Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Scripture reading: Acts 28:1-6

Paul was in route to Rome. He was determined to get to Rome one way or another. He was going as a prisoner. Many trials awaited him in Rome. Paul had been on a ship that encountered a fierce storm and was shipwrecked. Paul was comforted by an angel in the storm (Acts 27:22-25). They were shipwrecked and stranded on an island – but they were all alive. They were met by the natives of the island. These natives welcomed them with open arms – they were very hospitable. A nice warm fire awaited them as well as trouble ahead.

Paul was assisting in gathering wood for the fire. A viper (snake) coming out of the fire attacks Paul. Vipers often appear out of the fires of life. Times of trouble make us vulnerable. God has a promise for the fiery times:
Isaiah 43:2 “And when thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee”

Going through rivers of difficulty will either cause you to drown or force you to grow stronger. If you you go in your own strength, you are more likely to drown. If, however, you invite God to go with you, He will protect you. Paul shook off the viper when attacked and so should we. Let's take a look at the three vipers most all of us face on our journey.

The first viper we should shake off is the viper of discouragement (Vs 3). According to the Scripture, Paul was attacked while helping – while doing good. He was gathering a bundle of sticks for the fire. Vipers often appear when we're doing right – doing good.

If you're not doing anything for God why would Satan bother you? Paul could have allowed this attack to make him doubt. He could have asked himself, “Am I doing the right thing?” “Maybe I've missed God somewhere along the way” “Maybe God's done with me here” Instead, he shook off the viper, remembering God's promise of safety (Mark 16:18). Let God's promises deliver you shake off discouragement!

The second viper we should shake off is the viper of criticism (Vs 4). Look at the reaction of the critics - “No doubt this man is a murderer”. They thought the worst of Paul. Many are quick to judge and falsely accuse. Have you ever been wrongly judged or falsely accused? Rest assured you are not the first to endure this trial.  Jesus was constantly criticized. He was called a blasphemer (Matthew 9:3). He was accused of being in league with Satan (Matthew 9:34). Remember how Jesus responded to His critics?
1 Peter 2:23 “Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously”

AMPLIFIED BIBLE “When He was reviled and insulted, he did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]' but He trusted [Himself and everything] to Him who judges fairly”
This is not always the easy thing to do, but it's the right thing to do. Shake off the viper of criticism by looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Then we need to shake off the viper of low expectations (Vs 6). The natives expected Paul to swell up and die. See how we are, when once we have an opinion of someone, to think that God must necessarily confirm the sentence we think the person deserves.

Some have low expectations of you as a Christian. They don't think you're going to make it. They expect you to stumble and fall. They're waiting for you to backslide. Shake off the faithless conclusions of others. Prove them wrong by being faithful to Jesus.

Jesus came to give us abundant life – both here and in eternity. We can have daily victory in spite of the oppositions. The Holy Spirit has equipped you to win. Walk in the victory God has for you! Shake off those vipers and experience the joy of the Lord!

Until next time...enjoy the journey!


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