To listen to Pastor T's Sunday morning, February 28, 2021, sermon, click here or
read it below.
When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible, please click here and may you be blessed by singing along with "I will Serve Thee."
If God Gives Us Another Day We Will Serve the Lord!
Please open your Bibles to Acts 28, and in a moment we’ll begin in verse one. As we continue our series on that “Old Time Religion” we’ll focus on what to do, if God gives us another day in this world. In this last chapter of Acts, the Apostle Paul had been an innocent political prisoner of the Roman Empire for over two years.
He was a prisoner for only one reason, and that was preaching the truth about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As a Roman citizen, Paul had the right to appeal his case to Caesar, and in Acts 25:1-12, the Apostle was forced to take this legal step.
Paul's appeal seemed necessary to escape the murderous intentions of the Christ-rejecting Jewish rulers in Jerusalem. But Paul's appeal to Caesar also seems to be God's way of getting Paul to Rome. I say that because the Lord had already promised Paul he would get to witness for Christ in Rome.
Paul had been arrested by the Romans in Acts 21:33 after the Jews stirred up a vicious riot against him. Then two nights later in Acts 23:11, "the Lord stood by him and said, 'Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.'''
Paul appealed his case to Caesar; Acts 27:1 tells us that the Roman authorities decided to send Paul and some other prisoners to Italy by ship. Thankfully, Paul was accompanied by Luke and other Christian friends. Then in Acts 27:14, the ship was caught by a terrible storm. Two hundred and seventy-six people were on that ship. They all almost died, and they would have died, if it wasn’t for Paul. Acts 27:20-26 gives that report.
Now here in Acts 28, we see what happened next. Let's begin by reading vs. 1-10. And as we read, think about what we should do, if God gives us another day in this world.
Acts 28:1-10 (KJV) And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
I don't appreciate this truth as much as I should, but every day of life is a gift from God. In fact, every breath is a gift from God.
Daniel spoke to wicked King Belshazzar about the judgment that was soon to fall on him. And here is part of what the prophet said in Daniel 5:23: "You have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven… and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified."
God holds our breath in His Hands, and He is protecting us moment by moment. By His amazing grace, God has let me live longer than one of my brothers, two of my wives, two of my sons and two of my daughters. Today, the Lord has given me another day to live in this world. The same thing was true of the 276 men on board that wrecked ship, and the same thing is true of you. So, if God gives us another day in this world, what should we do?
FIRST: We should be supremely grateful to the Lord! These men had many great reasons to thank the Lord. It was a miracle of answered prayer that they were even alive.
Listen to the warning Paul gave to them in Acts 27:10: "Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives." Then in Acts 27:20, they had run into that terrible storm, and Luke gave this report: "Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up."
But a couple of verses later in Acts 27:22-25, Paul promised a Heaven-sent rescue. God told Paul I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship for indeed God has granted life to all those who sail with you.
Now here in Acts 28, God's promise had come true, so these men had many reasons to thank the Lord. Not only were their lives miraculously spared, God also brought them to shore near some compassionate natives.
We see this happening in vs. 1-2 of tonight's Scripture, (The KJV calls these natives "barbarous people." The original word is where we get our word "barbarian," but that word didn't mean what it means to us today. At the time, "barbarian" simply referred to any foreign people who didn't speak Greek.)
Again in vs. 2, "The natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold." In vs. 10, Luke added that the island people "also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary."
God blessed those shipwrecked survivors to land near hospitable people who showed "unusual kindness" to them. (By the way, that's the kind of people God wants us to be.)
Those shipwreck survivors had many reasons to thank the Lord, and Church, so do we! God has blessed us beyond measure. God spared all 276 lives on that ship, and by His grace He has given us another day. We ought to have great and growing appreciation for all that the Lord does in our lives. But too often we don't.
Preacher and author Charles Lowery once wrote an article about gratitude. Here's part of what he said: "I travel around the country telling people that their attitude is either their best friend or worst enemy. It isn't the position in life, it's the disposition. I tell everyone that it's a fallen world. I even tell them that every day the world rolls over on someone who was just sitting on top of it. I just wasn't expecting that someone to be me.
