The Power of Obedience
A daily devotion for July 3rd
14 At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders. 4 The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. 5 There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. 6 But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, 7 where they continued to preach the gospel.
In Lystra and Derbe
8 In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out,Stand up on your feet!At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. Acts 14:8-10
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.
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.
Life 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?
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