Friday, May 22, 2020

Friday - Acts 14 - Stoned for Christ

N this chapter, we read the continuation and conclusion of the story of Paul's first missionary journey. Here, he and Barnabas visited and/or revisited lconium, Lystra and Derbe of Lycaonia, Antioch of Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia before returning home finally to Antioch of Syria to rest and to report to their sending church. The most amazing thing about this leg of the trip is that Paul was pursued and persecuted from city to city, and yet he continued to preach boldly. In fact, even after Paul had been stoned and left for dead, he kept going forward. The enemies of Christ in lconium tried to stone Paul while he was there. After he had fled to Lystra, enemies followed him from Antioch of Pisidia and lconium and succeeded in stoning him. Yet he still returned to both of those cities to strengthen the believers there. Did you get that? Paul went back to the cities from which his most violent opposition (to that date) had originated. It is true that Paul took steps to avoid persecution, but when it became clear that he could not avoid it (while remaining faithful to his calling), he embraced it.

Don't get in your head that Paul's ministry was all and only doom, gloom, and hardship though. Sometimes things were intensely positive and exciting. Paul's very public healing of a crippled man in Lystra was surely a wonderful experience for him and his fellow ministers.  And, perhaps this is when Paul saw things in a heavenly vision; things which were unutterable (2 Corinthians 12:4). In any case, the Spirit of God was moving mightily through him.

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