At the time of our text, scripture tells us that Paul was in serious trouble; so much trouble that it placed his life and the lives of others around him in mortal danger. For we are told that they were on a small ship caught up in the midst of a storm. Now this was not Paul’s only trouble, you bible readers are aware that he had trouble before they encountered the storm. You see he had already been arrested and he was on his way to Rome to stand trial. And now he’s on this ship caught up in the midst of a turbulent and life threatening storm; which was more trouble!
And isn’t that just like life; sometimes before we can put one problem to rest, you find yourself assaulted by another.
I can tell you from my own experience that the problems of life can sometimes come upon us and before we can get one thing straightened out, we are bombarded with another.
And no one can better testify to that fact than Job. Job as you may recall faced a series of problems that came one behind another.
He hadn’t gotten over the trauma and the awesome impact of the first problem before he was hit with another problem. And before he could really come to grips with the first and second problem, he was then assaulted by a third one. And the problems just kept on coming.
Sometimes, my brothers and sisters, life is just like that old saying: "When it rains, it pours". And for that reason Job said in Job 14:1, "Man that is born of a woman is of a few days and full of trouble".
And as it was with Job so it was here in the text. We find Paul in major trouble. [If a can put a pen here quickly and tell you, just because you are a child of God does not mean you will not have trouble.]
The question we must answer this morning is not will storms come, but how should we respond when the storms come?
And just in case there is someone looking at me right now, who finds themselves in the midst of a storm, I submit to you this morning, my brothers and sisters, DON’T GIVE UP IN THE STORM.
There are some lessons that we can learn from this episode in the life of the apostle Paul that I believe can serve as tools that can/will help us when we encounter our individual storms. First thing we can learn is:
THEY DID NOT LISTEN
Now before they set sail from the island of Crete, Paul had already told the captain, “I don’t think you ought to make this trip, at least not now. I hope you will wait a little while longer. I know the itinerary…
…I know that there are prisoners
…in addition to myself that you
…have to deliver to various places;
...but I wish you would wait a while.
For Paul said, “I perceive that it would be life threatening if you set sail right now.” But the captain disregarded what Paul had to say.
Don’t look around now, but there are so many in our day and time that ignore the things that the preacher has to say.
There are those who frequent the pew Sunday after Sunday, who are not listening to a thing that is being preached.
...many people make true the words of the O'Jays
…That says, “Your body's here with me
…But your mind is on
...the other Side of town?”
…You do know that some
…people are at church
…but they are not really in church!
My brothers and sisters, there is a danger in missing the message. So often, my brothers and sisters, the warning is given, but because we were not listening, We find ourselves in stormy situations.
I can go beyond the preacher and say there are some people in here right now who wish they had listened to their mother, father, grandma and granddaddy when they said don't do something.
Not only did they miss the message.
DEPARTED TOO SOON
But I can’t really criticize the captain too much; if I am to be totally honest, there have been times in my life, when I have departed too soon. Now what constitutes launching out too soon?
Well I can break it down as simply as this; you’re launching out too soon when you do something before God says do it…
…When you jump into something
....without God’s endorsement;
…without God’s direction;
…and without God’s blessing;
…that's moving too soon!
In fact, sometimes what we want to do God doesn’t have it for us at all. It may not even be in God’s will for our life. And then sometimes although He has it for us, He doesn’t have that for us right now; because He knows us better than we know ourselves and for that reason He knows where our spiritual level is where it needs to be.
…HE knows if we haven’t matured in Christ
…we are not ready to launch out right now;
…therefore, while it may be true that
…the LORD has this for you
…it may not be right now!
But because they refused to listen they launched out to soon. And shortly after their launching, they fell into the midst of a raging storm.
The storm is identified in verse 14 of the King James Version says, it was called Euroclydon. Now that storm was an awful storm. That storm was the granddaddy of all storms. It was a wind of great fury that came out of the Northeast.
It came howling like ten thousand wolves. The sound of it was eerie…
…and it would do terrible things
…to the waves;
…it would aggravate the sea;
…it would cause the sea
…to become rough and turbulent!
And ships that were caught in this typhoon like situation found themselves being kicked like footballs from one wave to the other. And giant waves that were higher than the ship would beat against the ship. Water would splash upon those on board. And the men on board the ship would be rolling about and tossed to and fro like marbles on a concrete floor and rising up and down like a see-saw.
And they were in this life threatening situation all because they (1) didn’t listen; and they (2) launched out too soon. But to make matters worse:
THE STORM LASTED A LONG TIME
For this storm didn’t just last a few days. It lasted fourteen days to be exact; now when it first started the crew members hoped with all that was within them that it would soon pass over. But it didn’t.
And there is somebody in here that’s is in a storm right now and it's not a storm that has been around just a little while, but you’ve been in that storm for a long time. And you hoped so much that it would soon pass over. But here it is still raging.
