Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

Spirit Led

February 29, 2016

I remember as a young Christian being introduced to the idea that as a Christian my life would always be happy and carefree.

That was not true.  The Christian life in this world still battles with sin, the flesh and the devil.

I.  Spirit Led:  Acts 13:1-4

Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Barnabas and Saul are set apart and sent out to proclaim the gospel.  They have fasted, prayed and are being led by the Spirit.  We can believe that this decision was indeed the will of God.

II.  Tribulation:  Acts 14:19-22

Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Even though they have been led by God and are doing the work of God, they encountered resistance.  In these verses Paul is stoned and left for dead.  Just because we are doing the will of God does not mean that we will escape problems.  Actually, as we serve the Lord we are in the midst of a spiritual battle and things will be difficult at times.  God will give us the strength that we need for the challenges that come our way.

III.  Dissension:  Acts 15:1-2

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

Even in the early church there was occasional disagreement among the followers of Christ.  It was probably quite heated.  We are saved, but we are still human.  Our human nature can lead us to places that the Spirit would not wish to go.  We are far from perfect.

IV.  Decision:  Acts 15:22-29

Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren.

23 They wrote this letter by them:

The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,

To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:


24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law” —to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.


Here they have come to a decision.  Still, there would continue to be occasional controversy over various doctrinal issues.  That continues until the present day.  It does not mean that we are unsaved.  It means that we are limited by our flesh. We think that we are right.  If we knew what was wrong, most of us would change.  Our current understanding is limited.  One day we will know all the truth, but that time will have to wait until we are in heaven.  We should be patient with those with whom we have disagreements, as we all seek to understand the truth.

V.  Division:  Acts 15:36-41

 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” 37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Here two mature believers who had worked together for years have a disagreement that leads to division.  We might be tempted to say that Barnabas was wrong, after all, Paul literally wrote most of the New Testament.  However, many believe that  this Mark wrote the gospel denoted by his name.  It is often considered to be the first of the synoptic gospels and may even have served as a model for Matthew and Luke.  So here is an example of “all things working together for good”.

VI.  Walking in the Spirit:  Galatians 5:16-18*

 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Even though we will not be perfect, we should strive to walk in the Spirit.  We should seek to recognize when our flesh is taking over, and we should ask God to help us.

The Christian life is a life that is led by the Spirit, but walked out in the flesh.  We will occasionally make mistakes, but God will not abandon us.  We should be patient with one another as we all seek to be Spirit led.

These are the sermon notes from 1/31/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

*This is the memory verse for the week. 

Libyan No-Fly Zone

March 22, 2011

The United Nations has decided to impose a no-fly zone in Libya.  American forces have launched attacks in Libya, destroying much of the ability of Libya to control the skies of their own country.  The reason given is to protect civilian life.

Libya was in the process of quashing an armed rebellion.  This was not simply massive, peaceful protests such as has occurred  throughout the Arab world, it was an armed rebellion with the rebels taking control of significant portions of the country.

So, in effect, we are supporting a rebellion.

I appreciate that we are there at the direction of the United Nations, with broad support from Arab countries.

That does not make it right.

Libya should have been left alone.  Our involvement is costly and unnecessary.  I do not believe that it was a good use of our resources.

The Goal of War

April 7, 2010

Sitting next to our computer is a brass casing from a 105mm tank round.  No, I did not steal it.  I served in the USMC back in the eighties as a tank crewman and one day we were given instructions to use up the remaining brass rounds that were on hand.  Our company commander then authorized us each to keep one of the casings as a souvenir.  That was many years ago, but I still have one in my possesion.

It is visually contradictory, because we have a bouquet of artificial flowers stuffed into the top. 

I read a great quote the other day, “The goal of war is a just peace.”  and I suppose that my unusual flower stand could be used as a symbol of that statement.  The round is spent. It is no longer a threat or a danger, yet it is a reminder of a past reality.  The flowers that are supported by it currently, are a present beauty.

My hope, and prayer for our returning troops, and for the countries now in conflict, is that a time of peace will come, and that beauty may be restored, both to individual lives, and to whole countries.

Find A Better Way

December 29, 2008

I am saddened to hear about the recent rocket attacks and reprisal bombings taking place  between Israel, and Hamas.  There are people suffering and dying who only want to live in peace and security, with a measure of freedom.   I would encourage leaders everywhere to find peaceful, nonviolent means of resolving disputes.

I recognize the right of self defense, that if someone is attempting to harm you that you may defend yourself, but too many innocent people are suffering.  Who is shooting first?  Who are you aiming at in retaliation?

If no one shot first, there would be no retaliation.

Find a non violent way to invoke change. 


(Throwing a shoe actually worked pretty well.  The message was sent, and no one was killed.)

For people of faith I would encourage you to pray that God will grant our leaders wisdom to find a better way.