Keep up your courage, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.
Acts 27:21-44 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’ 25 Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on a certain island.”
27 But when the fourteenth night came, as we were being driven about in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors began to surmise that they were approaching some land. 28 They took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and a little farther on they took another sounding and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29 Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak. 30 But as the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had let down the ship’s boat into the sea, on the pretense of intending to lay out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it fall away.
33 Until the day was about to dawn, Paul was encouraging them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly watching and going without eating, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish.” 35 Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat. 36 All of them were encouraged and they themselves also took food. 37 All of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six persons. 38 When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea.
39 When day came, they could not recognize the land; but they did observe a bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could. 40 And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders; and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach. 41 But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim away and escape; 43 but the centurion, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, 44 and the rest should follow, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship. And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land.
Today’s text begins saying: When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’ Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. As I meditated on today’s text I could not help but to ask two questions of myself: 1) Do I have the confidence to declare what God has promised despite the evidence of the circumstances around us? 2 Corinthians 5:7 says: We walk by faith, not by sight. Do I walk the walk? Do I talk the talk? Every day I am faced with people who are struggling with physical circumstances, people with temporary or chronic health problems. Every day I see people who are struggling financially; emotionally or with relationships. Do I speak the promises of God; do I tell them what He has said, in spite of the evidence of the circumstances? Jesus taught us to pray saying: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We are to be people who would be the fulfillment of that prayer; who would bring the realities of heaven to the circumstances of earth. In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus says: “On this rock I will build My church, andthe gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The rock He is speaking of is the revelation that Jesus is the Christ. Those of us who have received that revelation have also been given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Have I used the keys to bind and loose in heaven and on earth? Have I used the keys to stand against the gates of Hell?
The second question I felt I needed to ask is: 2) Am I, like Paul, so walking in the calling of God that others might be preserved because of my call? Does the grace of God on my life over flow to the lives of those around me? In Psalm 91:5-10 the psalmist says: You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes And see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made the Lord, my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. Is my household protected by the grace of God on my life? Surely, I am no one’s savior. Each person must choose for themselves whether they will believe in, trust in and abide in God and Christ, but in Psalm 23:5-6 the psalmist says: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Does the oil of the Holy Spirit overflow in my life? Galatians 5:22-25 says: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Are these the things that overflow from my life to those around me? Proverbs 5:21-22 says: If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you. Even those who held Paul captive were preserved and protected. When the Lord prepares a table in the presence of my enemies, do I give them food to eat and water for their thirst? Understand that the burning coals that are heaped on the head of our enemy are not meant for their destruction. Rather, they are like the coals in Isaiah 6:6-7 which says: Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” In Matthew 5:44-45;48 Jesus says: “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven… you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Am I perfect? Surely not. As I continue to meditate on the questions about myself: 1) Do I have the confidence to declare what God has promised despite the evidence of the circumstances around us? 2) Am I, like Paul, so walking in the calling of God that others might be preserved because of my call? I have to answer no. The text ends saying: So it happened that they all were brought safely to land. My desire, despite the circumstances and despite my shortcomings, is that my story, the account of my life would have the same ending.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, surely I am far from perfect, but as it says in Hebrews 12:1-2: Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, I choose to lay aside even my weaknesses and shortcomings. Fixing my eyes on You, my faith is perfected. May the grace on my life overflow to the lives of those around me. Amen.