Acts 15:36-39 tells the story of how two brothers in the Christian faith—Paul and Barnabas—had a disagreement. In fact, verse 39 says, “Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another.”
There is a lot to learn from these verses as well as the verses that follow them.
The disagreement was over whether the two men should take a third man with them to visit churches to whom they once ministered.
Paul was not wrong in refusing to allow the third man, John Mark, to come along as John Mark had deserted them on a previous trip.
At the same time, Barnabas was not wrong to want to give John Mark another chance.
Both men saw things from a different perspective and, in a sense, they were both right. Even so, the contention between them was so sharp that they separated.
However, God, being the perfect God that He is, used the separation as an opportunity to receive glory unto Himself. Each man went in a different direction, and in each direction they went, God’s truth was preached.
Sometimes, we do not see things eye to eye with others. When those times come, we often chose to separate and go in a different direction. Thankfully, God sees to it that His mission is not thwarted, and His truth marches on, albeit in different directions.
New denominations form, churches split, and close relationships end. But, His truth marches on!
God uses it all for His glory and the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose.
It is not fun when things go south with a friend, church, or denomination. But it is good to know that God never loses control and uses even our moments of contention with each other to build His Kingdom.
Have you ever reached a point of such sharp contention with a loved one that you each decided to separate? I have.
It’s no fun, but God can and will make it good in His time. We must simply trust and obey Him, stand up for what we know to be right, do the right thing, and leave it in His hands to do as He will for His glory and our good.
One thing social media has done is blatantly expose the depravity of humanity. One doesn’t have to scroll very far or read many posts to find just how lost in sin people really are.
Although none of us are perfect, some have sadly hardened their hearts to what might be for them the point of no return.
They celebrate sin, vote for evil and snub their noses at God and His Word. Even so, God will not be mocked.
The day will come when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. On that day, sin won’t feel so good, won’t seem so funny, and certainly won’t be celebrated.
An old hymn we used to sing contained the words, “death is coming, Hell is moving.” Those words are true.
The fact is, nearly 150,000 people around the world die every day. According to the Bible, most who die will spend eternity in Hell because they did not take God’s Word seriously (Matthew 7:14). They will be living their lives in sin, ignoring the warnings of the Bible, then death will suddenly come upon them and Hell will welcome them for eternity.
If death came for you today, would it find you enjoying sin? Where would you spend eternity? What can you do right now to make sure you will escape Hell?
First of all, admit to God that you are a sinner. You know it’s true and so does God, so acknowledge it and confess your sin to Him.
Secondly, believe in your heart—your entire being—that Jesus is the Son of God who died as the perfect sacrifice for your sin on the cross and rose from the dead.
Thirdly, commit your life to Him. Decide that you are going to turn away from your sin and begin to live for God according to His will.
Please take God’s Word seriously, and remember the words to the hymn, “death is coming, Hell is moving.”
Receive God’s free gift of eternal life and decide to live from this day forward for His glory.
Spiritual gift tests, the observations of others, and personal experience has revealed that I have the spiritual gift of prophecy. Don’t misunderstand, I am not a foreteller, but a forth teller. I don’t have any new revelation from God. The only revelation I have is the same one you have—His Word, the Bible. God has simply called me to preach His Word.
A prophet’s basic motivational drive is to apply the Word of God to a situation so that sin is exposed and a saving relationship between Christ and the sinner is established.
One who has the gift of prophecy calls attention to sin and wrong attitudes.
For the prophet, to observe or discern sin and say nothing about it is, of itself, sin.
Sometimes, as in my case, a prophet’s need to be “painfully truthful” may result in insensitivity or harshness. I apologize to anyone and everyone I have treated harshly in the past. It’s just that I HATE sin, I do not like seeing anyone wallow in sin, and I want everyone to enter into a saving relationship with Jesus.
Do I sin? Absolutely! And, I HATE it when I do, because I know that is not God’s will for my life. There is a better way—God’s way!
Do I hate any sinner? Absolutely not! That is why I preach Jesus and present His Good News—that He saves from sin.
I hope that everyone reading this realizes that I would give everything I own to keep my loved ones from going to Hell. I would even lay down my life if I knew it would keep someone from spending eternity in that awful place. But the truth is it wouldn’t, because I’m not perfect.
However, the perfect One—Jesus Christ—came over 2,000 years ago into this world and laid down His perfect life for all who will place their faith in Him and receive God’s free gift of eternal life.
