www.countycorrectionsgospelmission.org

The Contender

"It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 1:3 

January 2018

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Repentance Unto Life

Acts 11:11-18 “And behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Cesarea unto me. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, ‘John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.’ Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”

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Repentance Unto Life

The preceding text is a portion of Peter’s testimony to the Jerusalem Church elders of the conversion of “a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band. A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed to God always.” (Acts 10:1,2) These two noted texts describe a needful, powerful account of God preparing hearts for the work that only God himself can do! I love this story for several reasons and here are just a few:

First, it’s a refreshing, true account of how God prepares the message, the messengers and the receiving-hearts to which ‘God hath also granted repentance unto life.‘

Furthermore, “the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, ‘John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.’ (11:15,16) This reminds us all of the precious agency of the Holy Ghost in the work of salvation.

And third, Acts 10 clearly centers on Peter’s preaching of the gospel and his great testimony of God’s faithfulness in granting salvation, Acts 10:34-42,43 “And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name (Jesus) whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

And finally, this great account of ‘remission of sins’ and ‘repentance unto life’ occurs in the heart and household of a Roman Centurion. Oh, how glorious to hear what God has graciously and mercifully accomplished and wrought in Cornelius’ life granting him: repentance unto life and remission of sins.

This great testimony is a clear accounting of God’s plan and power to save! In an hour when men’s hearts are failing them because of fear and the weightiness of sin; oh, that there may yet be another awakening to the weightiness of the holiness of God and His power to save!

As we celebrate God’s anticipated gift of “Jesus the Christ” and muse upon the sobering prospects of 2018, let us be revived in the unchanging power of God to ‘grant us repentance unto life and remission of sins.’ As my gracious, wise pastor/mentor shared with me some weeks ago and I paraphrase: “We need again that men come into a real encounter with the Holy Spirit of God!” (Pastor Richard Owen Roberts)

Recently, we visited the “Miracle of Christmas” at Sight and Sound Theater. Four words sung most soberly and with pathos stay with me from its opening moments: “WE NEED A SAVIOR!” May God grant us repentant lives and revive our hearts!

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Two Great Hymns

Two great hymns come so quickly to my heart as I muse upon this foundational history of God’s power to save:

“What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought;

Since Jesus came into my heart!”

and

“Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me; Buried, He carried my sins far away;

Rising, He justified, Freely forever:

One day He’s coming, Oh, glorious day!”

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“Character: The Power of Leadership”

In November’s letter I mentioned that I’d be ‘offering’ two great books to our prison’s correctional officers and extend what’s left of them to our Office of the Sheriff. The very day that the books arrived from the publisher, a precious, man-of-God gave $2000.00 to cover the entire cost of printing and postage! 

In these moments before Christmas, I shall be offering these gospel-centered resources to more than 300 officers in their assembly for roll call. They, as Cornelius, will have access to God’s power to grant repentance and the remission of sins. Pray as I offer Chief Robert L. Vernon’s book: “Character: The Power of Leadership” and it’s companion “Six-week Bible Study” to these precious men and women who serve in their roles of ordained authority.

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Thank You

As 2017 becomes fully spent, I want to thank you for embracing our lives in the depth and breadth of our mission at County Corrections Gospel Mission. God has cared for us as he did Moses! He has led us and supplied for us in every moment and step of His leading and callings. I’ve been living in the wisdom of David’s confession of Psalms 25:4,5 throughout this year and though presently overwhelmed with an increased awareness of my own frailty and brevity (Psalm 39:1-7) I have learned that He knows my deepest needs and every present and future crises that exists before us! The way forward is already very costly as I see year-end-expenditures. Yet, I somehow believe that God already knows and will send resources equal to his callings.

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The Centerpiece

Chester County Prison remains the centerpiece of our heart-cries! In fact, CCGM’s Mission Statement seems relevant to every one of us who serves the mandate of “Jesus”! 

“Established to address the national spiritual crisis that is now reflected in and through America’s Criminal Justice Systems. The burden and development of a local, national and international missions strategy that biblically focuses on the people groups most affected by family breakdown, poverty and crime is our aim.” 

Overwhelmed, Grateful, and Anticipating His Continued Faithfulness!

Jack Crans, Director  

Praying for Your Holy Days and His Presence, Always!

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