November 01, 2020
Bonfire on a Beach
Acts 28:1-10 by Ross Fotheringham
Series: Acts: God's Church in All the World

1 November 2020

Bonfire on a Beach

Acts 28:1-10

 

I would have to say that it does not always look like the cause of Christ will win. I think, if we are honest there are plenty of times when we wonder why things have worked out the way they have.

 

When good churches close and ministries fail.

When evangelistic ventures seem to gain no traction. When the difficulty comes that saps your confidence and your certainty. When good thing seems to fail and you wonder why.

 

There are plenty of things in life that make you wonder about the victory and the goodness of Christ.

 

One of the things that it is good to do when you start thinking that way is come to a book like the book of Acts and see the way in which the Lord spreads the glory of his name across the globe.

 

Over and over again you see the wonderful power and sovereignty of the Lord in all he does.Over and over again you see the wonder mercy and grace he shows to his people.

 

This morning/ afternoon I am hoping you will see with me just how privileged a position we are in as the people who belong to this Jesus. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be utterly Sovereign. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be full of mercy and grace.

 

What does that mean for people like us when we discover that those two things are true?

 

The first thing it mean is that you can be certain of the place you find yourself in.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

Let me explain what I mean.

 

We know that Paul is on his way to Rome, we have seen that for a good number of weeks now.

He is to stand before Caesar, it is God’s purpose that Paul brings the gospel to Rome.

 

It has hardly been a straight path. He has spent years in prison waiting, and now at last when he is heading to Rome. The ship he is on is caught in a storm and stuck on a reef.

 

All those aboard the ship swims for shore.

And Luke says this:

 

Vs 1:

After we were brought safely through we learned that the island was called Malta.

 

Who does Luke think brought them safely through? The Lord brought us safely through the storm to the island Malta.

 

It is not just that we were magically brought through. He doesn’t say: “We were lucky to be brought through, we dodged a bullet, or our number came up and we managed to escape.”

He doesn’t say, “It is through our great intelligence and cooperation that we did it.”

No, no, we were brought through … God did it.

 

He brought us through, to this place.

 

That is why there is no winging and whining by the way by Luke.

 

When the Lord is looking after you there is no room for winging and whining about the situation he has put you in. He doesn’t say: “Woe is me, how unlucky are we to be stuck on this island in the middle of nowhere.”

 

“We were brought safely through the storm to Malta.”

 

You see, when you belong to a sovereign loving father, you can have great confidence that you are in the place where the Lord wants you to be. No matter where that is.

 

Now you might say: “Well that might work for this story but what about all those other untold stories where the Christians end up dead at the bottom of the ocean?”

 

The answer to that is, the Lord has rescued them out of this present evil age and taken them to be with Jesus for ever. He has brought them safely through life.

 

They are exactly where he wants them to be.

 

To which you might say … you can’t have it both ways … you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

To which the answer is … yes you can … when you belong to a sovereign Lord who is a loving father where ever you are is the place he wants you to be.

 

I am not saying you need to know why he has put you in the situation you are in. You might not know, and you might not understand, but you can be certain of your situation. He is too wise and too good to make a mistake with you.

 

On the other hand, if you don’t belong to Jesus life is just confusion. Maybe you think, it is all run by luck. A cosmic roll of the dice.

 

If you think that will spend your life in confusion.

 

The story is told about a farmer with a horse and the horse ran away. The neighbour said, bad luck your horse ran away.

The farmer said, “What do I know of such things.

?”

A week later the horse comes back with 20 other horses in tow. The neighbour says … good luck the horse brought you more horses.

The farmer says … what do I know of such things?

The farmer’s son seeks to break in one of the new horses is kicked in the leg and crippled for life.

The neighbour says … bad luck your son is crippled forever.

The farmer says what do I know of such things?

That night a group of militia raid the town and take all the fit your boys off to fight in their war … but the crippled boy is left behind.

The neighbour says good luck … your son was crippled, and on it goes.

 

In one series of events who can tell if it is good luck or not?  If you believe in cosmic luck you will forever be wondering.

 

The people on the island don’t believe in luck, they seem to believe in some sort of karma, but they are no less confused.

Good karma … you were all saved from the sinking ship Paul.

Bad karma … Paul you must be evil because after being rescued you got bitten by a snake.

Good karma … you must be divine because you did not die.

 

Back and forth always wondering.

 

Friends I am not suggesting Christians have the answer to all the things that happen to them. We don’t, and we don’t pretend we do.

 

We do know something for certain. Where we are, wherever we are, the Lord has brought us.

 

The lord brought us safely to this place, and this is the place that he intends us to be, and he is too good and too wise to make a mistake with his children.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

That is a very comforting things to know.

 

You will not die a moment earlier or later than the Lord intends.

You are immoral until the day the Lord comes to take you to be with him.

Paul was, as we will see.

You don’t think you will die a moment before the day Jesus has appointed for you do?

 

There is something very comforting about knowing that there isn’t.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

There is this ironic little situation that arises very soon after they land on the shore which I have alluded to.

 

After landing on the island Paul goes about helping to collect wood for the fire. As he is about to put a bundle of sticks on the fire when it turns out one of the sticks is a viper. It comes out and bites Paul on the hand.

 

Now when the natives see this … they are certain that he is going to die. They have seen what happens to people who are bitten by vipers and so they believe that will be the outcome in this case.

 

 

Here is the conclusion they draw from the turn of events.

Vs 4

 “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 

 

Now, when they say “justice has not allowed him to live”, the word is Dike – it is the name of a god, who was often considered the god of justice.

 

He was the god who made sure you got what you deserved, just in case Tyche the god of luck let you off. That is not unusual thinking.

 

That is religious thinking through and through.

That if you want to be right with God you had better be good, because if you’re not, you will get what you deserve.

 

Which I think also accounts for their strange fascination as they watch Paul and wait for him to die. Waiting for him to swell up or to fall down dead.

 

If your god is religion, secretly you will love to see others fall, because deep down it means there is someone worse than me and I can feel good because at least compared to that person, I am OK. I can stand up straight before God, because at least I am better than that person. What a hopeless way to think, but that is where religion leads you.

 

 

Well they were right on one account. Paul was a murderer.

 

We are told that in the book of Acts, he was responsible for the execution of so many Christians. He was a murderer.

I think that is why in 1 Timothy he calls himself the worst of sinners.

 

Paul had discovered that unlike the made-up gods of this world, the Lord Jesus shows mercy and grace to the worst of sinners.

 

He was a murderer, but Christ had paid the penalty.

