In Isolation Thoughts 2

Sunday 7th February 2021

Hymn: To God be the glory, great things He has done

Bible Reading: Acts 14.1-20

NO RESTING PLACE

They were on the run! In these two sections of the chapter, we find the Preachers had to keep on moving because of the opposition of the local Jews who joined forces with the Gentiles to oppose the Gospel Message. Again we have a coalition between God’s chosen people and their enemies. This is reminiscent of some of the events in the OT when alliances were made, usually ending in disaster for the Jews.

Division of the People

The gospel divides, it always has and always will! Here in Iconium, Paul & Barnabas went as usual to the Synagogue and spoke about Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit touched the hearts of many, both Jew and Greeks, with the truth of the Gospel, so they believed in Jesus. This could not go unchallenged, but it was the Jews who raised the objection. One might have thought it would be the Greeks as they had financial gain from the worship of their gods, it was the Jews who were upset. They could not allow the traditions of their ancestors be set aside, the traditional worship and ways were not to be changed. They still were looking for the Messiah, Jesus was not the Messiah whatever any of these men said. Paul & Barnabas were not put off, they preached and taught boldly, they had been given power from God, they performed signs and miracles, but we are not given any specific details. Parties were formed with supporters for the Gospel and opposition to the Gospel. The opposition made plans to cause harm to Paul & Barnabas, a plot was created, they were to be illtreated and stoned. This was a serious threat to their lives. On the run again, this time to Lystra.   

Gospel truth and Bible principles will bring opposition from the world. Currently there is much being made about ‘conversion therapy’. This has reached a stage where even praying with a person is being claimed as needing legislation to make it illegal. Some of this has been stirred up by the testimony of Becket Cook, a homosexual man who found Christ and it totally changed his life, he realised that his former practices were wrong. Think through the implications of this. Calling for repentance, praying with people, inviting them to church services are being suggested as actions which should be made illegal. There is much to concern the Christian Church which is evangelical in its actions.

Divine accolade for the Preachers

Miracles were happening, on arrival in Lystra, Paul was preaching and among his congregation was a man who was lame. His eyes were fixed on Paul and his mind was taking in the message. Paul saw him and enlightened by the Spirit, told the man to stand up. He stood and walked around. The crowd went berserk, they shouted and screamed in their language, probably Greek, that they had been visited by the gods, Barnabas, they called Zeus [the god of the sky] and Paul, Hermes [the herald of the gods]. It did not stop there, the priest of Zeus brought gifts and bulls to make sacrifices to the two men. Paul & Barnabas were horrified, they tore their clothes in an attempt to show their humanity. Then Paul uses the situation to tell them about Jesus. the worship of idols was worthless, it had no benefit or power. God had allowed them to live in their ignorance and idol worship until His truth was revealed in Christ Jesus. The crowd were not totally convinced, still wanting to offer sacrifices. It would seem that in the end Paul prevailed and they stopped any sacrifice.

 

This incident shows how easily man’s emotions can be aroused and causes actions which are totally irrational. Why should preaching about Jesus cause people to think the preacher was a god? We need to be careful not to give people attributes that are not possible. For the Christian, the only worship should be Godward, to Christ and not to any man or woman. Beware of idolising and making them heroes.  

 

Deliverance from the Persecutors

The peace did not last, down from Antioch and Iconium came the opposition. They now conspired with the Greeks and Jews of Lystra, gaining support for their cause. They took Paul, the leader, outside the city and stoned him, leaving him for dead. The other Christians gathered around, prepared for the worst, but Paul was only unconscious, he came round, stood up and went back into the city. God had preserved him for the future work in His plan. No hiding for Paul, he was ready to face them again with the gospel. Next day, they set out for Derbe.

How do we deal with strident and forceful opposition? Are we ready to take the stones? Sometimes God allows us to go through difficult times, notice I said, go through not stay in them. He gives us the power and strength to overcome in His name, to bring Him glory. Are we willing to go back to face the same opposition repeatedly? Paul sets us an example to follow, he depended on Christ whatever happened, so should we.

Prayer

Hymn: Simply trusting every day


Page last updated: 6th February 2021 8:30 PM
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