You have believers reaching out to non-believers and Satan steps in to stop the work of God. How do you fight against the powers of evil in this world?
A. When a church wants to get to work doing it mission to reach out with the gospel message, the first place start is with God. It is not with a mission committee, an outreach committee, a small group, a preacher doing a series of sermons or an eldership having an evangelistic desire. It starts when a church decides to go to God in prayer.
B. If you believe that good growth, deep maturity, and spiritual conviction will happen in this church by you attending a Sunday morning assembly you are mistaken. Your presence here is appreciated and needed, but that won’t overly change this local body. If you believe that God has called the Whitehall Church of Christ to serious spiritual growth that may even result in serious numeric growth and whole-hearted devotion by us as members, then start in prayer.
C. We don’t talk much about fasting as it seems to be more of a religious duty or a forced guilt-trip action than it is a personal compelling desire for Christians today. But when you combine fasting with prayer, one thing you often see in scripture is that God begins to work in people and situations that they did not see before. I believe God is always at work, but I don’t see his work or enter his work because I am too busy doing my life than walk in His ministry.
D. There are more reasons people give me for not fasting and praying than there are people compelled to fast and pray. I understand health constraints. I understand low sugar gitters. I understand that we are not commanded to fast. But I also know that combination of group fasting and praying in seeking God’s wisdom and guidance is effective. I don’t have to understand how it works to believe it. I don’t how my engine works, but I still drive my car.
E. I am not here to tell you to fast, I believe that is something you need to feel compelled to do. But when the church leaders in Antioch came together they spent some time in prayer and fasting. They were seeking God and God moved among them. The church had prophets there and somehow the HS spoke to this group and said, (Acts 13:2-3).
I. God’s Missionary Journey
A. When you start doing the work that God has placed upon you to do, watch out! When you are tuning in to God and leaving self-centered living, watch out! When you start down a path of righteousness of His name sake, watch out! Let me tell you, that God is not the only one in this spiritual world at work.
B. I love to be excited about God’s work. Sometimes I get nervous because God often does things in ways I am not expecting. But as I keep step with the Spirit, I know that no matter what happens next, God’s will is being done. That will might cost me relationships, it might cost me money, it might cost me time, and it might cost me my life, but if it is God’s will, then it is the right place to be. So Antioch, not Jerusalem, becomes the beginning point for a missionary journey. From one of Cyprus to the other Barnabas and Saul proclaimed the word of God to the Jews. Isn’t this good stuff? Don’t you get excited when you are on God’s missionary journey? I hope you feel that way. Because I believe you are on God’s missionary journey.
C. Paul tells the church in Ephesus that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10) Jesus would tell the crowds you are the light of the world and a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Paul would tell the Philippians, “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Your life is God’s missionary journey. So get excited about living, and live a life that draws people to Him. But watch out! This missionary journey of life is not without opposition. There is an enemy out there watching you.
II. Paul Stands Against Elymas
A. Barnabas and Saul are doing such a mighty work on the island of Cyprus that the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, summoned them to hear the word of God. Look at the opportunity that God had opened up for them. But Bar-Jesus, known in Greek as Elymas, a magi or sorcerer opposed them because he did not want the proconsul to become a Christian. Elymas was a schemer. You can call yourself Bar-Jesus (son of Jesus/Joshua), you can call yourself a magician, but Saul, who is now being called Paul, tells him exactly who he is: (verses 9-10).
B. Son of the devil! You see, when you start with God in prayer and live a life of a purpose, a mission, that God directs, watch out because the devil will step in to stop God’s plan. I want you to know what you are going to face as you decided to live out your missionary journey with God. You will face people who call themselves sons of Jesus, but are really sons of the devil. You face opposition to your work and you will be called upon to decide what you will do. Do you stand up and face the evil or do you back away?
III. Our Fight!
A. Brethren, we are at war! We are at war with the devil and we need to step up the fight. Paul told us (Eph. 6:10-13). Listen to Peter (1 Pet. 5:6-11). If Satan was willing to meet Jesus head on in the wilderness and seek to tempt him, what makes us think that he will not come after the church collectively and individually? Brethren, it is time to take up the spiritual fight.
B. Read the book of Revelation, and understand that great dragon, the devil, is making war against you (Rev. 12:13-17). If you keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus then know that he is after you. The more you live out the missionary journey of which God has called you, the more intense this spiritual battle becomes at times.
C. Satan did not want Sergius Paulus to come to know Jesus in a saving manner. This man had influence with his political ties. So he uses Elymas to stand in the way. I may not have the miraculous power that Paul had, but I love what happens at the end of our first stop on this missionary journey. (Read Acts 13:11-12) I love it when a plan comes together.
A. What about you? Are you a Barnabas or Saul that have set out on a spiritual missionary journey? Are you ready to spread the gospel message to those around you? Maybe you have faced your devil and realize how difficult it is to stand firm against his ways. But stand you can for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. But maybe you are here today and you are Sergius Paulus. You are a person of value and worth that wants to know Jesus but has something standing in your way.
B. The power of gospel can set us free from the hold of sin and death. You can choose this day to watch the devil fall at this point in your life and believe in the teaching of the Lord. If we can walk with you on that spiritual journey, the come as we stand and sing.