July 8 | Bible in a Year: Job 36-37; Acts 15:22-41
A Friend in Failure
Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them.
READ ACTS 15:36–16:5
On November 27, 1939, three treasure hunters accompanied by film crews dug through the asphalt outside of the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater in Southern California. They were looking for the Cahuenga Pass treasure, consisting of gold, diamonds, and pearls rumored to have been buried there seventy-five years earlier.
They never found it. After twenty-four days of digging, they struck a boulder and stopped. All they accomplished was a nine-foot-wide, forty-two-foot-deep hole in the ground. They walked away dejected.
To err is human—we all fail sometimes. Scripture tells us that young Mark walked away from Paul and Barnabas on a missionary trip “and had not continued with them in the work.” Because of this, “Paul did not think it wise to take him” on his next trip (Acts 15:38), which resulted in a strong disagreement with Barnabas. But in spite of his initial failings, Mark shows up years later in surprising ways. When Paul was lonely and in prison toward the end of his life, he asked for Mark and called him “helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). God even inspired Mark to write the gospel that bears his name.
Mark’s life shows us that God won’t leave us to face our errors and failures alone. We have a Friend who’s greater than every mistake. As we follow our Savior, He’ll provide the help and strength we need.
By James Banks
REFLECT & PRAY
Jesus, thank You for being there whenever I want to talk to You. I praise You for the comfort and hope only You can give!
What mistakes or failures have you faced recently? In what ways have you discovered God’s strength as you shared them with Him in prayer?
Why does the detail about circumcision appear in Acts 16:3? To the Jewish people, the circumcision of all males was a symbol of their identification as God’s chosen people (see Genesis 17:9-14). It’s vital to note, however, that Paul didn’t have Timothy circumcised because of his identification as a believer in Jesus. Elsewhere Paul wrote, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6). In this instance, Paul had Timothy circumcised so that he wouldn’t offend the Jewish people residing in southern Galatia (now part of Turkey). Paul was displaying great cultural sensitivity so that the good news about Jesus could reach more people. Tim Gustafson