Empowered to Arrive and Thrive – Acts | Chapter 28
Introduction: Our final message in the Book of Acts
What would you do if you shipwrecked on a beach?
- Sit down and cry or rage at God, or …
- Do we “go along to get along”? We’d never arrive.
- It works until it pushes us to not: “go along with God”.
The Holy Spirits turns tragedies in to testimonies
Acts 28 – Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
- Everyone loves a good shipwreck and a good story.
- Again, God can use not-yet-believers to bless you.
- Compassion and a good story draw them to you.
- People have a natural sense of right and wrong.
- The fact that you don’t die tells them you’re special.
- Keep you head on straight: Rom 12:3 … Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your self-evaluation, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us to do what he wants us to do and be.
Even a “shipwreck”: gets you where he needs you.
7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him, after prayer, placed his hands on him, and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.
- People who need healing are everywhere.
- Good news travels fast and opportunities multiply.
- People may not accept Jesus, but will like you – let them honor you and be a part of your life.
Some places as we travel are for resting, not remaining.
11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island, an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. 12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days.13 We set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. 14 There we found some brothers and sisters who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. 15 The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people, Paul thanked God and was encouraged.
- Luke was allowed to accompany Paul – reference points
- Use real reference points (vs: where the ALMAY was or ‘go over the train tracks past where the blue barn was-).
- When we are following God’s destiny, God’s work in our lives precedes us and builds encouragement.
- There’ll be storms and favorable winds in your journey.
What to expect when you get where God wants you.
17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” 21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”
- Do not expect your troubler to follow you.
- Expect opportunities to open doors of understanding.
- Expect that people have heard about Christianity, but not you, Jesus or the gospel of Jesus in you.
- Expect people’s curiosity and follow those opportunities.
23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning until evening, explaining about the kingdom of God and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. [skip vs 25-28] believe.  The Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves. 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance!
- Expect God to give you a place – a platform to work from
- Expect people to respond and invite friends.
- Expect people to want to hear what you have to say.
- Expect people to be convinced and some to not believe.
Wrap Up … Final Call
25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” 27 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”
- Religion will keep you from a relationship with Jesus.
- Religion is ever hearing, but never understanding.
- Religion is ever seeing, but not perceiving.
- Religion creates callouses on the heart and soul.
- A relationship with Jesus opens ears, opens hearts, changes directions/destinies and heals hearts.
- If we won’t listen and respond, God will find a people who will listen – look – turn and obey.