 

It strikes me that you can know that as a Christian, but when the bad time comes, in the back of your mind you wonder if Jesus has sent it to you so as to punish you for the wrongs you have done.

 

When the marriage fails, or the child grows sick, or the loneliness overwhelms or money runs out. You wonder if Jesus is just treating you according to what you deserve.

 

It is so easy to wonder about that Jesus is just like the other gods, who no nothing of grace and sins forgiven.

 

Now you know that is wrong. How many times in the book of Acts have you been told that is not true.

 

 You have read Acts.

Acts 2:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Acts 3:

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out

Acts 5

God exalted Jesus at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 10

To Jesus all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 13

38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

 

Forgiveness, forgiveness forgiveness.

Mercy, mercy, mercy

Grace, grace, grace

 

It is so easy to believe that Jesus is just like all the Pagan gods, because grace is so unheard of, so difficult to believe it could be true. That Jesus does not treat you the way in which your sins deserve.

 

Can I remind you again?

Here is a murderer not getting what he deserves, because Jesus is full of grace.

 

The situation you are in, is the place Jesus has put you, for his glory, for good and not as a punishment for what you deserve.

 

That can be hard to believe can’t it? Grace is always so amazing, can it be true?

 

When you belong to Jesus

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

 

Lastly then.

 

When you belong to a Jesus who is sovereign and full of mercy, you can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere.

 

3. You can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere

 

In some way this section of the book of Acts is a little like the book of Esther. (Which has always been my favorited book of the Bible.)

 

You read the book of Esther and God is not mentioned anywhere in the book. Not even once.

Which is a little disturbing until you realise that he is seen everywhere in all the happens in the book.

 

When my kids were little it seemed to me that they could manage to put their finger prints over everything. You could clean every surface and in no time at all. They would cover them with finger prints.

 

Well the book of Esther, and this section of Acts is full of the wonderful finger prints of the Lord over everything.

 

It just so happens that the Island is Malta, which is a big enough island to sustain them for winter.

It just so happens (we shall see next week) that on this island is another ship, the non-sunk variety, that is wintering there.

 

It just so happens that the natives shown them unusual kindness, it didn’t have to be that way, but it just so happened that it was.

 

It just so happened that the viper didn’t kill Paul.

 

It just so happened that they were in the neighbourhood of lands that belonged to the chief of the island named Publius. It just so happened that Publius welcomed them in and was hospitable towards them.

 

It just so happened that Publius’ father was sick and Paul was able to heal him, which meant that the whole island brought sick people to Paul to be healed , and so after the winter when they set sail  on the other ship, that just so happened to be there, the people of the island honoured them greatly, and gave to them whatever they needed for the trip.

 

 

It is really a lovely story on the way to Rome, when you read it like that isn’t it?

It has the Lord’s lovely fingerprints all over it.

As did the shipwreck, and the imprisonment and the storm and everything. It always does.

 

 

Do you think for a second that the cause of Christ will fail?

Do you think for a second that the gates of hell will prevail against the church of Christ?

 

Do you think for a second that the gospel won’t be proclaimed in all the world.

Do you think for a second that every knee wont bow before the Lord of all.

 

You see it doesn’t matter if so much of the media speaks against the things of Christ. It doesn’t matter if Australia is getting more and more secular .It doesn’t matter if Christians are mock and belittled.

 

We belong to the Lord who does all things for the glory of his grace, and everywhere you look, his fingerprints are covering everything.

 

Not a thing happens by accident.

Not in the big picture, and not in your life either.

 

 

 

The big idea behind this passage is that the sovereign Lord will fulfill his purpose of getting his Gospel to the ends of the earth and he will do it in his way and in his time. Though the path of that purpose might seem to us at times to be up hill and down dale, we are not for a moment to judge the certainty of Jesus fulfilment of his plan by the imprisonments or the shipwrecks or the storms, they are all a part of the plan.

 

We have seen that big idea over and over.

 

What I am trying to help us see today, is that when you belong to a God like that, who works all things according to the purpose of his will, who is also full of mercy and grace …

 

You are in a very, very safe place indeed.

 

Let’s pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 November 2020

Bonfire on a Beach

Acts 28:1-10

 

I would have to say that it does not always look like the cause of Christ will win. I think, if we are honest there are plenty of times when we wonder why things have worked out the way they have.

 

When good churches close and ministries fail.

When evangelistic ventures seem to gain no traction. When the difficulty comes that saps your confidence and your certainty. When good thing seems to fail and you wonder why.

 

There are plenty of things in life that make you wonder about the victory and the goodness of Christ.

 

One of the things that it is good to do when you start thinking that way is come to a book like the book of Acts and see the way in which the Lord spreads the glory of his name across the globe.

 

Over and over again you see the wonderful power and sovereignty of the Lord in all he does.Over and over again you see the wonder mercy and grace he shows to his people.

 

This morning/ afternoon I am hoping you will see with me just how privileged a position we are in as the people who belong to this Jesus. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be utterly Sovereign. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be full of mercy and grace.

 

What does that mean for people like us when we discover that those two things are true?

 

The first thing it mean is that you can be certain of the place you find yourself in.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

Let me explain what I mean.

 

We know that Paul is on his way to Rome, we have seen that for a good number of weeks now.

He is to stand before Caesar, it is God’s purpose that Paul brings the gospel to Rome.

 

It has hardly been a straight path. He has spent years in prison waiting, and now at last when he is heading to Rome. The ship he is on is caught in a storm and stuck on a reef.

 

All those aboard the ship swims for shore.

And Luke says this:

 

Vs 1:

After we were brought safely through we learned that the island was called Malta.

 

Who does Luke think brought them safely through? The Lord brought us safely through the storm to the island Malta.

 

It is not just that we were magically brought through. He doesn’t say: “We were lucky to be brought through, we dodged a bullet, or our number came up and we managed to escape.”

He doesn’t say, “It is through our great intelligence and cooperation that we did it.”

No, no, we were brought through … God did it.

 

He brought us through, to this place.

 

That is why there is no winging and whining by the way by Luke.

 

When the Lord is looking after you there is no room for winging and whining about the situation he has put you in. He doesn’t say: “Woe is me, how unlucky are we to be stuck on this island in the middle of nowhere.”

 

“We were brought safely through the storm to Malta.”

 

You see, when you belong to a sovereign loving father, you can have great confidence that you are in the place where the Lord wants you to be. No matter where that is.

 

Now you might say: “Well that might work for this story but what about all those other untold stories where the Christians end up dead at the bottom of the ocean?”

 

The answer to that is, the Lord has rescued them out of this present evil age and taken them to be with Jesus for ever. He has brought them safely through life.

