Acts: Day 39

Paul Taken to Rome

by

Today's Text: Acts 27:1-44, Acts 28:1-10, Luke 12:4-7, Mark 16:17-18

Text:  Acts 27:1-44, Acts 28:1-10, Luke 12:4-7, Mark 16:17-18

I don’t think Gladys and Ragamuffin #3 would have been friends. In fact, I don’t think they even knew each other existed or had anything in common, except for the fact that they were characters played in the same production of 42nd Street by the same actress—me.

They were polar opposites. Gladys was a seasoned Broadway showgirl, singing her heart out while teaching the lead how to tap dance. Ragamuffin #3 was an unnamed beggar, wearied by the Great Depression. I’d love to know what was running through the director’s mind as she cast the roles. When she spread out all of the submitted headshots and stared into those hopeful faces, I wonder what made her point to mine and think, Gladys! and… Ragamuffin #3.

Backstage, my dressing room had two separate racks. Gladys’ was all sequins and show, while Ragamuffin #3’s was bare and battered. During the show, I’d shuffle behind the curtains to apply or remove lipstick, change and adjust wigs, and look down to make sure I wasn’t wearing tap shoes with my beggar’s clothes. Any small change could poke holes in the audience’s perception of the story, so it was up to me to make sure Gladys and Ragamuffin #3 didn’t meet during the show.

Isn’t it funny how even the smallest details can create or destroy our perception?

If I take a seat in the audience of my own life, I begin to cast myself and my circumstances in the leading role. When I get a new job and move to a new city, I’m bathing in sequins for days. But when I’m tossing and turning, worrying about my relationships, I’m costumed in tattered old rags.

I wonder if those aboard the ship in Acts 27 felt like they were auditioning for forgotten, unnamed roles. The ship was seemingly built to wreck, the storm to destroy, the disease to kill, the crew to die. Any audience member would assume they’d been cast and chosen for the role of suffering. And yet, our circumstances don’t write our story; God does.

The ship crashes on the island of Malta and the turning point is seemingly nowhere in sight, when Paul breaks out of character, shedding the costume of suffering, and healing those around him. Now, the curtain could fall here and tell the wrong story, encouraging us to serve from our suffering and applaud the go-getter.

But what if that’s not what God has for us here? What if Jesus wants to meet us backstage and between the curtains, past the crowd and the circumstances? I don’t think God spreads our faces across a board, separating His children into categories of “suffering” and “celebrating.” Instead, He just claims us as “His,” over and over again. We are a chorus of His beloved sons and daughters.

When we let His truth about our identity create our perception, the focus is no longer the role of suffering or serving, but the One who combined the two on the cross. We need Ragamuffin #3 just as much as we need Gladys; but just as they are cast to tell a story, so are we.

May we renew our faith in the Director, and assume our appointed roles in the truthful pages of His gospel. Amen.

SRT-Acts-Instagram39s

  • love love love this scripture and devotion today!

    here is a fav storm verse I hold onto. the last line about the desired haven reminds me of Malta being the symbol of God leading us to a future hope.

    They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
    Psalm 107:26‭-‬30 NIV

  • Beautiful devotional! Spoke deep into my soul! Thank you Kaitlin:)

  • Ive always struggled with wanting recognition for my faith and leadership. One thing that struck me as I’m finishing up this study is that throughout acts, much of the time the non believers receive more attention and story time than the believers and do-gooders. Yet we know that these disciples were bringing God’s word to the nations and salvation to many. What a great comfort and a reminder that our work is still fruitful, that we’re still the salt of the earth, that God will not forget our good deeds. Well behaved women may not make history but we will have a place in the kingdom. Praise God who meets us behind the curtains, as many of us feel like we’re stuck there And forgotten.

  • “Our circumstances don’t write our story, God does.” Thank you for that gold nugget. Holding on to it tightly in these upcoming months!

    http://www.milestoeden.com

    • She Reads Truth

      Holding on too, Libby. So grateful it is true!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • Elizabeth

    Such a great analogy! Especially for someone like me, who is a performer. :) Thank you SRT!

    • She Reads Truth

      Thanks for joining us, Elizabeth! Happy to see you here today!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”
    I know this is referring to being saved. Sometimes God speaks to me right where I am that day.

