The same thing happened in Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. Some of the Jews, however, spurned God’s message and poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. But the people of the town were divided in their opinion about them. Some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. Then a mob of Gentiles and Jews, along with their leaders, decided to attack and stone them. When the apostles learned of it, they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area. And there they preached the Good News.
While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking. When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, “These men are gods in human form!” They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker.
Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. In the past He permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but He never left them without evidence of Himself and His goodness. For instance, He sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.” But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them. Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. Then they traveled back through Pisidia to Pamphylia. They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Attalia. Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers there had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. And they stayed there with the believers for a long time.Acts 14:1-28
Just as I said at the close of the previous Gem, we are now in Iconium, the major cross roads connecting the regions around about them. Now it is time for you to read the Chapter before us and see what stands out to you. It is time to take stock of what you see in the passage. Ask your questions, your questions for God in order to help you understand the passage better. Share them with me if you want to in order to increase the likelihood that I will pick up on your questions and respond either with answers or suggestions to point you toward the things you should note or dig deeper on.
Remember to action all the Deeper Bible approaches:
- Pay attention to the detail of what Luke wrote for us.
- Look back to see how this connects to what went before it.
- Look forward to see where we are heading.
We have the privilege of accompanying Paul and Barnabas on the journey. Take note of the detail Luke has given us, making sure you investigate the geographic details – find out where these places are. Why did Paul and Barnabas choose to go to these places instead of others.
- Ask questions of the details that Luke has laid before us.
- Then step back and take in the panorama of it all.
- Look at things on the macro level as well as the micro level.
- Pay careful attention to the way the text flows.
- Note the connectedness and the repetitions.
- Remember repeated elements contain the ideas which Luke wants to emphasize.
All of these steps help you to gain the perspective Luke wants you to see.
- God inspired him to write what he did for a purpose – what is it?
- Take note of his themes and his repetitive elements. They shed light on the bigger picture for you.
- Take note of anything in this passage that you don’t understand.
- Note the pieces which seem unconnected or puzzling as to why Luke would say that.
- Dig deeper into the verses, phrases or clauses which are hard to understand or which seem to interrupt the flow.
- Flash backs or reoccurring themes are important too.
- Gather it all together in an attempt to understand it all.
I personally find it amazing how God’s Word can be so timely and appropriate for the phases of my life. Over the last days that has certainly been the case. The timeliness of shaking the dust off my feet and moving on. Now I find this section we are investigating today timely as well. It seems we find ourselves this morning in our Iconium – that transport hub where all roads meet – namely Singapore. We are here for the last of our trips in order to re-enter Indonesia for another 30 days. However in this case we only need 10 of those days before we head back to New Zealand. It never ceases to amaze me how topical, appropriate and how with such perfect timing God can arrange my reading of His Word to match the phases of my life. It is nothing short of incredible. And what’s more I know He is doing that for all of you too. Don’t you find that puzzling? How He can take something written centuries ago by a man who lived in a different time zone and a different culture and make it speak wisdom into my life in a way that is not only topical and appropriate but is also perfect for this moment in my life. You are truly amazing LORD God Almighty. Please keep doing it. I love the personal attention and the guidance.
For me this is also timely and appropriate for the nation God has given us so much love for. In Jakarta today there is another demonstration over matters which are similar to the heart of the problem Paul and Barnabas faced way back then. The same forces are at work using similar methods to those used centuries ago. How is it that everything changes and yet manages to stay the same all at the same time? It is uncanny. Like the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote “there is nothing new under the sun” – things just keep coming back in cycles. Look up and ask Him Who created the universe with just the power of HIs Word for insight and help in your life today. And spare a prayer for Jakarta, which today will experience yet another of these demonstrations. Ask Him to do great and mighty things for you in your life and for Indonesia as well. He is able to handle multiple things on many fronts all at the same time – after all He is God. Chill out and ask Him to take control of your life and arrange the pieces for your ultimate good. He will; He has for me.
When you are at a cross roads in life, learn to ask God for direction and then do what He says.Ian Vail
Confused? Ask the Creator of the Universe for help. He delights to give you perspective – His.Ian Vail
Fearful? Don’t look up, look down. You are seated with Him in heavenly places. Learn to gain Heaven’s perspective.Ian Vail
Confident? Be careful – that is when we are at our most vulnerable.Ian Vail
God has been waiting to give you prevenient grace, purging grace, and positioning grace!T D Jakes
You only have to ask.Ian Vail
Grace doesn’t seem fair until you need some!Anon
To change your life, take the chance to make the decision God is prompting you to make.Ian Vail
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.Nelson Mandela