Today’s Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 7-8:40; Acts 27:1-20; Psalm 7:1-17; Proverbs 18:22
Our readings in 1 Chronicles 7 & 8 continue the genealogical lists of the tribes of Israel. 1 Chronicles was written during the time of the exile of Israel/Judah. The most intelligent and skilled people had been taken captive by Assyria and Babylon and exiled to those nations. The people were probably losing their identity as they were immersed into these foreign cultures.
The writer of Chronicles seems to be reminding his readers of their heritage. We do the same thing today. There has been a big interest in tracing our ancestry in recent years. People want to know where they came from and who their ancestors were, who they married, where they worked, etc. Knowing who we are helps define us.
Of course, ultimately we all came from Adam & Eve and we were all created by God. If we keep that in mind we will know exactly who and what we are. As interesting as it may be to find out that our great-great-grandfather fought in the Civil War, we cannot find our identity or purpose in another human being.
We find our identity in what God says about us. We are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) created by Him for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11).
Paul is put onboard a ship bound for Rome in Acts 27. Notice that Luke and others were with him (Acts 27:1). When the ship docked the next day at Sidon Paul was allowed to go ashore and meet with friends. This is all very unusual. Prisoners weren’t allowed to bring guests on board nor were they allowed to leave the ship. But Paul was granted special favor for a couple of reasons. He was not yet a condemned criminal, whereas the other prisoners were probably already convicted and were going to Rome to be executed.
But also we have think that Paul’s behavior garned some favor with the guards. Paul’s speeches before the Roman leaders were well received. He spoke the truth and did not lie. The Romans clearly believed he was an honest man who was not guilty of the charges against him.
Here we see that our behavior really matters. It should always be on our minds to conduct ourselves in a way that makes people take note because even our most ardent enemies will notice our good behavior when we are in bad situations. One of my favorite Bible verses states this clearly:
Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:27 NIV)
Its no coincidence that these words were written by Paul. He practiced what he preached.
In verse 9 Luke mentions the “fast” – a reference to the Day of Atonement which occurred in late September or early October. Based on this information we can determine the time of year this voyage took place.
Paul had already completed three missionary journeys and had spent many days on board ships in the process. He had been shipwrecked three times (2 Corinthians 11:25). He knew that the ship he was now on was in trouble if they kept going (Acts 27:10). But the officer in charge, understandably, dismisses Paul’s opinion in favor of the opinion of the ship’s owner and captain who had monetary interests at stake.
There are times in life when we need to put our material ambitions on hold in order to spend time with God. This may be short-term or perhaps long-term. In fact, I am going through this right now. Just recently I sold all my stocks because they were becoming a distraction to me. I was checking the stock market many times per day (too many) and was becoming too worried about my finances. God told me to stay away from all that for 6 months and to spend more time with Him.
When I read this passage today I saw my future if I had continued to be led by my concern for material comfort – I would have drifted out to sea, tossed around by the storms of life. Instead I am working on my relationship with God – which definitely needs work.
Luke was only a passenger on this ship but things got so bad that even he had to pitch in to help (Acts 27:16). The voyage became so perilous that everyone (including the experienced sailors) lost all hope. Today’s reading has left us with a cliffhanger. We’ll see out things turn out tomorrow (Hint: remember, Jesus told Paul that he was going to preach in Rome).
When we are being attacked by others the best, and first, thing we should do is turn to God as David does in Psalm 7:1. God is always just. He will always do he right thing (Psalm 7:11, 17). Even if that means exposing our own sin as the cause of our trouble (Psalm 7:3-5). In any case we should confidently let God handle the situation. When we do we will be able to sing praises to Him even in the midst of adversity (Psalm 7:17).
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