    We lost our much loved pet dog that our family has had for many years.
    I need to be reminded to keep my eyes in the scripture and not make myself sick.
    Paul sure was going through storms in his life and who did he turn too. GOD.

    The song ” Turn your eyes upon Jesus” came to my mind so I am going to be singing that today.

  • Annmarie

    Can you please further explain Mark 16 17-18 and how it relates to believers today? This one always puzzles me as I have done none of which is listed in that verse, yet I still am a believer…?

    • Samantha RN

      Annmarie – I’m so glad you asked about this. So many of us don’t value exegesis and biblical context in the way we should. I’m currently in seminary, and we just recently discussed this “longer ending of Mark.” Please excuse the length, but I hope it’s helpful!

      The Longer Ending of Mark
      Dr. Erin M. Heim

      If you were preaching through a series on the Gospel of Mark, what would you do with Mark’s “longer ending”? Conceivably, response could range from “let’s use this as an opportunity to talk about the formulation of the Bible,” to “we shouldn’t preach this as inspired Scripture,” to “of course we should preach verses 9–20, they were affirmed by early Church Fathers as part of Mark’s Gospel!” Whatever approach is taken, it is fairly clear that you could not simply ignore these verses.

      We have to keep in mind that this isn’t a straightforward issue; whatever we decide is the best course of action. Though most don’t dispute that verses 9–20 are not original to Mark’s Gospel, we also must recognize that they were affirmed as part of his Gospel from an early date (e.g. Irenaeus quotes from Mark 16:19 in “Against Heresies” so we can be certain that the longer ending was being affirmed as Scripture no later than the last quarter of the second century). On the other hand, two important witnesses, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus do not include them. So if Mark didn’t write them, and important manuscripts don’t include them, should we remove them from our Bibles? I have two thoughts for you to ponder in relation to this question: (1) Why and when were these verses added, and are they potentially “heretical and dangerous” as our textbook indicates? And more fundamentally (2) how does the criteria for canonicity relate to the longer ending of Mark?

      Scholars are nearly evenly divided on the question of whether Mark intended to end his Gospel at 16:8, or whether Mark’s original ending was lost at an early date. However, most agree that Mark 16:9–20 was added to fill in the gaps of Mark’s abrupt ending. Given that there are both strong and weak parallels to other passages in the Gospels and Acts (e.g. Matt 28:1, 18–20; Luke 8:2; 24:1–53; John 20:1–23; Acts 1:6–8; 2:1–13; 3:1–10; 8:7; 16:16–18; 28:3–6), there is a strong possibility that the author of Mark 16:9–20 had access to the other three Gospels and Acts. One solution that I find persuasive is that the longer ending of Mark was added when the four Gospels began to circulate together (which has to be before Irenaeus is writing) in order to finish out the story and to bring Mark’s Gospel into conformity with the other three. As far as the “heretical” content goes, certainly if we take the “sign” that believers with pick up snakes and drink poison to be a “command” or a test of “true belief” then we may have some heterodox theology and dangerous consequences. But if the author of the longer ending is alluding to some of the signs performed by early Christians, then perhaps we should only interpret verses 18 as an echo of Paul’s encounter with the viper (Acts 28:3–6). If this is the case, then the longer ending of Mark is no stranger than signs recorded elsewhere.

      Whether the teaching is orthodox, or whether we think these verses teach heresy, we must grapple with the more fundamental question of what it means for a book or a text to be included or excluded from the canon. We as evangelicals put a strong emphasis on apostolicity, which for us usually boils down to authorship. Thus many of us quickly conclude that if Mark didn’t write them then they shouldn’t be included. But we have to remember that there are other criteria for canonicity, and indeed we have at least one document included in our canon whose link to apostolicity is unknown (Hebrews). The most salient one to consider with the longer ending of Mark is catholicity (or “relevance” in JG, 109), which is whether the text was widely used in the early church. It seems like the longer ending of Mark, despite its absence in several important witnesses, was fairly widely circulated in the early church. Moreover, the canon formulation is tricky evidence to evaluate because the councils ruled on whole books and not parts of books, so it’s difficult to know which version of was affirmed by the church councils. Even more fascinating is that some Church Fathers used the ending of Mark as canon, while at the same time acknowledging that it was spurious! This is a big question to consider when we think about what it means for Scripture to be inspired and what took place in the early church as the canon was being formed. Again, wherever we come down on the question of the longer endings’ canonicity, we need to remember that no Christian doctrine hangs on this passage, and it doesn’t contain material that isn’t at least loosely paralleled elsewhere.

