Torchbearers for Christ
Thursday, August 16, 2018
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THE JOURNEY OF FAITH - (Part 2)

FROM THE LAUNCHING TO THE LANDING

 
In last month’s message (The Journey of Faith - Part 1), we shared thoughts about Paul’s sea journey to Rome contained in Acts 27 and some of the experiences he encountered in between the “launching” of the ship (vs. 2) and arriving “safe to land” (vs. 44).
 
We suggested that the story could be likened to the Christian’s journey to his heavenly home and the various experiences that might occur along the way. The Lord had told Paul that he was sending him to Rome (Acts 23:11), but he did not tell him that he would make the journey on board ship as a prisoner in the company of a number of other prisoners. Similarly, God does not tell us everything that will be involved as we seek to follow and obey Him, but we are assured that whatever may come our way, whether favourable or unfavourable circumstances, there are lessons to be learned and we have God’s promise in Matthew 28:19,20 “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”.
 
Let us think about some of the experiences through which Paul passed during his journey. In Acts 27:3 we read how he was given permission to “go unto his friends and refresh himself”. Paul enjoyed the company of fellow believers and hopefully this is a privilege we can all enjoy. Throughout the New Testament, we learn how Christians met together for instruction, for worship, for breaking of bread, for prayer, and for mutual encouragement. There is no doubt that the company of fellow Christians can be of great benefit and God reminds us “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25).
 
We learn from Acts 27:4 that “the winds were contrary”. Although Paul was in God’s will, the Lord did not shield him from contrary winds, nor has He promised that we will be spared from difficult times. No doubt we are all aware of fellow Christians who are passing through painful experiences at the present time. Sometimes it is difficult for us to understand why good people suffer as they do, but God has promised that “He will be with us in trouble (Psalm 91:15) and that “.....all things work together for good to them that love God....” (Romans 8:28).
 
In Acts 27:6 we are told that there was a change of ships. The journey continued in a new environment. Change is part of life and doubtless we have all known what it is to find ourselves in an entirely new situation and, here too, we are assured of God’s continued presence. He never changes (Malachi 3:6).
 
In Acts 27:13 we read that “the south wind blew softly”. Everything seemed peaceful, but then “not long after, there arose against the ship a tempestuous wind” (v.14). In the Christian life circumstances may change dramatically within a very short time. For many days during which “neither sun nor stars appeared” (v.20), the situation seemed hopeless. In the midst of this desperate situation, the Lord spoke to Paul, giving him an assurance that, while the ship would be lost, there would be no loss of life. In the earlier message we learned how Paul took this message to heart, giving an assurance to his fellow passengers that all would be well, saying, “I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me” (v. 25). Paul had implicit faith in God’s promise and we may have that same implicit faith.
 
On several occasions we read how the passengers “lightened the ship”, throwing overboard anything that might further endanger their lives. As Christians we would do well to consider whether there are “weights that need to be laid aside” (Hebrews 12:1), perhaps habits or life choices which are hindering our spiritual progress.   
 
Finally, we learn how the ship ran aground in a place “where two seas met” (v. 41). The ship was broken up with the violence of the waves, but all the passengers escaped “safe to land”. One day we will all face a situation where “two seas meet” – the sea of time and the sea of eternity. May we share Paul’s fine ambition given to us in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”.  
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  For many years, he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.