July 27, 2020

Show Up, Add Value, No Drama

Acts 28:1–10

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Paul on Malta

After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people1 showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice2 has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10 They also honored us greatly,3 and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.

Footnotes

[1] 28:2 Greek barbaroi (that is, non–Greek speakers); also verse 4
[2] 28:4 Or justice
[3] 28:10 Greek honored us with many honors

Show Up, Add Value, No Drama



Key Verse | Acts 28:3

When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand.

Bio | Amy Pressley

Happy Monday! I am Amy, and I love Mondays. This one is even more special as we celebrate this day, 22 years ago, when my husband and I became parents.

I am married to Shaun, my husband of 27 years; and we have two sons, Tyler (22) and Kyle (19). We are a part of the Watermark Frisco campus where we both serve in re|engage, Watermark's Marriage ministry.

On the weekends you can find me hanging out with the kids in Starting Blocks and Kaleidoscope (Watermark's preschool and special needs ministries).

Central Truth

Knowing whose you are and that you are valued equips you to add value wherever you are, in any opportunity.

Devotional | Acts 28:1–10

Any Poldark fans here? In this PBS Masterpiece series, the protagonist (Ross Poldark) is a man of exceptional kindness and humility. He seems to show up on the scene of conflict and add value, with no...

Any Poldark fans here? In this PBS Masterpiece series, the protagonist (Ross Poldark) is a man of exceptional kindness and humility. He seems to show up on the scene of conflict and add value, with no drama. When I read through this passage, I can't help but see many similarities between Poldark and Paul.

We see Paul, a cold, exhausted, and shipwrecked prisoner, who is treated with kindness, bitten by a snake, given an opportunity to heal a sick man and then an entire sick community. In spite of his status (prisoner) or situation (exhausted, wet, and cold), he collects wood for the fire and in doing so is bitten by a snake. Rather than causing a scene, Paul simply shook off the snake into the fire (Acts 28:5). No drama! I don't know about you, but a snake bite for me would cause a lot of hysteria and drama! Those can be quite serious—not so for Paul! He just shakes off the snake, and from the context we can infer that he continues with what he is doing. He is able to do this because he knows that God intends for him to get to Rome, and he has faith that God's plans will be fulfilled. From there the scene quickly turns to him healing a sick man and then healing an entire community.

Through all this, Paul turns opposition into opportunity. When opportunity is before us, we are called to take action and do good to all people (Galatians 6:10). These opportunities gave Paul much credibility that opened doors for him to minister and share the gospel with the natives. The same way Ross Poldark helps others to the benefit of his community, Paul's ministry while in Malta found him favor among the locals that resulted in blessing to the community, his shipmates, and himself (Acts 28:10). Knowing whose you are and that you are valued equips you to add value wherever you are, in any opportunity.

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Discussion Questions

1. Are you aware of situations around you? If so, do you respond to the need at hand or assume someone else will? When you do respond, is it to be noticed or as if no one is watching?

2. How can your actions help you find favor in your local community so that you can be effective for God's purposes?

3. What obstacles can you turn into opportunities now, in the near future, and in years to come? 

4. When faced with opposition or a negative experience, do you respond or react? What does a response look like for you compared to a reaction? How can your response point others to Christ?

6 Comments available

john hill 2 months ago

WOW! Thank you, Amy, for this powerful devotional! As I read your devotional, I was convicted by the things I tend to focus on - my circumstances - versus the “thing” Paul focused on - Christ. I am confident many of the readers have heard the saying; “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Paul began looking at the world through the eyes of Christ and things radically changed for him. Paul did not just preach the word of God; he LIVED the word of God. Your devotional and Paul’s life brought me a new awareness of these scripture verses: James 1:2, Philippians 4:6-7, Mark 10:45, Isaiah 41:10, Proverbs 3:5-6, Hebrews 12:2. Thank you for your thought provoking devotional.

Greg Jones 2 months ago

Usually Paul shows up and unrest is part of the story. Not so here. The difference, Paul doesn’t preach.

Bitten by the viper, a native goddess justice must be intervening in a murder’s shipwreck survival is the shared local thought. Luke’s hint, these aren’t Yahweh worshipers. A chief’s father is healed, then many are healed, then Paul/companions are honored. 3months later they’re given all they need, they sail for Rome.

No mention of many or any believed as before. The difference, two groups of people are missing, no living in diaspora Judahites, and no never “Jewish” former northern Israelite lost tribes Yahweh worshiping people to “preach” to.

When Paul steps off the boat again he’ll meet some “brothers”. When he gets to Rome he and the brothers will meet with Jewish leaders. Some will agree the lost can be saved, some won’t. And we get back to the former narrative.

Michael Scaman 2 months ago

They were treated with unusual kindness by the natives (barbaroi - we would get the word barbarians from that). Our preconceptions of what people might act fail us sometimes.

And God does them a kindness. He commands a (very dangerous) snake to come out and bite Paul, and Paul doesn’t die. (God works in mysterious ways His wonders to behold - apparently).

Paul’s ministry elevated and even more-so when he heals the father of the top guy on the island (and lots other sick people too).

They did and the story is not about the boat. They put new provisions and were off again. Paul would be shipwrecked 3 times … did it happen again… and again… same boat?

Sue Bohlin 2 months ago

AMY!! I miss you!! We were supposed to be on the “Girls Just Wanna Have Jesus Fun” cruise last week–sorry that didn’t happen. But . . . you know . . . Covid.

I’m intrigued by the fact that Luke uses two different words for “healed” in this account. Paul uses the spiritual gift of healing on the governor’s father, but when the rest of Malta came for healing, Dr. Luke uses the word for medical treatment (therapy). Sounds like God used both Paul and Luke to bring healing to the Maltese people, both miraculous healing and doctor-mediated healing. Our family physician says she loves being a doctor because God has created our bodies to heal themselves most of the time, and she just gets to be part of the process. Luke was like that. He got to be a medical missionary in this last chapter of Acts.

Hope Harris 2 months ago

GM JTJ Friends

Snake bite, no big deal. Paul is a man on mission and making the most of what would be trying circumstances. His main goal to honor glorify God.

I am not that quick to do so I usually have to wrestle my way through during trying circumstances. Sometimes I get to honoring God in the middle of hard times and sometimes I am an epic fail.

Hugh Stephenson 2 months ago

Awesome Amy. Love “turning opposition into opportunity”. I add to that Paul’s example of turning suffering into service and turning pain into proclamation.

What did the passengers think of all these events? I am guessing the were joyful and removed that their calamity was over. I also imagine they were grateful for Paul’s leadership. Then the snake bit Paul and hung on. I bet they asked, “WHAT NEXT?”

I am thinking back to a number of missed opportunities for me to serve and proclaim as Paul did. In all examples I can recall my response was nowhere near Paul’s.

“No task is too small for the servant of God who has the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:1-13).” Wiersbe

Wiersbe cites the example of D.L. Moody in noting, “Moody was a leader because he knew how to be a servant.”

Father, may I model Paul’s example of humility and service

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