Intro: Many people are afraid to die, but that fear should definitely not be tormenting believers. Eternal life is the gift of God to those who belong to the Christ (John 3:16). The lives of Christ’s followers and disciples are under God’s control; how long we live and when we return home to heaven is known only to God. In the meantime, we are to live for the glory of God and his purpose to exalt the King and further the Kingdom.
In our passage today from Luke, the Apostle Paul meets the Phoenician people of Malta. The people’s belief of justice has to do with a god giving a person what is due them [good/bad]. They know nothing about the Most High God, but when the snake bites Paul, the people of Malta assume he deserves death. However, it doesn’t take long for them to understand the apostle’s life is divinely protected.
Believers are protected by God and we see that in many biblical characters. As long as God has plans for our lives, we will remain alive. That does not mean we can live carelessly or neglect to use wisdom for our decision and lifestyles, but even our reckless ways are no match for God’s purposes. We need to take Luke’s lesson about Paul and the snake to heart. Shake off the poison of fear and live with confidence and courage each day. Enjoy the people around you and refuse to allow fear to rob you of a single minute. Live fully present and available to God.
Acts 28:1-10 NLT Paul on the Island of Malta
1 Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. 2 The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.
3 As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. 4 The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” 5 But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. 6 The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.
7 Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us and treated us kindly for three days. 8 As it happened, Publius’s father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him. 9 Then all the other sick people on the island came and were healed. 10 As a result we were showered with honors, and when the time came to sail, people supplied us with everything we would need for the trip.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for holding our lives in your hands. There is no room for fear when you are with us, because we know Satan has no power when we are submitted to you. Help us to be fully alive to the work of your Spirit and Kingdom, today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.