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Acts 14: Paul faces persecution, gets a headache

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Acts 14 represents the latest tale of what turned out to be some of the misadventures of the Apostle Paul. Last time we visited, he had led many to the Lord but, naturally, made many enemies. At Iconium, those Jews who chose not to believe decided to infiltrate the Gentiles there and get them to reject Paul.

Understand that Paul’s preaching was an extension of Jesus’ preaching. It wasn’t just the following of a new faith, but in many ways a completely new way of thinking. After all, Jesus had preached once that while adultery is wrong, a man is committing adultery in his own heart just by lusting after a woman (something that’s very applicable in our own culture where even in the summers in Michigan, it’s still easy to see women showing off their bodies).

He and his friends stayed a while, but the city then became divided: half sided with the unbelieving Jews (by the way, that is NOT a redundant term despite what any anti-Semite will tell you) and the other half supported Paul. Perhaps much of the hatred was because Paul, who had been the Angry Saul who persecuted the church, was now preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They then fled to Lystra and Derbe to avoid death by stoning (getting heavy rocks thrown onto you rather than being forced to smoke marijuana).

Paul then healed a crippled man, which led people to mistakenly think the two were Greek gods: they considered Barnabas Zeus and Paul–due to his being the chief speaker–Hermes. The two then had to explain to the people they were not gods but that they served the true, living God. It proved to be a witnessing opportunity.

Things seemed to be going well until some of the angry Jews from Antioch and Iconium reached the city and stoned Paul.

I cannot imagine the agony of being stoned as heavy rocks are thrown onto your head, torso, shins and other sensitive parts of the body; a heavy stone dropped or thrown with enough leverage could easily crush the skull or ribcage.

However, God had other plans and Paul miraculously survived (our atheist friends would insist the angry Jews just suffered from lousy aim or, if that failed, the Bible itself is just a collection of fables and nothing more).

Paul then told other Christians about the trials they must face when preaching the Gospel. They preached, prayed and fasted. Paul then concluded that his suffering allowed God to open the doors to share the Christian faith with the Gentiles.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Thoughts on Acts, Daniel, Christian writing

I was very flattered but even more encouraged to hear from a high school friend that she reads this blog. Sometimes, when you blog, you post and have no clue who’s reading it. Sunshine’s (her real name, by the way) words are an encouragement to me to overcome my natural inclinations toward procrastination and be faithful by posting on a daily or semi-daily basis. We have only so much time on earth and then it’s over. For those of us who are Christians, we have only a finite amount of time to make a difference in our lives and make the most of the talents that God has given us.

God has not given me the gift to pastor a church, nor to be a traveling evangelist nor to be a missionary like my friends, Ross and Ellen Ligon, but he has given me the gift of writing. My job is to use that gift to write about things I encounter as a Christian.

My background? I have a bachelor of arts degree in history from Pensacola Christian College in 1995. I minored in English and took a Bible class every semester. I’m not a Bible scholar, but what I do is pray, read, consider the context, consult commentaries and concordances and wise friends over passages I don’t grasp and then write about what I understand and how it applies to me.

That being said, if you are a young Christian who’d likes to listen to the radio, I highly recommend J. Vernon McGee, Chuck Swindoll and Chip Ingram. All three are excellent Bible teachers.

Regarding Daniel, people think of it as a book of Daniel and his pals Shadrach (real name: Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael) and Abednego (Azariah). It’s also a book of prophecy, and as I read it, I see at least two visions Daniel saw that troubled him greatly. One even made him physically ill. One he doesn’t even write about what he saw, which makes you wonder if he saw something very horrible or something so futuristic that he simply couldn’t grasp it.

After Daniel, I’ll be venturing into a part of the Old Testament I haven’t explored in well over a decade: the Minor Prophets. No, they weren’t called the minor prophets because they were all under 18 years old.

As for Acts, how fascinating it is to read about the church in its infancy and about Saul’s conversion into the Apostle Paul. Soon we’ll be reading and blogging about his trials and his climactic trial before King Agrippa.

My prayer and goal is to step things up and within 2 to 4 years, to have blogged my entire way through the Bible. We’ll see how that goes.

For those of you who struggle daily with various temptations (I know I certainly do) and hear those whispers of past things you’ve done and deeply regret, I leave you with this: Whenever Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981 and is currently searching for a solid Bible-teaching church to attend in or near Vassar, Michigan (one church in Frankenmuth was very nice, but it wasn’t a good fit). Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.