The Holy Spirit said . . .
A famine had spread across the land, and the Christians in Antioch were concerned about their fellow believers in Jerusalem. So they raised some money and commissioned Barnabas and Paul to bring it to them (Acts 11:27-30). Their “relief mission” now completed (12:25), Barnabas and Paul joined the prophets and teachers in the church in Antioch. Fasting and praying, they asked the Lord, “What’s next?”
We don’t know exactly what he meant when Luke, the author of Acts, wrote that “the Holy Spirit said” (Acts 13:2). The Spirit could have spoken in an audible voice, but he also might have been speaking in more ordinary ways.
For example, God could have been speaking through the circumstances of Paul and Barnabas. They had proven themselves to the leaders of the Antioch church, and perhaps the time had come for them to expand the scope of their service to the Lord.
God could have also been speaking through the desires of Paul and Barnabas to go on another mission trip. Maybe they were restless and eager to do more for the Lord.
Or the Spirit could have spoken through an interior sense the elders had as they prayed and fasted. Perhaps the Spirit helped them realize that their peaceful, prosperous community was ready to share its gifts and proclaim the gospel elsewhere.
God can speak to us in similar ways. If you’ve just retired and your pastor asks you to head up a new ministry, he might be speaking to you through your circumstances. If you’ve always wanted to work with young children and you notice that your local elementary school needs volunteers, God might be speaking to you through your desires. If you and your spouse agree to move to a different part of the country for a new job, the Spirit could be speaking through a sense you both had as you prayed about whether to accept it.
God speaks to us all the time, but often in more subtle ways than we might expect. Let’s be confident that he will answer us when we ask for guidance. Just as he did for those early Christians in Antioch, God is always ready to show us what’s next!
Word Among Us