Fasting Brings Transition
In the church at Antioch...while they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul.” Acts 13:1,2 NIV
The five men listed as the Antioch church leaders are: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, and Saul. Manaen grew up with Herod the Tetrarch (Antipas), but the two boys went two separate paths. Herod beheaded John the Baptist and ruled over one of Jesus’ crucifixion trials (Luke 23:7-12). Manaen became a Christian, and a leader at Antioch.
Simeon called Niger (meaning black) is thought to be Simon of Cyrene, who carried Jesus’ cross (Luke 23:26). Simeon and Lucius both came to Antioch from Cyrene—a prominent city in the North African country of Libya, with many Jewish synagogues.
So we have two black African leaders (Simeon and Lucius), two Jewish leaders (Barnabas and Saul), and Manaen, who was in Herod’s palace on a regular basis. These five men give us a snapshot of the leadership culture of the early church in Antioch as a place filled with racial, cultural, and social diversity.
Out of this diversity, arose a passion for worship, prayer, and fasting, which launched the Gospel forward into cities and nations at a break-neck pace! Here are a few applications from v2-3:
1. They were worshiping the Lord... The NKJV says they ministered to the Lord. They were ministering to the Lord before they gained any insight from God or ministered to people. This is a great reminder in fasting to “worship first, everything else second.”
2. The Holy Spirit said... They heard from God because He is a speaking God! Let’s be ready every minute of our fasting season to hear from God. He has thoughts, opinions, instructions, insight, direction, and focus for us 24/7. Let’s discipline ourselves to tune in and listen to His voice. He is speaking; are we listening?
3. For the work to which I have called them... There is a specific assignment that God has in mind for us, something unique that He has called us to. We don’t have time to do everything, so it is critical that we gain clarity through fasting for the work to which we have been called by God! Make a list of what to do and what not to do. Choose to say “yes” to the things God has called us to do and “no” to the things He has called someone else to do.
4. After they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off... Fasting can often lead to a major transition in our lives. The word “sent” is apelysan, which means to free fully, relieve, release. Barnabas and Saul were released from their assignment as prophets/teachers in the Antioch church, and launched into a new assignment as apostles, evangelists, church planters, and missionaries. This was a huge transition!
This moment also serves as a transition within the entire Book of Acts. The lead character in Acts 1 to 12 is Peter, but from this moment forward, Saul/Paul becomes the key leader in Acts 13 to 28.
Be ready for any shift God may have in store—be it large or small. Let’s have our hand on the stick and foot on the clutch!
PRAY THIS OUT LOUD
Jesus, I worship You and minister to You today. You are my first priority. And I believe You are a speaking God. Help me hear Your voice and say “yes” to the work to which You have called me. I’m ready for any transition You want to bring into my life. Let’s GO!! TODAY’S
What verse or phrase from today’s Scripture reading was the most meaningful to me? What key truths or observations stand out to me in today’s story of fasting? How does the Holy Spirit want to apply this to my life today?
This is reproduced from Griffin, Chris. Fasting For Breakthrough: A 21-Day Biblical Roadmap for Fasting and Prayer (p. 75). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.