If you haven’t done that, why not do that today? How do you do that?
A - Admit
Admit that you have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of perfection.
Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
B - Believe
Believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again as a payment for your sins and to provide you with eternal life.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
C - CONFESS AND COMMIT
Confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and commit your life to Him. Put God in charge of your life.
Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
If you would like to know more about how to enter into a saving relationship with Jesus, private message me. God wants what is best for you and so do I.
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3)
How do you know if you really know Jesus? It’s not because you can remember a time when you walked the aisle, said a prayer, was baptized or joined the church. The Bible gives us the answer in 1 John 2:3, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.”
Good works never saved anyone. In fact, God’s Word tells us that our righteousness appears to God as filthy menstrual rags (Isaiah 64:6).
You are saved from your sins by grace through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). But you prove you are saved by obeying God’s Word.
Stop making excuses such as 1) I said or did what I did because of what he or she said or did to me; 2) I sleep with him or her, even though we are not married, because I love him or her; 3) I don’t give because that’s all the preacher talks about; 4) I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites; 5) I can’t serve because of my busy schedule; 6) I would have, could have, should have, but...
All these things are excuses.
You said or did what you did because you ignored the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31).
You sleep with him or her, even though you’re not married, because you are filled with lust.
You don’t give because you’re stingy.
You allow the hypocrites to be closer to God than you because you’re allowing them to stand between you and God. Besides, that is just an excuse you are using to not obey. God is not going to allow you to use hypocrites as a reason why you didn’t faithfully gather with the church to worship Him. On top of that, at times, we are all hypocrites, including you. All of us, whether we know Jesus or not, still live in earthly vessels. Because we do, we still sin. That is all the more reason we should go to church—to encourage one another.
You don’t serve because you don’t use your time to do what is most important.
You would have, could have, should have, but you didn’t because you chose not to.
How about you decide today, no more excuses! How about you make up your mind that you are going to obey God come what may?
If you know the Lord, prove it by doing what He has said to do and refraining from those things He has said not to do.
You will stumble and maybe even fall from time to time, but if you refuse to commit to obeying Him, you are either living in rebellion or you don’t really know Him.
Read John 14:23, 45; Luke 6:46; James 1:22; 4:7
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21) NKJV
Look in any direction, even the mirror, and you will see a person who has been hurt by another person. Unfortunately, being hurt is a part of life.
The question is, what is the appropriate way to respond to hurt and, more specifically, to the one who hurt you?
The natural inclination is to hurt the one who hurt you. It has been said, “Hurt people hurt people.”
While retaliation might make you feel good in the moment, retaliating will only lead to regret. And the fact of the matter is God reserves for Himself the right to avenge.
The key verse regarding this truth is found in the Old Testament and quoted twice in the New Testament. God said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30).
When you take matters into your own hands to avenge yourself, you are usurping God’s authority. Therefore, it is wise to allow God to do what He alone has the right to do. And trust me, He can take care of avenging wrongs far better than you ever could.
Unlike us, God takes vengeance from pure motives. His vengeance is for the purpose of punishing those who have offended and rejected Him.
In War: Four Christian Views, edited by Robert Clouse, the author wrote,
“We can, however, pray for God to avenge Himself in perfection and holiness against His enemies and to avenge those who are oppressed by evil. In Psalm 94:1, the psalmist prays for God to avenge the righteous, not out of a sense of uncontrolled vindictiveness, but out of just retribution from the eternal Judge whose judgments are perfect. Even when the innocent suffer and the wicked appear to prosper, it is for God alone to punish.”
Being human, you will be tempted to do the punishing yourself. But because you are a sinful creature, it is impossible for you to take revenge with pure motives.
As a Christian, just follow the Lord Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), leaving the vengeance to God.
While the thought of banishing the one who offended you to Siberia, prison or some other unpleasant destination might excite you, the best place for you to put him or her is on your prayer list.
Read Proverbs 24:29; Matthew 5:7, 38-39; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9.
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12) NKJV
As I write these words, our nation is in turmoil. A presidential election has just taken place and there are rampant allegations of fraud. Whether all of the allegations or even a few of them are true, we may never know.
However, trouble has been brewing among our people for years. Our country’s two party system appears to be broken as leaders of both political parties express disdain for each other. Our current president has called for justice, while our soon-to-be president is calling for unity. Sadly, I have little hope that the desire of either man will come to pass. Oh, I have faith that the Lord can make it happen, but we the people must want it and work for it to happen.
