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Small Group Questions
Describe a time when your faith was tested?
Describe a time when God answered your prayers? Was it the answer you wanted? How did it turn out?
Have you ever felt there was a time that God protected you? Describe that situation.
Is your faith strong enough to face the big trials of this life? If not what things could you do the strengthen your faith?
“Tested, but not defeated” – Sermon, Marcus Ford
– Speak about context
At this point of scripture, Paul and others escaped the ship they were sailing to Rome on, that crashed into Malta. This ship had 276 people on it, there were soldiers, a Roman centurion, the helmsman, an owner, and Paul (who is a prisoner) with others.
The ship became stuck, hitting land or rocks of the island and was torn apart by the waves of the storm. All 276 men had to escape and swim to shore, on different objects and broken parts of the ship.
Reaching the shore, they noticed that the people of Malta were showing unusual kindness. It says, the natives saw the rain, knew it was cold, saw the ship wreck, so they started a fire for them to keep warm. On shore, and as the fire is going, Paul goes to add more wood to the fire… and a viper bites his hand. The people said, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom though he escaped the sea, but justice does not allow him to live”. But Paul shook the snake off and suffered no harm.
They expected Paul to die. As time passed, they were all watching… Like any moment now… this man, this prisoner will soon be dead. But Paul didn’t die. Then after, the people of Malta concluded, that Paul was a god.
These are the versus we are covering tonight, of his voyage to Rome. But I also, want to include some details of the back story, to why, and how he gets here.
Paul is sailing to Rome to appeal his case matter to Caesar, because he was arrested back in Jerusalem, in Acts 21. He was arrested because, Jews of Asia, stirred up an entire crowd in a temple, with cries and false allegations against Paul… to have him arrested.
From that arrest, before getting to this point of scripture, he faces roman guards, faced a board of council members with pharisees and Sadducees, he faced governor Felix…and governor Felix sided with the Jews and wanted to do them a favor, and left Paul in prison for 2 years! During that time, Felix tried to get money from Paul for early release, but Paul wouldn’t be bribed. Then Felix was replaced by governor Porcius Festus, Then Paul faced Festus. Then soon after, he faced Herod Agrippa 2nd, (This is SON of Herod Agrippa 1st) the one who killed James, and arrested Peter Back in Acts 12. After facing Herod, Paul then sets sail to Rome, through a messy storm, spending days on the water, with others that thought they were going to die, but they made to this point, of ship wrecking in Malta.
That is the quick back story of why he is a prisoner, who he has faced so far, where he is going and how he got to this point. But the plan is to reach Rome.
All these series of events going on in Paul’s life, is God’s will and plan for him.
If you read through the chapters of Acts, you notice that, throughout Paul’s journey and mission he shares his testimony and preaches the gospel…all while continuously facing trials! Trials with Jews, Gentiles, Seduces, Pharisees, Council members, Governor Felix & Festus, Herod and many others. But only because of his faith in Jesus… being led by the spirit, he endures this journey.
This bring me to my first point – Your faith will be tested
We’ve read that Paul was arrested for his faith, stoned for his faith, jailed for his faith, beaten, faced death many times, received lashes, spent days and nights at sea… was often in pain, weary, hungry, thirsty…. facing anything satan threw at him… for his faith in Jesus! Because of his faith, he faced trial, after trial, after trial. He was test, after test, test,
Paul, continued through many things because of his faith. He Gave up his own life and desires for his faith in Jesus Christ!
- Is our faith in Christ something you are willing to suffer for?
2 Timothy 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus, will suffer persecution.”
- We must get to a place in our walk, where our faith is bold, willing and unashamed, of the gospel of Jesus Christ! To go through trials and say, whatever comes my way, I will worship you Jesus, and yes, I will continue to serve you Jesus…. no matter what storm or trial comes our way!
Living this Christian life, we are going to face many trials and things that will challenge us and test our faith!
But we must remain faithful…. through the test of this life!
