Acts 28, Trust God To Give Purpose In Every Situation

Acts 28, Trust God To Give Purpose In Every Situation
1. Serve After Shipwreck (v1-10)
2. Find Fellowship And Be Found (v11-16)
3. Schedule Those Unpredictable Meetings (v17-24)
4. Switch Gears When Doors Close (v25-29)
5. Continue Serving Within Your Constraints (v30-31)

Pastor Jerry Simmons teaching Acts 28, Trust God To Give Purpose In Every Situation

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Jerry Simmons shared this Verse By Verse Bible study from Acts on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 using the New King James Version (NKJV).

More Bible teachings by Jerry Simmons


As we walk through Acts Chapter 28 tonight, I've titled The Message Trust God to give purpose in every situation. It's a challenging thing for us to do many times and in despair of difficult circumstances or situations, we can often be quite down about what we're going through and what is happening. But tonight, as we look at the example of the apostle Paul, I think we can be encouraged and reminded that we can trust. God, he is going to give purpose in every situation that we face as we devote our lives to him as we seek to walk with him. He has things that he will work no matter what it is that we face, and this is demonstrated here in Paul's life and Acts chapter 28. As he is on his way to. No, this is not a typical journey to Rome, though he is on his way to Rome as a prisoner, and the journey began back in Chapter 27. But the imprisonment began back a few chapters before that, he's been in prison for a few years, and then he appealed to Caesar because the the Jews. We're continuing to come against him and that was the only way that he could see to save his life. And so he appeals to Caesar. And so he's being sent to Rome to stand before Caesar and to present his case there. But it takes some time. And there's a few kings that. Pass authority on to the next king, and so there's this delay after delay after delay. And then finally he's on the journey in Chapter 27 making wave. But then they hit this incredible storm in Chapter 27 records this storm and this shipwreck on the island. And then we pick it up in chapter 28. With them on the island and they're going to go from there to Rome. If it helps you visualize this a little bit, here's a quick look at the map of Paul's journey to Rome. He began there in Cesaria, in the land of Israel, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and they had to do a couple different bounces over to Saidon and then Myra, and then fair havens, getting on different ships and. Negotiating different things. They weren't sure if they should set out from Crete that Port fair havens where they were, but they went ahead and did so. And that's in the middle of the Mediterranean there, where they hit the storm, they crash landed on Malta. And so that's where chapter 27 LED us through all of those ports. And then chapter 28 is going to take us up from Malta. North up through Italy and then into the city of Rome, where Paul is going to be in prison for some time and so quite a. Bit of a. Journey Paul's imprisoned it's not a smooth journey by any means, and yet through the midst of it. We can see God working and bringing purpose to all of the situations, to all of the scenarios, to all of the difficulties and catastrophes, even that they are walking through. And so I want to walk through Paul's example here, looking at five points to help us trust God, to give purpose in every situation. Point number one will be camping out in verses one through 10. Here's point number one, serve after. Shipwreck this is what we find Paul doing in these verses. He is serving even though he's just been swimming for his life with the shipwreck and you know, surfing to the shore. He is found here in this island, just doing simple Acts of service on behalf of the Lord. The three verses, one through 5, it says now when they had escaped. They then found out that the island was called. And the natives showed us unusual kindness for they kindled the fire and made us all welcome because of the rain that was falling, and because of the cold. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a Viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another. No doubt this man is a murderer whom, though he has escaped the sea yet justice does not. Allow to live. But he shook. Off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. Here is they begin to take shelter on the island of Malta. They find that there is the natives now. Don't think of, you know, necessarily, like people who have no culture or people who have no technology or anything like that. It doesn't mean that they were, you know, way, way behind the times. It was just they lived on. They were the native people to this island. And so the native people to the island. Begin to welcome this crew, who's almost 300 people. 270 something. People that had survived this shipwreck and made it to the shore. And so the community there begins to host these people who have escaped the sea in this great storm, and they build the fire for them. And it tells us it's because of the rain and because of the cold. So the storm is still going on. It's still really cold. They've just come out. Of the water. So you know they are in desperate need of warmth and recovering from the situation. And so this is, you know, just fresh. Happening right, you know they. Just dragged themselves. They're still wet and dripping, and the the natives are seeing what's happening and they're they're beginning to gather together. And to meet the needs of the people. So they kindled the fire because it was cold and it was raining. And all of these people needed attention. Now it's interesting here it's tells us that the natives. Kindle the fire. But then it tells us in verse 3. But when Paul had gathered a. Bundle of sticks. And laid them on the fire. A Viper came out because of the. Heat and fastened on his hand. So the natives are hosting this group of people that just risk not risk their lives, but just made it, you know, by the skin of their teeth to the shore. They just barely survived this storm and this shipwreck. And so the natives are building a fire. But immediately right in the mix, Paul Dripping wet, probably still catching his breath right from from swimming to shore and and making it through the waves and the the the wind and all that was going on. He immediately begins to serve and he's gathering sticks. The natives are gathering sticks. They're building a fire, kindling a fire. We don't know if anybody else besides Paul from the ship were. Participating in this way, but we do know, Paul, if there is, you know, some service to do some work to be done. Paul was not afraid to do it. And so immediately after a shipwreck, still not even recovered from the shipwreck, there's an opportunity to serve. There's a need to minister to people in a very practical way. And so Paul's out there doing that, just seeking to meet some practical needs. He's gathering a bundle of sticks. But then of course, we see the Viper comes. The