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52. Acts 27: ďGodís Will, His Part and Our PartĒ
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ ĖEvening Service on 6/18/2015
(edited September 2020)
The Apostle Paul always wanted to go to Rome to evangelize and strengthen the Church that had formed there in his day. The story of how he actually got to Rome holds lessons for you and me about Godís will and our part in it.
The way that Paul finally got to Rome was by being arrested at Jerusalem for his public stance for Christ, incarcerated, and paraded before secular officials who would eventually send Paul to Rome! I want to get into Acts 7 quickly, but letís back up one verse into chapter 6:
ďThen said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.Ē Acts 6:32
I think old King Agrippa was mocking Paul. He could have released Paul, as far as I know, but he didnít want to help him. I think he thought that Paulís visit to Rome, as a prisoner of the state, would be train wreck and I think Agrippa was entertained by it all. Iím speculating, of course, but I can tell you this: Agrippa had no idea that God was using him at that moment to fulfil HIS WILL for the Apostle Paul.
Verses 1-3: ďAnd when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.Ē
There is a lot happening here. As with any big trip, many plans had to be made and provisions supplied. But you know what, none of us really has final say over our plans and decisions in this life. We can discuss ideas and have goals, but the FINAL SAY is the Lordís alone!
Notice also that the Lord not only steers ships but also has ďsteeredĒ Paul into a good relationship with Julius, the centurion. God, if we let Him, will not just oversee our plans and our actions, but also our relationships. That can be a very special blessing!
Verses 4-9: ďAnd when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,Ē
This is a pretty amazing ďSea-FairingĒ tale. But I want us to continue to zoom in on Godís will for Paulís life:
Verses 10-19: ďAnd said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.Ē
Hey, did you notice how the author of the Book of Acts, Dr. Luke, is coming out of character and speaking a lot in first person here (saying ďweĒ had to do this and ďweĒ had to do that)? I think it was from fear. This was quite a journey!
But through it all, Paul remains ďtuned inĒ to Godís will! So tuned in, that he tells the shipís captain what will be happening next. Now, there is a BIG difference between being sensitive to Godís will in your life and fortune-telling. Letís not get side-tracked or fooled by the Devil in any way. We need to be sensitive to where the Holy Spirit is leading us. But it is a more subtle process than having a crystal ball. We should want to know what God is planning and what He desires for us because we love Him. More often than not, I have found His voice to be quiet and gentle. Even easy misunderstood if Iím not careful. The real problem is not that the Lord hides His will from me, but that sometimes Iím not fully committed to following Godís will for me or fully prepared to accept it. But the Apostle Paul was all in at this time, and so, I think itís no wonder God revealed so much to him.
Verses 20-22: ďAnd when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.Ē
Our first part in Godís will is to be sensitive to what it is. But Paul shows us another part, too. As he seeks to follow the Lord, in the midst of a ship wreck and everything else that is going on, Paul is being a comfort and a blessing to those around him. If you want to know if you are in Godís will today, one sure sign of it is that God will enable you to bless others as you proceed. At this time, our Brother Paul is REALLY getting enabled:
Verses 23-26: ďFor there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.Ē
You donít necessarily have to wait for an angel to visit you! Just find the Lordís will and follow Him. Remember, Paul had no New Testament, as we know it today. God did what He had to do to inform Paul. Letís get back to his adventure:
Verses 27-30: ďBut when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,Ē
No matter how bad it gets, Paul follows the Lordís will. And he is doing it in the Lordís way by loving those around him:
Verses 31-38: ď Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.Ē
The Lord wants us to be in His will. And it brings us peace to know and follow His will for us! But we are not to keep all that peace inside of us. We need to spread it around to others, to everyone, as much as we can. HOW we follow the Lord matters every bit as much as WHERE He is taking us!
Verses 39-44: ď And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.Ē
Paulís relationship with that centurion was definitely part of Godís will, wasnít it? And Paul has shown us a final goal, as far as being in Godís will is concerned. That is to REMAIN in it, no matter what happens in this life.
In summary, this is OUR PART of Godís will:
We need to FIND it, to FOLLOW it, and to use it to COMFORT and SUPPORT others. And finally, we must seek to REMAIN in it, regardless of whatever circumstances that may come along. And they WILL come along as long as we are on this side of Heaven.
What journey are you on right now? Do you see Godís will, His path forward, for your life? And are you able to use that knowledge to COMFORT those who are ďin the same boatĒ as you are right now? Or are you confused, as I have often been, because heartache and pain have entered into your walk with the Lord?* Please remember that God was able to use even Paulís unfair arrest to bring about much good for many, many people. Spend your energy on following the Lord and loving others, no matter what. But if we are going to do that, you and I MUST rely on His strength and not waste what energy we have trying to MAKE Godís will come to pass in a certain way. That is GODíS PART, and His alone. Letís pray.
[*note: Our study next month will concern a man who was smack dap in the middle of Godís will, and yet, he ran into discouragements that never could have been overcome without Godís help.]