Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured.
The last time we saw Paul, he and two hundred and seventy-six men were shipwrecked in the middle of a storm. Now, in Acts 28, they swim to the unfamiliar shore of Malta, an island that will live up to the meaning of its name, “safe haven.” As we discover even in the first verses of Acts 28, as soon as these weary, storm-drenched survivors emerge from the waters, the natives come out to meet them with food and warm clothing.
Think about how encouraging this must have been for Paul. Malta is the first city he’s entered in a long time where people haven’t immediately tried to take his life! God gives him favor in the eyes of the natives and he will eventually perform a public healing ministry that God uses to redeem and transform the lives of many people.
Paul hadn’t been driven to this island by chance. Malta isn’t just an accidental pit-stop on the way to Rome. It is a city handpicked by God for the gospel, and Paul is in exactly the right place at the right time. He has literally been shipwrecked in the safe harbor of God’s sovereignty.
The Bible doesn’t mention how many people come to Christ through Paul’s healing and preaching, but historians have been able to trace the very first church in Malta all the way back to Paul’s time. There is also evidence to suggest that Publius, who housed Paul for three days, was the church’s first pastor.
How amazing is that?
For two years Paul has seen little fruit from his ministry. Felix, Festus, and Agrippa all refused his message. Perhaps Paul started to believe that his only hope was in Rome. But here, on this small island, there is a city full of people ready to receive the gospel.
Where is your Malta today? Are you seeing God opening doors around you which can only be explained by His sovereign hand? Don’t forget that God used a shipwreck and a near-death experience to bring Paul to this place. The greatest revivals often follow the greatest trials.
As Moses reminded the Israelites in Deuteronomy 8:3, “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”
God wants to reveal Himself to you in a powerful way, not merely to accommodate your private need for confirmation and comfort, but to demonstrate His character to the watching world around you.
You must be willing, as Paul was, to face the unpredictable. You must be willing to let your desires and ambitions be interrupted by God.
But take it from Paul and these brand new converts in Malta . . . the prize is worth the price.
Pray something like this today: “God, I trust that your ways are not my ways, so please reroute my plans today so that I can see you at work.” Then write your plans in pencil and live in anticipation of what God will do.
Read the full chapter of Acts 28 and follow along with Paul as he witnesses God work in surprising and unforgettable ways.