Paul’s First Missionary Journey

Scriptures: Acts 13:2-4, 38 & Galatians 2:11-16

Pastor Clyde’s November 6, 2016 Sermon

Acts 13:2-4, 38

(2) While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (3) So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (4) The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.

(38) “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

Galatians 2:11-16

(11) When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. (12) For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. (13) The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

(14) When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

(15) “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles (16) know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

1. There once was this guy who went out into the desert to commune with nature and get totally away from it all.

2. He gets up in the morning to watch the sunrise and it is beautiful. Walking back to camp, he sees a lever sticking up out of the ground.

3. Curiosity gets the best of him and he walks over to it and he is just about to push it when a voice out of nowhere shouts, “Don’t touch that lever!”

4. He stops and looks around. He finally sees a snake who yells again, “Don’t touch that lever!”

5. “Who are you?” “My name is Nate,” says that snake. “I am here to protect that lever. If that lever is pushed, it will move the foundation of the world and we will all be destroyed. The world will end.”

6. The man thought that it was unbelievable. He had stumbled on the story of a lifetime. He wanted to take Nate to New York to tell his story, but Nate would not leave the lever.

7. Finally, he convinced Nate to allow him to bring the cameras there to tell his story so that no one would ever make the mistake of moving the lever.

8. He did this and the show was off the scales in popularity.

9. A few months later, a couple of oil trucks were coming through the desert when one of them sprung a leak.

10. The other one hit the oil and began to swerve out of control.

11. It was headed right for the lever and disaster.

12. The truck driver remembered the show on TV and Nate. He fought the wheel with every last bit of energy he had and managed to miss the lever.

13. Unfortunately, he hit Nate and squashed him.

14. Looking out the window, he thought, “Well, better Nate than lever.”

15. We are going back to our series on Paul this week.

16. We said that Paul is the second most influential person in the history of Christianity. He took the ideas of Jesus and formed them into a theological whole.

17. I am going to be giving a lot of information today but there is a difference between a lecture and a sermon.

18. In a lecture, you are trying to convey the information in the most interesting way possible.

19. In a sermon, you are still trying to do the same thing but you also want to apply some of the principles of the material to your life. In other words, how does this information affect my walk of faith?

20. Now, where did we leave Paul?

21. We spent the first sermon on Paul’s early years and the second sermon on the so-called lost years of Paul.

22. Today we want to look at the first missionary journey of Paul.

23. It says in the lesson that we read from Acts that Paul and Barnabas were in Syrian Antioch and were at worship.

24. It says that while they were worshiping, the HS said to set Paul and Barnabas apart for the work that he had for them.

25. They prayed and fasted as a group and then sent them on their journey—and they went.

26. This is the first point I want to make today—they were called while they were worshipping.

27. Why do you suppose that God called them during worship?

28. Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.

29. The OT says that God dwells in the praises of his people.

30. I believe that we most often hear the call of God on our lives in the context of worship. Even if God calls us while we are out in a field, that call is validated in worship.

31. I believe that if you come with the proper attitude, then God calls you to some mission every time you worship.

32. If you miss worship, you will miss that call on your life.

33. When we come together to praise God, sing songs, have fellowship, hear the Word preached, take the sacraments—we are opening ourselves to God’s call.

34. I know that, in my own life, I have found forgiveness and the call to go farther in my service to God most often in worship.

35. Each week, we have ways that you can serve; we talk about mission trips and service opportunities.

36. It may be that none of that is where God is calling you to go but he will reveal it if you listen.

37. Perhaps we are called to do a food drive or raise money or give money or help with winter coats.

38. Worship is a time we should be turning our hearts to God and listening for his call.

39. I will tell you what worship is not—it is not entertainment.

40. We can have fun and top quality music and all the bells and whistles but it is useless if we do not turn our hearts to God.

41. If all we want is a good time, then go to Disney World.

42. People in Asia and Africa are worshipping in fear of a horrible death but they still hear the call of God. They do not need the loudest band or the biggest projection screen.

43. God called Barnabas and Paul in the context of worship and they went.

44. Where did they go? First, they went to Cyprus which was the home of Barnabas. They preached at Pathos where they converted the Roman governor.

45. Let me just say that there were many adventures that you can read about in Acts. The first journey covered 1580 miles over sea and land. It cost about 2/3 of a year’s pay.

46. Then they went to Perga which was on the coast of Asia Minor or what is today Turkey.

47. They did not stay at Perga which was unusual; Paul usually spent time in every stop.

48. It is possible that the reason they did not stay is revealed in Galatians 4. It says that Paul came to them because of a bodily infirmity.

49. One thing about Perga—it is very hot and humid during the summer. If Paul was sick, then it makes sense that he would go up through the mountains to the Anatolian plateau where Galatia was located.

50. He wanted to go to the cool of the mountains rather than stay in Perga.

51. We do not really know what disease bothered Paul. Many think it had something to do with his eyes since he writes that the Galatians would have torn out their eyes for him.

52. Later Paul writes with very big letters.

53. At any rate, they come to Pisidian Antioch. There were at least 12 Antiochs; this one is in Galatia.

54. At Pisidian Antioch, there was a large theater that seated 15,000.

55. There was also a new temple dedicated to the Emperor Augustus who had recently died.

56. In this temple was a plaque that Augustus wrote himself and has 15 paragraphs about his accomplishments.

57. You might recognize some of the titles he gives himself—King of Kings; Prince of Peace, Savior.

58. Paul goes to the synagogue and preaches about Jesus the Messiah.

59. He is invited back and the whole town turns out.

60. What happens? It says that the leaders of the synagogue and others were so jealous that they stirred the people up against them.

61. Why do we get jealous? It is insecurity.

62. Even preachers get insecure. Maybe we don’t want you to have the best preachers when we are gone because you might not miss us.

63. What do the people that we hire say about us? Do we want the very best people even if they might show us up at times?

64. How many times have you seen or experienced this jealousy. You might be doing a fantastic job but the boss keeps undermining you. It is probably jealousy.

65. There are at least three ways to handle insecurity.

66. One is to always surround yourself with inferior people. In that way, you will never be shown up but you will never reach your fullest potential.

67. A second way is to heap abuse on others; that is what they did in Galatia. You might say, “Yeah, Joe did a great job with the Trustees but did you hear what is going on in his life?”

68. A third approach is to celebrate that you have good people and things are getting done.

69. At any rate, Paul is run out of town and goes to Iconium. Large number of people come out to hear Paul.

70. But there are people who are so jealous and insecure that they hatch a plot to kill Paul.

71. So now Paul has been run out of town and people have plotted to kill him. Does he turn for home?

72. Of course not. He goes from Iconium to Lystra where he heals a crippled man.

73. Some people want to worship them as gods but Barnabas and Paul say they only preach Christ.

74. Just when things are going well, people arrive from Iconium and Pisidia Antioch to spread falsehoods about Paul.

75. They actually take Paul out of town and stone him but he survives.

76. Paul is still not finished. He goes from Lystra to Derbe where pretty much the same things happen over again.

77. Surely, he is ready to go home now. No! He goes from Derbe back to Lystra to Iconium to Pisidian Antioch to Perga. Finally he goes back to Syrian Antioch where the journey started.

78. I think that you can figure out my last point—Paul did not give up.

79. We all run into obstacles and difficulties; the people who change the world never give up.

80. Are we willing to keep battling for the Lord until he calls us home?