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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 were taken as prisoners to Rome. A ship transported them, but because of the strong winds against them they sailed close to the islands to gain some shelter. When they attempted to sail from Crete across the Adriatic Sea, however, the trip became perilous - a northeaster threatened to tear their ship apart. All of the passengers and crew were in constant despair for their very lives. They were sleepless and exhausted as they fought the storm. The sailors gave up all hope of being saved, but Paul encouraged them by his confidence in God. He told them that God said all of the passengers would be saved. Then Paul encouraged the crew and prisoners to eat because they had gone fourteen days without food. They would need strength to survive. Those who hear from God by attending to his Word 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 ran aground on a sand bar close to Malta. She was wrecked, but the crew and passengers either swam ashore, or floated on pieces of the ship. There were 276 people on board, but their salvation from perishing in the storm was so complete that they did not lose one hair from their heads, as Paul prophesied (Acts 27:34). Whether that statement was 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 were kind to the crew and passengers, and they provided them a warm fire. As Paul warmed himself by the fire, a snake seized Paul on the hand, apparently biting him, but Paul shook it loose into the fire. The native people first thought that Paul must have been a murderer, but seeing no harm come to him they changed their minds and thought he was a god. They were wrong, but they certainly recognized God was with Paul. While in Malta, Paul healed many of the village residents. Though he was a prisoner he cared for the needs of others.

From Malta, Paul, the other prisoners and crew got on another ship and sailed to Italy, finally arriving in Rome on foot. There in Rome, Paul and his companions, and perhaps all of the crew, stayed with the Christian brothers there. Rome represented the uttermost parts of the earth at that time. The gospel was to be taken to the uttermost parts of the earth; Acts 1:8 was 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 got to Rome, Christian brothers warmly received him, and he was allowed some freedom, though he was still under guard. Paul explained 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 was in chains for proclaiming Jesus as the hope of Israel.

In Rome Paul tried to persuade the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the Messiah for whom they were seeking. He explained the Law of Moses and the prophets and how Jesus fulfilled them. As usual some believed and some did not. Because the Jews refused to listen, Paul’s message would continue to be carried on through the Gentiles. They would turn from their idols and believe God.

Paul ministered in Rome for two years and did 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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