Today’s Reading: Acts 13
In her children’s novel, The Candymakers, Wendy Mass wrote, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” Well, in today’s reading we see that the butterfly is about to come out, because a change is coming.
Can you imagine having Sunday school teachers in your home church named Paul and Barnabas? I mean the Paul and Barnabas. The church in Antioch did. Acts 13 tells us this and then tells us what happened during their worship service. And it’s the butterfly moment:
There were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit . . . .” (Acts 13:1-4)
Paul had been saved in AD 34—Acts 9. In Acts 13, it was AD 48—fourteen years later. It had been fourteen years since Paul’s conversion. Antioch was a six-year-old church, which we saw had been started in Acts 11, where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. Paul was teaching there but had not been released into full-time ministry yet until the music started one Sunday in the service. Let’s read verse 2 again, this time in a different translation: “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’” (NIV).
You have to worship. It’s a command. Not only because God deserves it, but because it positions us for God to talk to us and even guide us. And on this day in Antioch, God tapped Paul and Barnabas on the shoulders and said that it was time for them to change locations and ministries.
You may have thought you are just singing when the music starts at your church, but so much more can happen. When you worship you are positioning yourself to hear God’s voice.
The songs were playing and God said it was time for a change in the Antioch staff team. Whatever their role was at the Antioch church, it would have been cool to go to Barnabas and Paul’s church. But their church was soon about to have a staff shake up.
Just when it seems like you have the perfect leadership team, God may say, “Change.” That doesn’t seem too cool to do to your dream team, but in this case, we know the end of the story and we know it was the right move, because this was the beginning of Paul’s missionary journeys and the spread of the gospel around the world.
Remember, God’s will is more important than any of our preferences. His Kingdom is more important than personalities and our comfort. When it’s a God thing, there may be sadness but there is never harm to God’s work. God will not change the landscape to harm one place and bless another. God will not change something to kill ministries, but will raise up others to do the work of the ministry that did not have a chance before. Abrupt vacancy sometimes means we got comfortable with the same people doing the same thing for a long time and God wants others developed.
Don’t think any person is off limits to God. Don’t put any boundaries around a singer. A musician. A pastor. A leader or faithful worker. As Corrie ten Boom reminds us: “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”
That’s exactly what was about to happen to Paul and the church at Antioch. They were both holding their hands lightly when God tapped them on the shoulder during the worship service.
Next time you stand and sing at church and you feel a tap, it may not be the person behind you. I’m just saying.