Today’s devotion comes from Romans 1:16-17.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith;  as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”  Romans 1:16-17.

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What is the gospel?

There is a huge difference between the gospel of other doctrine and the gospel of Reformed Doctrine.

The gospel of other doctrine is based on the power of man to either do sufficient works or exercise sufficient alleged free-will to choose Christ.  Either way, the gospel of other doctrine is ultimately dependent on the power of man.

But, the gospel of Reformed Doctrine is based on “the power of God” providing everything needed for salvation from beginning to end:  from the beginning of God’s “Unconditional Election” through God’s “Limited Atonement” through God’s “Irresistible Grace” to the end of God’s “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt. 

Other doctrine teaches that God loves everybody, Christ died for everybody, and that whether or not an individual is saved depends on the works of the individual or at at least the free-will choice of the individual (the power of man).  Thus, other doctrine has faith in in the power of man.

But, Reformed Doctrine refutes the teaching of other doctrine of the power of man to either do sufficient works or exercise sufficient alleged free-will to choose Christ through its teaching of “Total Depravity”, the first point of Calvinism, summarized by “TULIP”, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation as more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt.  

Article 3.  Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto, and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose themselves to reformation.  THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof of Canons of Dordt.

“10 as it is written,

“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”  Romans 3:10-12.

“… you were dead in your trespasses and sins,”  Ephesians 2:1.

Reformed Doctrine has faith in “the power of God” to understand and obey the things of God.  In the language of Canons of Dordt, God “not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them”, God also “powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God”.

Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.  THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof of Canons of Dordt.

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;  and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”  Ezekiel 36:26-27.

“even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”  Ephesians 2:5-8.

The gospel is also called “Good News”.

What is truly “Good News”?

Is it good news that salvation is dependent on the power of man who is dead in sin?

Or, is it good news that while man was dead in sin, “the power of God” made him alive and raise him up with Christ and seated him with Christ in the heavenly places?

What is the faith in today’s Scripture?

Is it faith in the power of man, namely faith in our own works or in our own alleged free-will?

Or, is it faith in “the power of God”? 

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;  but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth;  for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24.

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.  It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 1:8-15.

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.  For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.  For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;  that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.  I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.  I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.  So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”  Romans 1:8-15.

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It was a good thing for Paul to do (preach the gospel to those in Rome).

It was also good for Paul to be so eager to do it.

But, for some unknown reason, Paul was “prevented so far” from doing it according to “the will of God”.

Likewise, there may be some good things that we can do and that we are eager to do, but for some unknown reason we are “prevented so far” from doing it according to “the will of God”.

Other doctrine is baffled, bewildered, discouraged, and dismayed.

But, Reformed Doctrine is patient, peaceful, joyful, and steadfast, because it trusts God and His sovereignty. 

Reformed Doctrine is thankful and praises God, knowing that God will establish His purpose and accomplish all of His good pleasure. 

“19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
20 Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.”  Psalm 103:19-21.

“The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9.

“5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6.

Individually, we may not do it.  But, God will do it.

“What then is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”  1 Corinthians 3:5-7.

Even though Paul had not yet gone to Rome to preach the gospel, Paul recognized the work of God in “all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints”.  “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.”  Verses 7-8.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken;  truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.”  Isaiah 46:9-11.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 1:1-7.

“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 1:1-7.

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Other doctrine focuses on man’s choice and does not bring grace and peace.

But, Reformed Doctrine focuses on God’s choice and does bring grace and peace.  

To those chosen by God:  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

“…  To those … who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood:  May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”  1 Peter 1:1-3.

“… for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, …  Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”  Titus 1:1-4.

“… To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:  May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.”  Jude 1:1.

“for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, …  Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”  Romans 9:11 and 13.

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God;  the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

“The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you …”  Deuteronomy 7:6-7.

“The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”  Jeremiah 31:3.

“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”  Ephesians 1:4-6.

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt.  

“Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  …

Article 9.  This purpose proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, …”  SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby. 

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;”  Colossians 3:12.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 28:25-31.

“And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying,

‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY,
“YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND;
AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;
FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL,
AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR,
AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES;
OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT SEE WITH THEIR EYES,
AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS,
AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN,
AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.”’

Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles;  they will also listen.”  [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.]

And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.”   Acts 28:25-31.

