Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
We are reading in Acts Chapter 27 – Paul is a prisoner and he is being sent by ship from Caesarea to Rome. Seriously bad decisions have been made by the owner and pilot of the ship to sail on – and they are soon confronted by a violent Mediterranean storm.
What can we learn about storms and from storms? We all face storms of one kind or another as we sail through life.
Storms can cause me to drift – to drift from my goal.
Acts 27 verse 15 - “The ship was caught in the storm and the wind was so strong that they could not sail against it. They lost all control so they stopped trying. They gave up and let the wind drive them, drifting in every direction.”
That verse is packed with insight – we lose control – we stop trying because we are tired – we give up – we are pressure driven – we drift in every direction.
Why make the effort? Is it worth it? Are we ever going to win and overcome – and be victorious? These thoughts come into our minds when we face sudden storms which we might have avoided if we had taken time to acquire wise and godly guidance and direction.
Acts 27 verse 17 – “Then the crew tied ropes around the ship to try to hold it together.”
This would be difficult in good weather, but think what it must have been like in bad weather. That was how sailors reacted in the Mediterranean at that time when faced with dangerous weather.
What do we do to hold things together when they appear to be falling apart?
Storms can cause me to discard – when we are in pain – when we are in difficulty or down or feel defeated - some things just do not matter so much.
Acts 27 verses 18,19 – “The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing all the cargo overboard. The following day they even threw out all the ship’s equipment and anything else they could lay their hands on!”
We can start throwing stuff away – stuff we should never have thrown away – friends and fellowship we should never have discarded – standards and values which would have helped us be healed and repaired and restored and renewed – once the storm had passed. Storms do pass and we need to remember that when we are going through such a period in our lives..
Storms can cause me to despair.
Acts 27 verse 20 – “The terrible storm raged unabated for many days, blotting out both the sun and the stars, until in the dark, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”
Total darkness – no light of the sun – no guiding stars – it is serious.
Everybody is in despair – panicking – except PAUL.
This is not Paul’s storm. Paul is NOT responsible for this situation.
What should I remember when it feels hopeless?
The oldest Christian symbol is not the cross – and not the fish – but an anchor.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul – Hebrews 6 verse 19
How can I anchor my life in a storm?
1ST ANCHOR: THE PRESENCE OF GOD - These anchors can prevent us from drifting and crashing and sinking.
Remember that God is with you. God has not abandoned you – He never will – He never has abandoned His people.
Acts 27 verses 21 to 23 - “Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, ‘Men, if you had listened to me. . . you would have avoided all this injury and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God I serve and belong to, STOOD BY ME.’”
The ship is going down – we cannot avoid that! But – God is standing by you – God is with you – God is with us – God was with PAUL.
This will give you stability in the storm.
2ND ANCHOR: THE PURPOSE OF GOD – when I remember that God’s purpose is greater than this storm.
Acts 27 verse 24 – “God’s angel said to me ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will certainly stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone else sailing with you!’”
God has granted safety to everyone sailing with you – because they were sailing with Paul.
“Nothing can separate us from the love of God” – not even storms and setbacks.
3ANCHOR: THE PROMISE OF GOD - Remember when you are heading into a storm – when the ship is about to break up – God’s promises can be trusted.
Acts 27:25-26 – “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will all turn out just as God has promised. Nevertheless, we are all going to first be shipwrecked on some island!”
Paul had faith in God – not in the ship – not in the captain – not in the pilot – but nevertheless we are all going to be shipwrecked.
God has not promised to save your ship .
He has promised to save you – to rescue you!
Acts 27 verses 30 to 32 – “At one point, the sailors tried to abandon the ship, thinking their lifeboat would save them. But Paul said, ‘You’ll all die unless you stay with the ship! So the soldiers cut the ropes and let go of their lifeboat.”
They would all die unless they stayed with the ship – their little lifeboat was not going to help them – it would not give them safety and security.
We hold on to little lifeboats when there is a dangerous storm. There are times when we have to let go of our man made lifeboats.
Acts 27 verses 34 to 36 – “Then Paul said ‘Please eat something for your own good. For not a hair of your heads will perish.’ Then he took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, and ate it. Then everyone was encouraged.” Paul sets the example that encourages others.
We so need more people who are able to do that – and live like that – and serve like that.
Acts 27 verses 45,46 - “When daylight came. . . the officer ordered those who could swim to jump overboard and swim to the island. The rest grabbed pieces of wood from the broken ship to float on. But everyone made it safely to shore!
Everybody aboard that ship was rescued because of PAUL – and there were 276 people.
Be aware of the Presence of God – and the Purpose of God – and the Promises of God – at all times – because we never know when we are called to arise and serve and intervene in some serious stormy situation.
Paul had an amazing influence upon the lives of all these people aboard that ship – we might have a similar influence upon the lives of others as we stand strong and gracious and firm and faithful when the storm is raging.
“Almighty God – we see storms raging – across our world – throughout our nation – among families – even within our hearts and minds. Calm any storm that is raging within our individual hearts and lives – and where we might be able to quieten the storms that are raging elsewhere – help us – use us – in the name of our risen and living Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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