Recorded on November 3rd, 2019
God moves Paul and Barnabas from city to city so that He can create the first Christian missionaries. How do Paul and Barnabas as missionaries influence our lives and why does it even matter that they were missionaries? As Christians, what is our mission?
Transcript of Sermon:
[Music] today’s scripture is acts 14 137 at ICON at Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue there they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed but the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers so pollen burn one of the scent considerable time they’re speaking boldly for the Lord who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders the people of the city were divided some sided with the Jews others with the Apostles there was a plot afoot amongst both Gentiles and Jews together with their leaders to mistreat them and stone them but they found out about it and fled to the like anuman cities of lystra and derbe and surrounding countries where they continued to preach the gospel for the word of God for the people of God thanks to the good children the kids can go out and have fun well just so you know I also am NOT pastor ELISA I’m Alan roots I am a member here I am kind of guessing that I must be the only one that is not afraid of making a fool of myself no I take I’m just kidding I enjoy giving the message today and lt I hope you can hear me all right all right today I have us taking a look at Paul and Barnabus and not necessarily the beginning of their ministry but also not long after they had started the scripture today is from acts 14 1 through 7 we find Paul and Barnabas at Iconium and as is the usual custom they have gone to the Jewish synagogue which is their familiar pattern for evangelism Paul and Barnabas started out in Antioch but end up leaving Antioch under duress while in Antioch they were being persecuted and there was a threat against them to be stoned they move on to Iconium and as is Paul and Barnabas custom go to the synagogue to speak where they find many Jews and Greeks as they speak to the many Jews and Greeks there are more and more that believe now our scripture says a great number of Jews and Greeks believed so Paul didn’t tell the Jews one thing and the Greeks another he was telling them both about the gospel equally the gospel that says that salvation is in Jesus and we get to have this salvation through our belief in Christ Paul and Barnabas are excited about all the new leavers that they are getting for Jesus and of course it helps when the Holy Spirit tells them it’s all right to allow Gentiles become Christians as we heard a couple weeks ago from pastor ELISA Paul and I each have at least one thing in common we both when we find something we’re comfortable with we want to stay with it neither one of us likes to move on to something else I say this because according to the scripture and different commentaries that I’ve read for Acts Paul and Barnabas stayed at Iconium for an extended amount of time and we all like to stay within our comfort zones we don’t like to be forced into doing something we don’t want to do or that we don’t like to do Paul like to stay in a region strengthening the churches that he started and working where evangelistic efforts had already borne fruit God on the other hand wanted to move Paul along to get him evangelizing in other places so Paul and Barnabas are getting more and more people to follow Christ and this apparently doesn’t set too well with the Jews as is the case in many instances some of the Jews didn’t believe these Jews that didn’t believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds but this didn’t even faze Paul and Barnabas they just worked that much harder from Acts 14 3 so Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there speaking boldly for the Lord who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders have you ever been somewhere and you felt uncomfortable you may have gotten a feeling that you didn’t belong or that your being there was not approved of maybe you were all dressed up for an occasion and found out when you got there it was supposed to be casual or the other way around where you should be dressed up and you showed up in jeans and a t-shirt you almost can’t wait to get out of there or you actually do leave early not so of Paul and Barnabus they stayed for a considerable time why why did Paul and Barnabus decide to stay a long time if there was opposition arising they had to have known that it was dangerous but Paul and Barnabas were in their comfort zones they were racking up new Christians for Christ Daly they were teaching the gospel to all that would listen and there were a lot of people listening in their minds Paul and Barnabas knew that these new Christians would need all the training and knowledge that they could get to stand strong in a city where there was so much opposition towards Christians and Paul and Barnabas also knew they were the only ones that could teach them you ever felt that way you don’t want to delegate that responsible because you can do it better I know I have or at least I have thought I could do better than someone else Paul and Barnabas started this church and they felt it was their responsibility to make sure it was done in the proper way but God thought differently from acts 1447 the people of the city were divided some sided with the Jews others with the Apostles there was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews together with the leaders to mistreat them and stone them but they found out about it and fled to the laconian cities of lystra and derbe and to the surrounding country where they can sit continued to preach the gospel there was a plot afoot don’t you just love some of the wording in the Bible makes it sound as if it’s a modern mystery or thriller when they are forced to do to a threat of stoning Paul and Barnabas leave Iconium for lustrum which is about 20 miles away and Derby which appears to be about 40 to 50 miles from Lystra this attempt to persecute confirms that Paul and Barnabas were walking in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ it also fulfills the prophecy of Jesus when he called Paul and was speaking to Ananias from acts 9 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name because Paul and Barnabas spent quite a bit of time speaking boldly