August 29th 2009

Pick Yourself Up

12 of 12 studies taken from Acts 7 to Acts 14

“Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered round him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe”.
Acts 14:19-20 (NIV UK)

“Will you remember the famous men,
Who had to fall to rise again?
So take a deep breath, pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off, start all over again” .

Do you know this song? The words are from a film called Swing Time. I think but am not sure that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang it to each other.

In the above passage from Acts Paul gets up and starts all over again. Paul and Barnabas had been hailed as Greek gods in Lystra, a city steeped in superstition. So convinced were the crowds that they decided to offer sacrifices to both of them. The two apostles ran among them and told them not to do this, that they should turn from idolatry to “the Living God” (14:15), but Paul and Barnabas “could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them” (v.18).

Jewish protagonists, “filled with envy” (13:45), opposed all that Paul and Barnabas had been saying, and persuaded those, who had just sought to worship him, to stone Paul. Then they dragged his body outside the city limits and left him for dead.

What would you have done had you been Paul? Sought some time to recover? Find some space to recuperate? Of course, we all need to do such things. Paul, however, encouraged by the believers who gathered around him, rose up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left to preach the gospel elsewhere and later returned to Lystra to strengthen the disciples, telling them that they would have many tribulations as they embrace the Kingdom of God (14:21?22). Paul was speaking from personal experience!

I don’t know what trials you are going through because you adhere to the faith. We all face them. The challenge is to be like Paul, to rise when we fall or are kicked down, and then to get on with the gospel work. It’s not always easy, but we have examples such as Paul to inspire us along the way.

Great Almighty God, strengthen me when difficult times come, that, like Paul did, I may get up and continue with the gospel work. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson 

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