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Travelling In Faith And Confidence

Acts 27:1-4
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. 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. 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. From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. (NIVUK)

Even though King Herod Agrippa decided that Paul had not done anything wrong, Festus had to send the Apostle to Rome because Paul had exercised his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar (Acts 26:30-32). Several prisoners were to travel together, escorted by a centurion and his soldiers (Acts 27:42). It seems that this officer may have come from Rome as a part of the Imperial Bodyguard to escort Governor Festus to his new post (Acts 25:1). His task in accompanying the prisoners would relocate him back in Rome again.

But Paul had not been charged, and was being treated differently to the other prisoners. During the past two years of protective custody in Caesarea Maritima (Acts 24:27), Paul was allowed some freedom; his friends came with food, clothing and gospel company (Acts 24:23). That privilege was extended on the journey too. Luke uses 'we' from Acts 27:1-28:16, indicating that he went with Paul. Aristarchus was also in the group: he had travelled to Jerusalem with Paul from Macedonia (Acts 19:29; 20:4) and eventually also became a prisoner in Rome (Colossians 4:10). In Sidon, Paul was again allowed to lodge with Christian friends, gathering prayer support for his gospel mission to Rome.

The plan was to sail to the ports of what is now western Turkey, but the autumn strong north west winds were a little early that year, forcing a route to the north of Cyprus. It would lose them time before the winter gales came. Yet the Lord was in full command of his apostle's itinerary, and of the destiny of all who sailed with him. Even during this voyage, it would become clear to the soldiers and sailors that Paul was fully confident he was still Christ's missionary.

When circumstances change, the Lord does not. He is still in command and has the right to rearrange the timetable. He can change the winds and waves to suit His purpose (Mark 4:41). He can arrange transport, companions, food and clothing. He can soften the hearts of hard people and facilitate genuine fellowship. Paul was so confident that his life was in the Lord's hands that he was not going to be afraid, and would not stop telling the gospel. God has not changed. The reason we can travel in faith and confidence is that we know that the Lord works everything together for good (Romans 8:28). So, do not be afraid; what is unknown to you is fully understood by the Lord. You cannot see the path, destination or timetable … but He sees it all and nothing will stop Him getting the right people to the right place at the right time for the right reason (Jeremiah 20:11). Let Him lead, and be confident He will provide.

God of grace. Thank You for always knowing what is best. Forgive me for the times when I have struggled against Your plans instead of trusting You for all I cannot see. Please help me to be confident in Your grace and wisdom so that I will confidently continue to work for You, however the circumstances may change. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams