Acts 14; Joshua 22; Job 31
Paul and Barnabas had an interesting first missionary journey. Imagine going to places where people had no concept of the idea of one true God. Imagine being able to bring the message of God’s forgiveness and grace to people who sought to appease the gods so they wouldn’t hurt them. In Lystra, Paul was used to perform a healing and the people went wild. They started cheering in a language Paul and Barnabas didn’t know and it took a while for them to realize that the people were getting ready to sacrifice to them, thinking that Paul and Barnabas were Greek gods. When Paul and Barnabas realized this, they were horrified and sought to explain the truth of the One God to them. “Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.” (Acts 14:18-19) The result was an interesting turn of events: one minute people wanted to sacrifice to them thinking they were their gods, the next they were stoning Paul in the streets and dragging him out of the city. People so easily receive the miracles of God without realizing who He is and the call He has on their life. Even before the people of Lystra could come to the grace of God, outside agitators destroyed their faith possibilities and turned them into a mob with murderous intent. How often do we find that people we talk to are skeptical at first, but then, just as they begin to realize the truth of the gospel and the call of God on their lives, we see them influenced by others to turn on God? It’s easy to blame ourselves when that happens. Don’t. It would be easy to consider a visit like this a failure. Understand that God works even in situations like this. Paul and Barnabas didn’t lose heart; they left the city but Paul visited them again on his second journey. It was then that Timothy joined him. God keeps working even when we think we may have failed.
Lord, how easily I get discouraged in Your work, thinking I’ve failed You. I expect people to come to You on my terms and when they don’t, I get discouraged because I fail to trust You and Your grace. Remind me that my job is to be faithful and that You continue to work in the hearts and minds of all people.