The final segment of the book of Acts records quite a struggle. Paul is arrested for preaching Christ in chapter 21. He then is tried before the Roman tribune, the Council, survives an assassination attempt on the way to be on trial before Felix, he is on trial before Agrippa and Bernice, makes a defense before Agrippa again, and then is sent off to before Ceaser at Rome in chapter 27!
The entire “cruise” was doomed from the start. Hard winds, storms, and bad decisions are the norm for the journey. Finally, in 27.13, Luke recorded:
“When neither Sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of being saved was at last abandoned.”
We may not all have been in a dire situation as this while at sea, but we have all felt this way in life. We are not alone.
Once when Martin Luther was so discouraged in his work of the Reformation, his wife came to him the following encouragement.
Katherine, the wife of Martin Luther, dramatically revived the depressed Reformer’s confidence in God’s providence. This has been versified by F. W. Herzberger:
One day when skies loomed the blackest/ This greatest and bravest of men/ Lost heart and in an oversad spirit/Refused to take courage again,/Neither eating or drinking nor speaking/To anxious wife, children or friends,/Till Katherine dons widow garments/And deepest of mourning pretends./Surprised, Luther asked why she sorrowed./“Dear Doctor,” his Katie replied,/“I have cause for the saddest of weeping,/For God in His heaven has died!”/Her gentle rebuke did not fail him,/He laughingly kissed his wise spouse,/Took courage, and banished his sorrow,/And joy again reigned in the house.
We have something more sure, an anchor of the soul. We have the message of God’s love to see us through. Let’s study Acts 27 to see how we may persevere with God’s message.
First, let us have hope in the message. God had a message of hope for Paul and those on board.
Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”
Paul “had faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.” We must trust him in the storms of life. This same Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome,
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
We have to decide if we believe Gods promises. Genesis 15:5-6 records God almost unbelievable promise to Abram and the unbelievable faith demonstrated by the father of the faithful.
And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
“With God all things are possible.” We have come to expect this from God. So Abrams faith is almost as appreciated as Gods promises of children and the descendent who will be the tblessing o all the world.
Do we have faith enough to trust God at his word?
We must also cling to His message.
It’s one thing to hope for something, but it’s another to cling to that hope against all reasonable evidence before you.
The storm had been so rough for fourteen days that the sailors began to try sneaking off the ship in smaller boats so as to get to land more safely.
1 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.
What they thought best was actually worst. Proverbs 3.5-8 reminds us:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
We see Noah cling to God’s message in Genesis 6-7. We cant know how much anexpense and effort went into building the ark. Some have calculated it took between 55-75 years for the ark to be built! Noah was also preaching during this time. How would your faith have been? Would you have continued after year forty?
For all those years and in the midst of ridicule, Noah clung to the word of God. Oh that we might have the faith of Jeremiah or Ezekiel to preach and be faithful in the greatest of adversity.
Trust the message when it’s all that’s left. Acts 27.41-44 records:
But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, 44 and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.
The only hope was Gods Word. In the end, in the grand scheme of things, his word is all there is.
Genesis 22 records the great Old Testament example of faith.
God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac.
You know the rest of the story.
I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
Abraham was willing to act on faith.
Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram.
The Preacher of Hebrews wrote:
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
Put your faith in God and so trust him at his word.
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Heb. 6:17–20.
Where is your faith?
- your ideas?
- your plans?
- your money?
- your family?
All those things will eventually fail. Thy saren’t trong tenough o survive or protect you in the sgreateststorms of life. Rather put your faith in God. Be anchored in him. His:
These things will never fail. Trust and obey his plan.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life
Then we can make it safely to the eternal shores.