Thursday, August 10, 2017

To Rome By the Way of Malta

Will Paul EVER get to Rome? 

While Paul was in the Jerusalem jail, Jesus appeared to him and said, "Do not be afraid.  Just as you witness for me in Jerusalem, so you will witness for me in Rome."  Paul just couldn't ask the guard to free him so that he could travel to Rome.  So how was God going to keep his promise to Paul?  

Well last week, we heard how Paul ended up in Caesarea for his trials.  That is a little closer to Rome, but not much.  At the end of Paul's trial with Governor Festus, Paul appealed to Caesar.  Paul wanted the Roman emperor to decided his case.  So Festus made arrangements for Paul to be sent to Rome!

In time Paul was loaded onto a ship.  The guard in charge of him and the other prisoners was a Roman centurion named Julius.  This ship wasn't going to Rome, but to the region of Lyconia-Asia.  Still this was closer to Rome than Jerusalem.  When they reached port, they changed ships.  This ship had come from Egypt and WAS going to Rome.  There were 276 people aboard this ship.  This included the sailors, soldiers/guards, prisoners and other travelers.  Because the winds were against them, they had great difficulty making it to the island of Crete.  But finally they arrived at Fair Havens on the east side of the island.  By now it was the winter, not a good time to be traveling in the Mediterranean.  Paul urged Julius to remain in Fair Havens because God had told him if they continue there will be great lost (of ship and goods), but the sailors wanted to try to reach Phoenix on the other side of the island.  Phoenix was a better harbor.  Julius choose to listen to the sailors rather than Paul. 

Was Julius choice going to prevent Paul from getting to Rome?  Nothing we or anyone else does will prevent God from keeping his promises.  He promised Paul that he would get to Rome.  God never fails.  He ALWAYS keeps his promises.  

Almost as soon as they set sail, a northeaster came on them.  Rain. Wind. Darkness.  It was a horrible storm.  And who was right in the middle of it on a ship?  PAUL!  God never promises that those who love him will not have storms in their lives.  But He does promised He will never leave us alone (Hebrews 13:5).  Even in this horrible storm, God was with Paul.   But one night in the midst of the storm, an angel of God visited Paul.  

"Paul, you will get to Rome.  And God will even spare the lives of the 275 people you are traveling with.  But the ship will be destroyed."  The angel told Paul.  

Paul shared this hope with the 275 people on board the ship.  Still the storm continues.  The sailors threw overboard everything they didn't need.  Soon they even threw overboard the ship's tackle.  Finally, they realized they were approaching land.  They didn't know where they were.  But when the sailors were convinced that land was nearby, they tried to sneak off the boat in the life boats.  But Paul told Julius about it.  Julius had the soldiers cut the lifeboats loose before anyone could use them.
On the 14th day, Paul encouraged everyone to eat.  He reminded them that God had told him that none of them will die.  Only the ship will be destroyed.  Then he gave thanks to God and ate bread.  When everyone else saw Paul eat, they also ate.

The next morning, they saw the approaching island had a beach.  The captain tried to make a run for the beach, but hit a reef instead.  Soon the ship was sinking.  Julius prevented the soldiers from killing all the prisoners.  He gave the orders for everyone to swim (or hold onto some wood & paddle) to shore.

ALL 276 people made it alive!  They had landed on Malta.  The natives helped them make a fire to dry off.  While Paul was putting wood onto the fire a snake came out of the pile and bit him.  The natives thought he was a murderer.  "This man has escape from the sea, but now the gods are punishing him."  they said.  But when he didn't die they decided "he must be one of the gods."

After three months on Malta, a ship was leaving for Rome.  Paul and Julius were on that Ship.  Finally Paul reached Rome just as God had promised him.  God never fails.  He always keeps His promises.

Our last week of club began with rain!  So Backyard Bible Club became Basement Bible Club.  In spite of the rain 38 kids arrived.  One great thing about being in the basement was the singing was GREAT!  For games we played "Mouse Trap" and "Pass the Pig".  The kids enjoyed "Mouse Trap" so much I played the same game for my Tuesday and Thursday clubs.  We also played with Hula Hoops.  Jinger and I even got a small hoop to role through a large hoop!

We had a really good last week of club.  The kids spent TONS of Bible Bucks they had saved until this week. In fact I had to go to the store for more candy on Wednesday so that my last two clubs would have something to buy!  Almost 30 kids learned all eight verses of the Roman Road.  Each of these kids chose a book from the book box.  It really has been a great summer following Paul throughout the Roman empire.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017


This week, we traveled with Paul to Caesarea.  Governor Felix has agreed to listen to Paul's case.  The Jewish leaders accuse Paul of three things.  First, they claim he has caused riots all over the Roman empire.  Secondly, Paul is accused of being disrespectful of the temple and the Jewish religion.  Thirdly, he is a leader of the people who follow Jesus of Nazarene.  Paul defends himself by stating that he had come down to Jerusalem 12 days prior.  While in Jerusalem, he brought money to give to the poor and he was worshipping God according to the Jewish laws.  At no time did he instigate a riot.  But Paul did agree with the Jews that he is a follower of Jesus of Nazarene who died and rose again.  Although Governor Felix realizes Paul is not guilty of any Roman law, he doesn't want to offend the Jews so he decided to make no judgement until the Roman captain who sent Paul to him arrives as give his statement.  So Paul is sent to jail.  

