1 In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
4 Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they came down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 Arriving in Salamis, they proclaimed God’s message in the Jewish synagogues. They also had John as their assistant. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came across a sorcerer, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and desired to hear God’s message. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (this is the meaning of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
9 Then Saul—also called Paul—filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at the sorcerer 10 and said, “You son of the Devil, full of all deceit and all fraud, enemy of all righteousness! Won’t you ever stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? 11 Now, look! The Lord’s hand is against you. You are going to be blind, and will not see the sun for a time.” Suddenly a mist and darkness fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul, seeing what happened, believed and was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
How have your priorities changed over the last 5 years? Over the last 10 years? 20 years? What are some of your current top priorities? I’m turning 40 this year, and I’m perfectly content to be a writer, teacher, and mom, but back in the day, I had other priorities.
One of these was twirling baton. I even participated in the Miss Majorette competitions. Yes, I really did, and it was serious business. One year, I was privileged to be able to attend the national baton twirling competition. (Yes, it really does exist!)
To prepare, I spent my entire summer training. My mornings were spent in team practice and individual practice. After lunch, it was duet practice, then more individual practice. It took up my entire day, every day.
I don’t remember anything else from that summer except practicing and training. Because this national competition was so important to my team and me, we spent every moment we could in preparation.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the much more important task of sharing God’s Word with those around me who don’t know Him, I sometimes take it much less seriously. Instead of spending hours and hours preparing spiritually, I am often sidetracked by things of very little importance.
I intend to continually lift up my neighbors, friends, and family members who need Christ, but phone calls, e-mails, and commitments distract me. Does this ever happen to you?
The early church was very serious about their mission. Acts 13:2-3 tells us the believers fasted and prayed before sending out their missionaries. Their lives were engulfed in prayer and worship. And because of this their lives were laser-focused on honoring God and sharing Him with the world around them.
These believers didn’t just skip lunch for a 15-minute prayer meeting. They were intense in their preparation, and they didn’t let life’s demands distract them from their purpose.
What was the result of their concentrated preparation? Read Acts 13:9-12. God gave Paul supernatural boldness to confront evil and share His truth in a compelling way, to the point where his opposition was silenced and a leader in the land came to know Jesus!
Too often, I don’t share Christ with that same Spirit-infused boldness. My own busy life distracts me. I get focused on things that don’t really matter, and I forget to continually pray about the things that do.
As a result, I get half-hearted spiritual results from half-hearted efforts backed by half-hearted prayers. Can you relate?
Paul spoke powerfully because he was prepared. I don’t mean he had spent a lot of time making sure his speech would be worded just right. He was spiritually prepared. Prayed up.
His focus was on Christ, and his life revolved around serving Him. The little things that tend to creep in and consume people didn’t distract him. Oh, how different my life would be if I lived with that same kind of spiritual intensity!
What about you? When you leave your house in the morning, are you focused on Christ and prepared to engage your culture with His truth because you’ve spent valuable time with Him getting prepared? Is your mission from Him the most important part of your day, or is it an afterthought?
Be intentional about spending time with your Lord, listening to His still, small voice, connecting with Him, and sharing your desires and concerns. Be bold enough to focus on Him all day long, without letting the cares and concerns of life distract you. Be courageous enough to cut out the activities in your schedule that take your focus away from Him.
None of us will consistently and effectively live a life that honors Christ if we’re not preparing on our knees.
- Take out your calendar and your checkbook (or look at your online bank statement). According to the way you spend your time and money, what are your priorities?
- Everyone’s life revolves around something. What does your revolve around?
- On a scale of 1-10, how significant is your walk with Christ in your everyday life?
- Can God intervene and do big things with believers, even when they haven’t prepared? Why or why not?
- Why should you bother to thoroughly pray up to engage your culture?