- Sermon Notes
Lessons from a Storm
As we pick up our story in the book of Acts, Paul is being held prisoner in Caesarea. This all started after Paul arrived in Jerusalem eager to share the gospel with his fellow Jews, but he wasn’t there even seven days before the city was in an uproar. A crowd took hold of him intending to kill him, but a Roman commander got word of it and rushed down with some soldiers and took Paul into protective custody.
A group of 40 Jewish men then took a solemn oath that they would neither eat nor drink until Paul was killed, so the Roman commander sent Paul to the Roman governor in Caesarea. Paul was held there for two years until a different Roman governor was in place. When Paul realized there would be no justice for him he appealed to Caesar. As a Roman citizen he had that right. The governor, Festus replied, “You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go.”
Paul is put in the charge of a Roman centurion who is responsible to get him to Rome. They set sail from Caesarea, but along the way they encounter a storm so severe that they become shipwrecked as they try to run their ship onto the beach.
We’re all going to have shipwrecks in life; things that don’t make sense, when life brings an unimaginable and unexpected tragedy. Shipwrecks in life may come in many forms; it can be a tragedy in your health, a financial disaster, marriage on the rocks, or someone close to you dies and you have to cope with the loss.
But you can go through terrible storms and even shipwrecks of life, without having your faith shipwrecked. Someone once said, “Faith that cannot be tested is faith that cannot be trusted.” These verses are about having a faith that grows stronger through the storms.
I. There will be Many Storms
- The older a person gets, the more they understand this is true. Not only because they have experienced many storms, but because Jesus said, “In this world you will have many troubles, but take courage, I have overcome the world.”
- The Lord made it known to Paul that he would witness to this cause in Rome, therefore Paul was perfectly in the center of God’s will, yet here he was going through a storm and even shipwrecked.
- Is very tempting to think that if you’re fulfilling God’s purpose in your life that God is going to always make the way smooth before you. It might be tempting to make this your life verse…
Isaiah 40:4, Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley.
- There are certainly times when the wind blows gently and the sun is shining on your shoulders which no doubt would make you happy.
Illus - You might even break into song; “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy; sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.” Hey, enjoy it and give God glory for it.
- Some people suggest, however, that if you’re going through troubles then there’s something wrong with your faith.
- I don’t see any scriptures to support that, and I think Paul would have something to say to that as well.
2 Corinthians 11:23-27 Paul was shipwrecked three times
- Contrary winds strengthen faith because it makes you cling to the Lord more dearly.
James 1:2-3, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
- In fact, some of the greatest men of faith in the Bible are those who suffered the most difficult storms. It appears that those with the greatest calling endured the greatest storms.
Illus - Joseph endured one tragedy after the other, but God was preparing him. David was anointed to become the future king of Israel and endured many difficulties. Then there is Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Daniel…
- The disciples of Jesus went through many storms to strengthen their faith and prepare them for God’s purpose in their lives.
Matthew 14:24-25, But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.”
- He only came to them after they were battered by the waves and facing a contrary wind into the fourth watch of the night.
II. Grace will Lead us Home
- The song Amazing Grace has that famous line, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come, ‘twas grace that brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.”
- God didn’t promise smooth sailing, but He did promised safe passage. Jesus said, “Nothing can snatch you out of My Father’s hand.”
- Paul was told that he would stand before Caesar in Rome and he had all confidence of faith that God would be true to His word.
2 Timothy 4:17-18, The Lord stood with me and strengthened me… and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom;
- These are the lessons God uses in our lives to strengthen our faith so we can endure every storm.
A. Set your anchors
- There are several types of anchors that are used aboard ships at sea. A sea anchor is used to slow the ship in a storm; it keeps the ship stable. A sea anchor doesn’t touch the seafloor, it’s like an underwater sail.
- Some storms you have to ride out; you can’t avoid them and you can’t get away from them, but you need to stay steady.
- This is where we need the truth of God Word written on our hearts so they are there to guard your heart and mind.
Philippians 4:6-7, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Then there are bow anchors, usually four of them that anchor to the rocks and hold the ship securely.
- God is our Rock and we take hold of the hope that He sets before us.
