You Are Called for Service to Christ

January 17, 2021

Pastor John Hering

Acts 13:13-42

Acts 13:13-42

13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”

16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.

26 “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.

32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.

38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

41 “‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’”

42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

After church today I invited about 25 people from this neighborhood to stand in the back field for a special event.  That event is this:  You are going to give a speech to them!   What would you say?  Are the palms of your hands and armpits breaking into a sweat?  That’s what they asked Paul to do: Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak. If you really had such an invitation, what would you say?  I should’ve handed out little pads of paper to everyone today so you could start writing down some thoughts.  Ok – let’s up the ante a little bit.  Let’s say this is the only chance you’ll have to speak to these people.  Does that make what you’re going to say a little different?  Would it be about climate change?  Politics?  Covid-19 virus and vaccine?  Would you talk about family and how God wants us to love one another?  Maybe you’d talk about the opportunities in life to serve others.  What would be your theme?

This open invitation was given to Paul in Acts 13 while attending a Jewish synagogue in a very Roman city called Pisidian Antioch with a crowd of Jews and Gentiles.  They just finished reading from the OT (Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms).  Paul knew exactly what they needed to hear so he stood up a gave his 460 word speech.  The subject of nearly every verb is God.  Paul told them what God had promised their ancestors and how he fulfilled those promises by sending the Savior.  Right then and there Paul, the servant of Christ, brings the message they needed to hear: 38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin.

When was the last time you heard a speech like that?  It’s probably been a while.  Most discussions you hear talk about the worst of life (politics, health, social ills, or problem after problem).  But, if Paul were here today and we gave him the invitation to speak to us, what would he say?  I think he would remind you how unique you are in this world.  How the Holy Spirit brought you to faith.  And by that same Spirit your relationship to everything else has changed.  God has ordered all of history to bring you here to this point in your life because

You Were Called For Service To Christ

It’s the Spirit’s Mission

The Holy Spirit used all sorts of people to carry out his mission.  It is recorded in Acts 13 where we see the mission and the ministry shared by the Holy Spirit and God’s Church.  Acts 13 starts out talking about the Christians gathered in Antioch.  Listen: Now in the church at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas; Simeon, who was called Niger; Lucius of Cyrene; Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch; and Saul. While they were worshipping 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 they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them off.  These men were completely different people with a variety of backgrounds.  But, they were all united by the Spirit to grow and go with God’s Word.  The Spirit led them to worship and fast and then revealed his will in a miraculous way, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.  The church and the Spirit work in harmony to call and commission these men to share God’s Word at a new mission—the Spirit’s Mission! So, Paul and Barnabas are sent off and what did they do?  Shocker! They carried out the Spirit’s Mission and proclaimed the Word of God.   We just did such a thing this past Wednesday at Prince of Peace in Flower Mound.  Their pastor was called to serve a church in Wisconsin, so they don’t have a pastor.  We gathered, prayed and then called Pastor Peter Wells from St Mark’s in Watertown, WI to be their new pastor.  Why?  Because God’s people know the mission of the Holy Spirit to proclaim God’s Word in their little corner of God’s kingdom.  It is the mission of the Holy Spirit to which he has called them, and us.  Yes, it’s the Spirit’s Mission, and

It’s Your Mission

The leadership of your church knows and wants to focus on the important relationship between the mission of the Spirit and our mission as God’s people.  We know Satan will try to place every block in the way of us proclaiming God’s love and forgiveness to others.  Therefore it is good for us to be reminded of our relationship to the Spirit’s mission and to our mission as his servants.  Scripture paints the picture of this relationship as us being the body and Christ the head.  Without Christ, we are nothing.  Without Christ we allow our selfishness, our ego, our own desires to often get in the way of the mission.  Without Christ we are slaves of unrighteousness that leads to eternal death.  It happened in Acts 13 at a place called Paphos listen. When they had traveled through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The proconsul summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God.  8 Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit and looking straight at him, 10 said, “You are full of every kind of deceit and fraud, you son of the Devil, you enemy of all righteousness! Will you never stop twisting the straight paths of the Lord? 11 Now look! The hand of the Lord is against you. You will be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the sun.  Yes, Satan will do his best to keep the Word of God from being proclaimed, but he is working against the Christ (the head) and his Church (the body).

Connected to Christ you are forgiven.  You are God’s own dear child.  You are brought to life and given purpose and direction.  The mission of the Savior is the mission of his Church.  When you were brought to faith you were called to be transformed—that your mind and attitude would reflect his mind and attitude, his words your words, his actions your actions.  Simply put it means you do all you do because Jesus loves you so much.  You love your family because Jesus loves you so much.  You use your time wisely because Jesus loves you so much.  You use your money and possessions to God’s glory because Jesus loves you so much.  You work faithfully at your job because Jesus loves you so much.  You think about the Gospel of Jesus Christ to share with your family, relatives, acquaintances and neighbors—yes, even a group of 25 people gathered in the back yard after worship today because Jesus loves you so much.  Have you got it?  Your Mission is the same as the Spirit’s Mission because Jesus loves you so much!

That is the example we have in Acts 13 in Pisidian Antioch.  They went to a group of people, were invited to speak and shared the Gospel of Jesus with them.  Some believed and some didn’t.  Paul and Barnabas were fired up to share Jesus with people, and when they believed, they rejoiced that the Spirit was fulfilling his promise to create faith in the hearts of people who heard the Gospel.  When there was opposition to their message, they didn’t lose heart because they knew the commitment to their work, while it was important, was not the main thing.  The main thing was the Holy Spirit’s commitment to them.  The Spirit pointed them to Jesus who had perfect commitment for underserving sinners.  Jesus came to save a world that didn’t want any saving.  Jesus went to a cross willingly.  Jesus gave us the gift of forgiveness of sins unearned.  Jesus’ mission was the Spirit’s Mission to share the Good News of forgiveness with all.  May it always be our mission as thankful people of God to do the same.

So, after church today if there are going to be 25 people on the back yard of our church what are you going to tell them?  By now you’ve figured out that there aren’t really 25 people back there.  But, according to reference.com the average person will interact with about 25 people per day.  And what will you say to those 25 people.  You know what the Spirit’s Mission is.  You know what your mission is as a redeemed child of God and part of Christ’s body.  But, will you say anything?  Maybe it was a coincidence, but of the 25 people that attended the Personal Member Ministry workshop two weeks ago, we learned that there were only 4 people who had Evangelism as one of their Spiritual Gifts.  Do you want to know their names?  John & June Hering and Gunnar and Marinda Ledermann.  So, what are we going to do with a congregation who don’t have the spiritual gift of evangelism?  Don’t panic!  We have a congregation filled with spiritually gifted people who can use their spiritual gifts to share Jesus with lots of people.  Don’t worry, I’ve got some ideas.  So don’t go anywhere……

For today I want you to think about how many people we have met here at Divine Peace over the years.  We just did our statistics for the WELS yearbook.  Over the past 31 years we have had 480 members.  The Spirit’s Mission has been our Mission.  But, do you think we have room for improvement?  I know I do.  So, let’s get things lined up according to God’s Word.  Let’s remember that he alone brings the blessings, he alone crowns the sharing of his truth with success, he alone has called you and me to proclaim the Good News of Jesus.  Get yourself ready so when the opportunity comes to make your speech about Jesus you’re ready to stand up and talk about the Savior.  It may be their only chance to hear the Good News of Jesus.  Like the church in Antioch let’s pray and worship the Lord.  Then fulfill the Spirit’s Mission that Jesus calls Your Mission for You Are Called Servants of Christ!  Amen!

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