Please take the time to watch this NDE (Near Death Experience) video. It is a powerful example of how to find redemption when you have no idea where to look.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. ~ Jeremiah 29:11-14a NLT
For the written testimony of how to share “Jesus Did It”, click the link.
It may seem like an odd title for the meeting between The Apostle Paul and the Jewish leadership at Rome. However, we find that by the end of the day (and the Bible says “from morning till evening”) Paul testifies with all of the love in his heart that Jesus is the One who fulfills both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. In other words, Jesus is indeed the long-awaited Messiah!
Yet some believe and some doubt. As they prepare to leave his house, Paul delivers a tender message straight from the Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah:
‘Go to this people and say:
“Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive;
27For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ ~Acts 28:26-27 NKJV
Notice that not Paul, but The Holy Spirit, mentions that the people’s hearts have turned away from God. Praise God that some of the Jews receive Jesus that day; while the remainder depart to argue the matter.
28”Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”29And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. ~ Acts 28:28-29 NKJV
Paul continues to preach about the Lord Jesus Christ from his own rental house for two more years. No one forbids Paul, and we have no idea how many lives are brought into God’s kingdom through Paul at Rome. Whatever the number, PRAISE THE LORD! – for each and every heart that softens, brightens, and turns to Jesus.
Long, Long ago the Lord said His love is everlasting, unfailing, and His heart is drawn toward His people. God’s Valentine’s Day message to you is Turn, TURN your heart to Jesus. Repent and receive salvation today.
Firstly, God bless you for reading and following Jesus!
²²But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONGSUFFERING, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, ²³GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL. Against such there is no law. . . 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.~Galatians 5:22,23,25 NKJV
7Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap . . . 8bbut he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. . . . 16And as many as walk according to this rule, PEACE and MERCY be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.~Galatians 6:7,8b,9,16 NKJV (emphasis added)
Brethren, keep God’s law – love one another. Share each others’ burdens. Keep sowing to the Spirit and reap everlasting life. Don’t lose heart!
So after waiting out the winter storms at the island of Malta, it’s time for departure. The Apostle Paul and two hundred seventy-five other prisoners, Roman soldiers, and crew begin the last leg of the journey to Rome.
And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days. ~ Acts 28:12 NKJV
Syracuse is only 80 miles or so from Malta, so this is only a day trip out. Being a trading vessel, The Twin Brothers puts into Syracuse, the ancient capital of the island of Sicily. Cargo is offloaded, and new merchandise is brought aboard. Then the captain of the ship awaits a favorable south wind for immediate departure to the next port …
Not happening …
My heart says that if Paul can manage permission to go ashore, he is anxious to evangelize at Sicily. Indeed, modern Sicilians claim that their present day church was founded by the Apostle Paul. On the surface, that may sound like a walk in the park, but not necessarily. Ancient Syracuse is a city of great commerce, wealth, beauty, and splendor. The city is full of grand marble structures, statues and fountains. Temples to Jupiter, Fortune, Diana, and Minerva evidence the idolatry at Syracuse. There must be resistance to Paul’s Gospel if the centurion, Julius, allows Paul shore leave.
Finally after three days the winds turn around, the captain barks departure orders, and the crew casts off.
13From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli, 14where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days.And so we went toward Rome. ~Acts 28:13-14 NKJV
How encouraging to meet up with brethren! The week is certainly full of mystery about who these believers are. There has long been a Jewish colony at Puteoli, but nothing is said here about the history of this group of believers. Imagine how warm the greetings are at Paul’s arrival! Perhaps they host the entire ship of people with food and celebration while Paul makes new disciples and teaches about Jesus.
Then everyone aboard The Twin Brothers disembarks at Puteoli, as the remaining journey to Rome is overland. Julius organizes his soldiers and prisoners for the 129-mile march to Rome.
Excited believers in Rome hear that Paul is getting close. They rush out to meet the group of travelers as they arrive forty miles outside of Rome. Luke states that Paul is very encouraged by this gesture and thanks God for the love shown to him by the believers of Rome.
Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him. ~Acts 28:16 NKJV
Ah, that Julius! He surely cares for Paul’s well-being. And the Lord provides for Paul’s needs through Julius!
So what is to be gleaned from retelling this story of Paul’s Voyage to Rome? I see God’s divine guidance upon this journey. The Lord mapped out the route and the timing; mastered the weather, and selected kindly authority – namely the centurion, Julius. God placed Luke there as physician and recorder of the events. Nothing happens by chance with Almighty God. He let it be known to all people on and off both ships of His Supreme Power juxtaposed to the impotency of pagan idols encountered on the voyage.
And God is just getting started! Paul remains at Rome for two more years while God prepares Roman authority to hear Paul’s legal case. Roman and Jewish leadership is moved around by God as on a chessboard. Paul meets with the Jewish leadership in Rome right away in order to explain about his reason for being there and about Jesus, Who fulfills both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. Paul preaches from his rented house to any and all who come to hear the Gospel of Christ. During that time God’s powerful plans for the spreading of the Gospel press forward, with Paul standing up for Jesus as the Messiah against powerful worldly opposition.
