While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Acts 13:2 NASB95
Ministering to the Lord… how do you minister to God?
When you think of “ministering” you consider giving, serving, or providing for a need. God needs nothing, yet we find the leaders of the church in Antioch “ministering to the Lord.” Something good came from this ministry as it released Saul who became Paul to begin planting churches throughout the known world.
When I read about the relational experiences of sisters and brothers with God in the Bible, my quick response is to try it. My exceptions have been things the Old Testament prophets did, like Ezekiel, who laid down on his left side for 390 days.
How do I minister to the Lord – in a safe New Testament, not Old Testament, manner?
When someone asks me how I am doing and really wants me to answer, and then asks follow-up questions, I feel honored and served – I’ve received ministry. When someone asks how I am doing, sort of nods at my response, and immediately asks for something or details their current situation – I feel used.
To be used, often totally drained, is what ministry is about. Jesus was totally abused for us. All of us serving others in the name of the Lord know this. Parents with young children; soldiers for their country; nurses during COVID-19.
Deep inside, we desire the value of a calling to serve.
A pastor mentor used to tell me, “As pastors we get people-sick.” Too many people and too many days of giving and I flinch when receiving a text. I need ministry during these times. I need someone to ask how I am doing, listen carefully, and pray for me.
From this human perspective, we understand “ministry” to others and self, but how do we minister to the Lord? Why should we minister to the Lord?
If you read various translations of Acts 13:2, in most, the Greek word for “minister” is translated as “worship” simply because it is more reasonable. I understand “worshipping” the Lord! But the Greek word means “official service” or “a call to ministry.”
The Old Testament depicts priests as official servants of God offering sacrifices along with other temple duties. The New Testament depicts Christians as both the temple (1 Corinthians 3:16) and priest (1 Peter 2:9).
We are the official servants of the Lord. We minister to the Lord. We do this by living a lifestyle holy and acceptable to God. We pray, we disciple, we worship. and we tithe.
As priests, and with the Spirit dwelling within us, our “official service” follows the Spirit’s leading. That’s something else about “ministering to the Lord” that we miss.
Listening! As we find peace when someone listens to us, the Lord is honored when we pause our busy lifestyles by listening to Him. Into this “waiting on the Lord,” God speaks.
In Acts 13, with the saints listening, God spoke one of the most important commands ever, “Set aside Saul and Barnabas.” The history of the church then changed directions from primarily Jewish to Gentile. This includes me and probably you.
I’m glad the church in Antioch was ministering to the Lord that day.
Paul had tried ministry before, and it ended chaotically with him in a basket, lowered by rope, over the wall of the city.
If Saul/Paul had said, “Hey brothers and sisters, it’s time for me to go to the Gentiles,” they would have thought, “There goes Saul again, big dreams that bring big trouble. He had to be lowered over a wall before. Can you imagine the problems if he goes to the Gentiles?”
However, the Christians were listening to God that day, and their “ministry to the Lord” changed history.