for Jesus Jesus confirmed the message that they were giving about Jesus’s grace the message was confirmed by enabling them to perform signs and wonders this was God’s Way of answering the prayer of the believers and this is only a small part of that prayer from acts 4 29 and 30 now Lord consider their threats and enable their servants to speak your word with great boldness stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders to the name of your holy servant Jesus when I read this passage from Acts 14 about Paul and Barnabus and how they were forced to move from one city to another how God got them to move out of their comfort zones and start again in other locations my first thought was missionaries can you imagine what it might have been like for us if Paul and Barnabas had not gone out and spread the gospel to those surrounding cities and if those Jews and Gentiles had not listened and believed if Paul and Barnabas had refused to move from their comfort zones I read ahead into the rest of Acts 14 and found it interesting that while in Lystra the people thought Paul and Barnabas were gods with Barnabas being Zeus and Paul being Hermes because Hermes was a chief speaker that Greek gods the people wanted to offer sacrifices to them but of course Paul and Barnabas wanted nothing to do with sacrifices as I read a little further ahead the scripture said from acts 14 1920 then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city thinking he was dead but after the disciples had gathered around him he got up and went back into the city the next day he and Barnabas left for Derby we might be living as pagan us living in spiritual darkness and superstition had it not been for the early Christian missionaries taking the gospel to Europe consider for a moment how our lives could be different if it weren’t for missionaries we could be worshipping Zeus Hera and the Greek gods of old or all of the 28 different druid gods none of which appear to be in charge or maybe we would want more Native American gods because as we live here in North because we live here in North America Native Americans have old seemed to believe in the Great Spirit first with any number of lesser gods following all depending upon the situation at hand keep in mind that is only if Christianity had not been spread through missionaries so Paul and Barnabas start out from Antioch as the first missionaries and that send-off was started with prayer as they were under threat of stoning they arrived at Iconium where they convert many Jews and Gentiles to Christianity but because of the anger of the unconverted Jews and the Gentiles there’s a plot afoot to stone Paul and Barnabas so they move to the cities of Lystra where Paul is stoned and then to Derby so after threat of stoning in Antioch and Iconium the Jews finally get their way and get to stone Paul it would seem that the way the Jews were thinking is the best way to do away with this new Christianity movement was to get rid of the leaders a quote that I found that goes with acts 14 5 says the inner resistance to repentance is so strong that many would rather deny the wonders of God and destroy his messengers than look inward and change and that quote is from the commentary of the Orthodox Study Bible if you destroy the messenger then you won’t have to change if you destroy the messenger you won’t need to repent of your since you can keep doing as you are doing and your life will turn out just fine we don’t need to repent of the salvation of our souls so go ahead shoot the messenger get rid of the missionary because they make you feel uncomfortable what is a true believer or should I ask who is a true believer it’s nearly impossible for us to have clear-cut rules and laws to determine who is a true believer who has been saved and who has not God on the other hand is able to tell and there is no question with him I read that there is a thing called intellectual faith a person that is in has intellectual faith goes through the motions of faith joining the church being baptized and actually having and seeing changes in their lives yet they can still come up short of the real salvation of Christ each believer must determine themselves for themselves if they have truly received Christ as their Savior Paul and Barnabas being true believers and now missionaries keep running into hardships have to keep moving from city to city to speak and convert they continue to be opposed by the Jews continue to have threats against them and yet still stay strong and speaking for God speaking for Christ I got thinking about Paul and Barnabas as being missionaries and I couldn’t help but wonder why we don’t hear of many missionaries in the United Methodist Church the definition I got of a missionary is a person sent on a religious mission especially one cent to promote Christianity in a foreign country a missionary is a person who was sent on a religious mission Paul and Barnabus had a mission they were to go out and talk to and convert Jews and Gentiles to Christianity Paul’s first missionary trip was all within about 200 miles from his hometown of Tarsus he didn’t go to the foreign countries until his second and third missionary trips I’d like to read part of an account of a modern-day missionary to you Africa Asia South America very real unreached mission fields with physical emotional spiritual needs the USA 318 million people a very real overlooked missions filled with physical emotional and deep spiritual needs as missionaries my husband and I are called to this country this America these people a nation so filled with diversity history and passion as a Canadian this was not ever where I thought God would call me I was taught a lot about the USA none of it positive and I carried these impressions and assumptions into my adult life but as God does he asked me to do something way outside my comfort zone and moved to Texas he challenged me to look at this place through his eyes and though thing and those things that I saw as negatives turned into amazing qualities what I thought was crazy zealous patriotism became loyalty and passion stubbornness on miles now see his great leadership and debt this nation has amazing godlike qualities that are often made to look ungodly Paul said in Christ we though many form one body and each member belongs to all the others Romans 12:5 we are missionaries in