Weathering the Storms Part 3: Acts 27:10-25
10, 11 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
Right from the start of where we pick up the story, I see some amazing truth essential to the lives of believers. The storm hasn't started; as a matter of fact, there is an opportunity for people to hear the counsel of God from a man of God.
Nevertheless, once the truth is spoken, then a choice is placed in the hands of the hearer. Since the beginning, God has placed man in this circumstance, creating him with a free will and the opportunity for making choice, reaching back to the garden incident, traveling through the annals of human history, the same choices have faced man along the way-- will you heed the counsel of God or obstinately go your own way?
…Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
I just wanted to quickly review the last part of those verses again. Paul, through supernatural contact with the God of glory has been given revelation to spare all involved untold heartache and calamity; the centurion who is responsible for these prisoners refuses to listen to the Apostle Paul, rather listening to the business men who have selfish motives to expedite the sailing of the ship.
Child of God pray that the Lord give you wisdom when you seek counsel; pray that the Lord allow you to see the heart of those you seek wisdom from that God will show you whether their motives are selfless or selfish, whether they are pure or tainted with self seeking, or even bitterness.
12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
This scenario is amazingly similar to how the enemy works in our lives. The warning from the Lord has been given, but certain people have refused to hear the counsel of God; furthermore, in the midst of this scenario, the atmosphere is seemingly conducive to the rebels' plans. The sun is shining and glinting off the crystal clear, rippling, blue waters of the Mediterranean as the soft, south wind gently disturbs the surface. There probably isn't a cloud in the sky-- now!
How often do the "world" (non-believers) and even carnal Christians for that matter make decisions about their lives solely on what appears conducive to their wants, desires, and the logic that surrounds the perception of their physical circumstances?
In other words, disregard what the man of God has said. Listen, "These people know why Paul has been arrested. He is going to Rome to stand before Caesar because he has been preaching Jesus and signs have been following him. His preaching nearly convinced King Agrippa to convert to Christianity; certainly, his reputation has preceded him; certainly, when he warned them about what lied ahead, the Holy Spirit witnessed the truth to their hearts; nevertheless, like the world and carnal Christians, they ignore the correction of God and make their decisions based upon what makes most logical sense, based upon what the physical circumstances paint most beneficial.
Then suddenly, Euroclydon sparks, which is a violent southeastern wind, and out of nowhere, completely unexpected, danger, turmoil, loss, and impending doom replace the soft, blue, rippling waters.
15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps [ropes], undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
The word "quicksands" is misleading because it's actually descriptive of an area filled with sand banks upon which ships would run aground if not careful. So the scenario is that this violent storm has suddenly come upon them to the point that they are placing "helps" (ropes) under girding the ship trying to hold it together, while also pulling the sail down in order to prevent running aground.
Nevertheless, even with all their futile efforts, they were being tossed to and fro. Honestly, there is a lot of spiritual truth to be found here. Many times when people find themselves in a violent storm, they attempt to grab a hold of every idea and plan they can in order to prevent their shipwreck.
In the past, I've been tempted to "allegorize" the ropes as Jesus, you know, "Tie Jesus around your boat, and He'll hold everything together." Well, the problem with that theory is that the boat crashes and the ropes couldn't save anything.
No, the ropes, I believe, represent the feeble attempts we make to find solutions in our lives: the relationships, which help us pay the bills financially but are out of God's will for our lives, the psyche meds and ungodly counsel that contradicts the counsel of God, the addictions people cling to in order to numb their pain. Through all these feeble efforts we're tying ropes around a boat that's going to crash to pieces.
The only hope for them and us is the word of correction and hope given by God. Furthermore, God has a word for us to be remembered in our times of uncertainty, there is no other name under heaven by which man can be saved (Acts 4:12). Once saved, we've been translated from darkness into light (Colossians 1:13). Once in Christ, He is our help in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16). We can cast all our cares on Him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He is our fortress and high tower (Psalm 144:2).
18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
Eventually, things became so desperate that they threw out the precious cargo
And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.,
When the storms of life are raging, eventually it becomes clear what the essentials are, and everything else must desperately be forsaken or else destruction will ensue!
In other words, they were desperately removing anything from the boat that would harm them in this situation. Things which previously were necessary (tackle of the ship/ the cargo) had become detrimental to their well being and survival.
Obviously, in peril such as this, the ship needs to be as buoyant as possible, the heavier the vessel, the lower it sits in the water, and the easier it is for the violent waves to overcome it.
Spiritually speaking, why is it that we, as Christians, oftentimes have to be faced with great peril, on the brink of destruction, before we're willing to remove the things in our lives that are putting our walk with God in danger? Just as this weight was detrimental to their well being, the Word of God says that sin and weights are detrimental to our walk with Him.
Weight is a burden to our walk with God:
Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight [weights and sin cause us to fix our eyes elsewhere—it happened to Peter Matt 14:30], and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking [to turn the eye away from other things and fix it on something else] unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I remember last week when I asked my friend John to share with the bible study his testimony regarding his coming to the Lord: how that he had been dying inwardly with everything perishing outwardly. The job was lost! The whole family on the brink of destruction! Not knowing what would happen, but experiencing Jesus for the first time at this magnitude and realizing this was more important than anything else right here right now!
You see, unless a man finds himself in desperate circumstances, he may take for granted his eternal soul! He may take for granted the love of the one who died in his stead. But let that man be touched by the finger of God, let his circumstances be brought into disarray with permission from God as they were in Job's life, and the result will oft times be:
10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
You see right now, for some of you the storm is raging, but the storm is the trial, and the trial is the furnace; as the fire removes dross (impurities) from silver and gold, so the trial removes impurities from the life of the believer.
Just as Job said, "He knows the way that I take...," God knows where you are right now. He knows what you're facing. He knows what you have brought upon yourself as well as where others have done you wrong.
In times when we feel as though nothing is going our way, maybe we need to stop and question whether or not God could be bringing correction to our lives:
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Acts 27:20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
This time-frame of the storm speaks of darkness, uncertainty, and fear of destruction. Anyone who has served God for any length of time has undoubtedly experienced times of great turmoil and uncertainty.
There have been times in my walk with God where I was so far from His presence because of my own choices that darkness and demonic waves of depression and bondage were overcoming me, being driven by my flesh towards sensual desires and further away from God's presence, the sky grew darker and the waves more violent.
But just as God showed up in David's life, He also showed up in my life and rescued me from destruction. Many times people are unwilling to cry out to God for rescue because they're too prideful to admit that they're sinking to begin with. I just want to encourage someone right now that if the skies are dark and the waves are overcoming your vessel, cry out to Him in the midst of your desperation. Hold on to His nail scarred hand and remember that He didn't quit on us, so we must continue on with Him. As David found out, He is the one who instructs the waves and tells the shores where to start and the water where to stop (2 Samuel 22; Psalm 18).
22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer:for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar:and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer:for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
There are two main points that I see rising from this verse:
1). God had a plan for Paul's life, and God has a plan for our lives. We need to be reminded that God is committed to getting us to the place where we are committed to His will.
The word of hope God gave Paul for these people through the angel was that Paul would make it through this trial because it was God's will that Paul go before Caesar, because it was God's will that Paul do ministry in Rome before he died.
2). A few weeks back we pointed out that having Jonah or (disobedience) in your boat with you results in you getting caught up in the mess of their storm. In this scenario, the storm is here, it touches everyone in the boat (in my eyes representative of everyone in the world), because we live in the midst of a fallen world, and Jesus promised there would be trials and tribulations; furthermore, God uses them to pull the dross out of our lives.
But contrary to the people who had Jonah's disobedience in their boat, these people in the Acts story have obedient Paul in their boat, and because of that their lives are going to be spared.
It's important for you, child of God, to be aware that you need to surround yourself with men and women of God-- that is if you want to live for Him. You need to find yourself a group of believer's that believe God's word for the way it's written, and they need to be who you have in your boat. Listen close, "I’m not someone who calls themselves Christian then passes you a 'doobie,' or talks you into a drink, but true men and women of God who are committed to the purposes of God.
I want to close by emphasizing the purposes of God. I'm tired of a lying gospel that focuses on people's problems rather than God's purposes. In other words, Jonah was in trouble because he was disobedient towards God's purposes-- allowing souls to repent. Paul and the others were spared because God had plans for Paul to preach the gospel in Rome. God spared David and David sang about it in Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22 because God had plans for David and plans for Israel, it's called the giving of Messiah to a lost and dying world.
Preachers who aren't telling the whole story and just focusing on people's mess are doing God a disservice. God has a plan! He is saving souls in the midst of this church age! He will soon bring untold ages of evil to an end. And we're going to be selfish and consume ourselves with our personal needs and the preacher is going to help us?
Let’s go back to Jonah. Should we focus on Jonah’s financial distress because he disobediently spent money on a ticket to Tarshish, finding himself in a great fish’s belly, spat upon the shore likely robed with clothes tattered and torn, or should we focus on what’s really happening, his failure, his need to get back up? Get up man of God; return to the point of your disobedience; upon arrival, there will be a fork in the road, take the right path, go the right way, true repentance demands it!
No! Let God's Word and plan prevail! Let man's plans and his lying mouth be shut. If you want God moving in your life, then find out what He's really doing, get on board with that, and watch Him do spiritual miracles in your life.