ACTS 15:1-2 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them,  Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.

ACTS 15:25 has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul...

Here in Acts 15, we have a major dispute within the church.  Do the Gentile believers have to be circumcised? The more I begin to rationally think about it, it only makes sense.  Anytime you have an attempt at oneness, it will be the fruit of a willingness to wrestle with differences.  In the book of Acts, you see the issue with the Hellenist and the see the issue here with whether or not the Gentiles should have to be circumcised...and you even see later Paul and Barnabas dispute about whether or not to bring John Mark on their missionary journey.  Conclusion: "dissension and debate" will arise even within the church.  It's par for the course. doesn't stop there.  "Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question."  The church appointed leaders to wrestle and work through and discuss the issues.  When there were issues with the Hellenists and the Hebrews concerning the daily distributions to their widows, the church appointed deacons to work through this.  They appointed people full of the Holy Spirit to wrestle with tough issues.  Do we have those in the church today? Where are the people walking in the fullness of the Spirit to deal with the tough issues that threaten to divide the people of God? 

And so, after they had discussed and debated these issues at the Jerusalem Council, the text says..."it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord..."  They came to one accord.  How? Men full of the Holy Spirit and His wisdom wrestled for a season with the problem.  The problem is only the beginning.  The story is not over yet.  There are issues that try to threaten the unity of the church worldwide.  But it is now time for the men and women of God full of the Spirit to step onto the scene.  

May these people not miss their cue and their moment.  I pray they have not grown weary or distracted.  When we see the turmoil in the world begin to spill over into the church and in our own personal lives...may the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of unity... rise up within us with a response.  ARISE O LORD, ARISE WITHIN ME! 

Posted by Marc Stern with



“I love you.”  We will use those words countless times in our life.  They are three of the most powerful words on the planet, and yet our misuse, abuse, or overuse can make them ineffective.  “I love you” represents potential.  It’s hidden POWER.  It doesn’t seem like much, but when you hear the words “I love you,” there lies power.  Those words have the power to change hearts and to change circumstances.  


How is this?  Because, “I love you” is a bridge over the impossible, over hindrances, and over excuses.  True, God kind of love…says whatever is standing in the way can be endured, moved, or overcome.  You get the impression that God created “Love” to do the impossible…to bridge the gap…to overcome the hard…to eliminate anything that would stand in the way of His desire to be near us.  God is Love, and Love is powerful! 


“I love you”, started the greatest movement known to mankind, true Christianity.   A Christianity known by its’ love for others.  A love that is not just heard but clearly seen.  A love that is not just “in word or talk but in deed and in truth (I John 3:18).”  When “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…,” He was loving us with not just His words but with His Word…His Son…His best…His all!  This love has no limits.  It reaches the rich and the poor.  It reaches the friend and the foe.  It reaches the Jew and Gentile with not just words but sacrificial action.  God was giving us the highest standard to look at, HIMSELF.


He didn’t do that for you to say, “that’s too hard” or “but that’s God.”  He set the bar high, and we must strive by faith even in the midst of our own brokenness and frailty to reach towards it.  The bar will always be too high.  It will always be too much in our own flesh and strength.  Being conformed to the image of Christ will always be bigger than us, and it will always require simple faith and obedience in the face of our own limitations. 


And so…”I love you”…are three of the most powerful words ever given.  They are given to us by God to change us…to change our homes…and ultimately, to change the world.  They are given to us to bring change, no matter what stands in the way.  That is what God means when He says, “I love you.”  But…what do we mean when we say it (PAUSE)?  You can tell what a person really means when they say “I love you” by what they will and won’t do.  Actions always speak louder than words!

Posted by Marc Stern with

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