Human Problems

“And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” Acts 16: 30-34 NKJV

This is a glorious passage about how one person was saved. There are many ways person come to the salvation knowledge and are transformed by God. For each of us the verse that spoke to us, the situation we were in – it is all unique and different. This jailer just had to believe and show that belief to his family and they all believed as well. We read in James yesterday that those believers had to be hearers and doers of the word in order to be saved, but we cannot earn salvation by doing (doing is a response to salvation). Below you see I use ‘The Romans Path to Salvation’ methodology leading to the “Salvation Prayer”.  This was created as an over simplified method to express some of the key points of ‘salvation’ and walk someone through a prayer. It is not bad. But I also know very few people who came into a real relationship with God through Jesus this way. They may have said the prayer once or a few times – but Jesus shows up for each of us differently. Just because the jailer and his family were changed by the jailer believing – doesn’t mean my son will be changed based on my belief. (Maybe by my prayers, but not just because I believe and bring home a few criminals in the middle of the night.)

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Acts, chapters 15-16 (embedded below the image below for your convenience).  Today’s reading addresses some of the problems that arise from humans being human. God made us like this – complicated, messy, passionate, and clumsy.

It starts with the early church trying to figure out how the law and mosaic covenant apply to gentiles – cause those Pharisees (yes, those people) say the gentiles must be subject to the law…. Wait, did anyone catch that?! The glorious redemption! Some of the Pharisees became believers!!

Side note: it is so easy to simplify this as a story and make all scribes and Pharisees into the bad guys and Christians the good guys. Some of the Jews who persecuted the church honestly loved the Lord with all their hearts and thought they were obeying and serving Him, like Saul (aka Paul).  But many did it with the wrong hearts and that is why we tend to lump it all together, BUT these early writers wanted us to see the humanity and variations so it is included in the writings. God wants us to know something here.
So the religious persecution seems to be the only persecution when we are told the stories over and over and they simply and simplify.
As we see with one of the mix-ups here today, when they unlawfully beat Paul and threw him in jail, the persecution started crossing lines and becoming more and more political. And when Herod joined the Jews for favor a few chapters ago. And at this time the Jews are withholding the benevolence allowances to the poor and widows who believe in Jesus – and the church is broke from trying the socialism – so they begin building the same financial structure God ordained in Jewish customs and the church started collecting tithes and offerings. WHICH was illegal to be an unauthorized collector of funds under Roman law – they were not breaking the law, but the Jews told on them accusing, saying they did, and so political persecution also began and complicated by the apostles out there making people mad.

The truth is – today as you read, and as you believe, and as you try to walk out your relationship with Him in faith – it will get messy. We will have to figure things out as we go. God doesn’t wait until we are perfect to launch us into ministry or into being a good Christian who give testimony of how God changed them. Nope. God takes us in our mess and joins us to other messes and together we make more of a mess. – That is a very unpopular opinion, but please give me grace to explain. Humans left to their own devices makes things messier and God still intervenes and uses it.
The elders and Peter, Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Mark are all in agreement about the law and how it applies to the gentiles – but next thing you know Paul and Barnabas are having a irreconcilable differences and part ways (it is a fight over Mark, because Mark left and did not finish the first mission, so Paul doesn’t want him on the second). (Also, Mark ends up having wonderful missions to Egypt and is the first to write down the gospel, and later they all make up but never go on a mission together.) See – messy people, making messes and join together to make more of a mess,

In chapter 16 Timothy and Luke join Paul and Silas – Luke is the writer and we see ‘we’ statements starting to appear in the text along with more details.  Some people say the fall out between Paul and Barnabas had to happen to send Mark to Egypt eventually and to add Timothy and Luke to Paul’s team. But the truth is far more complicated.

It is the human condition – we are corruptible man on an incorruptible mission. We err and stumble and clumsily fulfill the Lords will.  No matter our mistakes God raises up the man power to complete His work. Restoration comes again someday – but what could have been with Paul, Barnabas, and Mark will never be known. God would have rose up another to go to Egypt, other than Mark.  And was Barnabas lost to us? We are messy. If you plan to serve God know you will develop a love for people because that is God’s nature and we slowing become like Him – but we are messy about it. And God uses it – actually requires it. Because these men cannot get the glory in the messed up state they are in. They cannot puff up in pride when repentance is a daily task. And only God can get the glory for using such messiness.

Are you a hot mess? No worries. That is exactly what God wants to use and the type of person He wants a relationship with.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse to pick up and swing when you need a sword in your hand! Knowing the Word is our Sword and Jesus is the Word! Jesus accomplishes what He set out to do. Quoting this verse is therefore the very act of walking in the victory!  

Isaiah 55:11

NKJV – “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
NAS – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
ESV – “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
AMP – “So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
NIV – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Acts 15-16 NKJV

Conflict over Circumcision

15 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

The Jerusalem Council

Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, [a]acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus [b]Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had [c]become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:

16 ‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the [d]Lord who does all these things.’

18 [e]“Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from [f]sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

The Jerusalem Decree

22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas,[g] and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

23 They wrote this letter by them:

The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Greetings.

24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, [h]saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one [i]accord, to send chosen men 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 will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual[j] immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

Farewell.

Continuing Ministry in Syria

30 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. 32 Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. 33 And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to [k]the apostles.

34 [l]However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there. 35 Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Division over John Mark

36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” 37 Now Barnabas [m]was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being [n]commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

16 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

The Macedonian Call

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in [o]Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the [p]Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Lydia Baptized at Philippi

11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the [q]foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. 14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.

Paul and Silas Imprisoned

16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.

But Paul, greatly [r]annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. 19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

20 And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” 22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

The Philippian Jailer Saved

25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”

29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

Paul Refuses to Depart Secretly

35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the [s]officers, saying, “Let those men go.”

36 So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.”

37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”

38 And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. 39 Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 15:8 bore witness to
  2. Acts 15:11 NU, M omit Christ
  3. Acts 15:13 stopped speaking
  4. Acts 15:17 NU Lordwho makes these things
  5. Acts 15:18 NU (continuing v. 17known from eternity (of old).
  6. Acts 15:20 Or fornication
  7. Acts 15:22 NU, M Barsabbas
  8. Acts 15:24 NU omits saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”
  9. Acts 15:25 purpose or mind
  10. Acts 15:29 Or fornication
  11. Acts 15:33 NU those who had sent them
  12. Acts 15:34 NU, M omit v. 34.
  13. Acts 15:37 resolved
  14. Acts 15:40 committed
  15. Acts 16:6 The Roman province of Asia
  16. Acts 16:7 NU adds of Jesus
  17. Acts 16:12 Lit. first
  18. Acts 16:18 distressed
  19. Acts 16:35 lictors, lit. rod bearers

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