Acts Devotionals


All too often we find people venerating their leaders, be it political or spiritual leaders. Some of our older readers might remember a man called Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple in the Unites States. His full name was James Warren Jones, an ordained preacher and political activist who became a mass murderer in November 1978. Many in his congregation adored him, not realizing he was grooming them. He would say things like … “You think I am the Holy Spirit”. Over time he brought many to the point of fanatical dedication to himself that he could say and do almost anything. He finally led more than 900 cultists to their death through a mass suicide. This included about 200 children. He groomed them to the point of extreme vulnerability. From our readings today we shall see that pastors, preachers, evangelists and missionaries are God’s servants. These serve God within His Kingdom for His glory and His Kingdom. No man or woman may steal God’s fame for themselves. Such people are false prophets and cultic.

Ac 14:8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame 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. 11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

1) False prophets and teachers abound. It might be tempting for the true servant of God at times to want to steal some of God’s glory. If he does, this will repeat itself too eventually all of what happens in his ministry is attributed to him and he becomes cultic and a false prophet. Any preacher will tell you of the power associated with the podium. This is where the motivational, prosperity and some charismatic preachers capitalize and use the moment to get the people to do whatever they want them to do. There are two aspects of theft here.

(1) Stealing the glory from God. This is a grave sin and worthy of God’s wrath. To steal His glory is to break the first four Commandments in Exodus 20! He says:

Isa 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”

(2) Stealing God’s Glory is grooming souls to be led away from God into idolatry. The one who causes the eternal destruction of a soul shall face the worst punishments in hell!

2) Lystra was a Roman Colony, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Iconium. It was situated in central Anatolia, present day Turkey. It does not seem as though there was a synagogue in Lystra. Maybe there were too few Jews there to establish a synagogue. It does seem as though the citizens were steeped in ancient Greek mythology as we see in verses 11 to 13.

3) A real supernatural act of God. This man was crippled from birth. He had never walked. This is important information. Wherever he was he was likely put there to beg and bring in some money towards his keep. He listened to the Gospel being preached by Paul, who is led by the Holy Spirit and looks straight at him. What follows is astounding! Paul sees this man has “faith to be healed” … not to be saved but to be healed! The Spirit enables Paul to see the invisible … right into the spiritual realm … and enabled by the Spirit calls out to the man … “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. This man who had never walked in his life “jumped up” and “began to walk.” This is the supernatural God at work authenticating the message His servants, the missionaries were bringing. There was no lengthy emotionally motivated preaching, no coercing and no human contact with the man. He heard the preaching, he believed whatever was said and somehow he believed his inability to walk from birth could be reversed through the speaker (Paul). It was instantaneous!

4) Attributing the work of God to idol gods. The miracle sent to people into a frenzy.

(i) They reverted from Greek to their Lycaonian language. Maybe they did this to venerate their gods. They believed their gods had visited them in human form. They thought Barnabas was their god Zeus and Paul their god Hermes.

Ac 14:11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.

(ii) Zeus was believed to the greatest of the Olympian of gods. Devotees believed him to be the son of Cronus and Rhea who married his sister Hera. They say Zeus was given the heavens and upper regions by lot, another brother the sea and another the lower world. The earth however was common to all.

(iii) Hermes seems to be the god of language in both Greek (Hermes) and Egyptian (Thoth). Mythology says he gave language to all mankind. No wonder Paul was named Hermes because he was the main speaker.

Before we dig deeper into the passage, we need to stop and consider what happened here. People were generally superstitious. Worshippers of pagan gods are like this. They believe their gods can appear in human form at will, do the miraculous and impart words of wisdom to them. This is true even in our day, not only amongst the sects and cults, but also within Christianity. Sometimes people come into Christianity with their previous “spiritual” ideas or they are groomed into believing all sorts of way out things that are foreign to the Scriptures. This man’s healing is not prescriptive. No Christian has the right to declare to a cripple … “Get up and walk”. That is wicked and dangerous. People have lost their limbs because of such things. To assume the way the Spirit used Paul is available to the Church today is equally misplaced and unsubstantiated by Scripture. A proper reading of and understanding of the Bible prohibits such activities, unless God works … which is seldom because we have the written Word to authenticate the Gospel being preached.

Our Father, lead us away from teachings erroneous to Your Word. Help us to love and trust Your Word as our only directive for life, salvation, ministry and holiness. Amen.

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