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Acts 28:1-24

The Doorway of Hope

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • June 09, 2024

What do you do when your ship is broken, and you’ve come to the end of yourself?

First, you thank God for what you have, and then, you begin to rebuild your life on the foundation of God’s heart for you. God is not finished with you. Press on knowing that shipwrecks and storms are the door by which His favor is poured out on your life. He is the one who brings beauty out of ashes; He will rebuild your life on this sure foundation.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The Doorway of Hope
Acts 28:1-24
June 8-9, 2024

     The favor of God is a beautiful part of our relationship to Him. But what does it mean? What does God’s favor look like? For most people it means that God blesses them with the beautiful things of life and grace they did not deserve.

     But here’s what many people often miss, God’s hand of blessing and favor often comes to those who suffer greatly, who endure great troubles. There are many biblical examples.

Illus – When Israel entered the land God promised them, there were some who had turned their back on God and brought trouble on Israel. Later, they called that place the valley of Achor, or the “Valley of Trouble.”

         But again, you see the grace of God and the favor of God over them…

Hosea 2:15, “I will give the valley of Achor as a door of hope; and Israel will sing there as in the days of her youth.”

     David was anointed the future king of Israel. That was God’s favor on his life — and that was also when the challenges and difficulties began. Later, when David was the only one willing to take on that Philistine giant, when he stepped into the theater of war, he again saw the favor of God on his life.

     Joseph, from the book of Genesis received a vision from God that he would one day arise in authority and stature even to the point that his brothers would bow down to him. That was the favor of God – – that was also when the troubles and difficulties began. His brothers didn’t take kindly to this vision of grandeur and got rid of him by selling him to slave traders. Sold as a slave in Egypt to Potiphar, an official in Egypt, the favor of God was seen on his life. Then, when Potiphar’s wife put the make on him and he refused, she became a woman scorned and had him thrown into prison. But there again God’s favor was revealed in his life. There in prison, Joseph’s gift for interpreting dreams became the path through which God brought him out of prison and established him as a great official in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. Every trouble and difficulty he encountered became a doorway of hope, a doorway for God’s favor to be revealed.

     Do you know where in the world the church is growing the fastest and strongest? In Iran. The church there is heavily persecuted and it’s there that the favor of God is powerfully seen.

     Almost all the names of God were revealed to Israel in times of distress. They stood as promises that God would be with them and that “all that He is, He would be to Israel,” especially when they needed him — in times of trouble.

     Paul was given the privilege of being one of the greatest apostles in the New Testament. More of the New Testament was written by Paul than any other Apostle. That was the favor of God. Yet Paul suffered greatly. Five times he received from the Jews 39 lashes. Three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned and left for dead, three times he was shipwrecked and a night and a day he spent in the deep. Yet, clearly, the favor of God was on his life.

     After hearing all that you might say, “I’m not sure I want God’s favor on my life if it means going through difficulties and troubles.”  Here’s the thing, this world is filled with difficulties and troubles. I would rather be in the center of God’s will and have the favor of God on my life than anywhere else – even if it means going through difficulties and troubles.”  

     In the previous chapter, in Acts 27, Paul was on a ship in the middle of the Mediterranean in a raging storm that battered the ship for two full weeks and then was shipwrecked on an island. In Acts 28 we join him on that island we come to know is Malta.  

     This is a story of how God uses storms and troubles and difficulties as the doorway of hope, as the door by which he pours favor upon your life. There are many principles for us in these verses.

     As they battled the storm for two full weeks, all hope was gradually lost. But Paul stood in their midst and urged them to take courage because an angel of God had assured him that he would stand before Caesar and that God had granted safety to those sailing with him.

     Paul said, “Keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. But first we must run aground on a certain island.”

     About midnight on the fourteenth day, the sailors began to surmise that they were approaching some land. They took soundings and found that they were at 20 fathoms. They took another sounding and found it to be 15 fathoms or 90 feet. Fearing they might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak.

