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Passage: Acts 27-28

On Saturday, December 2, 2017, Yujin wrote,

And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered (Acts 28:30-31).

Do you not find it remarkable that whether Paul is in chains or out of chains, God used Him to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Either he went to them or they came to him. Two full years in a Roman prison, he was able to preach and teach "with all openness, unhindered." Was his imprisonment a curse or a blessing? When you consider Paul's mission, it was a blessing. Could we not also ask this of Jesus' life? Was His crucifixion a curse or a blessing? When you consider Jesus' mission, it was the greatest blessing of all. He snatched victory from defeat.

Friends, let us not judge any outcome before the proper time. What we deem the curse of God may in fact turn out to be a great blessing. What a difference it would have made if Job and his friends understood what God was doing in allowing Satan to afflict Job as He did. God was showcasing Job to the entire universe as an example of faithfulness even in the face of terrible suffering and loss. Job may have had some inkling of what was going on when he said, "But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).

James reminds us, "Don't be decieved, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:16). And from Paul we read, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). By these verses we know that all the good we experience in life comes from God. We understand that God works even our bad experiences for our ultimate good. Therefore, there is no reason for us to worry or strive, as though if we don't, we'll miss out on God's good or God's best for us. Rather than worrying, let us trust God. Rather than striving in ambition let us persevere in faithfulness to His calling on our lives.

Passage: Acts 27-28

On Monday, December 1, 2014, Yujin wrote,

And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered (Acts 28:30-31).

This is a fascinating account. Even though he was under house arrest, it seems almost like a reprieve from all that he experienced up to this point. He was able to preach with "openness" and "unhindered." There were no Jews plotting to kill him. He did not need to flee from place to place. He was not dodging stones or recovering from a scourge. He had private quarters and was able to welcome all manner of visitors and freely tell them about the Lord Jesus. And it is likely that he wrote here the collection of letters known as Paul's Prison Epistles (i.e. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon). 

I made a friend at a Starbucks location that I frequent every morning to do my Quiet Time. He was very articulate and particularly well-read in matters of business and investment. But he told me that he had a rough past and even spent some time in prison. Yet, for him, it was not all bad, for he spent hours on end reading the Bible, having nothing better to do. He turned his adversity into a blessing.

Friends, when we are in the center of God's will, even adversities are blessings. 

Another friend of mine went to the same Men's Bible Study that I attended. He came faithfully every week, and we were all blessed by his sharing, even though he always gave the same prayer request regarding his insecure business. And we prayed for him. Well, shortly thereafter that business took a very positive turn, even a ten-fold return. But then he stopped coming to the Men's Bible Study because he got too busy managing his business. When finally he came, he shared how stressful the new-found success had become. My friend's blessing seemed more like an adversity. 

I don't want to go so far as to say that my friend was outside of God's will, but reflection gives me perspective, namely, that adversities can be blessings in disguise and blessings can become adversities. But when we are pursuing God's will, both blessings and adversities will be blessed. 

Passage: Acts 27-28

On Wednesday, March 7, 2012, Bill wrote,

These chapters conclude the book of Acts. Paul is being taken to Rome to defend himself against the charges brought by the Jewish leadership. The ship which Paul is on is battered by storms, but Paul comforts the crew with assurance given by angel that they will all remain safe.

(Acts 27:18-25)

18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: "Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island."

Pauls story has been one of constant persecution and yet constant faithfulness. Paul would stay the course despite the challenges - he counted his life nothing except to finish the task Christ set before him (Acts 20:24). One thing we note throughout Pauls challenges was Gods faithfulness to be with him through all the difficult times. Here we read that God sent an angel to Paul to assure him that he and the crew would reach ground safely. God promises to be with us in good and bad times, and when we remain faithful to God during trials we grow as Christians. While I 'see' Gods hand in my life and in others daily, I believe we can see God most clearly in our suffering.

Pauls story reflects perfectly what God expects from us in our trials. We will all face trials, but as Christians we are expected to remain faithful even in the bad time. Maybe I should say even-more during the bad times. Sometimes when time gets short or life demands get heavy, we cut out reading the bible, praying or serving at our church. I believe during these times we need to seek God even more. Martin Luther was quoted as saying that his day got so busy that he couldn’t start his day without two hours of prayer.

Passage: Acts 27-28

On Friday, December 3, 2010, Yujin wrote,

In Acts 27: 24 God sent an angel to tell Paul, "Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you." Isn't that amazing?! David Livingstone once wrote in a letter describing the death of a fellow minister in Africa: "Men are immortal until their work is done."When everyone else is panicking, Paul has peace, because he knows his work is not yet finished. Paul is reminded of this by the angel, and even more, he is encouraged by God's granting of the lives of those on the boat with him. Whatever other purpose they may have had in life, part of that purpose was to encourage Paul and speed him on his way to Rome.

You and I are immortal until our work is done. The only question is what work wil that be. Are we, like Paul, giving our whole heart to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ through our testimonies and our lives? Or are we, like the sailers, just so many supporting players in the drama. Whatever our role, may we not forget that God is in control. And He is swiftly bringing His story to a dramactic and climatic end.

Secondly, if I might comment on an Old Testament citation by Paul in Acts 28:26-27. He quotes the commissioning of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:9-10. The citation follows the reference pretty closely, but there is one significant point of departure. Where Isaiah 6:10 reads, "Make the heart of this people calloused...", Paul writes, "For the heart of this people has become dull" in Acts 28:27. In Isaiah, God is doing the hardening. In Acts, the Jews' hearts are already hardened.

Is this not the very same scenario that we found with Pharaoh in the Exodus, where God hardened Pharaoh's heart and Pharaoh hardened his own heart? Paul helps us to understand the words of Isaiah, which perplexes us because it seems to suggest that God hardens hearts. He does, but there is a caveat. Paul's interpretative citation reminds us that people's hearts are already hardened, so that what God does in hardening hearts to accomplish His purposes was already their natural condition. When God uses unbelievers, as He did the Gentile and Jewish rulers in the crucifixion of Christ, He is not making them sinful. They are already sinful by nature (cf. Ephesians 2:2-3), but the sovereign God can use their sinfulness to achieve His ends, even the salvation of those that He has chosen to believe and receive eternal life.

Therefore, let all of us, who are chosen by God and called according to His purposes (cf. Romans 8:28; 8:33), fear God and give Him glory. Let us worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water (cf. Revelation 14:7).