After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island—it was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. There we found some brothers and sisters who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged. When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by; himself , with a soldier to guard him. (Acts 28:11-16)
A church near my new river house printed their motto on a sign: A place where people’s lives are changed. Isn’t that what we long for in a church? Luke tells us in this passage what we must do in a church to meet that objective.
Luke notes that God places him and Paul on a boat dedicated to the twin gods of Zeus, who were credited with saving people in trouble at sea. We can be sure that Paul and his companions told these pagans during the three days they were on the ship at Syracuse about their winter journey through the northeaster and how God protected them. Leaders of a church should reach out to people in need of Jesus like Paul and Luke did and tell them how God has helped.
God was present and sent a south wind to carry Paul’s ship a good distance to Puteoli where the Christians extended hospitality. Christians should always make people feel like they belong.
From Puteoli, Paul and his fellow travelers would’ve left on foot for Rome. On their way, Christians from Rome walked as long as forty miles to meet Paul at the Forum of Apius and the Three Taverns. Their actions encouraged Paul and reminded him to thank God for his church family. Christians should always say and do things to encourage people, especially their leaders.
This Bible verse reminds us that God wants Christians to go out of their way to meet people, provide hospitality, make people feel like they belong, and give others the courage to continue their life treks. God wants us to change people’s lives.
Father, I praise you for the body of Christ. Give me the courage to leave my comfort zone to meet others’ needs and encourage them. Use me to transform others’ lives. Keep my family and me safe today and bind us closer to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.