Division Over John Mark

Acts 15:36-41

001-paul-antioch-philippiI read this and thought of how the church can become divided over issues. It was commendable that Paul wanted to go back and visit other believers in every city where he and Barnabas had preached the Word. I guess he wanted to see how they were doing. He had planted the church and now he was interested to see how it was growing.

This is how it should be in the churches today. Pastors or elders or church members should check on the new members or the new church to see how things are progressing. This sounded like a good idea to Barnabas and he determined to take his cousin John Mark with them. However, Paul was equally determined not to take him with them. He hadn’t forgotten what Mark had done. He had left them in Perga to return to Jerusalem (Acts 13:3). We don’t know why he left. Perhaps he wasn’t ready for the hardships, dangers that missionaries and gospel workers face.

The word used for departed here is aphistēmi which means to desert, to fall away, become faithless, to withdraw one’s self from, to fall away. Clearly Paul believed that Mark had deserted them. He had not continued with them in the work he had undertaken to do. Paul didn’t want him to run out on them again if they were to take him with them this time. He didn’t want to get burned a second time. Barnabas, perhaps, wanted to give Mark another chance. Perhaps, blood is thicker than water. They began to argue over this and things got so heated that they had to go their separate ways. Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus while Paul took Silas. He and Silas went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

How sad it was that these two men who had served in the ministry together and had shared so many experiences parted ways under such circumstances.

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Be Ready to Share Jesus

Acts 13:13-52

900165955_466ceaa8d7_mAt bedtime, I read to my son the scriptures where Paul and Barnabas visited the synagogue in Antioch and after the reading from the Law and the Prophets,  the rulers of the synagogue asked them if they had any words of encouragement for the people.  What struck me is when Paul stood up, he used this opportunity to preach about Jesus.

He didn’t start off talking about Jesus.  Instead, he gave a brief summary of Israel’s history beginning with when the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years.  He spoke about how the Jewish people were ruled by judges until the prophet Samuel and how they wanted to be like the other nations who had kings ruling over them.  They wanted a king too even though God was their King.  They got their wish when Saul, the son of Kish was chosen to be their king.  However, God removed him because of his disobedience and chose David to be his successor.  Then, Paul introduced Jesus, saying,  “From this man’s descendants God has raised a Savior for Israel, Jesus, according to His promise.”

He spoke of the role the people had played in the arrest and death of Jesus. By doing these things they had fulfilled the Word of God.  The Good News, though was that God raised Jesus from the dead and through Him are the forgiveness of sins.  Paul made it clear that we are justified by faith in Jesus and not by the law.  His words encouraged the Gentiles who begged him to preach again to them the following Sabbath.

Has God given you an opportunity to share the Good News about Jesus with others as He did with Paul?  Would you do as Paul did and share your faith so that people will come to know the Savior who died for them as well?  You don’t have to give a history lesson like Paul did.  You can share your own testimony of how you came to know the Lord like the woman at the well.  She told her community that Jesus must be the Messiah that they had been waiting for because He knew everything about her.

What about the challenges you will face when you share the Gospel?  The following Sabbath when Paul and Barnabas returned to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, they were met with opposition from the Jews who were envious.  They contradicted what Paul said but he and Barnabas didn’t allow them to spoil things for them.  Instead, they boldly declared to them that since they rejected the Word of God which was supposed to be given to them first, it would be given instead to the Gentiles for the Lord commanded them, “‘I have established you to be a light of the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”  Verse 48 says that when the Gentiles heard this, “they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And all who were ordained to eternal life believed.”

Don’t be discouraged when people oppose you and contradict what you say.  It’s Satan, your enemy at work, trying to prevent you from doing what God has called you to do.  Like Paul and Barnabas did, act boldly, knowing that the Lord is your side and He will not allow His work to be hindered.  Share the Gospel for the sake of those who will gladly receive it. Don’t let the Satan or anyone put out your light.  Keep it shining for those who will come to it and receive salvation through faith in Jesus.

Today, if God gives you an opportunity to encourage people with the Good News about Jesus, grab it.  And don’t worry about what to say.  The Holy Spirit has that covered.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek – Romans 1:16

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