2018-11-18 – Acts 15:36-16:5 – Partners On Mission
2018-11-18 – Acts 15.36-16.5 – Partners On Mission
(Veterans; Baptism Certificate?; Thanksgiving)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
Can you believe this Thursday is Thanksgiving?! And I am soo Thankful. Are you thankful? If you are thankful say “I am Thankful”. I am thankful because I know God loves me and I know that I am going to Heaven. How blessed I am, a sinner that is born again. Thank You Lord.
About Thanksgiving, in a speech made in 1863, speaking about America, Abraham Lincoln said, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
That was written in 1863, and it still resonates today. This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. What a wonderful name for a holiday, “Thanksgiving”. Most all folks enjoy this holiday, as it is a time of family fellowship, food and fun. But do you know any of the history behind this holiday? Well I am gonna tell ya.
After leaving Plymouth, England in 1620, the Pilgrims traveled over two months to reach what they called Plymouth Rock. Then settling in New England, the grateful Pilgrims declared a three-day feast, to thank God and to celebrate with their new Indian friends. It was America's first Thanksgiving Festival.
Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the first Pilgrims' Thanksgiving with these words: "Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They, four in one day killed as much fowl as... served the company almost a week... Many of the Indians amongst us and... their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought... And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE... FAR FROM WANT."
They had a 3 day Thanksgiving feast.. Doesn’t that sound Awesome!
In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first official Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. Then President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, shortly after he committed his life to Christ and while America was still in the midst of the Civil War, wrote and recited a Proclamation of Thanksgiving, for which I will read the last paragraph now:
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that [America’s Prosperity] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.“
I LOVE THANKSGIVING…. My Favorite Holiday Indeed. It provides for us an opportunity to pause and reflect a little. And might I suggest that just as the Pilgrims and our Nation’s Presidents felt it was important to give thanks and honor our Father God in heaven for this bountiful nation, we should continue to do so likewise.
1 Chronicles 16:34 says, O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I am thankful for my family and my church. I am thankful for this great nation under God, and for all those that serve to keep us safe. And I am thankful for you as well, because you helped make this day for me a little more joyous.
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving and praise, would you please join with me now in prayer.
Please turn now to Acts 15, verse 36, page 982 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us pray..
We have been reading from this book of Acts for a few weeks now. I really enjoy going through God’s word in context as we can more easily understand the dynamics of what the first Christian churches were going through as they were reaching out to the world, carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus.
Right before He ascended back up to heaven, Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. And that is exactly what they were going about doing. That Great Commission is for us as well, and we had the privilege last Sunday of baptizing Quentin here at our church. What a joy it is to be doing God’s work isn’t it?
In this book of Acts, the disciples were also starting new churches. And last week we saw how Barnabas and Paul argued and won a dispute that resolved for good the issue of what was required for a person to become a member of the church. And that answer is: Faith alone in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, Amen? That takes us now to our verses today. In Acts 15:36 it says:
15 36 After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers and sisters in every town where we have preached the word of the Lord and see how they’re doing.”
It had been nearly two years since they had visited any of the new churches they started. These new believers were in a way children of faith to Paul and he desired to know about their welfare. Were they growing in number? Were they staying on the path? Were they healthy or struggling? These are the same things we should deliberating upon for those God has placed in our path. When God gives you the privilege of leading somebody else to the Lord, it isn’t intended to be a once and done relationship. We should strive to stay in contact with those new Christian family members. We need to continue lifting them up, encouraging them along their path, because that is what family does. And Paul is setting a great example here for us as well.
37 Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. 40 But Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended by the brothers and sisters to the grace of the Lord. 41 He traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
We see here that Paul and Barnabas had a “sharp disagreement”. But wait, aren’t they Christians? Can Christians have arguments? Of course they can. As long as you have two people together, there will be sometimes “sharp disagreement”. That doesn’t mean they don’t love one another, or that they don’t respect one another. It just means that we will not always see eye-to-eye with each other. This is a good lesson for us today. If there ever was a time of controversial disputes and division in our world, it is today.
But notice in our text here that they didn’t get down to physical or verbal blows. They recognized their differences and chose to part ways for a period of time. Sometimes we need to walk away for a while too to deflate, would you agree?
