Road Trip: Week 1
Hey Man, man, I love that lyric. I know who I am because of who you are. Anyone else? Just want to have that be the first thing you read when you roll out of the rack every morning. Like it's just a good reminder. Well, hey, good morning. I'm so glad that you're here. Thanks for joining us in this room and for those of you online. Great decision. It's so fun to worship together and learn from God's word. We have a new teaching series that we're launching today. It's titled Road trip. We're continuing through the book of acts. You know, our previous series was scattered where you know the Jesus followers got scattered out of Jerusalem because of persecution and now road trip. It's Paul's missionary journeys. The baton of spreading the good news has been handed from Peter to Paul and they're going on a road trip.
And so if you've been around southeast for perhaps more than a year or so, you may remember we've had in the past complete reading guides to accompany each series. We, we kind of went away from this for a while and just did week by week giving you the reading guides, well for this road trip series for the next five weeks or so, all of the readings are right here in this packet and there's space for you to take some notes during your quiet time and so grab one of these on your way out or at the guest services counter. If you subscribe to the emails with the daily readings, you'll still get those in that fashion and can follow along there, but I want to make sure that we highlighted the reading guide, so road trip it's summer, right? People are going to be taking vacations and doing some traveling and I don't know about you, but every time I travel it just seems like something not really normal or expected happens.
Right. There's a good excitement that comes with travel, but then there's also the great unknown. I remember as a kid I was so nervous before vacations because I thought like, we're going to be driving for like 12 hours. How does my dad know the way? And I am like, when I'm a dad, I hope I know the way to take my family on vacation. Yeah. But I was also excited growing up in Iowa, we actually traveled out to Colorado three or four times for family vacations and I always remember how it would work out. Dad would be busy that day, packing up the van. You couldn't talk to dad, you know, mom was keeping the peace amongst myself and my three younger siblings and we all would always leave at 8:00 at night. Correction, we said we would leave at 8:00 at night, but it was probably about nine before we rolled out and got everything figured out.
My parents thought driving through the night to Colorado would be better, easier with the kids. And so that's what we did. And I remember one year we rolled into Denver a couple hours before we could get into the hotel and so he went to a city park. I don't remember exactly which one. It was kind of a smaller one in the Denver area. I remember there was a fire station across the street. I also recall my mom giving one of her classic mom pep talks, just seeing kids. Your Dad is driven through the night. He's really tired and he and he did this for you right now. He did this for you, so could you do something for him and for me to like we're gonna rest under the shade tree. Could you play at the playground please and just not argue with each other? Yes ma'am. Yes ma'am.
We can do that. We can do that. Mom. I don't think 80 or 90 seconds went by and my brother is just screaming at the top of his lungs and being the oldest child that you get blamed for everything. Amen. Right. And my mom says, Ben stopped using your brother and I'm like, mom, I'm not teasing him. He's bleeding. It wasn't one of those like little teeny tiny. I'll put a bandage on NFL. He was actually bleeding. What had happened was we immediately launched into a game of tag and I was hitting. I was chasing after my brother and he runs up the playground steps and kind of around the corner and up some more steps in and grabs the crossbar to the slide to fling himself down, but he flunked his head right into that crossbar and split it open and blood was like volcano hang out and his previously not red shirt turned red as we tried to stop the bleeding from the wound and we walked across the street to the fire station perhaps to try to figure out where to go to emergency room or something and the and the guys were like, well, just lay down on the concrete right here, and they stitched him up right there in the driveway of the fire station.
They even ask us for medical insurance or anything. It was perfect. I guess it ended up being one of those cuts that you think is going to be way way larger than it actually was. I think it only required two or three stitches and now his scars, like even minimal. It's just kind of a forehead wrinkle at this point and I just think, wow, I can't imagine my parents' thoughts about what's going through their minds through that experience, and you've had these types of things happen as well. These, these unintended experiences. When you go traveling, right? I asked you on facebook this week, hey, share some road trip type stories. I heard about flat tires and broken down vehicles and meeting really weird people and picking up hitchhikers and travel agents, taking it to the wrong town and leaving your keys at the Tsa airport and not realizing it until he got to the baggage claim at the other airport.
