Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ which is the church as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twelve verses of the thirteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will come across one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. As you come to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will what I would most certainly classify as another turning point within the history of the early church. Throughout my writings on the book of Acts this year I have found myself encountering and coming face to face with certain moments—certain seasons and certain events—which took place in the young days of the early church would dramatically alter and shape the landscape of the church. What’s more, is that I believe there were certain divine moments and certain critical junctures within the church’s infant stage that radically and dramatically altered and changed its course. In all reality, I would dare say that were it not for certain of these turning points and defining moments we might not have the testimony and witness the early church had in the book of Acts. I am firmly and completely convinced that when you read the book of Acts you will encounter and come face to face with certain moments of truth and certain moments of transformation which completely and utterly impacted the trajectory of the early church. With that being said I would most certainly state that were it not for these critical junctures and moments within the early church it might have remained within the city of Jerusalem and might not have ever moved beyond the four walls of the city. What is most astonishing is how the Holy Ghost not only took the church beyond the four walls of the upper room, but also took the church from beyond the four walls of the city of Jerusalem. If we are to truly understand the early church we must understand it in terms of a community beyond four walls. There is absolutely not a doubt in my mind that what we find and read within the book of Acts is a truly wonderful and remarkable and truly astonishing experience of the early church being brought beyond the initial four walls of the upper room where it has its inception and put into the streets. Even more than this is that if you continue reading the book of Acts you will find that not only did the church move beyond the four walls of the upper room and into the streets, but it also transitioned beyond even the streets of Jerusalem itself, for it needed to move beyond the walls of Jerusalem. When we think about and when we speak of these turning points we must recognize and understand that they were not only designed and intended to move and transition the church beyond the four walls of any building, but also beyond the four walls of the city of Jerusalem itself.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think within myself that the early church was never meant, nor was it ever intended on remaining within the city of Jerusalem and behind the walls which surrounded the city. If and as you read the words which are found within the book of Acts you will find the Holy Ghost introductions certain turning points within the history of the early church which would ultimately and inevitably transition it from within and behind the walls of the city and into the surrounding regions. With that being said, we must understand and remember the words which Jesus the Christ spoke prior to His departure, for if you turn and direct your attention back to the opening chapter of the book of Acts you will find Jesus declaring unto those who were present on the mount with Him that they would receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon them, and they would be His witnesses in jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria, and ultimately to the uttermost parts of the earth. In fact, we would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand that it was the divine will and plan of the Father for the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, and the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ to extend beyond Jerusalem—and evening Judaea itself—and impact the uttermost parts of the earth. What we read and what we find in the book of Acts is the demonstration and manifestation of that reality, as the Holy Ghost would introduce certain turning points that would alter the trajectory of the church and where it felt—perhaps even where it wanted and desired to go. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we read the words which are found and recorded within the book of Acts we encounter the Holy Ghost doing what was necessary to ensure the early church would not remain and abide within the city of Jerusalem. If and as you read the words which are found within this book you will find that there were certain and distinctive catalysts which launched and propelled the early church beyond the walls of Jerusalem, and even forced it beyond its own borders and comfort zones. When and as we read the book of Acts we must encounter certain events as catalysts and launching pads for the early church to move beyond themselves, and move beyond their own comfort zones, borders and boundaries in order that they might Tana Orion and move into the surrounding regions—and ultimately the four corners of the earth. It was in the Old Testament where Solomon wrote how the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord and He turns and direct it like a river, however He chooses, and I would dare say that the early church was in the hand of the Lord, and like a river He turned it in whatever direction He desired and saw fit to turn it.
