I asked the group what lesson or application they pulled out of the last two chapters and it was interesting because everyone had a different answer. The thing that I learned was that God will allow for things to happen and cause situations to occur in order to conform to his plan. As Paul later writes in Ephesians 1:11-12:
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of
him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in
order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the
praise of his glory.
God had a plan that he had revealed to Paul for him go to Rome to teach of Jesus and proclaim the gospel. Paul gets there but takes a most unlikely route. He is taken prisoner, has to appeal to Caesar in order to avoid getting tried by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. He is placed on a grain boat with other prisoners set to sail during the winter when it was not safe to sail. They go through a storm so intense that all the men on board lose hope of surviving and go without food for 14 days. They shipwreck on the island of Malta, the guards normally would kill the prisoners to keep them from escaping in the event of shipwreck, but they spare their lives. They winter on Malta where the islanders take unusually good care of them. Next spring, they board a new boat that finally takes them to Rome. An unbelievably circuitous route that only God could make happen in order to fulfill his plan of Paul going to the metropolis of Rome to tell about Jesus.