Jesus, you are my everything, and everything in my day is yours.
“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.” (Acts 13:2-3)
The church in Antioch was planted by believers who fled the persecution of the Jews following the stoning of Stephen which we read about in chapter 7. Paul (Saul) approved of and participated in the stoning of Stephen. Now, the same church that was formed out of Paul’s arresting and persecution of Christians, the Christian church he hated and tried to stop from ever coming into existence, is the same church that lays hands on Paul, commissions him as a Christian, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and sent him out unto the nations to build up, plant, and launch even more of the same churches he tried to destroy! God is so awesome!!! Satan is such a loser!!! What and who Satan tried to use for evil, God redeemed for good and used for good.
I thank God for all the ways He has redeemed things in my past and in me for his good. All the things the Satan has led me into and I allowed myself to participate in. All the stones I have thrown at people out of hate, prejudice, and pride. Yet praise God, Jesus has covered them all under his blood. And he continues to do so today when I confess my sins and repent. Just like Jesus changed Saul’s identity to Paul when he encountered him, Jesus changed my identity when I encountered him as well. So that now I can be a source from which his church will be birthed. God is so awesome!!! Praise God! Satan is such a loser!!
What was the source of the church of Antioch’s missionary outreach plan for it’s neighbors? Was it a study of Acts or one of the four Gospels? No, as they were not even written yet. Was it a 12 step program on Evangelism, a sermon series, or a mission training? Nope. Its source was fasting, praying, and the laying of hands. (13:2-3) They were sent out and commissioned as we need to sent out and commissioned today, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says The Lord of Hosts" (Zech. 4:6) They were sent out by the Holy Spirit. (13:4)
And what was Paul and Barnabas's missionary strategy? Preach Christ crucified, (13:28,29) Christ risen (13:33) and the forgiveness of sins (13:38). With all the books, trainings and conferences out there today on church planting, discipleship and growing a church, Paul’s and Barnabas’s strategy sounds pretty basic and simple. Go out and preach Christ crucified, Christ risen, and the forgiveness of sins. Simply give them Jesus. I think we need to remember our first love (Rev 2:4) and get back to Christ Crucified, Christ risen, forgiveness of sins, and simply giving people Jesus. That was all Paul and Barnabas relied on:
and the church multiplied so walls could not contain it,
and disciples made disciples who made disciples,
and the gates of hell could not prevail against them,
and the enemy’s stoning of Stephen only fanned the flames of the church and it spread.
And Satan was such a loser!
Read Acts 13, then reflect on all the ways Satan deceived you and used you in the past and the ways that Christ has redeemed you and is now using you for his good. Look at all the ways he has changed your identity, and is changing your identity since you have encountered him. Take a few minutes to thank Him.
Pray that your ministry, pray for our church's ministries we serve in together, that what ever they are unto, will be founded in prayer and fasting and a sending by the Holy Spirit, founded in a return to our first love, simply Jesus.
My family, I pray you claim Christ crucified, Christ risen, and the forgiveness of sins over your life. Then I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead one person into your path today that you can share this simple message with them. And that Satan is such a loser! In Jesus’ mighty name! Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!
Please share your thoughts, comments and verses that spoke to you in your time in chapter 13 in the comments box below.
Gary Liederbach- Lead Follower
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