Acts 27:23-24 "But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. for last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, "don't be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What's more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you."
Someone said, “Tough times do not last, but tough people do!” I don’t know about the last part of that statement, but I am certain about the first past. Tough times do not last, but people with faith in the Lord do! You can outlast the storms of life and this passage gives us a little insight into how to do just that!
Paul’s journey to Rome was filled with danger and the potential for destruction. As they sailed toward Rome, their ship was engulfed in a tremendous storm and they all expected to die at sea. Paul’s experiences at sea stand as an example for you and me. As we journey toward Heaven, we sometimes must sail over stormy seas. Sometimes, the sailing is smooth, v.13. Most of the time, it is not, v.14! Often the storms that rock our lives seem to threaten the very foundations that we stand upon. Many times, these storms cause us to become discouraged and to want to give up. I believe there is help in this text for everyone who is sailing one of life’s stormy seas tonight. Let’s look into these verses and find the help we need.
The Bible lets us know that the Christian race is not going to be a piece of cake. We are very much deceived if we believe otherwise! The truth is; we are either going into a storm, in the midst of the storm, or coming out of a storm. Calm seas sometimes can fool you, believing that the storms will not come. As a mater of fact, recently in the news there was a story about a group of people that had entered some kind of boating contest in Florida. We they set out upon the seas in the morning, the water was calm and peaceful. But then the winds changed and the weather became contrary. According to the news a couple of people lost their lives, and the others were barely able to keep their small craft intact. Fortunately, they were rescued and made it back to shore.
Job 14:1 tells us that, "All of man's days are short and full of trouble." John 16:33 says," In this life you will have trouble, but be of good courage, I have overcome the world."
When disaster comes our way, when the severe storms hit our lives, we often feel as if events are out of control, v. 15,17. Many people get discouraged and filled with despair. There are a plethora of storms that can hit an individual, family, or community. Last week we heard about the earthquake in Nepal, prior to that there was the volcanic activity in the country of Chile, we also had those horrific tornadoes in the heartland of the our country, Texas and Oklahoma. Poverty, unemployment, foreclosure, divorce, sickness and deaths among people that we love, impact our lives for years sometimes.
When you or someone you know is in the throes of a storm, you need to remember that God is still with you. We get upset when we feel that He has abandoned us. We base the on the fact that we don't hear him speaking to us. He is silent, and it seems like He has left us. But God does his best work when you and I are in trouble. He does His best work at midnight. Do you remember the story of Paul and Silas in the Bible? At midnight Paul and Silas sang hymens and prayed. When they did, God cause an earthquake. the shackles fell of their hands and legs and the doors opened. The jailer in fear, thought to kill himself, but Paul assured him that they were still there. Paul and Silas witnesses to the jailor, he got saved and his whole household with him.
During the Paul's trip on the stormy sea, the captain and those sailing with them had to make the decision to lighten the ship in order to keep it afloat., v.18-19. The had to discard any thing that would weigh them down or cause them to perish at sea. The storm that you and I may be in should teach us a lesson. It should make us take an inventory of our life and cast off anything that we do not need. Hebrews 12:1-2 requires us to: "give up whatever endangers our relationship with God, to run patiently and struggle against sin with the power of the Holy spirit. We must keep our eve on Jesus, not on ourselves. We should be running for Christ and keep Him in our view.
We must remember what Romans 8:28 says, "God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called to his purpose for them."
In verse 20, the writer Luke speaks of giving up. It seemed that all hope was gone. Often times the storms in our lives can go on for days, weeks, months and sometimes years. People begin to get desparate and allow their imaginations to run wild. they lose faith in God, some take up unhealthy habits, others commit suicide, become a recluse and do not socialize with anyone, some run away, become bitter and sink deeper into depression. The stormy times that we encounter in life have the potential to either make us break us. They will either drive us to seek the Lord, or they will drive us away from Him. What happens in your life is your decision!
B. Ill. Job. His example is a good one for us. When he was squeezed by Satan, he shouted in the devils face - Job 1:20-22.
C. Simon Peter gave us an example that is to be avoided. When he was squeezed by life, he crumbled - Luke 22:31-32; Matt. 26:69-75.
D. You will either grow stronger, or be dashed upon the rocks of bitterness and unbelief. It all comes down to who or what you look to in times of trouble! (Ill. Man - any man - will fail you; you must put your faith in God and Him alone!)
III. v.21-44 STORMY TIMES ARE TIMES OF DELIVERANCE
Here is some positive help and hope for your storm!
A. v.29b Get Anchored - Paul tells us they cast out four anchors to secure the ship. They anchored their ship and were still terrified, Paul was not afraid. The reason? He was anchored deeper and he was anchored higher. Notice four anchors that will hold you in any storm:
1. v.23 The Presence Of God - Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5 (Ill. The Disciples - John 6:16-21.)
2. v.24-25 The Promises Of God - His promises are steadfast and true - Rom. 4:21. Notice some of the promises we have to assure us of total security.
a. Brighter Days - Psa. 30:5
b. Deliverance - Psa. 34:19
c. Everything is for our Good - Rom. 8:18; 28; 32 Cor. 4:17
d. Divine Grace - 2 Cor. 12:9
e. Ultimate Glory - Rev. 21:4
(Ill. His promises are based in and on His Word. It is pure, inspired and will stand when the world is in flames, Psa. 119:89!)
3. v. 24 The Providence Of God - God was working out His plan in Paul’s life and He is doing the same in yours! It may be simple faith, but I still believe that God is Sovereign! Psa. 57:1; Isa. 25:4. (Ill. Rom. 8:28; Jer. 29:11)
4. v.44 The Performance Of God - Ill. Everyone made it safely to the shore. Ill. God is able to work it all out! He will get you through your storm and land you safely beyond it!
B. v.30-40 Accept The Storm - Ill. These sailors listened to Paul and ate and went on with life. There comes a time when we have to surrender to the Lord’s will and allow Him to have His way in us. We can either bend under His hand, or he can break us. The choice is entirely ours! (Ill. If a vine grows against a tree, either the winds will force the vine closer to the trunk; or the tree will shelter the vine from the wind.) (Ill. You don’t have to like it, but you do need to submit to God in it - 1 Pet. 5:6; James 4:10.)
C. v.41-44 Await Your Deliverance - Their storm ended, yours will too! Somewhere whether on this shore or on that shore, your storm will end. Until it does, submit to the Lord, serve the Lord and know that you are going to make it, 1 Cor. 15:58! God has never and never will lose even one of His little children!
Conclusion: If your sea is rough tonight, I encourage you to cast your anchor upon the solid Rock and tie yourself up to Jesus right now. He already knows about what you face, but He wants you to depend on Him for your need. In His presence is the place where storms are conquered.