2018 11 04 Lorna Laister Doors open - doors close
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Create DateDecember 3, 2018
Last UpdatedDecember 3, 2018

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Doors open, doors close    

Lorna Laister         4th November 2018

Scripture reading: Acts 15:22-6:10 Matthew 6:9b-13

There are many ways in which God will indicate to us about what he wants done.

Seven different ways appear in this next section we are going to look at now in the book of Acts.

First principle: Unanimous agreement Acts 15:22-29

 

The early church settled a question of doctrine by first hearing everybody's viewpoint.

There was much debate. Everyone had a chance to say what he thought the Scriptures taught.

Finally, James summed up all that had been said in 2 points

First, he said what God. Had done God had already answered the question for them by saving Gentiles,

Secondly, because it agreed with the Word of God. Amos had predicted it Amos 9:11-12.

The church also appointed men to go down and explain it to them. Reports must be explained once people receive them. Some people learn better through reading, some through hearing.

The second principle: Persistent obedience in learning, teaching, and exhorting in the Word. Acts 15:30-35

Judas and Silas came down with Paul and Barnabas and they spent their time "exhorting the brethren with many words and strengthening them." This is normal Christianity. "But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord ..." In our congregation there are many of you who have the gift of teaching and the gift of preaching

And you will be exercising those gifts in your communities, just as they did in Antioch, because this is the secret of the multiplication of the church.

The third principle:  Responsible concern towards others, that will often initiate action Acts 15:36

Nothing amazing happened here. There is no vision, no angelic call. There is no lightning, no special word of the Spirit in the inner heart. There is simply the responsible concern of Paul and Barnabas for the people whom they had led to Christ. They remembered all those Gentiles who had come to Christ in the cities of Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, and they knew they had a responsibility towards them to help them grow in grace. They did not yet know the whole counsel of God; there were truths that they must understand, without which they will be lacking in their Christian experience.

The fourth principle:  Cordial separation – if necessary Acts 15:37-41

Here is a quarrel between Barnabas and Paul which has fascinated many. They could not agree whether to take young John Mark with them again. Barnabas was his cousin and wanted to give the young man another chance. But Paul did not want to take the chance because the work was both important and dangerous, and he did not think it wise to take someone they could not count on.

Perhaps both men were right.

Paul is right. Christian service and ministry are demanding, and those who undertake them should be prepared to go through with it and stick with it to the end, for God's cause is injured by those who quit in the middle

On the other hand, Barnabas, was looking at the young man. He knew Mark was gifted. Sure, he had failed; but who doesn't? Who of us does not need a second chance, does not need to have a forgiving spirit exercised toward us, and the opportunity to try again? So, Barnabas was willing to give Mark a second chance.

There are times when there are differences of viewpoint which require a separation.

Barnabas should take Mark and go to Cyprus, because Cyprus, his birthplace, had not been visited since the churches there had been founded. Paul to take Silas and go into Syria and Cilicia, because the churches there needed his particular ministry

There are times when the Spirit of God does lead Christians to go separate ways. But they should do so with joy and with an agreeable understanding that the mind of the Spirit has been expressed in their divergent viewpoints

The fifth principle: In customs, rituals, and cultural matters, examine the important underlying principle Acts 16:1-5

Paul is back at Lystra, the city where he had been stoned, where he had encountered the most severe opposition of his first missionary journey. There he had led a young man called Timothy to Christ on that first occasion, who now was still a boy, only about sixteen years old. Paul took him as an intern on the rest of his journey. Timothy was half Jewish, half Greek. His father was a Greek, but his mother was a Jew, and, according to the Jews, this made him a Jew.

The amazing thing is that Paul circumcised Timothy so as not to put up a barrier to the Jews who were not Christian yet. However earlier he had refused to do the same to Titus. Titus was a Greek, with him up to Jerusalem. The Jewish brethren there wanted to circumcise Titus, but Paul absolutely refused. He was adamant because to have permitted it would have been a concession to the idea that you had to become a Jew in order to become a Christian. Galatians 5:1-6

So here is another marvellous indication of how to know the mind and will of God.

The sixth principle: Denying us; or confirming to us by a sense of peace Acts 16:6-8

Paul did not wait for directions from God as to where he was to go; he went to the most logical place. He went to where it appeared there was an open door. He took the next step in the path ahead. But the Holy Spirit did not want him to go there, and so he shut the door.

Sometimes God will close down a ministry. Or allow obstacles in our path like sickness. Or financial difficulties a job failure or relationship problems. Then we do feel disheartened – maybe we think God doesn’t love us. We think “Well I’ll try harder, BUT when Christ shuts a door he usually has something better in his sights for us. Something around the corner that we cannot see yet.

The seventh principle: Direct and obvious impression of his mind and will Acts 16:9-10

God is sovereign, and he can choose the way he wants to direct you. Sometimes he will come through in such an unmistakable way that you cannot help but know that God has spoken. When God says no to us there is always a reason. There is an acting of faith here. Paul expects God to lead him. He does not doubt it. He simply acts on the matters before him and expects God to correct him if he is wrong.

This is where Luke joins the party. We do not know where he came from, or how he got there, or what contact he had with Paul. Luke joins the group as a physician and evangelist in his own right

Just think. If the door hadn’t closed to Asia, Luke would have missed them. Sometimes it’s not about us

So, a closed door is not the end but a beginning.

God always has our best at heart

We don’t like not getting our own way, do we?

We want what we want

But God always knows best

Who knows how God is going to guide you?

That is not so important. You can understand some of the possibilities from our study here.

But the important thing is that, above all, you reckon that, whatever action you take -- wherever you go or whatever you do -- you do it on the basis of dependence upon his power in you, his life in you.

"Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all to the glory of the Lord..." (Colossians 3:17). The only thing that glorifies God, is God at work. Only God can do God's work. God alone can glorify himself.

 



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