The next day Paul and Barnabas left for Derbe. They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra. (Acts14:20-21)
God sent the apostle Paul and his companion Barnabas to Lystra to preach the Gospel there. In Lystra they healed a man who had been crippled from birth. The crowds thought the gods had come down from heaven in the likeness of Paul and Barnabas, and they called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes.” Paul and Barnabas would not receive their praise and worship and quickly corrected their misunderstanding.
But while they were there, some of the Jews who rejected the Gospel of Christ arrived from Antioch and stirred up the crowds to stone Paul; they dragged him out of the city and left him for dead. We don’t know whether Paul truly was dead and raised again to life, as some believe, or whether he only appeared to be dead; but, miraculously, Paul was alive and well the next day. He and Barnabas left for Derbe to preach and teach.
Then something very strange happened. They went back to Lystra. Why? Because God had called them back to learn the lessons of Lystra. I want to look at two of the lessons that God ordained for Paul and Barnabas to learn.
Lesson #1. Learn from every defeat
Rarely do we learn much when the sky is blue, the clouds are fleecy, and the sun is brightly shining. More often than not, God’s deep teachings will only be learned on the other side of a devastating defeat in life. So we must seek to find the lesson in every defeat, letting it shape and mold us into the person God is calling us to be.
Lesson #2. Return to some defeats
Sometimes God calls us to return to a place where we experienced defeat because He intends to turn that defeat into a divine victory. This is not an easy thing for the natural man to do! When we are defeated, we would rather learn the lesson—or just forget about it as quickly as possible—and get on with life. But there are times when God has determined to take us above and beyond a lesson learned and to turn that devastating defeat into a divine deliverance. When that happens, we are reminded of our Lord’s words: “With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). That is the lesson that God gave Paul and Barnabas; but in order to understand it, they had to learn to think supernaturally rather than naturally.
Think back to the last time God determined that you should return to some particular defeat, rather than simply learn from it. A heated argument with a loved one? A broken relationship that needed to be made whole? A stronghold that became a stranglehold on you? When you encounter these trials, it may very well be that God has ordained that the lesson learned will not lift you high enough. Rather, you must return to rise above that defeat in order to receive the victory that is only possible with God. Return with a humble heart. Return with a contrite character. Return, despite the threat of a “second stoning,” knowing that God is with you every step of the way . . . just as He was with Paul and Barnabas.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
(Psalm 37:3 NKJV)
My prayer is that you will feed on the faithfulness of God this day as you consider the lessons of Lystra.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!