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Despite most of the Jews’ lack of understanding and their hindrance, God provided a door of opportunity to Paul to preach and teach to the Gentiles who would listen.  And, despite Paul being confined to his own rented quarters, Paul preached and taught “with all openness, unhindered.”

This is a lesson to us who feel hindered, confined, or limited in some way.  We may have physical ailments.  Or, we may have a family to take care of at home.  We may have work outside the home, but it takes up all of our time.  Or, we may not have money to travel.  We may have family and friends who oppose us or are resistant or make it difficult for us.

But, there is hope for us as there was for Paul!

We do not need to do the same work as Paul.  God has work for us to do for His purpose and good pleasure that He can accomplish despite all of the hindrance, confinement, and limitations.  God gives us the will to do that work, and God works within us.  God perfects and completes that work “unhindered“.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 28:16-22.

“When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.  And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death.  But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation.  For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.”  They said to him, “We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you.  But we desire to hear from you what your views are;  for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.

When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers;  and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.  Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.”  Acts 28:16-24.

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We notice in today’s Scripture that two parties came together.  Paul requested to see and to speak with the leading men of the Jews, and the leading men of the Jews desired to hear from Paul and what his views were.

But, we also read:  “Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.”

Other doctrine takes the view summarized by the common saying:  “It takes two to tango”, teaching man’s alleged free-will.

But, Reformed Doctrine takes the view of Scripture, teaching God’s sovereign will, purpose, and power.  “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord;  and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”  Acts 13:48.

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.

Article 9.  It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ, offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the word, refuse to come, and be converted:  the fault lies in themselves;  some of whom when called, regardless of their danger, reject the word of life;  others, though they receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart;  therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes, and they fall away;  while others choke the seed of the word by perplexing cares, and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. – This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower.  Matthew 13.

Article 10.  But that others who are called by the gospel, obey the call, and are converted, is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others, equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversions, as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains;  but it must be wholly ascribed to God, who as he has chosen his own from eternity in Christ, so he confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of his own Son, that they may show forth the praises of him, who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light;  and may glory not in themselves, but in the Lord according to the testimony of the apostles in various places.

God accomplishes all of His good pleasure.  Total Perfect Triumph.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken;  truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.”  Isaiah 46:9-11.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 28:11-15.

“At the end of three months we set sail on an Alexandrian ship which had wintered at the island, and which had the Twin Brothers for its figurehead.  After we put in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days.  From there we sailed around and arrived at Rhegium, and a day later a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli.  There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome.  And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us;  and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.”  Acts 28:11-15.

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The brethren came to see Paul and encouraged Paul.

Thus, Biblical encouragement is not one-sided.  Paul was not the only one giving encouragement.  In today’s Scripture, we read:  “when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.”  Verse 15.  Believers encourage one another and build up one another.

Biblical encouragement is not flattery. 

“A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps.”  Proverbs 26:5.

“He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
Than he who flatters with the tongue.”  Proverbs 28:23.

Biblical encouragement is showing faith to give another believer courage to continue living by faith.  “that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.”  Romans 1:12.

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;  therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.”  2 Thessalonians 1:3-4.

Thus, the purpose of Hebrews chapter 11, the “Hall of Fame of Faith” chapter of Bible , is not primarily to honor those therein.  Rather, the purpose of Hebrews chapter 11 is to encourage one another and build up one another, so as to to give courage to one another to continue living by faith, “each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”  1 Thessalonians 5:11.

Finally and ultimately, it is the work of God to give encouragement so that together we can glorify God.  “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 15:5-6.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 28:1-10.

“When they had been brought safely through, then we found out that the island was called Malta.  The natives showed us extraordinary kindness;  for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.  But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand.  When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.”  However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm.  But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead.  But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days.  And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery;  and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him.  After this had happened, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases were coming to him and getting cured.  They also honored us with many marks of respect;  and when we were setting sail, they supplied us with all we needed.”  Acts 28:1-10.

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Today’s Scripture shows partial fulfillment of Mark 16:17-18.  “These signs will accompany those who have believed:  in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;  they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them;  they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  Mark 16:17-18.  (As a side note, believers should not intentionally pick up snakes nor otherwise intentionally put themselves in harm’s way.  “Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”  Matthew 4:7.)

Although God leads us through trials and tribulations, God also gives us times of rest and recovery as is shown in today’s Scripture.  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30.

