CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
August 29, 2021
PAUL IS ON THE JOB!
ACTS 13:1-12, 26-51
Last week we saw on the one hand Barnabas and Saul had returned from Antioch to do 2 things: report what had been happening in Antioch and to also bring food and other things to the church leaders in Jerusalem so they could distribute those to the believers in the region. If you recall Agabus, a prophet of the Lord, had come to Antioch when Barnabas and Saul were there and he predicted a famine that was coming to the region. The last verse of Chapter 12 has been interpreted two ways. Both could be right and it may have been meant to tell the 2 different things Barnabas and Saul were doing. One version is that Barnabas and Saul had returned to Jerusalem after their year in Antioch. The other is to say after Barnabas and Saul had checked in the with church in Jerusalem, they left again to check in with the church in Antioch, this time taking John Mark with them. Chapter 13 begins with Barnabas and Saul in Antioch. We see the leaders of the church in Antioch being listed and if you noticed the first name mentioned is Barnabas, the last name mentioned is Saul. Some suggest this order is not an accident or random but listed in the order of most important to the least important on this very small list. I am sorry to share all these details but it helps us understand how the early Church was doing things.
After Barnabas and Saul had returned to Antioch the church was praying, and the Holy Spirit revealed it was time for Barnabas and Saul to continue the mission the Lord had for them. After fasting, praying, and the laying on of hands, they were sent on their way. This time John Mark was also helping in the ministry God had in mind for them. They ultimately travelled to the Island of Cyprus and took the word of God all over that island. After they had been there awhile a very important man name Sergius Paulus wanted to hear what Barnabas and Saul had to say. But there was a sorcerer who was very close to this man who tried to prevent Sergius from talking to Barnabas and Saul. We see at this time another transition happens to the church in that, for the first time, while Barnabas and Saul were at Cyprus, Saul is now being called Paul. Tired of the road blocks this sorcerer was trying to create, Paul boldly takes a stand. Paul looks Elymas straight in the eye and says, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!” What would be the reaction if we in the church took that kind of no excuses stand as we stand up for the word of God? Sometimes some will do this when you are talking baseball or politics, but what is really important and truly life changing is God’s word. How likely are we to take a stand like that for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Not only did Paul take Elymas on about what he was trying to do by deceiving the people, but Paul had the confidence in the Lord to say there would be at least a short-term attention-getter for him as well, telling him that for a time he would be unable to see. When this all happened just as Paul said, Sergius was amazed and believed what Paul and Barnabas had been saying about the Lord. We did not read verses 13-25 in this chapter, but if we did, we would see a couple of things of note. We see the three left Cyprus and ultimately ended up in a city called Pisidian Antioch. Before Paul and Barnabas arrived there John Mark left and went back to Jerusalem. Sometimes we may look at what that all means but I do not believe Paul was happy John Mark left them.
When Paul and Barnabas had settled in at Pisidian Antioch, on the Sabbath they went to the synagogue. After they sat quietly listening to the reading of the word, they were asked by the rulers of the synagogue if they had something to say to them. Immediately Paul got up and started talking to all who were gathered and gave them a history lesson.
Going back to the time of Moses and going forward from there, this gets us back to the second half of what we read this morning. Paul addresses the group as children of Abraham and as Gentiles. Paul then fast forwards to what happened with Jesus. Paul points out scripture from old that many are familiar with to show Jesus was foretold long ago through King David, pointing out how Jesus was different from all of us including David. When we all die, we will face decay but it was foretold the Savior will never face decay in spite of dying a physical death just like everyone else does.
We see so many were impressed with what Paul had to say they invited Paul and Barnabas to come back and tell them more on the next Sabbath. The next week a huge crowd gathered, and that fact did not go unnoticed. The leaders of the Jewish synagogue were jealous with how many wanted to hear about Jesus the Messiah. They talked badly about Paul and Barnabas, but with a unified voice Paul and Barnabas responded. They told the Jewish leadership in a rather sarcastic way that since you reject this message and do not want eternal life, we will now take our message to the Gentiles. If you recall earlier in Acts when Saul had his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Jesus stated, “You will be my messenger to the Gentiles.” Because of God’s love for Israel and Jewish people he felt obligated to once more give the Jewish people another chance and they yet again rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Jewish peoples’ loss was the Gentiles gain. The Jewish leaders were so mad, they again stirred up men and women alike against Paul and Barnabas so much so that Paul and Barnabas literally shook the dust from their feet as they left town as a way of saying we tried all we could but now we are done with you. In many ways you know that had to hurt Paul and Barnabas because both were of Jewish heritage but yet we read that they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. They knew they had done everything in their power to draw people to Christ and, as much as they would have loved for the Jewish leadership to embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior, they knew they had nothing to feel badly about, and the Holy Spirit had given them peace about it all.
In closing this morning, let’s touch on a few things we as God’s Church today can learn from what we read today. For one thing we are reminded how important it is to have a common vision in the church. We see the importance of some things we may do regularly and some that are not as common. The importance of prayer, fasting and the laying on of hands empowers us as the church to see God’s plans fulfilled. Next, we see the importance of doing what is written in Ephesians 4:15, “To speak the truth in love.” Paul was being very blunt with the man who was trying to block God’s word from going forward. He was even empowered to announce there would be a short-term penalty for what he was doing. Next, we see there is a time and place to confront our brothers and sisters when there is a disagreement. Paul was not happy that John Mark was leaving the work God had called the three of them to do, but that was not the time to deal with it. Finally, we see there is just so much God expects us to do when are dealing with one another. We can push hard as long as we can but then know when enough is enough. If we have honestly done all we can, it is time to release it to God and if we allow it, God will bring peace to us. There is one more subtle change that has happened. For the last couple of chapters Barnabas was mentioned first, then Saul. Half way through the 13th chapter Paul is mentioned ahead of Barnabas. To God a change of roles has officially occurred. Stay tuned.
Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday
Sept 1 Newsletter submissions deadline
Sept 5 Bring backpack school supplies by this date and put them in the container at the back of the sanctuary.
Sept 3 – 6 Family Camp at Camp Emmanuel
September 8 Church Board
We can still use 2 more delegates for District Conference, November 5 (worship) and 6 (business). It is virtual this year, so you won’t have to leave your arm chair. Talk to Carol or Larry if you are willing.
October 2 All church wiener roast sponsored by Women’s Fellowship
October 9 Rummage sale at Brethren Church to benefit the Lord’s Storehouse. Take items to Katie or Amy.
Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you!
Donation Box: AC Bills
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
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Keep in Your Prayers
Mike Martin family; Marge Starr and family; Jen Durst; Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); Tera Runyan; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Anna Gentry Thompson; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 635,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Church of the Brethren vision statement:
Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.