Acts 14: 19-28

Written by kathleen on Aug 23, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 14:19

Is The Yoke On You?

18 And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them.

We must take into account most of these people were of the Greek culture and mythology and knew nothing of the God of Israel so Paul was telling them that the true and the living God has revealed Himself by His goodness in nature that they might be able to relate.

Even today for the ones who may have never heard of the God of the Bible or the salvation given through His Son Jesus Christ the

Psalmist continues to say in Ps 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In other words any body seeking God will be found by Him!

Later in his ministry Paul tells the church in Roman that even the heathen are without excuse because of God’s revelation of Himself in nature. Rom 1:18-20 As the Scripture says it, “The man who finds life will find it through trusting God.” 18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20 Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day TLB        

After Paul finished this simple yet powerful sermon, the people decided not to offer sacrifices to him. It was a close call. But watch what happens next.

19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

Those who had run off Paul from Antioch and those who had sought to stone him in Iconium joined forces and followed him to Lystra.

One minute the people of Lystra cried, “They’re gods!” The next minute, “Kill them!”

We do the very same thing whenever we idolize a speaker, or a teacher one day but criticize them the moment we see something in them that we don’t agree with.

This is known as “Lystra syndrome” The way to break free from the “Lystra syndrome” is not through adoration, or annihilation—but through appreciation.

Deuteronomy 20:19 The Lord instructed His people not to lay an axe to a fruit-bearing tree for their own hunger would be the result Deuteronomy 20:19 “When you besiege a city, don’t destroy the fruit trees. Eat all the fruit you wish; just don’t cut down the trees. They aren’t enemies who need to be slaughtered  TLB

That’s what happened with the people of Lystra—and it happens to us whenever we pick on groups, ministries, churches, or individuals instead of picking from them.

It’s the treasure, not the earthen vessel that is important 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us we are the containers of the most precious gift ever given to this world!

We can be enriched, fed, and blessed by the Word others share, even though we may see some earthiness in their vessels.

On the other hand, God also instructed His people to chop down any trees that did not bear fruit Deuteronomy 20:20! But you may cut down trees that aren’t valuable for food. Use them for the siege [to make ladders, portable towers, and battering rams. TLB

In other words there is no place for ministries or cults that undermine our faith, deny the Word, or cast doubts on the finished work of Christ

The people of Lystra heard the Word—but then turned away.

Why were the men of Lystra so easily manipulated by those who wanted to see Paul dead?

Jeremiah 26:1-2 gives the answer…

In obedience to the Lord’s command, Jeremiah stood in the temple courtyard and preached powerfully, telling the people to repent of their evil ways so that the Lord could bless instead of punish them.

But by verse eight the people said; “We don’t like what you’re saying, Jeremiah. We’re going to kill you, There was one guy named Urijah who said “Jeremiah, what you’re saying makes sense,” “So I’m going to prophesy just like you. The very words you say, I’ll say.”

But by verse 21 when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt

When Urijah heard his life was at stake, he backed down, ran away, and fled to Egypt. And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.    Jeremiah 26:22, 23

That is one simple way to get wiped out: Run. Back away from the things you know are true and say, “I need some of the world. I think I’ll go to Egypt.” Whenever you walk away from the Lord or from the Word, like Urijah it usually leads to unrest, problems, and death in relationships, ministries, and the peace that passes all understanding!

Why did Urijah back down and run away? Because, Jeremiah was hearing and receiving directly from the Lord; Urijah was merely mimicking Jeremiah. He agreed with Jeremiah’s message mentally, but it wasn’t in his heart personally.

To experience the power of God in our life ministries we must have more than head knowledge of the Lord based upon what we hear from preachers or other sources.

As you spend time with the Lord like Jeremiah, you’ll own the truth in your heart because of your fellowship with the Lord.

To get the truth first hand from your head to your heart begins with spending time in prayer and His Word as you humble yourself and ask the Lord to fill your heart with His Truth.

Following the church service on Sunday, your devotions tomorrow, or the radio message you might hear next week—if your response is merely, “That’s interesting,” the Word of the Lord will never penetrate your heart. And when tough times come, you will join Urijah in Egypt.

On the other hand, if you leave church, your morning devotions, or the radio message, saying, “Lord, what do You have in this for me today?”—you will be able to stand strong like Jeremiah.

You see, it’s not enough to mimic what we hear!

Urijah did that and died. We, like Jeremiah, must internalize what we hear because it’s not enough to hear the Lord’s voice through an interpreter be it an author, a pastor, or a speaker. We must hear His voice ourselves.

