Thursday, 5 January 2012

Acts: Part 3 of 3

This is the final part of the Acts series that has been written by Declan Doran.

Now that Paul has spoken a new word of life, look at the turn around. In v27 in the night at the darkest point, the crew sensed they were approaching land (at the darkest hour Christ’s victory is only round the corner-if we press in for encounter with God at that point. Yet this seems to be the very point at which most abandon their faith and say "I’ve had enough and can’t take anymore"). They put down anchor and next thing, this crew of 275 were praying with Paul.
Look at the transformation; they are now engaging with God and a mass prayer meeting breaks out. At daylight some of the soldiers tried to abandon the ship but Paul warned them that they must stay or they would perish. In difficult times, although every word you hear from the enemy is to abandon ship, remember these words of Paul and indeed many other words, the kingdom of God is all about community, family and unity.

Remember you are not your own, you were bought at a price, Jesus paid with his blood for you. Don’t cheat me out of what God has for me (yes me) by allowing what God has for you fall to the ground. I may be an arm in this body of Christ and you may be a leg, if you bail out who will be my leg, so remember you owe me and the body your very being. After eating for the first time in 14 days they were encouraged and they then threw off the remainder of the grain and cut loose the anchors, they lightened the load on the ship. In times of trouble and when storms prevail God brings about a purging and pruning of that, which is man made. God rips it away and the process is painful but it is surplus to Gods requirement.

In v42 the soldiers plan was to kill the prisoners and this would have included Paul and therefore given victory to the enemy as this was the very desire of the Jewish Leaders. But man’s ways are not Gods and now God used v43 (the centurion) that the enemy was using but God used him to spare Paul’s life. The centurion noted Paul’s words and life and this in the midst of disaster was speaking to the centurion and everyone reached land safely. Note nothing man made came through the testing, only that which was of God survived the storm. Don’t forget it’s the exact same for us today. Remember if your storm persists, it more than likely means God has more refining to do in you. Don’t fight God as I have done, don’t look and blame the rest, the problem is mostly yourself and I took over 20 years to learn this one lesson.

Now you think it’s over, but it’s not look at chapter 28. The enemy tries yet again to take Paul out. In v3 a viper fastened itself to Paul’s hand and the islanders said to each other, "he must be a murderer and justice has not allowed him to live". As the heat increased the viper was driven out. This is exactly what the presence of God with His people does; as the fire of God burns in our midst the enemy (serpent) flees as it says in Psalm 68:1. There is an amazing prophetic picture in v5 that Paul performed and played out for all eyes to see, Paul shakes the viper off his hand into the fire, (this was a declaration to the enemy that his future is sealed, his end is in the great fire).

The enemy must have thought he finally had Paul eliminated just like when Satan rejoiced when Jesus hung on the cross, but the violent earthquake proved that Jesus was risen and death defeated. Paul (v6) suffers no ill effects and God turned the minds of the people favourably to Paul. Paul now has moved into a position where he heals (v8) the chief official’s father and this in turn open the whole island to Paul and every sick person was brought to Paul and they were all cured (the Kingdom of God breaks out on the island). It did not stop here. Now the islanders honoured the men and furnished them with all their provision for the journey to Rome.

It gets better.

Paul arrives in Rome and asked to speak with the Jewish leaders, and to Paul’s amazement (v21) the Jewish leaders had not received any letter from Jerusalem and all was fine for Paul. (V24) many came to listen to Paul speak and some believed and some did not. For two years Paul spoke about the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ without hindrance. Note the enemy’s attack on Paul ended when Paul demonstrated (in v5) prophetically the victory that Christ won on the cross over the enemy. That same victory is yours today and it’s not just for you but for your household, all you need do is what it says in Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household”. Notice there was no trial before Caesar. The real trail played out over the journey during the ship-wreck. The process built character and this is true for you also, the storms build character, the trial is just the passing of judgement.

Now earlier I said that the Kingdom of God was “voice activated” and now I want to add to this and say it’s also “movement activated”, together they are powerful tools. In Exodus 17:11 it says as long as Moses hands were held up his people had victory in battle. In 2 Kings 5:10 Naaman was told to wash in the water 7 times and his leprosy would be healed. In John 9:11 Jesus put mud on the man’s eyes and told him to wash, as soon as he washed he was healed. In Acts 3:7 Peter took hold of the crippled man and helped him up, immediately he was healed and the woman who was bleeding for years in Luke 8:44 touched Jesus and was healed. Lastly in Luke 7:30 the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected their destiny in God because they refused to get in the water and be baptised. Both voice and movement are both acts of faith and Hebrews 11 says without faith it is impossible to please God. As one that who kept his hands in his pockets or kept his arms folded in church for nearly 20 years it amazes me now when I see these things how I stubbornly rejected God all these years yet believed in my mind that I was walking with Him. Though a Christian, yet not walking in him.

So let the violent wind blow, the Holy Spirit is moving in our midst and “whosoever will” can move with the wind. Paul moved with the wind not because he was saved, but because he died, he died daily as 1 Corinthians 15:31 says. In Galations 2:20 Paul said “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
And lastly in Philippians 3:8 Paul says “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Today the Kingdom of God, my kingdom is not stuck in the clouds. For the first time ever I now realize “I am the Kingdom come” yes you and me once we are “in Christ” we are the “kingdom come”. In the past I allowed my head rule, today I know it’s in my heart that Jesus lives and it’s from here that He will reign in me and I will reign in him. I’m going to choose to live from my heart and not my head.


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