That's a doozy. Try to explain that one to your wife. Anyway, we all have these and you know what it's like to go on a road trip and sometimes when we engage in God's word, when we read these letters, these scriptures from a couple thousand years ago, it can be easy to think, oh well these people didn't experience things like that, but they actually did. When Paul was on this big road trip, he experienced some crazy things and we're going to read about it this morning. Acts 13 is going to be our playbook, so if you've got your Bible with you or a phone Bible App, take a minute to flip it open. All our scriptures come in from the first 13 verses of acts 13. The chapter 52 verses are so long and so I'm only going to cover the first part and I'm going to assign you perhaps for some light reading over lunch to read the rest of the chapter or sometime this week.
But I'm really excited for what we get to engage in because this is Paul taking the good news of Jesus out to people who have never heard the good news of Jesus before and some crazy stuff that's about to happen. So picture yourself with that feeling before you go on a road trip. That excitement perhaps that the nerves in your stomach of what's going to happen. The anticipation, and that's the setting for our story right now, beginning in verse one, among the prophets and teachers of the Church at Antioch. Of Syria, where Barnabas Simeon called the black man now a couple of notes on these guys. Barnabas, his real name was Joseph, but he was so much of an encourager that they gave him the name Barnabas because it means encourager. Think about that. He was so encouraging that they just changed his name to encourage her and and Simeon, they just call it out.
He's from Nigeria and they just call him the black man. All right, so we're going to learn about these guys quickly in order perhaps of their age. Barnabas perhaps being the most mature and then Simeon and other teacher in the area along with Lucius from Irene, my Nan, that childhood companion of King Herod Antipas and saw. Now these five men are huddled up together. They are influential in Antioch. There teachers of the gospel of the good news because people have been flooding into this city. It's the movement, a big movement of Jesus followers following the way of Jesus, and these men are influential teachers in that area. They're so diverse with many different backgrounds, but the thing that they have in common is that they love Jesus. I think about this money in guy, he was a childhood friend of King Herod Antipas like talk about two kids going and polar opposite directions.
Herod Antipas was part of a ruler of the kings that were terrible on Christians and believed in false gods, and yet now minivan is telling people about Jesus in Antioch. Maybe you have a childhood friend to which this would kind of resonate with you. You think about your past that you've taken from childhood and they're total opposite directions. That's what's at play here with this man. Well, these guys are circled up and one day when they're gathered together, they're worshiping the Lord. They're fasting and the Holy Spirit says, appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them. Now, this point is a special word for a dedication, a very intentional, a missionary motivation here that that Barnabas and Saul are going to dedicate their lives to and you might think, well, we have missionaries today. Yeah, we do. We have people that we send out on short term and long term missions, and there's two aspects to identifying a missionary.
First, it's a personal calling from the Lord and inward response in someone's life. The works in this way, even today where someone is just sensing they're bursting at the seams because they want to go and serve the Lord, and then secondly, the outward confirmation from a congregation of of Jesus' followers. That's why before we have mission trips, we bring the missionaries up on stage and and we commissioned them and we pray for them as that outward confirmation of this call that the Lord has on their life and whether or not you are a missionary or have been a missionary. If you love Jesus and you follow Jesus, we should have a mission mindset that we should think. What do I appoint? What do I dedicate each day to the Lord of my time, talents, my resources, my skills, my thoughts? How do I use my influence for Jesus?
In this moment, the Holy Spirit has appointed Barnabas and Saul, and so after more fasting and prayer, these men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. Continuing Barnabas and Saul sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Solutia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus real places that you could even visit today. This marks the first missionary journey of Paul. Now about the island of Cyprus. Plenty of gentiles lived at this island, but they also had great pockets of Jewish population, and what's interesting is that Barnabas actually grew up on this island. Think about being Barnabas, how cool it must have been. He's known as the encourager, but think of how encouraged he would have been to take the good news of Jesus to his home. Ireland, I get fired up when when I learned something new or have a good experience.
