Penthouse to the Outhouse – Acts 14:1-22

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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Though I can’t remember the details, a story of a professional football player has stuck in my mind. He’d just led an amazing comeback to win a game over one of his team’s rivals. With the usual euphoria after a victory, the press enthusiastically interviewed the quarterback, hailing him as the hero of the game. With calmness, the quarterback said, “Boys, I’ve been around a long time. I’ve learned it isn’t far from the penthouse to the outhouse.” What he, and many others using a similar quote, were saying was that he’s popular now, but it doesn’t take long to fall from the graces of public opinion.

When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Iconium, they spoke in the synagogue and “a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed” (Acts 14:1). But Satan incited unbelieving Jews, making “their minds evil affected against the brethren” (vs. 2). Subsequently, the Gentiles, and “also of the Jews with their rulers” (vs. 5), sought to stone Paul. Wisely, Paul and Barnabas “fled unto Lystra and Derbe” (vs. 6). While there, Paul healed a man who had been crippled from birth. When the people saw what Paul had done, they concluded Paul was the false god Mercurius, and Barnabas was Jupiter. This frenzied mob would have sacrificed animals unto them and given them worship, but Paul strenuously convinced them to turn from such vain worship “unto the living God” (vs. 15). Subsequently, unbelieving Jews came “from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead” (vs. 19). Without question, the Apostle Paul knew what it meant to go quickly from the penthouse of popularity to the outhouse of public hatred. But his testimony was, “none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry…to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). We believe Paul did actually die in this stoning (but was raised back to life), and in other subsquent persecutions, because when describing his trials, he said he was “in prisons more frequent, in death oft” (II Corinthians 11:23).

What we want to learn from his example is neither to be enamored by the praises of men nor discouraged by their heated opposition. Like Paul, we must keep on serving the Lord faithfully and give the gospel, no matter the cost and regardless of the winds of acceptance or rejection.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."