Hebrews 6:18-19, We who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope you have as an anchor of the soul,” both sure and steadfast…
- Storms change our priorities and storms change our perspective. The things that used to be important are no longer important and you begin to see things differently.
- Vs 18-19; as they were being violently storm tossed, they began to jettison the cargo. That wasn’t enough so on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands.
- The situation has to become desperate to throw the ship’s tackle overboard. Without the tackle, the crew would have no way to easily raise and lower the sails. The waterlogged ropes and lines, blocks and pulleys all went overboard in a last ditch effort to lighten the ship.
Illus - As the Titanic was listing and passengers were being loaded into lifeboats, one of the wealthy passengers went back to her room. Leaving behind all her valuables, she took two oranges…
- When you’ve been through enough storms in life, your perspective begins to become permanent.
- You begin to realize that the most important part of life is your relationship with the Lord, your faith, your family, and your friends.
- Relationships are something you can take with you; stuff begins to matter less and less.
Matthew 6:20, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- The greatest treasure we have is our relationships; our relationship to God and our relationship to those around us that God is given for us to love.
C. Let God be the captain of your soul
- Paul was under the charge of the centurion, Julius, but God was the captain of his soul and Paul trusted that He would bring him safely home.
- Vs 20; all hope of being saved was gradually abandoned. It’s certainly understandable to become discouraged when the storm seems to have no end.
- This storm went on for two weeks. Imagine how worn down they would be from being seasick, not eating for almost 2 weeks, and fighting this storm every hour.
- Just thinking about being seasick for that long is enough to get you queasy.
Illus - Before my dad passed away, my siblings and I decided to give him one final deep-sea fishing adventure. Unfortunately, it was my first and only experience on the ocean and I was sick the entire eight hours.
Also unfortunately, I was scheduled to speak at a retreat later that evening and back in the valley the temperature was in the 100s.
- But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:25-26, 28, Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever… But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.
- In the midst of the storm, we need to be encouraged and we need to be strengthened.
- They had lost all hope, but Paul stood in their midst and urged them to keep up their courage because God had spoken to him and assured him that they would survive.
- He was asking them to trust his faith.
- This is a great lesson; your faith can encourage those around you. That’s why we need each other, we can encourage each other, we can strengthen each other’s faith; we can carry each other’s burdens.
- Paul took bread himself, after giving thanks, and then encouraged the others to also take food and get strengthened.
- This is also a great spiritual lesson. Before David was king, he and some of his men came back to camp only to find that an enemy had taken all the women and children. The men became so angry they began speaking of stoning David.
1 Samuel 30:6, Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and daughters. But David strengthen himself in the Lord his God.
- But after strengthening himself, he then strengthened the men and a great victory was won.
- Paul’s final words were to his young son in the faith, Timothy. Paul ended in victory, he fought the good fight; God was the captain of his soul.
2 Timothy 4:6-7, The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept in the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will award to me on that day.
- What kind of faith do you have?
Acts 27:1-44 NASB
1 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius. 2 And embarking in an Adramyttian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, we put out to sea accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica. 3 The next day we put in at Sidon; and Julius treated Paul with consideration and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care. 4 From there we put out to sea and sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the winds were contrary. 5 When we had sailed through the sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy, and he put us aboard it. 7 When we had sailed slowly for a good many days, and with difficulty had arrived off Cnidus, since the wind did not permit us to go farther, we sailed under the shelter of Crete, off Salmone; 8 and with difficulty sailing past it we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.
27 But when the fourteenth night came, as we were being driven about in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors began to surmise that they were approaching some land. 28 They took soundings and found it to betwenty fathoms; and a little farther on they took another sounding and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29 Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak. 30 But as the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had let down the ship's boat into the sea, on the pretense of intending to lay out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, "Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved." 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship's boat and let it fall away.
33 Until the day was about to dawn, Paul was encouraging them all to take some food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day that you have been constantly watching and going without eating, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I encourage you to take some food, for this is for your preservation, for not a hair from the head of any of you will perish." 35 Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all, and he broke it and began to eat. 36 All of them were encouraged and they themselves also took food. 37 All of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six persons. 38 When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea.