11/21/23 For the Work I Have Called Them To

READING: Acts 13-15

The church at Antioch became a missionary-sending church, and they did so during a time of intense fasting and service. They apparently had set aside their own physical desires to seek the face of God, seemingly with a sense of expectation for Him to do something. In that setting, the Spirit directed the Antioch church to “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to” (Acts 13:2). They chose to continue to pray and fast, perhaps on behalf of those men they would be sending out. Having spent more time with God, the church then “laid hands on them . . . [and] sent them off” (Acts 13:3). This act was not some kind of transfer of power, though; it was instead the church’s public affirmation that they stood behind their missionaries as they sent them.

I suspect more churches would follow this pattern if we truly understood the role of the church in this process. It is the local church with the most consistent, personal, regular opportunity to challenge believers to go to the nations, and it’s the local church that best knows the heart of potential missionaries. Because we worship and serve together, we’re in the best position to evaluate giftedness and commitment. In addition, we can then walk beside our missionaries on the field because they’re our family wherever they serve in the world.

So, we pray and fast, always challenging believers to do the Great Commission and watching for brothers and sisters who give evidence of a call to the nations. We continue to pray with them, send them out with our blessing, and then care for them from a distance as they engage the darkness. 

What a privilege for a local church!

PERSONAL REFLECTION: Does your church give attention to calling out missionaries?    

PRAYER: “God, make me open to going if my church sees this calling in me.” 


*portions of this devotion first published in 2017

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