The Acts of Christ Through the Apostles By the Power of the Holy Spirit-(39) Acts 27, 5/11/12

 Paul shows us how to live by faith in the promises of God in the midst of the storms of life

In Acts 24-26 we see that Paul, through the over-ruling grace of God, is saved by the Romans from death (at the hands of his own countrymen, the Jews) and is about to realize his passion: to share his faith with the Jews and Gentiles in Rome; both the lost and the saved. He is getting a free but “stormy” ride from the Roman government along with other prisoners, soldiers, sailors and merchants (they change ships several times). Luke, his travelling companion and fellow follower of Jesus, pens this dramatic account of God’s rescue in what Luke described as hopeless:  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.29 Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and prayed for daybreak.”

[“Around 59 A.D. and 60 A.D., Paul the evangelist was taken as a prisoner from Caesarea to Rome, making several stops along the way. Even as a prisoner, he continued to evangelize. This journey is described in the Bible's book of Acts, chapters 26, 27 and 28. 1 Caesarea  2 Sidon  3 Myra  4 Cnidus  5 Fair Havens  6 Malta  7 Syracuse  8 Rhegium  9 Puteoli 10 Rome “]

The Lord (and Paul) wants us to see that God is the source of Paul’s faith and courage and, like Paul, to learn to rely totally on God and not our selves. It is not “my faith” that gets me through trials, it is my faith, trust, and dependence on God and Him alone. 8” We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” (2 Cor. 1:8-11)

How do we learn to live by faith in the promises of God?  23” Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”   In this particular trial, God gave Paul a specific promise for this specific situation so that would certainly strengthen Paul’s faith. But in many other situations both in Paul’s life and the lives of others in Scripture, there is no record of God’s promise of deliverance “from the trial” at hand and yet many of the saints obeyed the Lord anyhow.

18”Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 9 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead —since he was about a hundred years old —and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:18-21)

16 “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

13”All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

35 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38)

16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:5-12; 16-18)

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” ― (A.W. Tozer)   If we don’t know God rightly we will respond to Him wrongly. 17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17) We will not trust, love and obey a Person we don’t know and know well. And we will only love and trust God to the degree we really know Him. Revelation knowledge of God comes from reading His Word and obeying His Word. 21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” 23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:21, 23)

What do we do when the situation looks hopeless? I heard a sermon on the four anchors (v. 29- I think it was by Andrew Murray but I can’t find it on the web). And this is what I recall he said about the four anchors:

1) God brought me here (i.e., to this trial) –    7 “But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.”   19 “But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen. 45:7-8; 50:19-20)

2) God will sustain me while I am here (i.e., so I can accomplish His will) – 16 “So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. 19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” 21 Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” (Daniel 6:16, 19-23)

3) God will teach me while I am here –  7 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

4) God will bring me out of here (i.e., deliver me from the trial either by taking me home to heaven or delivering me on earth to continue do His will) –  20”I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” (Phil. 1:20-26)


“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” ― (A.W. Tozer)   If we don’t know God rightly we will respond to Him wrongly. Do you agree or disagree with these two statements? What are the implications of these two statements? Please share your thoughts on this at your table.

Please read 2 Cor. 1: 8-11 and then respond to these questions Warren Wiersbe asks in his commentary on Acts: Can the Lord depend on you to sail by faith when you face the storms? Can others depend on you?

How did Paul’s confidence in God affect the other men on the ship? (See vv. 35-36) How can your confidence in God encourage those in your life who may be discouraged? How can you build your confidence in God?

Why did Paul want to die and why did he want to live based on Philippians 1:20-26?

35 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:35-38)
Based on these verses and others like it (e.g., Hebrews 11:13-16) when do we receive the full reward for our faith and obedience that God promises us?

A good book on growing our faith is If You Want to Walk on Water You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg.

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