I had an accident, accept I guess it happened on purpose. I was playing my son-in-law and grandson in basketball. I've discovered at my age your mind makes commitments that your body can't keep. I wish I could say I fell the wrong way after dunking the ball a little too hard. Actually, I just fell.
I couldn't preach because I had a blood clot. The next week I'm in surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon. Next, I'm showing up at the hospital where I discover that my insurance covers just about as much as my hospital gown. And then I'm writing checks for services rendered. I asked them why I received a time-released pill. They told me it starts working when my check clears. So, then I'm sent home on crutches and in a cast.
Now the great attitude guy is sitting on the couch being a grouch potato, but only for a day. I decided to practice what I preach. I've noticed that ungrateful people become hateful people and eventually destroy everything around them. Grateful people become great people and develop everyone around them.
From my position I must say that I've had a great month at home. Symbolically speaking, I've been burning wood for many years. And it was a great time to chop some and store it for future fires.
It's been a time of dependence where my wife literally had to do everything. I have experienced what my dad told me years ago. He said that marriage is like a shade tree. You plant it while it is young, take care of it, and one day you will enjoy the shade. It was nice to rest in the shade of my wife's love. Now I'm back on the road. I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to speak again."
That's a great testimony about a grateful heart. And if the Lord gives us another day, we should be supremely grateful to God.
In vs. 3, Paul shows us the heart of a servant. There he "gathered a bundle of sticks" for the fire. Paul was just as cold, just as wet, and just as worn out as anybody on that beach. But he had a servant's heart, we should too.
Pastor James Moore gave this testimony about a servant-hearted Christian he was privileged to meet: "Some years ago, more than a hundred volunteers from St. Luke's worked with their hands and their hearts to build an Eye Clinic in Belize, Central America.
When the building was completed, a group of us went down to Belize to participate in the formal dedication and opening of the eye clinic. It was quite an occasion, a wonderful experience. The acting Premier of Belize was there. The Minister of Health was there. The United States Ambassador to Belize was there. The Mayor of Corazal and the General Superintendent of the Belize Methodist Church were there. There were also representatives from our church and our conference.
But the person who caught my attention most was an older Belizian gentleman. He was so excited. He couldn't do enough. He was arranging the chairs, welcoming folks, passing out the bulletins, and
bringing hymnals to people.
After the dedication service, he came looking for me. He shook my hand and warmly said: 'I want to thank you and the people of your church.' Then he said: 'I am eighty years old and all my life I have heard that there are great Christians in the United States, and now I know it's true because of what St. Luke's has done here.'
I said to him: 'We want to thank you for welcoming us so graciously into your country and for giving us the privilege of working with you.' Then I added: 'You seem especially excited about the opening of the Eye Clinic. Is there a special reason?' 'O yes,' he said. And then reaching up and touching the corner of his right eye, he said through grateful tears, 'Once, I was blind, but now I see!'
Dr. Downey Price, an ophthalmologist from Houston had operated on him and had restored his sight. And he was so grateful that he couldn't do enough. He had to help. He had to serve. . . And that's the way every Christian should feel, for we once were blind, but now we see."
Church: If the Lord gives us another tomorrow in this world, we should have a servant's heart.
Third we should trust in our Lord; Paul definitely needed to trust the Lord in vs. 3-5, because just as he was doing the best he could to help other people, something terrible happened. Or rather, something happened that should have been terrible, a poisonous snake bit.
John Phillips tells us that "the incident horrified those who saw it. The islanders had a ready explanation, one that could have only occurred to those who did not know Paul: He must have been a murderer. He had escaped the sea but not the gods. Neptune had failed to take him, so Vengeance had taken him. It was a case of poetic justice.
Perhaps Paul smiled to himself when he heard what they were saying. Paul knew that neither one god nor the other had power over him, nor Satan, who stood behind all pagan gods, and who doubtless would have been delighted to destroy him.
