Summary: In this sermon, we finish the first missionary journey and make important lesson applications.
A. The classic joke or dig that preachers often endure is the one on this cartoon where the young man says, “When I grow up, I wanna be a preacher too…cuz you only work 1 day a week…”
1. Usually the preacher and the person laugh, because they both know it isn’t true and is just said in jest.
2. Most people are well aware of the fact that ministry is truly difficult and requires a lot of work and sometimes includes a good bit of criticism, sacrifice and suffering.
3. That is true for those in full-time ministry and is true for those who are ministry volunteers.
B. Few Christian leaders in any generation have suffered the criticism, attacks, and outright slander that Charles Spurgeon endured.
1. Some of this was inevitable, since Spurgeon was a world-renowned preacher. His critics attacked his teachings and his motives.
2. During one stressful period, he wrote a friend, saying: “Friends firm. Enemies alarmed. Devil angry. Sinners saved. Christ exalted. Self not well.”
C. Have you ever served and sacrificed to the point that you could say, “self not well”?
1. How much responsibility are you willing to shoulder for the sake of Christ?
2. How much time and energy are you willing to invest in doing the ministry of God?
3. How much of your money are you willing to sacrifice to support the work of God?
4. How much ridicule or criticism are you willing to put up with for the name of Christ?
5. These are penetrating questions, but important ones.
6. They either confirm that we are on track, or convict us for our lack of dedication in our service for the Lord.
D. It is helpful to be reminded periodically that Jesus made it very clear that the path of discipleship and ministry is difficult.
1. He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Lk 9:23-24).
2. The questions we need to continually ask ourselves are:
a. Am I denying myself and taking up my cross?
b. Am I losing my life for Jesus?
c. Is Christ and his church really the center of my life? Or is it just one of the many things I am a part of that makes me who I am?
E. What I hope we can be reminded of today is this: Every person who is truly pleasing to the Lord, is a person who gives themselves to the Lord in faithful service, sacrifice and suffering.
1. I want to help us evaluate whether we are truly giving ourselves to the Lord.
2. To do so today, we will return to the life of Paul and will pick up his story in Acts 14.
I. The Story
A. If you remember from the sermons in the last two weeks, Paul and Barnabas were sent out by the Holy Spirit from Antioch of Syria on what is known ass Paul’s first missionary journey.
1. They sailed to Cyprus and did ministry on both east and west coasts.
2. Then they sailed to Perga and went up to Pisidian Antioch where they spent a few weeks in ministry before they were expelled from the region.
B. Today we pick up their journey.
1. They traveled about 90 miles south east from Antioch to Iconium.
2. In Acts 14, the Bible says: 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. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. (Acts 14:1-4)
3. How interesting - they went as usual to the Jewish synagogue.
a. Even though they left Pisidian Antioch saying that they were turning their mission away from the Jews and focusing on the Gentiles, that didn’t mean they were leaving the Jews out completely.
b. Paul and Barnabas knew that in addition to having an effect on some Jews in the synagogue, they would also find many God-fearing Gentiles meeting at the synagogue.
4. We are told that they spoke so effectively, that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.
a. But as you would expect, the Jews who did not believe poisoned the people’s minds against Paul and Barnabas.
b. Amazingly, in spite of that, Paul and Barnabas stayed there a considerable time, and spoke boldly and the Lord confirmed their message with miraculous signs, which was the purpose of signs and wonders.