Viper, perhaps in the bunch of sticks that Paul just kind of swooped up with his arms as he throws it in the fire. The Viper wakes up and realizes it's hot in here and he jumps out and he fastens onto Paul's hand. Now the native people, it tells us in verse four they saw it. They saw this happen. They saw the creature hanging from his hand. They knew this sneak well, right? This was their hometown. They they were understanding what was about to happen here. They were expecting Paul to die as a result of this Viper on his hand. And so the natives started to come to some conclusions. Now these are not Christians, right? So their theology here is not so great, but they say, hey, he must be really terrible because he escaped the sea. But justice does not allow him to live, and so he's going to get it one way or another, because he's going to get what's coming to him. Kind of the idea of karma is the the thought process in which they're thinking. So the people are watching what happens to Paul, probably noting that he's, you know, gathering sticks and and participating in the work here. But then seeing this event, they're waiting for him. We see in verse six it says they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a God. He shakes off the creature in verse 5. It just falls off him into the fire and it says that he suffered no harm. And so they're watching him. They see him shake it off and they say, well, they he thinks he's escaped, right. But we know how those snakes work. We know the venom that is now in in his body, and pretty soon he's going to suddenly fall down dead. But they're watching. They're watching. They're checking their watch. How long is he? It usually takes only, like, 30 minutes. Like, what's going on here? Then they decide. Oh, maybe he's not a murderer. Maybe he's a God. And so again, their theology is not so great. That's why Paul's there. Because there's a purpose for all of this, there's a purpose that it's not some random police that they've landed. Paul encouraged, was encouraged by the Lord. In Chapter 27, the Lord sent an Angel to encourage him and and let him know that everybody on the ship would be saved, and so Paul released the message to the captain of the ship, but he says. We must crash on a certain island. And so it wasn't just, well, this happened to be random chance. The island that they were at the Lord was directing the ship in the midst of the storm where there was no visible direction. It didn't seem like God was working or directing in any type of way. But the Lord brought. Paul, as well as the rest of the crew of the ship, the prisoners that were along with them. And landed them here. The Lord allowed this, or perhaps place this Viper into this scenario to get the attention of the people. And they watch this thing take place. They watch this happen and Paul is protected from the bite from the venom of this Viper really fulfilling something that Jesus taught in Matthew? Or sorry Mark, chapter 16. Remember when the Lord tells the disciples, along with the Great Commission, these are the signs that will follow those who believe. And my name, they will cast out demons. They will speak with new tongues. They will take up serpents. And if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them. They will lay hands on the sick and they will recover. Now the Lord here is not, of course, saying, as some practice that you should go out of your way to try to invite this kind of harm and, you know, force God to protect you in that Paul didn't run around playing with snakes. But in the midst of his endeavor to do the will of God and walking, and the purposes of God. There's no Viper. There's no snake, there's no serpent, there's no enemy that can Fort the plan of God. And so he has this protection. The sign is given and then along with that the sign of praying for the sick and they recover will be fulfilled as well as we go on into verse 7 here in Acts chapter 28 it says. In that region, there was an estate of a leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained US courteously for three days. And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went into him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. They also honored us in many ways, and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary. So there's a three month portion of time that takes place here. And this was the beginning of it. First day on the Beach building a fire, getting bit. But then as the community continues to host, they learn of. The leader, the mayor of the island or the governor? Father is sick. And it's a serious disease that continues to be known and familiar on the island of Malta. And so Paul's hearing of this goes into him. He takes initiative. He kind of, you know, takes it upon himself. He, he enters in to this situation and he prays. He leaves hands on the father. And the father is healed. And so there's this. Word that goes out now. This guy, Paul, who survived the snake bite, also prayed for this man and he was healed, and so the rest of those on the island, now the whole island, is being gathered together. The whole island is being reached. And there's miracles happening as the Lord is using Paul to be a light and a witness, and to do the Lord's work. There on the island of Malta. And so here we get to see the opportunity to serve after shipwreck. Here's Paul now. I I could imagine myself in these kinds of situations. Just barely getting on the shore, trying to catch my breath. I've been in prison for the past couple of years now. I'm on my way to Rome to be in prison. Longer, but there was a shipwreck. You know, there was a storm. The the storm is quite intense as you look at chapter 27 for 14 days. They didn't eat because they were working so hard, fearing for their lives like this was a serious for the past several weeks that there's been an intensity, there's been stress, there's been anxiety. There's just been no rest. It's been agonizing. But Paul gets to. The shore and immediately he starts to serve. And just looking for those opportunities. To minister practically to Minister spiritually to be alight, and a witness unto the. Lord serve after. And you know, I think we can take a little bit of liberty with this idea. Of shipwreck and you can consider this in circumstantial shipwreck like Paul experienced or personal shipwreck like we all probably have experienced from time to time. Remember when the Lord warned Peter about his betrayal of him? He says I've prayed for you. Satan has asked you to sift you like wheat. But when you have returned strengthen the Brethren, Peter, you're headed for a shipwreck. And you're going to deny me, and it's going to be quite dramatic and traumatic. But you're gonna come back around. I've prayed for you. Strengthened, the brethren serve after that. You know, sometimes after shipwreck. Personal shipwreck like that. We want to just. Kind of bow out, you know, not risk anything, not do anything. We want to stay in the background. We want to kind of stay in a little bit of a miserable condition and a a pity party, whether it