PAUL AT ICONIUM AND LYSTRA
When Paul and Barnabas arrived at Iconium, a modern-day Konya in Turkey, they went to the synagogue and shared the Word of God. Many people believed, but those who did not believe stirred up the minds of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas continued to spend a long time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, and the Lord enabled them to perform miracles there. Those who rejected the Word of God planned to stone Paul and Barnabas. So, Paul and Barnabas left Iconium and went to Lystra. When they arrived in Lystra, they healed a man crippled from birth, and when the people saw it, they began treating Paul and Barnabas as Greek gods. However, Paul and Barnabas tore their robes and told the crowd, "Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them." Even though Paul and Barnabas told the people these words, they kept offering sacrifices to them until the unbelievers from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra to stir the hearts of people against Paul and Barnabas. The people began to stone them and dragged them out of the city. The people left them thinking they were dead, but they got up later and went to Derbe (Acts 14:1-20). First Missionary Journey map.
Paul and Barnabas were willing to go through persecution and suffering because it is only through faith in Christ Jesus that people can be saved. Although Paul and Barnabas meant good for the people, the people mistreated and wanted to kill them. Serving God in this world is difficult because many people oppose God's Word. The politicians even passed a law that the Word of God is no longer acceptable in schools. Even prayers in many schools are now prohibited. Despite these oppositions, we must stand up for our faith because our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the hope in this world.
Let us not be intimidated by the ways of this world, but we need to stand up for our faith. We need to keep relying on God's power and strength, for in due time, our Lord Jesus Christ will come back and reign on this earth, and every knee will bow down before Him, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. Let us be strong in our faith, especially in this season.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through carefully and meditate on the questions while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speak to you) Why did Paul and Barnabas never quit sharing the Lord Jesus despite the persecution and suffering? Do I sincerely believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior? Am I willing to stand up for my faith in Jesus?
Write down all the worries you face today and lift them up to God.
Father in Heaven, there is only one way in which a person can be saved, and that is by faith in the Lord Jesus alone. Would you please give me the courage to stand for my faith and not be intimidated by the ways of this world? Please help me to keep on trusting and relying on your strength. Please give me wisdom on how to talk about my faith with others without being fearful but with joy and excitement. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.