RESOURCES FOR RECONCILIATION
Daily Bible Reading – Acts 15:1-41
Scripture Focus For Today – “After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care. Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.” (Acts 15:36-41)
Devotion – Have you ever had a sharp disagreement with another Christian? If you’ve been a Christian for some time you probably have. Disagreements about worship styles, theological beliefs, Christian behavior, etc. have always occurred between the followers of Jesus. And then we have disagreements with others because we feel hurt by their actions or inaction.
Acts 15 includes the stories of several disagreements among Christians. In the beginning of the chapter we find the disagreements that were occurring between those who were Jewish Christians, and those who were ministering to Gentile Christians. The Jewish Christians wanted the Gentile Christians to adopt their customs and beliefs. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
At the end of the chapter we find a disagreement between Barnabas and Paul, two men who had been great friends and whom God was using in a great way to reach Gentiles with the message of Jesus. Their disagreement centered around the fact that a young Christian named John Mark had suddenly left them on a previous missionary excursion. Barnabas wanted to give John Mark another chance, but Paul didn’t want to. And because their disagreement was so sharp, they parted ways and went in different directions. This story reminds us that even the best of Christians can allow opinions and disagreements to divide them.
So how do we respond when we do have a sharp disagreement with another Christian? First, we need to remember that we’re to love them unconditionally (John 13:34-35) – which means that we’re to love them even when we disagree with them. The Apostle John wrote that we can’t claim to be a Christian if we don’t love our brothers and sisters in Christ, even when we’re at odds with them. Second, we’re to do everything we can, without compromising our morals or convictions, to strive to be at peace with them (Romans 12:18). Those efforts won’t always be rewarded the way we think they should, but we must strive for peace. Third, we need to make sure that we don’t allow hurt to become a stronghold in our lives. Paul wrote that “if we allow the sun to go down on our anger we give a mighty foothold to the Devil in our lives” (Ephesians 4:26-27), and that principle is also true in regards to bitterness, disappointment, hurt, resentment, etc. If we’re struggling with hurt towards someone we need to confess that as our sin (not their sin) so that we experience the Lord’s forgiveness and freedom in our lives. Four, we need to affirm our love to the person that we’re disagreeing with in some way. That may be through a card, a text, an email or in person. Five, we need to determine that we’re not going to allow anyone or anything to rob us of joy and keep us from victory in our lives.
Although Paul may have been the greatest Christian ever, he was perhaps wrong in this situation. Thank God that Barnabas continued to invest in John Mark, because he went on to write the first Gospel (even though it’s the second Gospel in our Bible it was the first one written). Later on, Paul must have relented in his feelings toward John Mark, because he mentions in 2 Timothy 4 that he’s looking forward to seeing him. Which reminds us that the Lord can reconcile even the most broken of relationships in our lives.
Follow-up Activity – Identify some broken or hurting relationships in your life, and ask the Lord to give you direction about how you can possibly bring healing or reconciliation to those relationships.
Prayer Guide For Today – Spend some time in prayer
- Adoring the Lord – What attributes of the Lord do I need to praise Him for today?
- Confessing your sins – What sin or struggle do I need to confess to the Lord so I can experience His forgiveness and freedom in my life?
- Thanking the Lord – What blessings or people do I need to thank the Lord for today?
- Seeking God’s help – What specific requests do I have for myself or others today?
One Sentence Prayer for Today – Lord, help me to let go of any hurts or unforgiveness that I have so that I can pursue reconciliation with others like You have done with me.THIS WEEKEND AT CELEBRATION WE’RE CONTINUING OUR CALLED TO THE CAUSE SERMON SERIES. We will be learning about the difference that the Holy Spirit’s power makes in our lives, and how we can become transformers of our culture. It’s also going to be an ALL IN Weekend for those who wish to take the step of Baptism. Invite friends and family members to come with you. And feel free to send your personal Prayer Requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.