We end our study of God’s ACTS this morning. The last words in closing give me hope and praise for the God of Hope. The God of Paul is our God still. Our God is also our provider, our rescue, our rest after a hard battle or storm, our healer, our protector, our judge, our mercy and grace. God is the One and only one who can save us and make our relationship right and good because of Jesus work on the cross on this earth. God is also our peace. He is our strength, wisdom, insight and understanding. He is God and we are not. There is no one like our God!
Paul knows this well. After God provided rest for Paul and his team with the “royal treatment” for three months on the island of Malta, God provided what he promised…”You will have your chance to be my witness in Rome.” These last words of God’s Acts in His Word speak peace to my heart. “I am a hostage for hope, not doom.”, says Paul. And Paul gave hope well, with God’s Holy Spirit powerfully working through him to help others know Him. God’s Holy Spirit works in us, still.
Not all accepted the Good News, but that did not deter Paul, for the prophets said not all would accept this healing of their Spirits. “You’ve had your chance”, says Paul to the Jews. This Jesus is for all, non-Jews and Jews alike.
Acts 28, The Message
10-11 We spent a wonderful three months on Malta. They treated us royally, took care of all our needs and outfitted us for the rest of the journey. When an Egyptian ship that had wintered there in the harbor prepared to leave for Italy, we got on board. The ship had a carved Gemini for its figurehead: “the Heavenly Twins.”
12-14 We put in at Syracuse for three days and then went up the coast to Rhegium. Two days later, with the wind out of the south, we sailed into the Bay of Naples. We found Christian friends there and stayed with them for a week.
14-16 And then we came to Rome. Friends in Rome heard we were on the way and came out to meet us. One group got as far as Appian Court; another group met us at Three Taverns—emotion-packed meetings, as you can well imagine. Paul, brimming over with praise, led us in prayers of thanksgiving. When we actually entered Rome, they let Paul live in his own private quarters with a soldier who had been assigned to guard him.
17-20 Three days later, Paul called the Jewish leaders together for a meeting at his house. He said, “The Jews in Jerusalem arrested me on trumped-up charges, and I was taken into custody by the Romans. I assure you that I did absolutely nothing against Jewish laws or Jewish customs. After the Romans investigated the charges and found there was nothing to them, they wanted to set me free, but the Jews objected so fiercely that I was forced to appeal to Caesar. I did this not to accuse them of any wrongdoing or to get our people in trouble with Rome. We’ve had enough trouble through the years that way. I did it for Israel. I asked you to come and listen to me today to make it clear that I’m on Israel’s side, not against her. I’m a hostage here for hope, not doom.”
21-22 They said, “Nobody wrote warning us about you. And no one has shown up saying anything bad about you. But we would like very much to hear more. The only thing we know about this Christian sect is that nobody seems to have anything good to say about it.”
23 They agreed on a time. When the day arrived, they came back to his home with a number of their friends. Paul talked to them all day, from morning to evening, explaining everything involved in the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them all about Jesus by pointing out what Moses and the prophets had written about him.
24-27 Some of them were persuaded by what he said, but others refused to believe a word of it. When the unbelievers got cantankerous and started bickering with each other, Paul interrupted: “I have just one more thing to say to you. The Holy Spirit sure knew what he was talking about when he addressed our ancestors through Isaiah the prophet:
Go to this people and tell them this:
“You’re going to listen with your ears,
but you won’t hear a word;
You’re going to stare with your eyes,
but you won’t see a thing.
These people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
so they won’t have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut
so they won’t have to look,
so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face
and let me heal them.”
28 “You’ve had your chance. The non-Jewish outsiders are next on the list. And believe me, they’re going to receive it with open arms!”
30-31 Paul lived for two years in his rented house. He welcomed everyone who came to visit. He urgently presented all matters of the kingdom of God. He explained everything about Jesus Christ. His door was always open.
What do we learn?
–We can be the voice of hope, not doom with our very lives.
–We can explain all we know about Jesus with His Holy Spirit helping us, too.
–Our doors (and our hearts, minds and souls) must always be open to the gospel of Jesus, ready to tell someone else…EVERYONE else who wants to know.
“He explained everything about Jesus Christ. His door was always open.”
Dear Heavenly Father, The life of Paul is a great example of the power You have to transform lives and use them for Your Glory and our Hope. Thank you, Lord for Your ACTS in us.
In Jesus Name, Amen