Season of Storms

“Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.” Acts 27:9-11

“The Fast was already over” – Luke does not often refer to culturally Jewish things without explaining that it means. But here, he assumes the reader knows that it is the fall fast (a Jewish holiday – Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah) – and winter quickly approaches.  Boats, fishermen, sailors, tradesmen… are all finding a place to winter and settle in. The helmsman and the ship owner where anxious to make on last run. The payment for one last cargo load was probably not worth it – but the payment by Rome for a centurion and prisoners was probably too tempting for them to pass up.  But it is storm season.

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of Acts chapters 27 through 28 (embedded below the image below for your convenience). Today we read the end of the book of Acts – it feels like it was never finished. Like Luke just put down his pen one day and did not return. It’s almost a cliff hanger – leaving us asking, “What happens next?”!!!

So we start off at the beginning of the stormy season – almost winter, dangerous travel and for pride and greed and situation outside of the control of Paul and Luke (these passages are written in “we”, so we know Luke was with Paul).
It reminds me of you and me. The 31st day of December in 2019, I held a new year’s eve party called “Roaring in the New Year” and we all dressed like the roaring 20s and decorated the place like a speak easy and compromises were made and enjoyed and we laughed and drank (figuratively, not everyone drank) and ate and made merry and partied in the New Year.  We woke up the next day (and shortly thereafter) the world changed. We entered the stormy season – on a boat – outside of our control – with the Bible open on our lap warning us like Paul that our lives and souls are at risk.

On this trip Paul not only had the rough sea and a warning from God to contend with. There were trials and more fasting and more hardships and sneaky men being disobedient.
When there is one thing and God warns and tells how it will go and gives His promise that you will be ok (everyone else may not be) – this is called a trial.
When everything is happening from every directions and one thing after another (like in the book of Job when as one servant comes with bad news, another arrives with more and so on) this is a sure indication that it is an attack.

We spoke of bad things happening to godly people, yesterday. One Pastor in particular comes to mind. In 2020 he refused to close – in order to pray for his people. Besides the Bible strictly says not to forsake gathering. I had no church to gather with – but I did gather with other like-minded believers then God moved me to a church that was more poised for gathering. So I agree with this pastor’s decision. Anyway, they met in a tent and the population of the church grew so big that cannot meet in the building anymore and they just installed heaters and a sound system so they can meet all winter in the tent. Sweet story, right? Did you see the story started in the stormy season? What I did not tell you is the attacks. This man was kicked out of his denomination. He was attacked by the world for meeting and attacked by the so-called church for meeting. He and his family have death threats. They have lost so much – the trial, was compounded by the attacks. And then, this weekend the tornado destroyed the tent, sound system, lights, heaters, baptismals, chairs, etc.

Godly men and women have trials and attacks. Both Godly and ungodly have unanswered prayers and bad things happen to them (and even good things).  So remember –
God did not cause it – this is not a punishment. Bad things happen to everyone – it does not mean that someone is evil or that God is withholding goodness. Learn who God is, because it is His goodness that draws people to him – not His punishments.
Unanswered prayer is not a punishment either. 
“There is therefore now no condemnation”
Don’t be one of those people who look at a fellow believer struggling in a storm season and cast ungodly judgment saying “they must have secret sin in their lives because they are going through this”.  I thought we learned this back when we red Job, in January. We seem to have started and ended the year with the lessons about the stormy season and attacks from the enemy.

But more importantly – Job had the breakthrough and God came and spoke with him. With the breakthrough came double portions. Double blessings.
Paul had the breakthrough while the ship wrecked – literal breaking! And because of all Paul’s situation in the stormy season, the Island of Malta came to know about Jesus and believe! And even in the midst of that, he was bitten by a poisonous snake, falsely accused, then vindicated and falsely called a god! What a rollercoaster these people were! But God loved them and used Paul to save them.

Finally in Rome, and although he was technically a prisoner, Paul enjoyed a peaceable life for a while under guard. No bad guy was going to try anything while Paul was a prisoner – the guard protected him more than guarding to contain him. God provides.

