When a storm hits, the hope of Christians should shine bright.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Over the last 2 years, we’ve been on again, off again, studying through the Book of Acts in the Bible.
Acts is the story of how the early church got started after Jesus ascended back into heaven.
And since we’ve literally doubled in size as a church since we started the Book of Acts, I’d like to show this fun recap video of Acts one last time:
PLAY ACTS RECAP VIDEO
Counting today, we only have 3 weeks left in Acts.
We started way back in October 2010, and have now done 40 messages on Acts. The series total will be 43.
Which is really cool.
And because we’ve literally gone verse by verse through the book, whenever you’re reading Acts in the future, you could literally just go to our website and hear a message on that topic
(Show website photo)
You can ever sort by series:
So when we last left the Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul, who had been telling much of the known world about Jesus, was in prison.
He had been wrongly arrested by the Jews in Jerusalem, left in prison for 2 years in Caesarea, and then finally stood trial before Governor Festus.
While he was on trial, since he was a Roman citizen, Paul appealed to Caesar, so his case could be heard in Rome.
So Now, we are going to rejoin the book of Acts and watch as our prisoner Paul is boarded on a ship headed towards Rome.
But FIRST, one of my all-time favorite things about being in Acts is that we get to look at Maps. J
We’re going to be in Acts 27, on page 908 if you want to follow along.
However, I’m actually going to put up a map as we read the first 9 verses.
(SHOW MAP INSTEAD OF VERSES)
(Acts 27:1-9) – (DON’T PUT ON SCREEN….SHOW MAP INSTEAD)
When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. 2 We boarded a ship from ad-ruh-MIT-ee-uhm about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. 3 The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs. 4 From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. 5 When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board.7 We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 8 We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement. So Paul warned them,
Let’s pause there for a moment. (LEAVE MAP UP UNTIL STORY TIME)
They’re already having a difficult time because of the wind, and aren’t going on the course they would like to.
They eventually make it to a place called Fair Havens on the southside of Crete.
A debate is about to rage about whether they should stay there for the winter of not.
It’s already the Day of Atonement, the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, which was October 5th that year
So, if they keep sailing for Rome, it’s going to be risky.
But they also are going to maybe take a risk and find a better harbor to winter in…which is also a risk.
They’re going to shoot for Phoenix (which you can see on the map there)…and as you can see, it might not go well. J
Let’s see what happens:
And as we read this compelling story, back by popular demand, is…”Story Time w/ Pastor David.” J
So sit back, relax and enjoy the story. The words won’t be on the screen (you can follow along if you would like to) Otherwise, just enjoy the story (close your eyes and picture it if you would like)
(Acts 27:10-44) – (not on screen!) Use sound and lighting effects for VERSES 14-26
10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. 12 Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest. 13 When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. , (START SOUND/LIGHT EFFECTS HERE) 14 Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. 15 The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure,17 so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. 18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. 21 After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” 27 On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, (STOP SOUND/LIGHT EFFECTS HERE) when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. 28 They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. 29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away. 33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board. 38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. 39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. 40 Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. 41 But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf. 42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.
And so they reach (as we’ll see in the next passage), the island of Malta, south of Italy.
So what do we take from a compelling story like this?
It’s narrative, not instruction. It’s not like it says, “Now Christians, Do this! Or don’t do this!”
The main truth of this passage is in what Christians can do for others in the midst of the storm.
That in the storm, we can sew hope.
And we get hope from this phrase that Christian’s sometimes use called, “God’s sovereignty.” And it basically means that God’s in control. He’s the “sovereign” – like the King
And often, we use that phrase when we screw up --- “Don’t worry, God is sovereign. He’ll work it out.”
But Acts 27 shows us a different side of His sovereignty.
That God is in control in regards to even human error (that they should have tried to Harbor at Fair Havens
(And the name should have been a sign: FAIR HAVENS
But God is in control.
And even when nature rages out of control…God is still IN control. He’s sovereign.
And our knowledge of God’s sovereignty (that He’s in control), affords us, as Christians, a number of things in the storm
The biggest thing is that it gives us hope.
And Paul had a number of things to give him hope in the storm.
For instance, over 2 years ago, when he was arrested in Jerusalem, God appeared to him in the barracks
(Acts 23:11) – NIV
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
So Paul KNEW God would get him there.
But He also knew, that no matter what happens to us as believers in life, we will be with Jesus for eternity in heaven.
And this world…is just a blink of an eye.
And that changes how you go through a storm in life.
When illness comes, when a death in the family comes, when job loss comes…
If this world is just a blink, and then it’s over, and eternity begins, than the light of hope is so much easier to see.
Imagine if you thought that “this” was it.
That after your life is over, then…nothing.
How much more devastating would a storm be?
It would be infinitely more devastating!
So when the storms come to you…and people around you…God wants to use YOU like Paul.
You’re going to have more hope, because of your hope in God, so step forward bring hope. Bring light in the storm.
And by the way, we do believe that sometimes in the storm, Jesus doesn’t just automatically calm it for us just because we’re Christians.
