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July 29, 2021 12:00 am
Trust was placed in God during the storm here trust was placed in God after being bitten by a snake and maybe it was that this moment that he discovered the reality of one of these special protections for those in the apostolic community, but he had every reason perhaps to wonder everybody just mainly started staring, waiting for him to swell up and fall over and die to get it out. Why because God told him that he would make it where Toronto that he would stand and speak before Caesar why God allowed that particular event to transpire.
But as we seek God and as we continue to serve him. Despite our circumstances a couple of things usually happen God brings us encouragement and he brings us opportunities to serve. Paul experienced that after being shipwrecked and working to explore that together today. This is wisdom for the hearts Stephen David continues through his series from the book of acts with this message called island of refuge here. Stephen, when we last left the apostle Paul. He was swimming for shore in the midst of a hurricane. 276 passengers. The text tells us now shipwrecked are swimming for their lives, while others are clinging to pieces of wood allowing these crashing funders waves to drive them to shore.
It's an unfamiliar shore. By the way. In fact, they won't know until some moments later acts chapter 28 informs us that they have washed up on the island of Malta found it interesting to discover that the word Malta means place of refuge can jot that into the margin of your Bible or you could amplify it to reach safe haven. Although Paul and the others survive the hurricane in there now hunted all huddled on the beach there exhausted and they are dripping wet, the cold from these literary winds. The word of the Lord had come true.
Not one of them had died. It see not one of them had drowned in in that terrific storm. All of them have made it safely to the island of refuge. You might also like to know that in 1960s for this little island barely 17 miles long gained its independence from Great Britain. However, long before that day. Many of Malta's citizens were about to be liberated from the kingdom of darkness by the gospel of Jesus Christ as delivered by Paul that this island will hold some rather fascinating adventure for Paul and in some surprising things for us as well. As we observe this the said drama taking place so I invite you to rejoin me if you haven't turned already. That's rejoin these castaways and ask chapter 20 verse one and when they had been brought safely through. Then we found out that the island was called Malta and the natives showed us extraordinary kindness for because of the rain that had set in, and because of the cold. They kindled a fire and received us all. I have to stop here because I think one of the most surprising revelations the Paul and the others was the hospitality of these native your text may even read barbarian. They simply were not culture, Greeks, exhausted and still dripping wet from their swim to shore up all and these survivors were still in danger because of those November winds that worse will hurricane force and they could have died by exposure to these these wintry wins.
Now they are the enemies of these survivors, but it seems that Luke was especially moved by their kindness because he dependent his journal that phrase that you just read go back to verse two. They showed us extraordinary kindness. That's another way of Luke say. I couldn't believe the way they treated us and we were perfect strangers to them. They cared for us. Don't forget, by the way that that among these castaways. There are federal prisoners.
There are criminals who been washed.
There's every reason to fear. There's every reason to not care and if they are cared for by these islanders whether there prisoner or Capt.
I couldn't help but think that they illustrate for us the illustration of what the church should be for Paul and write to the Romans that he's trying to see personally in Romans chapter 12 verse 13 he says to them. Practice hospitality. He says practice because none of us are any good at it.
Some may be better than others, but we all can get better and so he says practice hospitality, caring for others. That practice is really an unlovely word is in the eye taken a survey both hours. They're all in the same shape were probably in here but how many of you at some point in your life took piano lessons nearly 100%. How many of you are still taking piano lessons and why is that we hated breath.
Nobody likes and he said here to practice the work could be rendered hundreds down person go NACA, caring, hospitality, and you can't help but be amazed as I'm sure many others were hereby what happened. The latter part of her student again says they kindled a fire and received prominent one they received the captain prisoner commander soldier, sailor alike. This was in a cast system.
Nor should the church be there aren't people who are in and people who are outside, it is for us all.
What incredible hospitality. I want you to notice the second revelation here with the revelation of Paul's character in verse three, but when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire of Viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. Word indicates he just sunk his fangs in the Paul's hand and and hung on rather startling event here and and I want you to understand that the revelation of Paul's character. By the way, is not found in the fact that he was bitten by a snake and he didn't scream more faint or panic and rush into the ocean or any of those other options I would've probably chosen know the revelation of his character is in the first few words of verse three that it's so easy to miss but when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks when the world is Paul doing gathering a bundle of sticks in the rain and the wintering wind of November in the middle of a hurricane.
