Through Many Tribulations - Acts 14

Through Many Tribulations

Acts 14:1-28

During their first missionary journey Paul and Barnabas visited Lystra, a city in the region of Lycaonia in the Roman province of Galatia.  They hastily arrived in Lystra from nearby Iconium, where their bold preaching resulted in a divided city and a violent attempt on their lives.  When they learned of plans to abuse and stone them, they fled to Lystra.

In Lystra the healing of a crippled man made such a profound impression upon the people that they shouted, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"  Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes.  The priest of Zeus was so impressed that he "brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes."  The missionaries tore their clothes and ran among the people, saying, "Men, why are you doing these things?  We also are men with the same nature as you."  The multitude was finally restrained from offering sacrifices to them as Greek deities.

But then Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived in Lystra, and convinced many of the people to rise up against Paul and Barnabas.  "They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.  However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city."  Paul returned to Lystra, where the people had just stoned him.  How much courage did that take?

The next day Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe, which was about fifty miles away, and preached the gospel there.  These missionaries could not be stopped or silenced. 

The road from Antioch to Iconium to Lystra to Derbe lead in the direction of their home church.  But after preaching the gospel in Derbe, "they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch," cities where they had been threatened, persecuted, stoned, and left for dead.  Why would they go back?

They returned to strengthen the new believers, "exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."  They also appointed church leaders. 

Before Paul suffered martyrdom he wrote his last letter to Timothy.  Let these words sink in.  "But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra---what persecutions I endured.  And out of them all the Lord delivered me.  Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."  2 Timothy 3:10-12.  Paul went through many tribulations, and came out on the glorious, victorious side.

 

Almighty, loving heavenly Father, deliver us from both persecution and apathy.  Help us to boldly proclaim Your gospel.  Thank You for Your strengthening, enabling, and comfort in hard times.  In Jesus' name.  Amen!

 

The First Great Church Council - Acts 15 

 
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Scripture taken from the
New King James Version.
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