Day 14, Acts 14.
The start of this chapter shows Paul and Barnabas speaking in such a way that many people believed. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be used by God to speak in such a way that many people believed? Of course, there were still those who did NOT believe, and these people stirred up trouble. Yet, the apostles relied upon the Lord (who used signs and wonders done by the hands of the apostles to testify to the word of His grace).
1 In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. 2 But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren. 3 Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.
But while many believed, and there were signs and wonders, some did not believe. Some were bitter – so much so that they decided to make an attempt to kill the apostles. Instead of standing up and trying to convince the unbelievers, they ran. They fled and continued to preach the gospel.
4 But the people of the city were divided; and some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. 5 And when an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and to stone them, 6 they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region; 7 and there they continued to preach the gospel.
Then Paul saw that a lame man had faith to be healed, and Paul told him to stand on his feet. And he did! What does the fact that Paul saw the lame man had faith to be healed imply for us today? Coupled with the fact that Jesus could do few miracles in his hometown because they had little faith (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6), it seems God chooses to limit His miracles to those with faith. We simply must trust God.
8 At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9 This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he leaped up and began to walk.
The people of Lystra responded by beleiving the apostles were gods. Paul and Barnabas told the truth about who GOD is, and that they were not God. They told the people that they had come to preach a gospel of needing to turn to “a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; 17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
It was only with some difficulty that they were able to stop the Lystra folks from offering sacrifices to them. Of course, then Jews came from places the apostles had been previously and stirred up the people. They dragged Paul out of the city and stoned him until they thought he was dead. He got up and went to Derbe and preached the gospel. Then “they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith.” They appointed elders in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”
Fasting is not something the church today does much of. This is a spiritual discipline we need to work on to get our minds on God.
Finally, back in Antioch, they reported all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.
We should give thanks for what God has done in opening a door of faith to those who were not Jews. Without which, many of us would not have had the opportunity to be saved.