Saturday, December 30, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Acts 27-28
Our scripture reading today is Acts 27-28 and chronicles the apostle Paul’s journey to Rome as a prisoner where he will inevitably give his life as a martyr for Christ.
Paul’s journey to Rome was by ship and he was in the company of other prisoners under the escort of “one named Julius, a centurion of [Caesar] Augusts’ band [regiment]” (27:1). The ship would stop at several ports on its journey to Rome, including Sidon where Paul notes the centurion’s favor in allowing him to fellowship with other believers (27:3).
Departing from Sidon enroute to Myra, the centurion transferred Paul and the other prisoners to a “ship of Alexandria” [i.e. Egypt] that was sailing directly to Italy (27:4-6). The sailing was slow (27:9) and knowing storms would soon make sailing dangerous, “Paul admonished” the captain of the ship and the centurion guard to seek safe harbor until the stormy season was past (27:9-11).
Dismissing Paul’s warning, the ship set sail and the vessel was soon caught up in a great storm so that, in Paul’s words, “all hope that we should be saved was then taken away” (27:12-20).
Acts 27:21-44, Paul turns from prisoner to encourager and tells the men, although the ship would be lost, God revealed to him no lives would perish (27:21-24). Blown several hundred miles off course and hearing the roar of waves landing upon rocks on the shore, some shipmen prepared to abandon the ship and its passengers and were preparing to cast off in a small boat (27:30). Heeding Paul’s warning that any who abandon ship would be lost, the soldiers cut away the ropes of the small boat (27:32). Acts 27 closes with Paul and all 276 souls on the ship being saved alive (27:33-44).
The ship ran aground on the island “called Melita”, our modern-day Malta (Acts 28:1). Warming themselves around a fire, God miraculously spared Paul’s life when a poisonous viper took hold of his hand (28:3). Those who witnessed the viper’s attack wondered if Paul was not being punished for his wickedness, but then marveled he did not perish (28:4-6).
We often wonder why God allows His people and choice servants to go through difficult trials…sickness, disappointments, accidents, sorrows, losses. In the immediate we may not rightly see God’s purpose; however, we are surely no different from the apostle Paul. What a great example of a suffering, faithful servant Paul gives us as we witness him arrested and tried, but turning the occasions to an opportunity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Festus (Acts 25) and Agrippa (Acts 26).
As a prisoner on a ship setting sail for Rome, Paul turned the storm into an opportunity to share God’s revelation He had the LORD’s assurance their lives would be saved for he “must be brought before Caesar” (27:23-25). Finally, bitten by a viper, God spared Paul’s life as a testimony that the power of God rested upon him (28:6).
Acts 28 concludes with Paul’s safe travel and arrival in Rome (28:11-31) where he had freedom to visit with fellow believers (28:11-16).
In an incredible testimony of God’s providence and Paul’s passion for preaching the Gospel, Paul’s “house” imprisonment in Rome opened the door for him to not only share his own conversion and calling with Jewish leaders (28:17-22), but also declare to all who would listen that Jesus is the Christ, the long-awaited suffering Messiah foretold by the prophet Isaiah (28:23-31).
Acts 28:30-31 – “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
My friend, if you have followed our “Read-Thru the Bible” in a year schedule, today marks the end of your journey for it is our 364th daily reading assignment of 2017. It is easy to begin a spiritual discipline; however, there are few who know the joy of persevering to the end! Congratulations on this blessed milestone in your spiritual walk with the LORD. I bid you God’s blessings and wish you a Happy New Year!
With the heart of a shepherd,
Pastor Travis D. Smith
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith