Summary: Highs & Lows in Ministry. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
• When you read the book of Acts, don’t think villages, but cities.
• The church in the Book of Acts was almost entirely urban.
Quote Historian Wayne A. Meeks writes that;
“Within a decade of the crucifixion of Jesus, the village culture of Palestine had been left behind, and the Greco-Roman city became the dominant environment of the Christian movement”.
The church began in Jerusalem, and then spread to other cities,
• Including Samaria, Damascus, Caesarea, and Antioch in Syria.
• At least forty different cities are named in Acts.
• In fact in Acts chapters 13 and 14:
• Dr Luke describes Paul’s ministry in six different cities, (beginning and ending in Antioch).
• (1). Antioch in Syria (Chapter 13 verses 1-5).
• (2). Paphos (Chapter 13 verses 6-12).
• (3). Perga (Chapter 13 verse13).
• (4). Antioch in Pisidia (Chapter 13 verses 14-52).
• (5). Iconium (Chapter 14 verse 1-7).
• (6). Lystra (Chapter 14 verses 8-20).
• Then next week they go full circle and finish back at Antioch in Syria.
The title for this talk is Operation Yo-Yo.
• A Yo-Yo goes up and down, up and down;
• And chapters 13 and 14 are two chapters of highs and lows.
• Highs when circumstances favourable , then lows as circumstances change.
• Highs as people find Christ, then lows as people opposing the gospel.
• That Paul & Barnabus are first-time missionaries, they are two novices!
• They have never been in this situation before, and so they are still finding their feet.
• True, they were apostles, men of God.
• But they like us had to live out their faith in circumstances both good & bad.
• The apostles would have to learn;
• That it is through success & failure, through joy & sorrow and not around it or over it,
• And it is situations like the ones recorded in these chapters;
• That give substance to and make real the teaching of Paul in his letters.
• So having endured opposition an difficulties Paul could write;
• First hand practicle advice concerning trusting God and depending on him,
Quote Philippians chapter 4 verses 11b-13:
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.
In the following passage Paul models what he learned:
• Demonstrating the stability needed during life’s ups and downs.
• He shows us how we, too, can follow Christ . . . through it all.
Iconium - Division.
• Look back to chapter 13 verse 52:
• “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”.
• When the missionaries arrive in Iconium they are on a high.
• It doesn’t get much better than that! “Filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”.
• Iconium is in modern day Turkey,
• Today it is called Konya and it is the 4th largest town in Turkey,
• But in New Testament times it was a city.
• In fact it was a Greek city, and was a center of agriculture and commerce.
• Iconium, had become a Roman colony under Hadrian,
• But it remained predominately Greek in flavour and tone.
• Iconium had became an independent unit.
• As a Greek city, Iconium was governed by its assembly of citizens.
(1). High - Converts to Christ (vs 1):
“At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue.
There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed”
When Paul and Barnabas arrive in Iconium:
• They begin their ministry where any wise and experienced evangelist should,
• Where there are many people!
You don’t catch fish in a bucket, but on the riverbank.
• In the Book of Acts Paul & Barnabus have a plan of action for evangelism;
• They start by entering the Jewish synagogues and sharing the gospel there.
• Note: They are not exclusive because they move out the synagogue;
• Verse 1b tells us that they shared their message with Gentiles as well.
• And they spoke so persuasively that a great number of people believed,
• Both of Jews and of Greeks.
(2). Low - Opposition to the Apostles (vs 2)
“But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles,
and poisoned their minds against the brothers”.
• If you and I went to Southampton City center and started preaching;
• We might be heckled, or laughed at.