      Okay, enough scholarly mumbo-jumbo. What difference does all of this make in the lives of our church members? Well, I can think of a few big “take-aways” from this exercise. First, we can have a high degree of confidence that the manuscripts of the New Testament that underlie our composite Bible (as we have it in our modern, English translations) accurately transmit the text of the Gospels 97–99 percent of the time, and where there is dispute (as in Mark 16 and John 8), the disputed texts are still included in very early sources in church tradition (so there is “dispute” for good reason). Second, we need to recognize and appreciate that we stand in a history of two thousand years of Christianity, and the issue of canon is not only about authorship (though it is about that). At the end of the day, we need to be willing to view those who put their exclamation points in different places generously (e.g. “authorship!” “catholicity!”), and recognize that they each do so because they are trying to uphold the authority of Scripture. And viewing our Christian brothers and sisters who think differently about difficult issues with generosity is always a good lesson ☺.

    • Katie K.

      While the passage points to what we read in Acts, I think the bigger emphasis for believers today is that God is healer and conquerer over Satan and evil. We are not to be foolish in handling snakes or drinking poison but the context was for the believers to be examples of God’s healing power like in Acts

    • Pam B

      We have to also remember that none of the things listed in these verses are required for salvation. Trusting Jesus as our Lord and Savior is all that we need to do to be saved. There are many spiritual gifts and acts that early Christians did that those of us today might never do, but that doesn’t make us any less of a Christian. God blessed us all with spiritual gifts, and they won’t be the same as someone else’s and that’s what makes the church so special. We need all these different gifts to encourage each other and be a unified body. :-)

  • When you are in the storm, do you continue trying without losing hope, or do you give up?
    When your advice to survive gets ignored, do you continue to express your faith amidst that storm?
    Do you persevere and continue to encourage others despite having your advice ignored?

    Despite being a prisoner, Paul’s story here teaches us to try and try again.
    Amidst the storm, the example for how to get through is demonstrated:
    – offer your advice,
    – express your faith,
    – promote survival,
    – break bread with everyone, and
    – give thanks to God in the presence of all of them.

  • Caroline harries

    So thankful that he writes our story so it all works out for our good! amazing

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • So take courage! For I believe God! It will be just as He said! – Acts 27:25
    I want to hold on to this today!

  • Brilliant analogy. Much-needed, encouraging words! Thank you!

    • She Reads Truth

      Thanks for joining us today, Melea! Love to you!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • I love the comparison of playing two characters in a play and having God meet us backstage to help us write the story. Thanks for the encouraging words.

    • She Reads Truth

      Dawn, I’m so grateful this encouraged you. So glad you joined us today!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • churchmouse

    Difficulty. Dangerous. Fierce wind. Barely able to get control. Severely battered. Neither sun not stars appeared. The severe storm kept raging. All hope was disappearing. Take courage. No loss of life. An angel said. Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I believe God. Prayed for daylight to come. Gave thanks to God in the presence of all. Encouraged. Everyone safely reached the shore. Extraordinary kindness. Gave us what we needed.

    To me, these phrases pulled from today’s Scriptures, illustrate the Christian walk. Indeed each circumstance that comes my way , whether stormy or smooth sailing, is under God’s care. I needed this reminder today.

  • churchmouse

    Have missed you, Tina but have been trusting that you and our Jesus are walking as close together as always. So good to hear from you today. So good to hear peace and joy even as you face this year anniversary of your dad’s passing. Hugs to you from over here

  • Ok this is powerful scripture this morning. We all can relate to being caught in the storms of life and having no way out but to ride it out. But how encouraging to Paul that God comes to him in the middle of the storm and notice He doesn’t say, “peace, be still” like Jesus said to the storm when He was in the boat with the disciples but He assures him his journey in life was not over yet. He had more work for him to do. That was enough to keep Paul on the course that He had laid before him. And it not only encouraged Paul it also spoke loud and clear to all those around him about the faithfulness of God. Our days can be full of the storms of life and sometimes God will speak to them and say, peace be still and other times we have to ride it out with a promise of calmer waters ahead. No matter the circumstances surrounding us He is always there and faithful to speak peace to the storms or during the storms. But we must remain in the ship. “Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.””
    ‭‭Acts‬ ‭27:31‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
    Our only safe place in life is with Him.

