Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; Acts 2:14,36-41; Sunday, April 30, 2017

Scripture for April 30 is Acts 2:14a, 36-41

You can read this Scripture here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

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All of us know the fairy tale of the Frog Prince. It was popularized for the first time by Brothers Grimm and is traditionally the first story in their collection. What most of us do not realize is that the story has roots in the Vikings’ tradition; if I had to guess, the original story is probably 12 to 15 centuries old.

The way the contemporary version of the story goes, a spoiled princess is persuaded to befriend the Frog Prince whom she met after dropping a gold ball into the swamp that the Frog Prince called home. In the conniving exchange, the slimy frog returns the golden ball to the princess but not until after she kissed him. That kiss magically transformed the frog into a handsome prince and, just like in any other fairy tale, there was a lavish wedding with delicious carrot cake, a beautiful dress with a long train, and they lived happily ever after.

The reason this folk tale has survived for 1500 years is because it resonates with our human experience. All of us have had to “kiss a frog” in the past, to face our fears and doubts, only to be pleasantly surprised by the results.

The “frog” that I am talking about represents the fallacy of our own prejudices and preconceived notions. As a result of facing our preconceived notions and prejudices we grow and we change.

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Let’s unpack that. Today we heard the scripture where Peter addressed the worshipers, either on the day of Pentecost – the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon all of God’s Creation like a mighty wind, or shortly after.

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We know that Jesus appeared to the Disciples behind closed doors a few times in that period of fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, we heard that reading last week.

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Also, at some point during these fifty days, Peter made a decision that he had enough with uncertainty and instability. He decided to go back to his old life as a fisherman. That story is found in John 21.

In verses 1 – 7 we hear,

NIV2010 John 21: 1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5 He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’

‘No,’ they answered.

6 He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’”

{Illustration}

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I think this is what happened to Peter. He decided to get practical and he gave up.

We know that Peter denied Jesus three times on the night between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Peter denied knowing Jesus because he was unsure of and devastated by what was happening, scared for his life, his spirit was crushed and he was terrified.

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That is why Resurrected Jesus came to the shores of the Sea of Galilee to talk to Peter that morning. What followed was an exchange between Jesus and Peter, where Jesus asked Peter three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Jesus did not lay guilt trips nor accusations. Jesus asked Peter a simple question, “Peter, do you love me?”

And Peter had to “kiss the frog.” I am talking about “the frog” that lived in his heart and mind; Peter had to own up to his own emotions of guilt and shame about his denial, and come face to face with his weakness, his impetuousness, and his brokenness as a fallen human being. Peter had to own up to giving up his dreams and his calling.

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When tragedy and loss happen in our lives, we face a choice. Our first option is that we can give into the void and emptiness that fill our hearts and souls, constrict our ability to think and act, suck the air out of our lungs, and drain us of our desire to live. Our second option is to try to find meaning. Notice I did not say that the second option is to try to explain why the tragedy and loss occurred. I said that the second option is to seek the meaning of what happened.

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Hope, vision, spiritual and emotional growth follows meaning, not explanations.

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On that shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus helped Peter come to terms with and find meaning in what happened. It was a way for Jesus to reassure Peter that life goes on and Peter had a part in it.

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Today we saw Peter recognize what the wind and fire at Pentecost was all about, and he addressed the crowd without fear or hesitation. Today we saw Peter acknowledge Jesus without any hesitation.

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Listen to what Peter told the people, “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” – that is Hope.

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“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” – that is vision of a new church and a new life.

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We find meaning in our lives only when we are prepared to face God face to face and are prepared to face our own fallenness. That is what the period between Easter and Pentecost was for the Disciples. By finding the meaning, they found the way to reinvent themselves and carry Jesus into every corner of the Earth.

When was the last time that you realized you had let your dreams and hopes slip away? When was the last time that you had “to kiss the frog” inside you and ask yourself “what was I afraid of?”

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