 

They are exactly where he wants them to be.

 

To which you might say … you can’t have it both ways … you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

To which the answer is … yes you can … when you belong to a sovereign Lord who is a loving father where ever you are is the place he wants you to be.

 

I am not saying you need to know why he has put you in the situation you are in. You might not know, and you might not understand, but you can be certain of your situation. He is too wise and too good to make a mistake with you.

 

On the other hand, if you don’t belong to Jesus life is just confusion. Maybe you think, it is all run by luck. A cosmic roll of the dice.

 

If you think that will spend your life in confusion.

 

The story is told about a farmer with a horse and the horse ran away. The neighbour said, bad luck your horse ran away.

The farmer said, “What do I know of such things.

?”

A week later the horse comes back with 20 other horses in tow. The neighbour says … good luck the horse brought you more horses.

The farmer says … what do I know of such things?

The farmer’s son seeks to break in one of the new horses is kicked in the leg and crippled for life.

The neighbour says … bad luck your son is crippled forever.

The farmer says what do I know of such things?

That night a group of militia raid the town and take all the fit your boys off to fight in their war … but the crippled boy is left behind.

The neighbour says good luck … your son was crippled, and on it goes.

 

In one series of events who can tell if it is good luck or not?  If you believe in cosmic luck you will forever be wondering.

 

The people on the island don’t believe in luck, they seem to believe in some sort of karma, but they are no less confused.

Good karma … you were all saved from the sinking ship Paul.

Bad karma … Paul you must be evil because after being rescued you got bitten by a snake.

Good karma … you must be divine because you did not die.

 

Back and forth always wondering.

 

Friends I am not suggesting Christians have the answer to all the things that happen to them. We don’t, and we don’t pretend we do.

 

We do know something for certain. Where we are, wherever we are, the Lord has brought us.

 

The lord brought us safely to this place, and this is the place that he intends us to be, and he is too good and too wise to make a mistake with his children.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

That is a very comforting things to know.

 

You will not die a moment earlier or later than the Lord intends.

You are immoral until the day the Lord comes to take you to be with him.

Paul was, as we will see.

You don’t think you will die a moment before the day Jesus has appointed for you do?

 

There is something very comforting about knowing that there isn’t.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

There is this ironic little situation that arises very soon after they land on the shore which I have alluded to.

 

After landing on the island Paul goes about helping to collect wood for the fire. As he is about to put a bundle of sticks on the fire when it turns out one of the sticks is a viper. It comes out and bites Paul on the hand.

 

Now when the natives see this … they are certain that he is going to die. They have seen what happens to people who are bitten by vipers and so they believe that will be the outcome in this case.

 

 

Here is the conclusion they draw from the turn of events.

Vs 4

 “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 

 

Now, when they say “justice has not allowed him to live”, the word is Dike – it is the name of a god, who was often considered the god of justice.

 

He was the god who made sure you got what you deserved, just in case Tyche the god of luck let you off. That is not unusual thinking.

 

That is religious thinking through and through.

That if you want to be right with God you had better be good, because if you’re not, you will get what you deserve.

 

Which I think also accounts for their strange fascination as they watch Paul and wait for him to die. Waiting for him to swell up or to fall down dead.

 

If your god is religion, secretly you will love to see others fall, because deep down it means there is someone worse than me and I can feel good because at least compared to that person, I am OK. I can stand up straight before God, because at least I am better than that person. What a hopeless way to think, but that is where religion leads you.

 

 

Well they were right on one account. Paul was a murderer.

 

We are told that in the book of Acts, he was responsible for the execution of so many Christians. He was a murderer.

I think that is why in 1 Timothy he calls himself the worst of sinners.

 

Paul had discovered that unlike the made-up gods of this world, the Lord Jesus shows mercy and grace to the worst of sinners.

 

He was a murderer, but Christ had paid the penalty.

 

It strikes me that you can know that as a Christian, but when the bad time comes, in the back of your mind you wonder if Jesus has sent it to you so as to punish you for the wrongs you have done.

 

When the marriage fails, or the child grows sick, or the loneliness overwhelms or money runs out. You wonder if Jesus is just treating you according to what you deserve.

 

It is so easy to wonder about that Jesus is just like the other gods, who no nothing of grace and sins forgiven.

 

Now you know that is wrong. How many times in the book of Acts have you been told that is not true.

 

 You have read Acts.

Acts 2:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Acts 3:

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out

Acts 5

God exalted Jesus at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 10

To Jesus all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 13

38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

 

Forgiveness, forgiveness forgiveness.

Mercy, mercy, mercy

Grace, grace, grace

 

It is so easy to believe that Jesus is just like all the Pagan gods, because grace is so unheard of, so difficult to believe it could be true. That Jesus does not treat you the way in which your sins deserve.

 

Can I remind you again?

Here is a murderer not getting what he deserves, because Jesus is full of grace.

 

The situation you are in, is the place Jesus has put you, for his glory, for good and not as a punishment for what you deserve.

 

That can be hard to believe can’t it? Grace is always so amazing, can it be true?

 

When you belong to Jesus

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

 

Lastly then.

 

When you belong to a Jesus who is sovereign and full of mercy, you can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere.

 

3. You can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere

 

In some way this section of the book of Acts is a little like the book of Esther. (Which has always been my favorited book of the Bible.)

 

You read the book of Esther and God is not mentioned anywhere in the book. Not even once.

Which is a little disturbing until you realise that he is seen everywhere in all the happens in the book.

 

When my kids were little it seemed to me that they could manage to put their finger prints over everything. You could clean every surface and in no time at all. They would cover them with finger prints.

 

Well the book of Esther, and this section of Acts is full of the wonderful finger prints of the Lord over everything.

 

It just so happens that the Island is Malta, which is a big enough island to sustain them for winter.

It just so happens (we shall see next week) that on this island is another ship, the non-sunk variety, that is wintering there.

 

It just so happens that the natives shown them unusual kindness, it didn’t have to be that way, but it just so happened that it was.

 

It just so happened that the viper didn’t kill Paul.

 

It just so happened that they were in the neighbourhood of lands that belonged to the chief of the island named Publius. It just so happened that Publius welcomed them in and was hospitable towards them.

 

It just so happened that Publius’ father was sick and Paul was able to heal him, which meant that the whole island brought sick people to Paul to be healed , and so after the winter when they set sail  on the other ship, that just so happened to be there, the people of the island honoured them greatly, and gave to them whatever they needed for the trip.

 

 

It is really a lovely story on the way to Rome, when you read it like that isn’t it?

It has the Lord’s lovely fingerprints all over it.

