Saturday, August 12, 2023

2023.08.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 27:1–28:10

Read Acts 27:1–28:10

Questions from the Scripture text: What was decided in Acts 27:1? Who is going with Paul? Who was delivered with him? To whom?  What did they enter in Acts 27:2? Where did they sail? Who was sailing with Paul and Luke (cf. Acts 19:29)? Where did they land in Acts 27:3? How was Julius treating Paul? By giving him liberty to do what? What route did they take to end up where by the end of Acts 27:5? What did Julius find there (Acts 27:6)? What did he do? How was the sailing going now (Acts 27:7)? Where did they have to reroute until ending up where by the end of Acts 27:8? What had been spent (Acts 27:9)? Why was sailing dangerous? What did Paul do? What did he observe (Acts 27:10)? By which two people was the centurion more persuaded (Acts 27:11)? Who else gave the same advice (Acts 27:12)? Why? Where did they hope to winter? What happened, to which they supposed what (Acts 27:13)? What did they do? How soon did what happen (Acts 27:14)? What couldn’t the ship do (Acts 27:15)? What did they do? Where did they end up in Acts 27:16? What could they barely do there? What precautions did they take in Acts 27:17? Then what the next day (Acts 27:18)? And the next (Acts 27:19)? What don’t they see for how long (Acts 27:20)? What happens all this time? What do they give up? What weren’t they doing Acts 27:21? What does Paul stand up to do? What does he say that they didn’t do before? But what does he urge them to do now (Acts 27:22)? What does he say won’t, and will, be lost? Who had stood by him (Acts 27:23)? How does he describe God? What does he do unto God? What did the angel tell Paul not to do (Acts 27:24)? What must happen to him? What has God granted (bequeathed, lavished upon) him? What command does Paul now repeat (Acts 27:25, cf. Acts 27:22a)? Whom does he believe? What does he believe? What does he conclude must happen (Acts 27:26)? How long has the storm gone in Acts 27:27? What was happening to them? What did the sailors sense, when? What data supported this in Acts 27:28? What did they fear (Acts 27:29)? What did they do? For what did they plead? What were the sailors trying to do in Acts 27:30? What does Paul say to whom (Acts 27:31)? What do the soldiers do (Acts 27:32)? What does Paul implore them to do in Acts 27:33? How long had they fasted? For what purpose does he urge them to eat (Acts 27:34)? What does he then take (Acts 27:35)? What does he do in the presence of them all? How does he show that he’s distributing it to them, too? How many ate (Acts 27:37)? How much did they eat (Acts 27:38)? What did they do with the rest of the wheat? What time came in Acts 27:39? What did they note about the land? What did they hope to do? What did they now get rid of (Acts 27:40)? Then what did they do? Where did they end up running aground instead (Acts 27:41)? With what result? Now what did the soldiers plan to do (Acts 27:42)? Why? Who stopped them (Acts 27:43)? Why? What did he command instead? And what were the rest of them supposed to do (Acts 27:44)? What were they able to do (Acts 28:1)? What did they find out? What does Acts 28:2 note about the natives’ kindness? What did they do for them? Who was helping do what in Acts 28:3? But what happened? Who saw this (Acts 28:4)? What did they conclude? But what did Paul do (Acts 28:5)? And what happened (Acts 28:6)? Then what did they conclude? Who had an estate in that region (Acts 28:7)? What did he do? What difficulty did he face (Acts 28:8)?  But what did Paul do? With what result? Then what happened (Acts 28:9)? And what was done for how long (Acts 28:10, cf. Acts 28:11)?

What do Christians do for their unbelieving neighbors? Acts 27:1–28:10 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fifty-four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that with their neighbors, Christians act as those who belong to God, praying and laboring for their neighbors’ earthly and eternal good. 

Walking by faith, not by sight. In the Christian life, there is always more than meets the eyes. So, as holy Scripture teaches us, we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). To the eye of sight, it looks like Paul is bound and that his life is constantly in danger from shipwreck (Acts 27:20), from soldiers who don’t wish to lose prisoners (Acts 27:42), from venomous snakes (Acts 27:3), etc. But to the eye of faith, Paul “must bear witness at Rome” (cf. Acts 23:11) and “must be brought before Caesar” (Acts 27:24), because the eye of faith “believe[s] God that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:25). 

