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The American Church – In Our Prison Cell

JailA vast majority of American Christians seem to be ineffective at bringing change to our society. Why is that? Our legacy is that of a people who “turned the world upside-down” with the Gospel of Christ.

As I was meditating on Acts chapter 16, I was struck by a mental picture. Paul and Silas were bringing the Good News of Jesus to the town of Philippi. In the course of their time there, they were arrested.

After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Acts 16:23-24

As they were put into their cell, there’s no sign of a struggle. They quietly submitted to their imprisonment. This surprised me.

The next day, they enforced their rights as Roman citizens.

But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
Acts 16:37

Where was this boldness the day before? Maybe they were too exhausted from their beatings. Maybe they were waiting for things to calm down. Whatever the reason, they quietly allowed themselves to be placed in prison, and chained up.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Acts 16:25

This is the picture I saw in my heart as I thought on this passage. I see the church, the jailer, and the prisoners. The jailer is totally unaware of anything out of the ordinary that’s going on.

The church – Paul and Silas – were in chains and in the dark. Yet they were having church, business as usual. They were praying, singing, and praising God.

All of the other prisoners were listening to them. That’s all. No one was being saved. No one convicted of their sin, or at least no visible evidence of it.

As I thought about it, I realized that this is the condition of much of the church these days. We’re going along as we always do. We have our services on Sundays. We sing, we pray, and we praise God. But where is our effectiveness in the world?

The Lord started speaking to me through this picture of the church. We need to wake up to our condition. Until we see and understand that we’re chained in the darkness, we’ll never break out into the freedom that has already been made available to us.

I want to take the next few posts to share what the Lord spoke to me concerning this issue. I want to explain how we got into this position as well as what’s needed for us to break free.

Remember, that it wasn’t until the chains fell off of the church – Paul and Silas – that the jailer fell on his face and cried out, “What must I do to be saved?”

Question: What do you see as the greatest factor in “locking up” the American church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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The Last Days – The days of Noah #returnofChrist

UmbrellaIn my last post I talked about a statement that Jesus made to the church.  In it He warns us that the last days before His return would be similar to the days of Noah.  What was that like?  Things were going along business as usual.

The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
Genesis 6:5

That sounds very familiar.  God saw how great man’s wickedness had become.  People’s thoughts would turn in the direction of evil all the time.  Our society is like that today.  The main concern of most people is, “How can I satisfy myself?”  That’s fallen man’s cry from morning until night. Both Noah’s society and what we see happening around us today sound the same to me.

You know the rest of the story.  God shows Noah His plan.  Noah obeys and builds the ark for the saving of his family.  But what does all that have to do with the return of Christ?  Jesus is making a comparison here.

The world was filled with violence during the days of Noah.  Our society is plagued with the same things as well.  We see wickedness, evil thoughts, corruption, and violence all around us.  If you live in the inner city, violence is a way of life.  Unfortunately, it’s moving out more and more into the countryside, just like it was in the days of Noah.  What is this leading to?

On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.  They had with them every wild animal according to its kind…Then the Lord shut him in.
Genesis 7:13-16

Just like it was in THE DAYS of Noah, they were eating, drinking, and marrying right up until THE DAY Noah entered the ark.  Scripture says “the very day” Noah entered the ark.  At that point the flood came.

Did they have any warning that the flood was coming?  They sure did!  Noah had been warning them for about one hundred years.  That’s how long it took him to build the ark.

What we need to understand is that when the door to the ark was finally shut it was too late.  Here is a very important question.  Who shut the door to the ark?  Please pay careful attention to this fact.  It was God who shut the door.  Noah didn’t shut it, and he couldn’t open it.

Once that door was shut, no one could change their mind and get in.  It was too late.  I’m sure that when the rain started falling, there were people pounding on that door.  But when God shuts the door, the time of repentance is over.

I believe that there will be a day when God will close the door to salvation.  That’s why it’s imperative that we preach the Good News while God’s ark of salvation remains open.

Question: What are you doing to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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