    • SusieT

      “Our only safe place in life is with Him.” Yes! Gina, I like how you tied that in with Paul’s declaration that all aboard must stay on the ship to be saved. Thank you for sharing that thought!

  • Years ago, in a dessert season, God used this scripture to remind me of a hope I had as a young girl. One long forgotten through the trials of a tired life. It was a season I felt invisible, useless and purposeless. I felt that my needs, dreams and desires didn’t matter. I was beat up, bruised and worn beyond words and then this reminder; I had always been fascinated with Malta as a kid. I don’t know how it came to be, but I was. For years, I would talk about one day wanting to go, it was my dream place … this continued into adulthood, I even spoke of it to my husband in the early days but soon, life took over and before long I forgot how much I longed to see this beautiful Island. It didn’t become distant memory or wish, it became a forgotten one, completely and totally. Rocked by disappointment, pain, more emotional let downs that I can count my life had become more about getting through each day than dreaming of anything at all and in walked God again. One night as I had prayed about the storm of my life, I called about to God, begging that He would tell me something, something to do, to say … anything. Exclaiming how angry I was, that I didn’t feel I mattered, that there was no point. He lead me to this scripture. Reading it I cried thinking, “This, I need to be reminded how stormy it’s been? That this is one big giant shipwreck?”, irritated I flipped the page and these words flew out at me, “After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta.” MALTA!!! I broke down because immediately I remembered. Like flashes in a movie, it all came back. I remembered those dreams, those desires, I remembered Malta. All I could say was that I had forgotten but God responded with, “I didn’t Betsy!” I knew He was showing me that I would have my Malta, that I may never step foot on the actual island but that what it represented would be available to me … that those storms, THE storms would bring me to it and that God loved me so much He hadn’t forgotten even the most simple of a little girl’s dream. I needed to feel “seen” and He didn’t disappoint.

    “When we let His truth about our identity create our perception, the focus is no longer the role of suffering or serving, but the One who combined the two on the cross. We need Ragamuffin #3 just as much as we need Gladys; but just as they are cast to tell a story, so are we.”

    I had to know I was both “Gladys AND Ragamuffin #3″. I had to know that I was part of a story that wasn’t at all about ME, BUT that He believed I mattered in it. He doesn’t want to tell it without me. The storms of my life are beautiful and like an eloquent & emotional soliloquy they tell the story God has handwritten for me.

    • Beth

      Betsy, thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes I believe the storm is about me — to get my attention so that He can to strip away all the things I thought were important, all the things I chose that took my attention away from the purpose He has for me — to bring Him glory with my life. Though I struggle against the storms, I see that God is giving me experiences that will lift up others when I get to the other side. Just like your story is such an encouragement. If I had my way, my life would have been entirely different. But the Ragamuffin me learned about empathy. Through my broken pieces, God’s light can shine through in colorful refracted patterns — like a stained glass window.

      • ~ B ~

        “Through my broken pieces, God’s light can shine through in colorful refracted patterns…” I love that Beth, such a beautiful picture and truth!

    • Michelle

      Thank you for sharing this. You have reminded me that God still sees me even when I’m feeling overlooked and forgotten in the midst of my struggles and daily living. Something I really needed to be reminded of today.

      • TIFFANI

        AMEN!! AMEN!! AMEN!! Thank You So Much!!

      • ~ B ~

        Prayerful that somehow God will remind you how important you are to Him, daily! You are not forgotten or overlooked!

    • Tina

      -B~, Beautiful. I love this..″. I had to know that I was part of a story that wasn’t at all about ME, BUT that He believed I mattered in it. He doesn’t want to tell it without me. The storms of my life are beautiful and like an eloquent & emotional soliloquy they tell the story God has handwritten for me…. what truth. Sometimes we need reminding that God is the Author, and that the story He writes for each of us is beautiful, if we could just see and remember who the author is…God, and he is good..always..
      Blessing s dear heart…

    • Kelly Smith

      I have goosebumps! Malta waits for us on the other side of the storm. I am so encouraged by this, Betsy!

