Paul Defends Himself

Bible:

After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had 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. When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” Acts 28:17-22 ESV

Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:11-14 ESV

Reflection:

Elizabeth Bennett met a young man named Mr. Darcy, and he became interested in her because she was intelligent and charming. Elizabeth didn’t like him as much at first, though. She thought he was unpleasant and arrogant, but another reason she didn’t like him was because another man named Mr. Wickham told her lies about him. He said that Mr. Darcy had cheated him out of his inheritance. In time, after Mr. Darcy had gotten to know Elizabeth a little better, he asked her to marry him, and she refused. She told him she didn’t like the way he had cheated Mr. Wickham. Darcy later wrote her a letter explaining that Wickham was lying and that he hadn’t cheated him at all. Mr. Wickham’s lies had caused trouble between Darcy and the young woman he wanted to marry, and he needed a chance to defend himself with the truth.

Paul worried that he was in the same kind of situation. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem had hated him and wanted to see him dead, and he was afraid that their lies about him had reached the Jewish community in Rome. So, soon after he arrived in Rome he called the Jewish leaders together to come and see him, and he told them why he was a prisoner and what had happened. He wanted them to hear the good news about Jesus, but he knew that if they believed lies about him they would never listen to what he had to tell them. The Jewish leaders in Rome hadn’t heard the lies about Paul, and they were willing to learn more about his message. They knew that people all over the empire disagreed with those who followed Jesus, and the Jewish leaders of Rome were ready to hear about it and to judge for themselves.

There were people who hated Jesus and told lies about him, and he allowed them to do this. He even allowed them to condemn him to death and to put him on a cross. He did that so that he could pay for the sins of the whole world, and because of what he’s done for us we can know God’s love and forgiveness. We want to share the truth about Jesus with others, but sometimes they will tell lies about us or not want to listen to us. But we can share the love of Jesus with kindness and patiently tell the truth, and know that the Holy Spirit can use our words to bring people home to their Heavenly Father.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for us. Please help us to tell the truth about Jesus to others. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Austen, Jane Pride and Prejudice London: Thomas Egerton, 1813.

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Paul Arrives in Rome

Bible:

After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead. Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him. Acts 28:11-16 ESV

[The Lord says:] “Assemble yourselves and come;
draw near together,
you survivors of the nations!
They have no knowledge
who carry about their wooden idols,
and keep on praying to a god
that cannot save.
Declare and present your case;
let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago?
Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the Lord?
And there is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none besides me.

“Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance.’” Isaiah 45:20-23 ESV

Reflection:

The twin gods that the Greeks and Romans believed in were called Castor and Pollux. They were the sons of Zeus, and people believed that these twin gods could save them from trouble at sea, and sailors also prayed to them for favorable winds before they sailed. If a ship was caught in a storm, people on board might pray to Castor and Pollux to save them, and some sailors believed they saw Castor and Pollux  during a storm. What they really saw is what we call St. Elmo’s Fire, which is a glowing ball of light that sometimes appears during storms, especially near their end. You might have heard of Castor and Pollux as the Gemini twins, and there is a star constellation named after them.

Paul finally reached Rome after going through a terrible storm, and the ship that brought him there had a figurehead of these twin gods. This means that the front of the ship was carved in their image, and that some of the people that sailed on it might have believed that Castor and Pollux would help and protect them on the sea. Paul didn’t believe that, of course. He knew that it was the only true God who had brought him safely through the storm and on to Rome, just as he had promised. Some Christians came and met Paul when he got to Rome, which gave him comfort and courage. Paul wasn’t thrown into a prison, but instead he was allowed to live by himself with a soldier guarding him. In every way, the Lord was taking care of Paul.