We dare not, we cannot, we must not read that which is found in the book of Acts and not encounter the tremendous reality that the turning points we read about were divine tools and instruments within the hand of God to alter the course and trajectory of the early church into the direction He desired and saw fit. If you read the seventh chapter of this book—particularly the end and conclusion of the chapter—you will find Stephen being dragged out of the city of Jerusalem as his accusers, as those who would try him in the Sanhedrin would seek to stone him to death. As you read the final verses of the seventh chapter of the book of Acts you will come face to face with the fact that as Stephen stood before those who would stone him to death he saw heaven opened, saw the glory of God, and eden saw Jesus the Son of God standing at the right hand of the living God. As his accusers and those who would condemn him hurled stones at him—just before he fell asleep and would pass from this life to the next—you will find Stephen asking and entreating the living God that He would not lay this sin to their charge, for like those who crucified Jesus the Christ they did not know what they were doing. It would be the death and martyrdom of Stephen that would not only be one of—if not the first turning points in the book of Acts that would truly alter and change the trajectory of the early church and would completely alter its course and where it would be headed. The more I read and study the church of Jesus Christ which is presented to us within the New Testament book of Acts the more I encounter these turning points which were divine signposts and turn signals of the Holy Ghost to completely alter the direction of the church according to the divine will and purpose of the eternal and living God. As we read the words which are written and found within the New Testament book of Acts we must truly understand and recognize that the church was like a mighty rushing river that was fluid in its nature and would be turned in any direction the Holy Ghost wanted and desired. In all reality, I would dare say that the early church could most readily and most easily be described and defined as a fluid church—one that like a river would have many bends and curves and twists and turns in order that it might have maximum impact within the Roman world at that time. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe that the early church was like a river which was turned in the hand of the Holy Ghost, as the Holy Ghost moved and transitioned it—first beyond the four walls of the upper room, then beyond the four walls of Jerusalem, then even beyond the borders of Judaea and Samaria, and would ultimately turn it into the direction of the surrounding nations, peoples and languages. In fact, much live rivers have tributaries where the flow of water can branch into many different directions, so would the river which was the church of Jesus Christ have one tributary that would ultimately branch off into countless directions. What would begin flowing within the upper room and within the city of Jerusalem would eventually flow forth from Jerusalem, would flow into Judaea and Samaria, and would continue to flow into and unto the nations and peoples of the earth. To help illustrate this point I can’t help but be reminded of the words which we find in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel concerning a vision Ezekiel had when the Spirit of the Lord revealed unto him a vision of the Temple. Consider if you will that which is written and recorded in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and specifically in the forty-seventh chapter:
“Afterward He brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. Then brought He me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side. And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again He measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward He measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to sim in, a river that could not be passed over. And He said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the easy country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea; which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which move the, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall lived whither the river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt. And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:1-12).
What you read and what you find in the forty-seventh chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel is quite a wonderful and powerful prophetic vision received by the the prophet, for not only did the prophet see the river which flowed forth from house, but the prophet was also brought out into the waters in stages until the prophet could no longer pass over the river because it was too deep. When I think about the early church as it is recorded in the New Testament book of Acts I can’t help but think of it as a mighty rushing river which would begin flowing within the upper room in the city of Jerusalem, would continue flowing within the city of Jerusalem, and would ultimately branch out to flow into Judaea and Samaria before it would flow into the nations of the Gentiles round about Jerusalem. What’s more, is that the Holy Ghost initially used the death and martyrdom of Stephen to begin the process of changing the direction and course of the river of the church, as the death of Stephen would ultimately give way to events which we find and read in the opening verses of the eighth chapter. If you begin reading with and from the eighth chapter of the book of Acts you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that the Holy Ghost would further change and alter the direction of the church, for He would use a great persecution which would break out against the church in Jerusalem, thus causing it to spread throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria. Even more than this, the beloved physician Luke goes on to write how in addition to the great persecution which would break out against the early church in the city of Jerusalem, there was a young man named Saul who would begin wreaking havoc upon the church, and would enter into houses and homes and drag men and women out of their own homes that he might commit them unto prison. By the time we come to the end of the eighth chapter we have seen the turning point of martyrdom, the turning point of persecution, and even the turning point of opposition as evidenced within the life of this young man named Saul. When, however, you come to the ninth chapter of this book you will encounter a turning point that was completely different from that which we find and read within the seventh and eighth chapters. As you draw near and approach the ninth chapter you will find the turning point of conversion, as what began with Saul breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the church and obtaining letters from the high priest to bring back any followers of the way he found in Damascus bound to Jerusalem would ultimately and inevitably reach the point where this man named Saul would encounter a bright and blinding light which would throw him from his horse and to the ground. While on the ground Saul would hear a voice calling him by name and asking him why he was persecuting. Perhaps not fully aware of who he was speaking with, Saul asked the voice which was speaking to him who he was—to which the Lord responded and declared unto him that He was Jesus whom he was persecuting. Ultimately, Saul would rise from the earth being led by the men he came with into Damascus, for he was blind and unable to see. After spending three days fasting and in prayer before the living God a man named Ananias would come unto Saul, would lay his hands on him, and would pray that he would not only receive his sight, but would also receive the Holy Spirit.
