The Church at Antioch was a vibrant one with them growing in the Lord. Paul’s impact on this Church took several years, but now they were ready to be a sending church—to guide and lead others to belief in Jesus Christ. They listened to the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit—The Advocate
In John 14, Jesus informed the 12 apostles that he would ask the Father to send a helper. Jesus said . . . “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative that is, the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26 NLT). The Holy Spirit will actually guide followers of Jesus.
The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost nearly overwhelmed those present. The book of Acts might rightly be called the “Acts of the Holy Spirit [through the apostles] to build the New Testament Church.” The astounding entrance of the Holy Spirit began God’s action with His Church.
The Church at Antioch ministered to the Lord by the worshiping, fasting, praying, and waiting on God. These were strengths of the early Church. Ministering to the Lord is not a term used often. We think of these as how we—believers do things—but these actions minister to the Lord.
Then, as they waited for guidance, the “Holy Spirit spoke, Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do.” So they commissioned them. In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying, they laid hands on their heads and sent them off (13:2b,3 The Message).
Fasting, Praying, and Waiting
In my opinion, fasting and waiting are now lacking in importance on how to minister to the Lord. Fasting is often not even a part of how we submit to God to receive guidance on a regular basis (let alone in times of dire need).
The ‘action’ of waiting on God is to decline the urge to jump into ‘must do this or must do that’ which begs on our minds. Waiting to hear God’s voice is exactly what our hearts need . . . then we believers will gain rest for our souls and guidance.
Richard Foster * describes spiritual disciplines as the door of liberation for the Christian. He goes on to state that joy is the keynote of each one as well as freedom from fear and self-interest.
The Church at Antioch received guidance for what God wanted them to do when they listened to the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Father, help me apply these spiritual disciplines to enable me to hear you better. I want to hear you all the time.
Questions: How often have you skipped over these essential words “waited on God” for answers or “fasted” for answers to prayer? Can you trust the Holy Spirit to give specific or personal guidance?
* Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth, Richard J. Foster, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1988, p 1,2.