Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Most action films have a climactic moment of potential peril, great suspense, and heroic efforts. As we come near the end of the book of Acts, this account is so accurate and detailed that the peril, suspense, and heroic efforts in the scenes nearly jump off the page.
Paul had appealed to Caesar and was now ordered to sail to Rome in a prison ship under the centurion Julius. Notice: Paul, the great apostle of the early church and author of over half the New Testament writings, was now just one prisoner among many, an ordinary man subject to hunger, danger, and shipwreck. But as we will see, Paul was also a man emboldened by the presence of God and His promises.
Trouble soon struck as the ship quickly ran into a terrible storm. Normal seafaring actions were taken—they raised the lifeboat, secured the hull, and threw overboard unnecessary cargo. Nevertheless, things looked so grim that “we finally gave up all hope of being saved” (v. 20). In that desperate situation, Paul the prisoner spoke to encourage his fellow passengers of the hope of safety.
Paul’s words of encouragement were not empty wishful thinking, but grounded on God’s direct promise to Paul in the previous night. God wanted Paul in Rome, and He would bring all passengers there safely as well. Paul’s bold proclamation to the crew was evidence of his faith in God’s word.
Finally, after fourteen days of storm and no food, they came close to land. Some tried to sneak away in lifeboats, but Paul again warned that everyone must stay on board to be saved. Once again, relying on the promise of God, Paul encouraged them to eat. And when daylight came, “everyone reached land safely” (v. 44), just as God had promised.
Apply the Word
The setting of today’s reading is danger, but the theme is one of encouragement. Paul repeatedly encouraged his fellow travelers. Use the promises and encouragements of God’s Word today to encourage those you know who may feel despair in the face of difficult circumstances. God does not promise an easy life, but He does promise His presence.