     When morning light came, they observed a certain bay with a beach and decided to drive the ship onto it if they could. Cutting off their anchors and leaving them in the sea, they hoisted the foresail to the wind and headed for the beach, but they struck a reef and the prow of the vessel stuck fast. Soon, the force of the waves began to break up the stern of the ship, so they commanded those who could swim to jump overboard and get to land, and the rest followed, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship.

     Storms and even shipwrecks come in everyone’s life, but storms and shipwrecks don’t have to shipwreck your faith. You can trust God through every stormy gale; you have an anchor for your soul. In fact, the stormy gale is the very door by which God’s favor will be seen in your life.

     In Acts chapter 28, we pick up the story just after they made it safely to shore. They found themselves on the island of Malta; cold, wet, beaten down, weak from exhaustion and being seasick for two weeks. Then we see the favor of God on Paul — and therefore on all of them.

     What do you do when your ship is broken, and you’ve come to the end of yourself?

     First, you thank God for what you have, and then, you begin to rebuild your life on the foundation of God’s heart for you. God is not finished with you. Press on knowing that shipwrecks and storms are the door by which His favor is poured out on your life. He is the one who brings beauty out of ashes; He will rebuild your life on this sure foundation.

I. Faith will Change Your Perspective

  • The natives were exceptionally kind to them and because of the cold, they kindled a fire. Paul was also gathering sticks.
  • I love Paul’s helpful, servant heart here.
  • But while he was gathering sticks and laying them on the fire, a viper fastened on his hand.
  • How do you respond to trouble? It has everything to do with your faith. It has to do with your perspective, how do you see this thing that is happening?

A. Respond with faith when troubles come

  • There are many people who would respond with exasperation to yet — another — peril.
  • “All right, Lord, How much can a man take? I’ve had just about enough. Here I am, I’m serving You, and I get attacked by a crowd, there’s a plot to kill me, I sit in prison for two years in Caesarea, I go through a raging storm for two weeks, I get shipwrecked on this island, and now this, I get bitten by a viper? I’ve had all I can take!”
  • That’s not Paul. That’s not Paul’s response. He gets bitten by the viper and he calmly shakes it off into the fire. When you’ve been through as many storms as Paul, it begins to change your perspective. But that’s the point, it’s about changing your perspective.

Illus – A lot of people, if a viper latched onto their hand, would have panicked; snakes and vipers tend to produce that reaction. I myself can’t stand snakes. One time when I was 15, we were visiting relatives in Arkansas, and I saw a baby water moccasin. I took out all my hidden aggression and smashed the water moccasin with a rock until it was viper soup.

  • Not Paul, he was told he was going to stand before Caesar, and he trusted God to keep His word.
  • This is where the troubles of life actually strengthen faith. When you’ve been through many troubles and have seen God’s favor in the midst of them, you come to learn that both things are true. Troubles will come in life, but so will God’s favor. In fact, that’s when you will see God’s favor the most.
  • Troubles and favor; troubles and favor, troubles and favor. It changes your perspective. It strengthens your faith. The more troubles you’ve been through, and the more you’ve seen God’s favor in the midst of the trouble, the greater the problems and troubles you can face.
  • There’s an old saying that the measure of a man is the size of the problems he can face.

Illus – When the storm raged against the ship, they set down the sea anchor. That was an underwater sail that kept the ship steady, and it kept the bow of the ship facing the waves and wind. It’s a great point, don’t run from storms and troubles; face them straight on.

Psalm 112:1, 7, How blessed is the man who reveres the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands… He will not fear bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord, his heart is upheld, and he will not fear.

Psalm 138:3, 7-8, You made me bold with strength in my soul… Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; your loving kindness, O Lord, is everlasting.

B. Nothing can separate us from God’s love

  • Many people, when they encounter deep troubles and great difficulties, begin to doubt God’s love.
  • Not Paul. He was convinced that nothing could separate him from God’s love. That was the foundation of Paul’s faith, he knew that God’s love is everlasting and that nothing could separate him from God’s love.

