Friday 22 July, 2016

Acts 14:8-20

8 In Lystra there sat a man who couldn’t walk. He hadn’t been able to use his feet since the day he was born. 9 He listened as Paul spoke. Paul looked right at him. He saw that the man had faith to be healed. 10 So he called out, “Stand up on your feet!” Then the man jumped up and began to walk. 11 The crowd saw what Paul had done. They shouted in the Lycaonian language. “The gods have come down to us in human form!” they exclaimed. 12 They called Barnabas Zeus. Paul was the main speaker. So they called him Hermes. 13 Just outside the city was the temple of the god Zeus. The priest of Zeus brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates. He and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. 14 But the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about this. So they tore their clothes. They rushed out into the crowd. They shouted, 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We are only human, just like you. We are bringing you good news. Turn away from these worthless things. Turn to the living God. He is the one who made the heavens and the earth and the sea. He made everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 But he has given proof of what he is like. He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven. He gives you crops in their seasons. He provides you with plenty of food. He fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Paul and Barnabas told them all these things. But they had trouble keeping the crowd from offering sacrifices to them. 19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium. They won the crowd over to their side. They threw stones at Paul. They thought he was dead, so they dragged him out of the city. 20 The believers gathered around Paul. Then he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

“Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed…”

What did this look like?
Do I exhibit the signs of faith for miracles?
Could I recognise the ‘look of faith’ in others?
Do I even look for signs of faith in others?
Will I notice when the signs of faith are present and the Kingdom of Heaven is just around the corner?

This web of questions is my first reaction to this passage – the overall application for me today, is clear: try and notice signs of people’s emerging faith. Recognise the context: Paul is ‘speaking’ (which I assume is preaching, or telling someone about Jesus, or explaining the Bible, or sharing testimonies of God’s miraculous power or any number of other spoken things). Paul had the man’s complete and close attention.

The rest of the story in the wake of the miracle reads like a slightly comedic episode:
“OMG! Paul is a god!”, quickly becomes
“Stop sacrificing to us you fools”, quickly becomes
“Are you sure you’re not divine?”, quickly becomes a life and death mob assault.
Dumped outside the city for dead, Paul (the hard-man) picks himself up and heads back in.

Lord, I ask for boldness to share. I ask for eyes to see people who are responding with faith. I ask for wisdom to then know what to do next! I worship you for your goodness, your miraculous power, the daily adventure you lay out in front of me and the courage to live it! Amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

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