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.
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Selucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John (Mark) as their assistant.
My Journal for Today: As we continue to read this historical scene about the beginnings of Paul’s first missionary journey into Asia Minor, we see the condition of the hearts of these disciples of Christ who had been called as Apostles to leave the growing church in Antioch and to move onward to Cyprus and beyond.
And this calls attention to the condition of the hearts of disciples of Christ like you and me. Barnabas and Saul (Paul) were in surrender mode to Christ. When they were appointed and anointed to move out for Christ, they were available and flexible to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. And the principles of being a disciple of Christ are Swindoll’s study for today. And to do so, Pastor Chuck uses the word picture of a Sculptor (God) and His clay (us).
Swindoll teaches that, as God’s clay (as was the example of Barnabas and Paul in today’s passage), we have to be pliable and supple with flexibility if/when God’s Spirit calls us to be molded and made-over for His purposes. To do this Swindoll proposes four principles – two in the negative and two in the positive.
The first negative: Do not remove any possibilities? If we’re truly disciples of Christ, in the mold of Luke 9: 23, we have to be willing to deny our selves and when God leads, we must follow. Are we willing to do this? Or do we have a “Yes, but” Christianity? Maybe we’d like to follow Christ; BUT we would hesitate if He called us to do X, Y, or Z, especially if those things took us out of our comfort zone. This is conditional Christianity; and we will never be workable warriors for Christ until we’re totally “sold out” and willing to go where Christ leads us.
The second negative: Do not allow activity to dull your sensitivity. Often we – especially in this age of activity-oriented Christianity – let doing get in the way of hearing. We can be so grooved into the activities of our church that we are not sensitive to the leadings of God’s Spirit, Who will often call us to His will, which can – and often does – involve change. Oh, how we can be so deafened by our doing that that we simply can’t hear God’s calling.
The first positive: Let God be God! Ask yourself: “Are really willing to be clay in the Sculptor’s hands?” Are you pliable enough to be reshaped and readied for God’s will and purposes? Or have we become brittle and hardened, too rigid to become what God needs for us to be … for Him.
And the last positive: Be ready to say “YES.” Dear one, our natural, default mechanism will likely be to question the logic of God’s calling or to balk by saying that we’re ill prepared. And we’re certainly not alone in this attitude. Some pretty heavy-hitters of the faith had that “natural” response when God called them out of their comfort zone. Think of Moses at the burning bush or Noah, who had no idea what an ark was or what “rain” was; or there was Gideon, thrashing wheat in the wine barrel, or many of the Prophets who felt inadequate to God’s calling for them to carry God’s message to His grumbling people. All of these, so-called giants of the faith, had their doubts when God, the Sculptor, having shaped them for His task, wanted to send them out to do illogical and almost unbelievable things for His glory.
What about us? Are we pliable clay in the hands of the Master Sculptor? Or are we rigid and brittle and hardened in our ways, unready to respond to God’s calling, and unwilling to deny self and follow our Lord? Only you (or I) can respond to God’s conviction when asked these questions. But, … if we’re not readied and ready, as were Paul and Barnabas, we’ll never be pliable clay in the hands of the Master Potter as He shapes us to be vessels of purpose – HIS purpose.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, may I be putty in Your hands and poised for Your purpose when You have molded me for Your will. Amen