In Acts 27-28, we read about Paul’s journey to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. God has foretold that Paul must, indeed, appear before the Roman emperor. As disciples, we, too, are on a God-ordained journey. We can learn many valuable lessons from this account to help us stay faithful in our personal spiritual journeys.
Read ACTS 27-28:6
The journey to Rome meets unexpected and unwanted resistance. The ship’s captain and crew have their own plan and timetable. However, due to circumstances beyond their control (the weather and currents) they make “slow headway for many days”, have difficulty, and lose time.
Paul advises the crew that it would be wisest to winter where they are and not attempt to continue lest the trip prove disastrous. The centurion, however, follows the advice of the pilot and the journey continues.
*Can you relate to the situation? You have a plan! You have goals and objectives in life, and you have a vision and timetable in mind regarding how and when you look to achieve them. But how do you respond when life takes unexpected turns? What do you do when, due either to mistakes or circumstances beyond your control, you meet forces that slow you down, cause you difficulty, and cost you valuable time!
What the ship’s crew should have done was listen to Paul. He, after all, was a proven prophet of God who shared God’s word with them. What about us? What we should do is turn to God’s word via the Bible, seeking his wisdom with a willingness to surrender to his plan and timeframe if it is different from our own. However, if we are not careful, we become so married to our version of what life’s journey should look like, that we try to force to fruition our plans and schedule. If we are not wise, we end up making bad decisions in an effort to hold on to our vision rather than humbly seeking the Lord’s direction. That’s exactly what the crew of the ship did. In an effort to stick to their plan, they made a bad decision and got caught in a horrible storm.
ACTS 27:20-26, 30-32
This passage says that the storm encountered was of such veracity and duration, that the passengers, even Luke himself (Luke wrote the book of Acts) lost all hope of being saved. Paul, however, encourages them with God’s promise that they will reach their destination.
*In life, we encounter storms of such great veracity and duration that we can lose hope as our faith is challenged. These are the times when, just like that crew, we need the encouragement of God’s word! We are on the right journey! It was not a mistake to board the ship of following Jesus as his disciple! God is sovereign and he is using the storm. We may be blown off the course we pictured and the vessel we thought would get us there may not be the one we end up on, but God will get us to our spiritual destination!
Our job is to stay on the ship! Don’t abandon the ship of our righteousness, devotion to Jesus, discipleship, the church! We must stay aboard to be saved and help others be saved as well.
But to do this we, like that crew, need the encouragement of God’s word. How much effort are you putting into having Quiet Times in which you read, study, and take to heart the scriptures? How much effort do you make to hear the online messages or get the fellowship that you need, even if via Zoom, so that you can be reminded of the promises of God’s word? You need these things to survive the storm.
In this passage, Paul is bitten by a poisonous viper! The islanders see that he has been bitten, then watch expecting him to die. Instead, he survives, impacting them to the point that they believe there is something divine about him!
*The point for us? People are watching your FAITH! How do you respond when you are bitten by life’s snakes? Do you “die” as most would and one would expect? Or, do you shake off the snake and continue because of your faith in God and the peace he offers. How you respond to the snake bite will determine how others view your God and whether or not they want the relationship with him that you have. Who is watching your faith? Your kids? Your spouse? Your neighbors, classmates, teammates, co-workers, and friends?
Faith in the midst of the storm is a great platform for impact. What impact are you having?