Things have to get cut from the sermon, and it's not always easy to decide what gets chopped. Here's a piece that I had to drop from the final edition of Sunday's sermon:
In verses 3-6 in Acts 28, Paul was bitten by a viper gathering firewood. His was not the usual panic of someone bitten by a snake – he calmly shook it off. If that were me, well, Luke would have recorded a very different reaction.
This is a reminder that following Christ doesn't mean “exempt from trouble”. Sometimes the Gospel is presented that way – follow Jesus and everything will be great! Reality check: sometimes you get snake-bitten, literally or metaphorically.
God didn't prevent the bite, but God instead healed Paul.
It sort of reminded me of Daniel. God didn't keep Daniel from the lion's den, but he kept the lions mouths shut. Speaking of the book of Daniel, this also makes me think of the Hebrews in the fiery furnace. God didn't keep them out of the furnace, He went in with them. You are not exempt from trouble when you follow Jesus, BUT - you are invincible until your mission is over.