Fingers are being pointed, hate is raging strong and our country is sorely divided.
Voters on both sides are recalling the past misdeeds of the other, all the while vowing revenge in the future. At times, it seems as if our country is on the brink of a second civil war.
In all the pandemonium, I recall a verse of scripture that was introduced to me early in life as the golden rule. Although it is never referred to in the Word of God as the golden rule, that is how it has become popularly known.
The golden rule was given by Jesus during His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:12 and has been paraphrased as follows, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Christ’s instruction to His followers is to be proactive instead of reactive. It is human nature to fire back at the one who fires the first shot or to treat others as they have treated us, but these things are not what Jesus told us to do.
In fact, He taught us to take the first step in blessing others. We are to bless not only those who bless us, but also those who have shown themselves to be our enemies.
The Lord’s point was that It does not matter how others have treated us, how much injustice they have dealt us or how many false accusations they have hurled our way. We are to treat them as we would have them to treat us.
Child of God, the only way healing will ever come to this land we love is for us to do what Jesus said. We must stop being reactionary and begin proactively blessing even those who have done or would seek to do us wrong.
Did Jesus say, “Do unto others as THEY HAVE DONE to you?” No! He said, “Do unto others as you WOULD HAVE THEM DO unto you.”
Read Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:38-48; Galatians 5:14; 1 Peter 3:9
“The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one (Psalm 14:2-3). NKJV
When someone dies, there are always those who say, “He was such a good man, or she was such a good lady.” Admittedly, when I have heard those words spoken of some, I have thought, “Well, if you believe that, then you must not know what I know about them.” In my mind, was I judging the person? Nope, just stating a fact. In Luke 18:19, Jesus Himself asked a certain ruler who had just called Him, “Good Master,” “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” NKJV
Another often repeated phrase is, “People are good at heart.” However, the Word of God says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” NKJV
According to the psalmist, no one is good. In fact, the prophet Isaiah went a step further to explain in Isaiah 64:6, “...we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy (menstrual) rags...” KJV
The Word of God teaches that there are people who DO good, but only God IS good.
When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, he and his wife, Eve, lost their innocence (Genesis 3:7-12). When they did, sin became a part of the world in which we live. The Bible says, later, “[Adam] had a son in his own likeness, after his own image” (Genesis 5:3). That means that Adam, a sinner, begot a sinner. Scripture further explains that Adam’s sin has spread to all creation: “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). No one is good because everyone of us has been affected by Adam’s sin.
King David wrote in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.” NKJV
So, since there is nothing inherently “good” within any of us, how can we ever make it to Heaven? Well, I’m glad to report that God solved that problem by giving His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for all of our sin (John 3:16-18).
And, if you will admit to God that you have sinned against him, turn away from your sin, believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the grave and confess out loud that Christ is the Lord of your life, He will save you. You have no hope aside from Jesus (Acts 4:12).
So, are we good? No, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of perfection (Romans 3:23). However, God certainly is good, and if you will place your trust in Jesus today, He will save you (Roman 5:8, 6:23).
Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9
“...For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). NKJV
Recently, I was honored to officiate the funeral of a relative. He was full of life every time I saw him, usually with a huge smile on his face.
Following my remarks at his graveside, one of his sons and I visited briefly. We talked about the things we did when we were little boys. After we spoke, I thought to myself that when we played together as youngsters, our parents were much younger then than he and I are now.
Wow! Where does the time go? Why do the years pass by so quickly? We are literally here one day and gone tomorrow.
When I read or hear of someone dying, I am often reminded of when my wife and I headed for home early one morning, after vacationing in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. At first, due to the heavy fog, we could barely see the taillights of the car in front of us. Then, without warning, the fog lifted and was gone.
And so it is with life. We are all here for a brief moment of time, then God calls us out of this world.
As believers, knowing this, it is so important that we make each day count for the glory of God because our time on this earth is ebbing away.
We should all take inventory of our lives, and ask ourselves each night, “What did I do today to honor God? Did I show His love by giving to someone in need? Did I express His love by speaking words of kindness to another? And if tomorrow does arrive, what will I do to cause the Heavenly Father to smile with approval.”
When life ends, those of us who have placed our faith in Christ will go to where He is and be rewarded for what we did in this life for the cause of His Kingdom. We need to live so that when that time comes, we will not be ashamed to meet the Lord.
Consider the words of the poet C.T. Studd wrote, “Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last".