As did the shipwreck, and the imprisonment and the storm and everything. It always does.

 

 

Do you think for a second that the cause of Christ will fail?

Do you think for a second that the gates of hell will prevail against the church of Christ?

 

Do you think for a second that the gospel won’t be proclaimed in all the world.

Do you think for a second that every knee wont bow before the Lord of all.

 

You see it doesn’t matter if so much of the media speaks against the things of Christ. It doesn’t matter if Australia is getting more and more secular .It doesn’t matter if Christians are mock and belittled.

 

We belong to the Lord who does all things for the glory of his grace, and everywhere you look, his fingerprints are covering everything.

 

Not a thing happens by accident.

Not in the big picture, and not in your life either.

 

 

 

The big idea behind this passage is that the sovereign Lord will fulfill his purpose of getting his Gospel to the ends of the earth and he will do it in his way and in his time. Though the path of that purpose might seem to us at times to be up hill and down dale, we are not for a moment to judge the certainty of Jesus fulfilment of his plan by the imprisonments or the shipwrecks or the storms, they are all a part of the plan.

 

We have seen that big idea over and over.

 

What I am trying to help us see today, is that when you belong to a God like that, who works all things according to the purpose of his will, who is also full of mercy and grace …

 

You are in a very, very safe place indeed.

 

Let’s pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   1 November 2020

Bonfire on a Beach

Acts 28:1-10

 

I would have to say that it does not always look like the cause of Christ will win. I think, if we are honest there are plenty of times when we wonder why things have worked out the way they have.

 

When good churches close and ministries fail.

When evangelistic ventures seem to gain no traction. When the difficulty comes that saps your confidence and your certainty. When good thing seems to fail and you wonder why.

 

There are plenty of things in life that make you wonder about the victory and the goodness of Christ.

 

One of the things that it is good to do when you start thinking that way is come to a book like the book of Acts and see the way in which the Lord spreads the glory of his name across the globe.

 

Over and over again you see the wonderful power and sovereignty of the Lord in all he does.Over and over again you see the wonder mercy and grace he shows to his people.

 

This morning/ afternoon I am hoping you will see with me just how privileged a position we are in as the people who belong to this Jesus. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be utterly Sovereign. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be full of mercy and grace.

 

What does that mean for people like us when we discover that those two things are true?

 

The first thing it mean is that you can be certain of the place you find yourself in.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

Let me explain what I mean.

 

We know that Paul is on his way to Rome, we have seen that for a good number of weeks now.

He is to stand before Caesar, it is God’s purpose that Paul brings the gospel to Rome.

 

It has hardly been a straight path. He has spent years in prison waiting, and now at last when he is heading to Rome. The ship he is on is caught in a storm and stuck on a reef.

 

All those aboard the ship swims for shore.

And Luke says this:

 

Vs 1:

After we were brought safely through we learned that the island was called Malta.

 

Who does Luke think brought them safely through? The Lord brought us safely through the storm to the island Malta.

 

It is not just that we were magically brought through. He doesn’t say: “We were lucky to be brought through, we dodged a bullet, or our number came up and we managed to escape.”

He doesn’t say, “It is through our great intelligence and cooperation that we did it.”

No, no, we were brought through … God did it.

 

He brought us through, to this place.

 

That is why there is no winging and whining by the way by Luke.

 

When the Lord is looking after you there is no room for winging and whining about the situation he has put you in. He doesn’t say: “Woe is me, how unlucky are we to be stuck on this island in the middle of nowhere.”

 

“We were brought safely through the storm to Malta.”

 

You see, when you belong to a sovereign loving father, you can have great confidence that you are in the place where the Lord wants you to be. No matter where that is.

 

Now you might say: “Well that might work for this story but what about all those other untold stories where the Christians end up dead at the bottom of the ocean?”

 

The answer to that is, the Lord has rescued them out of this present evil age and taken them to be with Jesus for ever. He has brought them safely through life.

 

They are exactly where he wants them to be.

 

To which you might say … you can’t have it both ways … you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

To which the answer is … yes you can … when you belong to a sovereign Lord who is a loving father where ever you are is the place he wants you to be.

 

I am not saying you need to know why he has put you in the situation you are in. You might not know, and you might not understand, but you can be certain of your situation. He is too wise and too good to make a mistake with you.

 

On the other hand, if you don’t belong to Jesus life is just confusion. Maybe you think, it is all run by luck. A cosmic roll of the dice.

 

If you think that will spend your life in confusion.

 

The story is told about a farmer with a horse and the horse ran away. The neighbour said, bad luck your horse ran away.

The farmer said, “What do I know of such things.

?”

A week later the horse comes back with 20 other horses in tow. The neighbour says … good luck the horse brought you more horses.

The farmer says … what do I know of such things?

The farmer’s son seeks to break in one of the new horses is kicked in the leg and crippled for life.

The neighbour says … bad luck your son is crippled forever.

The farmer says what do I know of such things?

That night a group of militia raid the town and take all the fit your boys off to fight in their war … but the crippled boy is left behind.

The neighbour says good luck … your son was crippled, and on it goes.

 

In one series of events who can tell if it is good luck or not?  If you believe in cosmic luck you will forever be wondering.

 

The people on the island don’t believe in luck, they seem to believe in some sort of karma, but they are no less confused.

Good karma … you were all saved from the sinking ship Paul.

Bad karma … Paul you must be evil because after being rescued you got bitten by a snake.

Good karma … you must be divine because you did not die.

 

Back and forth always wondering.

 

Friends I am not suggesting Christians have the answer to all the things that happen to them. We don’t, and we don’t pretend we do.

 

We do know something for certain. Where we are, wherever we are, the Lord has brought us.

 

The lord brought us safely to this place, and this is the place that he intends us to be, and he is too good and too wise to make a mistake with his children.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

That is a very comforting things to know.

 

You will not die a moment earlier or later than the Lord intends.

You are immoral until the day the Lord comes to take you to be with him.

Paul was, as we will see.

You don’t think you will die a moment before the day Jesus has appointed for you do?

 

There is something very comforting about knowing that there isn’t.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

There is this ironic little situation that arises very soon after they land on the shore which I have alluded to.

 

After landing on the island Paul goes about helping to collect wood for the fire. As he is about to put a bundle of sticks on the fire when it turns out one of the sticks is a viper. It comes out and bites Paul on the hand.

 

Now when the natives see this … they are certain that he is going to die. They have seen what happens to people who are bitten by vipers and so they believe that will be the outcome in this case.

 

 

Here is the conclusion they draw from the turn of events.

