During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world... The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea.Acts 11:27-29
Here is a ministry of one of the gifts of the Spirit — that of prophecy. Unfortunately, the gift of prophecy, has become associated only with the ability to predict the future. But that is not the primary meaning. Primarily it means,
to cause to shine. It is the ability to illuminate the Word of God and to make it shine. Peter wrote,
We have a more sure word of prophecy which shines as a light in a dark place... (2 Peter 1:19 KJV). These were men who could take the Word of God and make it shine. They illuminated the darkness in people's lives with the truth of God. Occasionally they were also able to illuminate the future and that is done here.
On this specific occasion one of them named Agabus stood up and, by the Spirit, foretold that there would soon be a great famine throughout the world, and, although it is not stated here, that it would be especially severe in Judea. This came true just a few months later. When these disciples heard that there was going to be a great famine, they began to prepare for it. They realized that it would be especially severe in Judea, and so they prepared to send a gift to Judea for when the famine would come. The whole account is a beautiful picture of the concern of the body. They knew this was coming. They did not wait for it to happen until they finally got heart-rending appeals from Judea. They anticipated it by the Spirit, and they had the gift all ready when the effects of the famine struck. They sent it by their favorite teachers, Barnabas and Saul, who had been teaching there in the church for a year.
What wonderful instruction in the Holy Spirit they must have had under the leadership of these two men! They understood the essential character of the church — that it is a body that shares life, one member with another. You notice that there is no sense of hierarchy here, no priesthood. There is just the body of Christians together, one group in Jerusalem and one in Antioch. One has need and the other has plenty. And so the body in Antioch sent to the body in Jerusalem what was required to meet their need and to share together in the life that is in Jesus Christ. What a wonderful picture this is of the church. The essential characteristics of a church are all here: The gifts of the Spirit, the shared life in Jesus, the proclamation of the Word, the teaching of the Scripture, the sharing of the body; it is all here.
Lord, thank you for your Word. I pray that you would cause it to shine in me and that I would respond as these early Christians did.
Godly, biblical leadership in Christ's Body will assure the outworking of the spiritual gifts, including sensitive, compassionate attention to others' needs. Are we attentive and obedient to our personal gifting of the Spirit? Does the love and compassion of Jesus find full expression in our serving? Shine, Jesus, shine!