I want to tell the people closest to me of who for who I love about it, and that's what Barnabas gets to do right now. He gets to go home and tell the people closest to them about the love of Jesus. If you're trying to figure out all of this geography in your head, well boom, we got a map here. This is the first missionary journey of Paul. It started way off to the right there. Antioch, that's in Syria. They traveled down to Solutia as we had read and made that 130 mile voyage by sea to solemness, landed there. That's actually where Barnabas was born and grew up, travel across Cypress, and then went by sea up to program Pacinian, Antioch, the city of Antioch is in Modern Day Turkey and if you do follow through on reading the rest of chapter 13, that's where they're going to travel and we're chapter 13 wraps up and presidio in Antioch, but for today we're going to focus on their time at the island of Cyprus.
Pathos is the capital city, yet so mis was by far the more influential city of the day, similar to how I think about America, Washington dc as our capital, but perhaps New York or Los Angeles are more influential on our culture and for this country. That's. That's kind of the dynamic that's going on here at Cypress. So you've got the map in your head and and here's we're going to continue the scripture in the town of Salinas. They went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God. John Mark went with them as their assistant and afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached payphones were they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar Jesus. Now this man was profiting off the name Jesus. He said that he talked like Jesus and walk like Jesus and performed miracles like Jesus.
But no sorry. Try again. He was a false prophet. He didn't represent Jesus in any sort of way other than being fake. It's Kinda like when someone says, hey, how about some macaroni and cheese? And you're thinking that good old fashioned southern cook and Mac and cheese, and they bust out a box. You're like, no, that is fake macaroni and cheese. I will pass right? That. That's kind of what's going on here. This bar, Jesus guy says he's Jesus, but I'm no totally fake. And this guy had attached himself to that Governor Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man and I was very common for governors, people in leadership to have a sorcerer as an assistant and Sergius Paulus was no difference. But Luke, the author of this letter that we're reading right now, he makes a note that surgery is Paula's was an intelligent man, and here's where we get to see it in action.
The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him for he wanted to hear the word of God. Economists you know that Bar Jesus guy, the sourcer as his name means in Greek, interfered and urge the government to pay no attention to what Barnabas. And Saul said, why? Well, if the governor is going to follow Jesus, then this elements character would realize that he is going to be out of aj o b. and he likes his job and so he doesn't want the governor to hear anything about Jesus. Now this is a strategy from Satan that is still happening to this day. Satan does not want people any sort of influence to know Jesus. Why? Because anyone in a powerful position is looked up to and would then be able to spread the gospel. And that's not what Satan wants. So he plays the hardest defense of people in power.
And if you think about our country, perhaps the richest in the world, may I suggest that he is playing the hardest defense on us because he wouldn't want our lives to be any sort of representation of Jesus. Satan plays defense against people in leadership positions. James Cook the great British explorer. He knew this principal, not necessarily even from a spiritual side, but just from a worldly side who's taking all sorts of expeditions by sea and losing sailors to scurvy, and he had to figure out why am I losing my men to this disease? Will he has this idea to get fermented cabbage and serve that on his expeditions? I Sauerkraut, Aka Sarika. I don't know about you, but sauerkraut. Can we agree that it's an acquired taste? Can we just put it at that? And so this guy's is gonna. Try to serve Sauerkraut to prevent scurvy.
If I'm on that ship, I might think, give me the scurvy please. So how is he gonna get his men to eat this? This is crazy food that they've never, ever been introduced to before. Will. Here's what he does for the two. First two weeks of a voyage, he allows only the captains and the officers to eat the sour Kraut, and by the end of two weeks, all of the regular people on board like give us the Sauerkraut, please, we want to eat the sour Kraut. Why? Because the people of influence, God to eat it and that that drew everyone else's minds to be fixed and will. It must be good and I should have it as well. James Cook knew that people of influence could spread their influence to make, make something happen, and Satan knows that as well and he plays defense on people who are in power and that's what [inaudible] is doing right now.
He doesn't want the governor to know Jesus at all because he's just concerned about his own job. Well, here's what happens. Paul Paul meets this guy, saw also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked at the sorcerer right in the eye before I tell you what he said, I love this footnote. This is the first time in scripture where we see Saul's name written as Paul, and you might think, oh, he had a name change will actually, it's just a different usage of. His name's Saul as the Hebrew Jewish usage of the name and Paul is a Roman usage. Kind of like, my name is Benjamin, but no one calls me Benjamin unless I'm in trouble or at the doctor, so you call me Ben. Right, and if I'm going on vacation and maybe getting a little crazy, I might go by Benji. You never know.