Vs 4

 “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 

 

Now, when they say “justice has not allowed him to live”, the word is Dike – it is the name of a god, who was often considered the god of justice.

 

He was the god who made sure you got what you deserved, just in case Tyche the god of luck let you off. That is not unusual thinking.

 

That is religious thinking through and through.

That if you want to be right with God you had better be good, because if you’re not, you will get what you deserve.

 

Which I think also accounts for their strange fascination as they watch Paul and wait for him to die. Waiting for him to swell up or to fall down dead.

 

If your god is religion, secretly you will love to see others fall, because deep down it means there is someone worse than me and I can feel good because at least compared to that person, I am OK. I can stand up straight before God, because at least I am better than that person. What a hopeless way to think, but that is where religion leads you.

 

 

Well they were right on one account. Paul was a murderer.

 

We are told that in the book of Acts, he was responsible for the execution of so many Christians. He was a murderer.

I think that is why in 1 Timothy he calls himself the worst of sinners.

 

Paul had discovered that unlike the made-up gods of this world, the Lord Jesus shows mercy and grace to the worst of sinners.

 

He was a murderer, but Christ had paid the penalty.

 

It strikes me that you can know that as a Christian, but when the bad time comes, in the back of your mind you wonder if Jesus has sent it to you so as to punish you for the wrongs you have done.

 

When the marriage fails, or the child grows sick, or the loneliness overwhelms or money runs out. You wonder if Jesus is just treating you according to what you deserve.

 

It is so easy to wonder about that Jesus is just like the other gods, who no nothing of grace and sins forgiven.

 

Now you know that is wrong. How many times in the book of Acts have you been told that is not true.

 

 You have read Acts.

Acts 2:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Acts 3:

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out

Acts 5

God exalted Jesus at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 10

To Jesus all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 13

38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

 

Forgiveness, forgiveness forgiveness.

Mercy, mercy, mercy

Grace, grace, grace

 

It is so easy to believe that Jesus is just like all the Pagan gods, because grace is so unheard of, so difficult to believe it could be true. That Jesus does not treat you the way in which your sins deserve.

 

Can I remind you again?

Here is a murderer not getting what he deserves, because Jesus is full of grace.

 

The situation you are in, is the place Jesus has put you, for his glory, for good and not as a punishment for what you deserve.

 

That can be hard to believe can’t it? Grace is always so amazing, can it be true?

 

When you belong to Jesus

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

 

Lastly then.

 

When you belong to a Jesus who is sovereign and full of mercy, you can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere.

 

3. You can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere

 

In some way this section of the book of Acts is a little like the book of Esther. (Which has always been my favorited book of the Bible.)

 

You read the book of Esther and God is not mentioned anywhere in the book. Not even once.

Which is a little disturbing until you realise that he is seen everywhere in all the happens in the book.

 

When my kids were little it seemed to me that they could manage to put their finger prints over everything. You could clean every surface and in no time at all. They would cover them with finger prints.

 

Well the book of Esther, and this section of Acts is full of the wonderful finger prints of the Lord over everything.

 

It just so happens that the Island is Malta, which is a big enough island to sustain them for winter.

It just so happens (we shall see next week) that on this island is another ship, the non-sunk variety, that is wintering there.

 

It just so happens that the natives shown them unusual kindness, it didn’t have to be that way, but it just so happened that it was.

 

It just so happened that the viper didn’t kill Paul.

 

It just so happened that they were in the neighbourhood of lands that belonged to the chief of the island named Publius. It just so happened that Publius welcomed them in and was hospitable towards them.

 

It just so happened that Publius’ father was sick and Paul was able to heal him, which meant that the whole island brought sick people to Paul to be healed , and so after the winter when they set sail  on the other ship, that just so happened to be there, the people of the island honoured them greatly, and gave to them whatever they needed for the trip.

 

 

It is really a lovely story on the way to Rome, when you read it like that isn’t it?

It has the Lord’s lovely fingerprints all over it.

As did the shipwreck, and the imprisonment and the storm and everything. It always does.

 

 

Do you think for a second that the cause of Christ will fail?

Do you think for a second that the gates of hell will prevail against the church of Christ?

 

Do you think for a second that the gospel won’t be proclaimed in all the world.

Do you think for a second that every knee wont bow before the Lord of all.

 

You see it doesn’t matter if so much of the media speaks against the things of Christ. It doesn’t matter if Australia is getting more and more secular .It doesn’t matter if Christians are mock and belittled.

 

We belong to the Lord who does all things for the glory of his grace, and everywhere you look, his fingerprints are covering everything.

 

Not a thing happens by accident.

Not in the big picture, and not in your life either.

 

 

 

The big idea behind this passage is that the sovereign Lord will fulfill his purpose of getting his Gospel to the ends of the earth and he will do it in his way and in his time. Though the path of that purpose might seem to us at times to be up hill and down dale, we are not for a moment to judge the certainty of Jesus fulfilment of his plan by the imprisonments or the shipwrecks or the storms, they are all a part of the plan.

 

We have seen that big idea over and over.

 

What I am trying to help us see today, is that when you belong to a God like that, who works all things according to the purpose of his will, who is also full of mercy and grace …

 

You are in a very, very safe place indeed.

 

Let’s pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 November 2020

Bonfire on a Beach

Acts 28:1-10

 

I would have to say that it does not always look like the cause of Christ will win. I think, if we are honest there are plenty of times when we wonder why things have worked out the way they have.

 

When good churches close and ministries fail.

When evangelistic ventures seem to gain no traction. When the difficulty comes that saps your confidence and your certainty. When good thing seems to fail and you wonder why.

 

There are plenty of things in life that make you wonder about the victory and the goodness of Christ.

 

One of the things that it is good to do when you start thinking that way is come to a book like the book of Acts and see the way in which the Lord spreads the glory of his name across the globe.

 

Over and over again you see the wonderful power and sovereignty of the Lord in all he does.Over and over again you see the wonder mercy and grace he shows to his people.

 

This morning/ afternoon I am hoping you will see with me just how privileged a position we are in as the people who belong to this Jesus. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be utterly Sovereign. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be full of mercy and grace.

 

What does that mean for people like us when we discover that those two things are true?

 

The first thing it mean is that you can be certain of the place you find yourself in.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

Let me explain what I mean.

 

We know that Paul is on his way to Rome, we have seen that for a good number of weeks now.

He is to stand before Caesar, it is God’s purpose that Paul brings the gospel to Rome.

 

It has hardly been a straight path. He has spent years in prison waiting, and now at last when he is heading to Rome. The ship he is on is caught in a storm and stuck on a reef.

