Poison Control - Acts 14:1-7
In Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas were removed from their ministry, but God created new opportunities to minister. At Iconium Paul and Barnabas preached effectively and boldly because of the power of God and many Jews and Gentiles believed. The bolder they became the more uncomfortable the Jews became. Some refused to believe and stirred up trouble and turned the Gentiles against them.
We get uncomfortable when we see God differently. We are threatened and become controlling - just like them. They thought they were following the Old Testament laws and it was probably hard for them to change their thinking. They had centuries of tradition and now Jesus was changing everything. But that didn’t stop Paul and Barnabas from speaking and performing miraculous signs and wonders. In Matthew 10:34 Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Being a good person will not bring you into a relationship with God is insulting for some.
Paul and Barnabas left Iconium and fled to Lystra and Derbe. Sometimes God says move and sometimes He says stay put. God will give you information so you will go where He wants you to go.
1. A committed Christian encouragingly lives by God’s truth even when others refuse it.
The enemy is at work to poison our minds. How are you being poisoned? God is the ultimate “poison control center”. God’s motives are love, goodness and grace and is willing to do anything to work on your behalf. Contact the “poison control center” – He will give you courage. Get into His Word and pray. If in doubt, He will give you hope for tomorrow. His “poison control center” will remove the poison from your thoughts.
What is your immediate response when someone opposes you? Are you worn out defending Jesus to your family or to your friends? Don’t waste energy – just speak the message of truth like Paul and Barnabas. God will tell you when to do it differently. The gospel cannot be stopped! Nothing can change God’s plan to spread it to the world.
Popularity Channeled - Acts 14:8-20
In Lystra as Paul preached, he saw a man crippled from birth. Paul saw that he had faith and Paul healed him. This doesn’t mean if you have faith you will be healed. God does His will and He may choose not to heal. Healing can occur when someone has no faith. (Romans 10:17) - "... faith comes from hearing ...". How is your faith evident to others?
When the people saw this, they thought Paul and Barnabas were gods and wanted to offer sacrifices and worship them. Paul knew if this spread, it would be very hard to convince people otherwise. He told the people they were human just like them, bringing the good news and telling them to turn from these worthless things to the living God who made everything. They were ignorant and needed to become knowledgeable of scripture and of God.
How do we know God is the Creator? First because He says so. Then just look around and see the sky, the stars, the moon, the sun, the oceans, etc. (Romans 1:18-20) – “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Paul mentioned the created world so they would realize how powerful God is and no one could do what He had done.
Some of the Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and left him for dead. But the disciples gathered around him and I am sure they prayed earnestly. Another answer to prayer - Paul got up and went back to the city. This showed Paul’s determination and commitment in serving the Lord. He went right back to preaching and didn’t give up. This is one of many examples Paul gives us to live by. He knew how they felt. After all he use to persecute and kill Christians himself and God forgave him. He had forgiveness, patience and love even for his enemies.
2. A committed Christian’s response to adversity should point others to God.
Are you like one of those people Paul and Barnabas spoke to? Is the Bible unfamiliar to you? Will you yield to the Holy Spirit and accept Jesus as your Savior?
Personal Care - Acts 14:21-28
Paul shows his love and care for those he led to Christ:
Acts 14:21-23 – Paul encouraged disciples reminding them that they must endure hardships to enter kingdom of God.
2 Corinthians 7:3 – Paul said he would live and die for you.
Galatians 4:19 – Paul saw believers as dear children
1 Thessalonians 2:7-11 – Paul cares for believers as a mother and deals with them as a father.
1 Thessalonians 1:19-20 – The people are Paul’s hope, joy and glory.
1 Thessalonians 3:8 – Paul really lives when believers stand firm in the Lord.
3. A committed Christian has a testimony about God that will strengthen and encourage the body of Christ.
Paul set a great example of never giving up. He showed us an example of determination, commitment, and faith through hardships. Paul and Barnabas strengthened and united the disciples by their examples. They prayed and fasted, encouraged them to remain true to the faith. We need to encourage others by telling them God loves them in all their circumstances. Tell them you are praying for them. It means a lot to me when someone says they are praying for me. And – don’t forget to pray.
Every Christian should be involved with the body of Christ. Churches are not perfect. We need to pray and help strengthen our leaders. How do you encourage others? What leader could you encourage in your church? Do you shepherd them with your time or your energy?