The Health of the Church: Established In the Faith & Increasing In Number

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament scriptural account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ which is the church as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke in the book of Acts. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fifteen verses of the seventeenth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the beloved physician Luke continuing to write concerning the apostle Paul’s second missionary and apostolic journey. When the fifteenth chapter concludes it does so with the apostle Paul and Barnabas each going their own way and separating from each other because of a disagreement they had over John Mark. If you read the words which are found within that passage you will find them describing how the apostle Paul sought to journey once more to the churches and communities he and Barnabas has visited in order that he might strengthen, establish and encourage the brethren. As you read the words found within the final verses of the fifteenth chapter you will find Barnabas wanting to take John Mark with them along this journey, however, the apostle Paul was unwilling to permit John mark from coming with them because of his previous departure from the work which they had previously engaged in. Upon turning your attention back to the thirteenth chapter you will find that John mArk was with the apostle Paul and Barnabas when they set sail for their first missionary journey and the work which the Holy Spirit had called and separated them for, however, what you will also read is that at some point during the journey John mark departed from the apostle Paul and Barnabas and returned to Jerusalem. We are unclear and uncertain as to why John mark would have departed from the work of the ministry and return to Jerusalem. We aren’t given any clue or indication as to why John mark would have departed from the work of the ministry, or even at what point during that journey he separated himself from the apostle Paul and Barnabas. What we do know is that he departed from this particular work in order to return to Jerusalem—a decision and move that would stick with the apostle Paul. Reading the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter you wouldn’t guess, nor would you think that John mark’s decision to depart from the apostle Paul and Barnabas and the work which they were called would have had any impact or future ramifications, however, when you come to the fifteenth chapter and the apostle Paul wanting you return to the churches and communities they had previously visited, and when Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark with them, the apostle Paul was unwilling to let him join and accompany them. By the time the fifteenth chapter draws to a close we find the apostle Paul choosing Silas who chose to remain with the work of the church there in Antioch. These two men would travel to Syria and Cilicia before they would travel to those places the apostle previously visited. Barnabas, however, would take John Mark with him and would sail to Cyprus where he was from.

REVISITING OLD PLACES! RETURNING TO PLACES OF LABOR! It’s actually quite interesting and unique to think about and consider the fact that it was in the heart of the apostles Paul to return to those churches and communities which he and Barnabas had labored and served. It’s actually remarkable that when it came to the churches and communities which the apostle Paul had labored and served, his heart was such that he desires to return and visit them again in order to encourage and establish them in the faith. If there is one thing I absolutely love about the apostle Paul, it’s that his heart was so tender and so compassionate toward the church, and he was unwilling to allow the churches he labored and served in to fend for themselves. Whether you read the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches, or whether you read the account of his life within the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul has such a great affection and love for the body of Christ. I absolutely love reading the account of the apostle Paul, as well as the letters which he wrote to the churches, for upon reading his words and studying his life you will encounter a man who truly loved the body of Christ, and one who truly loved, valued and appreciated the community of saints and disciples of Jesus the Christ. You cannot read the epistles which were written by the apostle Paul, nor can you read about his life and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that he was a man who truly loved the church and body of Christ, and one who desperately desired its growth, it’s maturity and health. In all reality, I would dare say that what we find in the final verses of the fifteenth chapter is a truly wonderful and remarkable picture of the apostle Paul being so incredibly passionate about the health of the church—and so much so that he was willing to revisit those churches and those communities he had previously labored and served. I have to admit that as I sit here this morning and ponder and meditate the heart of the apostle Paul toward the body of Christ and the community of the brethren, I am a long way from having such a heart toward the body of Christ and the community of the brethren. I remember a time when I did in fact have a love and an affection for the body of Christ and the community of the brethren, however, I have to be honest and declare that this is not so right now at this point in my life. I have recently been listening to Fred Hammond’s latest album release and the second song on the album is “God Is My Refuge.” There is a like in the song which so incredibly challenges and describes me at this juncture within my life, and that is simply: “God give me the strength to try again.”

