Summary: We need to stop being conformists, we need to leave our comfort zone, and we need to begin laboring for the Lord the way that He wants us to labor.
As I said during our service Thursday night, we need a revival. We need to stop being conformists, we need to leave our comfort zone, and we need to begin laboring for the Lord the way that He wants us to labor. How of you here today would like to comply with God? How many would like to light the fire of the Holy Spirit that now dwells is us to full blast? I know that the answers to these two questions are always positive; when asked these questions people always give a quick AMEN! But do we really know what we are saying amen to? This is the theme that I want to explore today. I want us to realize what happens once that fire is lighted and begins to burn with force. Let’s now turn to the Word of God.
Acts 28:1-6 – And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Malta. 2And 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. 3And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. 5And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. 6Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
As I always say, to have a better understanding of the message that our Lord has for us today, it will be necessary to conduct a brief review of history. When we read about what has happening to Paul prior to what is occurring in these verses, we see that he was a prisoner on his way to Rome to be judged by Caesar. In chapter 25 we find that the high priests and the most influential Jews of that time were against him, and were planning his death. This is something that is clearly illustrated in Acts 25:1-3 when we read “Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, 3And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.” We also find that although they all wanted him dead, none of them could say anything about him that would merit the death sentence. This is very well reflected in Acts 25:17-21 when we read “Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth. 18Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: 19But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. 21But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.” Afterwards, in chapter 26, we see how Paul defended himself in front of king Agrippa, and how his testimony almost causes the king to convert; look carefully at Acts 26:28 when we read “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”
In all reality, they had no reason to detain Paul, he had committed no crime. This is something that is clearly stated in Acts 26:30-31 when we read “And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: 31And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.” The only thing that Paul was guilty of was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. But because he would not compromise his faith, because he would not deny Christ, because he would not fail God, he now found himself a prisoner in that world full of wickedness and evil. This more or less brings us to this point in history; in the verses that we are studying today we read that Paul had been sent to Rome to be judge by Caesar. But the trip had not been easy, a clue about the difficulty of the voyage is found in Acts 27:14 when we read “But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.” This storm caused the ship to wreck and they had to swim ashore. They were cold, they were more than likely exhausted, and Paul was trying to star a fire. It was at this time that they were met by the natives, and it is here where our lesson begins.