How are you living today? Do you know Christ as your personal Savior? If not, place your faith in Him before it is too late! And if you do know Christ, then allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in living a life that is pleasing in the eyes of God.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Colossians 3:23-25; Hebrews 9:27
"But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor…" (Philippians 1:22) NKJV
The apostle Paul had been falsely accused of stirring up trouble, when really all he had done was to share the Good News that Jesus saves. So-called witnesses testified against him, but because Paul was a Roman citizen, he had the right to appeal to Caesar, the emperor of the Roman Empire.
Awaiting his hearing before Caesar, while imprisoned in Rome, Paul did not know if he would be released from prison or executed. So, he wrote to his Christian brothers and sisters in the church at Philippi, "But IF I live on in the flesh..." To Paul, that was a big "if!" Either way, he knew he would be just fine because he trusted in the Lord. If Paul lived, he would continue his ministry, but IF NOT, and he were executed, he would simply go home to Heaven to be with the Lord.
How about you? Are you prepared for the "if nots" of life? What if your financial situation never improves? What if you never have the Christian marriage you desire? What if your wayward child never turns his or her life around? What if you are persecuted for your faith when all you wish to do is live for the Lord, tell others about him and help them also to become His faithful followers? What if life doesn’t turn out the way you planned? Can you agree with Paul that all that you will keep trusting and living for the Lord?
King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image and decreed that all within the Babylonian Empire bow down to it. However, there were three Hebrew young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who had placed their faith in God, and so, they refused. The king told them that their refusal would mean they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. But the three told the king, according to Daniel 3:17-18, "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But IF NOT, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” NKJV
In the case of the three Hebrews, God indeed delivered them from the fire, but they were prepared “IF NOT.”
Here is the inside scoop: According to the Bible, everything in life is NOT going to always go your way. God might allow you to endure certain things so that others can be helped. He might allow certain things to occur to increase your faith. He could allow difficulties and problems to come your way for which you might never know the reason. But be assured of this, the Father knows best! He sees the big picture when we see only a tiny brushstroke on the canvass.
Be prepared for the "IF NOTS" of life. If they haven't already arrived, trust me, they are on the way! Just remember the promise of Jesus that He will never leave you nor forsake you. God is forever faithful!
Read Isaiah 41:10, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 1 Peter 5:7
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). NKJV
I suppose one of my biggest pet peeves is to see or hear someone quote scripture out of context or say that the Bible says something that it simply does not say.
Recently, for example, I read a Facebook post by a woman who was attempting to defend any woman’s so-called “right” to choose abortion.
In her attempt to defend the actions of other women, she wrote, “The Bible says, don’t judge.”
Actually, what the Word of God says in Matthew 7:1-2 is, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” NKJV
To say, “The Bible says, don’t judge,” is to make a false statement. However, when someone wants to excuse his or her sins or condone the sins of others, that is usually what he or she will say.
Using these verses as an example of one misquoting scripture, allow me to explain what the Lord meant when He spoke those words in Matthew 7:1-2.
Jesus was not saying that as His followers we are never to pass judgment on someone else. To the contrary, in several other places in scripture, including the very same chapter in which these verses are included, God’s Word makes clear that Jesus was not condemning all manner of judgment.
Thus while thinking of, often misquoting or taking verse 1 out of context, sometimes one presents an argument against all forms of judgment. But again, that is not at all what Jesus was saying.
In fact, a few verses later in this same chapter, Jesus, Himself, referred to some people as dogs (v. 6) and false prophets (v. 15). Then, He went on to say in verse 16, that you will know men by their fruits. Was He judging others when He made those statements? Of course He was! The apostle Paul was also incredibly bold in calling out the sinful actions of others, as was the apostle Peter.
In Matthew 7, Jesus was simply instructing His listeners not to make hasty and unfair judgments of others when they, themselves, were guilty of the same sin.
For example, when the woman who was caught in adultery was taken before Jesus, He said to her accusers, “...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). NKJV
He made that statement to them because it was likely some of the woman’s accusers had been with the woman themselves or were guilty of the same sin of adultery.
So, be careful to know what you are talking about when you say, “The Bible says...,” because the fact of the matter might be that God’s Word doesn’t say that at all, at least not in the way you are using it to make your case.
~And there you have it—my sermon for the day.
Read 2 Peter 3:16, Revelation 22:18-19
Jerry Fulton's goal in life is to share the love of Jesus, so others might become followers of Christ.