We all have “those days/weeks”. Those weeks where few things go right, the dishes and laundry seem to pile more quickly; you keep adding items to your to do list; out of no where there are problems with the car; the lawn mower breaks and you haven’t mowed the grass in over a month; there are messages and phone calls needing returned…
If this describes you then I can relate to you. You are not alone. In fact, I believe we all have these experiences at some time or another. But the question is do we handle adversity or does adversity handle us? Are we controlled by our circumstances? Those who feel helpless often have a victim mentality – “Woe is me, I never catch any breaks.” YET, GOD WANTS US TO VIEW LIFE DIFFERENTLY.
God has a hand in everything. He sees the storms arriving. He knows your needs. Hope is present.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1Corinthians 10:13
Our series Hope for the Worried has been meant for us to know God cares and God comforts. No matter the stress or the storm God is there for us to call upon and He is faithful.
This last message will help us see practical ways to face unwanted interruptions in order that we may grow closer to God and become the person God wants us to become.
EXAMINE Acts 27
As you turn to Acts, this is a book of two-volume history. The first volume was the Gospel of Luke telling eyewitness and orderly accounts of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts is the second volume telling the days and years following Jesus’ resurrection.
Some people view history as merely academic. This is a positive approach as we all must view the reality of people and events. Yet, we must move beyond academic approach to an approach of action. In other words, the reality of our past must become relevant to our present. When we are able to understand how history impacts our everyday then life becomes more meaningful.
In 10 years, Paul’s life had a radical transformation where he was built up and sent out as a disciple of Jesus. Christians today should reflect often on the life of Paul –
Paul’s faith (Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”) and
Paul’s focus (Philippians 3:7-8 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ”).
Paul’s purpose (Philippians 1:21 “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”) and
Paul’s passion (Acts 20:24 “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”),
In 10 years time he gave up a life of luxury and comfort playing religious games for a life of Christ-centered mission. He would travel on 3 missionary journeys that would forever change the world. The last 2-5 years were likely spent in prison before he was martyred by the Roman emperor Nero.
In Acts 27, Paul has traveled 3 missionary journeys before being falsely accused and arrested by Jewish religious leaders and then handed over to Roman authorities. Paul stands strong in testifying to the truth of Jesus Christ. Yet, it is God’s will for Paul to take the gospel to Rome (the ends of the earth) and so he is chained by a Roman centurion and boarded a ship in route.
On this journey Paul experienced three interruptions: Stormy Weather, Shipwreck, Setback Plans. From this experience we can learn 4 principles for facing life’s interruptions.
1) Drop anchor and evaluate your foundation (v.27-29).
Paul’s journey undertook quite a storm and ultimately a shipwreck. His travel mates endured about 2 weeks at sea in the winter months. It was like a scene on Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”. They feared for their lives and did the only thing they knew for protection – they dropped 4 anchors and prayed.
When storms surround you it becomes easy to lose your bearings. Your next steps become hard to navigate. Sometimes the best thing you can do is pause and evaluate the situation around you, drop anchor and pray for God to work things out. Every person needs to anchor their soul to Jesus Christ whether in a life storm or not.
Hebrews 6:18-20 “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…”
Isaiah 43:1-2 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
One of the questions you may have from this passage or from your life experiences of storms and interruptions is: Why does God’s will include Paul to experience so much hardship? If the Lord wanted the gospel to go to Rome then why did it have to include hardship for one of His children? And for us, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
Paul’s own words: 2Corinthians 4:7-10, 17-18 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies…. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
In other words, the afflictions of this world are meant to drive us not to despair but dependence on God.
ð Could you imagine going on a ship for a long journey and the captain & crew not checking to see if the anchors were on board? Of course not; we must prepare before storms arrive.
- Consistent spiritual disciplines: Bible reading, prayer, community & accountability
- God’s people and His Church can assist as anchors of friendship & support
2) Determine to face our fears and our conflicts (v.30-32).
The storm was so bad some of the men tried to escape on their own using lifeboats. Paul’s prophetic vision knew all the shipmates would only be saved if they stayed together (v.24). In fact, Paul tries to encourage his shipmates here different times (vv.22, 25, 34). So, the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboats.
Sometimes we look to avoid interruptions and want to run away from solving problems. Seeing Paul’s example should remind us that escape never fully solves the situation. They had to commit to staying together to see their end destination.
– Married spouses must cut the ropes to escape boats.
– Youth must cut ropes to friends who will be negative influences.
– Believers entangled in sin must cut ropes to sources of temptation
- Other addicts
- Internet/Cable use alone for pornographic addictions
- Keys to driving for alcoholics
- Junk food for comfort or over eaters
- Holding onto the past – unforgiveness, bitterness, hurt,…
ð What ropes do you need to cut?
3) Care for your physical well being as much as spiritual (v.33-38).
For 2 weeks the 276 shipmates stressed and struggled during the terrible storm. The had lost hope (v.20) and were losing sound judgment. During these fourteen days they had eaten very little if at all and were not caring for their physical health. Paul recognized the physical need and encouraged them all to eat. After eating to their full they were encouraged and strengthened.
This is a simple and yet significant reminder that in the middle of interruptions sometimes we can get caught up in solving problems over long periods of time without taking the time to care for our own well being. This is true spiritually as well as physically. They both are necessary if we are to survive crisis and work out effective results.
Sometimes the most spiritual action you can take is simple as:
ð Eat healthy & Exercise (take a walk).
ð Take a break from routine or take up a hobby (read, write, build, fix, play…)
ð Spend time with family & friends. There are basement people who will get you down and there are balcony people who will lift you up.
ð Worship is healing
Psalm 42:3-6 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
ð The gospel is life-sustaining
Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
4) Trust God to bring all things together for his purposes (27:39-44).
Paul’s journey to Rome endured a terrible storm, shipwreck and a long setback of plans to the island of Malta. Several months later they were able to get back on the journey to Rome and reach their destination. Even then, God was not finished leading Paul to other places to bring about his plan and purpose for Paul’s life. God is faithful and we must trust his weaving together of circumstances; even in difficult times.
ð Review God’s hand in the past to trust God’s hope for the future.
Supremely, when you are in a storm you want to be on a boat with the right people.
– Right Destination
– Right experience
– Trusted captain