INTERESTING FACTS : Elias Boudinot, PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS; SIGNED THE PEACE TREATY TO END THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION; FIRST ATTORNEY ADMITTED TO THE U. S. SUPREME COURT BAR; FRAMER OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS; DIRECTOR OF THE U. S. MINT
"Let us enter on this important business under the idea that we are Christians on whom the eyes of the world are now turned... [L]et us earnestly call and beseech Him, for Christ's sake, to preside in our councils. . . . We can only depend on the all powerful influence of the Spirit of God, Whose Divine aid and assistance it becomes us as a Christian people most devoutly to implore. Therefore I move that some minister of the Gospel be requested to attend this Congress every morning . . . in order to open the meeting with prayer"[1
Daily Reading : ACTS 24 - 26; 27 - 28
TEXT : Acts 27:19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. 27:20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. 27:21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 27:22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. 27:23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 27:24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 27:25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
THEME : PROVIDENCE AND PROTECTION
After five days, Ananias the high priest, the elders, and one Tertullus, an orator, come to Caesarea to accuse Paul, Act_24:1. The oration of Tertullus, Act_24:2-9. Paul's defense, Act_24:10-21. Felix, having heard his defense, proposes to leave the final determination of it till Claudius Lysias should come down; and, in the mean time, orders Paul to be treated with humanity and respect, Act_24:22, Act_24:23. Felix, and Drusilla his wife, hear Paul concerning the faith of Christ; and Felix it greatly affected, Act_24:24, Act_24:25. On the expectation of obtaining money for his liberation, Felix keeps Paul in prison, Act_24:26, and being superseded in the government of Judea by Porcius Festus, in order to please the Jews, he leaves Paul bound, Act_24:27.
Porcius Festus being appointed governor of Judea, instead of Felix, the Jews beseech him to have Paul brought up to Jerusalem, that he might be tried there; they lying in wait to kill him on the way, Act_25:1-3. Festus refuses, and desires those who could prove any thing against him, to go with him to Caesarea, Act_25:4, Act_25:5. Festus, having tarried at Jerusalem about ten days, returns to Caesarea, and the next day Paul is brought to his trial, and the Jews of Jerusalem bring many groundless charges against him, against which he defends himself, Act_25:6-8. In order to please the Jews, Festus asks Paul if he be willing to go up to Jerusalem, and be tried there, Act_25:9. Paul refuses, and appeals to Caesar, and Festus admits the appeal, Act_25:10-13. King Agrippa, and Bernice his wife, come to Caesarea to visit Festus, and are informed by him of the accusations against Paul, his late trial, and his appeal from them to Caesar, Act_25:14-21. Agrippa desires to hear Paul; and a hearing is appointed for the following day, Act_25:22. Agrippa, Bernice, the principal officers and chief men of the city being assembled, Paul is brought forth, Act_25:23. Festus opens the business with generally stating the accusations against Paul, his trial on these accusations, the groundless and frivolous nature of the charges, his own conviction of his innocence, and his desire that the matter might be heard by the king himself, that he might have something specifically to write to the emperor, to whom he was about to send Paul, agreeably to his appeal, Act_25:24-27.
Paul answers for himself before Agrippa, to whom he pays a true compliment, in order to secure a favorable hearing, Act_26:1-3; gives an account of his education from his youth up, Act_26:4, Act_26:5; shows that the Jews persecuted him for his maintaining the hope of the resurrection, Act_26:6-8; states his persecution of the Christians, Act_26:9-11; gives an account of his miraculous conversion, Act_26:12-16; and of his call to the ministry, Act_26:16-18. His obedience to that call, and his success in preaching the doctrine of Christ crucified, Act_26:19-23. While he is thus speaking, Festus interrupts him, and declares him to be mad through his abundant learning, Act_26:24; which charge he modestly refutes with inimitable address, and appeals to King Agrippa for the truth and correctness of his speech, Act_26:25-27. On which, Agrippa confesses himself almost converted to Christianity, Act_26:28. Paul's affectionate and elegant address to him on this declaration, Act_26:29. The council breaks up, and they all pronounce him innocent, Act_26:30-32.
