Our Christian life: sometimes a swinging bridge.
Our Christians life is sometimes cruising along….no problems. Peace is our pillow and fellowship is easy.
Other times, it seems as if one trouble goes, and another pops it’s head up….bigger and louder than the last….
…so it was with Paul.
Acts 14:1, 3 “And it came to pass in Iconium, that they (Paul and Barnabas) went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
This is wonderful! Coming into the city, they told about Jesus Christ, and many believed….but then….
Acts 14:2,4 “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
But the multitude of the city was divided:…”
When Christ comes there is always a separation. Those who receive Him, and those who don’t.
(As Moody said, “The whosoever wills, And the whosoever won’ts.)
Sometimes, from the unbelievers, there is “an assault”….whether by word, or action.
Sometimes there is just mocking.
Here, they were going to, “to use them despitefully, and to stone them.” (Acts 14:5)
So they left Iconium and went to Lystra and Derbe.
There they preached the gospel….
(You will notice, that whatever their situation….the gospel is always first.
Whether welcome, or persecution….they are there to tell about the Lord Jesus, and His Way of Salvation.)
Acts 14:8-10 “And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:
The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.”
A man, born disabled, who had never walked….heard Paul and believed on the Lord Jesus.
Paul saw his faith in Christ, and spoke to him,…..to in faith, obey the Lord’s Word….and stand.
And the man did,….and leaped, as well, proving the complete healing of his legs and feet!
Praise and amazement, pour forth for Paul and Barnabas, from the people around who saw this miracle!
The people think they are gods! And would have done sacrifice to them, had they allowed it!
(May I say, that miracles are to point any to Christ….not his servants.)
But Paul and Barnabas quickly spoke against it…..tearing their clothes (a sign of mourning and anguish)….and preached the Living God, to all who were come around them.
Acts 14:15, 18 “…..Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the Living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:…
And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.”
What an announcement of God’s power!…..and so many people hearing the gospel!
But a few days later:
Acts 14:19-20 “And there came hither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium (the place they wanted to stone Paul and Barnabas)
who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.”
Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”
As long as Paul was alive, his work was to preach the gospel….and so he did…
Acts 14:21-22 “And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra (where he had been stoned), and to Iconium, and Antioch, (the places enemies had been sent out)
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Paul’s testimony here, would have been invaluable. Here was the man, stoned….standing and continuing to preach and testify in the cities, to the people who persecuted him….yet he preached Christ, there, still.
Our Christian lives are full of blessings, and sufferings…..
….sometimes at the same time…..
But our object should always be Christ….
….whether we preach, teach, witness, or pray….
….we should manifest Christ….His gospel…..and His life, through us.
I started this with: Our Christian life: sometimes a swinging bridge.
Because if you have ever been on one,……you know that to cross the expanse….whether river, ravine, or between mountains,…..you want to walk slowly….taking each step as it comes….not looking down….but out.
This is your part….and you can not count on what others do.
(I have been on one where my brothers actually swung the bridge back and forth on purpose….yes, I thought I was going over….it was terrifying to me.)
But, we can not dictate other’s behavior…….hard lesson!
But continue to walk….each step….hanging hard on to God…..till we reach the other side.
Paul and Barnabas had a gospel to preach….each step they did as they were told….which did not exclude persecution….but simply gave more witness to “the Living God” which guides, protects, and empowers His servants.
Are we taking full advantage of our Living God? And His grace to us?
Job 5:19 “He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.”
(This was spoken to Job, who knew troubles….yet understood “the evil” comes to our hearts, from our wrong attitude to the troubles….not from the troubles themselves.)
We are assured of His presence in all the troubles……and His deliverance (personally, within ourselves……or from the circumstances) will come….at His time…and through the means He sees fit.
I do not know the circumstances you are going through…..but I know they will change….whether today or tomorrow….life, our Christian life, is always a walk forward….yet always in God’s hands.