Sent by the Holy Spirit
God of heaven, I trust You. Have Your way in my life today.
Read Acts 13:1–12
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.
4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”
Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow do we decide to undertake new initiatives, especially ones which might take us well beyond our “comfort zones”?
Three key elements propel Barnabas and Saul off on a potentially dangerous enterprise. First is the fact that they are very much part of their Christian community (2,3). The initiative comes from the Spirit speaking to the church, not to Paul or Barnabas individually.
Second, the whole community is worshipping, praying and fasting. This fact is repeated whereas we have no record of debate and committee work. That may well have happened, but Luke chooses to emphasize the costly commitment to prayer (3).
Third, they are looking to the Holy Spirit to make his will known. No “blueprint” for how this happened is outlined, whether through a prophetic word or conviction arising from study of God’s Word or any other way. But they are seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power. As we see in verses 8–11, none of these assurances promise an easy ride. Alongside the encouragement of Sergius Paulus’s interest comes the satanic opposition of Elymas (8). This is a warning, then, that doing things the right way does not necessarily ensure our preferred outcomes.
What is a decision you are in the process of making? What is your decision-making process? What can you learn from this passage?
Lord, help me to see Your direction for my decisions. Help me to take time to seek You and Your way for my life.
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