The ninth chapter brings us to the place where we see the turning point of conversion as this man named Saul would find himself experiencing the risen and exalted Jesus the Christ, and not only being converted, but also being filled with the Holy Spirit and called, chosen, ordained and appointed by Jesus the Christ to be the apostle unto the Gentiles. If that which we find and read in the ninth chapter is the turning point of conversion then what we read and what we find in the tenth chapter is something which the early church and those of the circumcision did not expect and never anticipated—namely, the word of God being preached unto the Gentiles. What’s more, is that if we take this even further you will find that not only was the word of God preached unto the Gentiles, but the Gentiles would also received and be filled with the Holy Ghost as they would speak with other tongues and magnify the living God. In the tenth chapter we find directly on the heels of Saul’s miraculous conversion the Holy Ghost beginning to be made available unto the Gentiles, as the Holy Ghost would demonstrate that He hadn’t merely come unto the Jews and those of the circumcision. When the Holy Ghost fell upon Cornelius and his entire household in the tenth chapter it was a miraculous evidence and confirmation that the Holy Ghost would in fact be made available unto the Gentiles. What we find and what we read in the tenth chapter of the book fo Acts is a truly wonderful and remarkable turning point for the early church—and ultimately for the church itself—for the early church would find themselves encountering the undeniable reality that the word of God was being made available unto Gentiles, as well as the Holy Ghost being made available and manifest unto the Gentiles. Cornelius and his entire household would not only hear the word of God concerning Jesus Christ, would not only be filled with the Holy Ghost, would not only speak with other tongues and magnify the living God, but they would also be baptized in water according to the baptism of John. In fact, some might say that Cornelius was the first Gentile convert in the days of the apostles and the early church, and would in fact pave the way for countless Gentiles who would come after him to come to the faith in Jesus the Christ, to receive the Holy Ghost, and to speak with other tongues and be witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ unto the nations of the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we read in the tenth chapter is a subsequent turning point within the history of the early church, for it would demonstrate and reveal unto the early church and believers in Jesus the Christ that the word of God would be made available and manifest unto the Gentiles, and that the Holy Ghost would be manifest and made available unto the Gentiles as He would baptize them, fill them, and cause them to speak with other tongues as they magnified the living God.
