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Storm at Sea

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A STORM AT SEA   

Scripture: Deuteronomy 31:8; Acts 27:1–44, 28:1–10

Memory verse: Deuteronomy 31:8
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Lead—In

Relate the following illustration to the students:

Imagine you have been left alone on an island. No food, drinking water, or other people in sight. As the sun begins to set, the island seems to come alive with all kinds of strange, eerie sounds. You are too frightened to even think of finding a comfortable place to sleep for the night. Instead you sit very still, almost afraid to move. “What am I going to do?” you think hopelessly over and over again during the night.

Finally, morning comes. As you stand up to stretch, you see someone else walking along the beach! You are not alone! You run to greet the person excitedly. The two of you begin making plans to find food and drinking water. Then you begin to look for materials to use to build a shelter. Just the presence of another person has helped you focus on a solution instead of your problem. Together, you are confident you will survive this island ordeal.

Ask the students why troubles are easier to bear when they know someone who cares is with them. That person could be a parent, a teacher, a brother or sister, or a good friend. Stress that it is possible to feel as if we are all alone when we have problems—even around other people. Yet if we know someone is near, someone who cares and can help us, our situations are not nearly so frightening.

Explain that in this study Paul’s life was in danger again. Several times he faced almost certain death, but Paul was not afraid. He knew Someone was watching over him and would help him through his difficult times.

Hearing God’s Word

The time had finally come when Paul’s appeal to Caesar would be made possible. Paul had waited a long time to defend himself before Caesar. He had appeared before Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa. It may have seemed that Paul would always be in jail in Caesarea. Yet Paul was patient. He did not complain or stop living for Jesus even during his hard and discouraging times. Sometimes when we pray about a situation or witness to a person, we may not see results for a long time. This does not mean God is not working. He knows just the right time for everything to happen. Like Paul, we must trust God and be patient.

Paul Heads for Rome

A centurion named Julius was given the responsibility of delivering Paul and some other prisoners to Rome. They were put on board a ship headed for that city.

(Ask a student to read Acts 27:1–12). In these verses the writer goes into great detail about the first part of the trip. He mentions three different ports where they stopped along the way. They sailed to Sidon (SY-duhn), on the coast of Syria, north and west to Myra, and the southwest to the island of Crete (Kreet) where they stopped for a while. Paul advised the men to postpone the remainder of the trip until after winter because he knew the trip could be dangerous due to fierce storms. However, the master of the ship went against Paul’s advice and had the crew set sail. He was hoping to reach Phoenix on the west end of Crete, and spend the winter there.

Caught in a Storm

Soon trouble came. The travellers had not been at sea long until a very strong wind began to blow. (Read Acts 27:14.) The storm was like a hurricane.

The ship was caught up in the force of the wind. The crew tried to fight against the storm in order to stay on the right course. The pilot finally gave in and let the wind carry the ship along.

The storm fiercely rocked the ship. (Ask a student to read Acts 27:16, 17.) A small lifeboat was alongside the ship in the water. The men worked hard to try to keep it secure against the ship so it would not be destroyed by the wind. Finally they hoisted it aboard and had to tie ropes underneath the ship itself just to hold it together!

On the second day of the storm, the men began to throw cargo overboard in order to make the ship lighter. This did not help much though. The next day they threw out the ship’s tackle—all the extra sails, ropes, and chains. Anything unnecessary was discarded.

A Grim Situation

(Ask a student to read Acts 27:20.) After many days of being tossed and battered in the storm, the men began to lose hope. The skies were so dark they could not see the stars or the sun. They had no way to know where they were.

Ask: “How would you have felt if you had been a passenger on the ship?” (Allow discussion.)

(Ask a student to read Acts 27:21–26.) By this time the men had gone quite some time without food. It seems they had been either unwilling or unable to eat. It would have been hard to prepare and eat food while the ship was being tossed in all directions. The men’s stomachs probably felt unsettled from all the moving about. They must have been very hungry and tired. It seemed all hope was lost.

Paul Receives Comfort

One night, however, Paul was visited by an angel of God. The angel promised that Paul would appear before Caesar in Rome and that everyone on the ship would be spared from death. However, the ship would be wrecked. Paul listened to God’s message. He knew God would do as He said and keep everyone alive.

The next morning, Paul addressed the men on the ship. He told them the ship would be wrecked, but that God had promised not one man would die because of the storm.

