A Thought for June
From the Rev Bobby Liddle.
In Acts 15 we read about the leaders of the church at that time gathering in Jerusalem to pray, discuss, debate and decide on policies that would be binding on and shape the church as it grew and expanded across the Roman world. The big issue they faced at that time was what to do with non-Jews (Gentiles) who had come to faith in Christ Jesus. There were those who argued according to v5 -“The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”Peter spoke against this, recounting how God had called him to preach to the Gentiles and emphasised that the additional burden of the law of Moses should not be placed in believing Gentiles. v11 We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
Paul and Barnabas then recounted the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.When they had finished, James spoke up and drew the assembly back to Scripture. Agreeing with Peter he quoted Amos 9:11,12 on how God would return, restore His people so that even the Gentiles could bear His name.
The conclusion was that the assembly wrote to all the churches stating –“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.” v28, 29
This is the model used by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Each year in the first week of June the minister and delegated elder of each congregation gather at Presbyterian Assembly Buildings, Belfast to pray, discuss, debate and decide on policies. These will be binding on or help to shape the church as we seek to worship, witness to and serve God in our congregations, communities and in the world. Often there are mundane matters to be reported on and passed. But there are also matters of the utmost importance to the church in terms of our faithfulness to God’s Word, our witness within a rapidly changing society and world, and our positon in relationship to other churches, organisations and statutory authorities within our society. So the General Assembly needs the prayers of God’s people. The prayer topics included in this months’ News Sheet have been prepared for us to pray for the General Assembly . Pray also for myself and our delegate elder Gordon Dickson.
Yours in His name,
A Thought For May