Paul, the prisoner is refreshed by Julius the centurion.

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Having appealed to Caesar, Paul’s destiny is set.

It will only be a matter of time until they can find passage for him to make the journey to Rome.
Paul has spent the last several years in prison mostly isolated from the world except for the company of his most loyal friend, Luke.
You will notice that in verse 1 Luke says that it “was determined that WE should sail to Italy.”
Luke writes as an eyewitness to the events of Paul’s life.
This is so awesome, when you think about who Luke was and what he had been up to.
Luke wrote the biography of Jesus’ life based on the testimonies of other people.
He was dependent upon other people who had been a part of Jesus’ ministry.
When it comes to Paul’s life, though, he wants to write based on first-hand knowledge.
Even if that means a great cost to himself.
Paul will travel as a prisoner.
This means that Rome will foot the bill for Paul’s expenses.
He is in their charge and so they will pay his way.
This is not the case with Luke.
Luke is traveling as a private citizen.
Any expenses that he incurs, he will be responsible for.
The fact that Luke is willing to do this must have been a great encouragement to Paul.
Paul boards a ship in Caesarea that was based in a city called Adramyttium which is the same as modern day Edremit, Turkey.

It’s not just Luke that follows Paul.

We are reintroduced to a Thessalonian man named Aristarchus.
When we first saw Aristarchus he was being arrested in Ephesus because of his association with Paul.
Later, he is in the company that accompanied Paul on his journey to Jerusalem.
Now, several years later, Aristarchus is still with Paul offering his assistance and encouragement.
Several years from these events, Paul will refer to him as his “fellow prisoner.”
Paul may not have been in the best of situations, what with being a prisoner and all, but you can’t deny that Paul is abundantly blessed by the people that are around him.
Luke, the doctor-historian.
Aristarchus, the guy who follows you into whatever trouble you might be getting into.
Both of these men are unbelievable in their friendship and devotion to Paul.
Their kindness and loyalty should be the envy of any person looking for friends.
But, perhaps there is some expectation that, if anyone was going to show Paul kindness, it should have been these fellow Christians.
Such expectations did not exist with this next person that the passage reveals a giver of kindness to Paul.

After landing at Sidon, Paul is shown kindness by an unexpected character.

The Bible tells us that Julius, the centurion responsible for Paul and the other prisoners, gives Paul permission to go and visit his friends in Sidon.
The purpose for Paul’s excursion is, get this, so that he may refresh himself.
The word “refresh” in the New Testament means rest or relief, but it also means to revive or give care to.
Paul has been secluded in a Caesarean prison for 2+ years, but now he is getting the chance to go out and visit his friends.
Certainly over these few days he would have rested and enjoyed some relief from the discomfort of being a prisoner.
But, i believe he was also seeking revival of spirit by giving care to his spiritual and mental health.
How was he going to accomplish this?
Through fellowship with godly friends.
Let’s just imagine how this might have occurred in real life.
Luke and Aristarchus sail with Paul from Caesarea to Sidon.
Julius watches as these three friends demonstrate an entirely different way of living then the rest of the passengers.
There is an especially unique manner in which Paul deals with his imprisonment than the other prisoners.
As they near Sidon, Julius even finds himself joining in with some of their conversations.
He sees their peace and joy, so when he hears them talk about the different ones that they know in Sidon, he courteously offers to let Paul accompany Luke and Aristarchus to go see them.
After docking at Sidon, Paul and the others are allowed to go into the city.
They get to the place where the church in Sidon gathered and Luke goes in first.
The believers are glad to see him, but it is not long before they begin to inquire about Paul’s condition.
Luke smiles a mischievous grin and tells them, “why don’t you ask him yourselves.”
Paul comes in the door and everyone cheers and crowds around him.
Paul is not annoyed or inconvenienced or begrudging their interest in his condition.
He knows that it stems from a sincere concern and love for him.
Certainly there are many who say awkward things, but Paul is mature enough to receive their attempts expressing their gladness at seeing him.
After the excitement begins to die down, Paul meets with the church leaders.
They rehearse for him the growth and spread of the gospel in their city since they last saw him.
They tell him stories about the miraculous changing of lives.
They tell him about the boldness of the believers that have preached and have been sent out as missionaries.
Paul is overjoyed to hear these stories, you may have noticed that Paul has made the passion of God the passion of his own life.
No doubt there were many that wanted to host Paul during his short stay.
Regardless of whose house Paul stayed in that night, I am sure it was a late night with little sleep and many visitors.
The host family laid out a feast for Paul, and every guest that stopped in for a visit brought more and more food until Paul felt as though he might explode.
No Christian is intended to live apart from the fellowship of other believers.
At the very beginning of this book, at the beginning of that first church we said that there are two vital ingredients to a healthy church and a healthy Christian.
These are the teaching of God’s word and the fellowship with other believers.
These are the two primary purposes of this church.
These are the two spiritual appetites that you should desire to fill.
Paul had been missing the fellowship of the believers and it had left him dry and parched.
After his time in Sidon, Paul returned to his prison transport that next morning, Refreshed!
The coming days and weeks would bring great peril to Paul’s life.
He was now ready to face them having been revived, rested, and cared for by the believers of Sidon.
Luke demonstrates for us the need that Paul had for refreshment after being absent from the brethren for such a long time.

If Paul found refreshment in Christian fellowship, we can too.

I fully believe that a person who comes to church looking to receive spiritual nourishment from the preaching and teaching of God’s word, they will find it.
This is refreshing and helpful after a week or weeks of being bombarded by sin, temptation to sin, and the discouragement of living in a fallen world.
Of course, God doesn’t just want to refresh you with His word on Sundays and Wednesdays.
He wants to refresh you daily through your own personal reading of the Bible.
Their is another source of refreshment that God has given to us, the fellowship and friendship of other Christians.
We all need close personal Christian friends like Luke and Aristarchus.
We need Luke’s who believe in us and support us in our efforts to be godly witnesses, godly spouses, godly parents, godly children, or godly employees.
We need some Aristarchuses too that will walk right into the fire with us.
They don’t shirk from the danger of being close to you in a time of trial.
They go to prison with you if that is what is required.
We also need the corporate fellowship that may not be as intimate, but is no less powerful and vital.
Paul was refreshed by the Sidonian believers though they were not as close to him as Luke or Aristarchus.
We actually have no record of Paul ever visiting Sidon before this account.
Paul didn’t begrudge them that they were not the same kind of friend as his close friends.
You don’t have to be close personal friends with every person at church in order to be refreshed by them.
Paul’s connection to them was deeper than the temporal relationship criteria that the world uses.
The world bases friendship of shared hobbies, quid pro quos, external similarities, and etc...
Christians have a more enduring stronger connection through our shared relationship with Jesus.
That’s why I can go to any country in the world and find friends.
All I have to do is find a church.
The people their won’t know me, they haven’t been through every trial of my life with me, but I can count them as friends because of Jesus.
You don’t have to go to another country to find that, we have that right here.
We want every member, attender, and guest to be refreshed when they interact with the Baptist Tabernacle.
Whether they come to an activity, a service, or they see us out in the community, they should find us friendly.
What could you do today to refresh somebody else?
What can you do to revive their spirit?
What can you do to care for them?
What can you do to help them rest and find relief?
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