Bible Reading Day 187
Day 187: July 6 (Acts 13:1-23)
Antioch was a church full of life. There were Jewish and Gentile believers, and the leadership was diverse in gifting and heritage. After being a resource church for some time (sending a generous offering to the believers in Jerusalem during the famine), it now becomes a sending church. God speaks to the prophets and teachers on the leadership team and tells them to send Saul and Barnabas off on a journey.
This little missions team goes first to Cyprus (Barnabas’ home country). this was a natural choice as a starting point because they have an understanding of the culture. This may also be why Saul starts to use his Roman name Paul more than his Hebrew name Saul; for the sake of being more culturally acceptable.
Here in Cyprus they are able to influence the governor but there is resistance in the form of a sorceror called Elymas. It is common to see occult power close to governing authority because they share the same goal: to gain and exercise power. However, occult power is opposed to God’s power, and resists the spread of the good news. In this case, Elymas wants to stop the governor becoming a believer, but Paul accurately defines his motives and his spiritual state, and declares that he will be physically blind for a while (to match and expose his spiritual blindness).
This miracle convinces the governor to become a believer; not through fear of the consequences if he does not, but through respect for Paul’s integrity and faithfulness to God’s revelation.
From Cyprus they go on to a more challenging mission field: Pamphylia was wilder and less influenced by the Greek culture than other areas – it was the equivalent of going to “the wrong side of the tracks” and so John Mark decided not to continue with the rest of the team. Traveling inland, Paul and Barnabas arrive at Antioch of Pisidia (maybe attractive to them as a city with the same name as their recent home city). There they go into the synagogue and are invited to speak. Paul links the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, to the history of Israel and the highlights of God’s plan for the Jews. We will see the reaction to his message tomorrow, but for today let’s reflect on the courage of these men. They are full of the Holy Spirit, they have been set apart by their home church, and they are going to unknown and uncivilized places in order to tell the people there about the good news of Jesus.
You and I have similar opportunities each day – hostile or indifferent settings where we can make a difference when we are full of the Holy Spirit. Ask God to show you one for you to influence today!
Have a great day!