 

All those aboard the ship swims for shore.

And Luke says this:

 

Vs 1:

After we were brought safely through we learned that the island was called Malta.

 

Who does Luke think brought them safely through? The Lord brought us safely through the storm to the island Malta.

 

It is not just that we were magically brought through. He doesn’t say: “We were lucky to be brought through, we dodged a bullet, or our number came up and we managed to escape.”

He doesn’t say, “It is through our great intelligence and cooperation that we did it.”

No, no, we were brought through … God did it.

 

He brought us through, to this place.

 

That is why there is no winging and whining by the way by Luke.

 

When the Lord is looking after you there is no room for winging and whining about the situation he has put you in. He doesn’t say: “Woe is me, how unlucky are we to be stuck on this island in the middle of nowhere.”

 

“We were brought safely through the storm to Malta.”

 

You see, when you belong to a sovereign loving father, you can have great confidence that you are in the place where the Lord wants you to be. No matter where that is.

 

Now you might say: “Well that might work for this story but what about all those other untold stories where the Christians end up dead at the bottom of the ocean?”

 

The answer to that is, the Lord has rescued them out of this present evil age and taken them to be with Jesus for ever. He has brought them safely through life.

 

They are exactly where he wants them to be.

 

To which you might say … you can’t have it both ways … you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

To which the answer is … yes you can … when you belong to a sovereign Lord who is a loving father where ever you are is the place he wants you to be.

 

I am not saying you need to know why he has put you in the situation you are in. You might not know, and you might not understand, but you can be certain of your situation. He is too wise and too good to make a mistake with you.

 

On the other hand, if you don’t belong to Jesus life is just confusion. Maybe you think, it is all run by luck. A cosmic roll of the dice.

 

If you think that will spend your life in confusion.

 

The story is told about a farmer with a horse and the horse ran away. The neighbour said, bad luck your horse ran away.

The farmer said, “What do I know of such things.

?”

A week later the horse comes back with 20 other horses in tow. The neighbour says … good luck the horse brought you more horses.

The farmer says … what do I know of such things?

The farmer’s son seeks to break in one of the new horses is kicked in the leg and crippled for life.

The neighbour says … bad luck your son is crippled forever.

The farmer says what do I know of such things?

That night a group of militia raid the town and take all the fit your boys off to fight in their war … but the crippled boy is left behind.

The neighbour says good luck … your son was crippled, and on it goes.

 

In one series of events who can tell if it is good luck or not?  If you believe in cosmic luck you will forever be wondering.

 

The people on the island don’t believe in luck, they seem to believe in some sort of karma, but they are no less confused.

Good karma … you were all saved from the sinking ship Paul.

Bad karma … Paul you must be evil because after being rescued you got bitten by a snake.

Good karma … you must be divine because you did not die.

 

Back and forth always wondering.

 

Friends I am not suggesting Christians have the answer to all the things that happen to them. We don’t, and we don’t pretend we do.

 

We do know something for certain. Where we are, wherever we are, the Lord has brought us.

 

The lord brought us safely to this place, and this is the place that he intends us to be, and he is too good and too wise to make a mistake with his children.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

That is a very comforting things to know.

 

You will not die a moment earlier or later than the Lord intends.

You are immoral until the day the Lord comes to take you to be with him.

Paul was, as we will see.

You don’t think you will die a moment before the day Jesus has appointed for you do?

 

There is something very comforting about knowing that there isn’t.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

There is this ironic little situation that arises very soon after they land on the shore which I have alluded to.

 

After landing on the island Paul goes about helping to collect wood for the fire. As he is about to put a bundle of sticks on the fire when it turns out one of the sticks is a viper. It comes out and bites Paul on the hand.

 

Now when the natives see this … they are certain that he is going to die. They have seen what happens to people who are bitten by vipers and so they believe that will be the outcome in this case.

 

 

Here is the conclusion they draw from the turn of events.

Vs 4

 “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 

 

Now, when they say “justice has not allowed him to live”, the word is Dike – it is the name of a god, who was often considered the god of justice.

 

He was the god who made sure you got what you deserved, just in case Tyche the god of luck let you off. That is not unusual thinking.

 

That is religious thinking through and through.

That if you want to be right with God you had better be good, because if you’re not, you will get what you deserve.

 

Which I think also accounts for their strange fascination as they watch Paul and wait for him to die. Waiting for him to swell up or to fall down dead.

 

If your god is religion, secretly you will love to see others fall, because deep down it means there is someone worse than me and I can feel good because at least compared to that person, I am OK. I can stand up straight before God, because at least I am better than that person. What a hopeless way to think, but that is where religion leads you.

 

 

Well they were right on one account. Paul was a murderer.

 

We are told that in the book of Acts, he was responsible for the execution of so many Christians. He was a murderer.

I think that is why in 1 Timothy he calls himself the worst of sinners.

 

Paul had discovered that unlike the made-up gods of this world, the Lord Jesus shows mercy and grace to the worst of sinners.

 

He was a murderer, but Christ had paid the penalty.

 

It strikes me that you can know that as a Christian, but when the bad time comes, in the back of your mind you wonder if Jesus has sent it to you so as to punish you for the wrongs you have done.

 

When the marriage fails, or the child grows sick, or the loneliness overwhelms or money runs out. You wonder if Jesus is just treating you according to what you deserve.

 

It is so easy to wonder about that Jesus is just like the other gods, who no nothing of grace and sins forgiven.

 

Now you know that is wrong. How many times in the book of Acts have you been told that is not true.

 

 You have read Acts.

Acts 2:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Acts 3:

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out

Acts 5

God exalted Jesus at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 10

To Jesus all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 13

38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

 

Forgiveness, forgiveness forgiveness.

Mercy, mercy, mercy

Grace, grace, grace

 

It is so easy to believe that Jesus is just like all the Pagan gods, because grace is so unheard of, so difficult to believe it could be true. That Jesus does not treat you the way in which your sins deserve.

 

Can I remind you again?

Here is a murderer not getting what he deserves, because Jesus is full of grace.

 

The situation you are in, is the place Jesus has put you, for his glory, for good and not as a punishment for what you deserve.

 

That can be hard to believe can’t it? Grace is always so amazing, can it be true?

 

When you belong to Jesus

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

 

Lastly then.

 

When you belong to a Jesus who is sovereign and full of mercy, you can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere.

 

3. You can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere

 

In some way this section of the book of Acts is a little like the book of Esther. (Which has always been my favorited book of the Bible.)

 

You read the book of Esther and God is not mentioned anywhere in the book. Not even once.

