Today we dedicated 4-5 babies, 5 kiddos and a couple of tweens to the Lord. A decision made by parents to commit to giving their children to the Lord and trusting for God’s intervention in their lives.
Also this weekend, three of our teens graduated from High School!
In times like these we see blue skies, calm seas and happy sails! Life presents the opportunities and optimistic futures, but most of us have lived long enough to realize that the sea of life can quickly become raging!!! Stormy! Tempestuous!
It is in these times that many will lose their faith in the Lord, call it quits on Jesus, or run into the world to find escape from their difficulties.
Jesus never said we not see storms in life, but He did say He would be there with us.
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
I want to look at a story in the book of Acts - turn with me to Chapter 27
1 When the time came, we set sail for Italy. Paul and several other prisoners were placed in the custody of a Roman officer named Julius, a captain of the Imperial Regiment. 2 Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was also with us. We left on a ship whose home port was Adramyttium on the northwest coast of the province of Asia; it was scheduled to make several stops at ports along the coast of the province. 3 The next day when we docked at Sidon, Julius was very kind to Paul and let him go ashore to visit with friends so they could provide for his needs. 4 Putting out to sea from there, we encountered strong headwinds that made it difficult to keep the ship on course, so we sailed north of Cyprus between the island and the mainland. 5 Keeping to the open sea, we passed along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, landing at Myra, in the province of Lycia. 6 There the commanding officer found an Egyptian ship from Alexandria that was bound for Italy, and he put us on board. 7 We had several days of slow sailing, and after great difficulty we finally neared Cnidus. But the wind was against us, so we sailed across to Crete and along the sheltered coast of the island, past the cape of Salmone. 8 We struggled along the coast with great difficulty and finally arrived at Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea. 9 We had lost a lot of time. The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall, and Paul spoke to the ship’s officers about it. 10 “Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on—shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” 11 But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul. 12 And since Fair Havens was an exposed harbor—a poor place to spend the winter—most of the crew wanted to go on to Phoenix, farther up the coast of Crete, and spend the winter there. Phoenix was a good harbor with only a southwest and northwest exposure. 13 When a light wind began blowing from the south, the sailors thought they could make it. So they pulled up anchor and sailed close to the shore of Crete. 14 But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (called a “northeaster”) burst across the island and blew us out to sea. 15 The sailors couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up and let it run before the gale. 16 We sailed along the sheltered side of a small island named Cauda, where with great difficulty we hoisted aboard the lifeboat being towed behind us. 17 Then the sailors bound ropes around the hull of the ship to strengthen it. They were afraid of being driven across to the sandbars of Syrtis off the African coast, so they lowered the sea anchor to slow the ship and were driven before the wind. 18 The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. 19 The following day they even took some of the ship’s gear and threw it overboard. 20 The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone. 21 No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. 22 But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. 23 For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, 24 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.’ 25 So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. 26 But we will be shipwrecked on an island.” 27 About midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven across the Sea of Adria, the sailors sensed land was near. 28 They dropped a weighted line and found that the water was 120 feet deep. But a little later they measured again and found it was only 90 feet deep. 29 At this rate they were afraid we would soon be driven against the rocks along the shore, so they threw out four anchors from the back of the ship and prayed for daylight. 30 Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship; they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship. 31 But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, “You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away. 33 Just as day was dawning, Paul urged everyone to eat. “You have been so worried that you haven’t touched food for two weeks,” he said. 34 “Please eat something now for your own good. For not a hair of your heads will perish.” 35 Then he took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, and broke off a piece and ate it. 36 Then everyone was encouraged and began to eat— 37 all 276 of us who were on board. 38 After eating, the crew lightened the ship further by throwing the cargo of wheat overboard. 39 When morning dawned, they didn’t recognize the coastline, but they saw a bay with a beach and wondered if they could get to shore by running the ship aground. 40 So they cut off the anchors and left them in the sea. Then they lowered the rudders, raised the foresail, and headed toward shore. 41 But they hit a shoal and ran the ship aground too soon. The bow of the ship stuck fast, while the stern was repeatedly smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart. 42 The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape. 43 But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn’t let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land. 44 The others held onto planks or debris from the broken ship. So everyone escaped safely to shore.
Paul was under trial with Agrippa - he petitioned to appeal to Caesar. So, he was taken as a prisoner and set sail on a ship out of Egypt carrying wheat to Italy.
This was a large boat carrying vast amounts of grain and 276 people aboard. It had a Centurion who would have been the BUSINESS MAN in charge of the shipment, a pilot - one steering the ship and a Captain, most likely the owner of the vessel.
The time of year was late fall to winter and thus the seas were stormy and had great danger as a potential.
They found themselves of course and troubles by winds, and after a short time in a harbor where Paul pleads to remain for the season until the storms pass by, the pilot and captain convince the Centurion to head to a different port.
