In today’s Bible reading, in Acts 13, we read where during corporate fasting and worship at the church at Antioch, the Holy Spirit tells the church to set apart Saul and Barnabus to the mission field. (Acts 13:2) Obediently, the church fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, sending them out. Just in case there’s any doubt, Dr. Luke reemphasizes that this commission is from the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:4).
All was well on their journey; God blesses their work and more Gentiles are saved. The word of the Lord spreads through the whole region. The Jews in the region are offended and they stir up persecution. Paul and Barnabus are sent away (Note the name change from Saul to Paul in Acts 13:9)
How did Paul and Barnabus respond? Just as Jesus had told the seventy-two disciples when He sent them out:
Luke 10:10–11 (CSB)
10When you enter any town, and they don’t welcome you, go out into its streets and say,
11‘We are wiping off even the dust of your town that clings to our feet as a witness against you. Know this for certain: The kingdom of God has come near.’
Note that after they left for Iconium, they didn’t just shake the dust off their sandals. Dr. Luke tells us that they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:51-52)
Once again, we see believers rejoicing in the face of persecution (cf Acts 5:41). Maybe there’s a lesson here!
After Jesus’ baptism, Dr. Luke tells us:
Luke 4:1–2 (CSB)
1Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness
2for forty days to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over, he was hungry.
14Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread throughout the entire vicinity.
The Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas for the work. The Holy Spirit sent out Paul and Barnabas as they ministered. While he was ministering, Paul — filled with the Holy Spirit — rebuked the sorcerer/false prophet Elymus/Bar-Jesus [which, by the way, means, “Son of Jesus”]. And when they were persecuted, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps whenever we’re persecuted, it’s an invitation to go deeper with the Holy Spirit. So instead of complaining and telling the devil to leave us alone, maybe we simply need to ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit.