GOD WILL WORK THROUGH ANYONE, AND USE ANYTHING IN ACCOMPLISHING HIS DIVINE PURPOSE! [PART III]
3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. 7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. The very Roman system that confined Paul was used of God to vindicate him as signs and wonders followed him.ACTS 28:3-9 (NIV)
Earlier on, Paul and Silas whom the demonic spirit was for so long unsuccessfully monitoring to recruit had been maliciously accused, locked in prison and released (Acts16:16-40).
There are many spirits in our earthly realms always looking for a host in whom they can manifest, but in this it failed. Some maintain there are no demons yet the Bible not only mentions them, but principalities and strongholds as well. A true prophetic spirit carries the fruit of The Spirit. Ironically, what the slave girl said was true, although the source of her knowledge was a demon. Friends, it is not far fetched to claim there’s a thin line between the Spirit of God and the spirits by divination. Very thin line indeed! We are called to discern well well what we hear and only consume at a point of confirmation. This does not in any way intend to dismiss, besmirch, nullify nor disparage the prophetic ministry. Why did Paul suddenly get annoyed, having endured this spirit “for some time”? Had he acknowledged the demons words, he would have validated the source and compromised the gospel by linking it to soothsayers and demon-related activities, damaging his message about Christ. Is it possible in our congregations today we could be validating demonic spirits by divination without knowing? Highly possible! Truth and evil have no relationship just as darkness and light cannot mix. What shall we do to be saved? God used the incidence to not only lead a jailer to salvation as his entire family got baptised, but also to orchestrate and trigger Paul’s next move that would eventually land him in Rome. Julius the centurion, was also used of God to preserve Paul’s life and all the other prisoners, who received God’s providence and protection courtesy of his prayers and encouragement. The net effect of that act led Paul in accomplishing his later ministry in Rome as God had promised him (Acts 27:23-25). The Bible speaks favourably of other Roman centurions. Jesus said of one, “I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (Luke 7:9). Another one following Jesus’ crucifixion at the cross acknowledged him as a “righteous man” (Luke 23:47). Whether he was sorrowful or repentant we do not know, but sorrow is not repentance.
These cases demonstrate that revival is not necessarily a church nor religious affair. Not at all!
God used the shipwreck in landing Paul on the Island of Malta, orchestrating the gospel to spread like wildfire as the ship-wrecked prisoner continued to minister and deliver the gospel to the superstitious inhabitants, to liberate the chief official of Malta and many others who were affected through healing. A practical servant leader, he does not waste time in gathering bundles of wood to fuel fire. But as he does it, the incident with a snake only serves more to demonstrate God’s power at work within Paul. It does not matter what people think or perceive of us and our past. Previously, Paul was a murderer as correctly perceived by those people. But the Lord had redeemed and appointed him as a vessel to become a witness of God’s power of forgiveness (1 Timothy 1:13-17). As a proof of his innocence, Paul simply shook the snake off into the fire and didn’t suffer anything as the mesmerized lot waited in vain for him to die and fulfilling scriptures in Mark 16:18 and Luke 10:19. Can we imagine their facial expression? If God is for us, nothing can be against us (Romans 8:31)!
What do we suppose God is doing through us in the current Covid-19 season? If we are very careful to pay attention, we should be able to discern and even perceive patterns, shifts, realignments and recognise the supernatural in the natural. We can see God in common, ordinary happenings around us. We ought to share Paul’s dedication to ministry, irrespective of our circumstances or seasons and without the “victim mentality.” He tells the Church in Galatia “… it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.” (Galatians 4:14). That must have been a terrible illness when we read on, yet it didn’t deter him and today, we continue learning basing on his testimony in all the 13 epistles from him. Our lives are in God’s hands, to continue on or to come to an end by His bidding, in his good timing.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. 1 Timothy 1:17Tweet
Amen. Shalom! Shalom!