We also know that we can count on our Heavenly Father to take care of us. Some people today still believe in the twin gods, and in other constellations of the zodiac in the sky, but we know that the stars don’t control our future. Our lives are in God’s hands, and no matter what trouble we go through, we can trust in him to see us through it. Jesus came to bring us through the worst trouble of all, sin and death. He died for us on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, and he rose again from the dead to defeat death forever. We know he will keep us safe until we reach our heavenly home with him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your help and protection, and for Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.ancient.eu/Castor_and_Pollux/

Paul Brings Healing

Bible:

Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed. Acts 28:7-10 ESV

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a U. S. Navy ship that is called the Comforta former oil tanker that is ten stories tall and 895 feet long. It is painted white with huge red crosses on it, and instead of being an oil tanker it has been converted into a floating hospital. When there is a place in the world where medical care is needed, the USNS Comfort might go there to bring healing to people. As I write, it recently spent a week off the coast of Colombia in South America. Navy doctors and nurses came off the ship and set up clinics for sick people on the shore, and people who needed surgery were taken on board the ship in helicopters. Below the decks everything is just like a hospital on land, with twelve operating rooms near the center of the ship. The USNS Comfort gives free medical care to people in need when it is sent out. It often treats wounded soldiers in war zones and people caught in disasters such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

When Paul was shipwrecked on the Island of Malta he brought the healing of the Lord along with him. The chief man on the island, a man named Publius, invited all the shipwrecked people to stay with him for three days and was very kind and hospitable to them. His father was sick with fever and dysentery, and when Paul heard about this he went to visit this man and prayed for him, and he was healed. When the people of the island heard about this, everyone who was sick came to Paul, and he healed all of them as well. When it came time for the travelers to leave the island, the people of Malta were very kind and put on board the new ship everything that the travelers needed.

Paul was able to heal people through Jesus, the great healer. When Jesus was on earth he healed many who were sick, showing the power and glory of God and compassion for those who were hurting. This same Jesus is still with us today. He invites us to pray to him if we or someone we love is sick. We can be sure that he will heal us in the time and way that is best. Jesus took all of our sins and sicknesses to the cross with him and defeated them once and for all. He rose again on the third day and gives life forever to everyone who believes in him. There are still miracles of healing today when that is best, but sometimes Jesus stays with us and comforts us in our sickness even if he doesn’t give us a miracle. We know that the day will come when all sickness, pain, and death will be gone forever and the whole world will be made new, and that is the greatest miracle of all.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for healing our sicknesses and forgiving our sins, and for the hope of life forever with you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/12/11/675356758/u-s-navy-sends-hospital-ship-to-colombia-to-treat-venezuelan-migrants

A Snake and a Miracle

Bible:

After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. Acts 28:1-6 ESV

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. Psalm 91:11-13 ESV

Reflection:

There’s an old legend about St. Patrick of Ireland that says one day the king, who hated him and wanted to get rid of him, was feasting with his nobles in the hall of Tara. Patrick and his followers showed up at the feast and the king invited them to join him at the table. But a druid in the king’s service put a drop of poison into Patrick’s cup of wine when he wasn’t looking. Before Patrick drank the wine, he blessed it by thanking God, and the wine froze. Patrick turned the cup upside down and the drop of poison fell out. Then he blessed the wine again, and it became a liquid that was safe for him to drink.

This is only a story, meant to show that God takes care of his people and protects them from danger. Something miraculous really did happen after Paul and everyone else had reached the island. The people who lived there were very friendly and helpful, and because everyone was cold and wet, they built a huge fire to warm them. Paul was helping to gather wood for the fire, and when he picked up some sticks a snake slithered out and bit Paul on the hand, fastening itself to him. Paul shook the snake off into the fire, and the people of the island thought that Paul must be a terrible criminal. Even though he had gotten safely ashore from the storm, they believed that there was a Justice that would punish him for his crime, and that this was why the snake bit him. But nothing happened to Paul. He didn’t swell up with poison, and he didn’t fall over dead. When everyone had watched him for awhile and realized that he was safe, they changed their minds and decided that Paul must be some kind of god.

