Posts Tagged ‘Acts’

Like a Moth to a Flame

And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.  But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

Acts 28:21-23

After having survived the shipwreck and after securing another ship, the captain finally got all of his passengers to Rome.  This included the apostle Paul, who was waiting for a hearing or trial from Caesar.  The people who were put in charge of him at Rome appointed him a day to stand before Caesar.

During the time between his arrival in Rome and his time in front of Caesar, what do you think Paul did?  He did the same thing he had always done.  He preached and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.  Except this time there was something a little different.  Usually, Paul had gone to the people to tell them about Jesus.  This time, the people were coming to Paul and asking about Jesus.

“…there came many to him into his lodging…”  They came to him.  And he obliged them, “persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.”  Paul’s testimony had gone to Rome before him.  They knew about his “new religion” and wanted to hear about it.

There is a quote often attributed to John Wesley (although I don’t think it has been proven that he actually said it) that says “I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.”  Whether Wesley said it or not does not matter.  That is exactly was Paul did.  He sold out for the Lord.  He was on fire for the Lord and people came – like a moth to a flame.

Showing Kindness

And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.  And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed…

Acts 28:1-2, 9

After being shipwrecked in the great storm, the passengers and crew of Paul’s ship found themselves cast away on the island of Melita.  On the island, they found a barbarous people.  Normally, I would probably be a little nervous if I was shipwrecked on an island and found it inhabited by barbarians.  But these “barbarous people” we not like that.  They were kind.  In fact Paul says that they “shewed us no little kindness.”  They were very kind.  They were generous and they were helpful to these shipwrecked people.  They “received us every one” after having made a fire to warm them.

These people showed simple kindness to others and were richly repaid for it.  In verse 9, we find Paul returning their kindness: “…others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed…”  Paul healed all of the people who came with diseases.  Being healed of an otherwise incurable disease is a handsome reward for showing simple kindness to strangers and making them a fire.

Think of the great blessing these people would have missed had they not showed this kindness.  If they had treated these shipwreck survivors as enemies or trespassers, they would never have seen these miracles and would never have experienced this healing.

All of these things happened because some “barbarous people” showed kindness to others.  We should be always looking for ways to show kindness to others and we should always be looking for ways to repay kindness done to us.  It is simply a matter of Biblical sowing and reaping!

You Should Have Listened

And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.  But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.  And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.

Acts 27:21-23

Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.  Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.  Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.

Psalm 107:17-19

God is good to us.  In the passage in Acts, Paul warned the captain of the ship not to sail because they would run into serious problems.  The captain did not listen to him and sailed anyway.  They ran into a huge storm and feared for their lives.  Paul then stood up and said “Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me…”  You should have listened to me… but you didn’t and now we’re in a mess.  How many times in our lives has something similar been said to us (or thought about us)?  Probably more than once.  “You should have listened to me and now you have problems because you didn’t.”

But after reminding them that they should have listened, Paul comforted them and told them that none of their lives would be lost.  That reminded me of Psalm 107.  Fools do foolish things and have problems because of their foolishness.  They didn’t listen and their problems are their own fault.  But – “then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.”  God still has mercy on us even though we often don’t listen the first time He speaks to us.  God is good!

Be of Good Cheer

And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.  But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. 

And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.  For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.  Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

Acts 27:13-14, 22-25

When they encountered this tempestuous wind, the passengers (and crew) of this ship were probably nervous.  Going through storms is never easy.  Often, during the storm, people wonder if they are even going to make it through the storm.  But Paul stood up and gave some words of encouragement.  “… be of good cheer…” and “Fear not.”

Hearing words like those in the midst of the storm is helpful and comforting.  But they are only helpful and comforting if they are coming from a reliable source.  Paul had the most reliable source possible: God Himself.  The angel of God told Paul that, while the ship would be lost, there would no lives lost in the storm.  When God says that you are going to make it through the storm, then you are going to make it through the storm.

In the last verse, Paul says something that we should also say when we find ourselves in a storm of life: “…sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.”  When we are in a storm, we simply need to look to the Lord and remember that He has promised to bring us through it!

The Storms of Life

Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.  And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.  And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.  But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

Acts 27:11-14

If this passage teaches us anything, it is that the storms of life will come.  Here, the master of the ship had done everything he could have humanly done to ensure a safe a profitable voyage (except listen to Paul, but that is another story).  I’m sure the ship was solid and ready and I’m sure men sailing it were capable men.  And, “when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed…”  The current weather conditions and forecast looked good.  There was no storm on the radar and they had a nice, soft south wind blowing them in the direction they wanted to go.  Everything was going smoothly.

But then a “tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon” came up and the storm began.

That sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it.  Just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, some problem or trial arises.  Just when it seems like you are going to have smooth sailing, a storm comes up and shatters the tranquility.

There are always going to be storms.  No sailor ever lived his life without ever going through a storm.  Storms will come.  The question is this: what are we going to do in the storm?  Who are we going to trust?  It helps to know the “Master of the winds.”  It helps to know the One Who tells the storms what to do.  We can rest safely in that knowledge, no matter what storm we may be going through!

