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. 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.
So, you have been faced with difficult decisions; have we not all experienced such encounters in our lives. It is just a part of living here on the place called earth! Some of decisions maybe health related; others may involve financial decisions. Then there are individuals, especially in our modern society, facing re-location to another state, or even another country. Add the whole family with its diverse decisions as to their ages and ambitions, and suddenly you are swamped with the idea of what your conclusion should be.
As I was ready to prepare for my decision to write this article, I was faced with, what theme I should select. I want it to be what the Lord wants, and also I want it to arrive on His timing. These may seem like “trite” decisions, but I desire the Lord’s will in the matter. My mind and heart prayerfully considered the list that I have prepared. I arrived in my thinking at Acts 13:1-3, and sensed that to be the direction to pursue.
We read about Paul and Barnabas arriving at Antioch, but they were not alone. There were other “teachers and prophets” among the believers: “Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch”.
What catches my attention is that these men were ministering to the Lord and fasting. We do not see them making a choice until they had given themselves to these two “tokens” before the Lord. This was not a hasty decision, it was time consuming. It involved a demonstration of their faith to seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit before they agreed on who should GO. Then and only then did they listen for the Lord’s decision. They were agreed that the Holy Spirit was directing them in their decision, and so the Commission is assigned to Paul and Barnabas. Beautiful! There is a difference between an idea and the leading of the Holy Spirit. I have struggled with that often. Patsy would often say: l) We must ask God to impress upon our minds some section of Scripture! 2) We must ask God to give us the insight of looking at our abilities to fit in where we plan to minister. 3) We must seek the Peace of God in our hearts that we are submissive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and not to our own fleshly desires.
Next they again “fasted and prayed” and then “laid their hands on them and sent them away.” I love it! To be sent to minister to a particular group of people under the leadership of the local assembly, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and with the knowledge that the saints at home are praying.
And for us? The encouragement to pray for those we asked the Lord’s direction to send, and to bathe them in constant prayer. But not only that, make sure that all decisions have the backing of prayer and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.