Passage for Study: Acts 12: 25 – 13: 3 … 25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.
Acts 13 1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
My Journal for Today: This is an interesting, and, as Swindoll points out, telling scenario in today’s passage, which, I believe, has some difficulty translating into our modern day church life. Remember, the church at Antioch was firing on all cylinders, growing rapidly. But in the midst of this time of Spirit-led success, The Holy Spirit intervenes with a message of radical change, somehow getting the message to the leaders of the Antioch Church that Saul/Paul and his buddy, Barnabas, were to move out on a mission trip, a long-term mission trip. And so, here’s God, unexpectedly calling out 40% of the leadership of that church; and what was there reaction? Well, it was immediate and joyful. They surrendered to God’s Spirit and sent these two out for God’s glory.
Now I think about this. I just came from an Elder meeting at our church last night. I wonder what would happen if five of our Board of Elders [that’s 40%], including our Senior Pastor, came into the meeting and announced they had gotten God’s call to leave our midst and go to Africa together; AND what if they also said that didn’t know when, or if, they would be returning. Well, I think it would throw our church leadership into panic mode rather than the surrender mode seen by the Antioch church leaders in today’s passage.
What I’m trying to say here is that we Christians, even more mature Christians, have a tendency to get into a comfort zone and we do not react well to change, even if it comes from the gentle, or not-so-gentle, nudging of God, the Holy Spirit. What happened for the Antioch five was a radical change; but the way they responded was to do exactly what Jesus would one day instruct His disciples (in Luke 9: 23) to “… deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.”
I just wonder if I could, as a leader in my church, be surrendered to God’s Spirit enough, and be mature enough in my faith, to do what the Antioch church leaders did or what Christ Himself commands of me as His disciple. I hope I could; but I also know that I like my comfort zone; and in my life, I’m not one who digs change all that well. How about you? Are you seeking and responding to the world, to your self, or to God, the Holy Spirit, as things change in your life?
I hope we all can learn from and apply the message of today’s passage and devotional application to our lives, genuinely seeking God’s leading; and when we get it, following it obediently.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, I know that Your calling is Your enablement; but I pray that I will be obedient to Your lead and follow when You call. Amen