06 February 2009
Sent out by the Holy Spirit, Saul and Barnabas went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. (Acts 13:4 NLT)
This is a turning point in church history. The movement of the Good News from the Jerusalem church had been the result of persecution and pressure which scattered the Christ-followers. Now two apostles were intentionally sent out by the Holy Spirit as the first missionaries. Other turning points in this chapter are:
• A multi-ethnic church sends out its top leaders for a new kind of ministry by a direct message from the Holy Spirit emerging from team prayer and worship.
• Saul takes the Greek name Paul and intentionally directs the Good News message to Gentiles and not just Jews and Jewish converts.
• Leadership initiative in the team shifts from Barnabas to Paul as appropriate to their gifts and abilities.
• Paul hits his stride as he discovers the joy of fulfilling the ministry God has created him for.
It’s relatively easy to spot turning points after the fact. It’s not so easy, in the detail and busyness of life and ministry to spot turning points when they arise.
We, like the Antioch church leadership, must be prayerfully open to the direction of the Holy Spirit and flexible enough to obey his promptings or we may miss our turning points. We must be as humble as Barnabas or we may cling to our position and prevent others from blossoming in their sweet spot. We must be as open to change as Saul and allow a new Paul identity to develop for future fruitfulness. We must be sensitive and secure enough to recognize when God is shifting the emphasis of our service.
Father, I recognize a turning point season in my life and I humbly and passionately pray you won’t let me miss it. I pray for my friends and those with whom I serve that you will be gracious and patient and please don’t let us miss our turning points. I ask that you give us wisdom not to make turning points where you have not set them. Amen.