Story – Everyone faces trials in life / and has their faith tested – rather it’s with work, kids, temptations, mindset… how we act, whatever the case… we all will be tested in this walk…. but in the testing is where your faith grows! I’ve dealt with Depression, loss of family , loss of friends to murder at an early age, at times struggling to make ends meet… at times, feel like I don’t hear from God, feel alone, abandoned, but through it all… these things draw me closer to the Lord & grows my faith! It pushes me to solely, rely and trust in him. I don’t rely on anything else but Jesus! Not money, cars, work, I rely on my faith in Jesus!
- Think about it, didn’t we read about counting the cost to be a Christian, in our Bibles… to be a follower of Jesus! We read in the Bible…what Jesus spoke in Matthew!
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it
- Jesus is saying, if we desire to follow Him, we must deny ourselves!
Meaning…. you no longer belong to yourself; you are his! You no longer make the rules for yourself, your whole life, and everything… IN IT… belongs to Christ!
Everything belongs to Jesus, our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, decisions, our attitude, our desires and even revenge….it all belongs to him!
If you hold on to your life… your pleasure, your safety, your comfort and your will…. you will lose your life!
- We must have, real, tangible, action faith, to walk this scripture out!
20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
- Paul knew the mission, he counted his cost, and gave up his life to follow Christ, not knowing what he would face…. But knowing it would lead him to eternity in heaven. This is why he is driven and determined to reach Rome, to stay in the will of God’s… Keeping his faith, regardless of what test come his way.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
- Faith is your complete trust, confidence, and belief in God… which produces action! (Even when you can’t see… a thing, you still believe) this isn’t a blind trust in what you can’t see, it is an unshakable trust in whose you are.
Through Paul’s Journey’s, he went through stoning, persecutions, escapes, wrecks, false accusations, arrests, jails and more!
Paul is not seeking his own will… of comfort and security to follow Jesus. He is following God’s will, having faith, to go against the grain, against comfort, against safety, to follow Jesus!
Jesus changed Paul’s life, and that is why he is fighting, pushing and pressing through every trial, counting it all joy. Paul knows and remembers what he was saved from.
In Acts 9:4-22 tells the story of Paul (who used to be named Saul) on that road to Damascus! Tells us how, Jesus knocked him off his horse, with a blinding light from heaven… saying, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me”. Paul remembers that encounter with Jesus, and why he holds on to his faith! He knows, he is a changed man, a new creation, and will one day see heaven, because of his faith in Christ!
Paul knows he will be tested, but not defeated… Not defeated by the lies of the enemy, not defeated by what others say, not defeated by what he feels, not defeated by what he thinks, not defeated by any physical attacks.
His Faith in Christ is the only thing that matters! Just like Paul, we should have this engrained in our hearts and our mind…that our faith in Jesus is everything! Knowing that Jesus, is with us always, wherever he sends us.
My next point – God is with you
Although life gets hard, and we go through trials that we don’t understand, we deal with so many things that don’t make sense… things that hurt and make us feel uncomfortable… and sometimes fearful!
We are to remain faithful, and know that God is with us! We must press in and continue to move forward, into his will for our lives. We must keep our faith in Jesus, and know that, He, has everything in control, He guides us, He protects us and will always be with us.
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
(Dismayed is: break down, fear, be threatened or retreat, be discouraged)
Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous, right hand.’
- Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
- It say’s… I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Life will get hard at time) but It doesn’t matter what comes your way, we can remain faithful to God because Jesus gives us the strength. He promises to be with us, always.
3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” 5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
As Paul was placing more wood on the fire, a viper bites him and latched on to his hand.
Yes, Paul is bitten by a snake. Yes, it hurts, yes, this is a viper, and Yes, the people of the island thought he was going to die. (So, I assume they have seen this before).
The people of Malta, thought it was justice being served, because they assumed, he was a murderer since he was bitten by the snake.