If you continue reading in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the book of Acts you will find further evidences of the persecution which broke out against the church, for in the eleventh chapter you will read how those which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. In the twelfth chapter of this same New Testament book you will find the persecution of the earth church continuing back in Jerusalem as Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church, and he even killed James the brother of John with the sword. If Stephen was the first martyr of the early church then James the brother of John—one of the twelve disciples of the Lord Jesus the Christ—would be the first of the apostles to be killed as a direct result of the persecution which broke out against the church. In the twelfth chapter of the book of Acs—not only do we find Herod the king stretching forth his hand to vex certain of the church, and not only killing James the brother of John with the sword, but we also find him taking Peter and putting him in prison until after Easter and after the Passover when he might deliver him before the people and possibly execute him as well. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit had different plans and had a different agenda for the apostle Peter, for the night before he was to be brought forth out of prison an angel of the Lord entered into and invaded the prison, woke Peter out of his slumber, caused his chains to fall off his wrists, opened the prison door, caused Peter to walk forth out of the prison, and even caused the gate which was before the apostle to open of its own accord. Thus, as a direct result of the actions of the angel of the Lord the Holy Spirit of Jesus the Christ delivered the apostle Peter out of the hand of Herod the king, and would depart from Judaea and would travel unto Caesarea—Caesarea where he had previously witnessed and experienced Cornelius and his entire household be filled with the Holy Ghost, speak with other tongues, magnify the living God, and be baptized in water according to the baptism of John. By the time we come to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we have seen, we have witnessed, and we have beheld countless turning points and countless transitions which took place and occurred within the early church, as the Holy Ghost altered the course and trajectory of the early church like a mighty rushing river would alter its course and flow as it snakes around twists, and turns, and bends, and rocks, and the like. As we draw near and approach the thirteenth chapter of the book of Acts we are prepared for a subsequent turning point of the early church—one that would have its roots in the experience Cornelius and his entire household would have when the apostle Peter would come from Joppa unto Caesarea according to the word spoken to him by the Holy Spirit to go with the men who were sent unto him doubting absolutely nothing, but trusting wholly and completely in the living God.
As you come to the thirteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find one of the most dramatic turning points in the entire history of the early church—one that would directly impact the entire trajectory and movement of the church and body of Jesus the Christ. It’s what we find and what we read in the thirteenth chapter that would bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of just what Jesus the Christ had in store and planned for this man named Saul whose name would be changed to Paul. [WHAT A DIFFERENCE A LETTER MAKES! FROM SAUL TO PAUL! THE TRANSFORMATION OF A SINGLE LETTER!] In the thirteenth chapter you will find Saul and Barnabas still among the saints and brethren in Antioch, yet as they continued to faithfully serve and minister among the brethren in Antioch, something dramatic would take place there among the believers in the church at Antioch. If you begin reading with and form the first verse of the thirteenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find what I am absolutely convinced is one of the most powerful and dramatic turning points in all of church history, for what we find and read here would radically alter the course of the church of Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that what we find in the thirteenth chapter of the book of Acts would not only directly impact the trajectory of the early church, but it would also directly impact the life of this man named Saul who experienced Jesus the Christ on the road to Damascus, who was filled with and experienced the Holy Ghost in Damascus, and who began teaching and preaching the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ. Beginning to read with and from the first verse of the thirteenth chapter you will find the following words which were written concerning those who worshipped Jesus the Christ in Antioch among the brethren. Consider if you will that which the beloved physician Luke wrote in this chapter beginning with the first verse of the thirteenth chapter:
“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence sailed to Cyprus” (Acts 13:1-4).
Beginning with the first verse of the thirteenth chapter and continuing to read the next few verses you will find that there within the church which was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers—men such as Barnabas, Saul, and three others whom the beloved physician Luke mentioned by name. It was while these prophets and teachers were ministering to the Lord, and fasting that the Holy Ghost spoke among them in their midst and called for the separation of Saul and Barnabas for the work where unto they had been called. Please don’t miss the awesome and incredible significance of what we have within this passage of Scripture, for what we find and read here would be the beginning of the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul as he would journey among the nations, lands and peoples preaching Jesus the Christ, as well as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. What is written and recorded within this passage of Scripture is perhaps the most significant catalyst for the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ being brought unto the Gentiles—and although it would not initially begin with the Gentiles, but rather the Jews, would ultimately be preached to the Gentiles first and primarily. At the risk of getting ahead of myself it would be in Corinth where the apostle Paul would determine within his heart and mind that he would no longer preach the gospel unto the Jews, but would preach the gospel to the Gentiles only. It would be there in Corinth where the apostle Paul would experience a tremendous resistance and opposition of the Jews, and as a direct result of that opposition would purpose to preach the gospel to the Gentiles primarily. What we must recognize and understand is that none of what we find and read in the subsequent chapters of the book of Acts would have been made possible were it not for the initial turning point of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, as well as Saul’s being separated unto the Holy Ghost at the church which was in Antioch. As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be drawn to the fact that what we find and what we read within this passage is a wonderful and powerful picture of three different phases of separation which the Holy Ghost can initiate within the hearts and lives of those whom He deliberately and intentionally chooses. If you read the words which are found in this passage you will first notice a SEPARATION FROM, which would be followed by a SEPARATION TO, and would ultimately and finally be followed by a SEPARATION FOR! The words which are found and written within this passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the work of the Holy Spirit in separating those whom He has called, chosen and ordained for the work which He has specifically ordained and appointed for them. It is absolutely necessary that we realize and understand this, for it gives us a glimpse into the movement, the manifestation and the activity of the Holy Spirit within the church.