And in some of our lives rather than the storm getting better, in spite of all of our prayers…
…in spite of all that we’ve done
…that storm is still ragging and getting worse.
Someone I tell you is in one of life’s storms. Now the storms of life can come in so many ways…
…Storms can get in your home
…and cause turbulence for you in your family;
…storms can get in the church;
…to cause an entire congregation to fall apart
…storms can affect our health;
…one bad report from the doctor
…can cause our life to end up in a storm;
…storms can come in our lives
…in so many Ways!
Those on board this ship along with Paul were in an awesome storm. And it kept on raging. And the report is that on the third day they started throwing heavy cargo overboard.
And there are some things you need to get rid of in a storm. If it’s weighing you down, then it won’t let you float like you ought to float.
…There are some relationships;
…and some attitudes,
…that need to be
…because all they are doing
…is weighing you down!
Scriptures tells us that the storm kept raging so they took down the sails because they could not go against the wind and they decided to float with the storm.
And as it neared towards the end of this series of days, some say day thirteen, Paul realized that the men had reached a state of hopelessness. For you see all of these days they had not been able to see the sun or the stars.
And when you don’t see any light at the end of your storm it can make you to want to give up. Paul decided he would step in at this point and he reminded them that they should have listened to him, for he had warned them before they left Crete not to set sail.
Paul said, “Men you should have listened to me and not set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.”
Paul said, “I had a visitor tonight, an angel of the Lord came to me and that angel told me don’t worry everything will be alright.
My bothers and sisters, in spite of the shaking…
…in spite of the thunder
…and the lightening;
…in spite of the waves,
…that seemingly will destroy the ship;
…the angel told me
… “Everything will be alright”
Because God’s will is for me to make it to Rome. God’s got work for me in Rome. And not only did He tell me I was going to make it there but “not one life on board this ship will be lost.” Now the ship is going to be torn up but not one life will be lost. I have to tell you this morning my brothers and sisters, the storm is raging, but God has told me to tell you: "Everything will be alright!"
Psalm 30:5 says, "Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning."
*I must go to my seat less I keep you too long, but you know when the storms of life are raging it’s easier said than done to be of good cheer. When we are in the midst of our distress, it’s not always easy to be of good cheer.
It’s alright for somebody else to encourage you but maybe they are not going through what you are going through. For it’s easy for them to say, “Be of good cheer.” But it’s good to hear somebody say it that’s in the same boat that you are in!
Paul was in the same boat that the captain was in. And the record is that the wind kept on blowing. But you must remember in the storm once you receive news that God is going to deliver you, the devil will turn up the volume and cause the wind to get louder. He will cause the lightening to flash even more and the thunder to roll even more.
But God needs somebody in the storm to have faith and say even in the storm, “I know it’s rough and I know it’s hard but I’m coming out! I know it’s difficult and the situation is serious but I’m coming through!”
That’s all I had to tell you---(1) if you find yourself in a storm because you failed to listen; and (2) you launched out to soon; and (3) the storm is lasting to long; don’t give up in the storm but hold on and keep your faith.
Because Paul’s story ended just the way the Lord had promised. Paul and the entire crew made it safely to the shore. The ship was destroyed some of them had to swim to shore. Others made it on broken pieces of the ship, but at the end of the day they were able to say, “We made it!”
I’m glad that even in a storm the Lord still has the last word. If you don't mind this morning; grab a neighbor by the hand and say, "Neighbor, no matter how long or how strong the storm in life is: You will make it!"
…keep on praying;
…keep on believing;
…and keep on trusting
…but whatever you do
…don’t you give up in the storm!
When you are in a storm you have to learn to sing storm songs; and some of the songs I love to hear while going through my storm…
“I'm so glad troubles don't last always!"
"Jesus be a fence all around me everyday!"
"Pass me not O gentle Savior!"
I'm encouraged this morning knowing my soul is anchored to the same one that was led up Calvary’s hill early one Friday bearing the sins of the world on HIS shoulders and there HE…
…hung bled and died;
…for the sins of the world;
…died until the redemption’s price was paid in full;
…died until we were justified;
…and died until the debt for sin was satisfied;
…but thank God HE didn’t stay dead;
…but early that first day morning;
…HE rose with all power,
…in His hand!
I tell you this morning, brothers and sisters, many times you see me smiling; but you don’t know what I’m going through. You see me shaking hands and telling people to hang in there but they don’t know what I’m going through. You don’t know the heartache…
…the hardships I may be going through;
…but God lets me preach in spite of it;
…lets me tell the story in spite of;
…lets me preach with power in spite of;
…and He keeps me going in spite of!
Don't give up! Hymn writer said:
“Like a ship that tossed and driven
I been battered by an angry sea
When the storm of life are raging
And its fury falls on me
I wonder what I have done
To make my race so hard to run
But I say to my soul, take courage
The Lord will make a way somehow.”