As chapter 14 opens, Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue. They “spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.” There were some Jews who refused to believe and they began causing trouble among the Gentiles who did not believe and “poisoned their minds” against Paul and Barnabas. They continued to speak boldly and the Lord enabled them to perform signs and wonders. The city was divided. Some sided with the apostles and some with the Jews. The Gentiles and Jews got together with their leaders and they decided they would mistreat them and stone them. Paul and Barnabas found out about the plot and they left, but continued preaching in the surrounding country. I pray that the Holy Spirit will move so we can speak effectively enough that others come to faith in Christ. I pray that when the enemy comes against us, we recognize it, but it does not hinder us in spreading the Word.
Verses 8-10 says, “In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. “ Paul LOOKED at him and saw his faith. I pray that others can look at me and see the gift of faith God has given.
These people in Lystra had been worshiping the gods of Zeus and Hermes, and when they saw the work Paul and Barnabas did, they immediately gave them praise and thought they were the gods. They even brought sacrifices to them. Paul and Barnabas were quick to let them know they were not gods. They tore their own clothes and reminded them they were bringing them the news of Christ and telling them to turn from this idol worship and turn to the One True God of creation and provider of all. There were men bent on destroying the Word being spread. They cam from Antioch and Iconium, winning over the crowd, and Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city, leaving him for dead. The disciples gathered around him, he got up, and went right back into the city. The next day, he and Barnabas left. I pray that when praise is turned to us or our skill, we can quickly give the glory to God. I pray that when there are those who persecute us for spreading the Truth, we can face the adversity and know when the Spirit is leading us to another place.
Paul and Barnabas set off for more cities, preaching the Gospel and winning a large number for Christ. They strengthened and encouraged disciples. They fasted, prayed, and appointed elders in the churches as they went. They returned to Antioch and gathering the church, they gave a report of the work God had done, including opening the door of faith for the Gentiles. I pray that we can strengthen and encourage one another and share the work God has done in us.