In Acts chapter 27, Paul who had been taken a prisoner was being shipped to Rome to be tried by Caesar. Meanwhile, because he was under the control of the Holy Spirit, he knew that the journey was fraught with danger and he warned against it accordingly but he was ignored. A great storm soon started which eventually wrecked their ship off the Island of Malta (remember that they were going to Rome) but thank God no life was lost. When they arrived on land, the people there were very kind to them and they met their needs (Acts 28). But as Paul, like others, was warming himself from the fire made for them, a poisonous snake fastened itself on his hand. He did not panic neither did he create any ugly scene instead, he just went ahead to shake it (i.e. the snake) off into the fire and he was unharmed. For this reason, he was called a ‘god’.
From the account above, we can make the following deductions.
1. We shall be persecuted at some point in our lives on account of our faith. Paul was persecuted on account of his faith in Christ Jesus and there are many people out there too who are being similarly persecuted on daily basis. If you are one of them, I have good news for you-be of good cheer because Jesus Christ is in control (John 16:33). Meanwhile, consider yourself very lucky for facing this trial now because at the end of it you will emerge more matured and lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).
2. Our respective journey in life may not be as smooth as we originally planned it. Paul was going to Rome but his journey was truncated in Malta. Similar scenario is common in many people’s lives. Perhaps you set a target for yourself in the past and from the look of things only a miracle can make you attain it. Let me advice you here not to worry and please do not give up because you are not going to miss that enviable altitude that God earmarked for you ab initio and your expectation in life will not be cut off (Proverbs 23:18) in Jesus name. Amen.
3. We need to be vigilant at all times. Sometimes we may think that the worst is over and then become complacent. Please avoid doing this because this is the time that the Devil is most likely to strike you afresh and hardest. Paul had just survived two major disasters (i.e. a violent storm and a ship wreck) and as he was putting more wood in the fire trying to keep warm and relaxed, another disaster struck. This time around, a poisonous snake fastened itself on his hand and the Islanders concluded that he was a murderer. In some cultures he would have been lynched straight away but thank God he wasn’t. It is very important for us therefore not to relax fully after surviving any disaster or problem because Satan does not rest and he is always ready to strike harder than previously (1 Peter 5:8).
4. We must shake off whatever is hindering us. The snake wrapped itself around Paul’s hand. This symbolised another problem or a major hindrance. He did not panic, neither did he cry nor ask for help instead, he shook it off into the fire and he was not hurt (Acts 28:5). What is it that has clung to you like a leech for so long and is not prepared to leave you alone? Is it a health problem, a troubled mind, a chronic family concern, debt, mortgage problem or any other form of financial embarrassment, academic or professional inertia, poverty of idea, confusion, bareness of any kind etc? If any of them is applicable to you I implore you not to worry, do not panic, do not cry and do not condemn yourself -just SHAKE IT OFF by taking it to God in prayer and be rest assured that he is waiting for you and he is willing to set you free (Matthew 11:28).
Finally, let me use this opportunity to wish you God’s mercies throughout this month and beyond and please do not hesitate to SHAKE OFF all your encumbrances starting from now and may you have absolute victory over them in Jesus name. Amen.
Jesus is Lord!