Sunday, April 22, 2012

Acts 13:1-3

Summary retelling of Acts 13:1-3

As the church in Antioch grew, there were prophets and teachers who rose to the top.  As they were all worshipping and fasting together, the Holy Spirit told these leaders and teachers to set apart Saul and Barnabas for a special task that God had for them to accomplish.  So the people in Antioch prayed about it and fasted, laid their hands upon Saul and Barnabas, and sent them out into the world.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Our first thought is a simple one, but it is very true.  There will always be spiritual leaders who rise to the top in a spiritual community.  Wherever God’s Spirit resides, it will not be without leadership.  Thus, spiritual leadership can become a witness for the presence of the Holy Spirit and a community that is growing spiritually.  Where leaders are not being produced, it is a sign of the opposite.  Where no leaders are being produced there is not likely to be much fruit of the Holy Spirit, either.

Why does it make sense that seeing leadership develop is a sign of the Holy Spirit’s work?

Second Thought:
We hear about fasting in this passage quite a bit.  Fasting usually means depriving oneself of food (and sometimes water, but not usually) for a certain time.  It is not a practice that was designed to “make us suffer so that we remember how much Christ suffered.”  Fasting was a process of reminding ourselves that we are in control of our own bodies and our bodies are not in control of us.  Fasting was a way of asserting dominance over the flesh.  Fasting was a way of making a claim that the spiritual is more important than the flesh.  Fasting was a way of declaring that just as our flesh is made to submit to our spirit, so our spirit is to submit to God’s will.

Is this a different perspective than you’ve heard on fasting before?  How might this perspective on fasting help bring about increased spirituality?

Third Thought:
Saul and Barnabas are just sent off.  There is no “but I’ll have to be away from my family.”  There is no “but I don’t know anyone in those places.”  There is work to be done, and Saul and Barnabas are appointed to do it.  Sacrifice is gladly made.

It’s been asked a bunch of times, but it is important: how much are willing to give up in order to follow God?  What wouldn’t you be willing to give up?  What might we call those things we wouldn’t be willing to give up?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 13:4-8
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