Updated: Jul 15, 2021
Acts, #42. Acts 13.1-12.
No sound systems.
No books or handouts.
Add to that, persecution at the hands of the Romans and the Jewish leaders. And yet, the number of believers in Jesus Christ is growing. How is that even possible?
The lives of individual believers were so radically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, they could not keep the message to themselves… they had to share … even when sharing could cost them their lives. This is the roots of our Christian faith--the brave men and women who came before us, and I love reading about them.
And wait--suddenly, here in Acts chapter 13, the spotlight is on Saul of Tarsus who must have thought he had missed a memo from God. After all, God had gotten his attention on the Damascus Road, when the former killer of Jesus followers had his mind opened to the truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospel message, and anxiously waited to be pressed into service for the Lord.
Think of it--after three days of blindness in the city of Damascus, Saul goes into Arabia for three years and then goes to Jerusalem to gather with the other believers who would have nothing to do with him! So he returns to Tarsus his hometown for the next 10 years. Saul was not alone . . . I think God oft calls us, but lets us go through some things before he uses us. Goodness, I think of how Jesus himself was tempted in the desert for 40 days at the start of his ministry… God has something of himself for us in the wait.
Saul is part of an ethnically diverse group of leaders at the church in Antioch of Syria. Interestingly enough, this is the start of the Syrian Christian community--one of the very oldest in the world-- the same one that Assad’s Islamic regime is terrorizing today, trying to wipe out.1,2
As the community gathered together to worship God, pray and fast, the Holy Spirit instructed the men to set Barnabas and Saul apart for His work; they did.3 The Holy Spirit then directed the steps of Christianity’s newest missionaries to first one town and then another. This is the first time Saul is first referred to as Paul. Being born to Jewish parents, he was given the Hebrew name Saul at eight days of age; being a Roman, he was given the Greek name Paul at nine days of age.4 Acts 13.1-12 passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+13.1-12&version=NLT
Same set of factors: No money.
No sound systems.
No books or handouts. And yet - you can feel it. Things are about to bust wide open!
Why? The faithful, the devoted sought God … together.
The Holy Spirit came … spoke … led … and activated Paul.
I want some of that.
And in this short passage, Luke gave us the recipe:
recognition that Jesus is Lord!
priority on prayer, supercharged with fasting . . .
looking for and listening to the Holy Spirit. Uh huh. That’s it.
And tomorrow … Paul steps to the microphone ~ first time!
Jireh - this song is so apt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mC-zw0zCCtg
Doesn’t take a trophy to make God proud
1 - Bible Odyssey - Antioch, https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/places/main-articles/antioch
2 - Syria War, Middle East Eye, March 14, 2021 - https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syria-war-anniversary-christians-assad-manipulation5
3 - Acts 13.2-3
4 - Skip Heitzig, Calvary Chapel Albuquerque