GOD GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO TRY AGAIN! GOD GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO DO AGAIN! GOD FIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO BE AGAIN! As I sit here this morning I find myself humbled at what I read concerning the apostle Paul and the fact that his heart was so tender and so affectionate toward the body of Christ and the community of the brethren that for him he couldn’t be separated from the body of Christ. There are some men and some women who have a difficult time being connected to a single body and a single community of believers, and yet what we find here in the book of Acts is the apostle Paul being connected to a number of churches which he either labored in, or actually helped establish together with those companions who accompanied him. I find it absolutely incredible to think about the life of the apostle Paul and that he wasn’t merely connected to a single church body, nor was he connected to a single community of believers, but was connected to a number of church bodies. Even when writing in the second epistle which was sent unto the saints which were at Corinth the apostle Paul spoke of the great care and concern he needed to have with and for the churches which he had labored and served in. For the apostle Paul it wasn’t simply about one particular body of believers or one specific community of brethren, but was about the many churches and communities he himself was directly linked and connected to. There are a number of us who find it incredibly difficult to be committed and connected to a single body of believers, and yet the apostle Paul was directly linked and connected to a number of communities and churches which he had labored and served in. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this tremendous and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on that which is truly captivating about the life of the apostle Paul and his labor and ministry among the churches. For the apostle Paul it wasn’t simply about laboring and ministering among the churches and communities, but it was also about his great love and great affection toward the churches and his willingness to remain connected and committed to them—even after he had departed from their vicinity and the presence of the saints. For the apostle Paul it wasn’t enough to simply labor and leave the churches, which many in our generation have absolutely no trouble doing. There are a number of men and women who have no problem laboring within and laboring among a body of believers and community of brethren, and then when their time is done, they leave the work. What I so love and appreciate about the apostle Paul is that he was not only willing to labor and serve among the communities and churches, but he was willing to remain connected and committed. LABOR AND LEAVE! COMMITTED AND CONNECTED! Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is how committed and how connected we are to the corporate body of Christ, and how committed and connected we are to the church and community of the saints and brethren. Are we of the nature that we labor and leave, or are we of the nature where we choose to remain connected and committed because of our great love and affection for and toward the church and body of Christ?

When you come to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle doing exactly what he desired and exactly what was in his heart to do—namely, to revisit those churches and communities he had previously labored and served. I have to admit that I don’t have the details as to how much time had elapsed and passed between the time the apostle Paul left these churches and communities and when he returned and revisited them, however, we do know when reading the opening verses of the sixteenth chapter that the apostle Paul actually returned to certain churches and communities he had visited during his first missionary journey. What’s actually quite interesting when you think about what is found in the book of Acts is that churches during those days were known based on the city they were in rather than some name that was created and crafted by the imagination and intellect of men. If you read and study the words which are found within the book of Acts—even when you read the various epistles which the apostle Paul wrote to the churches—you will find that there was not a single church that had a cleverly crafted name connected to it. The churches the apostle visited and returned to were based on the city and location where the people and community was present in the earth rather than a name that was created concerning the church which was carefully and cleverly created by the body of believers—and even the apostle Paul. I fully recognize and understand that in this generation and in these days we have come to know churches based on their name rather than where those churches are actually located—and in all reality we only focus on and pay attention to the location of the church and community if we aren’t sure of where it is, or even how to get there, and we have to use the navigation on our phones in order to find and go to the address of the church. Very rarely do we encounter churches and communities which are known for the geographical location, but rather the actual name of the church and congregation which has been crafted and carefully considered by men and women who have been a part of the church. Nowadays when a new body of believers is created within the earth and within this generation one of the first things that is done is a name created for the church and community—a name which somehow defines the body of believers. In all reality, I have to ask when churches and communities needed cleverly crafted names that came as a result of the intellect and imagination of men? When did it become necessary for men and women to place a name on an individual community of brethren and on an individual church? When did we feel it was absolutely mission critical to have a name that just has to describe the church and community we fellowship? What’s more, is that I have to wonder whether or not the actual name of many of the churches which are present within our cities and towns actually represents the true nature of the church and those who are present in the midst of it. I have to ask myself and wonder how many of the churches and congregations we have within this country of ours actually has a name that defines who they are as a corporate body of believers, or whether or not is simply a fancy name to attract men and women from around the area.

