The example of the church in Antioch
In our service on Sunday we looked at part of the story of the church in Antioch in Acts 11:19-30 and 12:25-13:3. We saw that as a church they went greater, deeper and wider with God by receiving from God and responding to God. They gained a greater knowledge of God through receiving excellent teaching from Barnabas and Saul. They developed a deeper level of Christlikeness by responding to this teaching to such an extent that people started calling them 'little Christs' or 'Christians'. And they went wider in their experience of God as they received prophecy through visitors and their own prophets and responded by sending gifts to Jerusalem and Barnabas and Saul out on mission. This mission endeavour was the start of a movement that resulted in churches being planted all across Asia Minor and into Greece.
I encouraged us to think about ways we might respond to things we have already received from God. This will usually involve stopping current activities, attitudes etc. and starting new things in the space created.
In this blog I want to look at the second season in the life of the church at Antioch that enabled them to go wider in mission: the season of worship and fasting recorded in Acts 13:2-3. They stopped eating certain meals through fasting and started a special time of worship in the space created.
Over the next month we are aiming to follow their example and have a season of fasting and worship. My expectation is that this season will be a catalyst for us going greater, deeper and wider with God. We will be supporting this season through our Sunday Services and providing suggestions on how to engage in this starting and stopping on week days.
On 20th November, Paul will be preaching about fasting
On 27th November, we will have a special focus on worship.
You could pick a day of the week to fast breakfast and lunch (provided medical conditions allow) and repeat that over 4 weeks. During the extra time you get from not having to eat those meals, simply use that time to focus on God, be open to God, and ask that He would take our church greater, deeper and wider with Him. When you stomach rumbles during the morning or afternoon, use that as a signal to turn you mind back to God even if it is only briefly because you are in a meeting. If fasting from food is not possible - you might like to consider fasting from something else - eg. TV
Once you have experimented with fasting for a meal or two, you might like to try a whole day......
Think of ways you express worship to God - prayers of thanks, serving another person, sitting quietly in nature, listening to or better still, singing along to worship music. Then plan a day in the week where you will spend extra time engaging in this activity - maybe an hour on a Thursday night, or half an hour on a Tuesday morning.
After engaging in these weekday activities, it would be good if you could write down or record something about those experiences - how it felt, thoughts that came to mind, or maybe words or pictures that you think God gave you.