|How Idol-Worshipers in Lystra Treated Barnabas and Paul
THE PEOPLE OF Lystra were idol-worshipers. Never before had they heard the story of the gospel and many of them did not know about the true God of all the earth. When Barnabas and Paul began to preach the gospel in the streets, their words sounded strange to these heathen people. They paid little heed to the preaching until after they had seen the wonderful miracle which Paul performed upon a cripple. A helpless cripple sat near by listening intently while Paul was preaching about Jesus, and when Paul noticed him he knew the poor man had faith to be healed.
He looked on the man and cried with a loud voice, “Stand upon your feet!”
With a leap the cripple rose to his feet and began to walk about like a well person. And the people were amazed, for they had never seen such a miracle before. Now they crowded round to look in wonder upon the missionaries, and they talked rapidly in their own language, saying, “The gods have come down to us in the form of men!”
Paul and Barnabas could not understand what they were saying, for they used the speech of their own country instead of the Greek language which Paul had been using while he preached to them.
Excitement seemed to increase all the while, and presently Paul and Barnabas saw the men leading oxen to sacrifice, and bringing wreaths of flowers with which to decorate their visitors. Then the missionaries knew these heathen people had supposed they were gods come down to earth, and were preparing to offer sacrifices to them.
The Greeks worshiped two gods called Jupiter and Mercury, and the people of Lystra worshiped those gods, too. Now, they believed that Barnabas was Jupiter, and that Paul was Mercurius. And they called their priests from the temple of the gods to come and offer sacrifices to these men.
A feeling of horror came over Barnabas and Paul when they knew this. They rushed among the crowded throng and tore their clothes, crying out, “Sirs, why are you doing this? We also are men, like you are, and we have come to preach that you should turn away from idols to serve the living God who made the heavens, the earth, and all things. It is this living God we preach, who gives us rain from heaven, and who causes our food to grow in the fields.”
At first the people would not listen to Paul and Barnabas, but finally they were persuaded to cease from their purpose. Although they understood the Greek language, they did not understand about the true God, for their minds were filled with thoughts of idol-worship. Only a few who lived in that city received the gospel gladly and were saved.
When the missionaries had been in Lystra for some time, the wicked Jews in Iconium heard that they were preaching about Christ to the idol-worshipers in this city. So they sent men to Lystra to tell untrue things about the missionaries.
Many of the people believed these false words and caught Paul and threw stones at him until he fell down as if he were dead. They seized this bleeding body and dragged it outside their city, then returned to their homes again.
But the believers stood about Paul’s body, weeping. Presently they saw it move, and they knew their dear friend was not really dead. Soon Paul rose up and walked with them back to the city.
On the next day he and Barnabas went away to another place, called Derbe, and here they preached the gospel just as courageously as before Paul had been stoned.
After spending some time in Derbe, and seeing many people turn to the Lord, the missionaries bade them good-by and started on their homeward journey. As they went they visited the same places where they had been before, and spoke encouraging words to those who believed in Jesus.
Finally they came back to Antioch, in Syria, the place from which they had started on this missionary journey. Here they met with the church and told how God had blessed his word as they preached to the Gentiles in far-away cities.
They told about the believers in those cities who were worshiping the true God and honoring Jesus as the Son of God. And the disciples in Antioch rejoiced to hear these good tidings.
Archive for August, 2012
In Jesus’ Name
Do you know what pleases God? He’s not impressed by how much knowledge we have. He isn’t influenced by how many possessions we have. He’s not moved by our accomplishments, He is moved simply by our faith in Him.
What’s interesting is that faith is a gift. It’s not something we have to contrive or work up. The scripture tells us that everyone has been given a measure of faith and that faith grows as we hear the Word of God. That’s why it’s so important to stay connected to a Bible-based church where you can hear the Word of God taught. That’s why we have to make time every day to read and study His Word because you’re feeding your faith. The more you feed your faith, the more you know Him and understand His goodness.
Today, take time to feed your faith. Meditate on His Word and ask Him to illuminate your heart with His truth. Trust that He is good and has good things in store for your future because that is faith that pleases God.
The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Be open to the blessings that are yours each day. This bounty of blessings is a gift. You deserve each and every one, and they are truly yours. Don’t deny them.
[Dā’vid] — beloved. The youngest son of the eight sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite, the second and greatest of Israel’s kings, the eloquent poet and one of the most prominent figures in the history of the world
Ruth 4:17: – 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth 4:22: – 22 Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.