This story in Acts 27 is a great balance to Luke 8 when Jesus calms the storm when the disciples are terrified on the Sea of Galilee
Jesus does not immunize Christians from problems that other people face.
Sometimes he delivers Christians and other times he gives them strength to endure….SO THAT they might be a witness in the storm, SO THAT they might bring hope in the storm…or be strengthened by the trial of the storm.
It’s like the old Christian song says, “Sometimes he calms the storm, and other times he calms his child.”
And then sometimes…He even asks our lives from us.
But even then, because of our hope in Him for NOT JUST this Life, but in ETERNITY, we can have HOPE no matter what happens
We believe that…
(Romans 8:28) – NIV
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
And he works for the “good.”
Maybe not always the “good” how we would see it…but for the Good.
And we believe that even if we should perish, then we shall die into eternity with Jesus.
As Paul himself says in Philippians
(Philippians 1:21) – NIV
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
As I read this week…when the storm hits, you always have 2 options: “You can blame God for that which you don’t understand, or TRUST God for that which you don’t understand.”
And since we don’t even understand 1 / 1 billionth of what goes on in God’s plan, we trust Him.
We put our HOPE in Him in the storm.
We’re a light to those around us!
So if God brings adversity into your life…or the lives around you…see it as an opportunity to bring hope.
What if it would have been you in Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy this week?
Would you have been one of the first ones out to help others?
Would your HOPE have made a difference?
I don’t know if Artur Kaprzak was a believer or not, but when hurricane Sandy began to flood his basement where he and 7 of his family members were taking refuge, he flung into action.
Artur rescued 7 members of his family from drowning, including his 15-month-old son, but while doing so, he himself died.
But THAT is our role. As believers.
To both bring hope and serve in the storm.
For we know our hope is secure. No matter what happens.
God is sovereign.
So Paul brings hope to the people on board, not just because of his faith in God, but because God speaks to Him in the storm, and tells him that they are going to be safe!
And when the storms hit us collectively:
Maybe that’s a death that effects your whole family.
Or something that happens at work that affects everyone (maybe mass cuts)
When the storm hits collectively, we HAVE to be the ones to press into God and find his direction and his hope.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4) – NIV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
God comforts us in our troubles, so we can comfort those in trouble.
And when the storm hits us all, we’ve got to be the ones to bring Hope.
We’ve got a God that can comfort us! SO we can comfort others.
And Paul does exactly that!
When everyone else in our family, or our community has withdrawn within themselves or within fear…the Christfollowers should be out there spreading hope.
So let me ask you: How can you do this?
Where is the Holy Spirit prompting you, as one of His followers, to bring hope right now?
Because of your great HOPE in Him, what is he asking you to do this week??
Let me explain it this way:
If you go up to Greenland where there are still icebergs, you’re going to see little ones and gigantic ones.
And oddly enough, on a really windy day, they look like they’re going in a different direction.
And what’s happening is, the surface winds are driving the little ones, but the huge masses of ice are being carried along by the deep ocean currents.
And that’s life. It can feel like everything’s going backwards and falling apart (I’m sure they felt that on the ship!), but often the things we see are just the little stories…the little icebergs being blown by the wind.
But the larger picture…the deeper reality of our story is that God is in control and He is, overall, still moving us right along in His story.
Trust in Him.
And Christians, because of our faith in God, are able, even in the midst of serious tragedy…even in the death of friends/loved ones, or even our own death…are able to trust in God.
We’re able to see the “deep current” movement of God often when others only see the small icebergs going backwards.
And in that way…we can bring hope…have influence
And as hard as it is, it’s often through your OWN storms that people will listen to you most.
When we suffer, and STILL worship God, people will listen.
C.S. Lewis said that pain is the megaphone in which God speaks to us, but I would add that it’s also the platform in which people will listen to us.
And because of Paul’s faith of God, because of his wisdom, and because of his HOPE, the people on the ship listen to Him.
Think about it. There are 276 people on this ship, and now, in the scariest moments of their life, they are letting a prisoner lead them.
Because when they are terrified and only looking to themselves, He is full of hope and trusting in something greater!
And God can use YOUR HOPE to have the same influence!
Even when the men try and escape the ship on the lifeboat, Paul, THE PRISONER, is able to convince the Roman Centurion that these men are integral to everyone being safe.
Because Paul is thinking of hope, of the greater picture, of saving more than just himself, he’s able to do the most good in the storm.
And the people look to him for leadership.
And this is the challenge of Acts to us this morning.
When life gets difficult…for you…and for those around you.
WE have something that the world does not.
We have hope.
We have hope that OUR GOD can come through…and that even if it’s not his plan to deliver us…that, worst-case scenario, we spend eternity in paradise with him.
And out of THAT hope…WE serve…WE step forward…We sacrifice…we love…and we speak.
And we share Christ. Because in the storm…when everyone is afraid…and realizes that they can’t do this themselves…so many are finally ready to hear about God.
May God give you courage to be a bearer of hope.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.