Developing God's Vision for Your Life -Acts 27:9-25
Life is full of storms.
While you and I pursue our God given dreams we will encounter many storms. Some will be mild others will be difficult. The life that we live on this earth is full of troubles. When faced with troubles we need to remember what Jesus said in John 16:33, In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
You are in one of three areas right now. You’ve just got out of trouble, or you're in it right now, or you're headed into it. Trouble is a part of life. You will have difficulties.
A Man Who Knew Trouble
The Apostle Paul was a man acquainted with troubles. But Paul never gave up on his dream.
2 Cor. 1:8-10, 8 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the trouble we suffered in Asia. We had great burdens there that were beyond our own strength. We even gave up hope of living. 9 Truly, in our own hearts we believed we would die. But this happened so we would not trust in ourselves but in God, who raises people from the dead. 10 God saved us from these great dangers of death, and he will continue to save us. We have put our hope in him, and he will save us again (NCV)
Paul is saying that they were in such trouble that they had given up getting out alive. But this happened that they might trust in God rather than trusting in themselves or others. They learned to trust God for their deliverance.
1 Cor. 6:4, "In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind." (New Living Translation)
Paul is saying that when we patiently endure the hardships and difficulties of life's storms we prove that we are ministers and servants of God.
In the 27th chapter of Acts we see one of the many difficulties Paul had to face and endure in his life. He was being taken to Rome as a prisoner. He had warned the guards that it was not safe to sail. They chose to disregard Paul's warning and sail anyway because where they were was not good enough for them to spend the winter in. They were not satisfied with the accommodations they had. It was not good enough.
There are 3 questions we need to ask and answer that will help us to Survive Life's Storms and keep us on track to pursuing our dreams.
- Why Did This Happen? What caused this to Happen?
- What Will Be The Results? "What does God want me to learn from this difficulty I'm facing?"
- How Will I Respond? "How should I react? How does God want me to act in this particular situation?"
I. Why Did This Happen?
"What caused this?"
There are four different reasons or causes for storms in our lives.
1. I'm the cause of a lot of troubles and trials in my life.
Most of the problems in our lives we bring on ourselves. I'm the first and greatest cause.
a. Other people
b. The devil
c. God can be a cause of difficulty in your life. He allows problems to come into our lives to get our attention, test us, and mold us, or we bring problem on ourselves by disobedience.
When I'm going through a storm in my life how do I determine the cause? We must pray and seek the face of God. Learn to talk to God about it. The writer of the 73 rd Psalm had the same problem. He could not understand the problems he was having and why it appeared that the wicked prospered and had an easy life. While he was thing about this he got his answer while attending the house of God.
Ps. 73:16-17 16 I tried to understand all this, but it was too hard for me to see 17 until I went to the Temple of God. Then I understood what will happen to them. (NCV)
When you go to church, God will sometimes speak to you through the message, through a song, through someone else in the service or God may speak directly to you when you come in and begin to seek His face and will.
That's why I hate to miss church. If God had a special message for me in the sermon and I didn't show up I wouldn't get the message. So, on the possibility that God might have a word me I show up to receive it.
When these guys decided to go ahead and sail in spite of Paul's warning, don't sail because it will endanger our lives, they made three common mistakes that we all make from time to time.
2. We listen to bad advice.
v. 11 "...they followed the advice of the pilot..." God had already said not to do it. Paul had warned them. But because the "expert" said it was OK, they did it. There are a lot of experts in the world. They all have the answer to your problem or so they want you to think they do. I like the Song that say's “I will talk to my Father For you.” One of the verse say's, “I could offer opinions that might prove untrue but for the only sure answer here's what I'll do. I will talk to my Father for you." Folks I don't have all the answer but I can talk to the one who does, your Heavenly Father.
3. We follow the crowd.
v. 12 "the majority decided that they should sail." The majority is often wrong. One of the phrases you hear "but everybody's doing it". So what? Everybody can be wrong. In the story of the children of Israel leaving Egypt and going to the Promised Land, the majority of them wanted to go back to Egypt. They were wrong. We often get in to trouble because we follow the crowd.
