A CALL TO MISSION
Paul and Barnabas is going to be called for a special mission from the Lord. The mission is not their purpose in life because ultimately the purpose of anyone’s life is to be loved by God while reflecting that love back to God and others. This particular missionary trip is only a task that they will be doing until the next one and we realize that our purpose is not about what we can do but who we can be in relationship with God. A lot of times we get frustrated in finding our purpose because we equate purpose with what we are able to do but the human purpose is not tied to a function or task but a state of being. For me, I will always be a son of God because of Jesus and to love Him is my purpose as He loves me. My task however for this season is to be a pastor. This doesn’t mean that I will always be a pastor but that God for now has called me to do it and I will do it because I love him, which I realize that when you do something for God because you love him that the task often times is enjoyable to you as well. Pastoring is my job but not my purpose as I realized that I will not be a pastor in heaven but regardless of what I am on earth or in heaven, that I will always be a son in Christ.
So if we are not struggling with purpose but more so what mission we will be doing in this life, how can we figure that out? Today’s passage sheds some light on how we can maneuver ourselves to hear from God to receive insight on what our particular mission will be on earth.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
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 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Notice that there are three things that the church was engaged in that set them up to hear from God about the mission that Barnabas and Saul will do, which are the following:
The worshiping and fasting opened them up to hear from the Holy Spirit. God is attracted to worship and thus when we as community consistently steward an atmosphere of worship, God’s presence will be present. What does fasting do? Fasting also clears up our ability to hear from God as the act of denying food is a declaration that it is God that keeps us alive ultimately and that our desire for God is more important than the food we eat. Now fasting is a tough thing to do and I confess that it is one of the weakest Christian practices in my life but in the moments that I did decide to fast to seek God’s presence, my ability to hear God’s voice shot up the roof! Yes there was much pain, delirium, and suffering but the joy of intimate fellowship with God was worth it all and this is something that I have to constantly remind myself of. I know a lot of times we think reminding ourselves of the truth seems like a failure because we should get it once and be done with it but I realize that a lifestyle of remembrance is not failure but fighting to sustain what is important to us.
What is interesting here is that the church as a whole was engaged in worship and fasting when the Lord told the community the calling of Barnabas and Paul. We have made our callings and missions a very individualistic thing but if you seek clarity in God’s direction with important decisions, don’t seek it alone but in community. But you may say, “What if I don’t feel that is God’s calling in my life?” A valid question but notice how after the word of God was revealed they continued to fast but now prayed before they sent them out. The addition of prayer from everyone to seek confirmation from God is what helps people to align together to God’s will.
So to hear are some tips on hearing from God about our calling:
Clarity is achieved through community. Doesn’t mean you can’t get it alone but there is a higher chance of hearing right when multiple people seek God’s heart for a particular thing.
Worship, pray, and fast to draw near to God’s presence to hear from Him
Tips on fasting
Ease into it. Don’t go wild and go on a forty-day fast when you’ve never fasted before! Your desire to see Jesus will actually become a reality when you find yourself in heaven because you destroyed your body. Remember passion without wisdom is foolishness!
When you fast, the times that you were going to spend eating should be set aside to seek His presence through prayer. Be intentional. Sometimes we fast but we just go about our normal day and wonder why nothing happened! When we fast, we must realize that fasting sets up the platform for seeking through prayer, reading the word, and worship.
There are different types of fasting. If you’ve never fasted, try doing a juice fast where you drink liquids for a day but no food. If you’re a noob then just fast once a day and work your way up. If you have a medical condition then please seek medical counsel first as again, we want to exercise wisdom. Some people do media fasts and there is nothing wrong with that but don’t just say you’re going to fast media when you know it’s not going to be a big deal for you! Don’t seek the easy route!
Fast with people. Like a workout partner, a fasting partner will help you go on when you feel that you’ve met your end. Afterwards, break fast together and eat while you celebrate the encounters, revelations, and breakthrough that may have happened during the fast.
As a reminder!!!! When you fast please exercise wisdom by seeking guidance first from a pastor and or mentor if you’ve never done it before. As always please consider any health conditions you may have.
7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
Paul and Barnabas are called to a Roman official to tell them about Christ. As Barnabas and Paul carry out God’s will, there is opposition from Elymas the magician. When you realize what the calling is for your life, just know that opposition is going to happen so don’t be shocked. Wherever God is, the enemy will try and stop His movements but don’t be discouraged by that for discouragement to that type of opposition is submission to the lie that God can’t do anything about the situation. Realize that regardless of whether the enemy strikes, God is going to ALWAYS win so your first concern is not to prevent the attacks of the enemy but simply seek to fulfill God’s will and then think about defense.
11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Christian’s shouldn’t be pushovers. For whatever reason we think that being passive and never standing up for truth is genuine holiness. FALSE! If you look at this situation, Paul is not being passive at all and let us not forget the ruckus Jesus caused at the temple when he was flipping tables! Paul saw what Elymas was doing by actively coming against God and Paul actively exercised his authority in the Holy Spirit to stop the works of the enemy. Sometimes we are so passive that we let the enemy do whatever he wants and keep whatever he wants but God is such a powerful lover of His people that He won’t just sit there twiddling his thumbs till something happens but instead takes full control of the situation.
So what does exercising our authority look like?
It doesn’t mean that we never stand up for the truth and what is right. If anything we are always willing to do what is right before God .
We don’t stay silent and shrink away to our nice church gatherings but that we give heaven’s perspective on social issues and things that are going on in the world or in our own communities.
We realize that our enemy is not people but the spiritual demonic forces in the background so therefore not entertaining the enemy by allowing them to do whatever they want! Actively pray and proclaim that God will cast out darkness, oppression, depression, addiction, and establish God’s presence in places.
Finally as we engage in the calling that God asks us to do, realize that the supernatural manifestations caused Sergius to believe but at the same time that he was more amazed by the teaching of the word. It is understanding of who God is that captivates believers and if you have read this far into this post I congratulate you because I am about to reveal something about calling!
The purpose of our lives is to be loved by God while reflecting that love to God and people. The calling of God is also the same for all people, which is to proclaim Christ and help people to know God so that they can live out their purpose in God but how you do it will be different from other people. You will either be a doctor, artist, business person, gamer, or anything that you desire (that’s not illegal or unholy) but that is only the arena for you to fulfill your purpose and the first calling to be fishers of men. So whatever you do, do not forget that you are a child of God and that you are a fisher of men.