Remember This Pattern

Sometimes we miss the subtleties that raise up contentions.  Be alert, be wise, be ready.

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Acts 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.

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Today I especially urge you to read our Manna for Today.  The volume is small, but the take-away in wisdom is enormous, and that is especially true in the 2 Timothy passage.  The opening words there give us a grave warning about something we are to “avoid.”  To be avoided are “foolish and unlearned questions.”  And the reason for such avoidance is a grave danger to anyone who takes this passage lightly; it is the matter of “strife.”

The fact that there are individuals and groups of people in the earth who seem to take great pride in causing strife and division is well-known.  But it is often the case that we become so focused on the strife that has risen, that we miss the causal elements of that strife.  However, if we would be more keenly aware of the causal elements, we may be able to keep strife at bay from us, or certainly be able to avoid falling prey to strife when it first begins to arise.  Today I speak to one of the most distinct causal elements of strife we encounter.  Look at our Text for Today and answer two questions.  First, who was it that was stirred by having their minds turned against Paul and Barnabas?  And the answer is, “the Gentiles.”  The second question becomes even more telling.  Who stirred up the Gentiles?  And the answer is, “unbelieving Jews.”

That may not seem very strange to you at first, but look more closely.  When Paul, and even Peter ministered to the Gentiles, what was the response of those holding to their Judaism?  They were against it, completely.  At one point, even Peter pulled back from the Gentiles with certain Jewish influence came into the vicinity.  The enemy stirred strife then by attacking the ministers.  But in the case of our “Text for Today,” the enemy stirred strife by lying to and deceiving those who were receiving the ministry.  I find it keenly interesting the Gentile hating Jews fought to have nothing to do with the Gentiles until it was to their advantage to use the Gentiles to attack the Christian faith.

My friend, it’s still happening today.  There are elements in our world that hate and despise one another, but will join together, deceiving one another, in order to gain an advantage over Christians, attacking them and working to destroy their influence.  Do not be deceived by a carnal attitude that says, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  Dear one, any enemy of the cross is your enemy.  Don’t hate them; love them; pray for them.  But NEVER believe they are your friend.  Enemies of the Lord will use others to attack the kingdom.  Be aware.  Be sharp.  Keep on the whole armor of God.

Manna for Today – Acts 14:1-7; 2 Timothy 2:23-26

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