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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

May 31, 2010 - No Warning

By William E. Richardson

After walking roughly 20 miles from Iconium, Paul and Barnabas approached the city limits of Lystra. No vultures circled overhead. The words “Christian missionaries, beware!” weren’t scrawled on the welcome sign. But those things wouldn’t have been out of place.

The strange episode in Lystra began with a victory for God. God used Paul to heal a man who’d never walked (Acts 14:8-10). That ignited a missionary’s nightmare.

The townspeople erupted in joyous shouts. Not for Jesus. They identified Paul and Barnabas as the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes. The local priest of Zeus stirred the people to offer their visiting “deities” an animal sacrifice. He dragged out oxen to kill (vv. 11-13).

Horror-stricken, the missionaries ripped their clothes. They ran among the misguided worshippers, pleading that they stop (vv. 14-18).

The nightmare got worse. Jewish rebel rousers incited a mob to drag Paul outside the city. There, they pelted him with stones until he lay motionless on the ground (v. 19).

A few who’d opened their hearts to the gospel gathered around the fallen missionary. He got up. He wandered back into the city (v. 20). Bruised and cut from the rocks, dried blood on his face, he likely resembled an extra in a zombie movie. But I’m convinced he won some converts.

Nearly 2,000 years after Paul’s bizarre Lystra incident, you may see shadows from that missionary journey flickering in your life — people responding to your witness for Jesus in disturbing ways. The devil will try controlling your circumstances and derailing what God is accomplishing in you and through you. Yet, for Christian believers, God always has ultimate control.

Here are three helpful lessons from Lystra.

1. Sometimes after a victory for God, the devil comes knocking. He’ll try making us panic by creating havoc around us.

2. Problems and persecution always fuel the growth of Christianity.

3. God turns the rocks others throw at us into stepping stones. Young Timothy, later one of Paul’s most important helpers, came from Lystra. He may have seen Paul survive stoning that day. It may have influenced him to follow Jesus.

Be encouraged. Keep advancing in your Christian walk. No matter what the devil throws at you, he can’t undo God’s plans for you.

— William E. Richardson is senior pastor of Afton (Iowa) Assembly of God and author of the “God’s Billboards” newsletter.



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