Unexpected kindness

OPENING PRAYER

Abba, even in our most dangerous journeys, You are with us extending help, protection and grace.

 

Read: ACTS 27:1-12

[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. [9] Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement. So Paul warned them, [10] “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” [11] But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. [12]Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.

 

Reflect: IN WHAT WAYS WAS PAUL BEING PROVIDED FOR?

The story now moves from land to sea; from courts and the company of kings and officials, to a sailing ship with soldiers, sailors and other prisoners; from the defense of faith to the saving of lives. The account is peppered with the word “we,” reminding us that Paul had companionship on this journey. It also wasn’t the best time of year for traveling by sea (9). Verse 3 almost escapes attention in the midst of the maritime details. The Roman army didn’t exactly have a reputation for being friendly, yet here is the centurion Julius allowing Paul to land at Sidon so that his needs may be provided for. These would almost certainly be practical or financial, perhaps food and clothing; but it also gave Paul an opportunity to see his friends at the start of what must have seemed a daunting future. The text doesn’t say so, but there are good grounds for thinking that there were Christians in Sidon–and it’s easy to imagine that they prayed with Paul, and assured him of their prayers as he set out for Rome. This unexpected blessing–from the centurion for allowing it, and from the friends who gave it–must have warmed Paul’s heart at the beginning of this last journey.

 

APPLY

“Freely you have received; freely give” (Matt. 10:8). Ask God to show you where, when and to whom.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank You for inviting us into the community of love that is Your very being.

 

Syndicated via Scripture Union
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