be personal or circumstantial. But here we're encouraged by Paul's example to get in there, look for those opportunities, look for those needs and God will work his work in the midst of that as we seek to honor him and serve him. God will give purpose even to shipwrecks, even to you know, terrible tragedies. Even to great failures. Peter is going to be able to strengthen the brethren after his failure because of his failure. There's there's a ability that he'll have to strengthen the brethren that he wouldn't have had if he wouldn't have gone through the failure. But the recovery from the failure is part of the work in Peter's life that enables him to strengthen the brethren. And so serve after. FB Meyer puts it this way. Paulson's failing influence for good shows what a blessing. Even one Christian man can be wherever he goes if he lives in the power of God. If you end up shipwrecked on an island with people you don't speak the language of them, and you don't really know what's going on and you're actually, you know, a prisoner and you know all of these tragedies and all of these circumstances are against you. But one man serving God can be a powerful tool to do the work of God, and so great example here serve after shipwreck trust God. To give purpose in every situation, moving on to versus 11 through 16, we get point #2 and that is find fellowship. And be found, find fellowship and be found. Let's read verses 11 through 16, it says. After three months, we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the twin brothers which had wintered at the island. And landing at Syracuse, we stayed 3 days. From there, we circled round and reached regium and after one day the South wind blew and the next day we. Came to patoli. Where we found brethren, and we're invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as a peep for him and three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. Now when we came to Rome, the Centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard. But Paul was permitted to dwell by himself and the soldier who guarded him. Some of these portions here in the book of Acts are like travel logs. We went here, we went there, we dropped at, we stopped at this port. Then we went over to this port and we got on this ship and well, we see a bit of that here in these verses as Luke is careful to record all of these. And it's not so much that the details are necessarily super exciting, but they are really important because it illustrates and reminds us of the truthfulness of this book, that this is not a story being told. This is a record of actual events that happened. These places actually exist and they exist. In the areas where Luke is describing them here, it is this progression that was the normal progression to get to Rome from where they were, and so you can kind of see that. And again, be encouraged and assured that the reality of the scriptures is true, that it is a record of actual events that happened. But I'm taking note here of verse 14. It tells us as they came to this area of Patoli. That they found brethren. And they were invited to stay for seven days. They found brethren on this journey. It's not like you know you and I getting in a car and going somewhere, they're they're going from port to port. There's all these different stops, there's layovers, you know, as they wait for the next ship to be going out. And so so they're doing that. And so they're they're in this one place for. A little bit of time. Seven days, they're invited to stay with the brethren, so they get off the ship that they're on. That same ship, perhaps is departing. They're going to be on it. Or maybe they've barter chartering another boat, that they're going to be taking. But but it's a seven day layover. What are we going to do for seven days? Probably Paul's idea, he says. Well, let's see if. There's any Christians around? They'll probably show hospitality. They'll probably take us in. Remember, he's traveling as a prisoner. He's earned quite a bit of reputation with the captain, who is transporting him to Rome, right? There's other prisoners there with them. We don't know exactly how many. If all of the 270 something from the ship are with them at this time. You probably kind of split up and this was the the group that was a little bit smaller going to Rome, but. But it says that we found brethren, and I just, I think it stands out for us to stop and consider the need. For those times. Where we don't wait to be found, but that we go and we find brethren that we search out. There is a lot of examples of this in the scriptures in the book of Acts. So I'm not. Going to go, but I can't go into all of those accounts and in details, but but everywhere Paul went. He was looking for. Believers, he was looking for unbelievers to minister to, but he was also looking for believers to fellowship with and. And there's something amazing about Christians. There's something amazing about being a part of the family of God. Notice it says where we found brethren. By all accounts that we have, it doesn't appear that Paul has ever been to this place before. But he found brethren, not strangers, but he found brethren. He found fellow believers. There's this fellowship that can be had between believers. All over the world. Even separated by languages and cultures and history and all of those things, but but that communion that we have that. Fellowship around the Cross of Jesus Christ provides such a family relationship that that there is the the brethren that we have and. Sometimes we are separated from the brethren. For the simple reason that we haven't found the brethren, not that they're not there, but the the idea here, the picture that is being painted is they they were looking around, they were asking around, hey, is there anybody here who follows the way you know, is there anybody here who believes in Jesus? They're they're asking around in the town, they're they're searching for is there. A church that meets on Sunday, do you? Maybe you didn't even know the the idea of a church, but, you know, do you know around here? Is there a group of people that gather together on Sundays for a religious service and? You know the town people are saying, oh, yeah, over there. You know, you probably go talk to Joe and I think he's part of that. He goes there on Sundays. And so. So we found the brethren. Find fellowship. Sometimes we need to. Go out of our way and do the searching. Even when you know we are around. You know it's. Not uncommon and you know the idea. The concept of being alone in the. Crowd. Right, you. There's people all around you, but you are so alone. And and that happens to us. And sometimes that's because. We need to find the brethren that that we need to do some searching. We need to take some effort and endeavor on our part to connect with. The believers that are in the place where we are God has designed us to need. Other believers in our lives, and we need some strong relationships. We need some open and honest fellowship. We need some encouragement, some strengthening. And so this is the way that God has designed us to operate as the body. Of Christ. Sometimes you know we're so upset because nobody reaches out to us. And we can let that hinder us. We can let that keep us in a place where, you know, we're just upset. And so now we're still alone because nobody reaches out to us or we can be the one reaching out and finding the brethren, because we need that fellowship with one another. Well, moving on to verse 15, we see the other. Side of the coin, verse 15 and from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as a P4 and 3N. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. Verse 15 school. Other people heard about other Christians heard about Paul being on the journey, and so they got up. They packed their bags, they got on the road and they went to meet Paul. Some of them came, I think, 20 or 30 miles. In order to meet the apostle Paul. They heard about him. They reached out. They did the traveling, they did the searching, and they found Paul. We always want it to happen that way, right? But again, sometimes verse 14 we need to go find the brethren. But then also. We need to be. Found by other brethren sometimes as well. It's nice when people find us and reach out to us and encourage us and strengthen us. It's it's nice when that kind of fellowship happens and when somebody else cares and and expresses the love of Christ by initiating, initiating some fellowship and some encouragement. But you know sometimes. Don't want to be found. And so we are. Kind of closed off where? We have people reaching out to us. It's not that we're out of fellowship because. There is no opportunity. But sometimes we're reluctant to let people in. What I think is interesting here about verse 15 is that it says when Paul saw them. He thanked God and took courage. There's just a genuine. Simplicity here that I really appreciate. Here you have the apostle. Paul, he wrote, wrote. Like so much of the New Testament. He is an apostle. He's had incredible experiences. He just came from an island where he was healing people left and right of diseases that they had. And God was working through him tremendously. That's just a few days ago, right? But here he is. And the sight of fellow believers coming. To demonstrate love to fellowship. He thanked God. Oh, thank you God. So good. I need. The presence of other believers in my life and notice it says he took courage. Paul would have lacked some courage. If there hadn't have been this engagement between him and these believers around him. He took courage. He would have been less courageous. He would have been more discouraged if these believers. Had not found him. He was. Open and receptive. To these believers reaching out to him and it strengthened him, it caused him to have joy to thank God. It's a great picture. Of the fellowship that you and I need, and the benefit that it can have in our lives, sometimes we need to be the ones doing the finding, and we need to go out of our way and find brethren. They're not always going to find us. But also we have to keep ourselves in a state where, you know, sometimes people get in this mode where they're happy to serve and reach out and call, call, call, call and and and Minister Minister, Minister, Minister, Minister but they're closed off and saying well, you can't know what's going on in my life and I'm not going to share with you what I'm struggling with and you don't need to know that I need. Because I'm discouraged, right? Like, like there's this wall of separation that keeps us isolated. And Paul was not that way. Even though he's the apostle Paul who does miracles and heals people. He finds the brethren wherever he goes. And when the brethren find him, he says welcome. Come on in. I'm so thankful that you're here. Praise God and he took courage, Pastor Warren Wisby says it this way. Even an apostle needs to be encouraged at times. And the Saints, who met Paul, did just that. The group at AP4 him traveled about 10 miles farther than the other group. How far would you go to encourage? A fellow believer. How far would you go? Sometimes we won't even make it to church on a Wednesday night or Sunday morning. Right. But but that's part of being a believer. That's part of fellowship in the body of Christ. You know, I I'd like to just take a moment as well and just kind of point out, you know, as we have our missionaries of the month and we pray for them. This is part of. That and and there is the opportunity. That we have today that, you know, Paul didn't have of that fellowship and that communion a little bit we don't have to necessarily be in the same physical space, although there is something special still about that, right. But we have the opportunity to pray forward, to connect with, to communicate with, to let them know and and I would encourage you to reach out as we're praying for believers or praying for missionaries each month to reach out and and just let them know we're praying for you, let them know and and reach out and find out, you know, hey, how else can we pray for you and what else is going on and? Oh, I love to hear what God's doing in your life. And sometimes that that just simple effort, that simple interaction. Can hit someone just like the apostle. Paul and they'll be. Like, oh, thank God, they reached out to me. Thank God I heard from somebody and and living waters praying for me. Oh, what a blessing. And and there can be this great encouragement that we can give to those all around the world as we pray for them and love on them in that way. It's a fellowship that we can have with those missionaries who've been sent out. But then. Also, we get those occasions where. At the end of the month. Rick is going to be here. And so maybe we need to pray about that. How can we meet him on the way and, you know, connect with him in a way. That he says. Oh, thank you, God. Where he takes courage. For the things that are happening in his life and wherever the Lord is leading him and what the Lord has in store for him. And I'm just saying this off the top of my head. But Richard, like, maybe we should plan like a a church lunch or something after that Sunday and just try to have a little bit of fellowship and give opportunity for us to. Just express some fellowship and gratitude for the work that God is doing in their lives. So find fellowship and be found. This is something valuable for us as believers. Now the apostle Paul, he's on his way to Rome. He's going to be in prison. The book of Acts is going to leave him there at the end as we get there in verse 31 but. Tradition Church history tells us that he is eventually, after a couple of years, released. He has a little bit of free time where he's continuing to minister, but then he goes into prison in Rome a second time, which will be the final time. And then he's going to be actually executed that time a few years after what we're reading about here in Acts chapter 28. But that second time he's in prison. Paul is writing to Timothy and Second Timothy chapter one during his second imprisonment there in Rome. And he points. Out a certain person who really ministered