If you begin reading within and from the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul returning to Derbe and Lystra where he had previously visited, labored and served, and upon returning to these two locations the apostle Paul encountered a certain disciple which was there named Timothy who was the son of a certain woman which was a Jewess, and whose father was a Greek. This young man called Timothy was not only a disciple, but was also well spoken of by the believers and saints within this particular region. The beloved physician Luke writes and records how the apostle Paul would have Timothy join and accompany them on their missionary journey, and even had Timothy circumcised because men and women knew that his father was a Greek. IT’s interesting and worth noting and considering—not only that the apostle Paul desired that Timothy would join and accompany him on his missionary journey, but also that immediately after we read of Timothy being circumcised we find the apostle Paul together with Silas and Timothy going through the cities and delivering them the decrees which they should keep, which were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. When you come to the fifth verse of the sixteenth chapter you will find that the churches were established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Oh, I can’t help but find myself being absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that even here in the sixteenth chapter we find the church continuing to be established in the faith and increasing in number daily. ESTABLISHED IN THE FAITH & INCREASING IN NUMBER! If you want to ask what the marks of a truly healthy and vibrant church and community of believers is in this generation you need only look at and examine these words. There would be many who would judge the health and vitality of a church based on how much they give, or how many they have on their roster, however, if and as you read the words which are found within the book of Acts you will find the two greatest marks of a spiritually healthy and vibrant church is its being established in the faith and it increasing in number daily. In all reality, I would dare say that we have it backwards when we consider the health and success of a church and community of believers, and we place emphasis on the wrong elements of the church in this generation. In all reality, there have been countless churches which have measured the success, the health, and the vitality of their church and congregation based on earthly, natural and temporal means and measures. What’s more, is that there are churches and congregations which measure their success and strength based on principles found in Corporate America than anything else. There are churches and congregations which look to Corporate America and what makes businesses successful in the realm and sphere of Corporate America to determine whether or not they are truly successful, healthy and vibrant. The truth of the matter is that there are many churches and congregations which have an incredible shallow view and perception of what makes a church healthy and vibrant, and as a direct result of their jaded and skewed view the church and those members within the church suffer immensely and don’t experience that which is truly important. Oh consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Ephesus:

“…And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body firmly joined together and compassion cited by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).

It is quite clear and quite obvious that that which truly marks a church and congregation as healthy lies in whether or not the saints are being perfected for the work of the ministry, whether or not the body of Christ is being edifies, whether or not men and women are coming in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, and whether or not men and women are coming unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. What’s more is that a sign of a truly healthy church and congregation of believers is when men and women are no more children which are tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness. Even more than this, the apostle describes the reality of a truly healthy church being those who speak the truth in love, and grow up into Him which is Christ in all things, who is the head. PERFECTION! EDIFYING! UNITY! KNOWLEDGE! FULNESS! GROW UP! Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of these realities which are found within this passage of Scripture, for when you come to that which is found in the book of Acts you will find that what truly marks a church as being healthy and vibrant in the sight of God is that church which is established in the faith, that church which increases in number daily, and that which does in fact grow up and is maturing in the faith. Oh to help illustrate this point even further I can’t help but be reminded of the words which were written in the epistle sent unto the Hebrews, for it is within this epistle where we find the author clearly putting forth a tremendous requirement of the church and community of believers. If you begin reading with and from the eleventh verse of the fifth verse and continue reading through the opening verses of the sixth chapter you will find the following words which were written concerning the church and community of believers:

“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who buy reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God; but that which heareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 5:11-6:8).

It is perfectly and abundantly clear that when you think of and consider the health and vitality of the church you must think about and consider it in light of whether or not it is being established in the faith and whether or not it is increasing in number daily. In all reality, I would dare say that growth and maturity are two of the most critical aspects and elements of the church, and signs which point to a congregation which is truly healthy in the sight of the living God. There is this element of being perfected and matured that must be carefully considered when thinking about and considering those churches which we consider to be healthy and successful, for more often than not we place emphasis on the wrong truths and on the wrong realities. When you read the words which are found in the book of Acts you will quickly encounter the awesome and incredible reality that the true signs and the true marks of a healthy church is that it is being established in the faith, and that it is increasing in number daily. Take a look at the church and congregation you are a part of, and ask yourself whether or not the congregation you worship with is in fact being established in the faith, and is in fact increasing in number daily. Show me a church that is being established and built up in the faith, and increasing in number daily, and I will show you a church that is truly healthy in the sight and presence of the living God. It is most certainly evident when reading the book of Acts that the entire purpose and reason the apostle Paul sought to return to the churches and communities he had previously visited was to ensure that they were both established in the faith and continuing to increase in number daily. Eventually, and as the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto certain of the churches, there would be false teachers and false brethren that would begin to creep in and enter into the churches seeking to deceive and lead men astray with false doctrine. In all reality, I would dare say that it is a absolutely necessary for churches to be established in the faith, for being established, strengthened and grounded in the faith is one of the greatest safety measures when dealing with false brethren, false teachers and false doctrine. What’s more, is that increasing in number daily is also a truly remarkable measure when we think about false brethren, false teachers and false doctrine, for there is strength in numbers, and the greater the numbers are within the church, the more the church has the ability to fend off and cope the false brethren and false teachers which would seek to creep in unawares in the church. There is not a doubt in my mind that being established in faith is of absolute and utmost importance when thinking about and considering any church and congregation—particularly and especially when we consider the days and generation in which we are living and the widespread and rampant false doctrine and false teaching that is so prevalent and pervasive in our culture and society. I am completely and utterly convinced that it is absolutely mission critical and utterly imperative that we are established in the faith, for it is only when we are established in the faith and are truly growing up and maturing that we are able to withstand the onslaught of deception that seeks to creep and enter into our hearts, lives and churches in this generation.

