TROUBLES AT SEA

When storms come into our lives that knock us off our feet, drenching our hopes while leaving us dazed for a bit we wonder how we will make it to a safe harbor where all is well again.  Then God suddenly steps in, takes us through the storm before calming the seas, teaches us humility, trust, with profound faith in Him as we watch Him work in the middle of it all. 

I don’t know what you are going through or how what you are going through is going to be resolved but I know the One who does know.  I know the One who speaks to those who love Him and listens for His voice.  Before the storm rose up, He was there.  In the middle of the storm, He is there.  When the storm passes over us, He is there.  The old hymn, “A Shelter in the Time of Storm” is the melody I hear as I read about Paul’s adventure as a prisoner now in the middle of a storm on his way to see Caesar for a hearing.

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Refrain:
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
We’ll never leave our safe Retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Friends, are you wondering, why the storm?  Why couldn’t the passage to Rome, which was in God’s will, be safe without storms?  Why did Paul and his associates, the ship’s crew, and the Roman soldiers have to go through this terrible, life-threatening experience to get to the place God was sending them?

ACTS—God’s Actions through His Disciples

Acts 27, The Message

A Storm at Sea

1-2 As soon as arrangements were complete for our sailing to Italy, Paul and a few other prisoners were placed under the supervision of a centurion named Julius, a member of an elite guard. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium that was bound for Ephesus and ports west. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, went with us.

The next day we put in at Sidon. Julius treated Paul most decently—let him get off the ship and enjoy the hospitality of his friends there.

4-8 Out to sea again, we sailed north under the protection of the northeast shore of Cyprus because winds out of the west were against us, and then along the coast westward to the port of Myra. There the centurion found an Egyptian ship headed for Italy and transferred us on board. We ran into bad weather and found it impossible to stay on course. After much difficulty, we finally made it to the southern coast of the island of Crete and docked at Good Harbor (appropriate name!).

9-10 By this time we had lost a lot of time. We had passed the autumn equinox, so it would be stormy weather from now on through the winter, too dangerous for sailing. Paul warned, “I see only disaster ahead for cargo and ship—to say nothing of our lives!—if we put out to sea now.”

12,11 But it was not the best harbor for staying the winter. Phoenix, a few miles further on, was more suitable. The centurion set Paul’s warning aside and let the ship captain and the shipowner talk him into trying for the next harbor.

13-15 When a gentle southerly breeze came up, they weighed anchor, thinking it would be smooth sailing. But they were no sooner out to sea than a gale-force wind, the infamous nor’easter, struck. They lost all control of the ship. It was a cork in the storm.

16-17 We came under the lee of the small island named Clauda, and managed to get a lifeboat ready and reef the sails. But rocky shoals prevented us from getting close. We only managed to avoid them by throwing out drift anchors.

18-20 Next day, out on the high seas again and badly damaged now by the storm, we dumped the cargo overboard. The third day the sailors lightened the ship further by throwing off all the tackle and provisions. It had been many days since we had seen either sun or stars. Wind and waves were battering us unmercifully, and we lost all hope of rescue.

21-22 With our appetite for both food and life long gone, Paul took his place in our midst and said, “Friends, you really should have listened to me back in Crete. We could have avoided all this trouble and trial. But there’s no need to dwell on that now. From now on, things are looking up! I can assure you that there’ll not be a single drowning among us, although I can’t say as much for the ship—the ship itself is doomed.

23-26 “Last night God’s angel stood at my side, an angel of this God I serve, saying to me, ‘Don’t give up, Paul. You’re going to stand before Caesar yet—and everyone sailing with you is also going to make it.’ So, dear friends, take heart. I believe God will do exactly what he told me. But we’re going to shipwreck on some island or other.”

27-29 On the fourteenth night, adrift somewhere on the Adriatic Sea, at about midnight the sailors sensed that we were approaching land. Sounding, they measured a depth of 120 feet, and shortly after that ninety feet. Afraid that we were about to run aground, they threw out four anchors and prayed for daylight.

30-32 Some of the sailors tried to jump ship. They let down the lifeboat, pretending they were going to set out more anchors from the bow. Paul saw through their guise and told the centurion and his soldiers, “If these sailors don’t stay with the ship, we’re all going down.” So the soldiers cut the lines to the lifeboat and let it drift off.

