The back story is Paul, at the time a prisoner of Christ in the chains of Rome, was on his way to trial in the Eternal City and there would suffer beheading due to being a Christian. On the way he, as a prisoner, went through a severe storm lasting over two weeks. The ship was wrecked, but no life was lost. This event throws overboard the teaching that if you are really walking with God you will have sunshine, sun tea, and a flowery bed of ease.
As the Barbarians were kindly building a fire, Paul, in the role of a servant of Jesus Christ, joined with them and helped to gather wood for the fire. While doing this a poisonous viper bit him, hanging on his hand. Paul shook off the viper and continued his service for Christ by helping to warm his captors. (Prisoners can learn a lot here).
The interesting thing about this is the reaction of the natives to this event. When the snake bit Paul the natives thought Paul was a murderer who had escaped death at sea and now God was executing justice on him via the viper. After a while, no bad effects were visible, and the natives then assumed he was some sort of God. Paul just keeps gathering wood.
The practical lessons of this story in Acts chapters 27 and 28 are legion, but a few in this letter may help you to, in the name of Christ, keep on serving in spite of Satanic attacks, often clothed in the skin of humans, some pagans and others fellow believers. Our city, and I feel certain yours, is filled with men, women and young folks who started out to follow Jesus. They are really saved, but while serving, suffered a brutal attack and forever after have gone around licking their sores, unable to serve due to the deep, often tormenting, pain of the attack. Instead of “shaking it off” they, in effect, relive the attack daily, thus permitting the poison to further infiltrate their spiritual system.
The old adage, “trouble will make you better or bitter” is true. The choice is yours.
My cousin, Mel Branham, wrote concerning this event in Paul’s life; “Paul could have reacted negatively and said, ‘Well, so much for serving. Look at what I get, snake bitten.’ Being hurt due to service is light years better than letting the pain turn to mental and emotional poison that squeezes your heart into an organ filled with bitterness.”
Paul “shook it off” and kept going for Jesus Christ. A study of Paul’s complete resume would help many to get over the hurt, pack up and leave the Pity Party and get on with gathering as the Lord has commanded.
Many of the cynical natives came to Christ as a result of Paul preaching via persistence under fire! Don’t let the devil get the best of you. Here’s a line to encourage you.
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Copyright © 2015 Larry Lilly
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