Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Missionaries

I wanted to say "The First Missionaries"
But that would be so wrong.
God used persecution to send every believer out as an emmissary of the Gospel.
He is shortly going to use famine to unite and grow the believers.
(What a mixed up way to accomplish his purposes!)

But now there are three believers who are going out very purposefully, under the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

1 -2The congregation in Antioch was blessed with a number of prophet-preachers and teachers:
Simon, nicknamed Niger,
Lucius the Cyrenian,
Manaen, an advisor to the ruler Herod,
One day as they were worshiping God
—they were also fasting as they waited for guidance—
the Holy Spirit spoke:
"Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do."
3So they commissioned them. In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying, they laid hands on their heads and sent them off."

This has been happening ever since.

The Holy Spirit calls. People respond. And the Gospel spreads around the world.

4 -5 "Sent off on their new assignment by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul went down to Seleucia and caught a ship for Cyprus. The first thing they did when they put in at Salamis was preach God's Word in the Jewish meeting places. They had John along to help out as needed.
6 -7They traveled the length of the island"

Their goal? Spread the good news.

Their method? Speak to believing Jews, in the places and at the times they were used to gathering to celebrate and learn about God.

Soon they have a power encounter...

"at Paphos (they) came upon a Jewish wizard who had worked himself into the confidence of the governor, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man not easily taken in by charlatans. The wizard's name was Bar-Jesus. He was as crooked as a corkscrew.
7 -11The governor invited Barnabas and Saul in, wanting to hear God's Word firsthand from them. But Dr. Know-It-All (that's the wizard's name in plain English) stirred up a ruckus, trying to divert the governor from becoming a believer. But Saul (or Paul), full of the Holy Spirit and looking him straight in the eye, said, "You bag of wind, you parody of a devil—why, you stay up nights inventing schemes to cheat people out of God. But now you've come up against God himself, and your game is up. You're about to go blind—no sunlight for you for a good long stretch." He was plunged immediately into a shadowy mist and stumbled around, begging people to take his hand and show him the way."

The governor already had an ear for spiritual things.

12"When the governor saw what happened, he became a believer, full of enthusiasm over what they were saying about the Master. "

Thus ends the first formal missionary visit.

But there were many before.
And there will be many more to come...

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