“To Boldy Go…”
Lord, if obedience is a mark of faith, help me to show my faith today by my obedience to You.
Read ACTS 13:1–12
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”
Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The decision for Barnabas and Paul to go from Antioch to Cyprus came as they gathered for worship. We need to be open to God’s call in our worship, ready to take part in the adventure of faith.
A church or ministry open to God’s leading must be prepared to lose some of its finest for the sake of mission; but in so doing it gains. For, through support and learning from others, our eyes will be opened and we will be changed. As God blesses us with people and resources, we need to be willing to let them go for causes beyond our reach.
From the start, the pattern was clear. Paul, Barnabas and John Mark went to any Jewish community to tell the people their Messiah had come. The synagogue at the port of Salamis (Famagusta now), where they landed, heard the missionaries’ witness, but there is no record of their response. As they crossed the island to the capital they encountered their first opposition. Bar-Jesus, or Elymas, recognized that their coming threatened his power base and influence on the Roman governor, for Sergius Paulus was open to their teaching.
When Elymas sought to interrupt, Paul’s response was direct and confrontational. The dramatic impact on Elymas mirrored Paul’s temporary blindness on the Damascus road when he too had opposed the Gospel. The demonstration of the power of the Gospel, coupled with Paul’s teaching, led to the proconsul coming to faith. He believed because of what he had heard and seen. His life was changed.
For Paul and Barnabas it was a seal on their ministry; for Paul a confirmation
of Ananias’s words at his conversion that he would minister to Gentiles and
to those in authority (Acts 9:15). Here Saul is renamed Paul (meaning “little”) and assumes leadership. His name appears first and Barnabas shows his grace in accepting this. It is always harder, however, to step down than to step up.
Do people in your community (or your church’s community) both see the difference the Gospel makes and hear the truth of its message? Which part of your witness do you (or your church) need to strengthen?
Dear God, my prayer is for an openness in worship, so that I may be available to the leading of Your Spirit.
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