Journal Acts 14 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “So (Paul and Barnabas) remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who (Paul and Barnabas) bore witness to the word of His Grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” Acts 14:3
“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 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!” Barnabas, they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes (because he was the chief speaker). And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifices with the crowds.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
In past generations he (God) allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet (God) did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:8-17
Observation: It is not enough, reading the Scriptures, and cherry picking a verse here or there for memorization. Like back when in English Literature, we are left with, “What does this story mean in my own words? What is the book report on chapters like Acts 14?”
Analysis: The short story of Acts 14 at Lystra:
- Paul and Barnabas went to Lystra, where there was a temple for Zeus. Paul and Barnabas were preaching and teaching the Word of God and of His Grace.
- Paul performed a miracle of healing to a lame man. The crowd immediately misunderstood it and considered that our guys were Greek gods appearing as men.
- Paul and Barnabas, very alarmed and frustrated squared, responded to this by yelling and ripping their garments, “We are just like you—no gods at all”, and then explaining the character of God.
More could be shoved in this summary, but it is not necessary. What was Paul and Barnabas doing at Lystra? What was their message to these folks (more detail than just “Preaching salvation”)? How did Paul evaluate (because he did—“…seeing he had faith to be made well…”) the lame man and then had the fearlessness to raise his voice from the podium to command the guy to get up and walk?
Why aren’t I copying, imitating this? Why aren’t I even thinking about this kind of imitation of faith?
I think it is because I am not preparing myself according to the Word of God. Not the lack of faith to perform miracles, but the faithlessness of not trying. I saw this earlier in Acts 11: “…and he (Barnabas) exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose…” (v 23) Synonyms of “steadfast” are unwavering, resolute, persistent, dedicated, firm, DEPENDABLE, and more.
Therefore, I can take away that there is a component of being a follower of Jesus that takes effort and determination; that following the Spirit is parallel to being obedient to the Scriptures.
I write this down, not caring if others read it, because I have to write to the face in the mirror. Candidly, I am not faithful in this—but I want to be and the more I talk to myself like this (preaching this facet of the Gospel to myself), the less fearful I get.
Prayer: Lord God, please make me steadfast in pursuing You in all facets of the Gospel. I don’t want to be majoring in one aspect of the Gospel jewel, and utterly fail in the other 99 aspects.
Make me your instrument of Grace, please.
Bring revival, heal my land,