Acts 13: 1-4Written by kathleen on Jul 19, 2015 in - No Comments
Acts 13: 1-4
1 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
After seeing the establishment of the church in Antioch; Saul knowing he has been called to the gentiles to proclaim the gospel and Barnabas also believing he is to support Saul go to the leaders of the church seeking confirmation, support, direction, and accountability for their decision. (A basic principle for any type of ministry that is to take place)(It’s good to have different perspectives and confirmation of our intensions to make sure of what we are to do)
During this time the leaders of the church began to fast and pray seeking God’s direction for these men. After receiving confirmation from the Holy Spirit they had a formal commissioning to this ministry with them laying their hands on Saul and Barnabas; praying and officially sending them off to fulfill God’s calling.
The laying on of hands was a formality; certainly Barnabas and Saul were “ordained” before this, but now they were entering a different sphere of ministry. (Up one level) As far as we know, this had never happened before in the history of the church as they were supported and sent by a specific congregation with an organized effort to win people to Jesus like this.
In the daily pace of our modern society it is easy to lose our focus on what God might desire to do in and through us. Many times we see a need to be filled and get caught up in the emotion of it and miss the real purpose that the Lord allowed us to see it for.
That’s why as Christians, it is critical that we fast from time to time to help bring us a truer sense of God’s desire for our lives.
Through fasting and prayer, it results in our communication with the Lord to move to a different dynamic and a more highly sensitive level of awareness.
In the past few studies we have been seeing that as believers and followers of Jesus we are to be separated from our old ways and habits as we continue to follow Jesus; and have focused on the physical changes that can be made.
We must understand that for these changes to be made; there should be a spiritual leading and desire to make a lasting change for God’s glory and that these changes can only come by the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
It was a custom of some of the early prophets, church leaders and Christian disciples to have a period of fasting, or self-denial, during which believers said, “I want to deny myself and draw closer to God!” James tells us; Come near to God and he will come near to you!
And there is no better way to do this than to fast!
Throughout the Bible you can see that it was assumed there would be fasting. This is the reason religious leaders challenged Jesus about why His disciples didn’t participate regularly in a fast. Jesus said to them, Matt 9:15 “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Speaking of the time after His resurrection)
If you desire results for change in your life, or seeking direction for your life, and want to begin with a fast unto the Lord, you must start with a heart of repentance and forgiveness. You can’t begin a fast holding on to some sinful practice, or bitterness towards someone. If you’re going to ask God to hear your voice, you must be willing to stop any sinful practice you are dealing with. Psalm 24:3 asks, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?”
The reply is in the following verse: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully” Our part of entering into a fast is to be willing for God to search our heart and then be willing to repent of any sin the holy Spirit brings to mind.
Generally in the Bible fasting is going without food and only consuming liquids for a period of time. Some people will just fast a meal, and you can do that, but I might suggest if you are in a desperate situation or are praying about a serious matter in your life or someone’s life dealing with breaking a stronghold, you might want to continue on for a lengthier amount of time. (DISCLAIMER: When beginning a fast always make sure of your health condition) The idea of fasting is to put aside a thing or things that have a prominent place in your lifestyle and replacing it with time spent in prayer and fellowship with the Lord.
Before beginning His ministry, Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, where He didn’t eat for 40 days. Although Jesus lacked food, He was strengthened and nourished through His direct and intimate time spent with the God.
The time Jesus spent fasting brought Him so close to the Father that he could reject the severest of temptation from Satan EVEN at his weakest physical condition.
That is why fasting is so important to the Believer because it causes us to focus directly on our Creator and Lord because this is where our true strength comes from.
Just as there was a release of spiritual power in the life of Jesus so too will there be with you as you deny yourself and focus on the Lord with the only intension to know him more!
Notice what else they are doing besides fasting -WORSHIPING AND PRAYING.
