December 20 I Friday
“The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.” —Acts 13:4
Our backgrounds and experiences in life vary greatly, but regardless of what they are, God utilizes them, molding and equipping us for what He wants us to do. God has been interested in us long before we were converted, and nothing in our past is ever wasted. Though our weaknesses and failures may have brought much pain and grief to us as well as to others, God redeems us and makes everything in our lives usable.
The church in Antioch was uniquely equipped for a Gentile mission. Scripture lists five leaders: Barnabas, a European; Simeon, called Niger, from Africa; Lucius from Cyrene, an Arab from the North African coast of present-day Libya; and both Manaen and Saul who were Middle Eastern Asian Jews. These cosmopolitan leaders from three continents were in the midst of fasting and worshipping the Lord when the Holy Spirit spoke to them. They were not task orientated, but God-orientated, looking God-ward first and then outward.
The work of God must come out of our communion with Him, dependence on Him and obedience to Him. There are no lone rangers in the church of Jesus Christ. We must be careful of anyone who says, “I only answer to God.” We all answer to God, which is true, but we also answer to other believers and the church. Altogether, we are in submission to the Word of God, the headship of Jesus, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and our local church who builds us up and sends us. Sending Saul and Barnabas into the mission field was under the authority of both the church and the Holy Spirit.
At the completion of his first two missionary journeys, Paul returned to Antioch. “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). On his third journey, Paul stopped in Jerusalem on his way to Antioch, but was falsely arrested, which led to five years of his life under Roman captivity. While in chains for Christ, he writes, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). The whole palace guard––including members of Caesar’s household—were introduced to Jesus. God wastes nothing!
The Holy Spirit speaks, sets apart and sends. We are workers together with Him, not for Him, and in our submission to Christ, whether it is a work in a foreign mission field, a local Bible study group or an impromptu discussion with friends, the blessings of God will flow through us to reach the world for Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I cannot imagine anything more rewarding and satisfying than being a worker together with You. Use me, Lord, I pray. Thank You!