NKJV, “1) Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2) As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”
CEV, “1) The church at Antioch had several prophets and teachers. They were Barnabas, Simeon, also called Niger, Lucius from Cyrene, Manaen, who was Herod’s close friend, and Saul. 2) While they were worshiping the Lord and going without eating, the Holy Spirit told them, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have chosen them.”
Theologically and spiritually, Bible narratives, especially the Book of Acts invite Christian believers to be drawn, shaped, and formed by what they read. We are called both to embody the stories, and to be advocates for these stories in and around the world. Paul’s missionary journeys are fascinating, but readers and scholars have tended to relegate these journeys to the realm of history. Instead of the reading them as spiritually invitational stories, we read as if we are gleaning historical facts and possibly information. Readers are informed about the central role of the Holy Spirit in the mission of God; because none other than the Holy Spirit Summons the Antioch teachers and prophets to “set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”; While the men are fasting and worshipping, they are submitting to the Holy Spirit, willing to do what He Commands.
Every human appointment comes with benefits and some level of challenges. For example, to be appointed as a head of state is a great privilege with great prestige and benefits. However, it also comes with security risks, sleepless nights of critical thinking, and emotional difficulties as well. Just as in the natural world, the challenges associated with such appointments do not deter people from pursuing them, so must we not allow the fears of ministry to stop us from being set apart for God’s noble Use. In a season of fasting and prayer by the church, the Holy Spirit Announced that two people be set apart for a special missionary work. They were Paul and Barnabas. They gladly responded to the Call of God, and they set off in obedience.
If God Appears to you physically and says to you that He Wants you to be set apart for Him, what will you do? If God Says quit everything you are doing and come and follow Him fully, what will you do? Not all of us have been called into the clergy, but then all of us have been Set Apart by God for a unique noble purpose. If you go to God in prayer and depend on the voice of the Holy Spirit, you will get to hear from Him like Paul did. You have been Set Apart by God; meditate on these things. Without the Holy Spirit Calling people as much as was done to Barnabas and Saul, mission as Acts portrays it will not be possible.
Heavenly Father, I humbly submit myself to You. Please Reveal to me, Your unique calling upon my life. Use me LORD,
In Jesus’ Name, Amen