Personal and Time-Sensitive Instructions
“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.’” (Acts 13:2 NIV)
As the believers in Antioch were worshiping the Lord, the Holy Spirit spoke – probably through the gifts of the Spirit – and told the church to set apart Barnabas and Paul, formerly Saul, a persecutor of Christians and now a believer, for the work he had for them to do. What else could they do besides say, “Yes, Lord”? Could you imagine them living victorious Christian lives if they had said no to the Lord’s direction for their lives because of fear or selfishness or insecurity?
Some people have trouble serving the Lord, because Jesus has said something to them and they’ve said, “No, I won’t do that, but I still want your blessings and protection in my life.” Do you think that’s a good way to live? No! By saying no to him, you will barely survive as a Christian. Why? Because you can’t do deals with Jesus! Paul and Barnabas didn’t do that. They were obedient to the calling. Later on in Paul’s life, he wanted to go somewhere to preach the gospel but the Spirit of Jesus forbade him to go there, and he obeyed. Was that a moral teaching of the Bible? No, it was Jesus speaking and saying, “Don’t go there. That’s not my plan for your life."
The good news is that Jesus is alive and is still speaking today! He speaks through his Word as his Holy Spirit makes it real to our hearts. And he also gives us direction and intimations about our lives. He can speak to us through a child, through a dream or a vision, through a sermon or a song. He can also make us feel uncomfortable with something that he doesn’t want for us. At those times, it’s not just our conscience speaking. Many times it’s the Spirit of the Lord leading and guiding and admonishing us.
So how about it? Is Jesus speaking to you at this moment? Perhaps he has warned you: don’t go there; don’t get involved in that; don’t seek out those people. Has he provided a hindrance out of love to keep you from trouble? If so, heed the Holy Spirit’s warning. On the other hand, perhaps he’s calling you to start something new in your life or encouraging you to keep doing what you’re doing. Whatever it is, let’s obey every prompting that the Lord gives and every word that he speaks to us, and we will have the peace and the joy of the Lord in our lives.
The church in Antioch was worshiping and fasting when the Lord spoke through his Holy Spirit, giving very specific and personal and time-sensitive instructions to his servants. He will do the same for us as we spend time in his presence and say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening!”
Read Acts 12:25—13:3.