Scripture reading for April 22nd: Acts 13
Key Scriptures: Acts 13:1-4 “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 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.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When the arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the Word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.”
The Book of Acts switches here from the ministry of Peter to the ministry of Paul and his missionary calling to the Gentiles. In this passage, we have the leaders of the church in Antioch worshiping the Lord and fasting when, through one of the prophets present, a word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit came forth. We note that this was a word of confirmation, not initial direction. The Holy Spirit had already spoken the Barnabas and Saul about their ministry personally. It was now confirmed through the prophesy given during worship. The leaders were obedient and laid hands on Saul and Barnabas and sent them off. As they went on their way, it is emphasized that they were sent off by the Holy Spirit and they preached the gospel in the synagogues of the Jews first, as God’s chosen people to bring Jesus into the world. They hardened their hearts and Paul and Barnabas turned to reach the Gentiles, also God’s plan!
Acts 13:44-46 “The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly saying, “It was necessary that the Word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.””
Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the message of eternal life and forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Thank You for the gift of prophecy in Your church. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and use me to speak Your Word boldly to those in need of confirmation and salvation.
Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”
Scripture reading for November 11th: Acts 13-15
Wouldn’t it be nice to have God just send someone to tell you what He wants you to know? Have you ever had someone give you a word from the Lord that confirmed something the Lord had been showing you to do? Do you believe that God knows everything and wants to share some of His knowledge with you? These and other questions should set us thinking as we read today’s passages from Acts. God uses people to give words of knowledge and prophesy. Lets look at the principles for using these “words”.
“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. 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.” “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hand on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:1-3
In this account of the early church at worship and prayer, we find that the Holy Spirit used one of the prophets or teachers to give a word to Barnabas and Saul. This was not a directive word, but a confirming word. Note that the Holy Spirit had already called them to this work personally previous to this time. This word came during a time of corporate worship and the church obediently responded. They prayed more and fasted and then laid on hands and sent them off on the ministry journey laid out for them by the Holy Spirit. We find that God has prepared the “good works” and all we need to do is respond in obedience. (Ephesians 2:10)
When we get a word of knowledge or prophesy spoken over us, we must always test it in several ways. First, does it line up with what the Lord has been saying already to us? God doesn’t give second-hand mail! Second, does it line up with the Word of God and purposes stated in Scripture? Words must always agree with the written word of God or at least not be in conflict with the revealed will of God. Next, is the Spirit in you in agreement with that word? Do others with the Holy Spirit agree and bear witness with the word? These tests are important before moving on a word.
God does truly direct His children and sometimes uses others to confirm to us a word. Mary and I experienced this when God spoke to us through two different people about having children in our old age! One of the words was written down and our son reminded us of it years later. It helped us confirm our direction and follow God’s leading! May the Lord direct your life each day by His Holy Spirit! May you learn to properly discern the will of God!