Monday, March 5, 2012


For the week beginning Sunday March 4, 2012

(We are sent out by GOD to confirm the Church)
Acts 13

In Acts 13:1-3 we see that the church at Antioch of Syria had become the base of operations for Saul (Paul) and other missionaries. And, even though the church at Jerusalem was still the mother church, the missionary church was the church at Antioch. Here, Luke gives us a vivid description of the background diversity of the leading men in the church there.
First of all, we see Barnabas, a Jew from the island of Cyprus, who had become known as “the enabling encourager”, by those, in the Christian church. Then we see Simeon, who was also a Jew, but was called by his Latin nickname “Niger”, because of his dark complexion. This Latin name may also indicate to us, as to how he moved in Roman circles. Then there is Lucius, who was from Cyrene, a country in northern Africa. And there was also Manaen, a man with royal clout, as he had been raised with Herod Antipas, the king who had John the Baptist beheaded during the time of CHRIST’s earthly ministry. Manaen had become a disciple of JESUS after Herod’s shameful treatment of CHRIST during HIS trials at Jerusalem. And finally, there is Saul, a Jew who had been trained for Rabbinical work by the institutions of men, and then, was converted by CHRIST one fateful day on the road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9).
As these faithful men were praying and fasting one day, the HOLY SPIRIT, as HE often gave directives to GOD’s leaders in those days, came to them, and instructed them that they separate Barnabas and Saul for a special task that GOD had called them to do. It was to be the first of Paul’s, now famous, “missionary journeys” and it would include a circuit through the province of Asia Minor, and a voyage to Barnabas’ homeland, of the island of Cyprus.
The Christian Church, for the first time, is now seen positioning itself to take the Gospel of CHRIST to the world. Cyprus was a Roman province, famous for its copper mines, and shipbuilding industry, and it was only fitting that Barnabas might first want to preach JESUS to his own hometown people.
After landing at the island of Cyprus they went to the town of Salamis and visited the Jewish synagogues and preached the gospel to the people. John Mark, Barnabas’ cousin, and the eventual author of the Book of Mark, went with them as an assistant. The launch of this journey was a decision that was taken under the direct guidance of the HOLY SPIRIT, and unlike we see so often in the Churches today, the men of the Church in the first century, never did what they wanted to do, but rather, they always did what GOD wanted them to do. They were in tune to the HOLY SPIRIT, and they waited patiently on HIS prompting.
After preaching in Salamis for a while, the men traveled from town to town across the entire island of Cyprus. When finally came to a town called Paphos, they met a false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who, had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulas, a man of considerable insight and understanding. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him so that he could hear a word from GOD through them. However Elymas, a practicing socerer, who was seeking to block the governor from learning of the new Christian Faith, interfered and urged the governor to pay no heed to what Saul, or Barnabas had to say (Vs. 6-8).
Then Saul (also known as Paul by that time), who was filled with the HOLY SPIRIT, looked the sorcerer in the eyes and said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of trickery and villainy, enemy of all that is good, will you never stop perverting the true ways of the LORD? And now the LORD has laid HIS hand of punishment upon you, and you will be stricken awhile with blindness”. Then suddenly mist and darkness fell upon the sorcerer and he began to wander around aimlessly begging for someone to take his hand and lead him. When the governor saw what had happened, he instantly believed and, in fact, was astonished about what he was able to learn about the LORD, through Paul and Barnabas (Vs. 9-12).
When Paul and his company left Paphos by ship, they sailed to Pamphylia and landed in the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas, however, continued on to Antioch of Pisidia farther inland. To get there, they had to cross over the Taurus Mountain range, which was some 3600 feet above sea level, on one of the most dangerous roads in all of Asia Minor. It was notorious for the bandits and robbers who made a living off the innocent travelers who were brave enough, or stupid enough to come that way. And to top that off, it is said that Paul was sick at that time, but it never crossed his mind to turn back from the assignment that the LORD had given him.
On the Sabbath they went to the synagogue to attend the services there. After reading from the books of Moses, and from the prophets, the synagogue leaders invited Paul and Barnabas to come forward and give them encouragement. What pursued was what would become the Apostle Paul’s longest recorded sermon in scripture (Vs. 15-41).
And so we see coming into focus, a startling contrast between the orthodox Jew, who sought to keep their privileges from to GOD to themselves, and the Christian Jew, who sought, with all determinedness, to share that privilege with the world.


(1). After you have accepted the “Great Commission of CHRIST” center your
      efforts on those people you meet who seem ready to respond.
(2). Remember, at all times, that you are not the one who changes people, only GOD
      can do that. We, as Christians, can only plant the seed. GOD is the ONE who
      causes the increase, or change in a person’s heart.
(3). Always stay focused on GOD and your successes. Never focus on people, sickness, and
      opposition. If your focus is on people, instead of GOD, you’re going to always be
      disappointed and discouraged with your efforts.


Follow the examples of the men in this lesson by praying and fasting persistently, and, as a result, GOD will give you the strength and courage you need to endure to the end of your Christian journey.

KEY VERSES: Acts 14:19-20


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