heaven, with God.

Argument 3: Genesis 2:24 “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

Answer 3: Although used as an argument by many Christians, there is no reference to homosexuality anywhere in the verse or in the passage, taken out of context, it could be twisted to mean only relations between a man and a woman. I however believe that the meaning is simpler than that. When a man and a woman are united as one flesh, children appear. When a man is united with anything else, be it another man, a blow-up doll or a loaf of bread, no children will be born. So this much-misquoted verse is talking about procreation and only about procreation.

Argument 4: 1 Corinthians 6 vs 9 & 10 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Answer 4: Part of a list of “sins” including idolaters, who is not in some respect an idol worshiper, who has never loved money, cars, football teams, personalities, possessions etc? Who has not loved their wife, son, daughter, brother or sister more than Christ? The greedy, who has never over eaten, who could not shift a few pounds weight because of greed? Who has never had a drink too many? etc…etc… But all the bigots focus on is the part of the teaching which suits them and their argument.

What about adulterers, Jesus gives very clear teaching about divorce and that if a divorced person remarries they commit adultery, so how come we don’t take them outside and stone them? (Metaphorically speaking).

Read on to the next verse and put it into context: 11. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – God forgives and continues to forgive homosexuality.

Scientists have found that being homosexual is not a life style choice, it is not as the result of nurture, it is not a habit which can be stopped like cigarette smoking. Scientists have isolated what they have called, the gay gene. So it is genetic. If you choose not to believe that, that is your choice, your bigotry, your hatred, your lack of grace. Homosexuality is genetic, it is nature, not nurture that makes people gay. And don’t forget, that they are made in the image of God. Just as disabled people are made in the image of God. Mentally ill people are made in the image of God. Autistic children are made in the image of God. Downes children are made in the image of God. You and me, we are made in the image of God. You wouldn’t hate autistic or disabled or Downes children just because they are different, would you?

Fundamentally, this comes down to love and acceptance, I know Gay people, I have gay friends, being gay does not make them bad people, because they are gay they do not go around doing bad things.

I have friends who are divorced, Jesus had a lot to say about divorce, but no one bats an eyelid, divorce is normal……..except of course it is against the teachings of Jesus. But hey, it fits in with what some people like, homosexuality doesn’t. You never see an anti-divorce rally, especially not in America where nearly 40% of “Christian” marriages end in divorce. No one goes divorcee bashing. There would be an outrage. But gay bashing? Police in Russia will beat you up again for reporting that you have been attacked for being gay.

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Victim of Gay Hate in America

So let’s have a bit of love and tolerance. I am an evangelical Christian, I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, I believe that God loves everyone just where they are right now, gay, straight, metrosexual or slightly odd! I believe in the sanctity of marriage, I believe in the right of the unborn child and pro-life awareness. I believe that God loves us all, without regard for our sexual orientation. He still hates wrongdoing, but unlike most people, he forgives, forgives and goes on forgiving. Again and again and again. In spite of ourselves and because of ourselves.

All are sinners and have fallen short of the standards of behaviour of God. But God still loves us, because God loves sinners but not sin, God loves divorcees but not divorce, God loves Homosexuals but not the act, God loves even me, God loves even you.


However, having said all that, here is a useful resource if you’re interested in learning about a Christian perspective on same-sex attraction or addiction to pornography: http://www.focuspublishing.com/html/individual-books/way-of-purity.html

Bible quotes from: New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Setting a Strong Example of Faith

I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.3 John 1:4

For the Christian couple, the greatest joy is to see our children walking in truth. This sentiment is echoed by the apostle John in his last epistle. He considered the believers his “children” since he had been a father figure to them as their faith grew, and their faithfulness to Christ brought him much joy. Conversely, the greatest sorrow is seeing our children turn away from God.

The greatest influence we have on our children’s religious beliefs happens in the first eighteen years of their lives. Children listen to what we say, and they observe our actions. The closer our practice is to our preaching, the more our children respect our faith. However, the greater the distance between what we proclaim and what we practice, the less likely they are to follow our religious beliefs.

What if our children are already grown, and we failed to do this when they were young? It is never too late to say, “I realise that when you were growing up, my lifestyle did not demonstrate very well what I claimed to believe. I wish I could go back and live parts of my life again. Of course, that’s impossible, but I want you to know that I regret the way I failed you.” This, coupled with a changed life, opens the door for further influence on your adult child. None of us are perfect. Dealing with past failures is the first step to renewed relationships.

Heavenly Father, you know how deeply I yearn to see my children walking in faithfulness to you. I ask your forgiveness for the times when I was not a good role model. Please help my spouse and me to be honest about our failures, and may they not stand in the way of our children’s belief. Amen.