But Paul knew that he was in God's Hands, and the Lord had already given Paul the promise of a safe trip to Rome. No power on earth or in hell could reverse that decree. The poisonous snake could not harm him. Paul was immortal until his work was done. And that work would not be done until Paul had at least preached the gospel to Caesar. So, with majestic calm Paul shook the snake off into the fire, and quietly went about his business, closely watched by all."
Paul "was immortal until his work was done," and Christians, so are we! God has a perfect plan and purpose for our lives. He is watching over us moment by moment. And we can fully trust the Lord to take care of us.
That's what prompted King David to write these words in Psalm 37: 1.Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
If the Lord gives us another day, we should strongly trust in our Savior.
Next, we should always give glory to God for the good things in our lives. In vs. 5-6 Paul: . . . shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6…they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
How do you think Paul responded when he heard they thought he was a god? I am sure he straightened them out in no time flat! We see Paul's attitude in Galatians 6:14 where he wrote: "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
Paul gave glory to God, especially for the cross. And we should do the same. Psalm 96:7-9 tells us: Give to the Lord, O kindreds of the peoples, Give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.
We should always give God the glory for the good things in our lives.
Fifth, we should be a blessing to other people every way we possibly can. God did amazing things through Paul as we find in vs. 7-9:
We can pray like Paul and God can still bring healing, but there are many ways we can be a blessing to other people. Best of all, we can tell people about the greatest blessing they can ever receive from God. We can tell people about Jesus! We can tell them who Jesus is, and what He did on the cross for us. We can also tell people what Jesus has done in our lives, how He is changing us, how He is always there for us, how He loves and comforts us, and how His mercy endures forever.
Christians: If God gives us another day in this world, here's what we should do: -Be grateful to God. -Be servant-hearted. -Strongly trust in our Savior. -And give all the glory to God.
We also should be a blessing to other people, and bless them most of all by spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no greater privilege in this world than being a servant of the Most High God. Christians, we serve the Lord! And here God's Word gives us some important truths about our service.
We’ve read that Paul, his friends, the soldiers, the crew and the rest of the passengers, 276 people in all, have been spared from the terrible storm that wrecked the ship they were on. Now, vs. 11-13 describe some of the routine details as they resumed their journey to Rome:
Acts 28:11-13 (KJV) 11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. 12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. 13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:
They "fetched a compass." A. T. Robertson explained that "the ship had to tack and was not able to make the 'straight course.' "Fetching a compass" meant tacking into the wind. In other words, they had to sail in a diagonal, zigzag line, because the wind was against them.
Why in the world would God bother to put these trivial details in His Word? There are probably some wonderful reasons I don't know, but here's what it says to me: Just because we serve the Lord doesn't mean we won't go through the ordinary routines of life.
We still have to go through the everyday humdrum of life. We still have to take care of the house, the yard and the car. We still hit traffic jams. We still have fender benders; still have to wait in line.
Sometimes we will have to "sail into the wind," and some of our best service can come through these ordinary things of life. One way is to have a godly reaction to setbacks and disappointments.
Galatians 5:22-23 tells Christians that the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us is "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance." That should make a big difference in the way we react to everyday irritation and frustration in life.
We can shine the light of Jesus Christ, IF we react in a Christ like way when we have to sail into the wind. Those situations also give us opportunities to help other people stuck there with us. And we get new opportunities to tell people about our Savior Jesus Christ.
Sometimes our best service can come through the ordinary activities of life. I think of the Lord in John 4 when He witnessed to the Samaritan woman at the well.
Of course, the Samaritan woman got saved that day, and so did many of the other Samaritan villagers. But one of the small things that stand out to me in this story is that Jesus was tired and thirsty. The omnipotent Lord God of the universe allowed Himself to get tired and thirsty.
I am so thankful that our Lord was willing to go through things like that for us. And He shows us that we can serve the Lord through the ordinary routines of life.
We can also serve without the world's recognition. This world is upside down in its priorities. The most important work in the world will not register with most people. Acts 28 reminds us of this reality.
