August 1st 2009

An Open Mind

8 of 12 studies taken from Acts 7 to Acts 14

“Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord”.
Acts 11:19-24 (NIV UK)

Does God have to work within our boundaries? Sometimes we expect God to work a certain way and we get confused when he doesn’t. Even in prayer we may give God the answer we want from him, and then get disheartened when he does not dance to our tune.

When the grace of God began to be known outside Jewish circles it was a problem. The Old Testament religion had developed into Judaism, which was an exclusive faith with all kinds of rules and procedures about how non-Jews could join their ranks. Now the Way was moving from the established paths. This was later to be a major discussion in the New Testament church but for now the Jerusalem leaders had to work out what to do. So they sent Barnabas, a man whom they trusted.

Barnabas was the right choice. He had an open mind and was willing to accept that God does not have to work within our expectations or limitations. He was able to stand back and observe and not jump to conclusions. Nor did he put an overlay of his own onto the situation.

Because of Barnabas’ open mind many people were brought to the Lord. I wonder whether my views of how I think God should work get in the way of my service to him? What about you? Do you limit God in your thinking?

Merciful God, help me not to limit you in my mind, but to open up and be receptive to how you work in our midst. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson 

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