GET ACQUAINTED: What social, political or religious idealistic cause were you willing to “go to the mat” for? Did you ever have to?

SCRIPTURE: (Acts 14:1-23 ) focus: (vv. 8-10)

Open your time together with prayer. NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.

Notice the amazing way God began to open up this city. Paul and Barnabas had no idea what they were going to do. They did not form a committee and say, “Well, let’s see if we can get the Chamber of Commerce report on the city’s population distribution. Then we could divide it into squares and evangelize in a systematic way.”  They had no plans other than to be there and to do what God sent them to do — to preach. So, they walked right into the market place and began, trusting the Lord to have prepared certain people, to have people of His choosing ready to open the door to the city.

As they proclaimed the gospel that is what happened. As Paul was preaching — probably for several days in a row — sitting in the marketplace was a man who had been lame from his birth, who had never walked. He was evidently well-known throughout the city, having been there all his life. He heard what Paul said, and believed what Paul declared about the power of Jesus, the mighty Son of God. Paul looked at him and saw in that man’s eyes the faith to believe. Suddenly, unquestionably led of the Spirit, he said to him, “Stand up on your feet.”  And the lame man, though he had never walked in his life, made the effort to obey. He had faith enough to try, and the moment he began to obey, the power to obey was given.

That is exactly the way the Christian life works. It does not make any difference whether the problem is physical, emotional, or spiritual; you are going to be held in its bondage until you begin to obey the Word of God about it. When you make the effort to obey, God will set you free. But he will never move until you obey. That is the way faith works. Most people are kept from seeing God at work in their lives because they keep waiting for God to do something, in order for them to believe. No, He has already done all that He is going to do in advance. When you believe what He says, then He will give you the power to be free. This miracle is a mighty parable of the many who have been spiritually lame, unable to take a step toward God, but who have been set free to do so by the gospel. It cracked the city wide open. The whole populace immediately took note of Paul and Barnabas in their midst.

(Excerpted from 2018 Ray Stedman Ministries, Authentic Christianity)

  1. What was religious life like in Lystra?  How did it get in the way of the Lyconians hearing the Gospel?  How does religion get in the way of people hearing the Gospel today?
  1. Nothing has really changed, men’s presuppositions (what they think God ought to be or what they want Him to be) still causes them to not fully understand God. How is this seen in the life of the Lyconians.  How is this seen in the life of the average American?  What do you suggest can be done to address the problem?
  1. What is the purpose of signs and wonders?  How did if affect the people watching on?  How did this affirm that Jesus was the Christ?
  1. Why is it that people tend to focus on the messenger more than on the message?  “What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned (45 minute) chairs, what if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated?  What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed?  Would His word still be enough for His people to come together?” – David Platt  Would it?

Personal Application: Which comes first, faith or obedience?  What is the significance of the order?  Obedience to what? Faith in what--or whom?  Does the union of obedience and trust describe our daily walk with God?

Prayer of commitment:  Dear Father, like the apostles, help me to trust in a living God who is changing people’s hearts and delivering their minds from the grip and power of the evil one.  Help me to rejoice as I, too, see the power of obedience to the word of God in my own life.