Barnabas and Saul Sent Off
 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Barnabas and Saul on Cyprus
 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.  When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.  When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus.  He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.  But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.  But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him  and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?  And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.  Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. (ESV)
- Prayer and fasting
In this text, the Holy Spirit calls out Paul and Barnabas for a particular missionary venture. This call, however, came in the context of worship, devotion, prayer, and fasting. As the Church pursued God through worship and devotion, God spoke to the Church. How did the Holy Spirit speak to the Church? Well, we don’t exactly know. But we do know that this encounter occurred in the context of worship. As we meet God in worship, he directs our steps.
- A real and present darkness
In our last text, we were confronted with angels who are sent by God to help his people. In this text, we see that there are also very real dark realities at work in this world seeking to deceive people. Elymas was a Jewish magician and false prophet. He was an evil man and an enemy of God who sought to distract others from the truth of God. Paul called him a “son of the devil” (Acts 13:10). Christians need to understand that these enemies exist and that there are dark spiritual realities behind these people who seek to undermine the truth and work of God.
- Jesus wins
Elymas sought to distract and deceive the proconsul, that he might eternally suffer. But Jesus saved the proconsul. Ironically, Elymas, a man who claimed to be able to see, was stricken with blindness, while the proconsul was given sight to see the truth and glory of God in Christ. Jesus always wins.
- The Church encountered God in the context of worship, prayer, and fasting. How are you doing in personal spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, and fasting?
- Have you ever personally encountered a uniquely evil person like Elymas who intentionally sought to distract and deceive people? How did you respond?
- Sergius Paulus was the proconsul of Cyprus. He served in an official political office much like that of a governor. Paul taught him the Gospel and Sergius became a Christian. How might this text challenge the assumptions we make regarding the separation of Church and state?
Call to Worship
Unless the LORD Builds the House
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
 Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
O God, we have no merit; let the merit of Jesus stand for us. We are undeserving, but we look to your tender mercy. We are full of sin; you are full of grace. You have given us your Son, Jesus, and now our hearts are turned towards holiness. Help us in all our doings to mortify our sin and pride. Save us from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ's nature be seen in us day by day. We pray in Jesus’ name and for His glory. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.