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The Scriptorium

Set Apart, Sent

We're also set apart and sent. Acts 13.1-3

On a Roll: Acts 13 (1)

Pray Psalm 117.1, 2.
Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!
For His merciful kindness is great toward us,
And the truth of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD!

Sing Psalm 117.1, 2.
(Lauda Anima: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven)
Praise the Lord!  All nations, praise Him! Magnify Him, peoples all!
He is great, His steadfast love keeps all who on His favor call!
Evermore His faithfulness will bless His people, great and small!

Read and meditate on Acts 13.1-3.

Preparation
1. To whom and what did the Lord set apart Saul and Barnabas?

2. How did the church in Antioch respond?

Meditation
We note that it pleased the Spirit, Who is on a roll, to bring several teachers to serve the growing congregations in Antioch. We can see the wisdom in this, since the Spirit was about to send two of those teachers for a work elsewhere. How did the Spirit speak to the church in Antioch concerning Saul and Barnabas? We don’t know. It’s possible the church may have been seeking the Lord about His plan for them. Leaders may have been praying and fasting, seeking the Lord’s will, when the Spirit made His intentions known. Perhaps there was an audible voice. More likely, one or more of the leaders were “impressed” by the Spirit and shared their thoughts with the rest.

Since Barnabas had been so helpful in getting the church organized in Antioch, and Saul was a Roman citizen, the leaders may have considered that they were the best choices for the Spirit’s mission.

The decision having been made, and all agreed, the congregation engaged in more prayer and fasting, laid hands on Barnabas and Saul, and sent them off. In Jerusalem, the Spirit used persecution to jump-start the mission of the Church. In Antioch, He spoke to the congregation during worship. If our worship is focused on God, waiting on Him, listening for His voice, and seeking His will, He may be pleased to launch our church into some new and exciting Kingdom adventure. But if all we’re looking for in worship is something for ourselves, we’re not likely to hear the Spirit prompting us to greater challenges.

A new stage in the ongoing work of Christ begins, as the church in Antioch sends off a missionary team to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom among Jews and Gentiles in far-off places. This was a risky enterprise. Transportation and communications would be difficult. Opposition was guaranteed. Resources would have to be secured along the way. But when the Spirit calls, we do not balk at risk; we embrace it in the confidence that He Who has called us is faithful, and He will do it (1 Thess. 5.24).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
When the world speaks of equity and diversity, much to their chagrin, they are merely mimicking the early Church. And the Church today should also be mimicking the early Church.

They first started with reaching the original children of God with the Good News of Jesus. Then they expanded to incorporate the Gentiles of all the nations. As Jesus had told them, “Be witnesses to Me…to the end of the earth” (Act 1.8). That sounds pretty inclusive!

The list of prophets and teachers in Antioch (Acts 13.1) is fascinating: Barnabas we have already met; Simeon is new, Lucius of Cyrene (could he have possibly become a Christ-one through the testimony of Simon, who carried the cross for Jesus?); Manaen (a childhood friend of Herod); and Saul. Can you imagine the evenings of sharing amongst these believers about how they came to know and believe and turn to Jesus Christ?

Manaen was brought up with Herod. Herod was an aggressive hater of all things Christian. These two men were brought up in the same environment, no doubt having the same teachers, similar friends and backgrounds. And yet, one made the turn to Christ, the other did not.

It is a mystery and all of grace. The Holy Spirit quickens hearts. Brings dead hearts to life. And then calls us to serve the Lord and live only for Him. How blessed we are. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Only mercy.

And we are told, by Peter in fact, to “be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble…” (2 Pet. 1.10). And those things were to be diligent to add to our faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness (2 Pet. 1.5-7).

And Paul added that we are to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3.14). And he encouraged us, the set apart and sent, to know that come what may, “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8.28).

There is grace. Then there is our calling. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2.10).

Now in the Church there is: the remembrance of Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, and Saul; and currently serving…you.

For reflection
1. Barnabas and Saul were sent, just as Jesus said we all are (Jn. 20.21). What will it mean for you to be sent by Jesus today?

2. How can you know when the Spirit is directing you in a particular way?

3. What can you do to become more consistent in your witness for the Lord?

What an assemblage was here! In these names we see that the Lord raises up instruments for his work, from various places and stations in life; and zeal for his glory induces men to give up flattering connections and prospects to promote his cause. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 13.1-3

Pray Psalm 118.14-24.
Call upon the Lord to scatter all His foes, embolden and empower His people, and send His Spirit into the world with fresh fire for revival, renewal, and awakening.

Sing Psalm 118.14-24.
(St. George’s Windsor: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come)
In the Savior we are strong! He is all our strength and song!
To His grace now raise your voice; in His righteousness rejoice!
For the Lord does valiantly; we shall live eternally.
Praise His works with all your breath, you whom He redeems from death.

All who know Christ’s righteousness His great Name now thank and bless!
Though His gate full righteous is, He our saving mercy is.
Cast aside and left alone, Christ is now our Cornerstone!
God has made His Son and Word our salvation: Praise the Lord!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

Are you praying daily for revival, renewal, and awakening in our world? Our book Restore Us! shows you why you should and how you can. It includes prayer guides for personal or group use. You can order a free copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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