“Tragedy to Triumph” – Acts 28:1-16
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The Apostle Paul's journey to Rome continues in God's providence.
God has given Paul the desire of his heart. (Acts 19:21)
But our desires lead to more than we could ever imagine, often to suffering, but always to God's glory and our ultimate good.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
The Apostle lived what our ultimate desire should be:
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
(1 Cor. 2:2)
...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Knowing that from tragedy, God is able to:
"...restore to you the years...the locust has eaten…..
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame…..
Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.
So, let's see how God will turn the tragedy of this shipwreck into triumph!
* Barbarians, neither Christian or Jew, pagans by definition.
"...showed us unusual kindness..."
* As Christians, we are called to demonstrate hospitality to all, but especially to the saints.
Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them--those who are mistreated--since you yourselves are in the body also.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
One of the oldest promises of God:
"I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Matthew 10:14-15, 40
"...but when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks..."
* The great Apostle Paul demonstrates the principle of "servant leadership." No job is too small for a true man of God.
Paul said, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
"...justice does not allow to live..."
* In the mind of the "barbarians," "Justice” was a goddess, Dike, the daughter of Zeus.
* The Maltese have a belief in right and wrong, a conscience.
Where does conscience come from?
"But he...suffered no harm..."
* A promise of Christ fulfilled, that as the Gospel spreads, there will be protection for the "spreaders."
"...they...said he was a god..."
* A common belief of ancient peoples. That the god's (Dike, Justice) punished wickedness in men, but did not punish another "god!" So, Paul must have been a god.
Unexplained incidents were also often attributed to "the gods." (Acts 12:22, 14:11)
"...the leading citizen..."
* The magistrate of governor of Malta.
"...Paul went in to him and prayed..."
* Why did Paul pray first?
Because God is the one who heals, not Paul or any man.
Paul knows this so he's beseeching the God of all power for His consideration:
"Thy will be done."
"...and he laid his hands on him and healed him."
* Did Paul have anything but germs in his hands?
No, but God used Paul as His instrument of healing so others could believe in the power of God to heal and save through Christ Jesus.
"So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed."
* Just as Christ had promised:
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel...he who believes will follow...in My name they will...lay hands on the sick and they will recover."
Signs and miracles are given as proof of the truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"The also honored us in many ways...and provided such things as were necessary."
* Spiritual leaders are to be provided for by those led.
If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?...Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
(1 Cor. 9:11, 14)
"...an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the twin brothers..."
*"The twin brothers" - Pollux and Castor, sons of Zeus, patron protectors of sailors at sea.
"...we found brethren..."
* Paul knew there were believers in Rome (Italy), he had written them previously from Corinth, between AD 55-58.
"...when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage..."
*"He thanked God" -
...in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thess. 5:18)
*"Took courage" - He was encouraged by God's faithfulness in providing "brethren."
"...we came to Rome..."
Finally, Paul came to the city he'd desired to see for so long.
The imperial city of Rome, an ungodly city.
The Roman historian, Seneca, said of Rome:
"It is a cesspool of inequity."
Why did Paul want so badly to come to Rome?
Simply, the Light shines brightest in complete darkness.
"All roads lead to Rome."
If all roads lead to Rome, all roads leave from it.
Christianity established in the center of the Roman empire could now go "to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
And it would. Praise be to God!
Because God can take tragedy and turn it into His triumph, as He did with the shipwreck of Paul, and to the greatest extent at:
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
Can we believe this truth today?
We are currently in a great spiritual battle for the soul of this nation.
Are we seeking God's remedy?
2 Chronicles 7:14
What if that's not His will? What if He has bigger plans to grow His kingdom through tragedy?
As he has in the past.
Let us learn the lesson from the prophet Habakkuk.
Remembering what the wisest man that ever lived next to Christ (1 Kgs. 3:5-13, 4:29-32) said:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.