SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul and Barnabas go to a city called Iconium where they spend considerable time speaking boldly and doing miracles in the name of God. They spoke so well that both Jews and Gentiles believed. But, the unbelieving Jews stir up trouble and run the two out of town. Paul and Barnabas later return to encourage the believers there.
- In Lystra, a crippled man listens to Paul preach. Paul sees his great faith and heals him. This miracle leads people to think they're Greek gods. Paul and Barnabas, distressed by this news, ensure them they are only human, and it is only the one true God who could do such things. However, opposition from Antioch and Iconium arrive and stir up the crowd to stone Paul. Thinking he's dead they leave him outside the gates to rot. After the crowd leaves, he gets up and goes back into the city.
- Paul and Barnabas returned the way they came, appointing elders in each church they had visited. An elder is a leader in a congregation who teaches, organizes, and lives a life radically devoted to God.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Following Jesus sometimes requires perseverance. Near-death experiences would stop most people from preaching. But not Paul. He got up and kept preaching about Jesus.
- Following Jesus also requires boldness. It takes boldness to love those who reject us and our beliefs.
- God gives testimony to himself by showing us kindness in a multitude of ways. For example, giving us rain and crops and food (verse 17).
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What is a current hardship you are facing? Where are you tempted to give up in your faith? Be encouraged by Paul's example to persevere! Also, be encouraged by Jesus' example by reading Hebrews 12:1-3. What does perseverance look like in your specific situation? Pray and ask God to give you the strength you need to persevere.
- Pray for the kind of boldness that Paul and Barnabas had -- not obnoxious, but loving. Who in your life could you share the love of Jesus with this week?
- Make a list of ways that God has testified about Himself to you. In what ways has He shown kindness to you?