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Acts #42 (chapter 13:1-13)
The Book of Acts
Satanic Resistance
Acts 13:1-13
Before we conclude tonight, we're going to take some time to commission and pray for the team that is leaving for Ecuador this week.  And when Jimmy asked about doing that this evening, I began to pray and think about what I should say.  And somewhere in the course of that process, I decided to just wee where we would be in our study of the book of Acts.
And what I discovered is that chapter 13, where we would have been studying tonight is a perfect place to preach from when it comes to commissioning missionaries.  So we'll just continue our study by looking at the first 13 verses of the chapter, and we'll do it remembering these whom we'll be sending out this week. 
As you know,  the book of Acts is a missionary book so it really shouldn't surprise us that this chapter would speak about missions because ever chapter talks about missions.  But in particular, chapter 13 records for us a milestone in the ongoing ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The chapter is primarily about satanic opposition to the work of God, and I don't say that to be pessimistic or to throw a damper on anything, but rather to let it serve as a cold, hard reminder of the truth.  Satan always opposes the work of God. 
And if you are familiar with the flow of the book of Acts, chapter 13 brings us to final dimension of the expansion of the Kingdom.
Here we are about 25 years past Pentecost, and the church has grown and developed and been obedinet so that the gospel has been shared in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and it's now time for it to move into the Gentile world, the uttermost parts of the world. 
The base of operation for that final frontier will be Antioch. and that's where we find ourselves when we come to chapter 13. Even though Antioch is a pagan city, God has a church there and it's a great church!  They are well-grounded in the faith and have people who love and serve the Lord.  And they are poised to explode into the world in the name of Jesus Christ.
And in the opening verses of the chapter, we find, not only the heart of the this church, but the heart of God.
verses 1-3
So here is this Spirit-filled church that understands the meaning of Acts 1:8.  The key in any church that will make an impact in the world is that it be Spirit-filled and thus, obedient. 
So to begin with, we have in Antioch, a Spirit-filled church where people walk and live and talk and think and act in the energy of the Spirit of God because they understand they are to be witnesses of the Lord. 
And from that church, several things become apparent as you move through the text.  For instance, the church was characterized by 
1. Spiritual Leaders
verse 1
Here we are introduced to the leadership of the church.  If a church will be mission-minded, it must have spiritual leadership.  And that was true of Antioch.  Some of them were prophets.  That means they could preach.  Others were teachers.  In other words, they were using their spiritual giftedness as God intended.   And by the way, they were an extremely diverse group of men.
We have  Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, and Saul. We've already met Barnabas. He was a Levite from Cyprus. So he was aA Spirit-filled Jew trained in the Old Testament, a resident Old Testament scholar with a pure Christian character. He was highly respected and highly loved, a warm-hearted man, a marvelously capable teacher, a comforter.
And then we meet Simeon, called Niger, and Niger means black. There was certainly no race distinction there. Simeon the black. Some think he may well be the Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross of Jesus Christ. Most likely, he was a Gentile. 
Then there was Lucius who was probably a Gentile also from Africa.  Then we have Manaen. It says he was brought up with Herod in the family of Agrippa. And then we have Saul who is destined to be the key to pagan world evangelization. Five spiritual men who are this motley mix of Jews and Gentiles and wealthy and common. 
But the most important thing is not their giftedness or the color of their skin, but rather that they are all chosen and controlled by the Spirit of God.  So first of all, we have spiritual men.
Secondly, a church that is going to reach the world not only has to be one led by spiritual men, but it has to be one engaged in
2. Spiritual Service
verse 2
Here they are ministering the Word, serving the Lord, offering their service as an act of worship to God and spending their time in prayer and fasting.
Now obviously, they had lots of others things to do, but the priority of their lives was to minister to the Lord.   And don't miss the fact that their ministry was their worship. 
Their ministry to the people was an act of worship.  Your sacrifice to God is your service. Every sermon I preach is in my heart as if I were bringing an offering into the very sanctuary of the Old Testament to present it to God. Every sermon I preach, every day I live, every hour I study, every moment I spend in prayer is what I offer God as an act of loving service and worship for Him.
That's the heart and soul of what ministry and missions are all about. Never lose sight of the priority. This team will be involved in all kinds of stuff, but never lose sight of the fact that your service is a ministry to the Lord.
Everything they did was a spiritual sacrifice offered to Christ.  That is so important to keep in mind.  Every day, we ought to be able to say, "Everything I've done today stands as an offering to Jesus Christ."
These men ministered to the Lord, and notice they ministered to the Lord and not just to people. When all you're concerned about is ministering to the people, you tend to compromise, because the people become the end; and if you want to get along and have their approval. 
But when everything is an offering to God, there's no place for compromise.  You don't have to have anyone but God's approval. Just give yourself to the Lord and let everything else flow from that.
They are spiritual men with a spiritual ministry.
Then notice what happens in
verse 2b
Then comes a third element in this wonderful church and that is
3. A Spiritual Mission
Spiritual men with a spiritual ministry are called on a spiritual mission. The Spirit moves in and speaks. Now, I don't know how the Spirit "said" what He said, but however He spoke, they got the message!
And He pinpoints Barnabas and Saul for the work He needs to accomplish.
And isn't in interesting that the ones who get called are the ones who are their ministering?
God does not dust off the people who are up on the shelf not doing anything.  He uses the ones that are in the middle of it. He takes the best. Can you imagine if you were in that church, and you had these five, and two of them were Saul and Barnabas, and it came to a decision as to who you'd send to the mission field? Everybody would probably say, "Well, I nominate Simeon. I nominate Lucius, and I nominate Manaen.  Let's go get someone who's not so critical to the work!  After all, we need Barnabas and Saul! 
