God’s Way – 3-18-22

“saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’” Acts 27:24 NKJV

It’s God’s promise – so it’s got to be His way. It really doesn’t matter if you want it another way or your way – it has to be his way of not at all. Paul’s promise was to get to Rome, and here it is extended to include getting to Caesar. So Paul knows he won’t die before then, no matter what happens.
God gives a promise, and reveals more details along the way. While the enemy tries to get you off course and killed. These are very real forces in our lives if we recognize them or not. Even if you do not believe in God or the devil – they are real. Back with the first sin, the planet and people were cursed, therefore we are automatically not on God’s side – separated from Him (not his love) by our sins. So if you do not have a relationship with God through repenting of your sins, then you are on the path of death and destruction.

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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of Acts chapter 27 (embedded below for your convenience in the 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.

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

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

About 4 years before the date of the events we read about today – Paul was first told he must go to Jerusalem with much urgency. God’s message was ominous and Paul thought for sure He would die. Somewhere between 3 and 4 years before the events we read today, Paul was told he would not die, He was to go to Rome. And about 3 years ago, Paul arrived in Jerusalem and was purified and was captured.

Three years ago – God told me He had plans for me to prosper and to restore the years the locust have eaten. 2 years ago, a pastor gave a prophetic word over me saying my restoration was coming. I have a few hundred dollars’ worth of extra bills this month, website renewal, and other business startup costs being renewed. God paid them all last year. This year, I do not even know where the money is coming from for the bills at the end of this month let alone the extra. I anticipate being able to share an amazing testimony of God’s provisions. Meanwhile, I look at my promise and realized many others, more deserving them me, had to wait longer for the promise to be fulfilled. Abraham would not even be alive for his promise of the great nation and many people and other nations coming in. Joshua and Caleb had to wait 40 years to go back into the promise land. And here, Paul had to wait 3 years before they actively began their journey to Rome.  
The Bible assures us that God is never slow and late, but always on time. And then the Bible shows example after example of God’s sovereign protection and provisions. And God seldom comes through the way we expect – He always does it His way.

Jesus could have opened the sea and caused Paul’s ship to supernaturally get swept to Rome.  Instead Paul becomes the guy known for his shipwrecks (as well as his teachings). I once heard a preacher tell us to go anywhere the Lord tells us to go, except in a boat with Paul. It was meant as a joke.

The first leg of the journey was nice. But the seasons were rapidly changing. The sea would become hostile and unfriendly very quickly. And the centurion was nice and let Paul visit friends and have church. But there would be BIG MONEY for any ship who made one last delivery to Rome, and there was an eager captain and crew on an Alexandrian ship hurrying to get back to sea and make bank.  The dangers were real but the payout was worth risking your life. These types of daredevils were not uncommon and a few were regularly successful.  It was however uncommon to bring on passengers. That requires more food and more weight. I can only imagine that this team was only motivated by money.

Immediately the journey was not going well. Paul speaks up and says it isn’t wise to continue, but there are some really basic reason why they do not listen to Paul. First, the port they are at is not good for wintering – in other words, their ship will get smacked apart in the port and sink. They have a better chance of saving the cargo (and ship) if they press on. Second reason for ignoring Paul is – he is the prisoner. Seriously prisoner, hold your tongue!

So they sailed right into a tempest. Well, you and I already know we can be in God’s perfect will and still be in a tempest – just look at the disciples with Jesus in the storm. Or the other storm where Jesus walked out to them. We also know if you put greed and money before God, you usually lose it. So going into this storm (and with Paul’s warning) we see the greedy captain, owner and crew were going to lose their cargo and ship unless they repent real fast.

There is amazing detail of where they were and what happened and when they dropped some cargo and then more to lighten the ship. So detailed in fact that many have gone searching for what it as that was so valuable the owner and crew were willing to risk it all for. The documentary I saw on it (and there are a few) showed proof of these events within that time period, but couldn’t be exact. However, other scavengers had found the loot first and it is no longer there. But they did find a ship’s tackle right where it should be according to the passage. As well as some evidence of the ship wreck. I love when the modern word goes looking and proves the Bible real.

So, Paul is fasting and praying. And quite frankly you can’t really cook during a tempest, so everyone was fasting. But Paul was seeking God. And God sent Paul an angel to remind him, he would arrive safely in Rome. It’s just our idea of safely and God’s idea, vary a lot! I would never say by ship wreck was “safely”. Yet they were always safe, because they were in the hands of God – the safest place you can be.

God told Paul they must run aground on Malta. (And we see again, God’s version of running aground included swimming for your life and I am sure the people thought it meant gently sailing up into the sand.) And even that promise took a couple days to fulfill.

Some of the sailors ran out of bravery and tried to escape – Paul would not let them. God’s word was to cover all of them and they must stay together. And that was how they lost the life boat.

So they ate to build up their strength and cut anchor and tried to sail aground on Malta. They almost made it. They ran aground further out than expected. Without their life boat, they had to swim for it (and those who couldn’t swim, had to use help of floating boards from the ship.

“…And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.” Verse 44b
And there is that word ‘safely’ again – reminding us that God defines things differently, God’s ways are not our ways, and God’s timing is not our timing.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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