New Directions {Acts 13}

10:30 PM

By Lisa Thayer

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see someone’s sin?  You recognize things rather quickly and you want to address them and let them know an easy way to be free of those sins?  I have heard it said many times that we recognize these sins so easily because they are the same sins we have committed.

Every time I read stories about Paul, I am always changed in some way.  Paul is just like you and I.  We were radically changed when we encountered Jesus.  Following Jesus is radically different than following what the world tells us.  We are moved to share our stories with others.  Doors open and we go through them and enter a whole new world.  We see differently.  Just like Paul, once the scales fall off our eyes, we are radically changed.  Pauls’ sermon here is one we should all memorize.  And the people we have always been around with either accept us or send us out of their lives.  What is your attitude when you can’t change someone’s opinion about Christ?  Do you shake the dust off your feet AND are you filled with JOY and with the Holy Spirit? (vs. 51-52)  Or do you mope about thinking of ways to return to change the person or people who just don’t believe you?

I have found discernment to be rather difficult lately.  How do you know the Holy Spirit is leading you to something, someplace else?   I have sought the Lord lately to be ‘obvious’ to me – you know, like pluck me out of my current space and place me someplace else.  Okay!  That hasn’t happened.  So I have desires for something else and I try to make them happen.  No, that’s not it.  I share and share my story and I am met with some stubbornness.  Hold on here!  You’re telling me I’m stubborn and lack obedience?  Ok, Lord, now where? 

Let’s go back to the beginning of the chapter.  What were Saul and Barnabas doing BEFORE they left for their mission?  “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off” (v. 3)  I am pretty sure the Holy Spirit is letting me know that I have not been totally committed to the desires of my heart.  How long have I prayed and fasted for the one thing, not many things, the one thing I want more than anything else?  

There is something here I never saw before.  There is variety in the Church!  We must never exclude anyone whom Christ has called to follow Him.  What does your church look like?  Do the people attending your church look just like you?  Are they from the same neighborhood?  Do you welcome people from the different sides of town?  Our churches should be compromised of people from different racial and cultural backgrounds.  When we have a propensity to label and categorize and gravitate towards the people we are most comfortable with, we see the ugly sin of prejudice.  The more we understand the gospel and embrace God’s version of the body of Christ, the more we will begin to transcend these differences.  More than merely getting along, we will be able to honestly and authentically say from our hearts that we love each other.

I believe we need to start in familiar territory, just like Barnabas and Paul (v. 4).  Who better to share your Good News with, but when those familiar people begin to persecute you, we need to shake the dust off our feet and be joyful and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in a different direction.

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