Devotional Reading: Romans 1:8-17
Lesson Scripture: Acts 27: 1-11, 33-44
Lesson Aims: To summarize Paul’s trip from Caesarea to Malta; to recognize how Paul’s faith sustained the people during the storm; and to commit to trusting Him during the calm and crisis periods of our lives.
Background: Last week’s lesson provides the backdrop for today. When Festus, Agrippa and Bernice met to determine Paul’s fate, they decided that he’d done nothing to warrant imprisonment or death (Acts 26:31). Because Paul chose to be tried before Caesar (citizen’s right), he had to be transported to Rome by sea (land travel took too long).
Lesson: After more than two years in Caesarea, Paul and the other prisoners boarded a small ship and traveled north along the coastline. Any good study Bible will have a map of this trip. Luke and Aristarchus are allowed to accompany him. Julius, a centurion is in charge of the prisoners. The 1,300 mile journey has to be safe and timely.
The sailing is slow because of a prevailing westerly wind. Once they reach Myra (southern tip of Asia Minor), Julius puts the party on a larger Alexandrian ship headed for Rome. This ship can withstand rough winds better than the smaller ship. The storm continues to rage as they dock at Fair Havens (on Crete). Paul suggests that they remain there through the winter. Julius and the pilot decide to press on. Pulling out of Phoenix (also on Crete), they think the journey will be easier. Verses 13-32 record the actual storm. Reading those verses will enhance your appreciation of this lesson. When the cold wind hits the warm wind, the storm becomes a nor’easter. Look out! This is like Sandy! The lesson opens with Paul encouraging the people (soldiers, crew, prisoners, and other passengers) to eat for the days ahead. No doubt, this storm has made them weary, but Paul is calm.
UMI Direction suggests making calm an acronym: Call on God; Anticipate His intervention; Listen to His instruction and Make known His promises as a means to calm. By this time, Paul the prisoner has emerged as the leader. Land is spotted, but before they get to it, the ship hits a sandbar that stops their progress. Julius prevents the soldiers from killing the prisoners. Instead, he directs the swimmers to jump overboard and swim to shore. Those who can’t swim are to cling to a piece of the ship and drift to shore. Everyone is safe just as God said!
Application: Storms pop up in our lives as well. Most of the time, they’re unexpected. Paul experienced a lot as an apostle. With each experience, his faith grew stronger and stronger. Is ours? There is no getting around them. Your education, social status, portfolio or address will not keep you safe! Only God’s grace and mercy gets us through the storms of life. A quick self examination of self during a crisis will reveal how strong your faith is.
The faithful face those rough times with a different attitude than those who don’t believe. First of all, storms are not an indication of sin or weakness; they go with life. There is no room for panic! When they come, do what you know to do while depending on God. He alone delivers! In the midst of it, God speaks to you; do you hear Him? Remind yourself of His promises. He doesn’t forsake us. He keeps His Word all of the time!! The manner in which we go through our storms could very well encourage others and lead to someone giving their life to God. What a witness!!