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.  

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