Summary: A stop at Derbe (another shepherds town in the plain), more disciples and more preaching. Then, believe it or not, Paul and Barnabas travel right back through all the towns they just visited. Not quietly. Not in hiding. But boldly proclaiming the gospel and continuing to win souls. They appoint elders as they go. They return to their home church and stay “for a long time.”
13. a. Gaius and Timothy
b. The first difference is that they did not get run out of town. Maybe the Jews thought Paul was dead and went back home. Secondly, they picked up companions who would travel with them.
c. The question about how God shows grace implies that we are promised breaks in our suffering. I may just be a contrarian, but I do not think that is really what the scripture says (see more in conclusions below). I think the main area of grace that is shown in the city of Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Pisidia is that God allowed Paul and Barnabas to be strengthened by seeing the harvest begin to come in.
14. How does each of the following verses show Paul’s love and care for those he led to Christ?
a. Acts 14:21–23 First: The fact that he came back! We must face many hardships
b. 2 Corinthians 7:3 Paul is willing to live or die for the disciples
c. Galatians 4:19 Paul thought of new believers as his own infant children (still in pains of childbirth)
d. 1 Thessalonians 2:7–11 Disciples are like family. Shared the gospel and life, working day and night to care for them (like a parent).
e. 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20 Believers are Paul’s Joy, Crown, Glory in heaven
f. 1 Thessalonians 3:8 Believers standing firm in the Lord is the very meaning of Paul’s life
Conclusion: First, please do not miss the utterly amazing fact that Paul and Barnabas go right back through these places where there were direct and imminent threats on their lives. Talk about a walk of faith. In Rotary Club we talk about putting “service above self”, but we see that magnified in this death defying bravery.
Second (soapbox time): All too often misquotes of scripture end up in our common language and become elements that believers think are actually in the bible. One of these common misquotes is that “God will not give us more than we can bear.” That isn’t actually what it says. The verse this refers to is 1 Cor 10: 13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Notice that this refers specifically to temptation, not every day life and hardships.
Why am I so preachy on this? I am concerned that it is implied in question 13c. Clearly Stephen received more than he could humanly stand. James did as well. It is important because I think sometimes, when we don’t understand what this is really saying and we grasp to the misquotation, we struggle in our faith. When we feel utterly broken, when we experience senseless death and violence, when we suffer from the loss or betrayal of a loved one – we can feel that, in fact, God has given us more than we can bear and therefore the scriptures must be a lie. But that is not what it says!
God does not promise us 2 hard days followed by an easy day. What he does promise is that he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can stand up under. In other words, He will not lose us to sin ever again. We are His and neither sin nor temptation can ever steal us away from Him.
But, in regard to hardship, pain and sadness he promises something different. He promises to be yoked to us, to share our burden and carry us through it. He promises hope and eternity. He promises us His love and the willingness to lay down His son’s life for us.
If you are experiencing depression, pain, loss, fear, sadness, all more than you can bear – please do not fall to misquoted bumper stickers. It may, in fact, be more than you can humanly bear – but it is not more than God can take and bear for you. Pray. Allow others to pray for you, but know that you are not abandoned and the real scriptures do not lie.
End of sermon (sorry!)