Tag Archives: the book of Acts

“Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.  They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.  Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.”  (Acts 15:37-40, NIV)

Paul and Barnabas were a phenomenal team.  Together, by the power of God, they had performed miracles, cheated death, and seen hundreds — if not thousands — of people come to faith in Jesus as a direct result of their faithfulness to God.

In today’s scripture, we read about the end of that great team because of a personal disagreement.

It is helpful to note that they did not disagree over money; they did not disagree over who was the best or the biggest.  They did, however, disagree over whether to include in their work John Mark — who had deserted them.

They disagreed sharply — as competent people often do — but they did not prolong their disagreement.  They agreed to disagree; and parted company with the blessing of the church as they proceeded in their respective tasks.

As disciples, remember that although we may sometimes disagree with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but we should never allow our disagreements to stand in the way of loving them without reservation.

In such situations, remember the adage: “In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.”  – Luther

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“Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.”  (Acts 7:25, NIV)

It surprises us — as it did Moses — that others do not realize our status as God’s rescue agent.  From “the outside looking in,” we see situations differently than those in the crisis.

At such moments — when we are filled with enthusiasm, energy, and ardor — we need to guard against the temptation to become “tactical”; that is, to become more concerned about a particular, single battle than we are the entire war.  Many have lost wars despite having won most of the battles.  The key is to choose, and to fight, the right battles.

Above all, it is crucially important that we keep our ego in check.  The recognition and praise of others is a poor barometer (as we saw with Jesus on Palm Sunday when he entered Jerusalem to the praise of the people, only to hear many of those same voices call for His crucifixion a few days later).

Instead, work assiduously for the honor and the glory of our heavenly Father.  – Luther

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“And it came to pass in our going on to prayer, a certain maid, having a spirit of Python, did meet us, who brought much employment to her masters by soothsaying, she having followed Paul and us, was crying, saying, `These men are servants of the Most High God, who declare to us a way of salvation;’ and this she was doing for many days, but Paul having been grieved, and having turned, said to the spirit, `I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come forth from her;’ and it came forth the same hour.”  (Acts 16:16-18, Young’s Literal Translation)

A single word can, sometimes, make a world of difference.

The young girl in today’s scripture passage “dogged” Paul and his companions as they proclaimed the Good News, saying: “These men are servants of the Most High God (TRUE), who declare to us a way of salvation (FALSE).”

Here, it can get confusing because except for a literal, word-for-word, translation of the Greek New Testament one will probably find the word “the” instead of the word “a” in other New Testament translations to English of the girl’s characterization of the disciple’s message.

Paul and the others were not announcing one way of many ways; they lived to proclaim the way of salvation.  It was this mis-characterization of their message that annoyed Paul and provoked him to “call out” the demon within the girl that was the true source of the half-truths.

As disciples of Jesus, our message today is the same as the message of Paul and the other disciples in the Acts: “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:12, New Living Translation)

If we believe that to be true, we, too, should be annoyed at any attempt to mis-characterize or to alter the whole truth of God’s word — and use whatever tools at our disposal to set-straight the record.  Words do matter.  – Luther

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