    • Hope

      This moment has passed for all of you. You have moved onto Mark and I trail behind. Today, I cried out to God literally asking him if all he wanted from me was suffering. The devotion hit home. Furthermore, I struggled but forced myself to read the comments because I always see God’s twinkling eye in each of your words. Today, its ~B~. I wish I knew you, like share a cup of coffee knew you, today. I had forgotten about Malta. I too shared your obsession. I literally haven’t thought of Malta in close to 20 years. I even wrote a story about Malta in my elementary school age years. I too planned to visit. Life beat the dream out of me. Truth be told, I’m still in the storm. I’m just praying to get through the day. I’m not even sure that I’m part of this story and that God wants me to see Malta. But I’m grateful to remember. Thank you for this, ~B~ , and thank you for this God.

  • Kortina Smith

    These stories of courage and God writing the final scene are absolutely moving! And it continuously strengthens my faith in my creator. Just when we think all is lost (usually because we tried to write our own story), God comes in and gives us an outcome we were not expecting. It’s a constant reminder to follow His plan, and not our own. To not attempt to write our own story, but the follow the one beautifully made for our lives. I found peace in today’s message… Sisters I pray you are able to find peace as well. Shalom!

    http://www.eathappygranola.com

  • I usually share the daily devo on Facebook but today the link doesn’t work. :(

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Bee 3! It seems to be working on our end. Maybe try refreshing or using a different browser? I hope this helps!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • Kaitlin, this was lovely…I can so absolutely understand where you are coming from….
    As I return with my brother to Ghana, for the year anniversary of Daddy being called home, one of the things we plan to do is put a headstone to mark where we buried him….we have been selecting and have now chosen a style with a slight change to the design. I have asked that where the writing will be, be in the shape of a book, for the reason that Daddy’s life, and indeed our lives are stories, full of testimonies of good, of bad, of Grace, Love, forgiveness, provision, lack, kindness, peace, chaos….but, and by Gods Grace, and along with Him, our lives meet each day as God intended, HOPE filled and with Grace, Love, Faith in the wings….
    Kaitlin, you so nailed it when you highlighted these words…our circumstances don’t write our story; absolutely not, God does…
    Definitely claiming, this morning, my place in the chorus of His beloved sons and daughters….
    Amen.

    Missing you all, as life speeds up a notch….not having time to comment, but still here in the sidelines, watching and listening…
    Praying still that God bless you and keep you, may He turn His face to shine on you….hugs and Love always…xxx

    • Dana

      With you Tina. And may He bless you and keep you, may He turn His face to shine on you.

      • Tina

        Dana, thank you for your prayer of blessing…God be with you…xx

    • Nancy

      As Kaitlin said, “We are a chorus of His beloved sons and daughters.” Have missed you in the chorus Tina. I always love reading your comments. God bless you and keep you in this busy time.

      • Tina

        Nancy, you are kind, you haven’t heard me sing…lol Thankful our Heavenly Father hears me differently…
        I have been silent, but am here still..and continue to walk alongside…I will be back, proper , soon…hugs..xxx

    • ~ B ~

      Yay! It is so good to see you hear T! Prayerful as you return to Ghana, that you will be filled with great peace and fond memories as you celebrate your sweet father. Safe travels and best wishes beautiful friend!

    • Kelly Smith

      Hugs to you, Tina! God is writing a beautiful story in and around you!

    • Tricia

      Good to hear from you Tina. I’ve missed your comments. God bless you Sister.

      • Tina

        Dear Tricia, thank you ….God bless you too..BIG hug coming your way…xx

    • Debbie

      So missing you as well, Sister, peace be with you!

      • Tina

        Debbie, receiving you prayer with a grateful heart…Thank you…
        May peace and Grace be yours today and always…xx

    • She Reads Truth

      Tina, it made my day to see you back! :)

      Please know that I’m praying for you, when you comment and when you’re quiet. So grateful for your encouraging heart.

      xoxo-Kaitlin

      • Tina

        Kaitlin, thank you, thank you, thank you…I’m smiling right now…Bless you and thank you for carrying me each day in your heart…BIG hugs and love, beautiful you…xx

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