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storm on the sea December 11 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Acts 27-28

Navigating the Storms of Life

Most of us have experienced storms in our lives. There are physical storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes, thunderstorms with dangerous lightening, heavy rains which cause flooding, and heavy snows that shut down airports. There are also financial storms and stormy relationships. Where is God in our storms? Are there any good things that can come from them?

Today’s reading describes Paul’s tempestuous trip to Rome. Paul and a few of his companions are taken as prisoners to Rome. A ship transports them, but because of the strong winds against them they sail close to the islands to gain some shelter. When they attempt to sail from Crete across the Adriatic Sea, however, the trip becomes perilous - a northeaster threatens to tear their ship apart. All of the passengers and crew are in constant despair for their very lives. They are sleepless and exhausted as they fight the storm. The sailors give up all hope of being saved, but Paul encourages them by his confidence in God. He tells them that God said all of the passengers will be saved. Then Paul encourages the crew and prisoners to eat because they had gone fourteen days without food. They will need strength to survive. Here is a lesson for us: Those who hear from God by attending to his Word (the Bible) receive encouragement and faith to share with others.

Similar to the circumstances on the boat, sometimes storms arise suddenly and unexpectedly in our lives, and they can be fierce. God does not promise, however, that we will have blue skies and calm weather. Sometimes we have to ride out the storms, knowing that God is with us. Sometimes the storms demand more than we think we can bear, but if we are Christians, we should take in the spiritual food of God’s Word so that he will give us strength.

The ship runs aground on a sand bar close to Malta. She is wrecked, but the crew and passengers either swim ashore, or float on pieces of the ship. There are 276 people on board, but their salvation from perishing in the storm is so complete that they do not lose one hair from their heads, as Paul prophesied (Acts 27:34). Whether that statement is meant to be literal or figurative, it gives us hope that if God saved them miraculously, maybe he will save us miraculously. We need to trust God whether he takes us through a storm or delivers us from it. Do you know Him? (more...)

The people of Malta are kind to the crew and passengers, and they provide them a warm fire. As Paul warms himself by it, a snake seizes Paul on the hand, apparently biting him, but Paul shakes it loose into the fire. The native people first think that Paul must have been a murderer, but seeing no harm come to him they change their minds and think he is a god. They are wrong, but they certainly recognize God is with Paul. While in Malta, Paul heals many of the village residents. Though he is a prisoner he cares for the needs of others.

From Malta, Paul, the other prisoners and crew get on another ship and sail to Italy, finally arriving in Rome on foot. There in Rome, Paul and his companions, and perhaps all of the crew, stay with the Christian brothers there. Rome represents the uttermost parts of the earth at this time. Acts 1:8 is being fulfilled.

Paul faced tempestuous trials. He had a choice to make: Would the trials cause him to be overwhelmed with fear and anxiety? Would he be angry or bitter? Would he seek sympathy or self-pity, or would Paul exercise faith in God and keep doing the things God had called him to do? The choice was his. The choice is also ours. Let’s keep trusting the LORD through the storms and trials in our lives.

When Paul gets to Rome, Christian brothers warmly receive him, and he is allowed some freedom, though he is still under guard. Paul explains to them that he was brought to Rome to stand trial. It was because of false accusations that Paul had been forced to appeal to be heard in Caesar’s court. Paul told them he is in chains for proclaiming Jesus as the hope of Israel.

In Rome, Paul tries to persuade the Jewish leaders that Jesus is the Messiah for whom they are seeking. He explains the Law of Moses and the prophets and how Jesus fulfills them. As usual, some believe and some do not. Because the Jews refuse to listen, Paul’s message will continue to be carried on through the Gentiles. They will turn from their idols and believe God.

Paul ministers in Rome for two years and does this in the open without being hindered. Are we free to proclaim the gospel? Can we do it without being much hindered? We should make use of the freedoms we have; we do not know how long those freedoms will last.

Lessons to live by:

  • Those who hear from God by attending to his Word receive encouragement and faith to share with others.
  • Sometimes the storms of life demand more than we think we can bear, but if we are Christians, we should take in the spiritual food of God’s Word so that he will give us strength.
  • We need to trust God whether he takes us through the storm or delivers us from it. Do you know Him? (more...)
  • Sometimes storms wreak havoc in our lives, but sometimes they also lead to things that are redeemable: salvation, perseverance, and being used of God to minister to the needs of others.
  • We need to make use of the freedoms and opportunities we have today to share the good news of Jesus Christ; we do not know how long those freedoms will last.

Today’s Bible memory verses: Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

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