Shake It Off

Title: Shake It Off

Bible Book: Acts 28 : 1-10

Author: Alan Stewart

Subject: Persistence; Faithfulness; Determination



In his book, “A Home Forum Reader,” Glenn Wasson related a simple experience that had a profound effect on his life. He had been clearing brush in the mountains for several hours when he took a lunch break, and bit into his sandwich. The scenery was beautiful – a rushing stream, woods all around him, and a canyon close by.

But, his contemplations were broken by a persistent bee that started tormenting him, buzzing around his head with its stinger threatening. Glenn waved it off, but it quickly returned. This time he swatted it to the ground and stepped on it. But, to his amazement, the bee emerged from the sand to renew its attack.

This time, Glenn ground the insect into the sand, bringing his 210 pounds to crush it. He returned to his lunch, but out of the corner of his eye he noticed movement in the sand near his feet. The bee was dragging itself back from beneath the sand.

Glenn, intrigued, bent over to watch. The bee’s right wing seemed all right, but the left one was “crumpled like a piece of paper.” The bee tried to stretch it out, he ran his legs along the length of the wing to try and straighten it. The bee kept working with its wing and increased the tempo of its fluttering. The bee then attempted to fly. It managed to elevate 3 inches and fell back to the earth.

Undeterred, it tried again and again. Each effort a little more successful, until at last the bee took off, buzzed over the stream, and was gone.

Glenn then wrote, “As the bee disappeared, I realized that I was still on my knees, and I remained on my knees for some time!”

Lead In:

In this passage of scripture, the Apostle Paul is traveling as a prisoner on his way to Rome to stand trial before Caesar in Rome, when the ship was overtaken in a storm and literally was broken into pieces. All 276 people on board jumped off, with some swimming to shore and others taking a hold of the broken pieces of the ship to float.

They are greeted on this island by people who greeted them and comforted them in their circumstances. Paul then gathers some wood to keep the fire warm, when a snake that was hibernating for the winter awakened and bit into his hand.

Verse 5 then becomes the key verse of interest for the message today: “And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.”

If there is a trait missing in modern Christianity it is the ability to shake things off and keep pressing forward.

Perhaps you have read the story that has circulated for years in internet emails about a farmer with an old mule that wouldn’t work because it was so stubborn. The farmer decided to kill the old mule and he dug a huge hole and pushed the mule off into the hole. He began shoveling dirt in to cover the mule, but with every shovel load thrown onto him, the mule would just shake off the dust, and step up on it, until eventually he was able to come out of the hole!

  • Joseph shook off the treatment of his brothers.
  • David shook off the taunts of Goliath.
  • Job shook off the advice of his friends.
  • Woman at the well shook off her past.
  • Woman with the issue of blood shook off the doctor’s reports.
  • Lazarus shook off the grave clothes.

Do you know how to shake off the circumstances of your life?

Sherry Lowry, business consultant said, “Resilience is the capacity for recovery. It’s your capability to retain...a positive view of the world, even after you’ve been tested by difficult or traumatic circumstances. Think of it like the elasticity of a new rubber band. When the band is stretched very tightly, it springs right back into its former shape.”

Notice with me how to develop the ability to shake off the things of this life and keep pressing on and pressing in!

I. When Plans Are Confusing, Shake It Off

Acts 28:1-2

When Paul was in Ephesus, notice his words and thoughts in Acts 19:21, “...Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Archaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”

Paul had longed to preach the gospel in Rome, and he planned on going to Rome, but he never expected that he would travel as a prisoner!

Has God ever changed the direction and plans of your life without warning, notice, or even giving you the chance to vote?

A. God Knows The Way

Acts 2:1

Acts 27:39, “And when it was day, they knew not the land...” They had no idea where they were going or where they were at!

(vs. 1) “...then they knew that the island was called Melita. “Melita” means “a place of refuge”

This island is in the very large Mediterranean Sea. It is only 18 miles long and 8 miles wide. On a map, it is but a small dot on the very large sea. Without the aid of a compass or any human pilot, the ship was completely out of human control, but it made itself to the only safe place of refuge in that great expanse of water. If the ship had missed the island, disaster would have been inevitable. The ship would have sunk and many would’ve drowned!

I had wondered off from my grandmother’s as a child, got turned around and was lost. A neighbor  told me I could stay on the road, but I might get hit by a car. So, he showed me a path that led through the back of her garden and he told me, “You might find some briars, but you’ll still get where you  want to go!”

Corrie Ten Boom said, “When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps you tight. When Jesus keeps you tight, He leads you through your whole life. When Jesus leads you through your life, He brings you safely home.”

B. God Makes A Way

Acts 28:2

Luke notes the people on this island were “barbarians”. The idea behind the word is someone whose speech is rude, rough, and harsh. Ancient Greeks used it of any foreigner who did not speak the Greek language.

But, these people were a God-send to their lives as they proved to be kind and sympathetic.

Why is that important information to note? In Acts 23, Paul again has been imprisoned, and it is obvious there was some fear in Paul’s heart, because the Lord appeared to him in prison and said to him in verse 11, “Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so much thou bear witness also at Rome.”

When the Lord makes a promise to our lives, it is His responsibility to fulfill it!!!