America we often work with churches organizations and ministries across the country even though not everyone we work with is impoverished or desperate for help God still provides miraculously he heals he feeds and the Holy Spirit Allah is alive and working all over we are so blessed to be hands and feet of God who loves this country these people so much Josh and Alex Sink now this account made me realize I don’t need to go to deepest darkest Africa I don’t need to be like Katharine Hepburn’s dear brother in the movie The African Queen and live in a foreign country if I want I can be a missionary right here in America there are lots of churches where the youth and leaders go on mission trips each summer some to the Appalachian Mountains into some of the poorer communities others go to areas where there’s been a natural disaster still others stay right within their own communities so to be a missionary all you really need is a religious mission I remember having to read a book for English class when I was in ninth grade the title of that book is the cross and the Switchblade I don’t recall a whole lot of the story but I can still recall what I think is the basic storyline and the message it was about a gang member in New York City in the 50s this gang member is always getting into fights with other gangs and I think he may have been a gang leader at one point but the story is about this gang member finding Christ and how Christ changed his life he went from a life devoted to violence to a life devoted to Christ after devoting his life to Christ he didn’t go out become a minister he stayed in New York City where he would go out and talk to other gang members about Christ he stayed in his own community working as a missionary and helping his community a person that is a missionary as a person that has a religious mission a mission that is born from a belief in Christ we as a church have a mission statement our mission statement to love God love people and to be God’s light for the transformation of our community our mission statement says that we are working in our community for its transformation that our mission is to transform our community through the our belief in Christ doesn’t that make each of us missionaries I used to think I had to go to a foreign country such as Africa or South America somewhere that is remote where you don’t speak the language to be a missionary because that is where you will find people that need to have Christ brought into their lives then I realized I don’t need to go to an area like where the movie deliverance that I don’t need to go to an area like that I could go to an area like where the movie deliverance was filmed a rural community where job opportunities don’t present them themselves on a daily basis a community where the living is hard where the people live paycheck to paycheck but you know there are a lot or even most of those people who have heard of Christ so is this where a missionary is truly needed when Kay and I lived in South Carolina we attended a church that one of their missions was to fix people’s homes for them if they were unable to do it for themselves some of the people in the congregation would join up in four or six person teams and go out into the community for two or three days each year and repair homes some were minor repairs others were major repairs the workers were aged from early teen to 70s and 80s and the talents were from craftsmen down to not a clue but all were willing to help there were carpenters plumbers roofers car carpet people and even those that would rake the leaves the mission project all happened within a 15-mile radius of that church we didn’t need to speak a foreign language we didn’t need to travel for a week to get where we were going and we didn’t need to have a skill that allowed us to do it all all that was needed was a willing heart and spirit that said I want to do this out of love I want to do this for Christ to be a missionary is to have a religious mission a mission that is born from a belief in Christ I have we have a mission that mission is to love God love people and shine God’s light for the transformation of our community if as a church we follow this mission statement that makes each one of us and missionary acts 14:22 B says we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God we each have our own idea of what a hardship is just as each believer must determine for themselves if they have truly received Christ as their Savior no one but the individual and God can answer these questions Paul went through many hardships in his life one of which is the stoning he received and Lystra but did Paul consider this to be a hardship we think of it as a hardship but what did Paul think I don’t know what Paul thought but I think Paul was an optimist and saw an opportunity to speak for Christ everywhere he went do we see life the same as Paul are we even close to being missionaries like Paul and we’re when we’re out in the community do we speak for Christ or do we often too often consider speaking for Christ doing for Christ being as Christ to be too much of a hardship Paul was a missionary and he traveled because that was what God wanted of him we can be in our missionaries with our within our own community and only need to reach out to others within the community and one final set of questions for you did you know you were a missionary did you know that each time you said may God bless you to the person on the corner or the cashier in the store you were carrying out Christ’s mission did you know that each time you asked a blessing for your meal at a restaurant and the table across from you saw this act you were carrying out Christ’s mission did you know that each time you helped another person and had the love of Christ in your heart you were carrying out Christ’s mission did you know that every time we don’t do something for Christ’s because it’s too hard it gets easier to just not do anything at all some of us haven’t realized it but we are all Christians Christians called to be missionaries let us pray from the prayer of Ignatius of Loyola teach us a good Lord to serve you as you deserve to give and not to count the cost to fight and not to heed the words to toil and not to seek for rest to labor and not to ask for any reward except that of knowing that we do your will through Jesus Christ our Lord amen