Acts 14:8-11 and 19-20
“Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.”And he sprang up and began walking. And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
“But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas …”
Three things pop out: 1) the Cripple listened; 2) Paul noticed; 3) Paul and Barnabas persisted.
I read this and I intentionally put little emphasis on the healing described. Why? Don’t I believe in that sort of stuff? Of course I do and am more than a little curious why we don’t see that consistently. It is in that curiosity I want to look at Paul and Barnabas. “Why do I read about Paul doing this and I don’t do this? Doesn’t the Holy Spirit reside in me, too?” Now, so I don’t succumb to the spirit of Simon the Magician (Acts 8) what can I learn reading about Paul and Barnabas? What are their characteristics that I can biblically emulate? 1) While v8 is about Paul speaking and/or preaching, do I talk and more importantly converse with folk about the Word? Do I converse with my wife? My children? The folks I hang out with? Is the testimony of my heart consistently on my lips as well (even if I am not speaking to unbelievers)? 2) Am I taking notice of the folks around me? Do I have “situational awareness?” Do I see “opportunities” to pray for folks in the grocery store, restaurant, etc.? 3) Do I have a motive, a desire, to grow in this kind of stuff? And 4) Am I prepared to get figuratively “stoned” but committed to get up again? And concerning number 4 in particular: The biblical record doesn’t say that Paul, Barnabas, and others were instantly successful in ministry of any kind 100% from the first try to the last. It doesn’t say they weren’t as well. I know that my faith wavers often. What do I do then? I have to decide and confirm to my heart that I will stretch out in faith, for it is only God that works like this. Me? He has elected to work through faithful people; people EXERCISING their faith-just like physical exercise, exercising our faith can start off weak and painful but the more exercise, the more we can do. So: Stretch out, exercise. Fall down or get stoned? Get up, brush off, and go again-giving glory to the Most High who is forming us into the Image of His Son.
Lord God. I think that I fail often because I don’t act on what I think are impulses from You, O Spirit. It is because of Your Grace in Justification and subsequent Sanctification that I am not crushed because of my failure. Help me meditate on this and prepare to stretch out in faith at the next opportunity. Thank you O God-To You belongs all praise, glory, and Majesty ascribed only to Your Name.