Scripture reading for June 12th: Acts 28
By following Paul’s Spirit-directed instructions, all aboard the ship reached the island safely but the ship was demolished. God cares about all men, desiring their salvation!
During the next three months, Paul ministered to the Roman official in charge of the island by praying for his father. God healed him and then many other sick from the island were also healed through Paul’s ministry. The Gospel was preached by Paul and God’s compassion for the lost there was demonstrated through his ministry of healing. God used the journey of Paul as a prisoner to take him where He wanted him to go and minister to the people He had set before him. God used the Roman centurion to protect Paul and the Roman government to pay for the voyage and Paul’s room and board!
After the three months of wintering there, Paul and the prisoners boarded an Alexandrian ship that was marked by the figure of the Greek gods Castor and Pollux. Paul did not refuse to go because of this! He arrived in Rome, explaining to the brothers how God had brought him to Rome: “For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the Hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” (Acts 28:20)
The Book of Acts ends with Paul as a prisoner in Rome. He was placed there by God’s direction to minister to those God would open doors for. For two years, Paul was under a form of house arrest and from there he wrote many of the letters of the New Testament to the churches he had helped to found as a missionary. “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:31)
Scripture reading for November 17th: Acts 27-28
Do you really believe that God can cause all things to work together for good for those who love Him? (Romans 8:28) Today, we read about events in Paul’s journey to Rome for trial before Caesar. These events were dangerous, exciting, and could have been fatal. But God worked them for good and His purposes stood through all the trouble!
The trip from Caesarea to Rome was nearly 2000 miles by ship. It was decided that Paul would travel by a Roman navy ship in the fall season when travel in that direction was more difficult. As they made their way north, the centurion in charge of the prisoners, Julius, gave special favor to Paul by allowing his friends to minister to his needs. (Acts 27:1-3) As travel became more difficult, Paul warned the centurion and crew of impending danger and possible loss of life. They ignored Paul’s advice and sailed on. A great storm hit the ship and tossed it around for days. The crew threw the cargo overboard and after more days of battering, all gave up hope of being saved. (Acts 27:20)
Paul, again directed with a word from the Lord, encouraged the crew and passengers. He told them that an angel of God had given him a word, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” The ship would be destroyed but God would spare the passengers and crew! All 276 men on board made it safely to shore when they followed Paul’s advice! (Acts 27:42-44)
As Paul was warming himself over a fire after swimming ashore, a viper jumped from the fire and fastened itself on Paul’s hand. (Acts 28:1-6) Paul quickly shook the snake off into the fire and no swelling or death occurred. This opened the islanders to Paul’s Gospel message and he began to minister to those present with miracles of healing!
When you are committed to God, life takes on a new quality of supernatural direction and hope. God truly does work all things for His will! We can go through shipwrecks, storms, and even snake-attacks and trust that all works out for our good and His glory! Are you ready for today’s episode in your life?
Scripture reading for July 9th: Acts 27:1-20
Paul knew he was to stand before Caesar to testify of the Gospel. (Acts 23:11) The Lord had appeared to him to encourage him nearly two years earlier and told him what was to come. Now the time to sail to Rome was at hand. The voyage was being paid for by the Roman government and Paul had personal bodyguards and escorts. A centurion named Julius was over the prisoners and was especially kind to Paul. The progress was slow, because of contrary winds and it was late in the season to travel North.
Paul urged the centurion not to travel onward because of the possible loss of ship, cargo and lives. (Acts 27:9-10) But the centurion listened to the pilot and ship owner and sailed on towards another harbor on Crete. A storm of hurricane proportions swept down on the ship and continued for many days. They ended up throwing the cargo overboard and tying the ship together with ropes. The storm continued and they all thought that they would die at sea. Paul stood up and spoke to the crew and prisoners. “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” (Acts 27:21b-24)
God is faithful to His servants. God gave Paul wisdom that helped him and those with him survive a difficult and possibly fatal storm. He was given a word of wisdom by God that gave courage to go on. God never promises His servants that that they won’t suffer through trials, but He does promise grace for every trial! He used this storm to accomplish His purposes! If you are going through a storm today, look for the Lord’s guidance to His desired destination in your life!
Scripture reading for July 10th: Acts 27:25-44
Caught in an unrelenting winter storm, the centurion and his prisoners heard from Paul that the ship would be lost but all lives would be safe. The storm went on for fourteen nights and about midnight the sailors felt that they were approaching land. Some of the sailors attempted to escape from the ship by the lifeboat, but Paul warned the centurion that unless all the men stayed with the ship they would not be saved. (Acts 27:31-32) They were encouraged by Paul to take some food and promised that a hair on the head would not perish! They all ate and then threw the rest of the grain overboard to lighten the ship as much as possible for running aground.
God’s favor was on the group. The soldiers had planned on killing all the prisoners to prevent any of them from escaping but the centurion wanted to spare Paul so he stopped them. Everyone of the 276 people on board made it to shore safely but the ship was broken up by the pounding surf! (Acts 27:37, 42-44)
In looking at this shipwreck, it is amazing to see how the hand of God guided Paul. Although he was a prisoner, he ended up commanding the ship, crew, and centurion and advising them what to do. God gave him favor with the centurion and elevated his advice in the eyes of those present to accomplish the will of God. (Psalm 5:11-12) All Paul had to do was obey and keep calm in the midst of the storm. He knew the final outcome would be safety for them all and that his mission of preaching in Rome would be accomplished. It wasn’t by his own power or ability, but by the power of God!
A godly man or woman in a crisis can lead from any position of authority through humility and obedience to the Lord. Paul’s calmness encouraged everyone. This shipwreck was being used to draw the sailors and prisoners to think about their own lives and their dependency on God. Paul had a great opportunity to witness to 275 people on board in a captive audience! God’s ways are amazing and His use of time and circumstances defies our reason! We can only follow the Spirit in amazement!