Here they find themselves in grave danger for 14 days. So grave, they have thrown all the cargo except the wheat overboard, all furniture, supplies, any thing of excess. The sailors so distraught have been fighting being tossed and fro by wind and wave that they have not eaten for 11 days, and they fear being run aground into quicksands where they would perish.
This is not a pretty scene. Every life is severely threatened, there has been great loss of wealth and certain ruin of many kinds presents itself to all aboard.
1. Storms and Shipwrecks Happen In Life
1. Storms and Shipwrecks Happen In Life
Here we see the picture that storms, hardships and shipwrecks happen!
Life WILL present its difficulties.
It seems so unfair, and threatening!
We often question - WHY DO THESE THINGS HAPPEN?
27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?
These are words spoken by the Apostle Paul!
His life was no picnic! In fact he had been shipwrecked 3 times!!!
When difficulty occurs in our lives, we cannot think that God has abandoned us! We cannot jump to the conclusion that we have offended God, or are deserving of punishment, or have been forsaken!
We live in a sinful world that is tainted by the fall of man, and corrupt people, and the rain falls on the just and the unjust.
44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.
45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
You can interpret this to be good or bad, but what it means is that the seasons of life, both good and evil effect ALL PEOPLE.
Job spoke these words
21 He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”
15 God might kill me, but I have no other hope. I am going to argue my case with him.
5 If only you could be silent! That’s the wisest thing you could do.
What does that mean for those of us who walk through deep waters and difficulties??
We cannot think ourselves as alone or disliked by God, stuff happens to everyone
We need to realize that our problems in life do not change the unfailing love of God for us — His love is constant and remains
We must hold on to HOPE in Christ in the midst of difficulty and TRUST that God will see us through to the other side
2. God’s Voice is Still Discernible in the Storm
2. God’s Voice is Still Discernible in the Storm
There is something very evident in this story - Paul heard the voice of God - in fact, he encountered a messenger of God!
Do we think that God is not able to hear us when we call upon him, or to speak into our lives when something is up?
I remember years ago, right before I was about to go through one of life’s biggest storms for myself. I was in the sanctuary of our church praying - all had been seemingly great, no difficulties, life was good, it was happy - I was blessed!
It was almost like an audible voice spoke to me - this is all about to change!
I could not prevent that storm from happening, I could not stop it, escape it, or even slow it down. It would hit me like a whirlwind - but having heard the voice of God - I knew He had not abandoned me.
No matter what occurred, how discouraged I felt, how depressed I may have become - I still understood that God was there.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
How on earth did Paul find a place to converse with God in the midst of this raging storm with people and things being tossed to and fro, and even encounter an angel!?
The Lord spoke to Paul and said NOT ONE WILL DIE… it was a word to hold onto
There is still that quiet place that we shut ourselves in with the Lord and meet Him in that place. We tell him how we feel, what is going on… He understands our weaknesses...
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. 2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. 3 For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south. 4 Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. 5 Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. 6 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. 7 He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. 8 Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. 9 For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. 10 Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. 11 They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. 12 That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them. 13 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 14 He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. 15 Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. 16 For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron. 17 Some were fools; they rebelled and suffered for their sins. 18 They couldn’t stand the thought of food, and they were knocking on death’s door. 19 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death. 21 Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. 22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts. 23 Some went off to sea in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. 24 They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action, his impressive works on the deepest seas. 25 He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. 26 Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. 27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. 28 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
We can express our deepest anguish and desire of destruction of those who have harmed us
12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.
The Lord wants us to know He is there and He wants to hear from us and speak to us!!!
We will stop and listen?
2 Listen to my prayer, O God. Pay attention to my plea.
1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me!
We cry out to HIM, but WAIT TO HEAR FROM HIM!
12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
God wants us to still our hearts to hear His voice!
10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
SO — in the middle of the storm - take time to listen to what the Lord wants to say!
Sometimes that means being quiet so we can hear...
3. God Brings Us Through the Storm to Refuge
3. God Brings Us Through the Storm to Refuge
Did Paul make it through the storm?
Did everyone else make it through the storm?
Was their loss - yes, but there was still life and where there is life there is hope....
I just have to say, that the entire group of people aboard this ship arrived safely onto the island
the name of that island is MALTA and it means --- REFUGE!
1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
8 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. Interlude
If you are in the midst of a raging storm, if you feel tossed to and fro and beaten by the wind and the wave, if you are worn out, angry, hurt
Remember --- YOU WILL COME THROUGH
God is a refuge and He brings us THROUGH the storms of life to REFUGE or safety!
Refuge is a place from safety or danger or trouble...
Every sea calms down, there is a port awaiting somewhere to take you in and allow you rest...
Hold fast your confidence in God and don’t quit or give up, but know that He will bring you through the storm to safety...
We will all experience storms in this life...
At some point the smooth sailing will be taken over by wind and wave...
But there is a voice that speaks in the midst of the storm --- peace---
There is a Word given to us to hold onto...
We will come out on the other side, and we will find REFUGE!