Acts 14 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional
“Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. After the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, ‘It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way to the kingdom of G_d.’ When they had appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” Acts 14:19-23
Theologians are unsure as to whether Paul was actually stoned to death, then resurrected by the L_rd; or if he was only thought to be dead. In either case, it was a miracle that Paul got up and walked back to town!
At the least, it was a testimony of great faith that Paul went back to the town he had, just moments earlier, been stoned in. Why would he do such a thing, instead of shaking the dust off his feet and moving-on? He knew his calling.
I have made it clear on several occasions that I believe the Bible teaches “calling”. I believe G_d calls us specifically, to specific places, in order to minister in specific ways, delivering specific messages, for specific amounts of time. If there is no calling, we have no incentive to endure hardship. In light of his calling, Paul was impelled (drawn from within) by God’s Spirit to go back to Lysrta.
What was Paul communicating with his re-arrival? He was testifying that G_d was greater than the evil schemes of men. Also, Paul would not be intimidated. The next day, Paul left, but on his terms. This was no doubt a warning to those who sought to persecute the Messianic community, and it would have been an obvious morale boost for the fledgling congregation there.
Paul was a master leader. In returning, he 1) Strengthened the new disciples, spiritually; 2) Urged them to use their strength to hold fast to the faith; 3) Gave fair warning as to what to expect: Troubles, but also victory for the kingdom of G_d; 4) He appointed elders (leaders) to run the new young congregations.
If Paul is an excellent example of a disciple…and I believe he is…then by following his example, we can expect many troubles. But those troubles in no way compare to the joy which comes from following the L_rd, and the great reward of entering His kingdom, having run the race well!
~Steve Wiggins, Associate Leader, Worship Leader
Daily Devotional, Wednesday, July 31, 2013