Acts 16:1 Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, 3 so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek. 4 Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day.
This shows a great quality in the life of young Timothy, being willing to be circumcised. He did not have to be circumcised to be saved but for the sake of not offending some people he would eventually minister to, he humbled himself and did what was best for Father God’s Kingdom.
I’m thankful for those types of people today, who will forfeit their rights to keep peace and bring peace to Father God’s Kingdom. The good news is this: when we humble ourselves for the Kingdom, great will be our reward. There is an old saying I’ve said many times, you can be 100 % right but still be 100% wrong. Friend, if I have to choose, I want to be right in the sight of Father God who not only sees my actions but also knows my heart.
We, as children of God, must always make decisions which are good for the Kingdom of God; we must make decisions which do not bring a reproach on His Word and His Church. Maybe you might be able to go to a certain place and it not be a sin but friend it can damage your reputation so quickly. We are in this world but we must separate ourselves from this world and be different because we are different. The Bible commands us to shun the very appearance of evil.
Timothy could have said, I don’t have to be circumcised, I’m saved by grace not works but because it was better for the Kingdom, he submitted his own will to what was best for that situation and those whom he would be ministering to. Remember you never sacrifice anything in Father God’s kingdom that you will not be rewarded for. Timothy became a very important person in the life of the early church but it all started with humbling himself and coming under spiritual authority.
6 Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. 7 Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. 8 So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.
No doubt Paul and Silas were probably astounded at the fact that the Holy Spirit led them not to preach in Asia, Mysia and Bithynia but they willingly obeyed His voice. We must never forget, we only see the corner but God sees around the corner. To this day, we still are not sure why they were not allowed to evangelize this area at this time but rest assured there was a purpose. There is a promise in the Word of God that declares: If you are willing and obedient then you will eat the good of the land. Friends, It’s not just our actions but also our willingness to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
9 That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" 10 So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.
Because they were willing and obedient to obey the Holy Spirit, it opened up a supernatural experience for Paul. He had a vision that would impact a nation and his ministry. We must simply learn to TRUST GOD in every area of our lives even when we do not know the purpose behind His commandment to us. This was a call to preach the gospel in an extensive pagan land, amid many trials and dangers. To this call, notwithstanding all this prospect of danger, Paul and Silas cheerfully responded, and gave themselves to the work. Paul and Silas were not looking for an easy way, they simply wanted to walk in obedience to the will of Father God for their lives.
Prayer Points: Pray for the wisdom and strength to be obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit and to those in authority over us even when we don’t understand why.
Last week we gave you a lot of history concerning Barnabas and Paul because I wanted you to have this facts established: 1. Brothers in Christ; 2. Co-Laborers in many mission works together and without a doubt friends. Remember everyone is not in your life for your whole life, many are put in your life for specific purposes and specific seasons. Thank God and celebrate those Father God puts in your life, who can finish the final season of your destiny because they are few most of the time. It’s proven right here in the early church.
Acts 15:37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.
Barnabas, the people person, the encourager wanted to give John Mark another chance but Paul had not got over the fact that John Mark had quit on them in an earlier missionary journey, leaving them and going back home. There are so many ways this story can be approached from but let’s look at this side of the story: what if Paul had extended to John Mark the same mercy and grace that had been given to him. Maybe John Mark had got ahead of the Holy Spirit in his zeal to do something for Jesus and he wasn’t mature enough to fight the demonic encounters that an early missionary would fight.
The scriptures does not give indication why John Mark left them. Could it have been a family matter? A job situation? A death? Or just because he was scared? We don’t know, we can only speculate but the fact was they were on a missionary assignment and John Mark left them and went home. Could Paul have been holding a grudge? Could Paul have been holding some unforgiveness? Once again scripture does not tell us, so we can only speculate but it would not be based on facts.
This is a major disagreement between two of the early leaders of the early church proving to us that disputes, misunderstandings, and disagreements are part of ministry. It’s how we resolve the issues that is important. Ephesians says, neither give place to the devil.
39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord's gracious care. 41 Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.
Undoubtedly this disagreement got a little heated to the point that leaders had to go their separate ways. Barnabas took John Mark and sailed off for Cyprus and Paul got another missionary partner named Silas and took off to Syria and Cilicia. Both of these teams went on to do great work for the Kingdom but without a doubt this disagreement left a mark on the early church, causing division. The text omits two factors many find crucial in avoiding or minimizing conflict. First, prayer: there is no evidence that Barnabas and Paul prayed – and Acts abounds with prayer examples (see 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; 9:11). Anytime there is disagreement there should be a season of prayer. Second, a mediator or peacemaker is absent. It appears Barnabas and Paul decided to argue first and talk later—something typical of people throughout the ages. That is never acceptable among the children of God, we are called to be peacemakers.
