Adventures in Life and Death
Focus on Divine leading presents unimaginable experiences for Paul and Barnabas
Have you ever experienced a paradigm shifting truth so powerful, that it seemed to have moved you from the very portals of death itself, into life?
If you have a habit of trying to figure out how God does what He does, do yourself a favor and stop. It’ll boggle your mind. There are times when we might expect that based on a certain set of circumstances, God would work this way, or that. We might expect that He would deliver us unscathed by our trials, so we can praise His name and tell the world our story. No doubt, God does deliver. There is no doubt that He has a thousand ways to provide for His children of which we know absolutely nothing. Yet, His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are far from our thoughts.
Paul and Barnabas taught the people of a certain city the power of Christ to transform us from sinners to saints. This truth was so revolutionary, that it caused a fault line separation between two groups of people, and many believed so heartily, that the wicked religious leaders incited other haters to make an assassination attempt on the apostles’ lives. In our human thinking, we might expect that the Lord would have destroyed the opposers, demonstrating His ability to triumph over wickedness, but He didn’t. As was characteristic of many of the years of the early church, God used this hatred of the truth to fuel its dispersion.
The apostles fled from that city to another. There they encountered a man who needed healing. This man never walked from the day he was born. Seeing this, and being filled with the healing power of the Holy Spirit, Paul commanded the man to stand up on his feet and be healed. And what do you know? He was healed! The people were so amazed that they mistakenly thought that Paul and Barnabas were gods! Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes in horror at this.
They preached, even the more powerfully, in the name of the risen Christ.
There were more haters on deck. And this time they succeeded at having a lynch mob actually stone Paul! They stoned him and dragged his body out of the city. When the apostles gathered around his body, he just got right up. Now, that was unexpected. With boldness and the mounting power of the Spirit, they went place-to-place teaching the great news of God’s love and the power to deliver all who place their trust in Him, from sin.
Do you think people would be apt to believe in the power of God from a man who was just publicly stoned “to death,” but did not die?
Whew! Reading this story was exhilarating. Among the many lessons we can glean from this, the one that strikes me most, is that the apostles never focused on any of what was happening to them. Undaunted, they simply took their directions from God, and whatever happened, happened. When they were hated for what they taught, they focused on Christ and His mission. When they were worshipped for what they taught, they focused on Christ and His mission. When the enemy thought He could destroy the apostles, God used his vehemence and malice as a vehicle to further spread God’s message.
Now let’s apply this for our lives today: If you are reading this, you are already off to a good start. We must make God first in our mornings, and be willing to follow Him wherever He leads. Do not be distracted by the details of your day, by the trials, nor by the triumphs. Simply keep your focus firmly set upon Christ, and let Him take you to heights you could never have imagined, all-the-while using your experiences to bring others closer to Him.