Commence Sailing

Acts 27:1-8

1 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. 2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. 3 The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.
4 From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. 5 When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 8 We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.

Sailing and Trust

Have you boarded a ship before? Have you enjoyed it? What could you do to enjoy on board a ship into the ocean?

Sailing aboard a ship exemplifies trust in the Lord. One must trust the pilot to steer the ship to reach the destination safe and sound. Similarly, trust in the Lord Jesus and have rest in Him should eliminate worries while navigating this earthly life until we reach His heaven safe and secured.

Sailing for Italy, Paul did not worry about his personal needs. The centurion and his hundred soldiers secured Paul from enemies. The centurion was also kind to him.

1. Kindness

1 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. 2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. 3 The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.

Dr. Luke observed the kindness of Julius the centurion to Paul. When anchored at Sidon, Julius might have ordered soldiers secured Paul even while visiting his friends. Why was it needed for Paul to have guards? The centurion’s kindness includes securing Paul’s safety. Paul won’t run away but the oppositions have decided to eliminate him.

Previously, in Acts 23:11-13, 11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” 12 The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. We can presume that it’s by God’s grace that Paul was handed over to a kind centurion to secure him and allowed him to move freely. Paul was not scared to die but he knew that God was leading him to his next mission point. The plot to kill him was God’s “go signal” for him to appeal to Caesar who resided in Rome. Paul may not mind any favorable decision when he appealed to Caesar but God told him to testify in Rome.
The word of the Lord compelled Paul to obey the task assigned for him to do.

When God has instructions for us to do, we should expect opposition. There’s no easy-go-lucky kind of life for obedient believers but God’s grace sustain us to be obedient. God raised the kind centurion to keep Paul was safe while doing what God wanted him to. God sustains His obedient servants but disciplines them if needed. When the Israelites became disobedient to the Lord, He allowed to be exiled for 70 years.

King Cyrus

It says in 2 Chronicles 36:21-23, 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.
22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: 23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”

God is patient and kind but God knows more than anybody that Israel had to be discipline for their wickedness. The Lord knows that freedom and abundance won’t change them. God mobilizes anybody to accomplish His plans. The Lord disciplines believers also. He doesn’t allow His sheep to go astray. In Luke 15:4-6, 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

The owner went after his lost sheep. Christ is the owner. His sheep are believers. In a church setting, believers who left the church are they the lost sheep? If they were believers, they are not lost anymore, right? If they were sheep of the Lord, He would keep them safe and bring them to another church where they can be used effectively.

Many churches might have felt bad when Paul left them. They sure wanted him to stay with them but God wanted him to move from one place to another. Many times God uses difficulties as “go signals” to reposition or redirect His obedient servants.

2. Difficulty

4 From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. 5 When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board.

The presence of strong wind proves that difficulties are also God’s instruments. God uses the wind to redirect the voyage of Paul. Why did the centurion transfer Paul long voyage and there on the Alexandrian ship? Accordingly, Alexandrian ships carried grains from Egypt to Rome. Those ships were purposely built and carried large amount of supplies for long voyages.

The former ship that Paul boarded was designed to sail along the coast of the province of Asia. But because of strong wind, they were force into the open sea. That might be one reason the centurion decided to board the Alexandrian ship. The centurion was concerned of his soldiers’ health, strength, and safety to secure the prisoners.

7 We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 8 We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.

The centurion’s decision to transfer to the Alexandrian ship can be considered as wise and practical resolution. True to his kind character, the centurion has visualized the future needs of those people under his care, the soldiers and prisoners. With safety and more than enough supply, it seems like problem-free kind of life, isn’t it? The place where they came to might have been named Fair Havens because it’s the fairest place during stormy weather. We cannot easily appreciate stormy life, can we?

When life becomes rough, stormy and windy, believers can find rest in the Lord. Remember when the disciples worried of getting drowned during a storm? What was Jesus doing at that time? Sleeping! Resting! Relaxing! Jesus knows how to relax in the midst of storm. That was why He invites us to come to Him and have rest from Him.

Who am I?

Does it seem like your life has been in the middle of storm or struggle? The great King David had great struggles before he eventually settled in his palace. He recorded that everything he had came from the Lord. Let’s learn from King David. In 2 Samuel 7:18-22, 18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human!
20“What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. 22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.

When God’s grace overflows in our hearts, like King David, there’s much gratitude and praises. God’s grace spurs us to realize that we deserve nothing from God.
Gratitude of the heart and desire to praise God originated from God. Paul preaches that God’s grace is sufficient for him because he personally experienced it.
King Solomon advised in Ecclesiastes 7:14, 14 When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.

Keep praying and asking God to overflow His grace in your life. When we face struggles, God might have designed them to bring praise into out hearts. Most of us desire an easy kind of life. But after tough trials, believers would praise God much more.

God’s grace inspires spontaneity to thank and praise the Lord. Once you sense in your heart the spontaneity of thankfulness to praise God, ask the Lord to intensify and increase that experience. It feels like sailing without worries. Find rest in Jesus!

***LTSII/2015***

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