Differences Shouldn’t Hinder The Gospel

            Face it! The person you sit next to may have similar interests; however, you’re personalities, thoughts, and actions are probably vastly different. Does this make one person better than another? Absolutely NOT!

God has varying roles in ministry so it’s going to take the differing personalities to get the job done.

            Luke writes in Acts about three individuals; yet, he does not determine which was right in their views. He simply stated the facts. In Acts 4: 36, 37 we read about Barnabas, a Cyprian Levite who sold a tract of land and brought the money to the apostles. Barnabas’ name meant Son of Encouragement. In Acts 9 we read of the conversion of Saul who is renamed Paul. It is also in Acts 9:27 where Barnabas is the one who brings Paul before the apostles and declares that his conversion was genuine. In Acts 10:21-27 Barnabas is sent to Antioch where the converted people are first called Christians. Here he encourages them to remain true to the Lord. He also goes to Tarsus, finds Saul/Paul and brings him back to Antioch.

            In Acts 12:12 we are introduced to John Mark because it is his mother, Mary’s house that Peter goes to after the angel breaks him out of prison. Then in Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas are set apart by the Holy Spirit to be sent out as missionaries. We are not told how many went on this first missionary journey. We do know it was Paul, Barnabas, and in Acts 13:13 we find out John Mark was with them also because in the middle of their journey he deserts them to return to Jerusalem.

            Why? Scripture doesn’t exactly tell us. We do know that their time in Cyprus only produced one conversion and that there was strong demonic opposition. Since John Mark was so young, it’s possible he could have been discouraged at the hardness of the way and decided home was more comfortable.

            Then in Acts 15:36-41 Paul and Barnabas are getting ready to do a second missionary journey. Barnabas really wanted to take John Mark along. Paul insisted that he should not because John Mark might desert them again like he did on their first journey. Scripture says that Paul and Barnabas sharply disagreed about whether John Mark should go or not. In fact Barnabas and Paul separated over the differing opinions. Barnabas takes John Mark and sails to Cyprus and Paul chooses Silas and they travel to Syria and Cilicia.

            Two opinions:  Barnabas desired to forgive John Mark’s previous failure and give him another chance, which is exactly what an encourager would do. After all he encouraged Paul when Paul was newly converted and began his ministry. Paul, in his view, was more logically minded because being a pioneer in missions required dedication, resolve, and endurance. John Mark was a risk to their mission.

            Even though they both held strongly to their opinions, they remained friends and some great things resulted from it. First, two groups of missionaries went out that day to spread the gospel. Secondly, in Philemon 1:24, Paul names Mark as a fellow worker. In Colossians 4:10 Paul gives his recommendation to the church to welcome Barnabas’ cousin, Mark. In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul tells Timothy to pick up Mark and bring him because Mark is useful to him for service.

            Through Barnabas’ encouragement and mentoring, his cousin, Mark had matured and become a faithful servant of the Lord. Paul recognized his progress and considered him a valuable companion. In fact it is John Mark that wrote the Gospel of Mark.

            Paul was correct that missions work required dedication, resolve, and endurance but Barnabas was also correct in that he saw Mark’s potential and needed forgiveness and a second chance. Though the disagreement meant a separation for Barnabas and Paul traveling together, there was no separation in their friendship and their mission for the Gospel. Who knows, Paul may have told Barnabas that he had been wrong about John Mark because he definitely used Mark in the ministry and considered him a fellow worker and friend. Just like Paul and Barnabas, we cannot allow differences to destroy relationships. Instead they should spur us toward fulfilling the Great Commission of “Go ye into all the world…”

What Can I Do For You? 

2 Kings 4:1-7

    

     Here we find the story of a woman and her two sons. She had been the wife of one of the sons of the prophets. After her husband died, the creditors were coming to collect payment by taking her two sons as slaves. Therefore, she went to the man of God, Elisha, and told him what was happening. She reminded Elisha that her husband had feared the Lord.

 

In turn Elisha asked, “What shall I do for you?” Then he says, “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”

     Has God ever asked, “What shall I do for you?” What is our response? Do we look at our immediate need and cry out? Sometimes God wants to hear our response. Our response is usually, “God I need this amount to meet the need.” We neglect to look beyond what is looming so gigantically in front of us. Interestingly God wants to know, “What do you have in the house?” What creative ideas, hidden desires, or what do you like to do that you can give to Him?

     The woman answers Elisha, “I have nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Nothing EXCEPT… I like that word:  except. Many times we think we have nothing but if we really think about it there is an except somewhere that we can speak. I don’t how to do anything except I do like to sew. We believe that what we do have is so insignificant. The woman only had a jar of oil. That isn’t really much of anything at all.

     However, Elisha, the man of God tells her what to do, “ Get every empty vessel you have then go and borrow every kind of empty vessel big or small from your neighbors. Don’t just get a few. Get every empty vessel that you can find. Then she was to go into her house, and shut the door behind her and her sons.

     No matter how crazy it may seem to us, we must obey what God is asking us to do. And we shouldn’t do it half-heartedly or do it without excellence. If He says get EVERY empty vessel then that is what we should do. Do we want little or abundance? Then we must shut the door to our doubts and to the negative words of the enemy. And we cannot entertain other opinions that help to breed distrust in our God.

     The woman began to pour the oil she had from her jar into the empty vessels. As they were filled her sons would set the full ones aside and bring another empty vessel. She kept pouring and when they were all full she said, “Bring me another vessel.” One of her sons said, “Mom, there are no more empty vessels. Everything we have is filled with oil.” At that moment the oil stopped.

Then the woman goes to Elisha and said, “We filled every empty vessel we could find with the oil.” Then Elisha says, “Go, and sell the oil, pay your debt, and you AND your sons can live on the rest.”

     Though she could see so many full vessels she asked her son to bring more. She was determined she wasn’t going to stop. She would continue as long as needed. We must have a determination within us to continue until God says stop. We don’t just stop because we’re tired or because everything we’re doing doesn’t appear logical to us.

     When we’ve done ALL we know to do, then stand still and watch what God will do on our behalf. Not only did the woman have enough to pay off the debt, but she also had excess. And it wasn’t meager excess. She had so much that she AND her sons could live on the rest. Our obedience and trust will not only get us our immediate needs met, but it will also produce superabundance beyond our imagination.  SO…What can He do for you? AND what do you have in your house?