But God sends the best they've got!  And notice, He "separates" them to the work. The idea is to be able to sue them in a specific way.  They will be unique and separate unto the Holy Spirit. They're His men. They're His to use, His to send. God called them!
And notice how the church responded.
verse 3
I love the emphasis of that verse.  We get so caught up in raising money and buying airline tickets and all the practical, pragmatic side of missions that we lose sight of what is really important. 
This church understood this was a spiritual mission and it called for spiritual resources.  So they prayed and fasted and laid their hands on them and sent them out to the work.
That is the church's way of saying, We're with you in this!  We stand behind you with prayer and support."
And don't miss the details of
verse 4
Interesting, isn't it, that the church sent them out in verse 3 and the Holy Spirit sent them out in verse 4?
So which is it?  It is both!  The church is simply the human instrument that gets the work of God done under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit.  And when the church has rightly handled it's responsibility, then whomever the Holy Spirit calls and separates and empowers is confirmed and blessed and prayed for by the church.
In verses 4-5, it all comes together.
verse 4-5
They travel down to Seleucia, which is the port of Antioch, from there they sail to Cyprus, which was the home of Barnabas, and beyond that, Salamis and there they preached.
And along the way, they picked up John Mark.  We met him in chapter 12.  He was the son of the woman named Mary where the prayer meeting was held for Peter. 
So here we have spiritual men who are involved in spiritual ministry called to a spiritual mission, but they run into
4.  Spiritual Opposition
verses 6-8
Is that not predictable?  Barnabas and Saul arrive at Paphos and they are given an opportunity to share the gospel. But a sorcerer gets involved trying to stop the,
The word sorcerer is the word magos, from which the word magi comes. In its positive connotation, it has to do with someone who is wise, who consulted the stars, as it were, as an astronomer. In its negative sense, it was someone who was superstitious and occultic, who consulted the stars as an astrologer, and there's a big difference. One is a science, and one is a false religion.
So here is this eveil, satanic man who is a false prophet who withstood them. 
Isn't it interesting that no sooner are they given the opportunity to preach the "Word of God" by the governor of the area, they are immediately threatened by a representative of Satan. 
And I would just offer that word of warning to you as a mission team. You can fit as many eyeglasses as you want to.  Help with ointments and salves and medicine and do humanitarian work and it's no big deal.  But henever you set out to reach a soul for Jesus Christ, you can be sure that hell wants to prevent what you're doing.
You're in battle, and you're wrestling, not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers. By the way, Elymas most likely comes from an Arabic word which means wise or powerful or both. 
Here is Satan's emissary, a fast-talking, turncoat Jew who had rejected the true religion, a self-styled false prophet who had attached himself to the leader of the country, and now was trying to prevent him from coming to know the truth of Christ.
It's indicative of the fact that Sergius Paulus dabbled in the occult Bar-Jesus was his constant contact with demons.
And they serve as reminders that any time spiritual leaders marked by spiritual service engage in spiritual missions, we will immediately run into spiritual opposition. 
And notice, Satan not only attempts to interefere from the outside, but also from the inside.
move down to
verse 13
John Mark just bails out. We aren't told why, but I'll tell you one thing, he had no good reason, and Paul never forgot it.
In chapter 15, Barnabas says, "I want to take John Mark with us." Paul said, "No, sir, you're not taking John Mark. You can't depend on him.  He's a traitor."
And the argument got so hot that Barnabas took Mark and split up with Paul, and Paul took Silas.  They parted ways.  Paul knew that John Mark had demonstrated cowardice, and Paul was tough. Barnabas was a comforter, and he wanted to forgive him, and he wanted to restore him, and he wanted to give him a second chance, but Paul was a tough one.
By the way, he got tender in his old age. In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul said, "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him with thee, for he's profitable to me for the ministry."
Isn't that good? Mark demonstrated he had changed and Paul was willing to take him back later.
I don't know why Mark bailed.  Maybe he was scared. Maybe he missed home and momma.  Maybe the romance wore off.  But whatever it was, it impacted the ministry and mission from the inside. 
Let me show you one last thing. 
When God uses spiritual leaders engaged in spiritual service that He has separated unto a spiritual mission, in spite of the spiritual opposition, He gives
5.  Spiritual Victory
verses 9-12
Paul looked that guy right in the eye told him how the cow ate the cabbage. 
How do you deal with the devil? Head on, and the Lord took it from there.   
It is important for those of us who are willing to do the work of the Lord to know that when we get into the spiritual battle we are on the winning side.
There is nothing more sweet than winning.  And unfortunately, many will never know the sweetness of victory because they never get involved in the fight. 
But Saul understood that the battle wasn't really with Elymas. The battle was for the soul of Sergius Paulus.
And notice, verse 12 tells us the victory was won when He gave his heart tot he Lord. 
There are souls all over this world that God would reach and will reach when some spiritual man or woman of God, who loves and serves the Lord will be willing to get involved in the mission to which God has called them.  nd in spite of all the devil can do, God will give the victory.
Some of those souls are waiting on your arrival in Ecuador.  I am glad to be able to remind you that our God has not changed.  The same God who gave the victory to Saul is the same God Who accompanies you on this trip.
There's a work to be done. Satan will resist, but the Word of God reminds us, "Greater is he that is in you than he that is the world."
That's the promise of victory.
Let's pray.
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