Thursday, September 10, 2015

Encourage and Strengthen each other (Acts 15 part 2, 1 Kings 19:11-12)

"God seeks to forgive and restore us"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

We got to see the new Christian movie, "War Room."  It's really good.  It's about being prayer warriors for our families and neighbors.  It reminded me of the story of Elijah and God's still small voice.  This DVD will be coming soon on

11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
(1 Kings 19:11-12 NKJV)
We also saw, "The Drop Box."  This  is a movie about a Pastor who took in unwanted babies.  People would wrap up babies and put them in a box that opened into the Pastor's home.  He saved many children.   Life is never perfect and neither are we.  But waiting to find love and marriage is a good idea.  

Back to the Book of Acts...

19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them:
to abstain from: 
  • food polluted by idols
    we need to avoid food someone else has worshipped... (God is a jealous God).
  • from sexual immorality
    it's important to keep our marriages and wait for a good spouse. 
  • from the meat of strangled animals
    sorry no more road kill for us... 
  • and from blood
    This is a very practical law.  Blood carries all sorts of diseases, so God definitely wanted His people to be safe with what they ate.  It's been in recent years that Aids, Hepatitis, Sepsis, and Mersa have been treatable.  The flip side is that Jesus' blood set us free to be His followers, our Shepherd loves His sheep.  Sometimes I read the Bible and just get amazed at how useful and relevant the it is.

21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 

23 With them they sent the following letter:

The apostles and elders, your brothers,

24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing.

28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:
29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. [34] 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
Ok I might be a geek...  but it would be so cool to listen to what Judas and Silas said in our time period, at Church.  I like how God inspired verse 32- "Judas and Silas were prophets and encouraged and strengthened believers."  We could always use more encouragement right?  It's actually one of my spiritual gifts.  The meaning of my name, "Karen," is "Grace."  No one on earth could be more clumsy than me... So it must've been wishful thinking on someone's part...  

36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 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. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
This is a very real human disagreement.  It's encouraging to realize that Paul and Barnabas had disagreements and worked it out.  I like the human side in the Bible because I can relate to it.  Paul was in the zone of preaching and teaching.  And Barnabas wanted to help disciple John Mark.  Barnabas is always the encourager.  Peter and Paul were both drivers hoping to change the world for Jesus.  I can see several of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in this passage.

(Acts 15:1-41 NIV)

Here's a song from Josh Wilson, That was then, this is now (link) 

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