to him in this time. Second Timothy, chapter one, verse 16 and 17, he says the Lord Grant mercy to the household of Bonisa Forrest, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chain. But when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. And I just like that example, Anissa Forissier sets that he arrived in Rome and made it his intention, his purpose. He didn't find Paul on his first try but very zealously, working hard and diligently. He found Paul and then often refreshed him. There was this very deliberate. Reaching out, encouraging and fellowshipping with. Paul, in this midst of this trial that he was going through and and this is a great example for us that sometimes we need to be like in the onesa for us and we need to be zealous. It's not going to happen on the I tried to call that guy, you know, and it just it didn't work. So that's it. That was the last chance. You know, I'm not. Going to call him anymore? Well, don't call him. Keep calling him. Keep calling him, keep calling him. And you know, continue to endeavor, continue to be zealous until you find that person that the Lord put upon your heart, that you'll be able to minister and encourage and refresh. We need to find fellowship to, to reach out. We need it. Others need it. We need to do the finding. We need to be found and encourage ourselves to interact with and have those connections with the body of Christ. Moving on to verses 17 through 24, we get point #3 and that is schedule those unpredictable meetings schedule. Those unpredictable meetings, check it out. Verses 17 through 20 is where we'll start, it says, and it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews to get. So when they had come together, he said to them, men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who then, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go because there was no cause for putting me to death. But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar. Not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have called for you to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel. I am bound. With this chain. I don't know if you have this experience where. You delay hard conversations that you know are coming or need to be had. Do you ever do that? You ever delay those hard conversations, those you kind of avoid those meetings and and it causes quite a bit of anxiety. Do you ever wait? And fret about how that meeting might go and how that conversation is going to go. Do you ever stress and stress imagining all the different scenarios that might happen and and what you might respond to if it's this one, OK, now plan A, they respond this way, and here's going to be my response. And then Plan B. And then pretty soon you're at Plan Z and then you got start over. And then A and then Plan B and then plan CC right? Like imagining all the scenarios and trying to figure out and and wrestling with and anxious over. How is this going to go? This conversation, this, this meeting? I think Paul sets for us an interesting example here. He's concerned. About what the Jews in Rome have heard about him, he's concerned about that conclusions that they might draw, draw that they might have the wrong idea about him. And So what does he do? He's in prison in Rome. What does he do? He schedules a meeting with the Jewish leaders. This is the guy who had trouble with the Jewish people everywhere he went right as he is on the mission field for decades before this. He he goes to the synagogues and he preaches the gospel. But then almost, you know, universally every time he goes, he gets chased out of town by the Jews, the Jews who want to kill him. He was. A couple of years ago at Jerusalem, when this imprisonment started and the Jews on the Temple Mount tried to kill him right then and there, he had trouble with the Jews everywhere he went. So now he arrives to Rome. Not been there yet. But now he's here. And he's wondering, what did they know about me? What do? They think about me. What? Have they heard? Knowing the hatred of Paul from the religious leaders there in Jerusalem, it's perfectly reasonable to. Think that they probably sent. Delegates ahead of Paul. They probably sent letters. They probably tried to warn the Jews in Rome. They knew where he was going. He appealed to Caesar, right. They they knew where he was going. So Paul's thinking they they. Maybe have heard. About me, they've maybe been told some lies and deceived about me. But he doesn't delay. It tells us in verse 17, after it came to pass. It came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. Not sure how it's going to go, not sure what they've heard. Not sure you know whether they're going to hate him from the get go cause. Of everything they've already been told. He just schedules it. Now three days is not a long time. It's not like he was agonizing for those three days. It's just that that's how soon it happened. Is the idea here that's being painted for us. He's arrived in Rome. He's getting settled there in prison, he's chained to a guard. He says alright, I need to meet with the Jews of the region and have an opportunity to share with them where I'm coming from. And of course, the gospel. That's always Paul's heart. And so he calls them. He kind of explains the situation. He says. Look, I've. Called you here for this reason, verse 20. To let you know, it's because of the hope. Of Israel that I'm bound. With this chain, verse 21. Then they said to him, we neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came, reported or spoken any evil of you. But we desire to hear from you what you think for concerning this sect. We know that it is spoken against. And so the Jews of the region of Rome were really open to Paul. They were they hadn't heard anything. Now it's interesting to think about that. If there was an attempt to send letters to the Jews in Rome about Paul. Could they have been on the ship that was shipwrecked and everything was lost at sea? Maybe God has a interesting way of working things out, right? So even if the Jews in Jerusalem had attempted it for whatever reason, the Lord prevented it. And so they said. You know, we haven't heard anything about you, good or bad, and so, but we're glad you're here because. You apparently know about this sect. You know about the way you know. About Christianity and so. We don't really know much about. It we hear a. Lot of hubbub about it, but. We don't really get what it's all about. So maybe you can explain it to us a little bit. So Paul says. I'm so glad you asked verse 23. So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus. In both the law of Moses and the prophets from mourning till evening. And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken and some disbelieved. So they make another meeting. They appointed a day. Paul doesn't immediately try to go into convincing them. He says. Let's set a date, pull out your calendar. Well, says I'm pretty free, you know. So you set the date whenever it's convenient for you. I'm just going to be here bound to the prison guard here at the home. But