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
In Calvin Miller's book - That Elusive Thing Called Joy, one of the things he emphasizes is how letting God control our lives through the Holy Spirit is a key component of the joy we all so desire. This comes about, he says, as we live in communication with the Holy Spirit:
"Spiritually speaking, the Christian is in exile. We are one world out of phase with our home. When we first received Christ we were set on a high-frequency humanity. Our communication, like our interest, shifted plateaus: "Our conversation is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). Indeed, except for the special communion provided by the Father, our exile would be oppressive.
This special communication is made possible by the Holy Spirit. Without Him your happiness is impossible, for He is your one life with Christ and the Father. Blot Him out and not only is the Trinity a distant duality, but God and you are no longer on speaking terms. He is your sole communication on your journey through the long night into day, the only companion for the pilgrimage that must otherwise be passed in silence." pp. 74-75
An example of the Holy Spirit's communication and companionship is the story in our reading today. It's a continuation of events in Antioch from yesterday. Then Barnabas fetched Paul to work alongside him. Now the Antioch Christians are absorbed with "ministering" to the Lord when the Holy Spirit speaks. It's so clear the exact words are in quotes in my Bible: "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
They obey. And the Holy Spirit's activity continues as they go to the island of Cyprus to tell the good news about Jesus.
In the city of Paphos, the pro-consul Sergius Paulus asks to hear their message. But his spiritual adviser, a sorcerer named Bar-Jesus opposes them and their message. Then Paul "filled with the Holy Spirit" confronts him. Notice his boldness, evident in both his body language and what he says: he "looked at him intently' and said: "'Oh full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness.'" (Yikes! No political correctness here!) Paul pronounces blindness on him and it happens. That sign brings the pro-consul to faith and probably a lot faster than if there had been no opposition.
As amazing as this story sounds to us, in the history of the early church it's just another day orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Which makes me ask myself - have I offered Him such carte blanche to myself? Do I expect to hear His instructions, get his moment-by-moment leading, witness the startling results in my life?
PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, thank You for being my liaison with God. Help me to understand this better and to become a better listener. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.