I'm not changing my name. It's just a different usage of my name and in different spots. That's what Paul is doing right now. He hasn't changed his name, but talking to in the. In the midst of a Roman official, under Roman influences going to go with the Roman version of his name, Paul. He looks this illness character in the eye and here's what he says, you son of the devil full of every sort of deceit and fraud and enemy of all that is good. Can we call a time out there is anyone wanted to say that to their kids before? Just me. Okay. Um, will you never stopped perverting the true ways of the Lord Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time. Here's the deal.
Sin always brings punishment and right now is being punished for his ways. We understand this as parents, right? If you have kids, you know you love your kids and you'll have to punish them from time to time and as God's children the same as true for us. And that's what's happening right here in this dynamic. And I find it very interesting that this temporary blindness that Paul through the Holy Spirit puts on illness is actually the same consequences. The same thing that happened to Paul when he was traveling on the road to Damascus, he was temporarily blinded. That's fascinating. And now he's watching this happen to another man. Bookmark that. I want to come back to it later. So Paul had said, you're going to be blind. Well, did it actually happen? Yes, instantly missed and darkness came over the man's eyes and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him, and when the governor saw what happened, he became a believer for.
He was astonished about the teaching of the Lord. I've actually misread this scripture before. In my own mind, I had thought, yeah, yeah. If I was the governor, I'd probably change my underwear and then become a Christian as well. You know, that's pretty scary stuff. I don't want to be temporarily blinded, but luke records the reason why he. He turned to Jesus because he was what? Astonished at the teaching he didn't. He didn't dismiss his brain or turn his brain off to follow Jesus. He used his brain and his intelligence to come to the Lord. And many people come to the Lord for various different reasons. Yes, maybe you've been scared into following Jesus because you don't want to spend eternity away from him or or perhaps manipulated by relationship or just trying something out. But I think it's incredible when in, in perhaps the truest form when we can be taught about Jesus and his love for us and out of that have a loving response to follow him as what happened here in this governor and the upper echelon of Roman society would have had influenced that, spanned all the way back to leadership in Rome.
This marks the end of our scripture reading, but, but keep your bookmark in your Bible. I want to revisit some verses here and highlight some things that will perhaps help you on your journey with Jesus. The first is this, that you may have failed, but you're not a failure. I remember the hot summer days when I'd go grocery shopping with my mom. I think these were days when we were in eight gallons of milk a week family and I would have to carry the gallons of milk in from the garage to the basement. And a few times I tried to carry more than perhaps I could. And one time specifically, I remember dropping a gallon and it shattering all over the driveway. And I was thinking, how am I going to clean this up before mom finds out and then realized terrible idea, oh no, oh, mom's going to be mad, but mom didn't cry over spilled milk and she did not yell either.
In fact, she said, Ben, it's all right. It's a couple bucks. Just take greater care. Next time I know you can do it, and perhaps my mom doesn't even remember that interaction, but for it was this principle in action that, hey, you may have failed, but you're not a failure. You still have used and purpose and worth and value. And it's the same way as we follow Jesus. Here's what we saw in action and what we just read. The men were worshiping together, fasting and the Holy Spirit says a point Barnabas and Saul will think about these characters. Think about these guys in their lives, saw, spent his time traveling around killing people who followed Jesus, and now God's going to say, Yo saw, keep traveling around, but you're gonna. Tell people about me. That's unreal in my minds. It makes me think what could ever I do that would put me out of God's use.
I don't think anything and for Barnabas he had traveled around telling people about Jesus, but he only focused on Jewish people. He ignored gentiles and now God is saying, Hey, Barnabas, go out and focus on the Jews and the gentiles and tell them the good news about me. Friends, you may have failed, but you're not a failure. What is it in your life that's dragging you down as perhaps a barrier between you and the Lord that has you thinking that, yeah, God can use them but not me, because because I have a failed relationship with my parents or or, or my kids don't talk to me or I don't. Don't talk to a sibling or I've failed at school or in my job or certain decisions that I've made. Lifestyle choices haven't honored God and there's no way that he could use me. But here's the deal.
