Daily Bible Reading – Acts 13:1-52

Today’s Scripture Focus –Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.” (Acts 13:1-3)

Devotion – I’ve often said that the key to success in the Christian life is fulfilling the Lord’s will – doing what the Lord instructs us to do. But we can’t do what the Lord instructs us to do until we hear from the Lord. Different activities help us to better and more regularly hear from the Lord. Some of those activities are faithfully reading our Bible, daily spending time in prayer, attending Church services faithfully, and being involved with strong Christians in a Small Group (Life Group) or ministry where others can share God’s Word and wisdom with us. But another activity that helps us to better hear from the Lord is fasting combined with prayer.

In our Scripture passage we find leaders in the Church at Antioch worshiping, praying and fasting, which are activities that many of us at Celebration are involved in at this time. These Church leaders were seeking new direction from the Lord because God’s Spirit was doing a great work in Antioch, as many Gentiles were becoming followers of Jesus (Acts 11:20-24).

There are many times when Churches and Christians need to receive new direction from the Lord. Churches need new direction from the Lord when they are struggling – like many Churches are today – to grow spiritually, relationally and numerically and in their impact on the communities and world around them. But as we’ve experienced here at Celebration, Churches also need direction from the Lord when they are growing, so they can continue to be used by the Lord to serve and reach the people around them and impact the world.

Christians also need to regularly receive new direction from the Lord. We need to know how to become stronger physically, emotionally, financially, morally, relationally, spiritually and vocationally. A lot of the direction we need for those areas of our lives can be discovered as we read, hear and study God’s Word. But we also need direction regarding what schools to attend, what communities to live in, what career to pursue, which jobs to take, what Church to belong to, who we should date or marry, etc. And God’s Word doesn’t specifically address those issues for our lives. That’s when we need to be able to hear the voice of God’s Spirit speaking to us, like the early Christians did, so that we will know God’s will in those and other important areas of our lives. And so that we will fulfill God’s will for our lives in those important areas of our lives.

While the Lord can speak to us in a variety of different ways, it usually takes effort on our part to hear from Him. That requires setting aside time to read God’s Word, to pray, to worship Him, and to spend time with mature Christians. That requires not just praying and reading God’s Word, but spending some time in contemplative thought after we participate in those spiritual activities. When the Lord was speaking to a young man named Samuel in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 3), the priest Jethro told him, “The next time you hear that voice say, ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening.’” Too often we rush into prayer saying, “Listen Lord your servant is speaking,” when we also need to take time to say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”

Can you imagine how much better your life and others lives would be if all of the decisions of your life were a result of receiving direction from the Lord? I’m confident that the strongest and most successful Christians are those who have developed the ability to really hear from the Lord, and who then have the faith to comply with the instructions that are received from Him. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice . . . and they follow Me” (John 10:27).       

Follow-up Activity – Develop a plan for listening to God’s voice, and then record the direction you receive from the Lord. Recording the direction you receive from the Lord may include highlighting portions of your Bible reading or maintaining a journal of some kind. The “directions” you receive from the Lord will help you to live a stronger more successful life.  

Prayer Guide For Today – Spend some time in prayer

  • Adoring the Lord – What attributes of the Lord do I need to praise Him for today?
  • Confessing your sins – What sin or struggle do I need to confess to the Lord so I can experience His forgiveness and freedom in my life?
  • Thanking the Lord – What blessings or people do I need to thank the Lord for today?
  • Seeking God’s helpWhat specific requests do I have for myself or others today?

One Sentence Prayer for TodayLord, help me to prioritize taking the time and making the effort to hear Your voice so that I can know and do Your will in every arena of my life.

THIS WEEK AT CELEBRATION WE’RE BEGINNING MIDWEEK DISCIPLESHIP PATHWAYS CLASSES AT OUR CELEBRATION CAMPUSES, AND WE’RE CONTINUING OUR 12-DAYS OF FASTING AND PRAYER. For info about Discipleship Classes, go to www.celebrationchurch.org and to your Campus Page. To learn about the purpose of “Fasting combined with Prayer” and different ways of “fasting,” go to www.celebrationchurch.org and click on the 30 Days of Prayer button. Feel free to send your personal Prayer Requests to info@celebrationchurch.org.

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