4. We rely on circumstances.
v. 13 "When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted..." They thought it was a nice day for sailing. Paul said, don't do it, we're heading into a storm. But they went anyway and they shipwrecked. We all feel if the circumstances are just right we can go ahead and go for it. We should not make a move until we know that it is what God wants for our lives.God's timing is perfect
II. What Will Be The Results?
A.What can I learn from this?
What is God going to teach me through this experience? What does God want me to learn from this storm?
2 Cor. 4:16-18 16. "That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 18 So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever." (New Living Translation)
2 Cor. 4:17 "These little troubles, which are temporary, are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward all out of proportion to our pain."
We need to understand that the troubles are only temporary and the rewards are permanent. Paul is saying that the problems you have in your life are not going to last forever but the reward of your faithfulness is eternal.
It doesn't matter where your problem came from; God still has a purpose for it in your life.God has a purpose for trials
Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
B. One of the results that God wants in your life is spiritual growth.
James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (NIV)
Even if you're the cause of the trouble, God can use it. Even when other people hurt me intentionally He can use it. Even when the devil plans bad things for my life, God can bring good out of it. God's purpose is greater than your problem and your pain. God has a plan behind your pain, your problem. Look past the temporary pain and look at the long term benefit and results that it will produce in your life.
Romans 5:3-5 "but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (NIV)
We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials for we know they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time. That's the result? God wants you to learn something. Every storm is a school. Every trial is a teacher. Every experience is an education. Every difficulty is for your development. God wants us to learn from life's storms.
Most of us are slow learners. Most of us have had to learn something more than once. If you don't learn something God will bring it again in your life. It will come back. God is more interested in your character than He is in your comfort. God is more interested in making you change to be more like Christ than He is in making things easy for you. You never graduate from the school of hard knocks.
III. How Will I Respond?
A. What will I do? How should I react?
How should I handle this? How should I respond?
Your response will determine your outcome. You and I are going to go through many storms in our lives. Rather we like it or not they are coming. The only thing that we can to is be prepared for them when they do come. How am I going to deal with this storm?
In the 27th chapter of Acts we see three things we shouldn't do.
1. Don't Drift With The Storm.
v. 15 “and when the ship was caught and was unable to head against the wind, we gave up and, letting her drift, were borne along. …so we gave way to it and were driven along". (The Amplified New Testament)
The ship taking prisoners to Rome was in the middle of the Mediterranean ocean, hadn't seen the sun for 14 days, total darkness. They can't get any bearings, they don't know where the stars are, and they have no idea where they are so, they just drifted with the storm. "We began to drift" -- we give up going to any destination; we give up on reaching our dreams and just started drifting through life. That the problem with many of our churches today, they're just drifting through life. They have no goal, no objective, no purpose, no ambition or dream for life. They just go along to get along. Life is tough so why make the effort? Why even try? I'll just go by on the minimum. We don't call it drifting today. We call it coasting. The problem with coasting is that you're headed downhill. You never coast uphill. You're going the wrong direction if you're coasting. Life is not a coast. Life's tough. Don't lose your goal, your ambition, and your dream just because life gets hard.
2. Don't Throw Away the Things You Need To Survive The Storms.
v. 18 "...then began to throw the cargo overboard..."
They are out in the middle of the Mediterranean ocean and it's been 14 days without any sunlight. They've been battered by the winds and waves back and forth and they start throwing things overboard to lighten the ship. First they threw the cargo overboard. Then it says they threw the tackle overboard and then the food. They were ready to throw the prisoners overboard. They were throwing away the things they needed because the storm was so tough. This is a common, human reaction to difficulty. When you get in a storm, a difficulty, a trial, when the heat is on and the pressure is on and the stress gets unbearable, we start throwing away the things we need to survive the storms, our values, relationships that we would not normally let go of in better times. We start saying things like, "I'm throwing in the towel. I'm giving up on my marriage. I'm abandoning this relationship. I'm out of here. I'm checking out, chucking it all. I'm giving up on my dream.
3. God says, Stay with the ship.
v. 31 "Paul told the centurion and soldiers, `Unless these men remain in the ship, you cannot be saved.' So the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship's lifeboats and let them fall away."
