How God Is At Work Even When You Think He Isn’t
Life s great!… until it’s not. Last week we learned some vital lessons for how to persevere when life is severe as we walked through Acts 27 and the Apostle Paul’s perilous sea journey to Rome. When we ended that chapter, Paul and the other 275 folks had made it to shore after their ship broke apart, just as God had promised. Now they find themselves on the small island of Malta, where they will spend the next few months waiting for safe passage, and a ship, to take them to Rome.
It’s amazing to me, that Paul’s ship basically stayed on course while they were adrift for two weeks after surviving the hurricane; then remarkably, or providentially, they run aground just offshore this small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Clearly God was at work in their lives!
The truth is, there are times, maybe even seasons in our lives, when we wrongly think that God can’t possibly be at work; that there is no way He can bring about any good from this situation. Have you ever been there? Have you ever found yourself at a place in life where you think that God isn’t working, that He couldn't possibly be working, that there is absolutely no way He could be at work? Would you believe that God is still working, even when you think there is no way, no how, no chance for that? (Rom. 8:28)
In Acts 28, we see four ways that God is at work, even when we think He isn’t!
1) God always provides for our needs, and sometimes in “unusual” ways! (Acts 28:2)
The islanders on Malta went out of their way to show Paul and his friends “unusual kindness” when they really needed it! Have you ever been at a place where someone showed you “unusual kindness?” Is there someone in your life who you might consider serving in that way? God often uses us to show others “unusual kindness”.
2) God can enable us to shake off the ill effects of life’s pain for His gain. (Acts 28:3-6)
As if he hadn’t been through enough already, now Paul gets snake bit; but he literally shook off the snake and the ill effects of it’s poisonous bite, with the Lord’s help! Sometimes you may find yourself experiencing recurring trouble and you start thinking “I’m snake bit!” When we go through troubling times it can feel like that; but when we do, God can help you to shake off the ill effects! In fact, He can bring about good that you never saw coming… Joseph’s story in the Old Testament is a great example! (Gen. 50:20).
3) God will use life’s tests to craft powerful testimonies in us. (Acts 28:16-20)
Once Paul finally made it to Rome, he has an opportunity to share with Jewish leadership there that he has done nothing to deserve what has happened to him; but he didn’t give up or give in to the pressure he faced. Instead, he continued to share the gospel hoping to persuade others to believe! His beliefs and convictions propelled him, though he was literally tested at every turn. Those tests developed his perseverance and carved his testimony. I said it last week, and it is worth repeating, as a friend shared with me, “You can’t have a testimony without a test.” Will you use your testimony to inspire others to believe?
4) God can use us to share Christ, even when circumstances aren’t ideal! (Acts 28:23-31)
It is amazing to me that Paul, chained to a Roman guard, probably living in the slums of Rome as he waited for his hearing before Caesar, has literally a “packed house” to hear him speak all day long as he makes a case for Jesus as the Christ, the long-awaited Savior of the world… and there were some who were convinced!
You may be waiting on “perfect” circumstances or the “right” time to share Christ with someone who desperately needs to hear the Truth and see the Light. What if, despite less than ideal circumstances, you start the conversation, take a relational risk, begin the discussion? Maybe it will open the door to further dialogue, or maybe, just maybe that person will be convinced and choose to believe!
For much more, click here to listen to: Multiple - Part 22 - How God is at Work, Even When You Think He Isn’t.