Even understanding a proper definition of advance gives us a clue into what God is speaking to us today.
My personal definition would be the effective assisting in hastening a process or bringing about a desired end. May we all be advanced in our own lives, and be used to advance The Kingdom of God today!
We can see this happening throughout the entire Bible, but we will focus on what is taking place in Acts 13. The setting of this passage is the rapid growth of the church. If you remember, they were first called Christians at Antioch, literally meaning “little Christ“. The gospel is being proclaimed, and persecution has taken the life of James the apostle. This was the first of the apostles to be martyred. Peter was set to be killed as well, but through constant prayer, God miraculously delivers Him. This is where we pick up in our reading.
The church is at a pivotal point in history. They must come to a decision if the persecution and death is too great a sacrifice. Should they calm down in what they are doing, or should they continue to advance The Kingdom in spite of all this.
Acts 13:1-2 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
The response of the early church to the persecution and death of James and near martyrdom of Peter is to gather together and minister to The Lord.
How was this done? In Acts 2:42, 47 and 6:4 we find some clues: continue steadfastly in apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, praising God, and ministry of The Word. In this passage we see, they also fasted. Fellowship, worship, prayer, and fasting are literally ministry to The Lord. As they ministered to The Lord, Holy Spirit revealed what they were to do next.
It is interesting, they did not have a vision-casting meeting. They did not form a committee to talk about business. They did not try to figure out the most logical business model to follow. They gathered the leaders to worship, prayer, and fasting. It is a sad fact that in many churches today, call a church business eating and meeting and everyone shows up, but call a church prayer meeting more crickets show up than people. However, if you call a prayer meeting and call people to fast, this is like what happened in the early church. Only hungry people allowed. This is where Holy Spirit brought revelation of what was to happen next.
When Holy Spirit released this revelation, they did not end the meeting and say lets get to work. Why? Because this was not the point of the meeting. They were there to worship God with everything they had to give. As a result, when they received revelation this is what they did:
Vs. 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
They continued in worship, prayer, and thanksgiving. What Holy Spirit revealed in a time of worship, prayer, and fasting was commissioned and sent out by worship, prayer, and fasting. The focus was ministering to God. The commissioning and sending out of Barnabas and Saul for the advancement of The Kingdom was part of this same ministering to God. No man or even church was glorified in the sending out of these men.
Verse 4 begins with “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit…” There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was a work of Holy Spirit for the advancement of The Kingdom. This is before Saul had proven himself to the church. He is still in the care of Barnabas and there is probably still those who do not fully trust him. That did not matter when Holy Spirit had set him apart to send him out. In the very next chapter Saul is violently persecuted and stoned. The strength knowing Holy Spirit had called him and sent him out enabled him to return to the very cities that this took place.
My encouragement for us today is that as we gather together daily to worship, pray, and fast, whether together in body or spirit, Holy Spirit will bring wisdom, understanding, and revelation that only comes from Him. As He does, may we all be strengthened with might to advance The Kingdom and walk in what He has called us to. Nothing can hold you back from advancing to the next level with Him if you are living and walking as His partner.
- Ask for revelation of how you can minister to God today
- As you minister to Him, seek wisdom, revelation, and understanding that only comes from Him
- As He reveals, ask for the strength and ability to obey
- Continue in Worship and ministry to Him
- Obey all He directs you to do
Be blessed with the ability to truly advance The Kingdom in partnership with Holy Spirit. May you receive wisdom, understanding, revelation and might as you minister to Holy Spirit. May this truly accelerate The Kingdom in and through your life!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!