He was if you remember from our last discussion, the man of the hour. He was in practical terms, the captain of the ship. He should've been on the front row of that bonfire with a marshmallow on a hanger and hot chocolate and everybody slapping him on the back saying you was Paul simple is over there in the rain, gathering sticks with character. He had no task was too small. Someone once wrote, it is only the little man who will refuse the little task. Paul reveals great humility. By the way, this act of service. Everyone else is there and with great humility. The great apostle Paul, the man of the hour is picking up sticks. Humility is a problem is and it and all of us would have to agree. None of us have arrived for to say that you've arrived is only to prove that you haven't to say that you have it means you don't HA Ironside, he pastored Moody church a generation or two ago had a man come up to him. I believe it was Ironside, and this man told his pastor of a story. He had tried to develop a little more humility in his life and so he thought to himself. What can I do that would be very humbling in service to the Lord. And the thing that came to his mind was to make up a sandwich board in a get a bore on the front you get a board on the back and you get this message course. The cartoons always caricature these people, things of the like. Repent the end of the world is at hand or whatever, but heat he wrote at versus telling the gospel on the front and on the back. He said I figured this would really develop humility in me in the face of other people and so he said tires. I decide put that sandwich board on and went downtown Chicago during the Russian armies in the carriages and walking on the street is that I walked back and forth in Chicago downtown Chicago and he said I endured the jeers and I heard them sneering and laughing at me in the mocking and he said, as I was walking back and forth.
The thought came to me Lord, there aren't many people willing to do this for you folks. Any admission of humility proves the absence of utility. That's why the Bible doesn't tell you and addicted to arrive at humility.
It says to act with humility effect.
First Peter five is the classic passage where he says to the church, but you will all no one is exempt. But you will all clothe yourselves with humility in the word clothe is the key word is the word of the slave was tying about his waist. The apron as he begins his duties of serving as master.
So you will all in the church tie about your waist.
The apron of service and what do you think you have it or or not you act with humility. You serve one another to serve the Lord.
So here's the great apostle, in effect, with an apron tied around his waist, and if you missed it in the midst of serving the Lord in the midst of serving the Lord with humility is bitten by a snake labors for and when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, can imagine the site who boy they began saying to one another. Undoubtedly, this man is a murderer, and though he is been saved from the sea. Justice could be it could be the title for limiter goddesses justice has not allowed him to live.
However, he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. Now somewhere between verse five in verse six. I think Dr. Luke was a medical doctor probably rush the poolside and said Paul good night. Are you okay see that hand on personal swelling and discoloration. Paul you are you feeling healthy. He just shook his hand and the creature often into the fire. Here's the third revelation by the way, it's the revelation of power in its revelation of power predicted by Christ years earlier for his apostles. According to Mark 16 they could be bitten by serpents and nothing would happen to them as one of those unique signs of the apostolic community that they were indeed following the true God.
We are talking a little bit about this after the first or second Arcana nine.
We are saying we wondered if Paul knew that verse and Mark B probably didn't. Maybe this was the revelation to him of this unique power where he was saved. Certain death is a will man I want that today well go ahead and try grab that rattler by the tail and it'll be a different story for you. You've forgotten you're not an apostle and their people, by the way sincere people in snake handling movements who die every year in the state of North Carolina forgotten the unique relationship between this sign and being an apostle. See prior to the completion of this book, the revelation of power validated the apostle as the messenger from God didn't have. This is the litmus test for that man's authenticity so God gave certain unique signs through those men to prove. Now we have the litmus test of doctrine.
John writes whereby we test those who say they speak for God will on this island after he shakes that snake off into the fire. The people are still confused. They think he is God. Look at verse six, but they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead, but after they had waited a long time. Makes you wonder if they wanted to see it happen just the way his word and it seemed nothing unusual happened to him. They change their minds and began to say he is a God nether.
There still confused. He is a murderer and he is in deity. They haven't got the picture yet don't get it.
A little later but for now did you notice here that Paul was called to suffer just a little bit more if you've been with us in these previous weeks in our last discussion, I I found myself saying it. Why why additional suffering here now. I know he he didn't swell up or die, but imagine the initial frightened and perhaps even the pain of that initial bite and he have a snake hanging from your hand.
Nothing we would volunteer for.
I found myself thinking. Hasn't Paul gone through enough to spend 14 days on the seas with high wind and hunger surrounded by terror stricken people is then been shipwrecked now for the fourth time in his ministry career and he makes it to shore and he's exhausted and he's he's tying the apron on and he is going to serve them and he goes out and he is bitten via snake. To top it all off, why more where one of my commentary friends by the name of James Montgomery boys refresh my thinking as I read his work on this passage let me refreshers. I pulled right from his text. For reasons that believers are surprised by suffering even though we probably shouldn't be surprised when we give them to you for following notes the first of of reasons is is in this.
There are simply common suffering of this is simply the result of our fallenness of those eggs and those pains those sicknesses. Those reversals those funerals, those trips to the hospital are all reminders that we are part of Holland race.
We are all on our way to keep an appointment with death, and that is why we look to the new heaven and the new earth and a glorified body where there will no longer be common suffering second, there is corrective suffering. This is the discipline of the believer for disobedience taught in Hebrews chapter 12 when the believer gets off the path and and strays rebels and refuses to repent.
There is the discipline of God in his life. There are times when God gets our attention. Best when were flat on her back so we have nowhere else to look but third there is constructive suffering. This is the suffering that James refers to his suffering that invades your life and if you respond with wisdom that only God can give that is able then to produce a new maturity, perseverance, endurance. So God is designed this constructive course this curriculum and all of our lives. The develops, the kind of maturity and it is the curriculum of suffering is interesting. According to the book of Hebrews chapter 5 verse eight is a talks about Jesus Christ. The man, the God man, but as man.
