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Monday, November 21, 2016

Valuable Conflict (Acts 15:36-39)

"Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, since he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had a sharp disagreement."

Since John Mark had not proved to be a faithful servant of the Lord, Paul, not taking any chances with more disappointment, chose not to permit him to accompany him and Barnabas on the next leg of their missionary journey. They, in fact, had a sharp disagreement over John Mark's usefulness.

What happens when two strong leaders disagree? Sometimes it is better to part company. Neither party is wrong with their decision. They simply have different goals; Paul's goal concentrates on strengthening existing church plants while Barnabas' goal emphasizes restoring fallen workers.

Barnabas had taken Paul up under his wing when no one else would take a chance with him years earlier. Barnabas takes another chance, this time with someone who has failed miserably in the ministry. Neither party knew that a beating and jail time awaited Paul and Silas. Had John Mark accompanied them on this particular journey he would not have been able to sing along with them in prison. In fact, the Philippi episode would have sent him over the ministry cliff. God, in His providence, prevents John Mark from spending the remainder of his life being defined by failure. Because he accompanies Barnabas instead, he is able to mature and become useful to Paul later on. Isn't God good?

Truths about conflict:
  • Conflict happens
  • All conflict isn't bad
  • Conflict happens between strong godly leaders and sometimes neither is completely wrong
  • Conflict creates opportunities that otherwise would not exist
  • God uses conflict to accomplish His own purposes
Sometimes disagreement occurs between strong and godly leaders. Whose to say which one is in the wrong? Sometimes disagreement has less to do with one or the other being in the wrong and more with which course of action to take. John Mark received a mentor in the deal and Paul received a mentee. Both teams prospered and the kingdom of God continued through the lives of all four men.

Conflict is a great teacher--to those willing to learn from it.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Acts 15:1-16:40
  • What causes conflict between Jewish background believers and Gentile believers?
  • Upon what authority do the Apostles base their decisions?
  • What causes a sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas? What does this tell you about early Christian leadership?
  • Read 2 Timothy 4:11 and describe Paul's later relationship with Mark
  • How does Paul make travel decisions? What does this teach you about the Holy Spirit?
  • What is the first thing Paul does when he arrives in Philippi?
  • How does Lydia identify herself as a fellow believer?
  • From where does the slave girl receive supernatural power and what happens when she is freed from demonic possession?
  • What kind of problems and ministry does her deliverance create for Paul and Silas?
  • What characterizes the jailer's life after he believes in Jesus Christ?
  • What does this tell you about salvation?
Turning truth into prayer
Do you have animosity and unforgiveness toward another believer? Ask the Lord to show you how He is seeking to use it redemptively in your life.