It being determined that Paul should be sent to Rome, he is delivered to Julius, a centurion, Act_27:1. They embark in a ship of Adramyttium, and come the next day to Sidon, Act_27:2, Act_27:3. They sail thence, and pass Cyprus, Cilicia, and Pamphylia, and come to Myra, Act_27:4, Act_27:5. They are transferred there to a ship of Alexandria going to Italy; sail past Cnidus, Crete, Salmone, and come to the Fair Havens, Act_27:6-8. Paul predicts a disastrous voyage, Act_27:9-11. They sail from the Fair Havens, in order to reach Crete, and winter there; but, having a comparatively favorable wind, they sail past Crete, and meet with a tempest, and are brought into extreme peril and distress, Act_27:12-20. Paul's exhortation and prediction of the loss of the ship, Act_27:21-26. After having been tossed about in the Adriatic Sea, for many days, they are at last shipwrecked on the island of Melita; and the whole crew, consisting of two hundred and seventy-six persons, escape safe to land, on broken fragments of the ship, vv. 27-44.
St. Paul, and the rest of the crew, getting safely ashore, find that the island on which they were shipwrecked is called Melita, Act_28:1. They are received with great hospitality by the inhabitants, Act_28:2. A viper comes out of the bundle of sticks, laid on the fire, and seizes on Paul's hand, Act_28:3. The people, seeing this, suppose him to be a murderer, and thus pursued by Divine vengeance, Act_28:4. Having shook it off his hand, without receiving any damage, they change their minds, and suppose him to be a God, Act_28:5, Act_28:6. Publius, the governor of the island, receives them courteously, and Paul miraculously heals his father, who was ill of a fever, etc., Act_28:7, Act_28:8. He heals several others also, who honor them much, and give them presents, Act_28:9, Act_28:10. After three months' stay, they embark in a ship of Alexandria, land at Syracuse, stay there three days, sail thence, pass the straits of Rhegium, and land at Puteoli; find some Christians there, tarry seven days, and set forward for Rome, Act_28:11-14. They are met at Appii Forum by some Christians, and Paul is greatly encouraged, Act_28:15. They come to Rome, and Julius delivers his prisoners to the captain of the guard, who permits Paul to dwell by himself only attended by the soldier that kept him, Act_28:16. Paul calls the chief Jews together, and states his case to them, Act_28:17-20. They desire to hear him concerning the faith of Christ, Act_28:21, Act_28:22; and, having appointed unto him a day, he expounds to them the kingdom of Christ, Act_28:23. Some believe, and some disbelieve; and Paul informs them that, because of their unbelief and disobedience, the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, Act_28:24-29. Paul dwells two years in his own hired house, preaching the kingdom of God, Act_28:30, Act_28:31.
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "WITH GOD'S PURPOSE, THERE IS GOD'S PROTECTION AND PROVISION."
Certainly the life of the Apostle Paul was not easy. You may recall, he was told by the Lord Jesus Christ how much he would suffer for the sake of the Gospel. In his second epistle to the Church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul gives a sketch of his life in ministry.
2Co 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 2Co 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 2Co 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 2Co 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 2Co 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 2Co 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 2Co 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 2Co 11:30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
Two considerations are equally important in the Apostle Paul's recounting of his afflictions and his suffering here in second Corinthians. First, is the obvious - all that he went through. It is amazing that any individual - for the sake of the Gospel, would or could go through all of these difficulties. The second consideration perhaps, is not so noticeable. It is the fact that in all of these adverse circumstances and harrowing events, he survived each and every one. God - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit along with ministering angels, continued to preserve the life of the Apostle Paul, even though he obviously was not spared from a life filled with adversity. From this you learn that when God has a purpose for your life, he provides and protects. The onus is on God as your Father to accomplish all of these things.
