Read This Week: Acts 14
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. – Acts 14:14-18 NIV
The famed American evangelist, Dwight L. Moody once said, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.” When we look at the content of our lives and activities, are the things we care about temporal or important? What do we worship? Are we devoted to eternal things or the things that don’t really matter?
These are the questions that Paul answers at Lystra and Derbe. While visiting these cities with Barnabas, Paul heals a man with crippled feet. When he does, the people perceive him to be the Greek god, Hermes, and they even think that Barnabas is Zeus. The crowd then begins to gather bulls and flowers for sacrifice to the two apostles. This attempted pagan worship righteously angers Paul and he says to them:
Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.
Paul and Barnabas would not accept human praise or worship for something that God did. They opposed that thinking and practice by telling the people the truth about the one true God. Paul also took the opportunity to communicate that putting their faith in man and the creations of the world was putting their hope and confidence in worthless things. They were focused on and devoted to things that didn’t matter while missing the beauty, power, transcendence, and relationship with Jesus that would mean everything for their lives.
Paul makes it clear to them and us that there is only one thing worthy of our worship, time, energy, passion, and desire. It is the living God who is loving, forgiving, and good. It is the God of the Ages who has been patient, gracious, and faithful to us even when we forsake Him and run after the temporary things.
We have to be careful not to be like the mobs of people in this passage and constantly look for signs and wonders from worthless things that this world has to offer. We should avoid putting our trust in and worshipping unseen gods that make empty promises about meaning and purpose. We should not forsake the eternal for the momentary. We should live our lives for the One who created us for an eternal purpose instead of for the things that, at the end of our lives, don’t really matter.
In Acts 14, this was what God was saying to me, “Many Christians need strengthening in their souls. It is no small thing to walk with Me year after year, trial after trial. It takes a strong soul and an encouraged faith. What will it take for you to do My will? What kind of temptation or obstacle are you not giving up? Nothing stopped My son Jesus from doing My will on your behalf; if you look to Him you won’t be stopped either.
Salvation is in Jesus, and you receive it by putting your trust in Him. Speak boldly in the Lord. Bear witness to the word of His grace and touch others with the power of My son Jesus. Perseverance in doing good, amidst dangers and hardships, is blessed evidence of My grace.”
What this said to me is I am not to give up. The closer I am to Jesus while going through hard times will help me be more successful in getting through them. God goes before me. He is with me. Others will see how I handle trials with His strength, and they will trust Him more.
Wonderful commentary this week, Kathy. I think there is so much truth to your assertion that we need strengthening in our souls. It is certainly no small task to walk with God in this world especially as we endure trials. I think we are hesitant to admit this because we think it sounds faithless or weak. Yet, God desires for us to be strengthened by Him and others because He knows the road is long and hard. We don’t have to give up because He is with us and gives us others to walk beside us as well.
This particular line in your post stood out: Bear witness to the word of His grace and touch others with the power of My son Jesus. Perseverance in doing good, amidst dangers and hardships, is blessed evidence of My grace. I love this because when we bear witness to the world and admit our weakness and inadequacy without God, it does reveal both His power and grace in our lives to those who need the same and is searching for it.
Acts 14:22 spoke to me this week where it says, Strengthening and establishing the hearts of the disciples; encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, saying, “It is through many tribulations and hardships that we must enter the kingdom of God.”
I believe we all need to be strengthened and encourage by one another especially during these times! We need to make a stand in our faith and what the Bible says. We can’t be afraid to speak the truth so many will have a voice. We need to encourage, strengthen and lift each other up so many more can be saved.
This is a good and relevant word, Heidi. I can’t think of a time more necessary for the hearts of Christ-followers to be established in faith and truth and to receive encouragement from the Holy Spirit and other believers.
The kingdom is still advancing and God is still moving but the church still needs to encourage, strengthen and lift each other up so many more can be saved. I pray this will happen in God’s strength and power.
This week, God gave me a song from Acts 14 called, “Together”:
As we worship together we bring hope, love, and faith
God’s door is always open
We are all welcome
We give thanks to an awesome God who loves us
He brings hope, faith, and joy to our heart
He never gives up, never gives up
We are together through it all
As we worship, as we worship, as we worship
We give thanks to our Lord whose door is always open. Amen.
It is truly a joy and makes the heart hopeful to know that we walk through this life and face the challenges that come our way together with God and other people. As your song says, God’s door is always open. Thank you for this reminder of that amazing promise, Alma especially in these difficult and trying times.