While we are in this stormy season – while the world is locking back down or going to segregate people into internment camps – we know bad and good things will happen to each of us. Learn to walk in the spirit and in the spirit you will bear witness of and for other who walk in the spirit. We will know who is who by spirit and not by the blessings or lack thereof.  God is glorified in the storm. Peter joined Jesus, walking on water, IN THE STORM. Jesus calmed the storm, but there must first be a storm to calm. And when Jesus died – the storm mourned and quaked the earth and the dead rose all In the midst of the storm.

The safest place in a storm is of course Psalm 91:
“Lord, please bring me in the secret place of you, the Most High God, and let me dwell there and abide under your shadow.You are my refuge and my fortress; you are my God. In you, I will trust.Surely you shall deliver me from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.Please, Lord, cover me with your feathers, and under your wings I shall take refuge. Your truth shall be my shield and buckler.

I shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.A thousand may fall at my side,and ten thousand at my right hand; but it shall not come near me because I am under your wing in the secret place.

Only with my eyes shall I look,and see the reward of the wicked. They have no rewards outside of the temporal. Because I have made you, my Lord, who is my refuge,even the Most High, my dwelling place (I stay in the secret place). No evil shall befall me, nor shall any plague come near my dwelling as I dwell in you;for you have given your angels charge over me, to keep me in all my ways.In their hands they shall bear me up, lest I dash my foot against a stone. I shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent I shall trample underfoot. Because I have set my love upon you, therefore you will deliver me; you will set me on high, because I have known your name. I shall call upon you, and you will answer me; you will be with me in trouble; you will deliver me and honor me. With long life you will satisfy me, and show me your salvation.

I pray, declare and decree in the name of Jesus ~amen”  (Adapted from Psalm 91)

It is all about relationship building with God, through Jesus and in the Holy Spirit.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse – this one will give you peace that passes understanding as the world around us spins out of control we know our sovereign God still has a plan! We may not be able to comprehend, but hang in there His way is better!!   

Isaiah 55:8

NIV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.”
NLT – “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
ESV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”
KJV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”
NKJV – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.”
NAS – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”
AMP – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Acts 27-28 NKJV

The Voyage to Rome Begins

27 And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us. And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care. When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.

When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

Paul’s Warning Ignored

Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because [a]the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” 11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.

In the Tempest

13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called [b]Euroclydon. 15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her [c]drive. 16 And running under the shelter of an island called [d]Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. 17 When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the [e]Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. 18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. 19 On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. 20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

21 But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22 And now I urge you to take [f]heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. 26 However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

27 Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. 28 And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29 Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and [g]prayed for day to come. 30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.

33 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. 36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. 38 So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.

Shipwrecked on Malta

39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. 40 And they [h]let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. 41 But striking [i]a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.

42 And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, 44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

Paul’s Ministry on Malta

28 Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. And the natives[j] showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.” But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

In that region there was an estate of the [k]leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days. And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. 10 They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.

Arrival at Rome

11 After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the [l]Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island. 12 And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days. 13 From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli, 14 where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. 15 And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.

16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

Paul’s Ministry at Rome

17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, 18 who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death. 19 But when the [m]Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. 20 For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

21 Then they said to him, “We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”

23 So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved. 25 So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to [n]our fathers, 26 saying,

‘Go to this people and say:
“Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive;
27 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.” ’

28 “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” 29 [o]And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.

30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 27:9 The Day of Atonement, late September or early October
  2. Acts 27:14 A southeast wind that stirs up broad waves; NU Euraquilon, a northeaster
  3. Acts 27:15 be driven
  4. Acts 27:16 NU Cauda
  5. Acts 27:17 M Syrtes
  6. Acts 27:22 courage
  7. Acts 27:29 Or wished
  8. Acts 27:40 cast off
  9. Acts 27:41 A reef
  10. Acts 28:2 Lit. barbarians
  11. Acts 28:7 Magistrate
  12. Acts 28:11 Gr. Dioskouroi, Zeus’s sons Castor and Pollux
  13. Acts 28:19 The ruling authorities
  14. Acts 28:25 NU your
  15. Acts 28:29 NU omits v. 29.

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