13:1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them.

Acts 13:1–5 ESV Read More

Remember how the church in Antioch started? The church in Jerusalem heard that some believers from Cyrene and Cyprus went to Antioch, preached to the people, and the Holy Spirit came upon all of the believers. The people were so different from Jews and Greeks and their religions that the people of Antioch called these believers “Christians” which means “little Christs” for the first time.

Some time has now passed and the church has grown in size and depth. They have prophets and teachers. They have a wealth of diversity in the nationalities represented. They have dark-skinned Africans, Mediterraneans, and a guy that was a lifelong friend of the guy that killed John the Baptist.

It is either an idiom or literal (we aren’t sure) but the actual word is that this guy nursed right next to Herod. That’s how close they were.

None of these folks were like Peter or John, the poor fishermen from Galilee, except that they had the Holy Spirit. And that was enough.

Just like Peter and John, they practiced worship and fasting. This group was taking a designated time to pray and not eat food. It was a dedicated and special time, and God responded to their spiritual desires.

The answer was dangerous and expensive. Barnabas and Saul were valuable members of the Antioch church. John-Mark was also growing up and telling stories about his experiences with Jesus and his uncle Peter. But the Holy Spirit wanted these guys to go out to further places and spread this news.

The route is worth looking up in the map in the back of a study Bible. You’ll see it listed as Paul’s First Missionary Journey. That is funny because those guys that came over from Cyrene and Crete had really taken the first missionary journey.

Barnabas was right at home on the island and Saul was probably right at home in the synagogues. They didn’t have total culture shock, but instead went to the people that were the most familiar with them, the Jews of Cyprus, and told them the good news.

Have you ever fasted from food to give time and attention to God? So many people are afraid God will send them off to Africa somewhere, but Barnabas, one of the first full-time missionaries of Christianity, was sent to his hometown.

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