It said that he learned obedience through the things that he suffered for us. Finally, there is Christ glorifying suffering. This is suffering that allows God's power to be revealed in its for your life. That's what Paul is just become involved in here. I want you to get ready for another revelation of apostolic power.
Look at verse seven Christ glorifying power down the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Hubley us, leading man, that means he was the chief he was the liaison of the Roman government to this little island people, but he was on this island. The man, no doubt about it the of the GC. They probably us who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days verse eight and it came about that the father of Hubley us was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery, and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed he laid his hands on him and healed him. The healing power. By the way, was also another validation of the apostle according to Hebrews chapter 2 and Mark chapter 16 that he was indeed from God. Verse nine and after this had happened the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. In other words a minute when you realize that when when Paul left the island of Malta, the hospital was empty for the moment disease and affliction physically had been exiled from the island as a proof that this God was the God overall in the message that Paul is delivering was the truth. Verse 10.
This is no surprise. And they also honored us with many marks of respect. And when we are setting sail. They supplied us with all we needed element makes an application for us. Further, especially for those here this morning who found themselves shipwrecked on strange islands under unforeseen and unprepared events in life.
Number one. Sometimes God sends encouragement in the most unlikely environment. Paul expected to be encouraged by his arrival to Rome not shipwrecked on the island of Malta and if you are Paul.
You and I would've been saying as we dried out beside that roaring fire getting over the initial shock of that snakebite okay Lord Weaver probably had this quiet conversation. It's time for you to spell it out 14 days over there I'm here on this island. Two years now waiting to get the Rome it's time for some clouds in the sky to sort of write it out.
I'm in a watch. No message from heaven.
No explanation in the book of acts other than it is a long as we see the Paul is warming up to this Phoenician hospitality and he discovers the people who are ready to hear the gospel of Christ, you know, if you look over Paul's ministry shoulder as we have been studying his life it, it occurred to me that nearly every town that Paul went in to get booted out.
He was stoned. He was beaten several times he was chased out. He escaped in the night twice every town. Paul went in. He must've known well here's another one that I'm in have to leave in a hurry except this island a surprising turn of events. Yes.
And yet this island go back with me and drink in this rare moment for the apostle and change.
Look at verse 10 again and they honored us with many marks of respect. And when we were setting sail. They supplied us with all we needed. That's encouraging and it is sent by God to pull in the most unlikely place. And from the most surprising, sometimes God requires availability and trust at the most unprepared of times. Trust was placed in God during the storm here trust was placed in God after being bitten by a snake.
I don't know if he knew Mark 1615 obviously didn't have a copy in his in his pocket and maybe it was that this moment that he discovered the reality of one of these special protections for those in the apostolic community, but he had every reason perhaps to wonder is everybody just mainly started staring at waiting for him to swell up and fall over and die. Maybe they'll I think he had a doubt, why because God told him that he would make it where to Rome that he would stand and speak before home sees our but he was so unprepared for this. The question remains, ladies and gentlemen, where is it in your life and mine, that it is the greatest challenge to place faith and trust in God's care in Providence.
Where is it that you feel most unprepared.
If Paul had crawled up in a corner somewhere and hung a sign out on the door that said, do not leave me alone.
I don't want to be here on this island. I want to be in Rome at Solomon think about. None of us would've blamed him but that he would have missed the moment he would've been in a position to serve others in the final analysis, richly served by others.
That leads me to the final lesson third sometimes God produces fruit in the most unusual places for harvest fields ministering to people occurred at a time when talking to curled up and waited for the next book couple on just sitting out here, I'm on my way to Rome. God is Artie promised men going to speak to Caesar.
Did you hear that I'm going to speak to Caesar how many men do you know you're going to speak to Caesar what stop and talk and minister and care for peasants and yet because Paul was willing what fruit frankly Malta wasn't on Paul's ministry met if there wasn't any telling had Paul remains silent how long it would be before these people would ever hear the truth.
The liberating freeing truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and he could have easily justified his silence. This wasn't on my plan as a part of my missionary journey.
You know when they when they write it in the concordance of your Bibles in all Malta could be off it for all I care.
They won't be up for cities or Phoenician superstitious people.
They believe in a goddess of justice and the God of this sea, they won't care.
They will listen. So I'll just wait for the next grain ship to come by. Maybe it's like that, relative or coworker or child or neighbor you assume they'd never be interested. Paul was willing to get involved with people in a place he'd never even and according to church history. Ladies and gentlemen and evangelical church on Malta again. The time of Paul's brief stay.
That's right. In fact, even to this day, the place where Paul and his companions swam to shore is called St. Paul's Bay and by the way, the first pastor the church on Malta church historians record was a man named Sue and island where he found himself shipwrecked and life turned upside down once again became an island of refuge, encouragement, ministry, I got do that with us on whatever island we find ourselves.
Thanks for being with us today here on wisdom for the heart. I hope this message from God's word has helped and encouraged you are Bible teacher Stephen Devi is the pastor of the shepherd's church in Cary, North Carolina. You can learn more about us.
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