Who was right, who was wrong? That’s an easy question, both men were right and both men were wrong and Father God still loved them both. This dispute was not over doctrinal issues but rather a judgment call. To their credit, this dispute did not detour them in their pursuit of building the Kingdom. They realized the truth of the fact, that this was a personal issue they had to get over and they did.
Read this carefully, over the long haul, the decision of Barnabas may have proved best – at least for John Mark. Years later, Paul finds the formerly useless Mark “useful,” as revealed in the apostle’s concluding epistle. “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministering” (2 Tim. 4:11). And in Colossians 4:10, one observes that the once-rejected young worker was commended, and the Colossian saints were asked to be receptive to him. What am I saying? Never Never Give Up On Anyone! You never know whom the Holy Spirit will use in your future to help you. The one Paul refused to take with him, is one of the one he would later request. I’m thankful God isn’t through with any of us, so we need to exercise the same amount of grace and patience we desire Father God to show to us. I’ve learned this: I can be 100% right in facts but 100% wrong in attitude.
Prayer Points: Pray, when I’m in a disagreement with some-one, help me to see the scene as you see it. Don’t let me be close minded or stubborn, but help me to see truth and walk in the truth.
We have been studying how the early church was in revival and the Gentiles were being saved, healed and filled and now we read this:
Acts 15: 36 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."
I love their spirit. They were not just interested in getting people saved but really engaged in making sure the new believers were continuing their spiritual walk with the Lord. For too many years, leaders have been more concerned about numbers than they are about people continuing along their spiritual journey. It’s not just enough to begin; we must continue growing in Christ.
Friends, we as the body of Christ, are responsible for the rest of the body, not just the ministers. Ministers cannot take care of the whole body but it’s their duty to train and equip others to care for the body. Too many times believers rely too much on the ministers to do all the work of the ministry but every believer is called and anointed to minister to others, to disciple others, to help others. The whole body of Christ must learn to be involved in ministry, using their gifts and talents in the Kingdom.
Eph 4:11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
This is how the church was supposed to function; everyone doing their part but somewhere we began to miss it and thought the gifts God gave to the church were supposed to do all the work of ministry.
I want Acts again! I want to see the supernatural manifestation of God’s power and glory over this region but if that is to happen, we must get back to what how the church functioned in the book of Acts.
Acts 6:2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, "We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 7 So God's message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.
In every believer there are talents Father God has imparted into them for work in the ministry of Father God’s Kingdom and in the local body. When the ministry gifts (pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets, apostles) do all the work, other people’s talents are not released and soon they will become spiritually oppressed because they are not able to release their talents. We must release people within the body of Christ to minister to the body of Christ.
This devotion goes out to different churches and to many people so I try to keep all the devotions applicable to everyone. If you have a gift or talent that is not being used, please go to your pastor to let him know you are willing to use the gift Father God has given you in the local body of Christ. We all want to hear the words WELL DONE when we meet Jesus but He can’t say WELL DONE if we have not DONE WELL with the talents He gave us.
Please hear my heart when I say this, sometimes what we like to minister (or be involved) in ministry which is not what we are gifted to do. Make sure when you go to your spiritual leader and offer your ministry gifts, that you are gifted for what you have volunteered to do. I love to sing but I’m not gifted to sing so I sing in private. Maybe you love teaching but that doesn’t mean you are gifted to teach. Your gift will make room for you in each local body but stay within your gifting. I’ve seen people trying to help with students who were not gifted for that purpose and it created misery for the person and chaos for those involved. I’ve heard people want to sing but couldn’t carry a note and it didn’t bring harmony. When you find your place of ministry, your gifting will develop even more and you will begin to feel complete in your ministry assignment. Everyone needs to take a Ministry Gift Testing (we have one if you need it) to find out where your spiritual gifting lies. If you want to be a hostess but you do not have the gift of being hospitable, then we need to find your true gifting or it will create confusion.
This devotion just seem to flow this morning, seemingly away from the text but I know it’s God’s for this week to all of us.
Prayer Points: Father God give me a passion for ministry that goes with the talents you have placed deep inside of me. Guide me into the ministry path in my local church that you have for me.