God is able to work miracles and to help and save his people from danger, but we have to understand that he will do what he thinks it is best for his own glory and our good. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why the Lord lets bad things happen to his people, but he is able to bring glory to himself through both good things and bad things. We know this because he best showed his glory in Jesus, who died on the cross to defeat sin and death and to save us from all the evil that could hurt us. Jesus’ death on the cross looked like something terrible, but through it God worked something wonderful. Because he has made us his own people though Jesus, we can trust him to do what is best for us, to help us in the best way possible, and to safely bring us to our home with him in heaven.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the wonderful ways you take care of us each day, and for sending Jesus to rescue us from sin and death. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

https://blog.oup.com/2017/03/life-saint-patrick-part-one/

All were Brought Safely to Land

Bible:

Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land. Acts 27:39-44 ESV

Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress. Psalm 107:23-28 ESV

Reflection:

During World War II, an American patrol torpedo boat was cruising in the South Pacific when a Japanese destroyer rammed into it and sliced it in two. Two of the crewmen on the boat were killed, and the destruction was so huge that other American boats in the area thought that everyone would have been killed. But eleven of the crew members were still alive, and they spent five hours clinging to debris from the boat while they floated in the water, eventually making it to a coral island. Their lieutenant swam out to try to find help, but he wasn’t able to. After some rest they all swam to a larger island, where they found two natives of the island who took a message for them. The message was carved in a coconut shell, and it said that eleven men were alive and needed a boat. The man who was the lieutenant and carved this message was named John F. Kennedy, and he later became the President of the United States.

No one would have expected that anyone would have survived the storm that Paul’s ship was caught in, but in fact everyone did. When day came they saw land, and the sailors tried to bring the ship onto the sandy beach, but that didn’t work. They ran into a reef instead, and the front of the ship got stuck, while the back part was being pounded by waves and started to break apart. The soldiers decided  that they should kill all the prisoners, because some of them might swim away and escape, but the centurion didn’t want Paul to be killed, so he talked them out of it. He ordered everyone who could swim to make for the land, and those who couldn’t swim were to take a floating piece of the ship to hold them up, and then paddle for the shore. Everyone made it safely, just as God had promised.

God keeps his promises to us, too. He promises to bring us safely to our heavenly home with him through the storms of life, and we know that he will keep that promise through Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to defeat death and hell and all the forces of evil that could hurt us, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us cling to him and be safe. Jesus is like some floating wood that we can hold onto and be brought without harm through life. He will never let us down, and he will stay with us to the end.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for saving us. Please help us to cling to you every day until we reach our home in heaven. Amen.

Source:

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pt-109-sinks-lieutenant-kennedy-is-instrumental-in-saving-crew

You Need to Eat!

Bible:

As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea. Acts 27:33-38 ESV

[Jesus said:] “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:47-51 ESV

Reflection:

Mrs. Lester’s mother was sick with cancer. Mrs. Lester was very busy taking care of her mother–driving her to the doctor for treatments, cooking for her, doing her laundry, making sure the medical bills were paid, and making sure her mother had everything she needed. Mrs. Lester was so busy and stressed taking care of her mother that she didn’t take care of herself. She often didn’t feel hungry because she was upset, or else she was too busy to eat, so she didn’t eat good meals. Her friends became worried about her. They knew that if Mrs. Lester didn’t take better care of herself, she wouldn’t have the strength to take care of her mother. So they took turns cooking delicious meals and delivering them to her house. “You have to eat!” they told her. “You have to be strong so you can take care of your mother!”

Paul said the same kind of thing to the people on board the ship. They had been so stressed and fearful and busy in the storm that they hadn’t eaten anything for fourteen days! Paul told them that they had to eat something so they could keep up their strength. He reminded them that God had promised that no one would die. Then Paul took some bread and gave thanks to the Lord for it, and broke it and started to eat. When everyone else saw what he was doing, they followed his example and had something to eat themselves. After they did this, they went back to work. They had thrown out most of the ship’s cargo several days before, but now they threw out all the wheat they had kept on board. They did this to make the ship lighter and easier to maneuver.