Upon reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find these three distinct phases of Separation, as the Holy Spirit would first separate Saul and Barnabas from the saints of the church in Antioch, as well as from the prophets and teachers which were present at the church. When we think about the Holy Spirit choosing, ordaining, appointing, and anointing Saul and Barnabas we must first understand that this separation was a separation from within a body where they faithfully served and ministered. We cannot, we must not, we should not miss and lose sight of this, for this separation would take place as they would be separated from faithful service and ministry among the saints and brethren there in Antioch. After delivering relief from the disciples of the Lord in Antioch unto the brethren which were in Judaea, Saul and Barnabas would return unto Antioch and would not only minister unto the Lord, but would also give themselves to fasting and prayer. What’s more, is that the beloved physician Luke writes and records concerning Saul and Barnabas that while Barnabas was sent by the church in Jerusalem unto the church in Antioch after word reached the church in the holy city concerning the work which was being performed by the Holy Spirit. It would be Barnabas who would initially serve and minister among the saints and brethren there in Antioch, as he would faithfully instruct them to serve and follow the Lord with purpose of heart. While serving faithfully among the saints there in Antioch, Barnabas would journey down to Tarsus where he would find Saul and bring him back with him unto the saints which were present within Antioch. The beloved physician Luke goes on to write how they both faithfully served among the brethren within the church at Antioch for a year exhorting and teaching them concerning the ways of the kingdom and the ways of Jesus the Christ. When we read of the Holy Spirit separating Saul and Barnabas, we must first understand that He separated from faithful service and ministry among the saints and brethren there at the church which was in Antioch. When we think about and speak of this reality of being separated by the Holy Ghost, we must recognize that this separation was one which first occurred in a separation from the ministry and service which they faithfully engaged themselves in at the church in Antioch. It’s important for us to recognize this, for there are those within the body of Jesus the Christ who think and believe that they can and might be separated by the Holy Spirit, and yet there is absolutely nothing the Holy Spirit can separate them from. These men and women have not given themselves to faithful service in ministry and service within and among the body of Christ, and have largely stuck to and remained unto themselves while simply skating by in the church where they have been planted, or where they have at the very least chosen to worship within. When we think about and consider the Holy Spirit separating Saul and Barnabas, we must recognize and understand that this separation of the Holy Spirit was a separation from the work and service which they were engaged in at the church in Antioch, as they faithfully ministered among the saints of God teaching and exhorting them according to the word and gospel concerning Jesus the Christ.
