Stand in the place where you are…

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.” Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 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. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

 The initial urge to revisit the churches comes to Paul.  Barnabas is willing but wants to include another, one not found faithful earlier.  Their disagreement causes a split and two teams are formed where there had been one.  The new teams continue, each going their own way and God’s work continues.  As we are faithful to the work God has given us, obstacles that rise along the way change its shape and form but not His work.  We can be found faithful to the work God has given each of us and He will bless; strengthen one another in the kingdom of God wherever we find ourselves.

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Peace…Go…Forgive…

John 20:19-23

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,  for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

 Forgiveness, forgiving,  to forgive all these are much talked about in today’s world.  Peace is granted twice in this passage.  What is being presented here?  Can we possess peace of any kind if we possess anger, pain, bitterness or a grudging spirit?  The doors were locked for fear; peace does not imply fear.  What was comfortable, renewing, familiar, their relationship with Jesus was, in their minds, wrenched from them and they were filled with fear that the same actions taken against Jesus would spread to them and theirs.  At the root of this were also the seeds of bitterness, anger and pain for what had been done.  Reacting in that way to events like these in our lives would not separate us from the rest of humanity, it would be an expected reaction  The believer has more to draw from.  The believer has the Holy Spirit given to us to bring peace and the ability to forgive, to see beyond the circumstances.  In the middle of our pain and anger we need the power of God granted through the Holy Spirit; a spirit of peace and  forgiveness, not a spirit of fear, anger, pain and bitterness.  In the middle of our pain and anger we need brothers and sisters in Christ to ‘circle the wagons’; to pray, to intercede for us, listen to our pain, share healing scriptures from God’s Word.  We need to come together, not fall apart.  We need to defeat the attempts of the enemy to destroy what God has built.  “Our Father, who art in heaven, ….forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us…”  Mat 6:14   “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Jesus

“Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”