Thesis: There is a way to keep walking back into the Lystras of life.
1. Illust. "May the road rise up to meet you; May the wind be always at your back; May the sun shine warm upon your face; The rains fall soft upon your fields; And, until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand" (An Old Irish Blessing).
a. Wouldn't it be great if that's the way life worked? The reality is that sometimes roads rise up to meet you with potholes or big chunks of tractor-trailer retreads dead-center in your lane!
b. Life is full of the unexpected!
1) Illust. Jerry Seinfeld: "Life is truly a ride. We're all strapped in, and no one can stop it. As you make each passage from youth to adulthood to maturity, sometimes you put your arms up and scream, sometimes you just hang on to that bar in front of you. But the ride is the thing. I think the most you can hope for at the end of life is that your hair's messed up, you're out of breath, and you didn't throw up."
2) Illust. Ted Turner has put it this way: "Life is like a B-grade movie--you don't want to leave in the middle of it, but you don't want to see it again either!"
2. What do you do when life throws you for a loop? Things are going along just fine, then ... WHAM! ... something bad happens.
a. What do you do then? How do you "keep on keeping on?"
b. That's the point of today's lesson.
c. We learn it from Paul and something that happened on the 1st Missionary Journey in Acts 14.
I. LOOKING AT THE TEXT.
A. < Pausing after these verses to comment ... >
1. VERSE 8: 3-fold description: "crippled in feet ... lame from birth ... never walked" (Benny Hinn would have trouble with this guy!).
2. VERSE 9: Literally, "faith to be saved/healed."
3. VERSE 13:
a. Barnabas = Zeus; Paul = Hermes/Mercury--spoke alot.
b. Illust. Local legend--Zeus & Hermes came to the Phrygian hill country disguised as mortals seeking a place to stay. They asked at a 1,000 homes but no one would take them in. Finally, at a cottage of straw and reeds they asked an elderly couple, Philemon & Baucis, who freely welcomed them and feed them a good meal even though they had little. In appreciation, the gods turned their cottage into a golden temple. The old couple were turned into an oak and linden tree and lived happily ever after. The homes of the inhospitable people were destroyed.
4. VERSE 17: Message tailored to audience!
5. VERSE 19a: Lystrans fickle--if not gods then must be impostors!
B. What is the most incredible thing in this story?
1. The healing of a man crippled from birth? (Cf. Peter in Acts 3).
2. The reception of Barnabas & Paul as gods? Turn in tide of opinion?
3. The fact that Paul survived the stoning?
4. No, it is found in verse 20--"But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city."
II. MAKING IT THROUGH THE LYSTRAS OF LIFE.
A. Expect Trouble (14:22).
1. Illust. Wouldn't it be great if we could get some kind of guarantee on our lives--maybe get our birth certificates stamped: NO trouble, NO pain, NO disease, NO disapproval, NO death. Not to be! No one gets to go through life unscathed! Expect trouble.
a. There's some unhealthy Christian teaching that says Christians should not experience trouble.
1) Healthy & wealthy or faith is suspect.
2) Was Paul blessed with health & wealth? Jesus? Something wrong with their faith?
b. Jesus put it this way: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
2. Illust. As a minister I am privileged to perform marriage ceremonies. Part of my "pre-marital counseling" is to tell couples to expect trouble. One of the exercises we do together is designed to cover a wide range of potential conflict areas. Every issue cannot be settled prior to marriage, but simply recognizing them ahead of time helps!
3. Illust. Alan Loy McGinnis in The Power of Optimism lists qualities of optimists and says (#1) that optimists are seldom surprised by trouble. Thomas Edison woke one night in December 1914 to watch his huge laboratories in West Orange, NJ going up in flames. Edison is 67 yrs. old. His life's records are gone! So is $2 million worth of equipment. The next AM Edison says, "All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew."
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