- A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD (2)
- BELIEVER'S AUTHORITY (35)
- BIBLICAL PROSPERITY-a Balanced Approach (36)
- BOOK OF ACTS OF THE APOSTLE (45)
- BOOK OF HEBREWS (41)
- BOOK OF REVELATION (35)
- FAITH (23)
- FIRST AND SECOND CORINTHIANS (45)
- FOLLOWING GOD'S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE (42)
- HOLY SPIRIT (22)
- IN-DEPTH STUDY OF EPHESIANS (19)
- IN-DEPTH STUDY OF THE BOOK OF GALATIANS (21)
- IN DEPTH STUDY OF THE BOOK OF ROMANS (38)
- PROSPERITY (18)
- PROVERBS CHALLENGE (5)
- PROVERBS CHALLENGE 2024 (4)
- STUDY OF ISAIAH (39)
- THE GREAT SHEPHERD (20)
Friday, December 30 2011
As we come towards the end of this book; we encounter a story that parallels the present situation in the world around us. A case of total hopelessness! Hopelessness has driven many to the brink and thrown many over the edge. There are lessons to learn from Paul's journey to Rome; let us observe his actions and reactions and learn timeless lessons that even in our contemporary world today very well applies. So once again, I invite us to come along, apply our hearts, observe and learn from what we see. Prov.24:32 and most importantly apply them!
1. Physical or Spiritual? Coincidental or pre-planned? - Verses 4-8
"Out to sea again, we sailed north under the protection of the northeast shore of Cyprus because winds out of the west were against us, and then along the coast westward to the port of Myra. There the centurion found an Egyptian ship headed for Italy and transferred us on board. We ran into bad weather and found it impossible to stay on course. After much difficulty, we finally made it to the southern coast of the island of Crete and docked at Good Harbor (appropriate name!).
In the preceding verses we see that the trip for Rome became treacherous and although it was a difficult time to travel naturally, let us consider the questions above. Was it an attack of the enemy or was it just a natural tsunami? Did it just happen? Or did God plan it?
2. Paul Was Sensitive and sounded the warning Verses 9 - 12
9-10By this time we had lost a lot of time. We had passed the autumn equinox, so it would be stormy weather from now on through the winter, too dangerous for sailing. Paul warned, "I see only disaster ahead for cargo and ship?to say nothing of our lives!?if we put out to sea now."
11-12But it was not the best harbor for staying the winter. Phoenix, a few miles further on, was more suitable. The centurion set Paul's warning aside and let the ship captain and the shipowner talk him into trying for the next harbor.
Paul's warning was not heeded. Typical isn't it? "What does he know about sailing?" they would have asked. He's just an ordinary prisoner! We should be careful not to discard advice from those who we see less than us. We dismiss them with a wave of the hand; she is not spiritual enough, he is not ordained, she is not old enough, what does he know? Remember Namaan's maid? 2 Kings 5:2-3, and his servants? 2 Kings 5:13
"It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right." Job 32:9 But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. Job 32:8
Verses 18-19 "Next day, out on the high seas again and badly damaged now by the storm, we dumped the cargo overboard. The third day the sailors lightened the ship further by throwing off all the tackle and provisions.
3. When all hope is lost; we are to offer hope. Verses 20 - 26
It had been many days since we had seen either sun or stars. Wind and waves were battering us unmercifully, and we lost all hope of rescue. With our appetite for both food and life long gone, Paul took his place in our midst and said, "Friends, you really should have listened to me back in Crete. We could have avoided all this trouble and trial. But there's no need to dwell on that now. From now on, things are looking up! I can assure you that there'll not be a single drowning among us, although I can't say as much for the ship?the ship itself is doomed.
23-26"Last night God's angel stood at my side, an angel of this God I serve, saying to me, 'Don't give up, Paul. You're going to stand before Caesar yet?and everyone sailing with you is also going to make it.' So, dear friends, take heart. I believe God will do exactly what he told me. But we're going to shipwreck on some island or other."
In verses 13 - 19, Paul's prophesy in verse 10 came to pass; the ship was battered and they had lost cargo but see how Paul handled the "I told you; but you will not listen" situation "But there's no need to dwell on that now" Sometimes we ruin the opportunity to resolve an issue by dwelling on the irrelevant; we miss the opportunity to "gain a brother" by wanting to know who was right or wrong; whose fault it was."I was right; you were wrong!"He mentioned it but did not dwell on it; because "if I had known" only creates extended anxiety. He instead offered hope. Just hear his words from verse 22; words that offer hope and comfort without any guile.
4. To be realistic is not a sin; wisdom calls for it. Verses 30-32
30-32Some of the sailors tried to jump ship. They let down the lifeboat, pretending they were going to set out more anchors from the bow. Paul saw through their guise and told the centurion and his soldiers, "If these sailors don't stay with the ship, we're all going down." So the soldiers cut the lines to the lifeboat and let it drift off.
I can imagine what our response will be: "Don't talk like that! It is God that will keep us up; not them" or "that is not faith" Wisdom taught Paul that God did not tell him He was going to calm the storm so he needed sailors to be able to cut the anchors, loose the tiller and raise the sail. Vs 40
He was also realistic when he asked them to break their fear imposed fast in Vs 34 because they will all need strength to swim to the beach when the ship breaks in verse 41.
5. His actions were in line with his words - that's the best encouragement to offer Verses 35-36
"After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves."
Fear and panic had sent the passengers of the ship into compulsory fast; fear had knotted their stomachs so when Paul brought hope of safety and encouraged them to eat, it was important that he showed them that his stomach was not knotted by fear. So he ate and they were encouraged to eat. It was "do what I do" not only "do what I say."
6. When God promises; He sees it through Verses 42-44
"The soldiers decided to kill the prisoners so none could escape by swimming, but the centurion, determined to save Paul, stopped them. He gave orders for anyone who could swim to dive in and go for it, and for the rest to grab a plank. Everyone made it to shore safely."
The world is in need of leaders who will offer hope in our world today; leaders who will lead by example and offer encouragement to those who have lost courage and hope to the hopeless. It is not also coincidental that we are in the festive season - the celebration of the birth of our Savior who brought hope to a hopeless world! We also see once again, God using vessels to accomplish His plan. God is not a magician; although He can perform wonders; He, in His infinite wisdom uses creation to show His powers. Paul was destined for Rome; no trigger happy soldier was going to prevent that.