On our road trip through life, as we're driving along, you can focus to look through the windshield or that rear view mirror. The rear view mirrors tiny, but for some reason we can get our eyes fixed on that just small little thing and freaking out and being weighed down by the failures of the past. Why would we focus on that rear view mirror when God has a windshield of purpose for us and can use US moving forward? You may have failed, but you're not a failure. You may have made a mistake, but you are not a mistake. Your sons and daughters of the Lord of the king, and so if this is you right now, my prayer would be that that you could perhaps realize or see that you're your greatest weakness or where you've let someone down or gone astray could actually be that place, that avenue that God would use to do an incredible work in your life and it'd be an exciting journey with Jesus.
Now there's more where this came from. Secondly, I think we we should take every opportunity to communicate the good news of Jesus. This is what happened as we read in the town of Salinas. They went to Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God, and I think if I, if I put myself in saul slash Paul's shoes, if I look at a synagogue that would probably remind me of the worst version of myself, because remember, when Saul was persecuting Christians, he was doing it in a synagogue. A place was all about the rules to connected to Jesus, to God, and if you did not follow the rules and meet the expectations of that standard, then you couldn't be with God. And now of course Paul knows the truth, that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins and it's not about upholding any rules other than love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and let that love influence the way you interact with your neighbors.
And I wonder if he just thought, Oh man, that synagogue. I don't know if I can do it. All the bad memories flooding in, but no, he knew the mission that he was on. He had to take the gospel of Jesus to the Jewish people in the synagogue. He had to start where they were and he humbled himself to do that and he shared the Jews and gentiles right there, and I think we could have a similar mindset to take the opportunities we have to communicate the good news of Jesus. Now to do this, you gotta know your testimony. If you follow Christ, you got to know, well, why do I follow Christ? What was it like when I gave my life to Christ? What was I feeling? How does it set up my interactions of the day? How has it influenced my life? And to be able to tell someone about that, it's important to know your testimony, to share how God is at work in your life.
Now some people will say, yeah, Ben, but I'm not much for words, and really actions speak louder than words, so I think I'll just stick with the actions and while, yes, I agree. If you could only choose one, actions do speak louder than words because sometimes talk is cheap, right? But whoever said that, you can only choose actions or only choose words. If you love someone, you communicate that love with your actions and your words, you tell your children and the people who you love, I love you. You don't just say, Hey, I love you, and if it changes, I'll let you know later. You know it doesn't work like that, and so why? When it comes to our faith and telling people about our love for Jesus, do we sometimes not want to go to bat and claim that our actions will just speak louder, that hey, they will know we're Christians by our love, by our love.
They'll know we're Christians by our love. If you don't get that, it's an old Sunday school song. It's all right. Sorry for inserting that in there, but yes, our actions do matter. Well, what if? What if we followed what James, the brother of Jesus said, what if our actions, we're quick to listen to one another and slow to speak. That's a powerful way, a great model for everyone loves to be listened to and heard, and once we've been given that respect and felt like we'd been heard or listened to, were actually more apt to listen to someone else. What if we gave someone the gift of a listening ear of serving them in that way with our actions and that created an avenue and opportunity for us to speak not overwhelmingly about the hope that we have in Jesus, but influentially I think throughout our day and our families and our jobs on our travels, we have many opportunities to talk about our motives, for how we live, in the hope that we have in Jesus, and if we're not speaking to that than men, there's some great opportunities missed and we're keeping people from the greatest story, the greatest person ever, and that would just be a shame.
So let's be bold as we share the hope that we have in Jesus. Finally, I love if we live within eternal perspective. There's earthly and there's eternal and I would love to have the eternal perspective. Economists, he had the earthly perspective. He urged the governor to pay attention, no attention to what Barnabas and saul were saying because he wanted that job. Right? Well, time out in light of eternity was there some powerful words right there in light of eternity, what would have been better for economists to have this job for this time or to know Jesus and have eternity with God in the moment it seems like it's the job, but I believe eternity would outweigh that and knowing Jesus is more important than a job and Paul knew this and that's why he called them out by saying, you son of the devil full of every sort of deceit and fraud and enemy of all that's good.