More generally, and in summary, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.”  Philippians 4:19-20.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 27:27-44.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+27&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“Until the day was about to dawn, Paul was encouraging them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly watching and going without eating, having taken nothing.  Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish.”  Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat.  All of them were encouraged and they themselves also took food.  All of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six persons.  When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea.

When day came, they could not recognize the land;  but they did observe a bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could.  And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders;  and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach.  But striking a reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground;  and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves.  The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim away and escape;  but the centurion, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, and the rest should follow, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship.  And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land.”  Acts 27:33-44.

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We remember God’s promise to Paul:  “saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul;  you must stand before Caesar;  and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’”  Acts 27:24.

“Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish.”  Verse 34.

Despite everything looking so hopeless, “…  And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land.”  Verse 44.

God used many things to preserve the people:  food, Paul’s encouragement, the centurion’s actions, the bay with a beach, planks and other “various things from the ship”, so we should use the means of God’s preservation of us, while we keep our focus and firm trust on God.  

As we meditate on God’s preservation of us, summarized by the words “not a hair from the head of any of you will perish”, let us consider the following from the Heidelberg Catechism.

Q. 1.  What is thy only comfort in life and death?

A.  That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ;  who, with His precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil;  and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head;  yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.

Q. 26.  What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?

A.  That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them;  who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence) is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father;  on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body;  and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage;  for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.

Q. 28.  What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence doth still uphold all things?

A.  That we may be patient in adversity;  thankful in prosperity;  and that in all things which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?  And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear;  you are more valuable than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:29-31.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 27:1-26.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+27&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius.  And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica.  The next day we put in at Sidon;  and Julius treated Paul with consideration and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care.

But before very long there rushed down from the land a violent wind, called Euraquilo;  and when the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along.  Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda, we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control.  After they had hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship;  and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the sea anchor and in this way let themselves be driven along.  The next day as we were being violently storm-tossed, they began to jettison the cargo;  and on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands.  Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned.

When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss.  Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.  For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul;  you must stand before Caesar;  and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’  Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.  But we must run aground on a certain island.”  Acts 27:1-3 and 14-26.

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“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;  indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;  who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.  And He will yet deliver us,”  2 Corinthians 1:8-10.

“4 “Trust in the LORD forever,
For in God the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.”  Isaiah 26:4.

“5 My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold;  I shall not be shaken.
7 On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.  Selah.”  Psalm 62:5-8.

“8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.
9 I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.”  Psalm 52:8-9.

“So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it.  And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them;  the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand.  Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed;  all came to pass.”  Joshua 21:43-45.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 26:24-32.

“24 While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus *said in a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind!  Your great learning is driving you mad.”  25 But Paul *said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth.  26 For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice;  for this has not been done in a corner.  27 King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets?  I know that you do.”  28 Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”  29 And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”

30 The king stood up and the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them, 31 and when they had gone aside, they began talking to one another, saying, “This man is not doing anything worthy of death or imprisonment.”  32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”  Acts 26:24-32.

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There will be those (like Festus) who try to distract or dissuade those who hear our preaching and teaching.  Verse 24.

But, there are those in our audience (like King Agrippa) who have heard enough of preaching and teaching from others, so that what we preach and teach can be understood by them.  “For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice;  for this has not been done in a corner.  King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets?  I know that you do.”  Verses 26-27.

Our preaching and teaching may be received favorably like it was by King Agrippa who said:  “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”   Verse 28.

But, in the language of the Canons of Dordt, it does not “make a lasting impression on their heart” or “perplexing cares, and the pleasures of this world” choke out the word.

For example, King Agrippa was more focused on his own agenda, rather than pursuing his own salvation:  “and when they had gone aside, they began talking to one another, saying, “This man is not doing anything worthy of death or imprisonment.”  And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”  Verses 31-32.

Article 9.  It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ, offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the word, refuse to come, and be converted:  the fault lies in themselves;  some of whom when called, regardless of their danger, reject the word of life;  others, though they receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart;  therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes, and they fall away;  while others choke the seed of the word by perplexing cares, and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. – This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower.  Matthew 13.  THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them;  for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”  Romans 1:18-21.

But, there is hope! 

Paul repeatedly gave his testimony, including to King Agrippa and Festus, that despite his zeal for persecuting Christians, God overwhelmed him and turned his life around to the extent that he even became a minister.  Acts 26:12-18.

Consider more from the Canons of Dordt.

Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.  THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof. 

“A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening;  and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”  Acts 16:14.

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