Second Chances – Acts 15:36-41

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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Not everyone gets a second chance. “Legislation mandating the eviction of tenants whose housing units are the scene of criminal actions” was passed by the United States Congress in 1996 and signed by President Bill Clinton. In his 1996 State of the Union address, President Clinton laid the foundation for the One-Strike policy: “I challenge local housing authorities and tenant associations: Criminal gang members and drug dealers are destroying the lives of decent tenants.” The enforcement of this new law was an effort in good faith to protect upstanding citizens from those with a history of failing to live up to acceptable law-abiding standards.

A problem arose when Paul and Barnabas purposed to “go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do” (Acts 15:36). Barnabas determined to take John Mark, but Paul simply would not have him join their ministry team. Luke describes this heated discussion by saying, “the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark…and Paul chose Silas” (Acts 15:39-40). It is tragically sad, at least from our human perspective, that this great, effective team dissolved, and this strong friendship was greatly strained. Why was it that Paul would not give John Mark a second chance? Acts 15:38 states Mark “departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.” Acts 13:13 reveals Mark “returned to Jerusalem.” With no more information than this, we can only guess at what was truly behind John Mark’s abandoning the mission with Paul and Barnabas before it was complete. He may have been homesick, immature, or frightened by the continual dangers of persecution that followed this missionary journey. But whatever the cause, Paul deemed him to be too unacceptable in character to take a second chance on him. But praise be to God, this one who had once failed became faithful and greatly used of the Lord under the encouragement of Barnabas. Paul would later say, “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (II Timothy 4:11).

If you have failed the Lord, even miserably, take heart in this example. We serve a God of gracious second, and third, chances. Return to faithful service for your Savior. Also, see if there isn’t someone you can encourage with a second chance in ministry opportunity.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."