33-34 With dawn about to break, Paul called everyone together and proposed breakfast: “This is the fourteenth day we’ve gone without food. None of us has felt like eating! But I urge you to eat something now. You’ll need strength for the rescue ahead. You’re going to come out of this without even a scratch!”

35-38 He broke the bread, gave thanks to God, passed it around, and they all ate heartily—276 of us, all told! With the meal finished and everyone full, the ship was further lightened by dumping the grain overboard.

39-41 At daybreak, no one recognized the land—but then they did notice a bay with a nice beach. They decided to try to run the ship up on the beach. They cut the anchors, loosed the tiller, raised the sail, and ran before the wind toward the beach. But we didn’t make it. Still far from shore, we hit a reef and the ship began to break up.

42-44 The soldiers decided to kill the prisoners so none could escape by swimming, but the centurion, determined to save Paul, stopped them. He gave orders for anyone who could swim to dive in and go for it, and for the rest to grab a plank. Everyone made it to shore safely.

WHAT DO WE LEARN?

First of all, Paul warned them it was not the right time of year to navigate a ship from Good Harbor to the next safe harbor.  “I see only disaster ahead for cargo and ship—to say nothing of our lives!—if we put out to sea now.”  But the ship’s captain, the owner and the centurion put Paul’s warning aside and decided to embark onward, risking the lives of all who were on board.

How have we put aside sound advice along with promptings from God’s Holy Spirit to get to where we want to be?

The fierce, unexpected high winds, (but expected for that time of year), came against them!  The storm is rising.  The anchors they depended on did not hold in this storm. 

When storms come, who are what are the anchors we depend on most to hold us in place and to keep us safe? 

Do we have a reserve, life boat at the ready? 

Who is our anchor in the time of storm?  

In times our times like these with covid challenges, job loss, loss of loved ones, loss of relationships, who is our anchor?  My mind drifts to another old hymn…

In times like these you need a Savior,
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,                                                                                            Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Paul’s anchor was Jesus.  He was in constant communication with His Anchor in the storm.  When everyone else lost all hope.  Paul trusted Jesus.  Jesus affirmed Paul’s trust in a dream which he told to the crew battling the storm.  “Last night God’s angel stood at my side, an angel of this God I serve, saying to me, ‘Don’t give up, Paul. You’re going to stand before Caesar yet—and everyone sailing with you is also going to make it.’ So, dear friends, take heart. I believe God will do exactly what he told me. But we’re going to shipwreck on some island or other.”

Truth Bomb:  Paul didn’t know exactly how Jesus would save them, He only knew He would save them.  Shipwreck will happen but we will all be saved, that’s all he knew.  That’s all he needed to know. 

Why do we need to know all the details before our trust in God is secure?  God is God.  We are not.  We do not need to know the details of how He will take us through our storms that battle us, we just need to trust that He will.  If God told us everything about how He will do it with how it will all turn out for us it might overwhelm us!  (Smiling, I am one who likes details.) 

Paul became wisdom and affirmation for a weary crew.  Paul could have panicked like the rest, but Paul knew the Master of the Seas and relied on Him.  Paul’s wisdom became a testimony to the power and awesomeness of God.  By Paul’s words, the crew ate, rested then dealt with the ship going down as predicted and planned by God. 

Shipwrecked but not destroyed!  Paul prayed, trusted, and delivered God’s message of Hope of survival.  And God intervened.  All were saved. Every single person!  Read that again.  Rest in His promises, trust in God’s provisions, go with His plan. 

“Believe and be saved…”.  (Acts 16:31)

Lord,

You teach us so much from the “acts” you did in and through your faithful apostles, disciples and other followers, as well as those who didn’t know you yet until testimonies were given.  From one man, Paul, fully devoted to You, all the travelers on the ship were saved…in more ways than one.  Yes, you are God and we are not.  Why do you allow storms to rise up?  To teach us how powerful you are, how much you care and how you can be trusted as the navigator in this sinful world.  If that were not enough, you use each storm as a wonderful way to testify to others how you are the extreme shelter and the anchor that holds in their storms, too.  Thank you, Lord. 

In Jesus Name, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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