November 21: Acts 13-14
15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.
Acts 14:15-18, ESV
Paul and Barnabas
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers . . . While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:1-2, ESV
The church was growing as hundreds and thousands came to know the Lord Jesus Christ. God chose to spread the Word to the gentiles as well as the Jews. Therefor, in the beginning of Acts 13, we have the account of the Jewish leaders appointing Saul and Barnabas for the work of going throughout Asia, presenting the Gospel.
Typically, as they entered each new town and city, Paul and Barnabas first went to the Jewish synagogue and proclaimed the Gospel of Christ. Their reception was overwhelming, until the unbelieving Jews incited the people against them. This seemed to be the normal pattern as they traveled to Cyprus, Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.
In Lystra, however, when the crowds saw a lame man healed by the hand of Paul, they believed that the gods had come down to them.
And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
As the people were ready to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, Paul quickly restrained the people.
“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them."
Yet, how quickly the hearts of the people changed when Jews from Iconium and Lystra came to Lystra and persuaded the people to stone Paul, leaving him for dead.
The message of Christ's sacrifice on the cross to save a people for himself is not a popular message. As a matter of fact, in most circles today you can talk about just about any topic except the Gospel. Nothing will bring the hatred of unbelievers upon a person more quickly than discovering that he is a Christian.
Unfortunately, that often serves as a deterrent to the Christian. I have always found it difficult to speak with fellow employees about Christ. I did learn, however, that if by the grace of God I lived my faith, many times people would ask questions or comment about my behavior. It was much easier at that point to give glory to God alone, making it clear that it was not I who was good, but it was God working in me.
I do believe we are headed for a time of great persecution, not only around the world, but here in the United States as well. We need to pray that, like Paul and Barnabas, we Christians would be willing and ready to suffer for Christ, even unto death!
How important is your faith to you? That is a good thought to ponder this day!
God Bless You,