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Picking up Sticks

We are nearing the end of our study through the book of Acts. I have really enjoyed this deep dive into the life of the early church, and all of the twists and turns that characterize church history's greatest church planter, the Apostle Paul. We know from our study that Paul has always desired to go to Rome to minister to the believers, be a witness for Jesus Christ, and then take the gospel on to Spain. He just didn't know he would get there as a prisoner of the Roman Government after surviving a massive storm causing him to be shipwrecked! How many times have you made plans and God changed your plans? I don't know all the reasons why God allowed this set of events into Paul's life, and I don't know why you've gone through some of the storms that have come into your life, but I do know that God doesn't do anything without a purpose. I often cling to Isaiah 55:8, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways declared the Lord, as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” In the closing chapter of the book, Paul and the other 275 passengers of the ship have finally crashed into the reef of a small Mediterranean island called, Malta. As they made it to shore, they are greeted with the warm hospitality of a bonfire to warm their weary and wet bodies. I'm sure that everyone was completely exhausted, possibly still seasick, and certainly cold and wet. In verse three, Luke shares an incredible encounter that Paul had with a venomous snake, but first, he says, "But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks." He did what!? After all he had gone through to get them all here safely couldn’t he have just sat back, barked out orders to stoke the fire, and had them serve him marshmallows? No, that’s not Paul and it shouldn’t be His children. Paul was a servant at heart. A good leader knows how to be a servant. No job is too small for a true leader of God. A leader doesn’t say, “That’s not really in my job description.”

God worked through Paul to perform many miracles validating His message of the gospel. As a result, in just three months, the island of Malta would be fundamentally changed. Who would have ever predicted that? God wants to work through you as well. It may not be to perform miracles and transform cultures, but it is important work. Seek God’s will for ways you can partner with Him and then serve with humility. No one is above picking up sticks, not even the Apostle Paul. Press on! Pastor Brian Richard


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