But no, Paul didn’t die. God saved his life! Some could say, others were there to treat him…. some could say Luke gave him medical treatment, saying that, it wasn’t a miracle he survived.
But it doesn’t say, it was Luke or any treatment. It doesn’t say that. It does say that “he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
-God was with Him!
Luke 10:19 (NKJV)
19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Jesus give us protection from satan, for those who are doing his will and spreading the gospel. For us to use his name to cast out demons and to trample on serpents and scorpions, and says, nothing shall by any means hurt us.
Satan’s plan was to kill Paul, to prevent him from finishing his course to Rome! But God was with Paul, as he shook the viper from his hand!
The Lord kept him, and made a way through every scenario for Paul to stay in God’s will, being led by the holy spirit in Faith!
For us, regardless of troubles, regardless of circumstances, what people say to you, what people are against you… regardless of WHAT attacks you receive from the enemy! – God will be with you!
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
If you lose your job, your house, vehicle, your spouse, child, friends, family. God will be with you! So, take courage in following after Jesus, remain faithful and be bold and know he is there!
I’m not ashamed of my faith! at work they knew I was Christian, in High school – Marcus Ford loves the Lord. Share your faith – God is with you!
Third point – God will protect you.
Back to the ship wreck, before escaping and swimming to shore. The soldiers made a plan to kill every prisoner on board (including Paul), so that no prisoner would escape their sentence.
Acts 27:42-43 42“And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape… 43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land”.
The soldiers couldn’t let anyone escape. The responsibility of the soldiers was to ensure the prisoners were transported from one point to another. Instead of risking their escape, they decided death was the solution.
But God’s plan was different! God still had a plan and purpose for Paul. The Lord kept him alive, he protected Paul, and already knew, this time would come. And He was there when Paul needed him. – God will protect you!
2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NLT)
3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 20:4 New King James Version (NKJV)
4 for the Lord your God, is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’
The Lord will fight for you, He will protect you, he will take care of you! You must put your faith in trust in Jesus. God has your life in his hands, when you are in his will!
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
- Only Gods decides when it’s our time to go. Trust that God will see you through and protect you
- God has purposed you, for a specific reason, God has brought you this far! He has called you, and protected you, to do a work for him.
I don’t believe Paul wanted to escape at all, he had plenty of times to escape this journey if he wanted to, but he remained faithful to the lord. He’s committed to finishing the course that God has for him… regardless of what that means for his own life.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—
There will be trials, but we are to remain faithful to God. Paul was facing death, but the lord said No, he is in My will and I have a purpose for Paul to Live!
So, we must also, trust in the Lord, since we are still alive. We have a work to do! God will protect us!
Our faith must be strong enough to face the trials of life and not waiver! God is the one who protects us, fights for us, and gives us strength to continue.
And Isn’t it interesting, that in this moment of soldiers wanting to kill all the prisoners, God used one man, this Roman centurion, to save Paul!
By God using the Roman centurion, Paul’s life was saved. By God working through one man, Paul and every prisoner’s life was saved. If every prisoner would have died in that moment the soldiers could have called it justice.
For the crimes the prisoners committed of murder, theft, rape, fraud, anything… they would have all died……. if God was not protecting Paul.
The same is for us… we all deserved death and God’s wrath to burn in hell because of our sins….that separate us from God… But just as God saved Paul, and the other prisoners by using one man (the centurion). God did the same for us, by using one man to save! His name is Jesus! Jesus saved every single one of us, by dying on a cross for our sins, to reconcile us back to God…. providing salvation to the world, to those who will respond and repent of their sins!
As much of an example as Paul is to us Christians, Paul did not do any of these things on his own.. He only did these things by the power of the Holy Spirit that lived in Him in submission to Jesus. If you are a Christian, the power of the Holy Spirit is available to you today to endure the trials you are facing. All you have to do is ask. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help, comfort and strengthen us. Just repent and ask Him to fill you.
If you are not a Christian…….
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