The issue here was young John Mark. Back in chapter 13, when Paul was on the first missionary journey, they ran into a sorcerer, and it was right after that Mark left the team and went back home to Jerusalem. I would guess young Mark was scared or at least emotionally challenged, or maybe he was just a little homesick, we just don’t know for sure. But Paul was obviously disappointed, and that is what drove this “sharp disagreement”. Paul was a warrior on a mission, but Barnabas we know has always been a great peace maker. And thus it was agreed their one mission would now become two. Paul took Silas with him, who was a fellow Roman Christian, and Barnabas took young John Mark with him.
As a side note, we know later that Mark and Paul rekindled their relationship. Paul even asks for Mark to join him later as written in 2 Timothy. It is generally agreed that John Mark is the same man who eventually wrote the first Gospel of Mark.
The lesson for us here is that sometimes disputes can lead to productive actions. Instead of all of them going together on one missionary journey, they now covered twice as much territory and Jesus was made known throughout the land.
16 1 Paul went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers and sisters at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him.
So Paul left Mark in the care of Barnabas, and Paul now has a new apprentice Timothy. Timothy would grow to become one of Paul’s most trusted and valuable partners. Paul referred to Timothy as being his son in the faith. This is the same Timothy that Paul wrote the letter (or book) Timothy to. It is a wonderful letter from a Mentor to his Apprentice about how to be a true man of God and a fellow servant leader for Jesus Christ. But Timothy was half Jew and half Greek, and for some reason his father chose not to follow the Jewish custom and circumcise him. The whole previous chapter addressed circumcision, that it wasn’t a requirement for new church members. However, as a servant of Christ, and as an apprentice shepherd of the flock, Paul knew this issue might be a barrier to success, it would cause Timothy not to be as effective as he could be in ministry.
3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him; so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for the people to observe. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Again, Paul wanted Timothy to be the best and most effective Christian leader possible. We all should want our fellow Christian servants and friends to be successful, especially as it relates to ministry and reaching the lost. So even though Paul and Timothy are going about delivering the message saying that we are saved by grace through faith alone, He still felt it prudent to circumcise Timothy; Poor guy J. I could just imagine Timothy saying, “really?, okay, whatever you think is best”, lol Paul later addresses this same servant-leader type of attitude, in his letter to the Corinthian churches. He wrote:
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Cor 9:19)
That is Servant leadership on steroids brothers and sisters. Like Timothy, are you willing to sacrifice your comforts and your pride for the sake of the Gospel?
I am not going to suggest for you men to get circumcised. That was a cultural norm at the time of Christ. But what are the cultural norms that we should be considering today, sacrificing so that we too “might save some”? Here are just a few simple suggestions that you might want to consider:
- Dress for success. That doesn’t mean suit and tie, but it does mean dress accordingly for the occasion. If there is a scale of dress code, 1-10, consider the audience and occasion, then rise to only 1 notch higher than the crowd, not 5 notches, just one. You want people to feel comfortable around you. Dress for kingdom
- Cleanliness is Godliness. That means take a bath, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and deodorize whatever needs to be deodorized J Don’t make that a distraction.
- Mind your tongue. In Matthew 15 Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and understand. A man is not defiled by what enters his mouth, but by what comes out of it.” We should be using words that uplift and encourage each other, not teardown or ridicule. Bite your tongue sometimes. Pause before you talk (I am ministering to myself on this one).
This message today is entitled Partners On Mission. We saw how Paul and Barnabas decided to go their own way for a while, but they still valued each other and valued the idea of partnering-up for the mission ahead. Barnabas had Mark, and Paul had Silas and then Timothy. We too should be partnering for success. Ministry is tough, and it is not intended to be a sole source effort. Ministry and life in general is blessed by God to be in partnership with one another. That means partner with your spouse, partner with your family, partner with your church, and partner with your friends. I know I couldn’t do what I do without your continued partnership. It is what God has intended. Ministry partners are gifts from our blessed Holy “partners” in Heaven, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are on a holy mission brothers and sisters, and I am soooo thankful during this Thanksgiving season for you all being my partners on this wonderful Christian life journey.
1 Chronicles 16:34 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever”
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation..
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”