Summary: Begin in the Spirit and end in the Spirit…
Life, Everlasting, Part IV – The Work of the Holy Spirit, Part B.
13:1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.
Last week as sort of a prelude to this message, we discussed the importance of being cleansed before we begin any good work for the Lord. And, we used 2nd Timothy 2:21 to support that:
If a man cleanses himself …useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
After we are cleansed and made useful for the Master, and are prepared to do any good work for Him, to where should we turn our attention? What is it that we should now concentrate on if we are to do what is right for God? What can we attend to in our own lives if we are to receive God’s blessing on the work that we are to do for Him?
First and foremost, we need to ensure that we stand in a right relation to the Holy Spirit. We need to ensure that we give Him the place of honor that belongs to Him. We have to realize that the Holy Spirit is the director of the work of God upon this earth. As a matter of fact,
Gregory of Nazianzus.
The deity of the Holy Spirit ought to be clearly recognized in Scripture. Look at these facts: Christ is born; the Spirit is His forerunner. Christ is baptized; the Spirit bears witness. Christ is tempted; the Spirit leads Him up. Christ ascends; the Spirit takes His place. What great things are there in the character of God which are not found in the Spirit? What titles which belong to God are not also applied to Him? He is called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the mind of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of adoption, of truth, of liberty; the Spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of might, of knowledge, of godliness, of the fear of God. This only begins to show how unlimited He is.
Now, ask yourself this question. Do you have a relationship with Him? In our public and private lives, does He have first place? In our worship and praise, is He depended on to lead guide us?
When we have finally came to that point where we are an empty and clean vessel ready for the Master’s use, we must hesitate and ask ourselves that question: “What is my relation to the Spirit of God?” “What place does He have in my life?” “Do I depend upon Him to show the way?”
Elizabeth Elliot, A Slow and Certain Light.
Elizabeth Elliot tells of two adventurers who stopped by to see her, all loaded with equipment for the rain forest east of the Andes. They sought no advice, just a few phrases to converse with the Indians. She writes: "Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers came to me -- confident and, we think, well-informed and well equipped. But has it occurred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff, something is missing?
She suggests that we often ask God for too little. We know what we need--a yes or no answer, please, to a simple question. Or perhaps a road sign. Something quick and easy to point the way. What we really ought to have is the Guide himself. Maps, road signs, a few useful phrases are things, but infinitely better is someone who has been there before and knows the way.
In our scripture passages before us, we have several thoughts that are suggested:
God Works His Own Plan
God Reveals His Own Plan
We must ALWAYS be PREPARING
We must ALWAYS be LISTENING
We must ALWAYS be WILLING
God Works His Own Plan
God has His own divine plan that He is working through man for His own good purpose. He established that church at Antioch. He brought those ‘certain prophets and teachers’ and placed them in that church in Antioch. He had already scripted plans for the church and the people, and for any evangelistic efforts beyond that. They were His plans; they were not Barnabas’ plans or Paul’s plans, but God’s plan for Asia with regard to His Kingdom.