When will you never stopped perverting the true ways of the Lord and he continues. Watch out for the Lord as late as punishment upon you. When we live for the earthly perspective, we fall short of the eternal and it just brings punishment and I have to think that that Paul, having experienced that temporary blindness as well, and now seeing someone go through it was perhaps hoping that this man elements would have a similar experience. To what Paul had that, yeah, that temporary blindness is hard, brutal, but at the end of it it'd be better for it because you would know Jesus and I think that we find ourselves on on both dynamics of this. I think there's some of you who who have loved ones who feel like are living a temporary blindness lifestyle and your heart hurts for them and you don't want to see them make unwise choices and and and have that sort of pain or consequence that comes with a unwise living, but perhaps just preying on their behalf to the Lord that he would use it to bring them closer.
It would be a great step. I remember when I was living in that temporary blindness and making earthly decisions in my college years, getting caught up in the party scene now. What have I told you that, that it was a temporary blindness part of my life when I was living. Absolutely not. I would have said, well, my dad party through college and he turned out just fine, so it will be fine for me. Well, I didn't get to live the consequences that my dad had and there were consequences for me to that that lifestyle ended up one at a party. I got punched and end up with a broken jaw, wired shut for six weeks. That was brutal. But through that experience, I actually grew closer to God and had an incredible self reflection. I'd never want to go through that again, but I also look back and think, I don't know that I've grown as much in certain periods of my life as through that time and so god can use hardship or temporary blindness moments or live lifestyles that we have to actually bring us closer to him.
He did with Paul. We don't know what it turned out with Elan this, but my hope would be that, that we could live with that eternal perspective. That we wouldn't have an easy button lifestyle living, that we'd have an eternal button lifestyle. So much of the things we pray for our are easy. But what if we prayed for eternal things and, and in our mind just kind of hit the eternal, you know, and got the benefit from that. When people question the decisions we make, we just like, well, I'm actually building for eternity and not not here on earth. I remember my wife telling me a halfway through our marriage said, Ben, I'm so frustrated at you because you're trying to turn me into you. And I said, yeah, well what's wrong with that? Save for the hair. I think I'm a pretty decent dude.
And, and truthfully I had kind of felt the same way. It's like, yeah, well you're trying to turn me into you. And we just realized our journey. What if instead of US trying to turn one into the other and influence each other to try to come to one site, what if, what if our, our eternal perspective was trying to make one of the other, both of us more like Jesus, that my wife lives would be the best. Liz, not for Ben, but the best Liz version of Jesus. And that would be the best, not ben version of Liz, but the best ben version of Jesus as we work towards that, we grow closer together. That's an eternal perspective. And what if we looked at our relationships that way? Not trying to be so stubborn in our own ways, but encouraging each other to be our best version of Jesus. So remember, you may have failed, but you're not a failure. Let's go out boldly and communicate the hope that we have and the good news of Jesus Christ living with an eternal perspective. And as we do, I think we'll have an exciting, thrilling journey on our road trip with Jesus. Would you pray with me please?
Heavenly father, God, you are awesome. You're all powerful. You're all knowing. We love you, Lord. We love your son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit with us here right now. God, I thank you for the boldness of Paul and Barnabas to dedicate their lives to traveling and telling people if you're good news, to humbling themselves to situations that they would perhaps want to run from or that they're prideful side take over. God, would you give us that sort of outlook, that sort of mindset to be like your son, Jesus who humbled himself even enough to die on the cross. That's through that humility, through that surrender, you'd give us wisdom of an eternal perspective that may be bringing people to know you more. God, we love you and we pray this in the beautiful name of Jesus. Amen. Would you stand for one final blessing before we go? As you go, please know that the Lord your God goes before you to guide you, behind you, to encourage you, beside you, to be friends. You end up above you to watch over you and may his spirit give you peace now and forevermore. Amen.
Join Southeast as we travel through the book of Acts discussing Paul’s great success and incredible opposition while proclaiming the hope of the message of Jesus.
“...The word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” Acts 19:20