Which is a little disturbing until you realise that he is seen everywhere in all the happens in the book.

 

When my kids were little it seemed to me that they could manage to put their finger prints over everything. You could clean every surface and in no time at all. They would cover them with finger prints.

 

Well the book of Esther, and this section of Acts is full of the wonderful finger prints of the Lord over everything.

 

It just so happens that the Island is Malta, which is a big enough island to sustain them for winter.

It just so happens (we shall see next week) that on this island is another ship, the non-sunk variety, that is wintering there.

 

It just so happens that the natives shown them unusual kindness, it didn’t have to be that way, but it just so happened that it was.

 

It just so happened that the viper didn’t kill Paul.

 

It just so happened that they were in the neighbourhood of lands that belonged to the chief of the island named Publius. It just so happened that Publius welcomed them in and was hospitable towards them.

 

It just so happened that Publius’ father was sick and Paul was able to heal him, which meant that the whole island brought sick people to Paul to be healed , and so after the winter when they set sail  on the other ship, that just so happened to be there, the people of the island honoured them greatly, and gave to them whatever they needed for the trip.

 

 

It is really a lovely story on the way to Rome, when you read it like that isn’t it?

It has the Lord’s lovely fingerprints all over it.

As did the shipwreck, and the imprisonment and the storm and everything. It always does.

 

 

Do you think for a second that the cause of Christ will fail?

Do you think for a second that the gates of hell will prevail against the church of Christ?

 

Do you think for a second that the gospel won’t be proclaimed in all the world.

Do you think for a second that every knee wont bow before the Lord of all.

 

You see it doesn’t matter if so much of the media speaks against the things of Christ. It doesn’t matter if Australia is getting more and more secular .It doesn’t matter if Christians are mock and belittled.

 

We belong to the Lord who does all things for the glory of his grace, and everywhere you look, his fingerprints are covering everything.

 

Not a thing happens by accident.

Not in the big picture, and not in your life either.

 

 

 

The big idea behind this passage is that the sovereign Lord will fulfill his purpose of getting his Gospel to the ends of the earth and he will do it in his way and in his time. Though the path of that purpose might seem to us at times to be up hill and down dale, we are not for a moment to judge the certainty of Jesus fulfilment of his plan by the imprisonments or the shipwrecks or the storms, they are all a part of the plan.

 

We have seen that big idea over and over.

 

What I am trying to help us see today, is that when you belong to a God like that, who works all things according to the purpose of his will, who is also full of mercy and grace …

 

You are in a very, very safe place indeed.

 

Let’s pray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 November 2020

Bonfire on a Beach

Acts 28:1-10

 

I would have to say that it does not always look like the cause of Christ will win. I think, if we are honest there are plenty of times when we wonder why things have worked out the way they have.

 

When good churches close and ministries fail.

When evangelistic ventures seem to gain no traction. When the difficulty comes that saps your confidence and your certainty. When good thing seems to fail and you wonder why.

 

There are plenty of things in life that make you wonder about the victory and the goodness of Christ.

 

One of the things that it is good to do when you start thinking that way is come to a book like the book of Acts and see the way in which the Lord spreads the glory of his name across the globe.

 

Over and over again you see the wonderful power and sovereignty of the Lord in all he does.Over and over again you see the wonder mercy and grace he shows to his people.

 

This morning/ afternoon I am hoping you will see with me just how privileged a position we are in as the people who belong to this Jesus. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be utterly Sovereign. The Jesus whom we have seen over and over to be full of mercy and grace.

 

What does that mean for people like us when we discover that those two things are true?

 

The first thing it mean is that you can be certain of the place you find yourself in.

 

 

 

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

Let me explain what I mean.

 

We know that Paul is on his way to Rome, we have seen that for a good number of weeks now.

He is to stand before Caesar, it is God’s purpose that Paul brings the gospel to Rome.

 

It has hardly been a straight path. He has spent years in prison waiting, and now at last when he is heading to Rome. The ship he is on is caught in a storm and stuck on a reef.

 

All those aboard the ship swims for shore.

And Luke says this:

 

Vs 1:

After we were brought safely through we learned that the island was called Malta.

 

Who does Luke think brought them safely through? The Lord brought us safely through the storm to the island Malta.

 

It is not just that we were magically brought through. He doesn’t say: “We were lucky to be brought through, we dodged a bullet, or our number came up and we managed to escape.”

He doesn’t say, “It is through our great intelligence and cooperation that we did it.”

No, no, we were brought through … God did it.

 

He brought us through, to this place.

 

That is why there is no winging and whining by the way by Luke.

 

When the Lord is looking after you there is no room for winging and whining about the situation he has put you in. He doesn’t say: “Woe is me, how unlucky are we to be stuck on this island in the middle of nowhere.”

 

“We were brought safely through the storm to Malta.”

 

You see, when you belong to a sovereign loving father, you can have great confidence that you are in the place where the Lord wants you to be. No matter where that is.

 

Now you might say: “Well that might work for this story but what about all those other untold stories where the Christians end up dead at the bottom of the ocean?”

 

The answer to that is, the Lord has rescued them out of this present evil age and taken them to be with Jesus for ever. He has brought them safely through life.

 

They are exactly where he wants them to be.

 

To which you might say … you can’t have it both ways … you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

To which the answer is … yes you can … when you belong to a sovereign Lord who is a loving father where ever you are is the place he wants you to be.

 

I am not saying you need to know why he has put you in the situation you are in. You might not know, and you might not understand, but you can be certain of your situation. He is too wise and too good to make a mistake with you.

 

On the other hand, if you don’t belong to Jesus life is just confusion. Maybe you think, it is all run by luck. A cosmic roll of the dice.

 

If you think that will spend your life in confusion.

 

The story is told about a farmer with a horse and the horse ran away. The neighbour said, bad luck your horse ran away.

The farmer said, “What do I know of such things.

?”

A week later the horse comes back with 20 other horses in tow. The neighbour says … good luck the horse brought you more horses.

The farmer says … what do I know of such things?

The farmer’s son seeks to break in one of the new horses is kicked in the leg and crippled for life.

The neighbour says … bad luck your son is crippled forever.

The farmer says what do I know of such things?

That night a group of militia raid the town and take all the fit your boys off to fight in their war … but the crippled boy is left behind.

The neighbour says good luck … your son was crippled, and on it goes.

 

In one series of events who can tell if it is good luck or not?  If you believe in cosmic luck you will forever be wondering.

 

The people on the island don’t believe in luck, they seem to believe in some sort of karma, but they are no less confused.

Good karma … you were all saved from the sinking ship Paul.

