I have started my personal devotion in Galatians and what Paul is writing to them. Most people will read the harshness of Paul’s intent to the “bewitched” Galatians. But I have dug a little deeper and am reminded of the Great Antioch church saints who prayed, fasted and laid hands on Paul. Where he would go to Galatia and preach in different cities while passing through another Antioch (Pisidion Antioch, Galatia).
One of the names that popped out at me was Manaen. Who was from the Syrian Antioch where Paul stayed for a year. We read about this in Acts 13:1-3:
“….Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod, the tetrarch, and Saul. 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.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
- “Manaen. A foster-brother of Herod Antipas, but unlike him in character and end: Manaen was a minister of Christ at Antioch; Herod was guilty of the blood of both Christ and his forerunner, Acts 13:1″
- Imagine living with all the Herodian family. When I hear people say that families cannot change I just smile. This was the family whose patriarch killed John the Baptist and had a hand in Jesus’ crucifixion.
- Manaen grew up steeped in corruption, double-crossing, fornication, adultery, and intrigue. He could write a few books about how dysfunctional his family was.
If there was ever a person That could say on judgment day, “Lord look what family You put me into! What did You expect?”— It was Manaen.
And yet, we see the contrast in him in Acts 13, Manaen is, steeped, bathed, drowned deeply by the filling of the Holy Spirit. Fasting, praying, prophesying & serving the church.
- Manaen was an elder of the church in Antioch. The same church which was on fire for the Lord.
- This is the first church which was so Christ-like to everyone it came across, that unbelievers called them Christians, after Christ.
- Nowhere Else was the church called after their Lord and Savior. This is where the Name came from.
What I’m trying to say is this— no matter where you come from or who your family is, no matter your circumstances or economic level, you can reach out to Christ.
- You can call on Jesus and ask to forgive you of everything you’ve done wrong in this life.
- You can ask Him to guide and teach you.
- You can ask Jesus to come into your life and commit yourself to wholly being his follower.
—Manaen made the choice of calling on Jesus to save him, and his life was changed forever, literally, for eternity.
Manaen became who he was supposed to be. He was and still is filled by God’s unquenchable love and peaceful joy. He is in God’s presence doing the same thing he was doing in Acts chapter 13. Serving, praying, praising and listening to His Creator.
If you don’t see yourself being able to get out of your circumstances, ask Jesus to come and set you free of those burdens. He will take them from you. He will make your tough situations more bearable. He will see you through them. And like Manaen, He will delete your history. Even if you come from a dysfunctional family like Manaen…as do many of us….