Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Julius (Acts 27)


Acts 27 records the incredible story of Paul’s journey to Rome through the Mediterranean Sea. They are traveling on a very large ship (Luke reports that there were 276 people on board, 27:37). A Roman centurion by the name of Julius is in charge of transporting prisoners to Rome aboard this ship. One of those prisoners (Paul) will have a huge impact on his life. At first, Julius pays little attention to Paul’s advice concerning sailing (v.11). However, it can’t be deduced that Julius is unfair in his treatment of Paul because verse 3 records quite the opposite,

Julius, in his kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his
friends so they might provide for his needs.


Apparently Julius had a certain amount of respect for Paul. We’re not sure why; maybe it developed from the way Paul treated him, maybe Paul’s Roman citizenship helped him connect to Julius, or maybe good words from other Roman soldiers were spoken about Paul. Whatever the case, Paul and Julius know and communicate to each other.

As they continuing sailing Paul informs Julius and the men aboard the ship that the voyage is going to be dangerous. His advice is ignored and they continue sailing. It’s not long after this that the crew finds themselves in a violent “northeaster” storm. The storm is so bad that even Luke seems to indicate he’s lost hope. He writes in verse 20,

When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

An interesting change takes place in the heart of Julius during this trying time. He moves from treating Paul’s words as weightless and empty to believing everything Paul has to say (read verses 29-32 & 42-43). The previous night an angel of the Lord visited Paul and promised him that God would see everyone through and to safety (v.23-24). Paul holds tight to God’s promise and it gives him new inspiration during a difficult time. As we continue reading through Acts 27 we see Paul, in a way, take command of the ship. He’s their voice of reason during uncertainty and doubt. He relays God’s message to them, a message of hope and encouragement. A message that says, “Everyone will be saved!” And it’s amidst this backdrop, a horrible storm and no hope, that Julius finds trust in Paul’s words.

Questions:
- Does God use outside circumstances (e.g. a natural disaster, suffering, death, troubling time, etc.,) to bring us into a relationship with Him?
- If yes, how?
- Does God use outside circumstances (e.g. a natural disaster, suffering, death, troubling time, etc.,) to nurture our relationship with Him?
- Why?
- Do you think He cause events (e.g. a natural disaster, suffering, death, troubling time, etc.,) like that to happen?
- If you believe He causes events like that to happen, what does that say or teach about God?
- How does your view line up with what Scripture teaches?
- How would Julius answer these questions?

1 comment:

yourblogreader said...

God allows Christians to go through problems the same as non-Christians. The difference is the way a Christian handles a difficult issue. Difficult times bring me to my knees, but the same issues bring non-Christians to swearing, manipulating to get their way, gossiping and slander and more.

Tim, don't people know that if they put Christ first in their lives that everything else will fall into place, including problems???

To me the formula is simple: Put God First = Help with ALL of Life's Challenges/Problems.

My challenge to everybody who reads this blog is to pray from morning to night, "How can I put you (God) first today? Show me how to put you first in ___ and___ and____." And, after you have prayed this, be ready to pray it again, because 1 prayer won't keep you forever. You must be constantly renewing your relationship with HIM.