Summary: To alert the reader that the Lord can use those who are willing to work.
SET APART FOR A PARTICULAR WORK
My brothers and sisters when it comes to doing work for the Lord, we all have a particular job to do. Even though many in the church would rather do someone else’s job, we must realize that the Lord had already picked us out for a particular mission that has nothing to do with what we want to do. That is why as Christians we must learn to know when the Lord is speaking to us or not. One of the ways you can tell when the Lord is speaking, is when He tells us to do something that is not on our agenda. And the other is that He would give us a job that will not bring glory to us, but to Him. I’m reminded how the Lord sent me to my first pastorate. It was not a church of convenience, because I had to travel one hundred and four miles one way and three quarters of those miles were in some kind of traffic or another. It was not a church of celebration, because they did not revere the time they spent in worship, they would rather come to church, go through the motions of the program, then go home. They would arrive late and expected to leave early. And it was not a church for change, because they were set in their ways. But many of them loved their pastor and the Lord gave me the words, the strength, and the patience to endure these things the three years I was there. And if it was one thing they learned while I was there, it was to embrace the time they had with the Lord and their pastor. And what I learned was that “He that is faithful over a few things, the Lord will make him a ruler over many.” And I believe I am still reaping the blessings for being faithful to that congregation.
Last week’s message dealt with the dangers of arrogance. We saw how Herod the king, while in leadership, thought of himself to be greater than he really was. Earlier in the chapter he vexed certain brethren of the church, killed James with a sword and seeing how it would please the Jews, proceeded to take Peter as a prisoner. He even manipulated other cities and countries, during a famine that the prophets said would happen.
Last week’s lesson picked up with the king being displeased with the cities of Tyre and Sidon. It is not known what it was all about, but one thing we do know is that the cities wanted to have the matter resolved so they could continue to depend on Herod and his kingdom for their economic provisions. It took a friendship between one of the king’s chamberlains and the delegations from the two cities to get an audience with the king and an audience they did get. He showed up in his royal garment, and sat on his high throne to make his speech unto them. And afterwards they stroked his ego by shouting that they had just heard the voice of a god, and my brothers and sisters that was the beginning of Herod’s end, because in verse 23 it said that immediately an angel of the Lord smote him because he gave not God the glory.
This lesson starts a new chapter in the lives of those prophets and teachers in Antioch. They are found ministering to the Lord through worship and fasting. They were not settled with just being the church at Antioch, but they knew that there was more to do so they sought the Lord for guidance. That is when the Holy Spirit stepped in and said, “Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work unto which I have called them.”
So, let’s go to the lesson and maybe the Lord will show us our particular work for His church.
First of all . . .
1. THERE WERE SERIOUS WORSHIPERS IN THE LOCAL CHURCH (v.1)
“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers, as Barnabas, and Simeon, who was called Niger, and Lucius, of Cyrene, and Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod, and Saul.”
First of all we see that those at Antioch were men and women who did not mind being in the service of the Lord. The text gave the names of those who were there. It was Barnabas and Simeon, Lucius and Manaen, and they were all prophets and teachers that gave structure to the church at Antioch. They continued in fellowship at Antioch seeing the move of God and being used of God. They were not settled with what the Lord had done there at Antioch, because they believed that the Lord had greater things for them and the Antioch church to do. So they continued to exhibit Christian fellowship and worship. Isn’t it sad to see how slothful we the new millennial church has become in comparison to the early church? The early church hungered and thirsted after the word of God and to minister in His presence, but the new millennium church hungers and thirst after the things of the world and a convenient way to hear the word of God. The early church did not have the comfort of air conditioning or plush cushioned seats, but they gathered for fellowship wherever they could, often bearing the heat of the day. But the new millennium church with all the creature comforts, would rather make fellowship secondary in their lives regardless of all the convenient comforts the building has, and what amazes me is that they can spend hours upon hours in the heat for recreation but do not want to spend two hours in worship in an air-conditioned church. I tell you we have placed Christian fellowship way down a long list of things to do. But at the church in Antioch there was true fellowship going on with sincere people of God shaping the foundation of the worship.