Suggested Reading: Acts 13
(click scripture link to read online)
GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.
Key Verse: Acts 13:2-3
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.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
In chapter 9, Saul (later Paul) was sent by the Jerusalem Church to his home city of Tarsus. In chapter 11, Barnabas is sent from Jerusalem to find Saul. Barnabas and Saul settle in Antioch. Saul may have served the Lord here for a dozen years before the Holy Spirit revealed God’s plan for a missionary team which would reach other communities.
It is essential that God’s people remain faithful in a local Church. This is where mentoring takes place, and where ministry gifts can be developed. The experience at a home Church will confirm whether or not God has called us to a larger place in ministry. Our brothers and sisters who know us best will witness to God’s call. It was in Cyprus that Saul (means “big”) became known as Paul (means “little”). Perhaps when Saul exercised great authority, as recorded in verses 9 to 12, Barnabas recognized that Saul needed to constantly be reminded to keep humble. In 2 Cor. 12:7-10, Paul tells us that God intervened to help keep him humble. The “thorn in the flesh” was so that Paul would not become “exalted above measure.” God knows our weaknesses and deals with us accordingly. Paul, educated in the rabbinical schools, knew his Hebrew Bible. Notice how he bases his preaching on God’s Word, constantly quoting from the Bible. We need to sit under the ministry of preachers and teachers who do the same. Let’s check up on those under whose ministry we sit.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord God, please help me to preach and teach the Scriptures. Help me to learn from Paul’s way of communicating Your Word. Lord Jesus, You urged me to pray that “the Lord of the harvest would send forth labourers into His harvest field” (Matt 9:38). You answered Your prayer request in the Antioch Church by calling two people into full-time service. Do this again and again in our day, I pray. Amen!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
For years now, I’ve tried to remember to pray Jesus’ prayer request each morning. In the “Our Father,” Jesus tells us, “When you pray, say…” In our prayer for “labourers” (not big preachers or executives), we recognize that this is a call to, as Churchill put it, “blood, sweat and tears.” It’s a call to die to personal ambition or any kind of self-seeking. For Paul it meant genuine hardship. Check out 2 Cor. 11:23-33. I ask myself upon reading these verses, “Do I still want everything God has planned for my life?” YES, YES, and YES!!!! I would like to be somewhere nearby when Paul stands before the believers judgement (2 Cor. 5:10). I must never take God’s call lightly. It is the most serious calling in the universe. Obedience must be my #1 priority.
Yours for a greater understanding of God’s call on your life and mine,
P.S. The photo of modern Antioch is the first one taken by my eldest son, Reynold, on his current trip across Turkey, Greece, and Italy. He is the professional photographer in our family (Paul made tents to support his missionary calling). Ron, my younger son, is also an ordained minister. He and his wife Ann proofread every blog before it’s posted and add any needed links. Just now, we are staying with our eldest child, Elaine Stacey, and on the weekend we spent time with #2 daughter, Ellen Shaheen. All our children are conspiring to look after us very well (we’re 76 and 73). Thanks family!