13 1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Here is the beginning of Saul and Barnabas’ ministry to the Gentiles (people who were not Jews.) I noticed how God had been leading his church to this point, from the vision to Peter (chapter 10), growing his church in a largely Greek city (Antioch), and bringing believers into the church from diverse backgrounds (Barnabas from Crete, Simeon and Lucius from northern Africa, Manaen from the inner Roman ruling class, Saul(Paul) from the Jewish religious elite – what a bunch!)
This church was equipped, ready for action for God. So are we, but are we ready for action?
The context of this event is persecution (chapter 12). How easy to look inward, build up their local congregation, stand strong together in the face of opposition and fear. It’s clear to me that they had been listening to God and leaning into him. Their leaders were focussed on God and his will, not their own security and needs.
When things are going wrong in my life I need to resist the urge to bunker down and rely on myself. My help is in the Lord, and coming together with his church encourages me to pursue him.
I pray for our leaders that their focus will continue to be God’s work beyond us, to be tuned into the Holy Spirit’s direction. I pray that each of us will be ready to respond as Barnabas and Paul did, not hesitantly, but knowing that the work he wants us to do is His purpose for us. We know Paul and Barnabas go on to do incredible things for God, clearly work they were made for. I don’t want to miss out on my purpose.
Dear Father God, thank you that you answer our prayers, whether they are cries of desperation or quiet whispers. I pray for our leaders that you build up their courage and seeking after you.
Written by Claire Moore