Acts Devotionals


After the Members Meeting in our Church yesterday to elect two new elders, the chairman of the Session (Church Council), went to congratulate the one new elder candidates. His eyes were tearing … these were tears of joy. You see, for some time, both he and the other two elders were running the Church without a pastor. Their ages range from mid 60’s, 77 and 79. In speaking to the oldest a few weeks back he confessed they were tired. We have now two additional upcoming elders, one in the 40’s and the other in the 50’s. Maybe you can sense the joy of the chairman of the Session … the tears of joy. Help has arrived in answer to prayer! Today we return to Acts 14:

Ac 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

1) The weight of the Churches was transferred to new elders. If three elderly man ran a Church and were tired, can you imagine middle aged Paul and Barnabas trying to run new Churches that were far from them. It is difficult to say how many Churches there were but we can safely say that in each city … Lystra, Iconium and Antioch … there were a few Churches in each city. Church life is not always easy … that is why we read:

Ac 14:22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

These missionaries had now transferred responsibility to these elders who would themselves face many hardships as they managed and ruled the Churches, preparing the saints for service and glory. As we have seen, elders need to have a specific attribute mix to qualify them for their ministry. In short, their ministry is preaching the Gospel and disciple converts … these are “the Word Ministry” and then there is “the Prayer Ministry” for and with the saints, for souls to be saved, for the Church, government, economy and more than anything, the Glory of God in Jesus Christ! Word and Prayer Ministries don’t sound like much, but the Church is not a business with competitors and opportunities to introduce new products and slash prices to be competitive. The Church is God’s instrument to protect His people from His enemy who is the enemy of souls. Where God wants good for the soul, the enemy want bad … destruction. Both “forces” want service … the one for evil and sinister ways and the other for holiness and righteous ways. You can imagine the tension because the way of the world of sin is so ingrain within the race that it is and tends to remain first nature … first option … whilst the way of Jesus’ Kingdom means radical change. This is why we hear Peter saying under inspiration:

1Pe 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Paul says under inspiration:

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Just because we are a new creation in Jesus Christ, belonging to His Eternal Kingdom does not mean the enemy will not pursue us, seeking to attack when we are vulnerable, to cause us to fall, stumble and dishonor God, bringing scorn upon His Glorious Name and Cause. The elders’ roles in Prayer and the Word, managing and ruling the flock is so important because unlike a president of a country, their work has eternal consequences!

2) Calling upon God through prayer and fasting. Generally we understand what prayer is … calling upon God in worship and adoration as well as in need and desperation. Prayer can be seen as giving and receiving. We give God praise and glory, which is His due and we receive from Him what is our due to help us live on earth for His glory. Too often we use prayer for selfish purposes. A recent lesson learnt from a book about the prayer warrior George Muller relates to him asking God for direction in ministry. He said to God that if it please God and brings Him glory, that He take him in a certain direction, yet if it pleased God and bring Him glory that He not take him in that direction … so be it as long as God gets the glory! The point is this … prayer must always be for the glory of God! To intensify their prayers, the missionaries fasted. Fasting was a religious principle in many religions to placate their gods, idols and demons. It was also used in the Old Testament. When it comes to Christianity, there is a difference. Fasting is not intentional abstinence based upon religious grounds, rather it is to intensify prayer. It might mean not taking food or drinks but it could also means abstaining from any other pleasures, enabling you to give your full attention for a longer period of time to dedicated prayer. Paul and Barnabas knew the elder appointments would not be easy and that they would need all the help they could receive from God. The word “committed” in the phrase … committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust … means a “deposit”. Like money is placed into a trust for safe keeping, protected by a trustee … the missionaries were placing the elders into a trust for safe keeping with God as the Trustee. Look at the verse:

Ac 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

Through prayer and fasting these missionaries “committed” the new elders to God in whom they trusted would help, protect and use for His glory. They trusted God to care for the elders. This leads us to ask the question of ourselves … “How often do we prayer for the elders of our Church?” And perhaps … “When we pray for them, what do we ask for?” Do we commit them to God as a trust? The money in a trust draws interest. It grows and matures. Our prayers need to be focused on the maturity and growth of our elders in their knowledge and relationship with God. The closer they are to God, the more “spiritual interest” they will receive for our benefit as well as the Glory of God as they steer our souls through the rough seas towards the eternal harbor where our souls eventually dock in the safety of the eternal protection of our loving God who sent His Son Jesus to rescue us from the consequences of sin!

O God, pour out Your love, grace, mercy and kindness upon our Church Leaders so that wisdom, discernment and guidance might come from You, through them to nourish our souls. Amen.

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