Saturday, December 23, 2023
[People from the island of Malta welcomed the wet and weary people who escaped from the shipwreck and built with a fire to warm their cold and weary bodies.] As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, "A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live." But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed.
The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn't harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.
God had promised he would deliver Paul to Rome. In situation after situation, first in Jerusalem and then from Jerusalem to Caesarea, God used Roman soldiers to preserve Paul; then on the voyage to Rome, God preserved both Paul and all those with him through a storm, a shipwreck, and escape from the sea. Every step along the journey, it seems, God opened a new channel of influence for Paul to gain the trust and respect of those around him. Despite the unfairness of Paul's captivity, he didn't whine or complain. Instead, Paul used each circumstance as an opportunity to lead others closer to Jesus.
I wish my life had always been as consistent a witness to others as Paul's was. As I have journeyed with Paul through this last part of Acts, God has convicted me that I should use each situation as an opportunity to bless others and point them to Jesus. Like Paul, I want to love God and respond to his purpose and call in my life.* Let's commit to be a blessing to others and trust God to redeem every situation in our lives, good or bad, for our eternal good and our redemptive influence on those around us!
* Our first set of Related Scripture Readings focuses on God's promise to be at work in our lives, while the second set reminds us that each of us is a priest called to be God's blessing to the world.
Loving Father, I confess that I have let my attitude turn sour because of difficult circumstances, disappointments, and perceived unfairness in the way I have sometimes been treated. Please forgive me. I want to live for Jesus as a servant sent to bring others home to you. Forgive me for my feelings of entitlement and selfishness. Use me to be a blessing no matter how I am treated. When mistreated, help me display an attitude that reflects the heart of Jesus.^ I ask this in his name and for his good influence in the lives of those around me. Amen.
^ See Matthew 5:38-41 for some of Jesus' teaching on having his heart and attitude along with Philippians 2:1-11 for Paul's similar teaching. They both clearly lived in accordance with their teaching. In this last part of Acts, we see how Paul demonstrated these principles during his difficult voyage to Rome!
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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