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From Undependable to Profitable (Acts 15:36-41)

Introductory Thoughts

Paul and Barnabas functioned similar to pioneer church planters who travel into unreached areas with the gospel. As they traveled, they faithfully preached the gospel and started churches with the goal of returning later to strengthen the believers. As Paul and Barnabas were planning their return to these areas, a conflict arose between them concerning who would accompany them on their journey. Barnabas desired to take a young man named John Mark, but Paul adamantly refused. Mark had accompanied them on the first trip, but departed from them and “went not with them to the work.” Paul felt as though he could no longer depend upon John Mark because of his earlier failure. The contention was so strong that Paul and Barnabas parted company and went their own separate ways. This is a sad narrative should it end here; however, there is much more to the story. Praise God that Paul later remarked of John Mark that “he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).

Devotional Thoughts

  • (For children):  Pretend that Tom and John ask if they can come to a work day at church. They agree to pick up garbage, paper, and sticks around the yard. Tom does what he agreed to do, but John ends up playing. Which one would more likely be asked to come back to another work day? What could John do to be allowed to come back? 
  • (For everyone): Why did Paul not want to take Mark with him on the trip to check on the churches? Do others feel the same way about serving the Lord with you?
  • What did Mark do to change Pauls opinion of him? Do others have confidence in your faithfulness right now? What can you do to change that so that you could be profitable in the ministry?

Prayer Thoughts

  • Ask God to reveal to you your level of dependability.
  • Ask God for the wisdom to fix areas of your life where you fail Him and others.