The best thing about Paul is that he is willing to do God’s work. He focuses on the prize, and not his surroundings. He trusts the Lord. Isn’t that exactly what our Lord expects from Jesus’ followers today?
“Father God, today I trust that Your will be done as it was for Paul; that Your hand will direct the route, the timing, the means, weather, and favorable authority over my steps. Forgive me for passing up opportunities to share Your Gospel in favor of my own vain materialistic pursuits. Give me the heart of a servant, so I may grow by Your Holy Spirit to become more like Jesus; and increasingly share Your Word in the time remaining. In the Blessed Name Above All Names, Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah, Amen.”
We may have to check in on that meeting between Paul and the Jewish leadership at Rome. In the meantime, thank you for following
Three months on the island of Malta and Julius must be anxious to get going. During this time does he becomes a believer? We know he cares for Paul, but Luke does not reveal Julius’s heart for Jesus. We do know that the centurion makes sure this voyage resumes.
When everyone who was sick was healed, Luke says, “this was done.” That tiny phrase packs a wallop with me. Besides rest, healing, and many new converts (I believe), what else was done? Throughout the journey from Jerusalem; the Euroclydon and shipwreck on Malta; I somehow sense that the Lord is slowing down Paul’s arrival at Rome. Despite the storm and shipwreck, castaways, snakebite, and massive healings on Malta; this is a very productive trip so far. We know the heart of Paul is to hurry to the new congregation in Rome, but Paul takes advantage of the many opportunities to preach¹. Does Paul write any letters to any churches during this time? I can’t find evidence, but possibly he did and they were destroyed during times of church persecutions.
God never does anything without a reason. Besides all His miracles and Paul’s preaching, what is going on over at Rome? What was done to prepare the way for Paul to stay there a few years while his legal case slowly grinds through the Roman court system? Our Lord works supernaturally behind the scenes while humans deal with daily routines of life. While three months of winter storms blow themselves out across the Mediterranean Sea, God is preparing a house for Paul, and the hearts of spiritual newborns at the church in Rome. No doubt God is already working out the legal case pending against Paul, too. And not any small thing, the Holy Spirit has been changing the hearts of the Maltese toward Paul and the rest of the sailing group. You gotta know that new relationships have been formed during the past three months – both spiritual and carnal. Think of the tears as new friendships are feeling the sadness of parting … I just smile thinking that God uses these sort of events to work his love and tenderness in the hearts of people.
As Julius gets the ship ready to go, here come the natives with gifts of every sort to sustain them on their voyage to Rome. It is a huge send-off and probably takes two or three days to stow all the cargo plus secure the prisoners aboard. Big feasts and tearful goodbyes may end up with friends launching canoes in order to follow the ship out a little way; maybe some cast flowers onto the surface of the sea.
They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary. ~ Acts 28:10 NKJV
Finally, the voyage to Rome resumes! Click on the ship to link to an interactive map of Paul’s journey ↓
“Thank you, Lord, for helping us to get done what is Your will during our life’s journey. May it be pleasing to You, in the Matchless Name Above All Names, Jesus (Yeshua). Amen.”
Just as God promised, all two hundred seventy-six persons aboard the doomed ship are saved! The natives are friendly, and help the soggy sailors build a fire on the beach, as it is cold and rainy. They let Paul’s party know that the island is called Malta!
Luke records that the natives are UNUSUALLY friendly. I wonder why? Perhaps some of the foodstuffs and boat gear has been washing up on the beach during Euroclydon and they are in a happy mood. They may think their gods are favoring them with more surprises from the sea for their entertainment … or exploitation.
No sooner does Paul gather wood for the fire than he is bitten by a viper, which scares the locals. Paul just shakes the snake into the fire, and the Maltese immediately expect Paul to succumb to the venomous attack. They suspect the prisoner Paul of being a murderer or something. He must be deserving of such horrid judgement. But Paul is not harmed.
So now he must be a god!
This is so true of humans even today. Idol worship still makes no common sense.
Anyway, the mayor of the area, a man named Plubius, courteously invites the shipwrecked crew into his home for three days. Plubius’s father is sick with fever and dysentery, so Paul prays and lays hands on the man. The man is healed, and the good news spreads across Malta. If there are any lingering suspicions of the foreigners in their midst, all doubt is now erased. Is this further proof that Paul is indeed a visiting god? Here come the island’s sick and diseased. Their sicknesses are healed, too.
Of course, Paul does not allow the Maltese to worship him as a god. He ministers to the entire island about Jesus and many become believers.
Why do I believe that there were many saved at Malta because of the witness of Paul?
Because that is what Apostles are instructed to do by the Master, Jesus (Yeshua). And throughout the Book of Acts Prayer for the sick and Laying on of Hands leads to Healing and that leads to Belief in Jesus and Salvation in Him – it’s a heavenly formula!
