28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 27
WEEK 27 - ACTS 27 - February 11, 2019
Written by Rev. Dr. Matt Judkins, Pastor, McAlester First UMC; Jurisdictional Conference Delegate
Travel is always fraught with risks, but Paul’s journey to Rome by ship was particularly difficult. During Paul’s life, travel by sea was incredibly dangerous. Without the benefit of modern meteorology, ships and crews faced unpredictable weather which led to poor visibility as well as danger of capsizing if the ship took aboard too much water.
Against the advice of Paul, a seasoned traveler, the centurion in charge of the ship taking Paul to Rome launched out to sea. They made “slow headway for many days” (v. 7), and “moved along the coast with difficulty.” (v. 8). We read that, “much time had been lost and sailing had already became dangerous” (v. 9) because of the late season in which the crew decided to travel. It wasn’t long before the boat was caught up in a hurricane force wind, swept away from the island, and caught in a storm that drove the boat along out of control. (vv. 14-15)
I find it interesting that these descriptions of Paul’s journey could easily be applied to our denomination. When we look at the challenges we are facing, it is easy to say we’ve made slow headway for many days. We’ve moved along with difficulty. We face peril because of the cultural season in which we find ourselves.
In spite of this, Paul stood firm with a vision from God (vv. 21b-26). An angel appeared to Paul and spoke to him, saying, “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.” Paul then spoke from this vision to encourage those around him. All would be well, even though they would still face a shipwreck.
In the middle of our storms, we seek wisdom in a number of places. We seek out the best consultant. We read the latest expert’s advice on “navigating the waves.” And yet now, like then, what we truly need is a solid word from the Lord. The storms of our times are pushing water over the bow of this ship we call the church. The only thing that will give us encouragement is a powerful vision from God.
We are in a season, like Paul, where we must listen carefully to the word of the Lord, confirmed through Scripture. We may have to lighten the load by leaving behind cherished programs or agencies, but if we are careful to listen to God and to live in obedience to God’s word, we will reach land safely. This will happen in God’s timing and by God’s grace, even if there is loss and apparent shipwreck.
Eventually, Paul and the others aboard reached their destination. They ended up exactly where God wanted them to be, but to do so they had to trust God more than their own ingenuity or ability to read the signs of the times.
Suggested reading schedule
• Monday - Acts 27:1-8
• Tuesday - Acts 27:9-12
• Wednesday - Acts 27:13-20
• Thursday - Acts 27:21-26
• Friday - Acts 27:27-32
• Saturday - Acts 27:33-38
• Sunday - Acts 27:39-44
Reflection question: How are you seeking to receive a vision from God for the future? Are you listening more carefully to the voices of experts or the voice of the Lord?
Prayer focus: Pray for the safety of those traveling from other countries to be present at the called session of General Conference 2019.
If you wish to contact the delegation via email the address is firstname.lastname@example.org