Once again I hope to emphasize the importance of hearing God’s voice. I started a couple of days ago with this post on How to Hear from God. Let’s continue.
Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch, where the disciples of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). They are in the list of prophets and teachers in the church (Acts 13:1), men not so much in it for the title or position, but they had a passion for God and His mission. Notice where they were when they heard God’s voice (Acts 13:2). The Message puts it this way, “One day as they were worshiping God—they were also fasting as they waited for guidance—the Holy Spirit spoke:” I believe that these men heard from God because they were in a position to hear his voice; basically, when God spoke, they were listening. You’ve got to be near God to hear God.
What perfect timing. Paul tells us he was set apart from birth (Galatians 1:15) perhaps around AD 10. His salvation did not come until around AD 36, but he was not set for his primary ministry until around AD 46. No time was wasted, Paul used these years to prepare for this moment. When the time came, he was ready. So after the church fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off (Acts 13:3).
It’s important to note that if the Holy Spirit sends, He is also going to equip those He sends. God gave these men wisdom, experience and even a helper (John Mark – Acts 13:5 – who later would be the writer of the gospel of Mark). So off they went.
At the first stop they find an interesting man whose name was Bar-Jesus (or Elymas), an attendant to Serguis Paulus, the governor of Cyprus (Acts 13:6, 7). The governor wanted to hear God’s Word but this Bar-Jesus did all that he could to prevent it (Acts 13:8). Interestingly enough, it is here that Saul name officially transitions to Paul (Acts 13:9). Paul looks at him and calls him the son of the devil (Acts 13:10) which is a play on the man’s name (Bar-Jesus means the son of Jesus). Paul describes him this way:
- Full of deceit – bait, fraud, guile, deceit – the man was involved in magic, astrology and enchantment.
- Full of trickery – often a word used for thieves and con men involved in wicked schemes or plots.
- Perverted the right ways of the Lord – to turn or twist, distort, pervert, seduce, mislead, turn away.
It is also here that Paul performs his first miracle (Acts 13:11) and the man becomes blind. The result was that the governor came to faith (Acts 13:12). God wants to amaze us with His Word as well. If we will only seek Him and examine His truth, He can blow our minds with what He was for us. How did the governor come to faith? Because he wanted to hear the Word of the Lord (Acts 13:7). He was ready to receive and God honored that desire.
Application: Are you in a position to hear God’s Word? Do you have a desire to hear from Him? Are you actively involved in worship or does that not fit in your schedule? How about a small group of people who can help you understand the Bible better and be challenged to live it out in everyday life? As in this story, our enemy will do everything in his power to distract you from hearing God. Stay focused, do not get distracted from your goal (Romans 8:29, Galatians 2:20, Acts 20:24). Allow God to use you for his kingdom. Be available to serve Him and others by putting yourself into a position to hear from Him.