Listen to the Man

And when we had sailed many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Slamone;  And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.  Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.  Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

Acts 27:7-11

In this passage, we find Paul getting ready to sail to Rome.  Paul told the captain of the ship that sailing the ship was going to be a disaster.  He (correctly) predicted that the there would be “much damage…”  The Bible doesn’t tell us whether or not God specifically told him this or not; it simply says “I perceive…”  But, for the man of God, there is often something more to this “perception.”

As we see in the rest of the story, Paul turned out to be right.  But the captain of the ship didn’t listen to him.  He listened instead to the owner of the ship.  To our natural minds, that decision makes sense.  Most captains would likely listen to the owner of the ship before they would listen to a passenger who also happened to be a prisoner.  But we are not dealing with natural things here.  Paul knew God.  Paul may not have been the owner of the ship, but he knew the owner of the sea.  He knew the owner of the winds and waves.  He had some insight that the owner of the ship did not have.

God has put His men in our lives to help us and to give us wisdom.  We need to make sure that we are listening to them and paying attention to what they say.  It might help us to avoid a shipwreck in our own lives!


But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.  For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this things was not done in a corner.  King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?  I know that thou believest.  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

Acts 26:25-28

To me, this is one of the saddest passages in all of the Bible.  Paul had just finished giving his testimony before King Agrippa.  He had recounted all that God had done for him, to him, and through him.  He spoke of the prophets and he spoke of the Saviour.  Then, he asked the king a question: “believest thou the prophets?”  Paul could see that he wanted to believe.  He said “I know that thou believest.”  Paul wanted the king to believe and hoped that he would believe.

Then King Agrippa said this, which has been echoed many times through history: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”  Almost.  “Almost” has to be one of the saddest words in the English language.  King Agrippa almost became a Christian.  Many, many people through the years have, like him, almost become Christians.  So many people have come right to brink of accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, only to pull back and continue on in their own way – the way that leads to destruction.

We should take this sad account and use it to inspire us to pray for those who are at this crossroad today.  We need to pray that these “almost” Christians would become true Christians.  Don’t let your friends and loved ones be “almost Christians.”  Work and pray for them.

The Help of God

Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.  For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things that those which the prophets and Moses did say should come…

Acts 26:19-22

Throughout the book of Acts, we find the apostle Paul giving his testimony many times.  Here we find him describing his ministry of witnessing about the Word of God to “both small and great.”  He also gives the reasons that Jews tried to kill him.

The Jews caught him in the temple, and “went about to kill him.”  That would scare most people away.  That would make most people question what they were doing.  But not Paul.  Paul says something in verse 22 that shows the difference between him and the average man: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue to this day…”  Paul had the help of God.

Nothing else can explain why or how Paul kept going after all he had been through.  Only by the help of God could a man do what he did.  He realized this and understood this.  And that realization and understanding no doubt helped him continue on with what he had been given to do.

We serve the same God as Paul.  We can obtain the help of God, just as Paul did.  There is no reason for us to be defeated.  There is no reason for us to give up.  Paul received the help of God and we can too!

A Good Conscience

But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.  And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

Acts 24:14-16

In this passage, the apostle Paul makes a powerful statement.  He says that he exercises himself “to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.”  That is something that we all can and should be trying to do.  We can exercise ourselves to have a good conscience.

How do we get and keep a good conscience?  Paul said in verse 14 that he was “believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”  Paul believed the Bible.  That might just be the first step to having a good conscience.  When we believe the Bible, we believe what God says about Himself.  We believe what God says about us.  We believe what God says about sin and judgment.  We believe what God says about mercy, grace and forgiveness.  We believe what God says about everything.  That is going to help us to live our lives like we are supposed to live them.  And that is going to help us to have a good conscience.  Doing right is really the key to a good conscience.

We do right to God by obeying Him, loving Him, worshipping Him, talking to Him and telling others about Him.  We do right to men by being honest with them, treating them fairly and loving them as we have been commanded to do.

Whether it be toward God or toward man, we can (and should) have a good conscience.  We need to work on it every day!

Personal Testimony

Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.  (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)  I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilica, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.  And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 

Acts 22:1-4

In this passage, Paul is talking to a group of Jews.  He is preaching Christ to them, but he starts with a bit of personal introduction and personal testimony, which is a powerful tool in getting the gospel to people.

Can you imagine a complete stranger coming up to you and telling you that everything you know and believe is wrong?  That would be a tough pill to swallow.  But that is the way most witnessing seems to get done.  While there is nothing wrong with finding a stranger and jumping right in with gospel, we would be wise to emulate the apostle Paul in this regard: he introduced himself and used his personal testimony to tell these people about Christ.

Sometimes we don’t witness to others because we are unsure of what to say.  We don’t know if we can explain all of the deeper doctrines of the Bible and we don’t know if we will be able to answer all of the potential questions that might be asked.  But we can start with our name.  We might include where we are from or where we work.  That is an introduction.  We can all do that.  From there, like Paul, all we need to do is give our personal testimony.  We can, again like Paul, tell what we were before we were saved, how we got saved, and what we are now.  That’s not too complex.

Sometimes we make getting the gospel to others more complicated than it really is.  Sometimes all we need to do is share our testimony!