Paul spends the day and it tells us that many came to him. So it's not just the Jewish leaders at this time. Now that come back it's it's many who come and and he is persuading them concerning Jesus. From the scriptures, what a great day. What a, you know, awesome conference that must have been, you know, all day conference of Paul pulling from the law and the prophets and declaring the truth and the reality of Jesus to those Jewish people and some of them were persuaded some of them believed Paul and believed in Jesus. As a result, but some of them disbelieved. But in this, again, going back to the idea here, the example is that we can trust God to give purpose in every situation. And there are those unpredictable meetings. We don't know how they're going to go, but I would encourage you, you have those conversations that you know you need to have. The Lord says don't worry. Right Matthew Chapter 6, like it doesn't add anything to your life. You can't better your life with all the worry in the fret. And you can delay it and you can run from it and you can try to avoid it. But if there's those kinds of conversations you need to have, and you're not sure how it's going to go. May I encourage you trust God, he's going to give purpose to it, even in those hard conversations. And I can't tell you how many times. I've headed into a hard conversation that I wish I could avoid and I would want to try to get out of, but I'm praying in advance. Lord, please pave the way ahead of us. Lord, prepare this. Both sides for this conversation, and it's amazing how many times those conversations, those meetings, those gatherings, those times that that we know we have to address things and deal with things. And it seems like there's no other way for it to go except for a big bad explosion. And yet so often the Lord is able to work behind the scenes in preparation and actually bring blessing and good out of those interactions. And that's what happens here. Apostle Paul's unsure of how they're going to react or what. You know. But he just trust the Lord and he says I need to invite them in. Not just like hide from my life, not just, you know, try to avoid the situation perpetually. Let's just pull off the Band-Aid. Come on in. I wanna hear and know what you know about me. I wanna tell you about my situation and I want to tell you about Jesus and and who he is. And so he. You know, invites essentially essentially the same kind of hatred potential that he experienced back in Jerusalem by preaching the gospel to them. But but he offers it again, and he reaches out to them again. And so he's trust in God and God's giving him purpose. And he has the opportunity here to bring forth the gospel in a situation that he didn't know how it was going to go. But with the Lord's help and with the Lord's work, some believed some people turned to Jesus, some disbelieved, and so they go away. And they're arguing amongst themselves. We'll see that as we move on into verses 25 through 29 for point #4. Switch gears when doors close. Sometimes there's open doors we get to share the gospel. Sometimes there's doors that are closed and we can trust God in those situations as well. He's going to give purpose to that and we need to accept sometimes that closed door in front of us, verse 25 through 29 says. So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed. After Paul had said one word. The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the Prophet to our fathers saying go to this people and say hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and shall not perceive. For the hearts of this, people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn so that I should heal them. Therefore, let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles and they. People hear it. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had great disputes among themselves. Policies interacting with these Jewish people there in Rome. He sees those who are believing he sees those who are disbelieving. And so Paul holes from one of the favorite passages quoted in the New Testament from Isaiah Chapter 6. When Isaiah says here I am, send me and the word of the Lord is go tell this people keep on hearing but don't understand. Keep on seeing, but do not perceive you're going to talk to them. You're going to prophesied to them, but they're going to refuse to hear. They're going to refuse to see. They're going to refuse the revelation of the Lord, and so Paul is telling the Jewish people there this is what's happening. God is speaking to you and it's right here in front of your face and the revelation of Jesus Christ is right there in the scriptures, but you choose. Not to see it. You choose not to believe it's interesting as it's worded there that they disbelieve, right? It's not that they cannot believe it's that they disbelieve. They choose not to believe. And so it fulfills the hardness of hearts prophesied there through Isaiah the Prophet. And So what does Paul do? He realizes there's a lot of closed doors here in the the Jewish community, so he says let it be known to. You in verse 28. The salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles and they will hear it, and this was Paul's pattern when he would go to a new area he would preach at the synagogue the Gospel of Jesus, give them kind of first opportunity to accept the gospel and benefit from the salvation that Christ. But the Jews would refuse it, and inevitably, and then he would go to the Gentiles of the area. When that door closed, he didn't keep trying to pound it down. He didn't keep trying to force it. Then he entrusted that. To the Lord, Lord I, I would die for them to be saved if that would work. We see that prayer of Paul and the the his letter to the Corinthians. I wish that I could be a curse, that they could be saved and he. He cared for. Them he loved them, but he was able to recognize. This is a closed door. And so I need to switch gears and minister to those who will hear. Reach out to those who will receive what it is that God is saying. I think this is an important reminder for us. Sometimes we need to trust God, and that means not pursuing. Sometimes we need to trust God, and that means not continuing to, you know, pound on that door and reach out and trying to force it. Sometimes trusting God is. That door is closed. What else can I do? Is there somebody else that I can reach out to? Somebody else I can minister to some other work that I can engage in because clearly this is not the path that you've set before me. That doesn't mean that whenever we're doing what God wants us to do, there's, you know, it's always easy, and the door is always just fly open off the hinges. You know, sometimes there is the pounding and knocking and asking, seeking knocking, you know there is that kind of thing. But but we need to be able to recognize and discern from the Lord. There are those times where, like Jesus said, you don't cast your pearls before the swine. That you recognize you're a swine. And so I'm going to go and do something different, because this path is not going to be