Faith not only believes God’s Word but believes that it is God Who is at work in His world. So when Julius treats Paul kindly in Acts 27:3, it is because God Himself is treating Paul kindly. And when Julius gives him liberty, it is because God Himself is giving Paul liberty. And when the sailing is with difficulty in Acts 27:7-9, it is still because God is treating Paul with love and ordering all things according to His will. And the same even with the great storm in Acts 27:13-20.

Other people don’t always listen to us. Paul’s good counsel in Acts 27:10 was rejected. But the Christian always has the ear of God, always has the intercession of Christ, always has the service of the angels. God doesn’t always do what we say, because we do not always say rightly. But He always lavishly grants whatever is good! So, whether the Lord stands by Paul and the whole island of Malta honors him (Acts 28:10), or the Lord stands by Paul when his own children in the faith abandon him (cf. 2 Timothy 4:14–17), he may always be sure that the Lord stands by him. 

Working  wisely by faith. Of course, believing that God is at work in His world is not an excuse to act neglectfully or foolishly but a help to act wisely and prudently. For now, it is not merely the mechanics of sailing and meteorology that suggests that you shouldn’t sail at the wrong time (Acts 27:10). Nor is it merely the mechanics of psychology that suggests you should take heart (Acts 27:22Acts 27:25) or the mechanics of biology that suggests you should take nourishment when about to be physically taxed (Acts 27:33). 

Faith sees God as working through physics and meteorology and biology. Faith sees everything that happens in the world as personal and providential. And since God has appointed means by which He works, responsibility and diligence and wisdom and prudence become opportunities to trust Him Who made the world this way, and to depend upon Him in acting consistently with how He made things, and to accept His generous invitation to be participants in His work by walking in wisdom.

Praying for good to the God Who is good. And since providence is personal, faith also prays to God for that which the naturalist or humanist cannot hope for. The others had given up hope in Acts 27:20, but what did Paul do? He prayed! The angel tells him in Acts 27:24 that that “God has granted you all those who sail with you.” Paul had prayed not only for himself but for everyone on board. Those whose folly had gotten him into this position, other prisoners who were probably guilty of their crimes, soldiers who would have been ready to execute him if convenient… Paul had prayed for everyone!

And he prayed not as the unbelieving pray. Many even who profess faith in Christ are unbelieving and pray as those hoping against hope or groveling for scraps. Paul had prayed to God as one who belongs to God. Paul had prayed to God as one who worships God. He prayed with the confidence of fellowshipping and worshiping. And God lavished his request upon him. Again, Paul prays for all in the presence of all, when he has not only encouraged but now feeds the whole ship (Acts 27:33-37). 

Then in Malta, his concern is more than just for himself. Even at this stage of his life, the man whom many attend in his declining physical ability is found gathering sticks and laying them on the fire for the protection of all from the rain and from the cold. Paul had confidence in the Lord that the viper in Acts 28:4 could not kill him, because he must appear before Caesar, and surely he knew that the cold and rain could not take him either. His concern was for his brothers and neighbors. And this concern overflows one more time into prayer with Publius’s father (Acts 28:8), and another multitude of times with the whole rest of the island (Acts 28:9).

Walking in wisdom as those who wish others to be with us and with God. Finally,  faith desires company. It desires others to take heart. It desires others to be wise. It desires others to come to belong to the God to whom we belong. It desires others to come to worship the God that we worship. For, it is more powerful to belong to this God and to worship this God, than even if one could be a so-called “god” like those the world imagines (Acts 28:6). So faith desires what God desires and prays and labors to see it come about, all in dependence upon the Lord Himself.

What providence has God been personally giving you in His kindness? How do you describe Him to others? How do you think of Him for yourself? For whose earthly and eternal good have you been asking God? 

Sample prayer:  Father, we thank You that we may believe You that all will be just as You have told us. You are the God to Whom we belong and Whom we worship. Grant that we would be people of prayer for the earthly and eternal good of those around us. And grant that good for which we pray, as we ask it through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH238 “Lord, with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee”

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