As you come to the latter part of the sixteenth chapter, as well as the seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul making his first trip and first visit to two of the churches with whom he wrote epistles found within the New Testament. In the sixteenth chapter we find the apostle Paul entering into the Macedonian city of Philippi, and it was there where he and Silas would be beaten with many stripes and would be placed in prison where they would be kept under secure and extreme measures. What’s interesting is that it would be there in Philippi where Paul and Silas would sing praises at would commit themselves to praying in the midnight hour while their feet were fastened in stocks, and while their hands and writes were perhaps bound by chains. Oh what a wonderful truth and testimony it is to think about and consider the fact that while they were praying and singing praises unto God there in the prison at the midnight hour, and while the prisoners heard and listened to them, there was a great earthquake which shook the foundations of the prison, and not only were all the prison doors opened, but so also were every man’s chains, shackles and fetters loosed from their physical bodies. The sixteenth chapter concludes with the jailer who was in charge of the prison where Paul and Silas were being held asking them what he must do in order to be saved. Ultimately and inevitably we find and read of this jailer and his entire household not only believing, but also being baptized in water. Oh, I can’t help but wonder if this jailer and his household were some of the first converts to the faith there in Philippi, and whether or not they would have heard the words which were written by the apostle Paul in the epistle which was written and sent unto the Philippian congregation. I can’t help but wonder if this jailer and his entire household helped make up the Philippian congregation and were part of the core members of this particular body of Christ within the region. When we come to the end of the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts we find prison doors being opened, we find the foundation of a prison being shaken, we find chains, shackles and fetters being loosed, and we find a jailer and his entire household coming to the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and being baptized in water. What a truly wonderful and remarkable testimony it is to come to the end of the sixteenth chapter of the book of Acts and find that one who was in charge of watching over and securing Paul and Silas in the prison kneeling before them and asking what he must do to be saved. Within the sixteenth chapter—not only do we find the deliverance of a woman who was possessed with an evil spirit, but we also find an entire prison being shaken to its very foundation, prison doors being opened and shackles loosed, and we find a jailer and his entire household coming to the faith in the Lord Jesus the Christ. Oh how truly wonderful and remarkable this is, and such that makes me think about and truly wonder at the expression of our corporate congregations and body of believers, and what truly takes place and is manifested among us within our midst.

By the time you come to the seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul coming unto a city where he would not only help establish a church, but would also eventually write two epistles. As the seventeenth chapter begins and opens it does so with the apostle Paul, Silas and Timothy coming unto a city called Thessalonica, and as was the custom of the apostle Paul, he entered into the synagogue of the Jews, and for three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead, and that this Jesus whom he preached was indeed and was in fact the Christ. JESUS SUFFERING! JESUS RISEN! JESUS IS THE CHRIST! I have to admit that that it is quite powerful when you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for what you find in this passage of Scripture is the apostle Paul not only preaching and teaching that Jesus must needs suffer and die, but also that Jesus must needs rise from the dead on the third day. When the apostle Paul preached and spoke unto those which were in the city of Thessalonica he not only spoke to them of the suffering and death of Jesus the Christ, but he also spoke unto them concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on the third day. What’s more, is the apostle Paul also went on to teach and preach unto them that this same Jesus which suffered and died, and which was risen from the dead on the third day was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God. If we are truly being honest when reading these words we must admit that this is the core foundation of the Christian faith, and that we need to firmly establish within our hearts and souls that Jesus not only suffered and died, but also that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, and that this Jesus which suffered and died was and is indeed the Christ. What began with suffering and death, and what continued with resurrection on the third day from death to life would ultimately lead to the awesome reality that this Jesus is the Christ, and that he is indeed the Son of the living God. The apostle Paul entered into the synagogue of the Jews and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the scriptures as he preached Jesus the Christ, and Him crucified and risen from death to life on the third day. This was the core and foundational crux of the doctrine of the apostle Paul and that which he preached unto the Jews and Gentiles wherever he went, for he determined to preach and know nothing among them save Jesus Christ and Him crucified and resurrected on the third day. Within the opening passage of the seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find that some of those in Thessalonica believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas, and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. With that being said, however, we find that with the preaching of the word concerning Jesus Christ also came the persecution of the Jews, as the Jews were moved to envy toward Paul and Silas, and took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and did in act gather a company, and set the city on an uproar.

If you read the account of the apostle Paul and the missionary journeys he engaged himself in you will find that wherever he went and wherever he preached the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, the Jews within those cities would more often than not be moved to and moved with jealousy, and would incite the entire city against the apostle Paul and those who were traveling with him. What we find in Thessalonica was nothing different from what we find in previous chapters, for the apostle Paul would preach the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, and the Jews would be moved with envy and would incite a great crowd against the apostle Paul and those who were traveling with him. In the city of Thessalonica we find the apostle Paul preaching Jesus the Christ, and it so stirring and inciting the hearts of the Jews within that city, that they—being moved with envy—would incite the entire city to an uproar against them. What we find when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is that the brethren which were present in the city of Thessalonica sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea, who when coming unto Berea entered into the synagogue and again preached the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. It’s actually quite interesting what the beloved physician Luke wrote concerning those who were in Berea, for he wrote concerning them that they were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things which the apostle Paul preached were indeed so and were indeed true. Oh it is quite necessary that we pay close attention to that which is written concerning the Berean, for not only did they receive the word which the apostle Paul preached with all readiness of mind, but they also searched the Scriptures daily, whether or those things which they preached were so. I can’t help but be read that which is found concerning the Bereans and come face to face with perhaps one of the greatest needs we have within our own hearts and lives—namely, that we do in fact listen to and hear the words which are being preached and taught on Sunday morning in the service, however, there is so much more that is required of us than simply sitting in church Sunday after Sunday and listening to and hearing the preacher preach the word of God. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest things that is desperately needed in many of our Christian circles and within many of our churches are those who are willing to not only sit and listen to the preaching of the word concerning Jesus Christ, but those who are willing to search and study the Scriptures for themselves—not only to see whether or not what is being preached is true, but also to strengthen and establish themselves in the faith. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how often you spend devoting yourself to studying the Scriptures—not only in order to test that which is being preached unto you, but also to establish and strengthen yourself in the faith of the Lord Jesus the Christ. How often do you spend poring over the word of God, and often do you spend searching the Scriptures in order that you might truly know and understand the truth concerning Jesus the Christ, and concerning the gospel which was preached by the apostles and men and women throughout history?

As I bring this writing to a close I can’t help but read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and notice something which warrants at least some consideration and thought. If you read the opening verses of this chapter you will find that the Jews which were present in Thessalonica were moved with envy and incited the whole city in an uproar against the apostle Paul, Silas and Timothy, and how as a direct result of this tension and drama, Paul, Silas and Timothy were sent away by night unto Berea. Now you would think that they would experience some measure of respite and some measure of reprieve, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply wasn’t the case for the apostle Paul, Silas and Timothy, for when the Jews of the Thessalonica heard that they were in Berea and were preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, they came there also, and stirred up the people. WHEN TROUBLE FOLLOWS YOU! Oh, I can’t help but wonder what you do and how you respond when you seek to escape trouble and conflict, and yet even in the place you have gone and found yourself to escape trouble and conflict, it seems to have followed you there. The Jews which were present in Thessalonica so stirred up and incited the city to an uproar that the apostle Paul, Silas and Timothy had to be sent forth by night from the city unto Berea. What we find when read this passage, however, is that despite the fact that Paul, Silas and Timothy were sent from Thessalonica unto Berea because of the riot and uproar which was present in that city, the conflict and struggle they were sent away from followed them unto Berea and wreaked havoc there as well. Oh I am convinced that there are times within our lives when we move to a different place to seek to avoid conflict and trouble, and yet what we find is that trouble and conflict seems to follow us where we go. If there is one thing this particular passage reveals it’s that it is possible to move to a different place thinking and believing we might very well avoid conflict and struggle, and yet the truth of the matter is that so long as we are in this temple we can and will continue to face struggle and conflict. So long as we are in this life we can and will experience trials and troubles, and we must needs through much trial and tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. This passage is replete with a powerful example that so long as we are in this body and so long as we are in this world we can and will have trial and tribulation, and we can and will find ourselves in the midst of conflict and struggle. We might move from place to place to get away from the trouble and conflict—especially if it becomes severe—however, the truth of the matter is that so long as we are in this body trouble, conflict and struggle are inevitable. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand this reality, and that we would continue to grow and be established in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in this life.

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