There was a time when Jesus broke bread, gave thanks, and gave it to more than six thousand people who were hungry, and there was enough for everyone. The next day he taught them that he was the Bread of Life, the living bread that had come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this living bread will never die. When we believe in Jesus and trust in what he has done for us on the cross, we eat the living bread that gives us life forever. Jesus strengthens us by giving us his word, the Bible, to keep us strong in our journey through life. He also gives himself to his people in communion, where he gives his body and blood with the bread and wine, the same body that died on the cross to win our forgiveness and rose again from the dead to defeat death forever. We thank Jesus for being our living bread.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving yourself to us on the cross. Please keep us strong and forgive our sins each day until we reach our home with you. Amen.

Escape Attempt

Bible:

When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms. A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms. And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go. Acts 27:27-32 ESV

But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:8-10 ESV

Reflection:

In 1965 an ocean liner called the Yarmouth Castle caught fire in the middle of the night while it was cruising of the coast of Florida. Terrified passengers tried to escape the burning ship, but some were trapped in their rooms by the flames in the corridors, and had to jump out their portholes into the water. There weren’t enough life jackets for everyone, and some of the lifeboats wouldn’t lower. The worst thing was that the captain and the crew didn’t stay on board to help the passengers get to safety. Instead, they jumped into lifeboats themselves, and in some cases didn’t even wait for the lifeboats to fill up with other people before they lowered themselves into the water. They left hundreds of people on board the ship without helping them, and in the end a total of 90 people died.

In the middle of the disaster on Paul’s ship at sea, some of the sailors tried to do the same cowardly thing. They had been taking soundings, which means they were measuring how deep the water was. They couldn’t see where they were, but from the soundings they could tell they were getting closer to land because the water was getting shallower. They were afraid that they would smash against the rocks near the land, so they let down anchors to hold the ship in place. Then some sailors started lowering the ship’s boat, pretending that they were letting out more anchors, but Paul realized that they were actually planning to escape and leave the passengers on the ship without helping them. So he told the soldiers what he saw, and they cut the ropes of the boat and let it float free without the sailors on it.

We have a God who never leaves us when things get tough for us. He stays by our side and hears our prayers and helps us in the way that is best. When we were in trouble and under the power of sin and death, he didn’t leave us alone. He came to us in Jesus and rescued us from sin and evil by dying on the cross for us and rising again from the dead. Because of this, we know we are God’s children and that he loves us and will never leave us. We can count on him though all of life and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making us your children and promising to never leave us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Smoke on the water: the tragic disaster of the SS Yarmouth Castle.

No One will Die

Bible:

Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27:21-26 ESV

In love [God] predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:4a-6 ESV

Reflection:

Samantha was an orphan, but she lived with an aunt and uncle who were very rich and loved her very much. But Samantha’s best friend was Nellie, another orphan who lived in an orphanage with her two sisters where they were not treated kindly and didn’t have enough to eat. Nellie found out that she was going to be put on an orphan train and separated from her sisters, so Samantha helped the three girls to hide in the attic of her aunt and uncle’s house. Soon Samantha’s aunt and uncle discovered the three girls, and for Samantha’s sake gave all three of the sisters a home with Samantha in their house.

Something a little like this happened to Paul. While the ship he was in was driven over the waves by a terrible storm and all the people on the ship thought they were going to die, and angel came and comforted Paul. The angel said that God still intended for Paul to go to Rome and speak the truth about Jesus in front of the emperor. Then he said that for Paul’s sake, no one on the ship would die in the storm. “God has granted you all those who sail with you,” were the angel’s words. It seems that Paul had not only been praying for himself, but for everyone who was sailing with him. So Paul told this good news to all the people. He said that they would lose the ship and end up on some island, but that no one would die.

In Jesus, God has given us all life forever. Jesus came to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, and for his sake God has made us his children. Everyone who believes in Jesus becomes his brother or sister, and God saves us from the storms of life and the troubles of sin and death to bring us into his heavenly kingdom. We don’t ever have to be afraid, because God loves us forever in Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and making us your children for Jesus’ sake. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Tripp, Valerie Changes for Samantha: a winter story Middleton, Wisconson: Pleasant Company, 1988.

A Storm Hits!