They cut away the lifeboats to force every one to stay with the ship. Have you done that in your marriage? Have you cut the life boats lose so there's no way out? Have you said, "Divorce is not an option for us. We're going to make this thing work." Have you closed the escape hatch, locked it with a key and thrown away the key. Divorce is not an option. If you haven't, you'll always be tempted to walk out. If you don't throw away the key, you'll never develop the character God wants you to have. It's always easier to cop out than it is to develop character. God can change situations, personalities. He can change you. But He won't if you're always walking out the back door. He says "Stay with the ship". Don't throw out the values you know are right and important. Don't abandon the things you know you need in your life. I've learned from personal experience that it is never God's will for me to run from a difficult situation. If you do, you will face it again later. God wants you to learn, to grow, to develop. Stay with it!
4. Don't Lose Hope.
v. 20 "we finally gave up all hope of being saved."
Fourteen days in total darkness, don't know where they're going, they're being beat up, tossed back and forth. They've given up their cargo, their tackle, their food. Finally they give up hope. That's the last thing to go. Hope. They'd forgotten one thing: even in a storm God is in control. He hasn't left you. You may not feel Him. If you feel far from God, guess who moved? He hasn't left you. He's with you in that storm. He'll help you through it. God is testing you to see if you'll trust Him.God is always in control
B. So what is the right response to difficulty?
If you're not in it now, you're going to go through it.
1. Accept Responsibilities For Your Part In The Problem.
We call this confession. If you brought it on yourself, admit it. Stop blaming other people. Stop making excuses. Face the problem and say; I brought this on myself. If you've got a problem with your temper, you admit it. If you've a problem with your mouth, admit it. The Bible says, "A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance." Accept responsibility. What are you pretending is not a problem? First admit when you are the problem and turn the light on and you won't be afraid anymore.
2. Face The Reality Of The Problem.
Don't run away from it. Do what you can. This is what Paul did,
"Therefore we know we're going to crack up so I encourage you to eat. Take some food."
When you get under stress, tension, in a crisis, when you're overwhelmed by problems and think you're going to crack up, you stop taking care of yourself. You don't eat right; sleep right, those physical management things you need to do. Paul says; when you're overwhelmed with stress remember the simple stuff like eating right. They had been worried sick for 14 days and hadn't eaten anything.
Then he told them to do some other stuff: they lightened the ship, they untied the rudders, cut the anchors loose, intentionally ran the ship straight ahead into the storm trying to run aground. That is how you get through a storm. You don't run from it. You can't go under it, over it, around it. You go right into it.
God won't take you around the storm. He will take you through the storm of life. The only way to face a storm is head on. If you turn sideways, you're going to capsize. God says
"Face the storm, don't fear it. Go straight on into it."
You never solve a problem by ignoring it. God didn't say when you go through the storm it would be easy. He said "I will be with you." God didn't say it will be easy getting through what you're going through right now. But He did say, "I will be with you." And you are going to make it.
3. Stand On The Promises Of God's Word.
v. 25 "Therefore keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told."
God will keep His promises. God did not say the ship will make it. God said you will make it. Some things will be lost but you will be saved. The ship won't make it, but you will. That's God's Promise to You. You will make it. Stand on, accept and believe it.
Are you facing a storm in your life? Do you feel battered and torn by life's storm? Do you feel like you haven't seen daylight for 14 days? And you feel like you're going to pieces, going to crack up, fall apart? Do you feel like your dreams will never come true? Do you feel like you will never accomplish God's will for you life?
Don't give up. Don't become anxious and afraid. Don't allow yourself to drift apart from your dreams and God Given desires. Don’t throw away the things that you need to make it through the storms. You don't throw away your convictions, your relationship to God, going to church meeting with God on a daily basis to read your Bible, pray and seek God's Face for your life.
Don't give up hope.
The interesting thing about this story is that everything was falling apart in this storm except Paul. Why wasn't Paul falling apart?
Paul wasn't falling apart because his confidence was in God and not in the ship. You're going through some storms. If I brought the storm on my own life, I should repent — change. I admit it and ask God to help me change. If Satan brought this problem in my life, I need to resist it — do a little spiritual warfare and resist what he's trying to do to me. If God brought this problem in my life, I need to just relax. In fact, I need to relax regardless of what the source is and trust God.
Ask God, "What do you want me to learn from this situation?" Put my confidence in Him.
© 2011 Don Sheske