Pastors BLOG
March 19, 2019, 9:00 AM

The Adventure Begins Part 60: Lessons From The Early Church - Acts 28:1-10



When Paul was on trial before King Agrippa he described his conversion experience with Jesus - and this is what Jesus had told him…

 

Acts 26:15-17 (NLT)
15 " …`I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.
16 Now stand up! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness. You are to tell the world about this experience and about other times I will appear to you.
17 And I will protect you from both your own people and the Gentiles.

This is a promise for us as well, Jesus commissioned us all…

Mark 16:15-20 (NIV)
15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;
18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

Paul had an assurance from Christ going back to his first encounter with Jesus that He would be protected by God from anything that kept him from doing what he was called to do, and we have that assurance as well. It is not that we won’t be afflicted or attacked, but that He will be with us and will see us through it all until His glory is revealed in and through our lives.

God is going to use you, provide for you and protect you as you trust and follow Him.

Paul had been beaten to death and survived, imprisoned numerous times and now here in the latter chapters of Acts he has been captured and almost killed by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and then taken by the Roman government as a prisoner, put on a ship in dangerous waters and now shipwrecked. Do you think that maybe something/ someone was trying to keep Paul from going to Rome.

Gods power, provision and protection continues for Paul as he arrives via shipwreck on the island of Malta…

 

Acts 28:1-10 (NLT)
1 Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta.
2 The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us and warm us.
3 As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, fastened itself onto his hand.
4 The people of the island saw it hanging there and said to each other, "A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live."
5 But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed.
6 The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.
7 Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us courteously and fed us for three days.
8 As it happened, Publius's father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him.
9 Then all the other sick people on the island came and were cured.
10 As a result we were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people put on board all sorts of things we would need for the trip.

Paul arrives on this island of Malta which is named from the Canaanite word for “refuge”. So here he is in this place of refuge. God had spared his life and the lives of others around him. Then as he is warming himself by the fire that his new hosts have provided for him a poisonous snake jumps out and bites him.

It is interesting to me that the devil will resort to many different things (temptation, shame, etc.) to keep us from accomplishing God’s will for our lives and as God defends and supports us he will eventually come out in his true nature and in desperation just try once more in futility to get at us. Our enemy is relentless, but our God is always faithful – a strong tower, protecting us and leading us through and past the devices of our enemy. Notice what happens, Paul merely shakes the snake off – feels no discomfort and the poison has no effect. It is interesting to note the tendency of the observers first to see this as justice for sin – calling Paul a murderer. The snake is biting him because the gods are angry with him. We blame people or God for their calamity. Condemnation and persecution often follow the attacks of Satan. But God calls you righteous and upholds you. In fact He takes the curses meant for harm and uses them for His glory.

Romans 8:28-39 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What an amazing promise. The people noticed that Paul was not harmed by the snake and then they reversed the assessment of him thinking that he was some kind of god or divine man. No doubt Paul corrected them like he had done in chapter 14 when a similar mistake was made about him in Lystra. This snake attack became an opportunity to bring glory to God. What the devil plans for our harm God redeems for our benefit and for His glory.

 

Another example is found in David’s victory over Goliath, in which he used Goliath’s own sword to remove his head from his body. In the same way God uses the weapons of our enemy against him on our behalf and for His glory.

 

The enemy shipwrecks us and God brings us safely into refuge in Him. The enemy strikes us, but God can hold the discomfort at bay and keep the poison from ever having an effect – more than that he uses it to provide for more opportunities to share his love in and through us.

 

It was because of this that Paul was invited to stay in the house of Publius, the chief official of the island. There Paul healed Publius’ father who had a disease similar to malaria.

 

This opened the door for Paul to heal many others on the island and God used all of those who had received the healing touch of God to bless Paul and his fellow travelers.

 

You see God heals our afflictions and redeems our inflictions because He loves us, and then He uses us to heal the afflictions and redeem the inflictions of others. Redemption looks like this - What God uses to save us becomes the vehicle, through us, by which he saves others.

 

I want to close with Psalm 91 from the message…

 

Psalms 91:1-16 (MSG)
1 You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
2 Say this: "God, you're my refuge. I trust in you and I'm safe!"
3 That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.
4 His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you're perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.
5 Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day,
6 Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon.
7 Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you.
8 You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses.
9 Yes, because God's your refuge, the High God your very own home,
10 Evil can't get close to you, harm can't get through the door.
11 He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go.
12 If you stumble, they'll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling.
13 You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
14 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God, "I'll get you out of any trouble. I'll give you the best of care if you'll only get to know and trust me.
15 Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times; I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
16 I'll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!"

By Carl Friedel

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