Friday, July 14, 2017

Paul in Cyprus

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Suddenly, God stopped Saul during his trip and said: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ Saul was shocked and struck blind. He had to be led as a blind man to Damascus. (Acts 9:3-7).
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God told Ananias to go and lay hands on Saul and with God’s power restore Saul’s sight. At first Christians wanted to stay away from Saul. It took time for other Christians to accept Saul as a friend. (Acts 9:10-19).
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After all, many of them remembered how terrible Saul used to be. He had been responsible for the stoning of Stephen and the persecution of many Christians. (Acts 7:54-8:3).

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But Saul continued to speak boldly of the Lord Jesus to everyone. Saul was so bold, that the disciples had to move him away from Jerusalem for fear that some Jews would kill him. (Acts 9:26-29).
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The people of Antioch soon heard of Jesus. They thought of the people who loved Jesus as ‘little Christs’. So this is one of the first places followers of Jesus were called Christians. Strong Christian leaders came out of this church.
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The Church fasted and prayed for God’s direction. The Holy Spirit said ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul to do the work I have called them.’ So they laid their hands on them, then sent them to take the good news of Jesus to other lands.

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There they boarded a ship sailing to the large Island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea.
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When they arrived at Paphos, they were welcomed by the Roman ruler. He was an intelligent man called Sergius Paulus. Sergius Paulus wanted to hear the good news that Paul and Barnabas were sharing.
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Unfortunately they also met a magician and Jewish false prophet called Bar-Jesus (Elymas in Greek). Now, it would not be easy for Paul to share the good news about Jesus Christ.

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As Paul and Barnabas talked about Jesus Christ the evil Bar-Jesus tried to stop them. He rudely tried to disrupt Paul and Barnabas’s conversation because he did not want his ruler Sergius Paulus to hear the Word of God and have faith in Jesus.
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But Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, ‘You are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness. The hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.’
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And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon Bar-Jesus, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. Then the Roman ruler believed when he saw what had happened. Sergius Paulus became a Christian.

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Paul and Barnabas shared the good news of Jesus in the Jewish synagogue. The people begged them to come back on the next Sabbath and tell them more.
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The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled. When the Jews saw the crowds coming to hear Paul and Barnabas, they were jealous, so they began contradicting them and accusing them of blasphemy.
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Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to the Jews first. But as you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the gentiles as the Lord has commanded us.’ A gentile is anyone not born as a Jew, so the whole world was going to hear the good news that Jesus had died to save them.

Paul in Cyprus
God calls Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary trip.
Acts 13:1-49

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