Paul

John Mark

It’s definitely safe to say that Acts is now one of my favorite books in Scripture. There are so many characters at play and it is really so exciting, yet it makes me mad at the same time, because I desire to see the work of the Spirit more frequently in the [Western] church and believers to be used by God in the magnificent ways that He used the apostles. But that is another post altogether. Subsequently, there is one character that I want to point out that appears a couple times in Acts, then resurfaces a few more times in Paul’s epistles. His name is John Mark.

When we first meet John Mark, we learn of his mother, a Christian woman who lodged Peter after he escaped prison. Afterward, he goes off with Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey, which is when the story gets interesting. We learn about two chapters later that John Mark decided to go back home, for reasons unknown. I have heard many say that it was because he found the work too hard and or it was more involved than he realized, but there is also the possibility that he went back home to care for his mother, whichever reason it was, we don’t know for sure. Nevertheless, his departure caused a split between Paul and Barnabas (his cousin) later on; Barnabas wanted to welcome him back and bring him along on the missionary journey, but Paul wasn’t having it, thus Barnabas and his cousin went in one direction and Paul another.

So, what’s the point.

After considering the reactions of Paul and Barnabas, I can understand why each felt the way they did and can’t say either of them was wrong for their choice. As we deal with people in living out our purpose, we must not only recognize that people don’t always think like us or agree with us,  and like Barnabas our perspectives can be influenced as well by family. Again, this doesn’t mean that we are right or wrong, however, this story does compel us to develop not only wisdom and discernment, but compassion and patience as well when dealing with people, because even though John Mark’s reason for leaving them was deemed inexcusable, it teaches us that sometimes people just aren’t ready for what we hope or don’t see themselves as we see them. For, John didn’t leave the faith, as some assume, he left his assignment. Unfortunately, people will walk away for one reason or another, and we have the choice to trust them should they return or leave them, which is when discerning the voice of God comes into play.

Ultimately, we see that both Paul and Barnabas did what they thought was right, and God honored them both, even though they were separated for a time; whatever work Barnabas did with John paid off because not only did he end up in prison alongside Paul some years later, but Paul had also requested his presence in ministry, validating his value in the work of the Lord.

It’s not clear in Scripture when exactly Paul and Barnabas and John Mark all reunited, but the Spirit was obviously present in the development of their relationship. The point I desire to make in all of this is that God is one of reconciliation and restoration, in His timing and His way, and he does allow the people we work with to come in and out of our lives for seasons, but that doesn’t mean we stop praying for them or condemn their choices because of  a difference of opinion. Furthermore, some individuals do require extra grace and extra encouragement as they are figuring their way out and trying to honor the Lord and do what He has purposed for them to do, and if God has called us to extend that grace, then we must, because we never know what blessings we may forfeit if we turn someone away who disappointed us. How many times have we failed or disappointed God and He still keeps His arms open? But again, our journey may require us to not allow someone in our close space to protect us and protect them, like Paul, but if the Lord brings you back together, we must trust Him.

To be honest, I don’t know if this made sense. A lot was going through my mind when the Lord first illuminated John Mark’s story to me, and I wanted to get it all out before I forgot. I may come back and add to this blog so come back here in a week to check lol. Nonetheless, I think this disciple’s story reflects so many of us and those we know who aren’t ready to walk in their calling, especially if it connected with our own, but God’s grace is sufficient, so we must be mindful and not discourage those who decide to take time to do work through their things, because when God burden’s their heart enough and that fire is finally lit inside of them, the demons in Hell will tremble.

People are interesting and relationships are complex when you mix personalities and personal experiences together, and that’s what makes this race we run so beautiful, because each variation of our colors and beauty creates a breathtaking reflection of the glory of God. So, with wisdom and discernment, compassion and patience, be yourself for a purpose.

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Temptation

unbearableSo 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except which is common to man; but God who is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you will be able to bear it.”

I actually heard Tony Evans speak on it not long ago. Long story short, this verse is used too often the wrong way. When people normally go through various trials or hardships, they quote this verse as motivation that they can get through. In a sense that’s good. Although, I think what people are missing is the word “temptation.” Paul specifically says that we won’t be tempted beyond what we can bear. That is to say that whatever the Devil could ever use to tempt you, there will never be a situation so compromising that you would not be able to resist the attempt of the enemy. That’s it. Still, if you are truly being tempted, you can overcome rather than succumb into falling into sin.

Nonetheless, in most cases when it is used, it’s as if life will never get so bad that we can’t bear it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. How many times have you or someone you know been in a situation that you honestly could say was unbearable, and this has nothing to do with being tempted. Just think of characters in the Bible like Job (Job 3:21; 6:9; 7:15-16), he lost everything and everyone in his life, apart from his friends, most of which didn’t help the situation at all. Do you think he could bear it? Or Jeremiah he almost lost in (Jeremiah 20), or Moses (Numbers 20) when he lost his cool dealing with the Israelites, or Paul (2 Corinthians 11:22-29; 12:7-8), or Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), or even Jesus (Luke 22:42). All these were great men of God, but they couldn’t handle it. So why should we think we will go through life with just situations that we can bear?

The truth of the matter, when we are put in those situations, God shows His awesome power and glory, and grace and mercy all the more. When we get to those unbearable times in life, He wants to prove that He can. As we face those situations, God’s purpose is to show us how much we truly need Him; He never meant for you to bear the unbearable alone (Matthew 11:28; 2 Corinthians 12:9). So I encourage you, if you are going through something you can’t bear, that’s okay. Why? God can, so lean on Him, cry out to Him, and hold on to Him, because your life hear and after depends on Him.