RECAP: DISCERNING THROUGH THE MUCK–based on Acts 15:1-29
At some point of our lives, all of us face confusion. But what about in cases when we have a strong conviction, and we encounter something that is in direct opposition? And that opposition claims they too are hearing the voice of God? God is not confused or divided, giving two opposing messages! But how do we discern which one is the real voice of God in such a situation?
That is precisely what the church in Antioch faced. They had certainly made a difference in their community; after all, they were the first place that the new believers were called Christians! They had made a difference in Galatia, sending Paul and Barnabas with the good news of Jesus, bringing many new Gentiles to the faith! But now this new group arose, the Judaizers, that said their salvation was illegitimate because they first needed to become circumcised, fully embracing the teachings of Judaism. Salvation was not by grace alone, according to this group, but with the condition that you must become a full Jew.
So when we are in a place like this in our time, with the issues of our day, how do we discern through our muck? How did the church in that day discern through their confusing muck?
1) They first sought counsel. The church of Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to get advice. They could have gathered their own, but it made more sense to go to those who literally had walked with Jesus to gain their perspective. What was the counsel of the apostles?
Do we seek counsel? To whom do we go? What is the spirit behind the inquiry?
2) Test within the whole of community. They gathered everyone together, including the different perspectives. They listened and sought a solution that would work for the health of the whole body. Instead of a system of winners and losers, they understood that all was the body of Christ, and if one part was dishonored or ignored, they all lost!
How does this teaching affect the whole body? Is it pushing the collective community toward Jesus?
3) Test the fruit. When Peter began to speak, offering his perspective, he shared his personal experience with Cornelius. God poured out the Holy Spirit on him just like the apostles on Pentecost. Cornelius was an uncircumcised Gentile. God never said anything about becoming circumcised first!
Is the issue pushing us closer to Jesus? Is it in line with the fruit of the Spirit?
4) Test the witness. Paul and Barnabas shared the reception within the Gentile world, as well as the life transformation they witnessed and the repentance within the new believers.
Is it pushing the world toward Jesus? Is it leading us down a path of repentance?
5) Test the Word. James then examined the Scriptures, including Amos and Genesis, determining that God promised an outpouring on the Gentiles, that the Gentiles would turn to God. He also discerned that God had certain expectations placed upon the whole world before the covenant with Abraham: avoid blood, idolatry, meat of strangled animals, and sexual immorality.
Far too often we come to the Word just to prove our point, or ignore it altogether. What if when there was a conflict we started with a commitment to study the Word together through it? What does the Word really say on the matter? How does this new issue align with God’s revelation?
6) Test the Spirit. The church then checked one final time to make sure it was good with the Holy Spirit. If it is with the wrong spirit, it is still wrong.
Each of these take effort and time. But what if whenever there was confusion or a conflict, we took these steps? Maybe our world and the church in the US would be at a different place!
Questions for reflection
1) Is there any thing that is serving as a source of confusion?
2) Why is it important to test with the whole church body to determine how the Spirit is leading?
3) Why can the fruit and the witness serve as an effective test to determine whether something is of God?
4) What is the benefit of seeking consensus?
The praise dance group from InMotion School of Dance in Harrisonburg will be leading the service. Come or tune in and be ministered!
Daily Bible Readings for August 11 – 17
August 11: 1 Kings 3:16-28 How did Solomon exercise discernment?
August 12: Ecclesiastes 12 Why is discernment important?
August 13: Ephesians 6:10-20 Why is it sometimes difficult to discern? What can help us?
August 14: 1 Timothy 6:3-19 What can keep us from discerning the Spirit? What can help?
August 15: 2 Timothy 3:1-4:2 What can help free us from the muck? What is the muck?
August 16: Luke 6:12-16 Who was invited to follow Jesus? What does this say to us?
August 17: Esther 4:1-16 Why is the community of faith important? What can it give us courage to do?
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s story. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
We will take the month of July and August off from Bible study due to vacations and other scheduling conflicts. We will resume Bible study in September!
Before church closed for COVID, we had begun to announce a baptism and membership class (for transfer of membership). So for we have two that have expressed interest. If you are interested in either, or even if you recently became a member without the class and would like more of what it means to be a member of Beaver Creek, please let Pastor Ryan or Tess know you would like to take the class. Once there is enough interest, more specifics will be shared at that time. Classes will be on Sunday evenings at 7 pm in pastor’s office, beginning August 9 and ending September 13. If you would like to be a part, let Pastor Ryan know ASAP!
Call to Prayer
As we know, right now has been a time of unrest in our land. Our nation needs healing! Let us take five minutes every day to pray for our country. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, who are called by my name, would humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” If we want to see our nation healed, it starts with us as the church in fervent prayer and leading the way of repentance. September 18-28 has been called as a ten day season of repentance. On Saturday, September 26, there will be a national day of prayer for our nation. Let us take that day and time to pray!
We will also have a special time of prayer set aside at the church on September 26. More details to follow!
Misti Wheelbarger is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour for next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Five Ways to Give! With the extended closure, this is greatly necessary.
1) Direct Deposit–form available on the website
2) Mail your tithe into the church office
3) Drop it by church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
4) New online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
5) Drop off in the offering plate at main entrance as you enter for church
Continue to Keep in Prayer:
Prayers for our Congregation–pray for those who have been unable to visit or spend time with family, those who have lost their jobs or seen furloughs, for those who have been discouraged, and those in our nursing homes, who have not been able to have any physical contact since early March.
Mary Batterman–Recovering; provide a meal: www.TakeThemAMeal.com/XHOZ8636.
Betty Miller (Roger & Nancy Simmons’ neighbor, health)
Rhoda Phifer (health/Dan Rhodes’ mother-in-law)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Lottie Ritchie (health/Sandy Bennington’s mother, at Lifecare)
Evy Kaye Sandin (health)
Chris Shirk (Reba’s brother, health)
Grayson Whitmore (recovery)
Tom Wilfong (recovery)
Charles Wright (health)
John Wright (health)–surgery on August 17
Owen Wright (health–Charles Wright’s brother)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB