- Sermon Notes
How to Weather the Storm
July 30, 2023
In Acts 27, Paul is on a ship headed for Rome. He was held as a prisoner in Caesarea for two years without charges brought against him. When Paul realized there would be no justice he appealed to Caesar. He had that right as a Roman citizen. The Roman governor replied, “You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you shall go.”
Paul was put in the charge of a Roman centurion who was responsible to get him to Rome. They set sail from Caesarea, but along the way they encountered a storm so severe they became shipwrecked as they tried to run their ship onto a beach.
There will be storms in life. We all will go through storms in life. Sometimes it is by our own doing, sometimes it is the result of others’ choices, sometimes it is just part of life. It is in times like these that we must be able to weather the storm.
Storms affect our faith, wanting to shipwreck our faith. It can come in many forms: it can be a tragedy in your health, a financial disaster, a marriage on the rocks, or someone close to you dies and you have to cope with the loss.
But you can go through storms and even shipwrecks of life, without having your faith be shipwrecked. Someone once said, “Faith that cannot be tested is faith that cannot be trusted.”
These verses are about having faith that grows stronger through the storms. We will see from this passage how choices influence life, but also how God can perform His purposes even in the midst of our storms.
I. Choices Have Consequences
- As they were sailing with great difficulty, they came to a place called Fair Havens. A port isn’t called that for no reason. They were at this port for a considerable time, and it seems like the people became itchy and did not want to stay at this port for the whole winter.
- We read that it was not suitable for wintering, but the King James version translates suitable as commodious.
- It gives the idea that this was a small port and did not have all the commodities needed by sailors to keep them comfortable through the winter months. They wanted to winter at Phoenix, a harbor of Crete.
- We see these sailors making wrong choices. We can learn from their example and see the effect wrong choices have.
A. Listen to wisdom
- Verse 10 – Paul was cautioning them with wise words, perceiving that this voyage would certainly result in damage and great loss, not only to the ship and the cargo, but even to their lives.
- Now it’s important to note that this was not a prophetic word from God. This was just wisdom and common sense.
- It was well-known that at this time of year, the sea was incredibly rough, and it was foolish to set sail.
- It seems like the centurion who guarded Paul had a deciding say in what would happen. The Bible says that he did not listen to Paul, but instead was persuaded by the captain of the ship.
- This was foolish, as they were not directed by wisdom, but governed by their own ‘wisdom’ and desires.
- Sometimes, our own desires lead us into storms.
Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
- How many have made their own decisions in the past, and then asked God to bless their decisions? This is the wrong way around. God blesses His purposes and His plans when we align with them.
James 1:14, But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
- When carried away by our own longing (lust), it gives birth to sin (missing the mark). That leads to dead things, dead works, not God-inspired.
- These men were not following Paul’s council but were leaning on their own understanding.
- We are called to live differently. This is where our faith becomes practical because it affects every part of our lives.
Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.
- To trust in God is wise. The Bible has much to say about wisdom.
James 1:5, But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Proverbs 12:15, The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.
- We should find our counsel from the word and from those who live a life directed by God’s word.
- Instead of listening to godly counsel and wisdom, they followed the will of the majority vote. Beware the majority vote.
- Because of the majority vote, many things have gone wrong in the past.
Illus – The Jesus project was a project started to evaluate all the evidence pertaining to Christ and the Bible. This started in 2007 and consisted of a group of scholars from all different backgrounds and denominations choosing and voting on what was true and what was not. They became the authorities over the word instead of authorities standing under the word. This resulted in horrific denials of many truths in the word, all because they democratically voted on what in the bible was true or not. This has negatively affected the faith of many.
- The Bible does say that there is wisdom in the counsel of many, but this speaks of wise counsel directed by God and under the authority of His word.
- In the end, we should submit all our ways to the Lord and follow his lead. Our lives should not be led by the democracy of people’s opinions, but a theocracy; God’s final say as our Savior and our Lord aligned with His word.
B. Don’t lose hope
- Though Paul did not agree with this choice, he didn’t have a choice but to continue on this journey as he was a prisoner being transported.
- Is tempting to think that if you’re fulfilling God’s purpose in your life that God should make the way smooth before you.
- Yet storms are part of life. Paul was in this storm, and it wasn’t even because of his doing.
- Some people suggest that if you’re going through troubles, there must be something wrong with your faith. Sometimes trouble is brought by choices we made, but many times it is not.
2 Corinthians 11:23-27, I have been in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, dangers from my fellow countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
James 1:2-3, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
- 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, yet he had to face the lion, the bear, and the giant.
Illus – Many years ago, God was leading my wife and I into a season of trusting God amid incredible opposition. He gave us a direct command and even an ultimatum of following Him in a specific journey. This would mean swimming upstream against a system that was not godly. We were standing in truth, trusting God that His kingdom would come in the situation. We knew this was more than a physical battle, but the primary battle was spiritual, as the enemy was gunning for our ministry, and to hurt the kingdom of God in the process. During this time, I was attacked by a 12-foot black mamba in my backyard…
- Paul did not lose hope, even in the midst of these circumstances, because he was holding on to God’s word to him that he would still be a witness in Rome. (Acts23:11)
- When we are living in faith following God, we can know that God can use all circumstances for His glory and work in all things.
II. Hold on In The Storm
- As soon as the storm started, they were in great trouble. They were not able to keep the boat under control. The next day, they began to throw all the cargo overboard. On the third day, they even threw the ship’s tackle overboard.
- After many days all hope of being saved was gradually abandoned.
A. Storms change your perspective
- This is such an analogy of life in difficult times as well. When storms come, one starts to evaluate what is important in life. One is willing to let go of the excess baggage weighing you down.
- To a certain degree, storms bring clarity and have a way of reorganizing your values and that in which you put your hope.
- It changes your perspective. The things that used to be important are no longer important and you begin to see things differently.
Illus- During the same time as the snake attack, we were in great danger of losing everything. Yet it was a time when we got so much clarity and were so surrendered to God that we didn’t mind if we had to lose everything. In the storm, the most important thing for us was to not miss God and to hear His voice and direction.
Later in our lives, we were challenged with this again. When we had to move to America, we had to leave everything behind. It was such a freeing experience as it confirmed in our hearts that the things of this world did not have us bound to this world. We also knew that God is our source, and He could restore and supply again.
- 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 has given for us to love.
B. Trust God’s Word
- Verse 21 – By the time they abandoned all hope, it seems like they even stopped eating. But then Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss.”
- He then continued to say that none of them would lose their lives but that they would only lose the ship, as God has appeared to him, promised that he would still stand before Caesar and that God had granted him every life on the boat as well.
- These men had given up. They had made a fatal mistake and there was no hope left. Thank God that He is the God of the impossible and it is not over until He says it is over.
- God has given many words of life to all of us as well to hold onto. Even in the midst of the storm, even in the midst of our mistakes, there is always hope.
- After 14 days they began to approach some land. There were some were trying to make a run for it using the lifeboat, but Paul told the centurion that if they did this they would not be saved. This time, the centurion listened to Paul. He had the ropes to the lifeboat cut so that they could not use it.
- This is a great lesson. When God has spoken, it is important to trust His word. Many look to other lifeboats that are not part of God’s plan. It is important to discern and stand in faith on what God has said and then do it.
- Some storms you must 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’s Word written on our hearts, so they are there to guard our hearts and minds.
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.
- He then urged them to eat. Taking bread, and breaking it while giving thanks to God, he distributed it to them so that they would eat.
- This shows us that before when they did not eat, it was not because they did not have food, but that they had given up and did not want to eat.
- There is a great spiritual lesson in this as well. When you are in dire times, don’t stop breaking the bread. Keep eating the word to strengthen your soul.
C. God uses storms for His glory
- The ship then ran aground, and the stern was smashed to pieces by the waves. Yet God had promised that all would be saved. The soldiers wanted to kill all the prisoners so that they could not escape, but the centurion, wanting to save Paul, told them not to. So, all were saved and got to shore safely.
- There are many lessons we can learn from this. Firstly, your presence has a saving impact on those around you. When you follow God faithfully, others are blessed because of your obedience and faith.
- Secondly, God still had a purpose for Paul’s life that had to be fulfilled, and God would watch over His word to perform it and fulfill His purpose.
- Thirdly, God’s name was glorified through this whole ordeal. Even though the sailors made a grave mistake by sailing out into the storm, God saved them and proved that He was the one true God.
- Through this whole ordeal, Paul kept a different perspective. He had a word from God on which he stood unwavering, knowing that God will perform that which He promised.
- When all hope seems lost, we can stand on God’s word. He is able to perform that which is impossible. He is our safety and anchor in the storm.
Acts 27:9-44 NASB
9 When considerable time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous, since even the [a]fast was already over, Paul began to admonish them, 10 and said to them, “Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the [b]captain of the ship than by what was being said by Paul. 12 Because the harbor was not suitable for wintering, the majority reached a decision to put out to sea from there, if somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.
13 [c]When a moderate south wind came up, supposing that they had attained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began sailing along Crete, close inshore.
14 But before very long there rushed down from [d]the land a violent wind, called [e]Euraquilo; 15 and when the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along. 16 Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda, we were scarcely able to get the ship’s [f]boat under control. 17 After they had hoisted it up, they used [g]supporting cables in undergirding the ship; and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the [h]sea anchor and in this way let themselves be driven along. 18 The next day as we were being violently storm-tossed, [i]they began to jettison the cargo; 19 and on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned.
21 [j]When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you ought to have [k]followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and [l]incurred this damage and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’ 25 Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that [m]it will turn out exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on a certain island.”
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 [n]they were approaching some land. 28 They took soundings and found it to be twenty 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 [o]rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and [p]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 [q]were encouraged and they themselves also took food. 37 All of us in the ship were two hundred and seventy-six [r]persons. 38 When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea.
39 When day came, they [s]could not recognize the land; but they did observe a bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship onto it if they could. 40 And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders; and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach. 41 But striking a [t]reef where two seas met, they ran the vessel aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none of them would swim away and escape; 43 but the centurion, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, and commanded that those who could swim should [u]jump overboard first and get to land, 44 and the rest should follow, some on planks, and others on various things from the ship. And so it happened that they all were brought safely to land.