Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 138:1-8 | 2 Kings 6:1-7:20 | Acts 15:36-16:15 | Proverbs 17:24-25
Today’s Scripture Focus: Acts 15-16
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers” (Acts 16:5 NIV).
The church in the book of Acts was growing in numbers, in faith, and in problems. Sometimes when we think of the church in Acts we forget that growth is often a difficult and messy process. It is wonderful to see the growth in faith and growth in numbers. Yet with all the excitement of growth there inevitably comes struggle, conflict and problems. All these require creativity and flexibility.
As a ministry team Paul and Barnabas had a great run. Barnabas was there at the beginning of Paul’s ministry encouraging everyone to give Paul a chance. He had been there to travel and minister with Paul. Issues developed and there came a day when these two godly men had to part ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus. Paul partnered with Silas. Despite the disagreement, the church continued to grow. Growth is messy sometimes.
Paul showed flexibility in handling his young disciple Timothy. While at other times and in other places Paul would stand strong against the need for circumcision, here he shows some flexibility as Timothy is circumcised. Growth sometimes requires creative flexibility. The ministry goes on without a hitch and the Church continued to grow.
Paul had ministry plans, but God had a better idea. Confronted by a vision, Paul shows creative flexibility and sets aim to bring the gospel to Macedonia. The church, now entering the European continent, grows more than geographically: it continues to grow in numbers and the believers continue to be strengthened in faith.
Growth is often messy. It can lead to conflict, to struggle and all sorts of problems. Remain flexible, follow God’s leading and trust him to give you wisdom and creativity. As you do, God works and the church continues to grow in numbers and to be strengthened in faith. What appears to us to be merely a problem is often a path to growth.
Father, thanks for reminding me that growth can be messy. Help me to not be discouraged by the problems I face, but instead to view them as opportunities for further growth. In Jesus name, Amen.