John Phillips brought this scene to life when he said: "This was Paul's triumphal entry, this unsung Jewish missionary, walking in chains, on his way to the Imperial City to appear before Nero in defense of the gospel of Christ. All about Paul thronged the busy life of this major thoroughfare to and from Rome. Wealthy lords would pass, surrounded by attentive slaves.
Some Post rider, with urgent dispatches, would thunder past flogging his horse and using his spurs. Young-bloods would come tearing along in their chariots. Great wagons would be passed, lumbering, taking up the road, bearing the produce of the country to the hungry markets at Rome.
Slave dealers would pass, herding their captives. Businessmen and housewives, peddlers and entertainers thronged the way. And here, perhaps, would be a train of wagons bearing wild beasts for the arena, or a troop of gladiators being transported to Rome to make a holiday for the masters of the world. And in the midst of all that hurly-burly of busy metropolitan life marched Heaven's ambassador in bonds. . ."
The world had no idea who was walking along that road. It was 62 AD, and this was not included in the year's top news.
But the really big news of 2020 was seldom if ever reported by major media outlets. That's because the most important news is the work of God in our world. God is ever working to give comfort, truth, light and life. God is working in and through His people to share the good news about Jesus Christ. And thank God, we don't need the world's recognition! We can faithfully serve the Lord without it.
Anybody who tries to serve Jesus Christ will need rest, encouragement and help along the way. God will make sure we get all the help we need, and often it comes from other believers.
In vs. 13-14: From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli, where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome.
"Always kind toward Paul, and now not only deeply indebted to him, but probably in considerable awe of him, the centurion gave Paul permission to seek out the Christian community in town.
No sooner did Paul make contact with the Christians at Puteoli than they were eager to extend their fellowship to him and the other Christians with him. Paul's name was a household
word by now in all Christian communities. And his letter to the Romans had doubtless been read in all the Italian churches.
To have this apostle in their midst, if only for a few days, was an opportunity too precious to be wasted. So off Paul went, both to be ministered unto and to minister. What a week it must have been! Everyone would want the latest news from Jerusalem and the Holy Land. People would want to know all about the voyage. And Paul's story of the storm and shipwreck would keep everyone on the edge of their seats.
There would be frequent ministry of the Word, questions and consultations, and urgent prayer meetings about Paul's future. Paul, too, would want the latest news form Rome. So the week sped by."
Again, John Phillips reported: "The non-Christian travelers must have marveled at Paul's friendships as much as they marveled at his faith. They did not know the wonder and reality of fellowship within the Body of Christ."
This godly fellowship greatly encouraged Paul, and the same fellowship belongs to us, because we belong to Jesus! Christians: We are all part of the family of God! We could all share stories of the blessings, joy, help and strength we have received from other believers.
Ted Husing was a famous sportscaster and radio announcer from the 1930s to the 1950s. In 1956, Ted's voice was suddenly heard no more. Brain surgery left him blind, paralyzed, and unable to speak. Ted became very bitter in his suffering. He refused to see anyone except his mother, his wife and his daughter.
Ted gave strict orders that no one should be told where he was hospitalized. But somehow the word got out, and some of his friends went to see him. They were told they were not wanted, but they kept trying. Ted could not understand their patience and stubbornness to help him.
Finally, Ted agreed to go with a friend to a baseball game. He longed to again hear the crack of a bat and smell the various odors of the ballpark. There at the ballpark Ted's friend whispered to him, "Ted, you are going to make it with the help of God."
God used those few words to turn Ted's heart around. Suddenly he saw his mistake and repented of his bitterness toward God. Loyal friends, thousands of letters and prayers from all over the country brought Ted back to God and the simple trusting faith of his childhood. Ted later wrote: "I am grateful when I consider that through the goodness of a few undeserved friends, God became a loving reality for me."
Church, we can keep on serving the Lord, because we will also be refreshed by other Christians. And we only need a few. I thank God for the few real undeserved friends that refresh me and keep me serving Him, and my prayer is that God has given you a few real undeserved friends that refresh you and keep you serving the Lord in spite of your circumstances.
In Jesus’ Name Amen!