Bad karma … Paul you must be evil because after being rescued you got bitten by a snake.

Good karma … you must be divine because you did not die.

 

Back and forth always wondering.

 

Friends I am not suggesting Christians have the answer to all the things that happen to them. We don’t, and we don’t pretend we do.

 

We do know something for certain. Where we are, wherever we are, the Lord has brought us.

 

The lord brought us safely to this place, and this is the place that he intends us to be, and he is too good and too wise to make a mistake with his children.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

That is a very comforting things to know.

 

You will not die a moment earlier or later than the Lord intends.

You are immoral until the day the Lord comes to take you to be with him.

Paul was, as we will see.

You don’t think you will die a moment before the day Jesus has appointed for you do?

 

There is something very comforting about knowing that there isn’t.

 

We can be certain of the place we find ourselves in.

 

 

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

There is this ironic little situation that arises very soon after they land on the shore which I have alluded to.

 

After landing on the island Paul goes about helping to collect wood for the fire. As he is about to put a bundle of sticks on the fire when it turns out one of the sticks is a viper. It comes out and bites Paul on the hand.

 

Now when the natives see this … they are certain that he is going to die. They have seen what happens to people who are bitten by vipers and so they believe that will be the outcome in this case.

 

 

Here is the conclusion they draw from the turn of events.

Vs 4

 “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 

 

Now, when they say “justice has not allowed him to live”, the word is Dike – it is the name of a god, who was often considered the god of justice.

 

He was the god who made sure you got what you deserved, just in case Tyche the god of luck let you off. That is not unusual thinking.

 

That is religious thinking through and through.

That if you want to be right with God you had better be good, because if you’re not, you will get what you deserve.

 

Which I think also accounts for their strange fascination as they watch Paul and wait for him to die. Waiting for him to swell up or to fall down dead.

 

If your god is religion, secretly you will love to see others fall, because deep down it means there is someone worse than me and I can feel good because at least compared to that person, I am OK. I can stand up straight before God, because at least I am better than that person. What a hopeless way to think, but that is where religion leads you.

 

 

Well they were right on one account. Paul was a murderer.

 

We are told that in the book of Acts, he was responsible for the execution of so many Christians. He was a murderer.

I think that is why in 1 Timothy he calls himself the worst of sinners.

 

Paul had discovered that unlike the made-up gods of this world, the Lord Jesus shows mercy and grace to the worst of sinners.

 

He was a murderer, but Christ had paid the penalty.

 

It strikes me that you can know that as a Christian, but when the bad time comes, in the back of your mind you wonder if Jesus has sent it to you so as to punish you for the wrongs you have done.

 

When the marriage fails, or the child grows sick, or the loneliness overwhelms or money runs out. You wonder if Jesus is just treating you according to what you deserve.

 

It is so easy to wonder about that Jesus is just like the other gods, who no nothing of grace and sins forgiven.

 

Now you know that is wrong. How many times in the book of Acts have you been told that is not true.

 

 You have read Acts.

Acts 2:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Acts 3:

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out

Acts 5

God exalted Jesus at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 10

To Jesus all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Acts 13

38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

 

Forgiveness, forgiveness forgiveness.

Mercy, mercy, mercy

Grace, grace, grace

 

It is so easy to believe that Jesus is just like all the Pagan gods, because grace is so unheard of, so difficult to believe it could be true. That Jesus does not treat you the way in which your sins deserve.

 

Can I remind you again?

Here is a murderer not getting what he deserves, because Jesus is full of grace.

 

The situation you are in, is the place Jesus has put you, for his glory, for good and not as a punishment for what you deserve.

 

That can be hard to believe can’t it? Grace is always so amazing, can it be true?

 

When you belong to Jesus

1. Certain about the place you find yourself.

2. You always find yourself in a place of grace

 

 

Lastly then.

 

When you belong to a Jesus who is sovereign and full of mercy, you can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere.

 

3. You can see his wonderful finger prints everywhere

 

In some way this section of the book of Acts is a little like the book of Esther. (Which has always been my favorited book of the Bible.)

 

You read the book of Esther and God is not mentioned anywhere in the book. Not even once.

Which is a little disturbing until you realise that he is seen everywhere in all the happens in the book.

 

When my kids were little it seemed to me that they could manage to put their finger prints over everything. You could clean every surface and in no time at all. They would cover them with finger prints.

 

Well the book of Esther, and this section of Acts is full of the wonderful finger prints of the Lord over everything.

 

It just so happens that the Island is Malta, which is a big enough island to sustain them for winter.

It just so happens (we shall see next week) that on this island is another ship, the non-sunk variety, that is wintering there.

 

It just so happens that the natives shown them unusual kindness, it didn’t have to be that way, but it just so happened that it was.

 

It just so happened that the viper didn’t kill Paul.

 

It just so happened that they were in the neighbourhood of lands that belonged to the chief of the island named Publius. It just so happened that Publius welcomed them in and was hospitable towards them.

 

It just so happened that Publius’ father was sick and Paul was able to heal him, which meant that the whole island brought sick people to Paul to be healed , and so after the winter when they set sail  on the other ship, that just so happened to be there, the people of the island honoured them greatly, and gave to them whatever they needed for the trip.

 

 

It is really a lovely story on the way to Rome, when you read it like that isn’t it?

It has the Lord’s lovely fingerprints all over it.

As did the shipwreck, and the imprisonment and the storm and everything. It always does.

 

 

Do you think for a second that the cause of Christ will fail?

Do you think for a second that the gates of hell will prevail against the church of Christ?

 

Do you think for a second that the gospel won’t be proclaimed in all the world.

Do you think for a second that every knee wont bow before the Lord of all.

 

You see it doesn’t matter if so much of the media speaks against the things of Christ. It doesn’t matter if Australia is getting more and more secular .It doesn’t matter if Christians are mock and belittled.

 

We belong to the Lord who does all things for the glory of his grace, and everywhere you look, his fingerprints are covering everything.

 

Not a thing happens by accident.

Not in the big picture, and not in your life either.

 

 

 

The big idea behind this passage is that the sovereign Lord will fulfill his purpose of getting his Gospel to the ends of the earth and he will do it in his way and in his time. Though the path of that purpose might seem to us at times to be up hill and down dale, we are not for a moment to judge the certainty of Jesus fulfilment of his plan by the imprisonments or the shipwrecks or the storms, they are all a part of the plan.

 

We have seen that big idea over and over.

 

What I am trying to help us see today, is that when you belong to a God like that, who works all things according to the purpose of his will, who is also full of mercy and grace …

 

You are in a very, very safe place indeed.

 

Let’s pray.