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The Heat is On!

Acts 14: 5 And when an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to treat them abusively and to stone them,6 they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region;7 and there they continued to preach the gospel. The result of the power of God moving in Iconium was an attempt on Paul and his companion's lives and when they became aware of the plot they fled to other cities in Galatia. The area of Galatia was a Roman province and was filled with a group of people called "celts." Celts -The Celts or Celtic peoples (/ˈkɛltɪk/) were a collection of Indo-European peoples in Europe and Anatolia, identified by their use of Celtic languages and other cultural similarities. Major Celtic groups included the Gauls; the Celtiberians and Gallaeci of Iberia; the Britons and Gaels of Britain and Ireland. The Celts were eagerly receiving the message of Christ from Paul and God was doing a powerful work among them, but the Jews, once again, poisoned their minds with falsehoods and continued to do so even when Paul wrote a follow-up letter to those converts later on. That is found in Paul's letter to the Galatians.

The message of Christ stirs up people who are religious and those who have no religious background. To non-religious people, the message of Christ is an eternal hope that offers true freedom to all who come to Christ. To the religious people, it is an affront to their doctrine and only causes them to doubt that they are right, which stems from pride. The message of Christ is not just another religious teaching or exercise, but the pure truth from the Word of God. Also, when a person receives Jesus by faith a spiritual transformation takes place, and eternity in heaven is the reward. The only other alternative is to reject the message of Christ and the accompanying transformation which will result in an eternity in hell when you die. When given the options in Galatia those Celts received this Good News with faith and their lives were changed forever.

When someone is totally committed like Paul the heat will never get too hot to keep them from completing their mission. Paul just went to other towns in Galatia when the heat was turned up by the Jews, and Gentiles who were influenced by those Jews.

So Paul goes to Lystra and immediately God puts him before an audience of people where a man who was crippled was listening intently. The following verses tell what happened. Acts 14: 8 In Lystra a man was sitting whose feet were incapacitated. He had been disabled from his mother’s womb and had never walked.9 This man was listening to Paul as he spoke. Paul looked at him intently and saw that he had faith to be made well 10 and he said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet!” And the man leaped up and began to walk. Here is where a different heat was turned on and you will easily see why in these next few verses. Acts 14: 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us!”12 And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes since he was the chief speaker.13 Moreover, the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.

The natural thing we humans do when God does something awesome is to try and take credit for it. And those who don't understand will even try to give a man credit for it when God is the ONLY reason that it happened. Our natural human tendency is to lift up the person we can see instead of honoring God who is Spirit. This is how people will begin to make their own gods and that was the intent of the people who saw the man leap and walk. The heat was on Paul to keep things in order and he and Barnabas were not having it and the following discourse is heard. Acts 14: 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men, of the same nature as you, preaching the gospel to you, to turn from these useless things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them.16 In past generations He permitted all the nations to go their own ways;17 yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”18 And even by saying these things, only with difficulty did they restrain the crowds from offering sacrifices to them.

You see the true heart of these two as they reject the honor given to THEM and use the confusion to preach an even stronger message of hope through Jesus. What great hearts and what great commitment to the Lord. The devil turned up the heat and challenged the hearts of Paul and Barnabas with the temptation to stay and be worshiped by these people for an act that God had done. But their hearts were pure because they were full of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was in the wilderness prior to beginning his walk to the cross the devil tried the same thing in a different way. Luke 4:5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory, for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I want.7 Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.”8 Jesus replied to him, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” You can see that Jesus cooled the heat from the devil by using scripture and the temptation from the devil came up empty.

Closing thoughts to realize is that when you begin to serve God the devil will test your resolve and your commitment and we need the filling of the Holy Spirit to be able to handle the heat that he turns on. The Holy Spirit will protect us and remind us of who we are living for and He will use us in an extraordinary way, so let Him be a very present help in your life. The devil will try to use opposition and acceptance to trap those who follow Jesus and only the Holy Spirit can help us stand the test. The example of Paul and Barnabas is a very important reminder that we will feel the heat but the Holy Spirit will cool the work of the devil if we will just commit to being filled by the Holy Spirit. Remember that Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and preached the powerful message of the gospel and God moved. It is time for God to move again! Just let God move through your life and experience the eternal satisfaction of the blessing of God.

The Pilgrimage Continues

David Warren

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