Look at Acts 27:25 again. Paul encouraged the men not to give up. He was able to encourage others because he had received a promise from God. Paul had faith that everything would happen just as God had said through the angel.

Our memory verse this week is from Deuteronomy 31:8. This is a great promise. No matter what problem or situation we may face, God has promised to go with us. The things that happen in our lives may be rough and uncomfortable at times and we may not understand all the circumstances, but He will not leave us. When you face a difficult situation, do not be afraid or discouraged; God is always with you. Because we have this promise, we can be a good example and an encouragement to others to have faith.

Land is Near

After 14 days of this terrible storm, the sailors sensed a change. They thought they might be close to land, but it was midnight and they were unable to see. (Read Acts 27:28.) They took “soundings,” which means they measured the depth of the water by letting down a weighted line. When they could tell from their measurements that the water was becoming shallower, they knew land was near.

The ship’s crew decided they would let the lifeboat down and escape from the ship, leaving the prisoners and soldiers on board. However, Paul found out about their scheme. “If the crew leaves the ship, not everyone will be saved from death,” he told the soldiers. The soldiers listened to Paul and cut the ropes attached to the lifeboat, letting it fall away.

At the first light of day, Paul encouraged the men again to eat some food. He knew they would need strength to survive the remainder of the voyage. (Read Acts 27:34–36.) He reminded them they would all live through the shipwreck. As the men watched Paul begin to eat, they followed his example. Afterward, they threw their cargo of grain overboard to help further lighten the ship.

At daylight the sailors decided to try to run the ship toward shore. (Read Acts 27:40, 41.) They were only partly successful. The ship ran into a sandbar and was stuck. The surf pounded against the back of the ship and it began to break apart.

Safe at Last

Now the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to prevent them from escaping. However, the centurion would not allow it because he wanted Paul’s life spared. He instead ordered those who could swim to jump overboard and try to make it to land. Those who could not swim were to grab a plank or a piece of the ship and use it for support as they floated to safety. Just as God had promised Paul, not one man died. How good it must have felt to finally touch solid ground!

Ask: “What kind of welcome do you think the man got when they reached land?” (Allow responses. Then read Acts 28:1, 2.)

Paul Ministers in Malta

Some of the men began building a fire because it was rainy and cold. Paul helped by gathering wood. When Paul put his pile of wood on the fire, however, he was bitten by a poisonous snake. The people of the island decided Paul must be a murderer who was being punished by the gods after escaping death in the sea. However, when Paul suffered no sickness or death from the snakebite, the people were astonished and decided Paul was a god. They had not heard of the one true God Paul served.

Paul and the other members of the ship were invited into the home of Publius, the chief official of the island. What happened during their stay in this man’s home? (Ask a student to read Acts 28:8.) The man was healed by Jesus’ power. Because of this miracle, Paul was able to minister to others on the island and tell them about Jesus. The people were grateful. When it came time to leave, they furnished Paul and the rest of the men with necessary supplies.

Accepting God’s Word

Paul took God at His word. He knew God would keep His promise. Through Paul’s faith and obedience, the men on the ship were brought safely to shore and the people of Malta got to hear about Jesus.

God’s comfort, strength, and peace are available to all His children. What an assurance to have in times of trouble.

Secret Believers

Under the shade of a large tree, we visited with the old woman and her family. I showed her pictures of my wife and family. As I spoke to her in English, my words were interpreted into Swahili. I was the first native English speaker she had ever met and she commented, “Your language is very beautiful!”

On that day I met other secret believers. It opened my eyes to Islam’s stranglehold on the society and the challenge of establishing a worshipping body of believers in that community. Truly it takes a clear presentation of the Kingdom, accompanied by a manifestation of Jesus’ power and glory, to lead Muslims to faith in Jesus.

REMEMBER TO PRAY! 
Pray for Zalamo in Big Trouble

1. Food is not sufficient,
2. No money for doctors to treat their illnesses,
3. Unable to find school fees for their children.

Prayer Promise

"Now may the God of peace...equip you with everything good for doing his will" (Hebrews 13:20, 21).

Remember: A STORM AT SEA

Memory verse: Deuteronomy 31:8
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

1. Storms of life will come.
2. Difficulties give God a chance to reveal Himself.
3. I will pray and trust God when troubles come, not complain.

Pray for Zalamo in big trouble.
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Study 15 | Eternity— Apostle Paul | africaatts.org/go-teach

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