Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The ministering listener

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 12:20-13:12

TO CHEW ON: "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them'" Acts 13;2.

We can learn much about the Holy Spirit and His activity by studying Luke's stories of the early church. Here we discover that He spoke to the prophets and teachers of the Antioch church not only through their times of intentional religious practice (fasting), but also "as they ministered."

[Ministered (leitourgeo) means performing religious or charitable acts, fulfilling an office, discharging a function officiating as a priest, serving God with prayers and fasting (compare liturgy and liturgical) - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1515. 

The Lexicon at StudyLight.org  says "It is used of Christians serving Christ, whether by prayer, or by instructing others concerning the way of salvation, or in some other way, as well as of those who aid others with their resources, and relieve their poverty."]

The word leitourgeo is used in two other places as well. In Hebrews 10:11 litourgeo ministry refers to the Old Testament priests ministering in the Levitical offerings. In Romans 15:27 it is used in connection with giving an offering, i.e. ministering to fellow Christians in material ways.

In other words, the disciples in today's reading were not only engaged in prayer and fasting, but were probably busy with practical ministering duties (which could have included working at the local food bank, or helping patch a widow's roof, or bringing a meal to a needy family) when the Holy Spirit communicated to them His special instructions for Barnabas and Saul.

It's a comfort to know that God speaks not only when we're sequestered in our prayer closets, but also when we're busy in practical ways. Let's be listening to hear Him through the din and clatter of our ministering today.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to keep my ears tuned to hear You through and in the sounds of my day-to-day ministering duty. Amen.

MORE: The receiving worker
"...mission is not only to go and tell others about the risen Lord, but also to receive that witness from those to whom we are sent. Often mission is thought of exclusively in terms of giving, but true mission is also receiving. If it is true that the Spirit of Jesus blows where it wants, there is no person who cannot give that Spirit. In the long run, mission is possible only when it is as much receiving as giving, as much being cared for as caring. We are sent to the sick, the dying, the handicapped, the prisoners, and the refugees to bring them the good news of the Lord's resurrection. But we will soon be burned out if we cannot receive the Spirit of the Lord from those to whom we are sent" - Henri Nouwen, With Burning Hearts, pp. 115, 116.

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