Signs: Superstition or Spirit?

“And so it was that all were brought safely to land. After we were brought through, we learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.’ He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

“Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.” Acts 27:44-28:9

A ship full of soldiers and prisoners wrecking just offshore would understandably cause the islanders caution and suspicion. In their heathen minds, Paul morphed within moments from being a threat to becoming a god, but he would have no part in being worshipped. The missionary-held-prisoner quickly redirected them from superstition to true revelation by praying for them and healing their infirmities. His heart beat with a gospel thump, and his signs pointed to the spiritual work of Jesus. (John 20:30-31)

Our world offers a daily plethora of messages and supposed revelations: breaking news, new discoveries, uncovered plots and conspiracies. In the flesh we are attracted to and titillated by the spectacular. When we observe with a snake-bit lens, we may try to read our suspicions or desires into every occurrence. We can slip into worship of the created over the Creator, of acting on feelings over facts, and spiral insidiously into false beliefs and allegiances. When we perceive with the mind of Christ, intent on seeing as He sees, the lens of biblical truth will reveal doctrine, and the character and ways of God. It’s important to surrender preconceptions, to set aside what we want to see and hear, in order to grasp God’s consistent truth, wisdom, and deeper meaning from events and messages. (Romans 1:18-28)

When our emotions get swept into frenzied devotion, disordered affection, or crowd-think, would we reset our plumb, and align our thinking with the Bible? Would we take time to consider more carefully what is happening around us in order to discern deeper lessons, and the movement and intention of God’s divine hand?

Father, guard my heart from growing dull to Your word. Please give me ears that hear and eyes that see You through the buzz and magic of the world. Grant me spiritual understanding and wholehearted embracing of all You offer, and are. (Acts 28:27)

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