Lord God, I want Your Word to stretch and challenge me in any way I need it. I’m ready now.
Read Acts 15:13-21
 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me.  Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles.  The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:  “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it,  that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’-  things known from long ago.  “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.  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.  For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat solution to this dispute did James suggest?
James, the brother of Jesus, is a leader in the Jerusalem church. He turns everyone’s attention to a version of the prophet Amos’ prophecy (Amos 9:11,12), relating to salvation history. Some Bible versions refer to David’s temporary “tent” or “tabernacle,” not his “house,” which has fallen, and is to be replaced by a permanent new “structure” (the church) which will include other nations, i.e. the Gentiles. James asserts that the Gentiles should be free from the demands of Jewish laws. However, practical issues remain. James recommends four things Gentile believers should not do (20) to avoid causing deep offense to faithful Jews, but it might also have to do with pagan temple feasts where sexual immorality and the associated meat offerings were utterly inappropriate behavior for followers of Jesus Christ. In growing churches today, new Christians with little understanding of Christian belief or behavior worship with those who have known God for decades. How can they coexist? What compromises are needed? Are much-loved traditions irrelevant? These are still relevant questions for the church.
How well does your church welcome and incorporate new believers? How might it be done even better?
Now, pray for any churches you know of where new Christians are seeking to become part of the fellowship.
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