The Apostle Paul has been arrested for starting a riot in Jerusalem and he’s on a ship headed for Rome where he plans to appeal his case to Caesar. Their ship has been violently battered by a severe storm for the past 2 weeks because the commander in charge refused to believe the warning Paul was trying to give him and the majority was anxious to get started. The captain and crew have done everything they could think of trying to save the ship, but nothing worked. The storm just kept getting worse. It’s all in God’s hands now.
27:33a – “Just before dawn…”
Isn’t that when things are supposed to be the darkest? They haven’t seen the sun or the moon for two weeks. While the storm was still fully raging, before there was any sign that things were even starting to get better; before they saw any evidence that God was keeping His promises, that the Lord was answering prayer; during the worst, most unbearable moment in the storm, when they were at their absolute breaking point and they couldn’t take it any longer,
Acts 27:33 – “Paul urged them all to eat.” Instead of sitting here waiting to die, let’s get up and start living again.
Acts 27:33b “’For the last fourteen days,’ he said, ‘you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food – You haven’t eaten anything.’”
“You have been in constant suspense.” Your body is tense, your mind is racing and your spirit has been crushed. You’re just sitting here waiting to die. You’re actually looking forward to death so this whole terrible ordeal can finally be over.
Acts 27:34 – “’Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.”
“You need it to survive.” We’ll not only make it through this storm we’re going to overcome and conquer it. I don’t know how much longer this is going to go on. I don’t know why the Lord is letting it go on this long. But I do know that the Lord has promised that we’re all going to live and, somehow, He’ll find a way to make it happen.
I don’t know about you, but I’m putting on my shorts. I’m going up on deck. I’m setting up my chair. I’m firing up the grill and I’m thawing out some steaks because I know the sun is going to shine on us again.
Right now, this storm is worse than ever, but I know it’s coming to an end. I’m thanking God for the victory. I’m thanking God for my salvation. I’m thanking God for my deliverance right now, before the dawn, before I can see it, before it happens. I’m going to start praising Him right now because I know He will not fail.
Acts 27:35 – “After he said this, he took some bread in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.”
“Be joyful always; pray constantly; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s Will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
“Give thanks in all circumstances,” regardless of the circumstances; CEV “Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.” Paul wasn’t thanking God for the storm. He was thanking Him for bringing them safely out of the storm.
Not thanking Him for the circumstances but thanking Him and trusting Him while we’re going through those circumstances is really what God wants us to do. During the most stressful and distressful times, during the most discouraging times, we can keep thanking God because we know He keeps His promises and He will not fail.
It doesn’t take any faith to thank God when the trial is over. Even non-believers can do that. Faith is always praising God before the storm is over. Faith begins praising God “just before dawn” because it knows the dawn is coming.
Faith knows that daylight is coming. Faith will always be praising God for the victory before the battle is over because, in its darkest hours, faith knows the victory is guaranteed. We praise God in every painful and overwhelming situation because we know that He is always in that painful, overwhelming situation working for our good. Paul gave thanks to God “in front of them all.” He set the example. He led the way.
Acts 27:36-37 “They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board.”
A little while ago, they had given up “all hope of being saved,” but now “they were all encouraged and ate some food.” They were no longer discouraged. All 275 of them were encouraged because of what Paul said and did in front of them during the darkest hours of the storm. He ate and then they began to eat. When he stood up and started living again, the rest of them started coming alive.
Instead of acting like everyone else on that ship, the demonstration of his faith, his unwavering trust in God’s word made everyone else on that ship start to act like him. Paul’s testimony, his godly example made a difference on that ship.
When we’re going through difficult and unpleasant times, when we’re struggling through an overwhelming trial, when we’re fighting one battle after another and we’re with our family and friends who don’t share our faith in Jesus, we need to stop and ask ourselves, “Are they starting to act like us or are we starting to act like them? Are we encouraging them in this storm or are they discouraging us?”
Are they starting to sound as hopeful and positive as we are or are we starting to sound as negative and cynical as they are? Are we getting to them with the good news, with the hope and the assurance of the gospel or are they getting to us with their bad news, with their pessimism and despair? Are we lifting them up or are they pulling us down? Lord willing, let’s pick it up from here next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s Word with Pasto Buj. Spread the word and encourage others to get on board.