Acts 15 Part 2–Great News and A Parting of Ways

 The Bible has always distinguished itself in literature by being transparent.  It shows the lives of the people that built the people of Israel, and the people that helped to build the Church.  In all cases, the Bible shows these people at their best and at their worst.  Luke just told the story of the Church settling a major dispute by telling the people of the church that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised or follow Jewish tradition to follow the Lord.  That issue was a primary tool for division among believers.  Paul and Barnabus were thrilled to go back and continue their mission of leading people to Christ across the globe.  

Barnabus, the encourager, was ready to join Paul on another round of encouraging and building churches in Asia.  He wanted of course to bring John Mark.  John Mark quit Paul and Barnabus last journey and went home.  The account never says why, but it must have been very disappointing to Paul and Barnabus.  Now as they were headed out for round two, Barnabus, the encourager and mentor, was ready to give John Mark another chance.  After all, if he was willing to go again and Paul and Barnabus now had a handle on the mission, why would they not continue to mentor this disciple of God? 

Paul, on the other hand, had no time to carry men that quit.  He had a mission to lead men to Christ, not to babysit quitters!  It was another game changer. Paul and Barnabus split over the issue.  Paul took Silas and Barnabus continued to mentor John Mark.  While seemingly a sad turn of events, God clearly used it.

Paul and Silas would continue to have a great impact starting and building churches across Asia.  Barnabus and Mark would also build and encourage churches.  What’s more, Mark would write the first version of the Gospel for the churches. One can only speculate what might have happened if Barnabus had given up on John Mark.  The truth is, however, this son of encouragement did not. Conversely, Paul and Silas now were doing the mission and changing lives.  God used the separation to do even greater things.

Interestingly, In Paul’s final letter,  He closes with this request, “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11.  Barnabus was right, and Paul wanted his old friend to know it.  It was Paul’s way of admitting his mistake and acknowledging the wonder of Barnabus and his encouragement that changed the face of our faith. It is not hard to imagine Paul remembering that Barnabus mentored him as a young believer and stuck with Paul through many battles and adventures.  It is another time the Lord allows the Word to show real people in real struggles still impacting the world and continuing the mission.  

God Bless You

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers[c] who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you[d] with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them.[e] 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Paul and Barnabas Separate

36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Teaching and Living the Christian Life–Titus 2 Part 1

Paul knew that the community of believers were hungry for direction on how to Live the Christian Life.  He also knew the message for each person and life stage had to be tailored to where they were living.  So Paul gives specific direction for people in different points of the journey.  For us old guys, Paul tells Titus–teach them to act with self-control, live a life worthy of respect and be wise…It is certainly easy, as we get older, to let things go and be less self-aware.  But, if we are disciplined and wise, we can have a life changing affect on others. 

The same holds true with ladies that are well along the path.  They set the tone for their families, and they can train younger women to be grateful for their husbands and family, even when both are imperfect. To do that, these amazing women have to live and walk in a way that shows themselves worthy of respect and honor. No loose tongues that spread gossip or spit out angry and vile rhetoric–such talk lessens and even negates any long term impact they may have.

As for the younger set–women must love and care for your husbands and families–make them your ministry and be the guardian of your household.  Young husbands are the protectors and providers–but, let’s face it, without young wives and moms–homes and families would be a complete disaster.

Finally, young men need to practice humility and submission to God. The world would tell you “No Holds Barred” but, as young men make choices in their youth, those choices could and do affect the rest of their lives and the lives of their families–It is therefore critical that young men make wise choices and life affirming decisions. They need to adopt mentors that are godly and wise and listen and learn. Otherwise, before we know it, Godly influence will disappear and anarchy will reign supreme.

Hard to teach, hard to do–but, when we follow and honor God–He blesses us; and allows us to bless those in our lives. We are not disqualified by age or gender–We all are called to a critical mission.

God Bless You

As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.

Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.[a] Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes,[b] to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.

In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching