Monday, February 09, 2009

Living Beyond the Rules...

I just finished a five-part series on "Grace" taken from Acts 15. I thought I would go ahead and post the final message even though you have not had the benefit of the first five. The series was entitled, "Living Beyond the Rules". The title comes from Matthew 12:1-14 where Jesus' disciples broke the rules by harvesting grain on the Sabbath. Jesus then went one step farther by healing a lame man on the Sabbath. The message is clear: people matter! Rules are secondary.

Acts 15:36-41 describes a disagreement that arose between Barnabas and Paul over whether or not John Mark should join them on a second missionary journey. It seems that John Mark had abandoned the party and returned home prematurely perhaps leaving the group short-handed. Paul was not quite willing to let it go while Barnabas was enthusiastic about giving John Mark another opporunity. The result was division--Barnabas and Mark headed out on their own while Paul recruited Silas to join him.

The scripture gives us a pretty good look into John Mark's life:

  • Acts 12:12 - Peter is miraculously released from prison and goes to John Mark's home where a prayer meeting is in session.
  • Acts 12:25 - Paul & Barnabas bring John Mark with them when they return fom delivering an offering to the Jerusalem church.
  • Acts 13:5 - John Mark joins Paul & Barnabas on their first missionary journey.
  • Acts 13:13 - John Mark abandons the group in Paphos and returns home.
  • Colossians 4:10 - John Mark is actually Barnabas' cousin.
  • 1 Peter 5:3 - John Mark is one of Peter's disciples.
Paul eventually shows grace to John Mark when he asks for him to join him in prison (1 Timothy 4:11). Philemon 24 reveals that John Mark is with Paul. Of course, Mark becomes one of the gospel writers with a New Testament book bearing his name.

So here's the question: "Do you ever give up on people? Do you ever throw people away?"

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 declares that God has given us a "ministry of reconciliation". We are not to hold the sins of people against them but rather like Christ we are to be ambassadors in bringing the world back to God. Note these verses and meditate on them in terms of how you should respond to those that you may feel like giving up on.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us te ministry of reoncciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has commmitted to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us, we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

For maximum impact, go back and read through the passage again changing the personal pronouns to real names. For example, "Therefore if 'John Mark' is in Christ, 'John Mark' is a new creature..." Use the text as a prayer for the salvation of those that you have been tempted to give up on. Tomorrow I will post an amazing video that I used on Sunday to illustrate this concept of exercising grace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having listened to you for nearly four years now I would say that it was the best series you have ever preached. It is a message that the church needs to hear often. God is all about grace! We probably should be as well.

This next series will be even better.