Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2018
Texts: Acts 27, Acts 28, Romans 1:18–20
As we make the journey from summer to fall, we become increasingly aware of the hurricane season. Tranquil beaches bulge into neighborhoods as storm surges move onto shore. When disaster happens, we see the unexpected. We see those who rush in to loot stores and damaged homes, abandoned by those seeking safety on higher ground.
Another side of humanity also comes into view during times of loss and devastation. The caring side of fellow human beings becomes increasingly evident as pictures flood the news and social media. Someone just happened to be in the right place at the right time to help. Others who have trained travel long distances to areas where help is needed, putting fears of harm aside as they plunge forward exhibiting courage. That’s the way it was with Amber Hersel. Being a mom and part-time photographer didn’t stop her from traveling 12 hours from her home in Indiana to the shores of North Carolina, which were expected to be hit by hurricane Florence. She had trained and she wanted to help. A Getty photographer captured Hersel carrying a 7 year old to safety. Walking through the water, cradling the victim, she looked down into the girl’s face. Interest in the person was evident. This was a way to help.1
In our Sabbath School lesson this quarter, we’ve studied about the brave attempts of the members of the early church to reach out to those both near them and away, sharing the love and blessings they had found in following Christ Jesus. Bravery abounded, courage shone through fear, and victory was gained as new believers were added to this young church.
In today’s lesson, we see pictures of Paul as God leads and he follows, not always in the way Paul had anticipated. Not deterred by prison or angry mobs, Paul found avenues to spread the Gospel message no matter what the situation. At times, he was able to go to the people, but always he preached to anyone near. Though not a mariner, Paul became the trusted one of ship’s captains as they navigated stormy seas. Paul had a connection with God that earned the trust of others. He listened to God’s direction and became the one who had answers, the one who knew what to do in treacherous situations, the one who listened to and followed God.
~ For Reflection
Connecting: Draw a simple map of your personal spiritual journey. Use road signs and other map symbols (such as rivers and mountains) to depict your walk toward the kingdom of heaven.
Sharing: Reflect on Acts 28:17-31. How does Paul’s time in Rome teach us to live with courage, no matter what problems we face?
1. Paul took the initiative to explain his situation to the Jewish leaders in Rome. Sometimes we need to tell our story to make our hearts clear before the leaders in the church.
2. An opportunity was given for Paul to share his faith. God wants each of us to share our love for Christ with others.
3. There was division over Paul’s testimony and faith in Christ. We cannot expect everyone to respond to our witnessing in a positive way.
4. The ministry of Paul might have been greater if he had never been caught in this trap set by the Jews of Jerusalem.
5. Though Paul was still bound in Rome, God used him in a mighty way to witness for Christ in this great city and beyond. He can do the same with you.
Applying: As you visit a friend who is sick and confined to bed, she or he confesses, “I’ve made such a mess of my life. I think God has abandoned me. I have no future.” How would you share the story of Paul’s journey to encourage your friend?
Valuing: Can you identify with any part of Paul’s journey to Rome? Which parts of his story are most helpful to you right now?