If you were to ask a student in school, “Which way does the Mississippi River flow? He will answer, “From north to south.” However, if you have ever flown over the Mississippi, there are places where the river flows north, and places where it will flow due west. But, ultimately and finally it ends up south.

Sometimes, the purposes of God seems frustrated, turned, and twisted, but may you never forget, as

A.W. Tozer used to say, “You travel an appointed way.”

Vance Havner wrote, “I thank God for the unseen hand, sometimes urging me onward, sometimes holding me back; sometimes with a caress of approval, sometimes with a stroke of reproof; sometimes correcting, sometimes comforting. My times are in His hand.”

II. When Problems Are Consuming, Shake It Off

Acts 28:3-4b

Now, here is the place that not only takes wisdom, but great maturity!

David Jeremiah said, “Integrity is keeping my commitment even if the circumstances when I made the commitment have changed.”

A. He Was Wearied

Acts 28:2b

On this island, Paul is cold, wet, hungry, and tired. The original fire that the “barbarians” had built was dying down. This would have been a good place to offer up complaints about where you are and what you are facing.

Rather than scheming and shivering, Paul goes and gets some wood to keep the fire burning!

In the O.T. tabernacle, God started the fire, but it was the responsibility of the priests to keep it burning!

No one else can read, study, pray, or meditate for me. It is up to me to do my share to supply fuel for my spiritual fire!

2 Timothy 1:6, “...stir up the gift of God, that is in thee...” The word “stir” means “to kindle up, to inflame one’s mind”.

B. He Was Wounded

Acts 28:4a

Paul has already been through a storm, and a shipwreck, and now he gets bit by a poisonous snake! Anytime you start heating up for Jesus, mark it down, there is a snake about to wake up!!

John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy...” He plays for keeps!!!! “Plagues and deaths around me fly, Till He pleases, I cannot die.” (Anonymous)

Sometimes you can be wounded by the foe of your soul, but sometimes it can come from friends!

(vs. 4) ***Read***

Those who were comforting Paul one minute, were not criticizing him the next.

But, within our Baptist ranks, people can be really tender emotionally. They can get hurt over the most trivial of things. You have to remember, no everyone who hurts you meant to hurt you.

Me praying for “Charles” and calling him “James” and presenting “Terry” to the church rather than calling him by his name “Kevin”. And they are still members here because they are mature enough to know it wasn’t intentional.

A woman at Sierra’s chorus event stuck her tongue out “towards” me, but it was meant for the guy behind me!

When Plans Are Confusing, Shake It Off; When Problems Are Consuming, Shake It Off; and lastly:

III. When Praise Is Considerable, Shake It Off

Acts 28:6, 10

After all Paul had done for the passengers on the ship, and for those who were sick on the island, he could have very well asked for a throne and insisted that everybody serve him!

Bishop Keith Brooks said, “Humility does not consist simply in thinking cheaply of oneself, so much as in not thinking of onself at all – and of Christ more and more.”

A. Maintain A Simple Testimony

Acts 28: 8, 9

Now, when you compare the opinions of the people in verses 4 and 6, you can see how fickle people can be in their opinions. One moment he was “no doubt...a murderer..”, and the next “he was a god.”

But, when he goes into the house of Publius, he simply goes as “Paul”.

Notice something interesting in (vs. 6), “...but after they had looked for a great while...they changed their minds...”

May we ever be reminded that people are constantly watching our lives! Do you live with a bad past? Have you failed countless times in life? If you’ll stay consistent long enough, the world will “change their minds”!!!

In 1932, a Hollywood talent judge wrote on the screen test of Fred Astaire: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Can dance a little.” He went on to be one of the top singers, dancers, and actors of all time!

B. Maintain A Sacred Trust

Acts 28:11a

How could Paul keep shaking off all he experienced? He had been entrusted with a task...a duty to perform.

  • Acts 13:51, Paul and Barnabas were persecuted and driven out of Antioch, but “shook off the dust of their feet...”
  • Acts 18:6, Paul was preaching in Corinth and was opposed and ridiculed, but he “shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads...”

Paul kept moving along!

William Carey is known as the “Father of Modern Missions.” In India, he faced great difficulties and burdens. But, he once wrote about it all, “There are great difficulties on every hand and more are looming ahead. Therefore, we must go forward.”

George Borrow, 19th Century English author wrote, “O ye gifted ones, follow your calling, let neither obstacles nor temptations induce you to leave it; bound along if you can; if not, on hands and knees follow it. Turn into other paths, and, for a momentary advantage or gratification, ye have sold your inheritance, your immortality.”

Keep moving! Keep On

Charles Allen, The Secret of Abundant Living

I've dreamed many dreams that never came true, I've seen them vanish at dawn;

But I've realized enough of my dreams, thank God, To make me want to dream on.

I've prayed many prayers when no answer came, I've waited patient and long;

But answers have come to enough of my prayers To make me keep praying on.

I've trusted many a friend who failed And left me to weep alone;

But I've found enough of my friends true-blue To make me keep trusting on.

I've sown many seeds that fell by the way For the birds to feed upon;

But I've held enough golden sheaves in my hand, To make me keep sowing on.

I've drained the cup of disappointment and pain, I've gone many days without song,

But I've sipped enough nectar from the rose of life To make me want to live on.

Posted in


Scroll to Top