Rev. Michael Lau
After church resolved a major internal issue, the dynamic of unity has empowered the spreading of the Gospel. Acts 15 end with a joyful affirmation of the instruction of the first church council in Jerusalem. When such good decision needed to spread to the churches Paul and Barnabas had established in the first mission trip, an argument has caused the splitting of Paul and Barnabas into two teams.
Acts 16 and 17 has turned into the first part of second missionary journey of Paul and Silas. This trip starts with revisiting those churches in Asia Minor. Then the Spirit stopped the team to go into Asia. After that the Lord has casted a vision to the team. Paul saw a vision that a Macedonian was calling them to come over to help them. Immediately they crossed the sea and landed in the province of Galatia. In a short period of time, the team of Paul planted four churches in this Gentile land.
The key of being missional is following the movement of the Holy Spirit in any missionary endeavor. It was the Holy Spirit assigned His missional leaders to revisit the churches with their new instruction from Jerusalem. It was when they have a decision to go beyond then the Holy Spirit signaled a stop. It was also the Holy Spirit generated a new vision for the team and they follow immediately. When they obeyed the vision, the empowering presence of God leads wherever every further step throughout the trip.
That is a good lesson for York Region to follow. It is about following the movement of the Holy Spirit who empowers with vision and instructions to move beyond our comfort zone.
Vision of Macedonia [Acts 15:36-16:10; 16:6-15 Personal God (B)]: It was from Antioch, Paul and Barnabas separated into two teams because of their dispute about bring Mark along. Paul took Silas and returned to visit those planted churches in their first mission trip. Even though there were problems generated by many human factors, but the Holy Spirit casted a Macedonian vision to the missional leader of the team, and led the newly formed team in united action.
Pioneering in Philippi [Acts 16:11-40; 16: 18-19; 28-34 Prayer (P)]: The mission team has adapted a ministry strategy as setting big city as in their priority. Philippi was a military center for the Roman government. There was not having a big Jewish community, but only a handful of godly women meeting for prayer on the day of Sabbath beside a river band. Lydia came to know the Jesus, and from then on her big house became the meeting place for the new church in Philippi. Prayer was important in the founding of the church. Other than the prayer meeting but also the discerning prayer of Paul both in casting out demons and in time of his imprisonment, the saving power came upon more people. The church of Philippi was united in the gospel ministry from the very beginning.
Global Gospel impacts [Acts 17:1-9; 17:6-7 Giving away your faith (P)]: According the usual strategy, the mission team reached out to the Jewish synagogue in another big city center named Thessalonica. Paul posted as a traveling teacher, and the synagogue invited him to share his teaching about Christ. The message attracted the godly gentiles who were in the synagogue. But the Jewish community stirred up an attack to the mission team and those who believed in the gospel. They claimed that the mission team as people who caused trouble all over the world. Yet, they did not know that was because the power of the gospel has first turned their inner life of those who shared the gospel upside up.
Model believers [Acts 17:10-15; 17:11 Bible Study (P)]: Because of the evil desire of the Jewish people in the synagogue in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas moved on to Berea. As according to their ministry strategy, they approached the Jewish synagogue first. However, as according to the observation of Luke, the Jewish community was better than Thessalonica. For they were not only received what Paul shared, but daily they went back to the Scripture to examine and find out the truth by themselves. That is why even the disturbing Jewish people came to Berea, the believers in Berea can stand up by themselves. It was only for the safety of Paul, he was sent to Athens alone.
The unknown God [Acts 17:16-34; 17:29-31 Trinity (B)]: For the calling and the equipping of Paul, he went to the Jewish synagogue and then in the markets of Athens to debate on the topic of the resurrected Savior. He was invited to share the message of the gospel message about the truth of Jesus and His resurrection in the famous Areopagus. Being inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul made known to the people of Athens their subscripted “Unknown god” as the Creator and the Redeemer of the world, who is Christ Jesus. Even though there were different responses among the listeners, but the most important part was a few chosen by God came to accept the gospel of Jesus, and later on they formed the church.