During this time of fasting; times of singing, praising, and worship will bring you into a real presence of God’s love as you fill the time you have set aside for the fast unto the Lord As these men of Antioch ministered to the Lord they heard from the Lord! They had left their normal worldly routines behind and focused on the Lord so their ears were open and their minds were attentive to hearing the word of the Lord. The result was 100% confirmation that Saul and Barnabas were to go to the Gentiles
THE RESULTS OF FASTING
Fasting will bring answers in Jer 29:12-14 God tells us that with a repentant heart You will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord
That’s what fasting is all about; searching for God’s heart for and in any given situation and with all your heart!
Fasting gives clarity for wisdom and understanding
Dan 9:1-4 It was now the first year of the reign of King Darius, the son of Ahasuerus. (Darius was a Mede but became king of the Chaldeans.) 2 In that first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from the book of Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. 3 So I earnestly pleaded with the Lord God [to end our captivity and send us back to our own land. As I prayed, I fasted and wore rough sackcloth, and I sprinkled myself with ashes 4 and confessed my sins and those of my people. TLB
In response to Daniel’s fast and him spending time in the Scriptures God sent an angel to give him insight and understanding. V. 20-23 “Even while I was praying and confessing my sin and the sins of my people, desperately pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, flew swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice and said to me, “Daniel, I am here to help you understand God’s plans. The moment you began praying a command was given. I am here to tell you what it was, for God loves you very much. Listen and understand the meaning of the vision that you saw!” TLB
Fasting is a way to seek God for protection
Ezra was a priest and scribe that attempted to bring reform to Israel after they had been subjected to corruption from captivity and foreign contact. Rather than asking the King for protection, Ezra proclaimed a fast before leading a flock of exiled Jewish families on a dangerous journey from Babylon and home to Jerusalem.
Ezra 8:21-23 “Then I declared a fast while we were at the Ahava River so that we would humble ourselves before our God; and we prayed that he would give us a good journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled. For I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and cavalry to accompany us and protect us from the enemies along the way.
After all, we had told the king that our God would protect all those who worshiped him, and that disaster could come only to those who had forsaken him! So we fasted and begged God to take care of us. And he did.” TLB
Note that Ezra and the people did more than to just go without eating. They humbled themselves and sought God through prayer and fasting and God responded by listening and providing! Fasting can bring results when interceding for others
(even when being manipulated by evil)
In the Book of I Kings 21:20-29 we learn that Ahab was an evil King when he reigned over Israel along with his wife Jezebel. Elijah spoke to Ahab the words of the Lord. Elijah said that God was going to destroy Ahab and his wife because of their evil deeds. Ahab responded by tearing his clothes and placing sackcloth upon his flesh as a way of humbling himself. However, more significantly is that he received the Word from God with a truly repentant heart.
God then reversed His judgment upon Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab had responded the way God wanted and avoided destruction. FASTING for Help in Times of Trials, Tribulations and Battles Joel describes the plague of the locusts and calls the people to repentance. He urges them to mourn, tremble, fast and pray. The locusts in this story can represent for us today, any kind of battle or opposition in our lives, or even the hard times to come. Joel 1:12-14 “The grapevines are dead; the fig trees are dying; the pomegranates wither; the apples shrivel on the trees; all joy has withered with them. O priests, robe your selves in sackcloth. O ministers of my God lie all night before the altar, weeping; for there are no more offerings of grain and wine for you. Announce a fast; call a solemn meeting. Gather the elders and all the people into the Temple of the Lord your God, and weep before him there.” “That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me all your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, mourning. TLB
After fasting and praying; the men of the church laid hands on Saul and Barnabas and sent them on their way.
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
This is an important truth for you who are trying to discern God’s will for your life.
The text says, “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went” The Holy Ghost sent them out, but they departed.
The Holy Ghost gave direction, but it was up to them to begin the journey. There comes a point when the Lord, having made His will clear to you He expects you to depart—to take the first step on whatever path He has directed you to walk.
Even if the path may not be completely clear we are told in Phil 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.