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The Scriptorium

Setting Sail

Paul begins the last few legs of his journey to Rome. Acts 27.1-12

The Trials of Paul (15)

Pray Psalm 12.6, 7.
The words of the LORD are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O LORD,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.

Sing Psalm 12.6, 7.
(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Your words are pure and proven true, like silver seven times refined.
You will preserve Your Word ever new, and keep the heart to You inclined.

Read and mediate on Acts 27.1-12.

1. How was Paul treated on this leg of his journey to Rome?

2. What advice did Paul give to the helmsman and the centurion?

This passage is vintage Luke, chock full of historical and geographical details and hints of things to come. If we could hear background music for the outset of this voyage to Rome, it would be light and hopeful to begin with, as Paul and his companions are treated kindly and he is able to visit with some friends.

Everything is looking promising, except for an ominous note, set in a minor key with a kind of low rumbling, which begins to build. Luke notes that “the winds were contrary” as they set off (v. 4). Right. We haven’t seen anything yet. They “sailed slowly” “and arrived with difficulty” because the wind was “not permitting” them to make good headway (v. 7). Are we getting it? This is going to get worse before it gets better. The voyage was becoming “dangerous” (v. 9), and Paul decided to weigh in on the wisdom of continuing (v. 10).

Paul’s concern here is not for himself: He knows he’s going to get to Rome. He’s looking out for the whole “society” of people on this journey, seeking their shalom and safety (cf. Jer. 29.7). He doesn’t preach here or pound a pulpit. He simply injects his opinion and advice in a way others can understand and consider. This vessel had become Paul’s Personal Mission Field for the time, and he was determined to do his best to try and keep it within the bounds of God’s gracious provision and protection.

The centurion’s decision to press on is reasonable (v. 11), given that the helmsman and owner of the ship were confident they could make it to Crete, and thus complete an important leg of the journey. But what may be reasonable is not always wise.

We will see the apostle Paul play an important role in these final two chapters of Acts. He will provide us with an excellent example about rising above our trials and the role of faith and the believing community amid an age of reasonable but unwisepeople, who are destroying themselves because they refuse to heed the voice of the Lord. Lesson 1: Don’t be afraid to speak up on matters of importance, when the chosen course seems unwise and likely not to be for the benefit of the society.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“This vessel had become Paul’s Personal Mission field for the time, and he was determined to do his best to try and keep it within the bounds of God’s gracious provision and protection.”

Do we have that same belief about where we are at any given time? Do we see everywhere we are as our Personal Mission Field? At work, standing in line, waiting for whatever, at home, at church, at school, at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, cooking, cleaning, cutting the grass, painting, writing, at the post office, at the hardware store, in our car, walking in the neighborhood, anywhere, and everywhere we are always in our Personal Mission Field. Working for the Kingdom and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. On duty at all times.

And those in our care need to be reminded to “Stay always within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and bless you.” “Wait patiently for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in His mercy is going to give you” (Jude 21 TLB).

And then we are to:
“Try to help those who argue against you.”
“Be merciful to those who doubt.”
“Save some by snatching them as from the very flames of hell itself.”
“And as for others, help them to find the Lord by being kind to them.”
“Be careful that you yourselves aren’t pulled along into their sins.”
“Hate every trace of their sin while being merciful to them as sinners.” (Jude 22, 23 TLB)

As Moses instructed the children of Israel to work the Personal Mission Field of their home, he also gives us insight into how we should conduct business in ours: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength…these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6.5-9).

In other words, the Word of God should be in our hearts, and bubbling out of our hearts, always. Anywhere and everywhere. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4.2).

Whatever vessel we happen to be in today.

For reflection

1. We frequently use the word “work” in reference to your Personal Mission Field. What do you understand by that?

2. What does it mean for you to seek the shalom of the people in your Personal Mission Field?

3. How does “the world” try to prevent or discourage you from taking seriously your calling to work your Personal Mission Field?

Sailors must make the best of the wind: and so must we all in our passage over the ocean of this world. When the winds are contrary, yet we must be getting forward as well as we can. Many who are not driven backward by cross providences, do not get forward by favorable providences. And many real Christians complain as to the concerns of their souls, that they have much ado to keep their ground. Every fair haven is not a safe haven. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 27.1-11

Pray Psalm 12.1-5.
Pray that God will protect you from the lies of the evil one, and that He will rise up and be present to keep you through every temptation and trial, trusting and rejoicing in Him.

Sing Psalm 12.1-5.
(Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Help, Lord! The godly cease to be; they who believe in Christ are few.
Falsely the wicked confidently flatter, deceive, and mock Your truth.

Stop, Lord, the lips that utter lies, all those who speak with boasting tongue!
See how Your holy Word they despise, while their own praises they have sung.

Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all Your precious children sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call; grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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