Romans 8:35, 37-39, Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • What a powerful perspective; no matter what tribulation, or distress or peril Paul is going through, he has every assurance that he is in God’s love and therefore, God’s favor.
  • What’s the worst that can happen? That you can lose your life? That’s the worst? You need a different view of this thing. Death is not the end, it’s a glorious beginning. It’s graduation day.
  • The favor of God is seen even as Paul is going through these storms and troubles. There is beauty out of ashes.

Illus – God amazingly revealed His favor on my life when he miraculously provided for me to be able to go to Bible college at Multnomah University. But going through Bible college itself was a difficult time. I had a full load of classes, would often only get four or five hours of sleep, I had two jobs, and our children were just babies, yet I kept seeing God revealing His favor.

           Then my former partner in the restaurant business came and asked me to take some time off from school so I could help open a new restaurant. Hmm; I could save money and life would be easier. But was this what God wanted? I went to the man God was using to pay my way through bible college. He gave me great advice. “Maybe God doesn’t want your life to be easier.”

  • The people on this island had never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, and God gave attesting miracles as Paul was kept from harm from the viper and many people are healed.
  • Keep looking for God’s favor and trust completely in God’s love over you no matter what trouble you’re going through.
  • I have seen the grace of God and the favor of God over my life through the troubles and trials and even over some of the troubles that came from my own stupidity.

C. The curse of sin is broken

  • It’s interesting that it was a viper that latched itself onto Paul’s hand. The viper, or serpent, has represented the enemy since the beginning.
  • The enemy of our soul has his grip on many people’s lives and many people have been destroyed by it.
  • But the curse of sin is broken, and the grip and power of the enemy has been defeated, so that we can confidently say…

1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • When the viper took hold of Paul, they concluded he had to be a murderer and that justice had found him.
  • Many still think this way, and there is some truth to it in that there will come a day when God will settle all accounts, but the great truth for believers is that we have been set free by the blood of Jesus.
  • This is why the favor of God is on your life.

Romans 8:1-2, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law sin and death.

Illus – I was using an extension ladder and lowering the top ladder with the rope when it came loose and came crashing down, smashing my left hand that was holding the lower ladder. It should have broken my fingers, but amazingly it didn’t even hurt. Why? My wedding ring took it all and I was saved.

            Jesus took it all and what we deserved fell on Him and we are saved. The curse of sin is broken.

II. Faith Must be Your Own

  • Each person is on their own journey with their own set of troubles and God wants to meet you on this journey and walk with you in it.
  • God wants to strengthen you in your faith that you would make this personal.

A. God’s word to you is personal

  • Three years earlier Paul had written what we call today the book of Romans. He mentions people by name and sends it with his heart for them.
  • It was personal for them and it’s personal for us.
  • In a similar way, God wrote His word to us and it’s personal, God wants us to take hold of it and be transformed by understanding His love for us.

Isaiah 43:1-5, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you… For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… You are precious in My sight; you are honored, and I love you… Do not fear, for I am with you.”

  • I think about these Roman soldiers that were chained to Paul and wonder how many of them came to faith in Jesus Christ. No doubt they listened as Paul spoke about Jesus Christ to everyone who came to visit, but I’m sure there were many times Paul would speak to them individually. Can you imagine being chained to Paul all day long?
  • But who was chained to whom? As far as Paul was concerned, Rome was chained to him and couldn’t get away.

B. There comes a time to declare your faith

  • Paul sat with this group of Jewish men all day explaining the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning until evening.
  • What an amazing Bible study! Some were persuaded… But others would not believe. It doesn’t say that they could not believe, it says that they would not It was their choice.
  • This is an issue of the heart, not just the mind.
  • There comes a time to make this personal and say, “I believe.”

Acts 28:1-24     NASB 1995

28 1When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. 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 itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him. After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured. 10 They also honored us with many marks of respect; and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.

11 At the end of three months we set sail on an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead. 12 After we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13 From there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. 15 And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.

16 When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

17 After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.” 21 They said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.”

23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. 24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.


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