12And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people … 13Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. ~ (Peter) in Acts 5:12-15 NKJV
God even uses resurrection of the dead to reach people for salvation in Jesus. Take the instance of Jesus raising Lazarus; or the Apostle Peter at Joppa:
Tabitha (Dorcas), who was a Christian disciple, took sick and died. Other disciples knew that Peter was staying at Lydda, which was not far from Joppa. Two men went to Peter and asked him to help.
39Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord. ~ Acts 9:39-42 NKJV
There are many other scriptural examples of what I think happened on Malta. Enjoy your Bible study and research! God makes sure that His Gospel is going out to every people, nation and tribe. Paul is an obedient servant of Our Lord. He knows that his destiny is Rome and time is short …
I want to talk about today. The Gospel message is still going out and it is as strongly received by lost people as it was in the day of the apostles. People all over the world are still lost in sin. They still worship idols, are sick and tormented by devils. They still need hope and salvation. The same formula still works: Pray for the sick, Lay on hands, let people experience the raw Power of the Holy Spirit Heal folks, Cast out demons, or Raise the dead. The darkness of Africa is being lifted in this same way and Belief in Christ is working over the whole continent. HALLELUHAH!!!
“Praise and thank you Jesus, for lighting that fire in Africa and across the world! Amen! Amen!!”
In the meantime, Julius finds another Alexandrian ship that has wintered over on Malta, whose figurehead is the twins, Castor and Pollux. In three months it will bear them to Rome. Until then they must suffer the honor and island entertainment of Malta. What a nice break after all they had just survived!
Stay tuned if you are feeling the spark of the Holy Spirit and where it is taking us on this Voyage to Rome. There are plenty of twists and turns to this story left to be told. God bless and thank you for following
13When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete.14But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.15So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. ~Acts 27:13-15 NKJV
Euroclydon is a violent Nor’easter – a Levanter, or Mediterranean typhoon. We’re not talking a few whitecaps here. No, this is more like Perfect Storm weather.
The captain sets a course a lee of a small island named Clauda. They scramble to bring the skiff onboard, as it is swamping off the aft tow line. Counting the waves, the more experienced crew tag a good one coming alongside and heave the skiff onto the deck. Off they go – cabling up the ship; but soon realize the ship is about to run aground upon the looming sandbars of the Syrtis.
Once I was in the Bering Sea on a crabber and holding watch with the skipper. We were running northerly about 10 knots heading to Unalakleet in a driving rain storm chatting about nothing much when I happened to notice what looked like waves breaking over a sandbar! I hollered and the skipper opened his side window to stick his head out for a better look. It was raining so hard the water was standing against the windows, blurring our vision. Nothing on the radar; I grabbed a chart and saw nothing noted; but in a shallow sea like the Bering, it’s common for bars to materialize and then disappear year after year. They go uncharted but vessels beware! Sure enough, we could hardly believe our eyes, but the boat was about to ground on a ghost bar! The skipper hit the jog lever hard port and reversed throttle, jarring our vessel into a change of course while throwing all loose parts and persons down onto the floor from the braking action. The boat shuddered once, then veered to port, nearly grazing the bar.
Likewise, Paul’s captain orders to strike sail in defeat of Euroclydon, and narrowly misses the Sartys. Off they go again; away from the Sartys Sands and into the hungry jaws of the tempest. After jogging up and down the Adriatic all night pitching and tossing to and fro; they lash each other to the deck to avoid being washed overboard by walls of water. The next day all unnecessary goods, cargo, and ballast are thrown into the angry sea.
The ship is far off course now and no effort to lighten the ship has eased their plight. On the third day in a last bid for survival, captain gives the order to throw all the ship’s tackle overboard. Without gear to assist, the crew throws it over by hand and fear begins to gnaw at their shrunken bellies.
Amazingly, for many days not much changes. Imagine the darkness. The skies are totally black. No sun by day, or moon nor stars by night. The sea is a dark, clawing hole. No light anywhere day after day. Wave after wave washes over the deck as the lurching ship threatens to roll over … but doesn’t.
Euroclydon reminds me of a bully grabbing someone and shaking them upside down until everything in their pockets dumps out onto the ground. If you have ever been on the sea in the grip of a serious storm, you know what I mean. The sheer power of a great typhoon like this little ship endured is terrifying and humbling. The keel visibly twists and groans while those on deck pray that it does not snap!
I wonder what Julius, the soldiers, captain, ship owner, crew, and the other prisoners are thinking by the first week of this storm? … The words hopeless, helpless, or defeated come to mind. They may be praying to their gods, who they must believe are very angry. How about by day ten? After that, it would most likely be downright fear. Only Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus would likely be praying and trusting in our Heavenly Father YHWH for deliverance.
Until next post we must leave our beleaguered group in the deathly grip of Euroclydon; which is still raging with no end in sight.