By Jeremiah 26:24 Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death. Jeremiah stood his ground and thereby saved his life. Had the men of Lystra done the same, their city would have been blessed.                  

Back to v.19 They are ready to offer sacrifices and claim them as gods, but the next thing is; they are stoning Paul and is drug out of the city. They think he is dead!

Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 12:2-10) about fourteen years after this event.  He said there was a man about fourteen years ago and whether in the body or out of the body, I don’t know, but such a one was caught up to the third heaven.

And there I heard things that were so fantastic that it would be a crime and try to describe them in human language. There are no words that have yet been devised or created that can describe the beauty of the things I heard.  Many believe in this letter that Paul is referring to this experience in Lystra; and was saying I don’t know if I was dead or not. But what I do know, I was caught up into heaven. Maybe I was dead.  Maybe I went up into heaven.  I don’t know, maybe I was alive and just had a vision.   I really can’t tell you.  I don’t know if I was dead or alive, but I do know that I was there in the third heaven and it was awesome. And because of the revelation that was given to me; he said there was also given unto me a thorn in the flesh, a minister of Satan to buffet me, so I wouldn’t be exalted above measure because of the revelations that I received. Therefore it could be that this thorn in the flesh was a result of the stoning that he never fully recovered from.

The word “thorn” doesn’t mean a thorn like you would find on a rosebush or a sand spur. The word is related to a “tent stake” as in 18 inches long. So Paul’s thorn in the flesh wasn’t some small inconvenience he had to put up with now and then. It was painful and very possibly, according to many Bible scholars, the result of permanent injuries he received from this stoning, Yes, he went to heaven. Yes, his spirit was changed. But his body was permanently weakened as a result.

This brings me to one of my personal quirks; and that is when people write books saying, “I died on the operating table, went to heaven, and here’s what I saw” I get very suspicious because when Paul went to heaven, he was forbidden to talk about what he witnessed. Who could be more qualified to express this type of vision than Paul?

20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe

These disciples were risking their own lives by standing around Paul’s body. What were they doing? Were they praying? Was Luke trying to revive him? Were they crying? Were they having a memorial service? The Bible doesn’t say. It just says they were there;

We all have experienced times when we have felt wiped out, finished, even spiritually dead. And then some of God’s people gathered around us and our hearts were resurrected and our spirits revived.

This is the key to real Christianity; when there are those to whom the Lord will lead you to stand by, hang out with, and be there for weather it is in person, over the phone, or through a letter.

Learn to be sensitive to His leading and be a part of that revival!

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” .”

They had seen what it cost Paul. So they encouraged them. The apostle John quoted Jesus in John 16:13, In this world, you will have tribulation.

23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. .

Wrapping up their year-long tour that began in Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas doubled back on their return trip telling how the Lord delivered them out of all of these dangerous traps.

But in each case it was in an entirely different way. I point this out because our tendency is to say, “If I’m going to get out of this situation, it must be in this way, or according to these twelve steps.” But God will not be boxed in by any program, agenda, or formula.

He has promised to deliver us according to 2 Corinthians 1:10, but He has not predicted how He’ll do it!

For example remember the men in Daniel 3:26 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

They were in a fiery trial, yet they didn’t come out or want to come out until they were ordered out because they preferred walking in the fire with the Lord who was the forth man seen in the furnace. God had all this under control!

Yet we have a tendency to try and take control of the situation and to avoid the fire whenever possible— that can be a BIG mistake!

I’m not saying we should be a person who is gratified by pain. But! I am saying it’s in the fire, when times are tough; when your heart is breaking; your spirit is crushed; your feeling abandoned that Jesus is most visible, most real, and most precious.

This is why Jesus would say in  Matt 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

He didn’t say, “Go to church.” He didn’t say, “Listen to a sermon.” He didn’t say, “Get some counseling.” He didn’t say, “Read a book.” He said, “Come to Me. Not even “Run to Me.” So often in my weariness, I can’t run. I can only stumble to Him or crawl before Him. But that’s okay. He just said “Come” any way we can.

24 And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia.           25 Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed. 27 Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

Back at their home church in Syrian Antioch saying the trip was a great success, though not without great obstacles: The difficulty of travel itself, the confrontation with Elymas on Cyprus, the quitting of John Mark, being driven out of the cities of Antioch and Iconium, the temptation to receive adoration, and being stoned in Lystra. Yet Paul and Barnabas would not be deterred from the work God had for them to do and they will continue on next chapter.

Nothing stopped Jesus from doing God’s will on our behalf; so as we look to Him, lets make the decision we won’t be stopped either.