Moving on within this particular encounter you will not only notice a separation from faithful service and ministry within a single and local body, but you will also notice a separation to, or a separation unto. If you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face that while this separation was indeed and was in fact a separation from faithful service and ministry within a local body of brethren, there was also a separation unto the Holy Spirit. Notice if you will the words which the Holy Spirit spoke unto those at Antioch, for the Holy Spirit instructed them to separate Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them. As much as we must understand what took place here as being a separation from service and ministry within the body of Jesus the Christ there at Antioch, we must understand that there was also this distinct separation unto the Holy Spirit, for they weren’t separated unto themselves to do as they pleased or even as they desired, but were separated unto the Holy Spirit. Oh that we would recognize and understand this distinct reality, for when we think about this separation we must recognize that it was a separation unto the Holy Spirit, for not only would the Holy Spirit separate them within the church at Antioch, but the Holy Spirit would separate them unto themselves, as He would call them unto Himself and unto His leading, unto His guidance and unto His direction. The Holy Spirit would call and separate Saul and Barnabas unto Himself, much like the tribe of Levi was separated by the Lord during the days of Moses and Aaron just after departing from their slavery, bondage and oppression within the land of Egypt. When we think about and consider this separation of Saul and Barnabas we must recognize and understand it as a separation very much like that separation which the tribe of Levi experienced during the days of Moses and Aaron, as the Lord called for the entire tribe of Levi to be separated unto Himself, as they would not only be enrolled and enlisted in the service and ministry of the tabernacle, but would also have no inheritance among the children of Israel, for the living God and Lord would be their inheritance. This separation which the Holy Spirit called Saul and Barnabas unto would be a unique separation that would find them being separated and called unto Himself, as the priests and Levites were separated solely and completely to the service and ministry of the Lord. While we must initially understand this separation from faithful service and ministry within a local body unto something beyond that realm and sphere, we must also understand this separation as being a separation unto the Holy Spirit, as their lives would now be led, guided and directed by the Holy Spirit, as He would reveal unto them the plans which were ordained and appointed for them.
Continuing on a little further in this passage you will find that there is a third phase of this separation—namely, a separation unto something very specific. While there was initially a separation from, and while there was a separation to, there was also a separation for. What I mean by this separation for is that there was a separation for a specific work and specific ministry which the Holy Spirit would call them. As you read the words which are found within this passage you will find the Holy Spirit speaking unto those in Antioch to separate Saul and Barnabas for the work where unto He had called them. It is this concept of work which we must understand, for there was a specific work which the Holy Spirit had called Saul and Barnabas unto—a work that was entirely separate and entirely different from their service and ministry which was performed and engaged in the church and among the brethren at Antioch. It’s actually quite interesting and unique to think about and consider that it was while Barnabas and Saul were faithfully ministering unto the Lord, were faithfully fasting, and were faithfully serving among the brethren at Antioch that the Holy Spirit would call for them to be separated unto himself, as there was a certain and specific work which needed to be done. This is quite unique and remarkable when you think about it, for it reveals the tremendous reality that although you might be faithfully serving among a local body and congregation of brethren and believers—that doesn’t mean you are ultimately doing that which you have been called and separated to by the Holy Spirit. It is possible to faithfully serve and faithfully minister among the saints and brethren in a local body and congregation, and yet there be a further work which you have been called to—one that is completely separate from what you have been doing, and what you believe you have been called to do. Oh, you might merely be thinking you are already fulfilling your ministry where you are at, however, what you are doing is actually preparing you to be launched into the work and calling the Spirit of the Lord has called you to. It’s actually quite unique to read the verse which precedes the opening verse of the thirteenth chapter, for in the final verse of the twelfth chapter we find Luke writing that Saul and Barnabas returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of that statement “when they had fulfilled their ministry,” for I am convinced that it is this concept of fulfilling the ministry where unto we have been called in order that we might be positioned to step into that work which the Holy Spirit desires us to be involved with. When we think about this separation of Saul and Barnabas for the work where unto they had been called, we must understand it in light of their fulfilling the ministry which they had been sent in Jerusalem, and returning to Antioch where they faithfully served the saints and brethren there. Oh that we would recognize this separation of Saul and Barnabas as one that was intrinsically linked to their being faithful to fulfill the ministry they had engaged themselves in Jerusalem, as they demonstrated the awesome and wonderful reality of being willing to faithfully minister where there was a need among the brethren. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we can be entrusted to be separated by the Holy Spirit for the work where unto He has called us, and whether or not we have demonstrated faithfulness in service unto the Lord among the saints and brethren.