1 Sam. 16:13: – 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
The Man After God’s Own Heart
Volumes have been written on the trials and triumphs of David, a mountain peak among Bible characters, who was carefully chosen as Israel’s second king by God Himself. David’s father, Jesse, was a man of no great rank who lived in the little town of Bethlehem. In his youth David was trained to tend his father’s sheep. Being the youngest of the family he was not brought into public notice, yet it pleased God to raise him from a low estate and set him upon the throne. He was overlooked by the prophet Samuel, but the prophet obeyed when God said, “Arise anoint him, this is he.” All we can do in this study is to offer a brief sketch of David’s eventful life. We view him as:
I. A Warrior. David was courageous as a champion and a great soldier
1 Sam. 17:40: – 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
2 Sam. 5:7: – 7 Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.
His fight with Goliath the giant made him a marked man. He had not the training of a soldier. As yet he had not reached the years of manhood. Dressed like a poor country shepherd lad, he had no weapons save his sling. Never were two warriors more unequally matched, but when David was victorious over Goliath there was no empty boasting, no reliance upon his own powers. God gave the victory and David gave Him all the glory. He became a man of war and because of that was not allowed to build the Temple (1 Chron. 28:3: – 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood’).
II. As a Musician. Because he was a skilful player on the harp he found himself in the presence of the wretched king, Saul, who could only be soothed by David’s music. Poetic genius made him the sweet psalmist of Israel, and no poet has been so constantly used and quoted through the ages. His majestic psalms are the masterpiece of spiritual literature.
III. As a Saint. David was accepted as a child of God. The general trend of his life was spiritual
1 Sam. 13:14: – 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
1 Kings 15:5: – 5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of theLord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.
What other man has had the reputation of being known as a man after God’s own heart? Such an expression does not refer to any remarkable goodness in David, but to him as one whom God had chosen to be the ruler of His people. He was the man according to God’s special choice. His psalms of praise, worship and meditation indicate the God-ward direction of his life.
IV. As a Sinner. David violated a divine law
Deut. 17:17: – 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
2 Sam. 5:13: – 13 After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him.
yielded to his gross sin in a period of ease and was rebuked by the prophet Nathan. David stained his character by his sin against Uriah and by the deceitful way he gained this gallant soldier’s wife as his own. Such a grievous sin brought the bitterest anguish of heart. David’s confession was not a cold, formal acknowledgment of guilt, but a true and heartfelt humbling of himself before God and a deep cry for pardon and restoration to divine favor as psalms thirty-two and fifty-one clearly prove.
V. As a Prophet. David had a prophetic gift given to few. He was one of those holy men of old moved by the Holy Spirit to set forth many glorious truths related to Christ as Saviour and Messiah. When we come to the New Testament we find the Psalms quoted from more often than any other part of the Old Testament.
VI. As a Type. Not only did David prophesy about Christ, he resembled Him in many ways. For example:
Both were born in the humble town of Bethlehem.
Both were of low estate on earth, having no rank to boast of, no wealth to recommend them to the world.
Both were shepherds—the one caring for sheep, the other for souls.
Both were sorely oppressed and persecuted but opened not their mouths.
Both came to kingship. David subdued his foes and had a kingdom stretching from shore to shore. Jesus was born a King, and is to have an everlasting Kingdom.
VII. As a Star. Does not the children’s hymn urge us to be “a star in someone’s sky?” David has lighted many a spiritual traveler on the way to heaven. Glory alone will reveal what his psalms meant to Christ and to His followers in all ages. Yet he is nothing compared to the Sun of Righteousness Himself. None can compare to David’s greater son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to become our Saviour, Friend and King.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace–a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies–and to comfort all who mourn, To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, Messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them ‘Oaks of Righteousness’ planted by God to display his glory. They’ll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new. You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks and foreigners to work your fields, But you’ll have the title ‘Priests of God,’ honored as ministers of our God. You’ll feast on the bounty of nations, you’ll bask in their glory. Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt, Your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever.
|The First Missionaries in the Early Church
Acts 13:1 to Acts 14:7
THE CHURCH IN Antioch grew in numbers until there were many who were called Christians in that city. And God caused the teachers in the church to understand that the time had come when Barnabas and Saul (who from the time of this journey was called Paul, by which name we shall hereafter know him) should begin the great work of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, not in cities where other disciples lived, but in far-away countries where few people understood about the true God. And so it was that these two men, taking with them John Mark, the young disciple from Jerusalem, started on their first missionary journey. The Island of Cyprus, lying in the Great Sea, was the first stopping-place of these missionaries. There they visited two cities, called Salamis and Paphos, and preached Christ. While they were preaching in the latter city the Roman governor who lived there sent for them. This governor, Sergius Paulus by name, desired to hear the word of God and listened carefully while the missionaries talked to him. He was almost ready to believe that Jesus is indeed the Christ, when a wicked man began to talk to him and warn him against the missionaries.
Just as the Holy Spirit gave wisdom to Peter, causing him to know when Ananias and Sapphira were trying to deceive him, so now the Holy Spirit caused Paul to know the evil purpose of this wicked man. And with great boldness Paul spoke to him, saying, “Child of the evil one, and enemy of all righteousness, will you never cease trying to oppose the right way of the Lord! Because of your wickedness the hand of God is laid upon you now and you shall be made blind for a certain time, not seeing the light of day.”
