After the violent storm that had ravaged the ship that Paul was being transported on in his journey to Rome to meet the Caesar, he and the crew landed on the island of Malta, which runs south of Italy. It was raining and cold when they landed there, but the islanders attended to them and showed them kindness. Paul helped them gather a pile of brushwood to start a fire, and out from that wood came a viper that fastened itself to Paul's hand. While the islanders were frightened and superstitious about the incident, Paul shook off the snake into the fire, and suffered no ill effects, without fear of any likelihood of harm. Why? Because Paul was energized by the assurance that Christ Himself gave Paul that he would get to Rome safely, and Paul wholeheartedly trusted that promise. When faith shines through in the darkness, when things get real and frightening, you will have influence.
Continuing where Pastor Troy left off on Paul's journey to Rome, the ship that Paul was transported on was caught in a storm that was so violent, that the crew threw their tackle and cargo overboard, and barely kept it together with ropes. When the ship was all battered up, the crew was dangerously fatigued, and all hope seemed lost among them. In the midst of extreme despair, the Lord assured Paul that they would reach their destination safely. As the crew saw how Paul was dealing with the situation, keeping calm, and trusting in God's promise directed toward them, His influence moved them to listen to him and to pray for daylight. What was so profound about this is that all of their means of self-sufficiency was gone. Romans who did not listen to Paul (a prisoner, of all things) now are, and they all have a strong sense that Paul knows the One who controls the storm. In this message, Pastor Troy Billow expounds on what it means to have faith in the midst of immense trouble/danger, and influence others to gain hope, strength, and faith when all hope would otherwise be lost.
Before Paul left the Church in Ephesus, he gave them final instructions and informed them that they would never see him again. These key points are still vital to the continuance, health, and well-being of the church today. In Pastor John Emeritus's final sermon for Living Faith Community Church, he not only reiterates these key points, but expounds on them and explains why they are more vital than ever here in the 21st century.
On His way to Rome to meet the emperor, the ship that Paul boarded got caught in a violent storm that was so bad, the crew threw the cargo and tackle (anchors, sails, baggage, etc.) overboard. The storm was raging for days, to the point where they had to rely on rope to hold the ship together. When hope was completely lost among the men of the ship, Christ steps in. In this experience, Christ assures Paul, and Paul assures the men that they will get through this and that there will be no loss of life. Today, deriving from this recorded experience, we see that no matter what storm we encounter (whether literal like this one, or figurative in experiencing numerous complications), Christ assures His people that he will never leave us nor forsake us.
As Paul delivers his testimony to King Agrippa, Porcius Festus, the governor of the region, claims that Paul' is out of his mind, and that his great learning has driven him insane. Paul not only tells him that he is not insane, but that what he is saying is reasonable and true. Such sets the tone for the underlying theme of this message. After Paul was confronted with, transformed by, and appointed to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, He realized that this is no game. This is a serious matter. When we stand for Christ people are going to react. Some will not like us anymore. Some will push back. And the underlying theme that God tells his people when they are sent on a mission to proclaim His truth is to not be afraid of them. Those who are afraid are afraid because their priorities are not in order. Pastor Troy Billow elaborates on concept in this message.
Paul shares his experience with Jesus Christ himself to King Agrippa, In fact, Paul was so strong in his testimony to the King, that He ended up witnessing to the power of Christ more than he was giving his defense. Just as these life changing events happened to Paul, it has become allegorical, and reflective of what Christ can do for us.... if we let Him. Jesus calls all believers to be servants and witnesses to the power of Christ in their lives, showing that He is real and in that, opening the eyes of people to turn them from spiritual darkness to the light from Heaven.
Divorce was rampant in the first century (just like it is today). When Jesus gave His sermon on the mount, He addressed the issues of both divorce and adultery. When the Pharisees heard Jesus speak on these issues, they questioned Him about them, using Moses (who divorced his wife) as an example. Jesus explained to them that Moses's situation was a heart problem. In this message, Pastor John Billow brings these issues at the forefront for wisdom, counsel, and acknowledgement, as they both attest to a bigger heart issue, as Jesus elaborates on and makes clear from a godly standpoint.
In this passage, Porcius Festus, the governor of Judea and Samaria, can't find anything incriminating enough against Paul to warrant special attention from Emperor Nero, so King Agrippa (who is familiar with Jewish customs and affairs) decides to hear Paul's defense. Paul gives His defense, citing his strict Jewish upbringing, history, and convictions, yet challenges them on seeing God's ability to bring back the dead, in regards to Jesus Christ who rose from the dead, to fulfill the prophecies written throughout the Old Testament. Paul rests his case on God's ability to keep his promises, and in this message, Pastor Troy preaches on what that meant then, and what it means for us today.
In the Roman political realm, mistrust towards the corrupt governor Marcus Antonius Felix led him to be deposed and replaced by Porcius Festus. After being detained for two years, Paul was left in prison by Felix as a favor to the Jews. Here, Paul is standing trial under Porcius Festus, but Festus is finding incredible difficulty in bringing up the legal charges against Paul that are serious enough to warrant special attention from the Emperor. Festus sees the situation as only a "religious dispute" between Paul and the Jews about a "dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive", and Festus brings this case to King Herod Agrippa II, who is the ruler of Judea and Samaria, and has direct contact to Rome and Emperor Nero. After Festus explained his situation, Agrippa's curiosity was triggered, and he asked for Paul to be brought in to hear what he had to say. The very greatness and cosmic significance of the the resurrection of Jesus Christ has created a ground swelling seriousness and change in Paul and other followers of Jesus Christ that has emboldened them to face, at this time, governors and Kings, and it still holds that power today, as Pastor Troy Billow explains in this message.