October 19

Acts 27-28, Psalm 132

Pastor Chuck Swindoll told the story of a woman in an airport who stopped in a gift shop and purchased a small package of cookies, then went further and sat down in a common area and had a cup of coffee and started to read. There was a man already sitting at the same table. When she stopped reading for a minute she noticed that he took one of the cookies. She was angry and took one for herself, thinking the nerve of him. He then took another and she thought she would start screaming at him but restrained herself. Back and forth they went through the package of cookies. With one left he picked up the package and offered it to her. She got up grabbed the package and stormed away towards the gate area. Fuming she got on the plane and when she rummaged through her bag she found her package of cookies. All along she had been eating the other man's cookies, who kindly even offered his last one to her, but she felt she had all the information to judge him, but was wrong.

We read of the terrible shipwreck in Acts 27, and their escape to the island of Malta in chapter 28. We read in Acts 28:3-6, "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. 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." But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm...But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god." Paul was judged by the natives twice in a short period of time and were wrong both times. Look at this same situation from Paul's perspective. He barely gets out of the water and gets attacked by a poisonous snake. I would be frustrated if I were Paul and the relentless attacks coming his way. But we have to be careful about making any judgments. That shipwreck and snake bite were horrible experiences, but opened an opportunity for Paul to minister to the people of Malta who had never heard the gospel before. Through the storms of life, God will guide us to those places where He knows there are people who need Him.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Judging and gossip are huge problems in our world. Proudly believing all the facts necessary are present to exact judgments, everyone seems to like making judgments about everyone else. If we are honest God knows us completely, we know ourselves next best yet we all sometimes do things we ourselves don't understand. Our spouses and children know us next best. Everyone else knows what we are willing to show them. Yet there are no shortage of judgements being made. Worse than this so many feel they have the right to judge God. One of the most frequent comments from unbelievers is, "Why would a loving God have allowed this or that to have happened?" The reality is Satan will tempt to trip us up. But God will allow us to go through various trials to mature us in our walk in faith. Rather than judging God, when things get difficult, and they will, these are times to seek Him, lean on Him, and strengthen our relationship with Him, for we know that he will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6).

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster