Called – Acts 13:1-3
God’s heart is all through this chapter and He wants the gospel shared where ever we go. How open are you to introduce Jesus to others? Jesus was introduced to ordinary men as well as influential leaders. God did this through believers as in Paul and Barnabas. There was a change in church leadership at Antioch. The leaders were Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul. All were diverse leaders, but God created a oneness, the secret of Christ. There were two spiritual gifts - teaching and prophesying. As they prayed and fasted, they received instructions from the Holy Spirit. (Fasting means going without something for a time to focus on the Lord.)
1. The Holy Spirit called attentive believers to do God’s work.
They were available, surrendered to the Holy Spirit, and their hearts desired to be in the center of God’s will. Does that describe you? He set apart Barnabas and Saul. (Acts 13:2) What does He want you to set apart for His use?
Are you serving without being called by the Holy Spirit? A ministry outside God’s will is likely not to be fruitful. He has a work for everyone who receives salvation.
Opposed – Acts 13:4-12
2. The Holy Spirit guides us where God wants us to go.
Barnabas and Saul were sent on their way for the first missionary journeys. When they left Antioch, they went to Seleucia and then sailed to Cyprus. There a sorcerer and false prophet named Elymas opposed them. He was full of the devil, deceit, and trickery. Saul by the power of God blinded him and brought him to believe through his teaching.
3. The enemy of God does not want Jesus personally known.
The enemy wants to keep people, especially leaders and anyone with influence from God. He doesn’t want people to depend on God. He wants to keep you from the presence and power of God. He works against you, not for you. So put on the full armor of God and stand your guard. That’s what Paul and Barnabas did.
Disappointed – Acts 13:13
They traveled the whole island of Paphos, and then to Perga were Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem. It is not known why he left. Perhaps there was a disagreement. Maybe he was homesick, ill, or couldn’t stand the hardships. When he left, he lost Paul’s trust and became unreliable.
4. The spread of the gospel requires faithful commitment in the face of personal difficulty.
Even today we choose not to show up when we don’t feel like it or it doesn’t fit our schedule. Paul modeled commitment, doing whatever God asked. If you know you’ve been called by God, don’t quit!
Mark did get back on track. He earned Paul’s trust again and wrote the book of Mark. How do you allow mistakes to get you back to God? How do you respond to others who make mistakes and return to God? Giving up creates a hardship for others. Our choice impacts others.
Kept going with joy – Acts 13:14-52
From Perga they went to Pisidian Antioch. Paul was asked to speak at the synagogue. In his messages he gave historical references leading to the Messiah, which could not be denied. He told of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the message of salvation. All of which was supported by the Old Testament scriptures quoting passages from Psalms and Isaiah.
The response was mixed. Some came back to hear more. Some Jews rejected the message. Paul and Barnabas said (Acts 13:46) “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:48) “When the Gentiles heard this, they were honored and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”
(Acts 13:38-41) Paul message went on to say we are made righteous by Jesus and through Him everyone who believes is justified. He warns them to not just wonder about Jesus and do nothing or they will perish. We can’t remain on the fence or we will suffer eternity in Hell. There are 2 places to go from here – Heaven or Hell forever and ever. Where are you going?
The word spread, but some Jews stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their region. So Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and left. (Note: When Jews would leave a Gentile land, they would shake the dust off their feet to not take any dirt from the land.) This is what Paul and Barnabas did to the Jews as a protest saying the Jews were no different than pagans. This did not discourage the disciples. They were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52)
5. Spirit filled believers can experience joy in the mist of suffering.
Where would you be in this story? Would you be asking for more truth? Where would you go after this life, if this were it - Heaven or Hell? The power of the living God is available to you. Are you living with jealousy? Concerned how life will change, if you let Jesus in your heart? Are you being expelled? Look how they handled it. You may have to forgive someone. You can keep on going with joy and not anger.
Note: (The name change of Saul to Paul is not clear and we do not know why it changed, but Acts 13:9 says, “Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit…”. Maybe he changed it so the Gentiles would accept him better or maybe it reflected his new life since he was now a new man.)