The Holy Spirit and Missions!
Scripture reading for June 19th: Acts 12:24-13:15
We see the Holy Spirit deeply involved in the missions effort of the early church. At Antioch, the church met with various prophets and teachers gathering together for worship and fasting. During a worship service, the Holy Spirit spoke through one of the prophets, giving a word of knowledge and instruction. “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) The church continued the time of fasting and worship and then laid hands on these men and sent them on their journey. The Holy Spirit had already been leading them and this word confirmed that now was the time to go.
They went by boat to the Island of Cyprus. They went to the Jewish synagogues and preached to the Jews the word of Christ. As they traveled, they met a Jewish false prophet and sorcerer named Elymas, who was an attendant to Sergius Paulus, the Proconsul of the island. Sergius Paulus sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. They were opposed by Elymas and he tried to hinder their ministry. The Holy Spirit rose up in Saul (Paul), and he looked at this sorcerer and rebuked him: “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” (Acts 13:10-11) This blindness came on Elymas immediately and when the Proconsul saw this happen, he believed!
These missionaries traveled from city to city, led by the Holy Spirit. Their pattern was to go first to the Jews and preach Jesus Christ. When opposition arose from the Jews and religious spirits, they went to the God-fearing Gentiles who were open to be saved. (Acts 13:42-48) This was the word of the Lord that they followed and God through the Holy Spirit brought a harvest among the Gentiles! When persecution came up against them, they did what Jesus had taught them, shaking the dust from their feet they went to another city! (Acts 13:51-52) Even with the persecution, these disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit!