Summary: If we serve the Lord in the Spirit's power, God will assist and bless our efforts.

The Holy Spirit vs. A Spiritual Nuisance

(Acts 13:4-12)

1. The Upshot newsblog carried a breath-taking article this week:

Jordan Rice, a 13-year-old Australian boy, has emerged as a tragic-heroic figure in news accounts of the disastrous Australian floods, after he asked a rescuer to save his little brother, Blake, before himself. Jordan Rice and his mother, Donna, were swept away by floodwaters and drowned before rescuer Warren McErlean could return for them.

2. Now I know nothing of this boy's spiritual background, so it could be that the Holy Spirit helped him to make such a sacrificial choice. But even the human spirit, being in the image of God, tainted and corrupted as it is by sin, is capable of amazingly selfless choices. As Paul says, "perhaps for the good man, someone might dare to die."

3. The Holy Spirit, however, is able to help the believer exceed his own limits. Through the Holy Spirit, we can enter battle in the spiritual realm and prevail. If we nurture ourselves on the things of God, the Holy Spirit can get more of us. And the more He controls us, the more useful we are to our Lord and King. My main idea today is:

If we serve the Lord in the Spirit's power, God will assist and bless our efforts.

I. The Spirit Leads Us to SHARE CHRIST (4-5)

A. Led by the SPIRIT (4)

What we have are highlight events. Paul preached in many places; notable samples.

B. Began in the SYNAGOGUE: The Jew first (5a) what this tells us…

1. Paul remained kosher

2. The Jews have a special place in God's program

3. Salvation from the Jews, (John 4), and should seek to reach the Jews

4. Unbelieving Jews are just as lost as unbelieving gentiles

C. Developed a TEAM (5b)

1. Many Christians are drawn to the cult of the personality, a preacher that resonates

2. But kingdom work is team-play

3. The biggest need in the ministry: the gift of helps, mercy, and hospitality…not everyone has these; we can all do, but those with the gift do so eagerly, joyfully

• picking up people for church,

• setting up tables,

• doing housework for someone who is ill and without local family,

• babysitting,

• running someone to the store or shopping for them

• cooking for a retreat

4. But these gifts require faithful commitment; a lot of people want to do these things when they feel like it, not when needed…or occasionally, not regularly…

5. In Acts 13:13, John Mark abandoned them; perhaps he did not have these gifts?

Application: When was the last time the Spirit led you to do something challenging for the Kingdom of God? Are you at His disposal?

If we serve the Lord in the Spirit's power, God will assist and bless our efforts.

II. The Spirit EMBOLDENS Us to Confront Spiritual Obstacles (6-11a)

A. Sometimes Bar-Jesus is really Bar-SATAN

1. The commonality of the name Yeshua

2. Jews were beginning to embrace magic; they opposed witchcraft, but many held to protective amulets or spells, curses or potions, supernatural knowledge, etc.

3. You need not be a scholar to observe that the Bible forbids all occult practice…

4. A few centuries after Jesus, leading rabbis embraced some magic. So we can only guess that this movement was building at this time… From Jewish Encyclopedia:

"Witchcraft" and "sorcery" are the terms used in the Bible to designate the practice of the arts of divination, which were tabooed by orthodox religious sentiment. As this orthodox sentiment was not a constant quantity, practices which at one time were regarded as innocent at another were relegated to the domain of sorcery or witchcraft. …[source: Jewish Encyclopedia article on magic]

5. We met Simon the sorcerer earlier in Acts 8:9/ Common for Roman leaders

6. Once God's people begin adopting beliefs from false religions and mix them, this is called "syncretism." a corrupted hybrid versions of our faith …church history

7. It was happening in Jesus' day within Judaism, too.

8. And it is happening now as Christians speak of good karma or reincarnation

B. Evil forces seek to PREVENT people from believing

• It is amazing how one person can set a tone; schoolteachers…even in a church

• Some people have a personality that simply controls others, like Elymas

• It takes a long time to build up, but tearing down can happy in an instant

• Evil is the ruining of the good

• Sergius Paulus is an intelligent man, "sunetos" meaning one able to put things together. We would now say, "someone who could connect the dots."

• Yet an intelligent man is controlled by a false prophet magician

• Even Christians can stand in the way of others believing

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