Further, in case you are prone to doubt, God has a specific purpose for the life of every person he saves. That is, everyone that is truly a Christian is being preserved and provided for. You are safe in this world and the next, because God has a purpose for your life. He has a plan, something in mind he needs to accomplish. Therefore, nothing can happen to you that God does not either ordain or permit. Moreover, even if your life is fraught with difficulties, problems, and perplexing events, you can be assured God is keeping you. Remember, the chief purpose of God for every Christian, is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Keep in mind, these three verses from Romans chapter 8 were written by the Apostle Paul. His words (that is, God's Word) where written by a man who experienced tremendous persecution and numerous frustrations, pain, and other vexing occurrences that often left him weak and frail in body. Yet, he "knew" that all things were working together for good; that is, his good, as God was fashioning him into the image of Jesus Christ. However, this is true of you also. Namely, God has a purpose for your life, and the goal - primarily, is to conform you into the image of Christ. Obviously, everything "working for good" includes your calling and vocation in life.
Yet, it is encouraging to know that because God does have a purpose for your life, he obligates himself to provide, protect, and preserve you. Therefore, since you are a Christian, you are covered by God's "assurance plan." This assurance is that Christ is in you and you are in Christ. Therefore, all that you need today, tomorrow, and forever will be provided for you because you belong to him, and he belongs to you.
Fannie Crosby, totally blind from the age of six weeks, and perhaps the most prolific hymn writer in Christian history (it is estimated that she wrote about 8000 hymns) once stated -
"It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me."[2
] Here, Fannie Crosby states the principle of Roman 8:28-29, as well as the attitude of the Apostle Paul. Namely, adversity and affliction work together for good to the Christian.
Thus, she wrote these words and one of her most famous hymns -
"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood."
Refrain: "This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long"
If you consider the text above, you will notice a few important points about the Apostle Paul's experience as a prisoner on this ship that is in a terrible storm. First, is the force and severity of the storm. It is called "Euroclydon" that in Greek, indicates a storm of unusual intensity. This storm was blowing on the waters from every direction. Most times storms blow from one, perhaps two directions. However, this unique and infrequent storm continued to blow from many directions. In the process, it caused the seas to have unusually high and forceful swells. Second, is the length of this storm. All of these men including the Apostle Paul were in the midst of this tempest for at least two weeks. So terrible was the storm, that no one on the ship ate any food for fourteen days. Next, after two weeks of incredible hardship, an angel appears to the Apostle Paul telling him - "fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee."
With this, the Apostle Paul adds - "wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, and it shall be even as it was told me." After this, the Apostle Paul encourages everyone to eat, and does so by breaking bread, giving thanks to God, then begins to eat first. Once again, we see in the lives of the early Church - in this case, the Apostle Paul, tremendous faith. Notice the words - "I believe God, and it shall be even as it was told me." Always keep in mind, faith believes God when he speaks, and faith speaks what God speaks before there is a fulfillment of what God has promised.
As you may imagine, this storm was no small trial for the Apostle Paul. After two full weeks of this incredibly powerful storm tearing the ship apart as experienced sailors look to abandon it, the ordeal must have taken its toll on the Apostle Paul. Yet, when he is told that God is going to spare him and everyone on the ship -he believes God. This is the essence of faith. It goes beyond the present circumstances and directs its attention to what God has promised. In other words, in spite of evidence to the contrary, or the present circumstance, a man or woman who has faith in God believes what God has written in his Book - the Holy Bible. Biblical faith, real faith, looks past the present distress to the future blessing. Faith, the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, believes against what may seem improbable or impossible. This you see in the life of the Apostle Paul.
Therefore, today believe that God has a purpose for your life every bit as much as he did for the Apostle Paul, or anyone else who truly belongs to Christ. Once you accept that fact, you can believe further that when God has a purpose, he also protects and provides until his purpose is accomplished. This is certainly a "Blessed Assurance."