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Acts 14:8-20



Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. (verses 19-20)

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I was leading an Alpha group, years back, and some good friends brought up their family’s practice of “pits and peaks,” sharing with each other the highs and lows of the day. That became the opening question for our Alpha group each week. We started doing it at home, too, with our own kids. Sometimes the distance between pit and peak wasn’t great, but sometimes there were stand-out moments.


Paul and Barnabas had the latter. Talk about wild swings in pits and peaks! The episode starts with a dramatic healing. A man crippled in both feet, who’d been that way since birth and never walked, is filled with God-focused expectancy as he listens attentively to Paul speak. Paul looked directly at him and could see it in his eyes. It must have thrilled his heart, knowing the Lord would indeed meet this man in the midst of faith. So, Paul calls out, loud and strong, “Stand up!” The man does, indeed jumping to his feet and eagerly walking around.


Immediately, there was a sense of excitement, connection and urgency in the gathered crowd. Paul and Barnabas must have been caught up in that energy, not understanding the language, but feeling the expectant engagement. What more could you want as you share the good news of Jesus? But the peak came crashing down into a yawning pit when they saw the priest of Zeus, with festal wreaths, readying bulls for sacrifice in their very presence, and realized with horror that they were being worshipped.


“No! No!” They tore their robes and shouted desperately that they were mere men like the rest. With great difficulty they eventually tamped down the excitement, but only just.


The healed man was alive in faith, but the crowd was disoriented at best.


Then it got worse. Those who had forcibly opposed the message in Antioch and Iconium now arrived in town and stirred up the crowd against Paul and Barnabas. Talk about fickle audiences! So enraged did they become that they seized Paul, stoned him, assumed him dead, and dumped him outside the city.


But this pit turned to a wonder when Paul, surrounded by the believing disciples, miraculously got to his feet and headed back into town. Now, that’s a peak! Miracle and courage, hand in hand, inspired Paul into the next steps of his journey.


All along the way, he and Barnabas seemed to have eyes firmly focused on Jesus. They were doing his work, so they didn’t lag. They simply pressed forward, regardless of pits and peaks.


“I can do all things through him who strengthens me,” Paul would later write (Philippians 4:13). It wasn’t just theory. He lived it.


May I do the same.

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Lord, strengthen me in the midst of the highs and lows. Keep my attention riveted on you. Keep me pressing forward in your purposes. To your glory. Amen.

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Pray: Review yesterday and anticipate today. What were the pits and peaks? What might come today? Put it all decisively in the Lord’s hands. Ask for his strength to press forward, regardless of high or low.

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