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Acts 15:1-21 (NIV)
The Council at Jerusalem
15 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” 12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16 “‘After this, I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things— 18 things known from long ago. 19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
If you were a Gentile hearing that these regulations were required, how would you feel about your new faith?
Lord, Your Word is eternal. It never ceases to amaze me how much was written in Your Word about things to come. You knew what the future would bring and You provided a guide to assist us to make decisions based on the wisdom of Your Word. The Christian life is not easy. We will face many difficulties along the way. But they don’t need to derail us. In fact, if we stay close to you as we go through difficult times, we will emerge stronger, wiser, and more Christ-like. It is so critical that we share Your Word with those who do not know You as Savior because You want them to know Your love, mercy, grace, and peace that comes from following You. But sometimes we get wrapped up in the “how” instead of the “Who” we are worshiping. We make things complicated. Help us to be very careful about putting unnecessary obstacles in front of people who are exploring faith in You and to be careful about defining the church too narrowly. You are an eternal God and cannot be put in a neat box of tradition, style, or familiar practices. Worship is all about You. Let us keep the main thing, the main thing. Amen