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Acts 13:1-3 (11:19-30)

Paul J. Bucknell

Purpose: A Bible exposition of A God-seeking Church on Acts 13:2 is largely a study on what 'ministering to the Lord' means and how this group of leaders earnestly sought the Lord (Part 4 of 5).

Introduction Acts 13:1-3 | Leadership Acts 13:1 | Diversity Acts 13:1 |
God-seeking Acts 13:2 | Mission-minded Acts 13:3
Video Podcast on Acts 13:1-3

C) A God-seeking Church (Acts 13:2)

“And 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).

The Antioch church is a model for us also in the sense that they sought the Lord together. What is described here is a special term very rarely seen in today’s churches. We are busy doing. But rarely do we see the church ministering to the Lord and fasting. You probably know what fasting means, going without food and drink as a religious service, but ministering to the Lord. What does that mean?

Ministering to the Lord

This word to minister is from the Greek word which the English word liturgy comes from. The word generally means to serve the state at one’s own cost. It is used more specifically to describe the Levitical priests carrying out their duties. It is used in the same sense extended to describe Christians carrying out some form of service. In this case it says “to the Lord.” I understand it not to simply mean they taught together but in special prayer, meditation and fasting times, God spoke to them through the Holy Spirit.

ActsFor several years I was a blessed participant of a group of pastors that regularly met together to seek the Lord in our city. We did not have our own agenda but sought the Lord’s agenda. We each had our responsibilities in our churches but together in this city we ‘ministered to the Lord.” What a blessed time it was!

The Lord directs His church. This is seen here as the Holy Spirit spoke, evidently through one of the prophets, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Many churches do not have prophets. From Ephesians 4 it seems that we should have more of them around. Some, scared of the charismatic influence and minimizing the holy scriptures, insist that we no longer have prophets. We should note that even though the Holy Spirit is active, He actively works through prophets.

The message was clear. While the leaders were waiting upon God, perhaps similar to Acts 1, God led them. Usually our leadership prayer meetings consist in one person opening and closing. In these cases, we are talking and not listening.

The churches do need to be strategic but often they are not guided by the Spirit. They are not guided because they are not waiting upon God. This is a lost spiritual discipline.

What is Gods work like?


We are privileged with this vision of a good solid church. They had so much to do and yet were seeking the Lord. Not only should the body of Christ come together, the leaders should come together in prayer and fasting. We as God’s people should seek the Lord rather than calculate what we can do in our own strength.

We often will neglect what is innovative, new or different. This mission trip to the Gentiles was certainly something not in their own minds at least as a collective group. The Holy Spirit made it so. Again we find that the Antioch church in its heart for God was willing to wait for God rather than go before God (and wonder why He isn’t blessing).


Have you learned to minister to the Lord? To fast? God wants to raise up leaders from among us. Each of us should be willing to wait upon Him and take part in what the Lord is giving to the church.

There are times when an individual has a burden but not the church. We once worked with a church in Taiwan. We went back and found they had the same burden as we to start a church in a certain region with lots of blue-collar workers with families. We were going to move into that area and be the focal point where the church to be would meet. A big evangelism events were planned. But we could not find a place to live.

The pastor said, “Let’s not start a church then.” Wow. Did that shake us up. We were living in temporary quarters with a small family and all of a sudden plans were changed. We sought the Lord in prayer and God finally, very miraculously, opened up a first floor place for us to live just in time for the big evangelistic events. (We had just enough time to have the landlord paint all the incense from the idols off the walls and ceiling).

Next -> D) A Mission Church (Acts 13:3)

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