Sermon in a nutshell: “God is working in a mission field” (Acts 28:1-10)
Repetition and variation makes a beautiful pattern.
I love our Linus project. People cut the same size of fabric and tie them to make blankets for homeless people. Because they are same in size, when we connect them it is repetition. However, each piece of fabric has its own color and design. It makes variation. All together, they become a big blanket like quilts. The whole blanket becomes a story, a story of love.
Challenges are also opportunities!
Today’s Bible passage shows us one pattern: Challenges become opportunities. When Paul and others arrived the island Malta safely after the storm, Paul had another challenge. He was bitten by a snake! Since it had begun to rain and was cold, the natives kindled a fire and welcomed all of crews around it. Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” Paul, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. The natives were expecting Paul to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god! This was a good opportunity to tell about true God, Jesus!
Same pattern appears again!
Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received Paul and the crew. They treated everybody from the ship hospitably for three days. Then the father of Publius lay sick in bed with fever and dysentery.
In that culture, they could blame the visitors, saying they brought disaster upon them. They could have said that their arrival angered their gods. If we consider the response of the natives at the snake-incident, those are possible reactions when the leader’s family faces sudden illness. However, this challenge was also another opportunity for Paul.
Paul visited him and cured him by praying and putting his hands on him. After this happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They bestowed many honors on Paul and his party. When they were about to sail, the natives put on board all the provisions that they needed. Do you remember that they threw away all the foods and other cargos to save the ship? They needed supplies to go to Rome. If Paul did not have such challenges, he could not find abundant supplies for the voyage to Rome. God provided abundantly for his mission trip. God was working in a mission field.
What is the pattern that you see in your life?
This same pattern actually is repeated in the book of Acts many times. The crucifixion of Jesus (challenge) was the opportunity to show God’s saving power over against death. The persecution of the Jewish leaders and the death of Stephen (challenge) was the opportunity for the disciples to go beyond the walls of Jerusalem to spread the Gospel. The official permission to kill the Christians in Damascus (challenge) was an opportunity for Paul to become an evangelist for the pagan world. All the challenges that Paul had in the mission fields turned out to become opportunities to spread the Gospel. Each pattern repeats itself with variations in terms of their contents. It becomes a beautiful quilt of story. Now the Book of Acts is ending, can you see this pattern? How about your life? Can you see a pattern that God is using in your life? Is it also challenge-opportunity pattern or something else? I pray that we all should find God’s pattern in our life quilt. Then we are not going to be frightened or discouraged when we face challenges in our lives. We will expect new outcomes in new opportunities!
. 1. What is the pattern that you have found in your life?
2. What is the outcome that you now expect from your current challenge?