fruitful. And so there's discernment that we need there. But we need to be flexible and allow the Lord to redirect. Yes, even when it's something we so desperately want to see happen, we so desperately want to see that door open. But if that door is closed, trust God to give purpose in it. He's going to work it out. He loves those people way more than Paul does. He loves those people in our lives way more than we do, and so we can trust God with that and seek other opportunities that God is going to set before us. Well, finally point #5 finishing in verse 30 and 31 continue serving within your constraints. Continue serving within your constraints. Verse 30 says. Then Paul dwelt 2 whole years in his own rented house and received all who came to him preaching the Kingdom of God and telling the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence. No one forbidding him. Paul here is in house arrest. He's still chained. To a Roman guard, but he's able to rent his own place and have a little bit of a a more comfortable existence than being in a Roman prison. But he's awaiting his appearance before Caesar and Luke ends it here. We're kind of like, you know, in anticipation. Like what? Well, what happened? Did he? Appear before Caesar. And we don't have the scriptures recording that for us we do. You know from again tradition and history that's been passed down that Paul did appear before Caesar and that he was set free. He was, you know, went on another mission. Missionary journey is 4th missionary trip. It's often referred to, but then later on he was taken captive again by Rome and executed. By Caesar Nero. And many have speculated that it's possibly. The encounter with the apostle Paul, that really is. Corresponding with the turning of Caesar Nero, who kind of started out OK. But you know, there was a point where he just kind of went crazy. And it's possible that as he interacted with Paul and Paul preached the gospel to Caesar Nero, that he rejected the gospel and just, you know, turned away and went hard against the things of God. Began to persecute Christians. And all of that the history tells us about but. Hear what Paul is. In this house arrest for two years. It's a fruitful. Time of ministry. And that's interesting to consider, right? If you're God and you have the apostle Paul, right, where do you want him? Like I think you want. Him on the road. You want him? Hitting as many. Towns as possible. This guy was relentless. He seemed to just have all the energy in the world. He would persevere. He would survive a shipwreck, swim to shore and then put. Wood on the fire and then go lay hands on people and heal them like he was just always going for the Lord, right? And so if you're God, you're like. OK, let me choose my chess pieces wisely. I've got this, like, radical believer. That is amazing. Where you put him on the road? Well, God says, you know, he's been on the road for a bit. You know it's going. To be most beneficial. Let's put him in a cell. And the Lord had a purpose for this time of constraint. It was a fruitful time of ministry, so fruitful. Paul is able to write to the Philippians leader in Philippians, chapter one. Now he writes to the Philippians from this Roman prison referred to here, Acts Chapter 28, verse 30 and 31. He's there for two years. During that time he writes to the Church of Philippi. And he says this. I want you to know that the things which happened to. Me have actually turned. Out for the furtherance of the gospel. So that is become evident to the whole Palace guard and to all the rest that my chains are in Christ and most of the brethren and the Lord have become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Paul, writing to the Philippians, they're concerned about him. While he's in jail and he says, look, I want you to know, guys, yeah, it seems. Bad from the outside I'm constrained. But it's actually. Brought about the furtherance of the gospel. You would think the gospel would go further with Paul Unchained. But God has a way of working. In ways that are radically different than the way that. We would think or understand. And sometimes we're so frustrated by constraints, and I imagine the apostle Paul was not a fan of his constraints. I don't know that, but I imagine. He he centered himself back in the Lord and trusted in the Lord. But there was that often, you know, conversation that he had to have with the Lord. Like, Are you sure that this is the right thing? Sometimes we're so frustrated by our constraints, so bummed out over our limitations. What we can do, what we can't do. But when we trust God. To bring purpose, even in the midst of our constraints, I wish. I could go. On the mission field, I wish I could participate in that event. I wish I could be there on Sunday or Wednesday. I wish I could go and pray for that person. I wish I could get into that hospital. I wish I could. You know, there's there's limitations and and boundaries. I wish I had time in my schedule. I wish I had the energy I wish I had. The gifting of Richard. I I wish. But I have these constraints. The Lord is able. To use those constraints and sometimes we allow the constraint to kind of bum us out to be an excuse for us to just kind of bail on everything. But so many times God is. Looking for us to continue to serve him, to find other ways when we can't do the dream thing that we want to do. There's other opportunities and other ways for us to engage with the Lord and in his work. As we continue in the Bible, in three years, we're heading into the Book of Romans starting Tomorrow, and Paul tells the Romans later on in Romans chapter 13. Now this was a letter Paul had written to the Roman church. Sequentially before act chapter 28, so he'd already written this to them, but I always like this verse. Tells them they can strive together with. Him in the ministry. By praying to God for him. And sometimes, sometimes the constraints are so much in our life that the limitation of what we're able to. Do we can't. Go do stuff we can't even necessarily go have conversations, but we can pray. And if that's the limit of what we can do, it's not. Well, that's all we can do. So you know, wish I could do better. But in so many ways, prayer is the best thing that we can do for the work of God and for the people in our lives. And so. Any constraints that we face in our life can also be a fruitful time of ministry, just like the Apostle Paul experience. During this time, the gospel was furthered. The Christians were edified. Paul wrote the letter of Ephesians. The letter of Philippians, the letter of Colossians. How many believers since those? Letters were written, you know, almost 2000 years ago. How many believers have been encouraged, administered to how many people have been set straight. How many people have been saved and established and built up? What a fruitful ministry that Paul had writing letters there in his time in prison. He also met a guy named. Onesimus, who has a sleeve of Philemon and so Anismus gets saved in countering. Paul and Paul sends him back to Philemon and writes the letter to him.