Bible:

 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. Acts 27:14-20 ESV

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word! Psalm 148:7-8 ESV

Reflection:

These days, tropical storms in the Mediterranean are called “medicanes,” which is short for Mediterranean hurricanes. They can produce deluges of rain and very strong winds whirling around a core, and sometimes the wind actually  comes close to the force of a hurricane. Medicanes are most likely to happen between September and January and can last up to five days. These storms are very destructive. A medicane in 1969 caused flooding in Algeria and Tunisia that killed 600 people and left 250,000 homeless. In 1995 a storm wind reached 135 kilometers per hour, which is about 84 miles per hour. In 1996 a medicane smashed into the island of Malta that had a peak wind speed of 154 kilometers (or about 96 miles) per hour.

Paul and his companions experienced a terrible storm while they were on board the ship. The captain and his sailors did everything they could to keep the ship afloat. They undergirded it to try to help it hold together, but then they needed to continue to ride out the storm rather than allow the ship to be smashed against the land. The fierce winds drove them along, and they ended up having to dump all their cargo overboard, and then the next day they threw overboard all the ship’s equipment. The gale kept blowing them over the waves, and they couldn’t see the sun or the stars for many days. Since it was the sun and the stars that ancient sailors used to figure out where they were on the sea, they were completely lost, and they lost hope that they would ever survive the storm.

Storms show the amazing power of God, but they also show that his creation is out of balance. God allows storms to happen, and they can be a warning to us of his coming judgment, but we can’t say that he is punishing people for some particular sin. When storms howl–whether they are real storms or just troubles that seem like storms–we can be sure that God sees us and is with us. We can call to him for help, and he will hear our prayers and calm our fears. Whatever happens to us, even if it seems terrible, we know that we are safe in his care forever, because Jesus came to our broken world and died for all our sins. We have God’s forgiveness because of Jesus, and his help and strength when the worst of storms threatens our lives.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us and strengthen us when the storms of life hit, and keep us safe with you until we reach our home in heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.severe-weather.eu/theory/medicanes-mediterranean-tropical-like-cyclones-what-are-they/

Sailors, Take Warning!

Bible:

And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.

Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. Acts 27:5-13 ESV

[The Lord says:] I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and bring their fears upon them,
because when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, they did not listen;
but they did what was evil in my eyes
and chose that in which I did not delight. Isaiah 66:4 ESV

Reflection:

In 1856 there was a man named George Goyder, and he was the surveyor-general of South Australia. He had the important job of setting a boundary in Australia between land that was good for farming and land that was too dry to farm. This was important because Australia had experienced a great drought from 1864 to 1865. If an area received 30 centimeters or more of rain a year, it was considered suitable for farming. Goyder researched the problem and drew his line on the map, called Goyder’s Line, and farmers were told only to buy land and plant crops south of this line. But in the 1870s there were a few unusually wet years, and some farmers ignored the warning of Goyder’s Line and bought land for farming north of the boundary. When the dryer weather came again in the 1880s, these farmers were ruined.

Something similar happened to Paul. He was transferred to another ship, and that ship continued its difficult journey against the wind. Soon the time came when ships would stop sailing on the Mediterranean Sea. During the winter months there were often storms, and it was dangerous to keep sailing during that time. But the ship had anchored in a place called Fair Havens, which didn’t have a good harbor for spending the winter. The captain and his sailors didn’t want to stay there, and they thought they might still safely reach a better harbor called Phoenix off the island of Crete. Paul warned them that it would be dangerous to keep on traveling, but they didn’t listen to him. The wind was blowing gently, so they ignored Paul’s warning and continued to sail.

People often ignore even more serious warnings that put their lives in danger, and the most serious warning of all is the warning to turn away from sin and turn to God for forgiveness. God is ready to forgive everyone who turns to him, because he sent Jesus to pay for the sins of the whole world on the cross.But there are some people who just won’t listen to God, and sadly, they will have to face his judgment someday. Because of Jesus, we never have to worry about facing God’s judgment, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to make us able to repent and trust in Jesus. We listen to the warnings and the promises of God’s word and trust our lives to him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, our Savior, and for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Please help us to always listen to your warnings and to your promises. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=247