In case you noticed the name change – from Tents to Temple to Now What? – no, you’re not on the wrong blog. I decided to change the name because … well, Tents to Temple never felt very authentic to me and, also, because I want the year 2013 to be about more than gathering information and acquiring knowledge. I want God to give me the opportunity to apply each and every lesson He teaches me … and I want the same for you. As James said in his epistle, “But be doers of the Word, and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves” (James 1:22, Amplified). In my words, after each and every lesson (formal or informal), I need to ask myself, “Now what, Lori? Now that you know this, what are you going to do with it?
Our current line of study finds us between Paul’s first and second missionary journeys. In class, we have looked at the meeting of the Jerusalem council, concerning the circumcision of the Gentiles (both in Acts 15:1-21 and Galatians 2). Let’s meet up together again in Acts 15 and read verses 22-29. I think we can all find some things in these verses with which to identify!
First off, verse 24 jumps out at me: “As we have heard that some persons from our number have disturbed you with their teaching … although we gave them no express orders or instructions.” Those words convey to me a mixture of feelings that the brethren in Jerusalem may have been feeling: maybe a mixture of irritation (anger even) toward those teachers but more so a profound sadness at the state they had left this congregation in. I’m sure we can all think of a time when we were misrepresented – maybe in something little or something big. What lessons are there to be learned from situations like this?
One lesson we see in Scripture that the apostles learned and were able to apply right away was the need for clear and direct communication. Their letter, recorded in verses 23-29, was sent in three ways. First, it was written down (giving the elders control over word choice). Second and third, it was delivered by the hands of their own trusted representatives (Judas and Silas, vs. 27) as well as with people the recipients knew personally and trusted (Barnabas and Paul, vs. 25).
The second verse that jumps out at me is verse 28: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” How often is it that something seems good to both – you and the Holy Spirit, that is? Those are the easy times – whether or not they come often. What about those times when something seems good to one or the other but not both? Who wins more often than not? Is your obedience to the Holy Spirit immediate or reluctant or absent? If you’re like me, you wish that the true answer and the right answer were closer together than they are. So now what? Today. This week. This year. Will you make a decision to do what seems good to the Holy Spirit or to myself? Will I? If you don’t have a strong sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life, will you make getting to know Him a priority … until His will becomes your own? The ball’s in your court.