Shipwrecked Pursuits

  1. Message: In the last chapter of Acts Paul and the shipwrecked crew washed up on the beach of the unknown island where they ran their ship aground. The people were good and hospitable to them but they didn’t know them so they were watching and speculating. When the snake latched onto Paul’s arm, they speculated that he was a murderer who escaped punishment at sea. They watched Paul shake it off, but waited to see if he would swell up or drop dead suddenly. When he didn’t, they speculated that he was a god. I find it interesting just how quickly and easily the speculation came and then shifted directions. None of it had anything to do with Paul’s behavior, reputation or character. They knew nothing about Paul so it was solely based on what happened to him. The rest of the story shows that they trusted him after he didn’t die from the snake and that after he healed the leader’s sick father they all came for healing of all kinds of things. I found it interesting that he gained so much favor and performed all of those miracles but there is nothing mentioned about him sharing the gospel. It seems these were completely unreached and unknown people and Paul had clearly found favor with them.  He received their favor and provisions and went straight to Rome. The first thing he did in Rome was call for the Jews. He preached to them from dawn until dusk for days. He told them that he wore the prisoner chains for the hope of the Jews. They finally left him when he quoted the prophet Isaiah telling them that they listen but never understand and look but never perceive because their hearts were calloused. After they left it says he stayed there for two years being guarded in a rented house. He welcomed all the people who visited him teaching about the salvation of Jesus with boldness and without hindrance. It doesn’t mention who he was teaching but it implies that he was teaching gentiles who came to visit him after the Jews left. I’m not making any accusations at the apostle Paul but he was certainly human with flaws like the rest of us. We see a pattern here of God calling Paul to reach the gentiles, but in spite of that we see Paul was constantly hanging onto his pursuit of ministry to the Jews. The more he tried to reach them, the more they rejected Jesus and launched Paul right back into ministering to the gentiles. I’m not saying that Paul was disobedient, but it seems God had a plan for him to reach the gentiles and no matter what Paul did, that was the only plan that was being blessed. He endured a lot of suffering in his pursuit of the Jews but all roads always led right back to the gentiles for Paul. This isn’t to say that the Jews weren’t reached. It just seems that Paul was not the one called to do it even though his heart carried the burden and desire for them. Paul seemed to believe that his affinity for the Jews would give him the reach. He might have believed they would trust him based off his history and reputation with them. He was a highly educated Jew with high ranking before he was saved so he might have been relying on his own status, reputation and education in his hopes to persuade the Jews. It’s interesting that he was most successful at reaching people that were nothing like him and had no prior knowledge or connection to him. Even the people on the unknown island with their quick speculations trusted him very quickly. If he had shared the gospel there he may have even won them all over.
  2. Command: It’s a common thing for people to say “follow your heart” but doing so can lead us into all kinds of things that God has not called us to. It’s much better to follow God’s voice.
  3. Promise: God will bless the things he has called me to do.
  4. Warning: If I am pursuing something based on my own desires, qualifications, past reputations or experiences I may need to examine the fruit of it to see if I am spinning my wheels to make it work while God has other plans for me.
  5. Application: As I observe this from the outside I wonder what I may be pursuing that God has not called me to. Am I relying on my own qualifications, past reputations and experiences to minister in one way, when God is calling me to do something completely different?  

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