As soon as Paul had spoken the man became blind, so that he could not see which way to go, and he called for some one to lead him by the hand. When the governor, Sergius Paulus, saw what had happened he was astonished, and at once he believed in the power of God and in the name of Jesus, his Son.
After the Roman governor believed in Christ, the missionaries went on their way, taking ship for the city of Perga, in the country of Asia Minor. Here John Mark left them and returned to his home in Jerusalem, while Barnabas and Paul journeyed on to another city called Antioch.
In this Antioch they found a Jewish synagog, so they came on the Sabbath day to talk with the Jews who worshiped there. The rulers of the synagog, seeing they were strangers, invited them to speak, and Paul began to tell them the gospel story. When he had finished, the Jews left the synagog, and many of them were not pleased with his words. But some Gentiles had been listening, and they came to the missionaries and urged them to continue preaching the good news of salvation from sin. Some Jews also were friendly, and they, with the Gentiles, followed Barnabas and Paul, desiring to hear more about the gospel.
On the next Sabbath-day a great company of both Jews and Gentiles met to hear the missionaries tell of Jesus. But the Jewish leaders were filled with thoughts of envy when they saw how eager the Gentiles were to listen to these men and they began to speak unkindly about the missionaries, trying to turn the people away from them.
Paul and Barnabas knew of their evil thoughts, and they said, ‘”It was necessary that the word of God should have been spoken first to you; but we see that you will not believe, for you do not count yourselves fit to receive everlasting life through Jesus. Now we will turn from you and preach to the Gentiles, who are eager to hear our message. For God has commanded us to bear the light of salvation to the Gentiles, even in the farthest places in the world.”
When the Gentiles heard these words they were glad, and many of them afterwards became believers in Jesus. So a church was raised up in this Antioch, and the missionaries taught the believers more about God’s words.
But the Jews were not content to let these teachers worship in peace with the Gentile believers. They stirred up a bitter feeling in the hearts of the city rulers toward Barnabas and Paul, and started persecuting them. Then they commanded them to leave the city, calling them trouble-makers and other unkind names. But the missionaries knew they were doing only what was right and pleasing to God, so they went on their way joyfully; for the Holy Spirit comforted them when they were being persecuted.
Their next stopping-place was in the city of Iconium. Here a great company of both Jews and Gentiles believed in Jesus, and were saved. For a long time the missionaries stayed here preaching the gospel.
But there were enemies in this city also. Some Jews who did not believe talked to their Gentile neighbors and told them untruthful things about the missionaries. These false stories caused the Gentiles to dislike Barnabas and Paul, and the feeling of dislike grew until finally the enemies planned to stone the missionaries just as Stephen had been stoned at Jerusalem.
Barnabas and Paul heard about the wicked purpose of their persecutors, and they fled from the city, going to another town, called Lystra, to preach the gospel there also.
In Jesus’ name
1 Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
2 hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
3 because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
Have you ever felt like flying away just to get away from it all? Has life ever been such a burden that all you can think about is escaping? David felt like that one day. That’s why he wrote, “And I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest”‘ (vv. 6-8).
Now let’s be honest. This is a natural feeling. All of us have felt like getting away, just packing our bags and saying, “I’ve had enough! I can’t take anymore! I’ve got to get away.” It’s a normal, natural reaction. But it is not a good solution to any problem. We usually take our problems with us. We can go on vacation and enjoy a short respite. But when we return, the battles and burdens are still there. In fact, sometimes when we try to run away, we only make the problems worse.
Why does the Lord allow us to go through windy storms and tempests? They help us grow and mature. If we keep running away, we are like children who never grow up. No, we don’t need the wings of a dove to fly away. We need the wings of an eagle. Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles.” The eagle faces the storm, spreads his great wings and allows the wind to lift him above the storm.
Don’t run away. Run to the Lord, and let Him lift you high above the storm.
God allows trials to make you grow and mature and become like His Son. The next time you go through a storm, resist the pressure to run from it. Let God use the storm to accomplish His purposes.
Scripture does not promise that obedience to God will always be attended by earthly success and never by difficulties. Someone asked me again last week if I am not bothered by the negative results attending our opening up the Auca tribe to the gospel. “Of course I am bothered,” I said. We messengers of the gospel are sinners like the Aucas–God has chosen to work through sinful human beings–and while we offer to them Bread and the Water of Life, which are priceless, we also introduce to them new varieties of sin and disease. We pray for protection from such things–for ourselves and for them. We must do the thing commanded–preach the gospel–and we must trust God for the results. If we wait until we are sure we shall do a thing purely and perfectly, we shall never accomplish the will of God on earth.
Negative results are not by any means always the fault of God’s messengers. Recall the warnings Jesus gave his disciples when He sent them out to preach the kingdom–they could expect to be rejected, arrested, and flogged. Families would turn against each other. “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword,” he said (Mt 10:34 NEB). Recall, too, the death of innocent infant boys as a result of the birth of One who the king feared might supplant him. God is engineering a master plan for good. Only He sees the end from the beginning.