There's there's this all this.

Work this ministry that is happening there. While Paul is constrained, God's not limited by our limitations, by our constraints. Pastor David Guzik puts it this way. God didn't wait. Waste Paul's time in Rome. God never wastes our time, though we may waste it by not sensing God's purpose for our lives in the moment. There's a purpose. There's a reason there's a work that God is doing. I heard recently about. Joni Erickson. Tada, you know the the woman who broke her neck and was quadriplegic. She was lived her life in a in a wheelchair as a result. But huge ministry that she has and and Billy Graham one time had her at one of his crusades and and she was there speaking to the crowd. And she said, you know this wheelchair. People call me handicapped. You think of me this way. I'm so limited. But she said this chair has become a pulpit. By which I've been able to speak to more people than most others have spoken to in their whole lives and and the ministry that she had as a result, or has as a result is just incredible. And and those constraints many times, again they frustrate us, they might be bumming us out. But God is so creative. And we can be. A really valuable part of his work. No matter what constraints we might be facing in life, trust God to give purpose in every situation. Look for those simple opportunities to serve even after shipwreck. Even when you're exhausted and tired, those simple opportunities though to serve and to just kind of meet those practical needs can be a huge witness and light. To the world around you, whether that's. A circumstantial shipwreck, really devastating things happening in life or personal shipwreck and you're recovering from a failure and your relationship with the Lord. There's still opportunity to serve your your opportunity to be part of God's work is not done. It's not over. Trust God to give purpose even. After shipwrecks and go look for some. Fellowship be found. Let people find you. Let people talk with you. People know what's going on in your life and encourage you and and you reach out and find people who need to be encouraged as well and and engage with the body of Christ. Trust him, he's going to give purpose in all of those relationships and all of those connections he's able, as he binds us together to do incredible things in both of us as we interact. Together as the body of Christ schedule those unpredictable meetings. It's stressful. You don't know how it's going to go. God, he can work in the midst of it, put it in his court, let him work out the details. And yeah, it might not go the way that you know you want it to go, but, but you can trust God no matter which way it goes. You can trust. God, you know you need to have those conversations, so go do them, schedule those meetings. No matter which way they might go and trust God with the results. Gears. When the doors close. You might have great desires. You might have great passions. You want to see things happen. You want to see doors open, you want to. See, people changed. But be willing and let the Lord redirect you. You're not the one for that ministry. You're not the one for that work. You're not the one. For that person. God's got it under control and so let him trust him to handle those things and let. Him redirect you to. Open doors that he will set before you. And then finally continue serving within your constraints. Don't be frustrated by them. But just submit to the Lord. In those limitations, we all have them in our lives. We none of us can do everything that we want to do, even when we're totally right on and right in the center of God's will. There's going to be more to do than we can do. There's always going to be boundaries and limitations and we need to trust God. He's going to workout all of those things and within the limitations that we have, the constraints that we feel and sometimes we fight against and and push against. There is there is opportunity to be part. Of the work. Of the Lord, there's opportunity to have fellowship with the Lord. There's opportunity to do. What God wants us to do, and so Paul says before us, a great example here in Acts 28 trust God to give purpose in every situation. Let's pray, Lord, we thank you for this example, for your word. And I pray that you would help us to trust you. Lord, let this this example of Paul bolster our faith. Lord, that we would have great confidence in you, even in the crazy things that happen around us. The things that seem to be. We just unrelated lorder we can't see any rhyme or reason or any purpose or good thing that you might bring out of it. I pray, Lord, that you would help us to walk by faith and not by sight, and to trust to you in the midst of all these things would help us to draw near to you to receive strength from one another. And to engage. And whatever work it is, whatever path. You've set before us. Lord, that we would honor you. In the way that you've called this too, I pray this in Jesus name.