5/13/16 Another Narrow Escape, But Another Church Planted

acts 14 6

Iconium is quite a distance away from Antioch, and Paul and Barnabas have to go through some very unforgiving terrain to get there, including some mountainous areas.  But the journey is good for them.  They have time to draw strength for what is to come in the next city they attempt to preach to.  They are able to be away from crowds of people to pray and sit in silence, listening to the Voice of God for guidance.  They have plenty of time and space for private conversation.  By the time they reach Iconium, they are refreshed in body and in spirit.  When they enter the town, the first thing they do is to go down the main streets and look around.  They quickly find a synagogue, where they will go bright and early on the Sabbath, just two days away now.  After getting a feel for the layout of the town, they seek lodging and are welcomed by a man with a small house.  They set up their tent-making supplies, since this is their means of earning a living, and get to work.  No sense wasting the time between now and the Sabbath!  When the Sabbath day arrives, they make their way to the synagogue and take seats in the same section in which they sat in the Antioch synagogue.  They are somewhat surprised, as they watch the building fill up with worshippers, to see that a great many Greeks are in attendance, mingling with the Jews.  The service begins, and proceeds much like that in Antioch.  Soon, Paul is invited to come up and speak, and he delivers almost the exact same message he had proclaimed in Antioch.  Through just this one message, almost half of those in the synagogue trust in Jesus for salvation from their sins.  But the other half of the people are vehemently against this strange teaching, and as soon as the service is over they begin to spread malicious lies against Paul and Barnabas among the people of the town who were not in attendance.  Paul and Barnabas look at each other and sigh.  “I see a pattern developing here,” Paul says.  “Yes,” replies Barnabas, “But at least we know what to expect now, and are more ready to handle it.  And so far, there are many Jews who are with us this time, along with the Gentiles.”  While the Jews who are against Jesus’ message are trying to poison their neighbors’ minds against Paul and Barnabas, the new believers in the town are equally fervent in spreading the message of forgiveness that the two men came to give them.  Soon, there is a group of new believers, mostly Gentiles but with a small handful of Jews included, ready to be baptized and eager to learn more about Jesus.  Paul and Barnabas stay in Iconium for several months, teaching the new believers and doing miracles in Jesus’ Name.  Many of the new believers are Greeks who had been converted to Judaism, but are finding much more freedom and joy in the teachings of Jesus.  They are no longer tied down by long lists of rules and regulations.  Those opposed to Jesus’ message, referred to by some as the Gospel, or “good news,” begin to persecute the new believers, boycotting their shops, refusing to interact with them, sometimes even resorting to violence against them.  Paul and Barnabas do all that they can to encourage them and build up their faith, knowing that a strong faith will sustain these new believers and enable them to withstand anything that comes against them.  But when their persecutors realize that the new believers are going to stand strong in their faith instead of giving in in the face of their opposition, they turn on Paul and Barnabas instead.  The two men learn of a plot to have them stoned, like Stephen in Jerusalem, and are able to escape the town before that happens.  Paul has mixed feelings about the escape, believing that he deserves to be stoned after everything he did in Jerusalem before Jesus met him on the road to Damascus.  Paul and Barnabas go to Lycaonia, preaching the message of the Gospel in the cities of that region.  They start in the towns of Lystra and Derbe, and travel throughout the area, bringing good news to all who will listen.

 

Acts 14:1-7, https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c1/ee/af/c1eeafe53731e987fe7aab29cd248f09.jpg

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