Monday, March 19, 2012


For the week beginning Sunday March 18, 2012
Acts 14

(Spreading and defending the Gospel is not an easy task)

In Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went into the synagogue and preached mightily, and many Jews and Gentiles were converted to Christianity. However, anti-CHRIST Jews, who spurned GOD’s message from Paul and Barnabas, stirred up mistrust among the Gentiles saying many evil things about the pair. Nevertheless, the apostles stayed for an extended period of time preaching boldly about the grace of GOD, and the LORD HIMSELF helped proved the genuineness of the apostles teachings, by enabling them to perform many miracles before the people. The people remained divided in their opinion however, as some sided with the Jews, and some sided with the apostles (Vs. 1-4).
Later, Paul and Barnabas got word that a mob consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, were planning to stone them to death. Upon hearing of this they fled and went to the region of Lycaonia, where they made stops in the cities of Lystra and Derbe, and some of the surrounding towns, and they preached the Gospel there for a while (Vs. 5-7).
While Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra they met a man who had been crippled since birth. Seeing how much faith the man had, Paul called out to him with a loud voice, commanding him to stand up. The man immediately stood up and began walking. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they began to say that Paul and Barnabas were both gods in human bodies (Vs. 8-11) and they begin to worship them as the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes.
Zeus and Hermes had longed been worshipped in this part of Galatia. In fact, legend had it that just 50 years earlier the two gods had visited the area in human form, and had severely punished the people for not welcoming them. And so Paul’s healing of the cripple man had provoked a superstitious response from the citizens there. The temple of Zeus stood not far away, and one of the priests, along with several Zeus and Hermes followers, came to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas with oxen and wreaths of flowers at the city gates (Vs 11-13).   
When Paul and Barnabas got wind of this foolishness, they tried to restrain the people from their idolatrous treatment of them as false gods, but they could scarcely stop the people from sacrificing to them. At around that time, the Jews who had been dogging them for some time now, arrived from Antioch and Iconium, and were able to successfully turn the crowd of people from an adoring one, and into a murderous mob. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, and left him for dead. However, as the believers stood around Paul, he got up and went back into the city. The following day, he and Barnabas left and went to Derby (Vs. 14-20).
In Acts 14:21-28, we see Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch, from their preaching mission, one that had been very successful, even though Paul had been nearly stoned to death in their visit to Lystra, near the end of their journey. Barnabas and Paul were sent out by the HOLY SPIRIT to serve, and to grow the church of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, and it is in that same spirit that we as Christians should operate today when we commit to do the work of CHRIST.
The early church had many struggles and persecutions, and Barnabas and Paul warn of that to the church at the end of this maiden journey. They encouraged the believers to continue on in the faith, and reminded them that, in order to enter into the kingdom of GOD, they, like CHRIST JESUS, must go through many tribulations. They appointed elders in every church, along the way, praying and fasting, and then, turning them over to GOD. When they had arrived back at Antioch, they called the church together and told of all those things that GOD had done on their trip, and how HE had opened the doors of faith also to the Gentiles.
One can’t help but be reminded of the great commission of CHRIST, as HE laid it down at the conclusion of the Book of Matthew (28:19-20). It is a message and command that resonates to every Christian, from across the spans of time, in hopes that every man, woman, and child will have a chance to enlist and serve in the army of GOD. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the FATHER, and the SON, and of the HOLY GHOST: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”. Amen.  


(1). After you have accepted the “Great Commission of CHRIST” center your
      efforts on those people you meet who seem ready to respond.
(2). Remember, at all times, that you are not the one who changes people, only GOD
      can do that. We, as Christians, can only plant the seed, and do a little watering. GOD is
      the ONE who  causes the increase, or change in a person’s heart.
(3). Always stay focused on GOD and your successes. Never focus on people and
      opposition. If your focus is on people, instead of GOD, you’re going to always be
      disappointed and discouraged with your efforts.


Follow the examples of the men in this lesson by praying and fasting persistently, and, as a result, GOD will give you the strength and courage you need to endure to the end of your Christian journey.

KEY VERSES: Acts 14:19-20

DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: Matthew 28:19-20, 2 Timothy 2:3-5, 2 Timothy 2:15-16

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