One day Governor Felix and his wife Drusilla invites Paul to talk to them.  Paul shared the Gospel (the good news about Jesus) with them.  He preaches righteousness, self-control and the judgement.  Governor Felix is NOT righteous.  He is a corrupt ruler.  In fact he hopes that Paul will give him a bribe for his release.  He does not have self-control.  Drusilla is Governor Felix's third wife.  He stole her from her first husband.  So when Paul talks about the coming judgement for sinners, Governor Felix quickly dismisses Paul.                                                                                                                      As far as we know, Felix and Drusilla never put their trust in Jesus.  Does that mean Paul was a bad witness for Jesus?  No!  God had told Paul that he would witness to Rome just as he had witness to Jerusalem.  Paul was obedient.  He told Felix and Drusilla about what he had seen and heard about Jesus.  The result of Paul's witness/testimony is up to God.
After two years, a new governor was appointed.  Governor Festus visited Jerusalem soon after he arrived in the area.  Immediately the Jewish leaders talked to him about Paul.  They wanted Paul to be brought back to Jerusalem for his trial.  They were planning to ambush him and kill him before he arrived at Jerusalem.  But Governor Festus told them he would oversee the trial in Caesarea because that was were Paul was in prison and that was where he was headed to next.  
The day after Governor Festus arrived in Caesarea, he heard the complains against Paul.  Upon realizing that the Jews were angry over Paul due to some religious argument, he asked Paul if he wanted to go to Jerusalem for his trial.  Paul said "No, I appeal to Caesar."  Since Paul was a Roman citizen he had the right to ask to be tried in the highest Roman court in Rome.  Governor Festus said, "To Caesar you will go."  
But before Governor Festus could arrange for Paul to be sent to Rome, he had visitors.  King Agrippa and his sister came to Caesarea.  Festus told King Agrippa about Paul.  King Agrippa wanted to hear Paul.  So the next day, Festus, King Agrippa, his sister and all the leading men of the region gathered to hear Paul speak.  Immediately, Paul shared his story of how he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  He told them that Jesus commanded him to be His witness to the Jews and Gentiles.  Then he pointed out to King Agrippa that the Jews were looking forward to the Messiah.  Their Scripture told them that the Messiah would suffer and die.  This is what Jesus had done.  

"King Agrippa, don't you believe the prophets?  I know that you do!"  Paul said.
"What do you think in such a short time you will make me a Jesus follower."  King Agrippa asked.
"Short or long.  I pray that everyone who is listening will become as I am - a Jesus follower - except for these chains."  Paul states.
Quickly King Agrippa stands and leaves.  Everyone else follows.  But as the King is leaving, he said, "This man would have been set free except that he has appealed to Caesar."  

We have seen Paul was obedient in being God's witness to the Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), to the poor lame man and to King Agrippa.  He took every opportunity to share Jesus with others.  We need to do the same.  

For crafts this week, the kids made a Gospel Flipper Flapper.  They were challenged to share the Gospel with the Flipper Flapper with someone this week.  The Gold circle reminds us of God, who has no beginning and end.  The circle also reminds us that He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 5:8).  The gold color is a symbol of Heaven, God's home.

The next flap is a dirty heart.  There is one thing that can't be in Heaven - sin.  Unfortunately we all are sinners (Romans 3:10, 3:23, 5:12, 6:23).  The Punishment for sin is eternal death - Hell.

The next flap is a red cross.  Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in this while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."  Romans 6:23 tells us eternal life is a gift from God.  Jesus, God the Son, died for the sins of the world and rose again to show death's curse is broken.

The final flap is a clean heart.  Romans 10:9, 13 tells us that we need to declare, believe and call to be saved from eternal death.  Declare - to make a commitment to let Jesus be in control of your life.  Believe - to be convinced that Jesus truly died and rose again.  Call - to ask Jesus to save you from eternal death.  If we do these things, then we are promised salvation (saved from eternal punishment).  Have you declared, believed and called on Jesus?  You can do that right now.

 Here are some pictures of week 6:  My husband gave me a bunch of pool noodles for Christmas.  I made them into huge Lincoln Logs.  This kids enjoyed playing with then.  After a while the building turned into a full war with them throwing and hitting each other with the noodles.  It is a good thing the noodles are soft!

Our game of the week was Pool Noodle Hockey.

We played a matching game for our review game.  After a child answered a question correctly, he had a chance to find the different gospel symbols and match them.