Acts 27: 22-26
But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 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.” So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.’
Here’s some things I see in this passage that can help keep us from sinking if we find ourselves in a severe storm and just want to give up.
"But now I urge you to keep up your courage...." (v. 22)
Paul says: 'OK, here’s why you’re in the storm - it’s your own fault, your own mistakes, decisions and stupidity.'
All of us, if we’re honest, can put our hands up and say that many of the storms we end up in are completely our own fault. Sometimes it wasn’t the devil attacking me – he could put his feet up because I was doing a good enough job for him myself.
I saw the warning signs and ignored them; I heard people telling me ‘don’t do that’ and decided to do my own thing; I knew what God’s Word said about it but I thought I knew better.
And now I’m on a sinking ship, my life is falling apart and I don’t know what to do.
Those two words – "BUT NOW" – change everything.
It’s not, "BUT THEN". It’s BUT NOW.
You can’t do anything about: "but then". However you can do something about: "But now."
You might have regrets about the past and what you did- "But then..."
"But now..." – right now, in this moment, you can put them behind you and move forward.
You might have made mistakes, hurt people, messed your own life up. "But now..." – that no longer has to shape your future.
You might have done things you never thought you would do, you’re so ashamed of what you’ve become. "But now..." – you can let that stuff go and have a brand new start.
It was your fault, you wish you could change the past. But now…" changes everything.
Some of you who feel like giving up need to draw a line today saying: "I can’t do anything about that – that’s gone. But now, from this moment forward, things are going to be different.
"But now…" Stop mourning for what you can’t change.
“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.”
CHANGE YOUR FOCUS
“....not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.” (v. 22)
Is this good news? It depends on which part of the sentence you focus on.
"...not one of you will be lost." That’s good news.
"...only the ship will be destroyed." ONLY the ship. For every other person on that boat – the ship was everything, the ship staying afloat was their only hope.
The ship represents what you think right now is holding you up and keeping you afloat. It’s what you think you can’t live without, it’s carrying you. It’s where you look for security.
- It could be your bank balance.
- Your job.
- Your status or position.
- A relationship.
- Even your family or church.
If your hope is in the boat – then you’re not going to stay afloat. When the boat goes down you’re sunk. You have no hope.
Notice Paul says: "Keep up your courage."
If your hope is in the boat you end up with conditional courage.
If the boat is OK, then you’re OK.
- If that relationship breaks up – you fall apart with it.
- If your job isn’t going so well – then nothing is going well.
- If your bank balance goes down – then you sink into the depths with it.
Where is Paul’s focus? Where does he get his unshakable courage and unsinkable confidence from?
“Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 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.”
I love this. Look at how Paul describes his relationship with God.
“…the God to whom I belong and whom I serve…”
I belong to God and I serve God.
The order is really important. His relationship with God comes before anything he does for God. His identity isn’t in the boat or anything else – his identity is firmly rooted in God, his security in being a son and servant of the most high king of kings.
His faith is in God – not in the boat. And so if the boat goes down it doesn’t mean he has to go down with it. He belongs to God and not to his belongings. When you don’t belong to your belongings – you can lose them all and you haven’t lost anything.
You still have God and God is stronger than any boat, He rules over the wind and the waves, He speaks and creation obeys His word. If you lose it all, but belong to God, there’s no more secure place to be.
- The boat is good – but the boat is not God.
- Your job is good – but it’s not God.
- Your bank account might be good – but it’s not God.
- Your job might be good – but don’t let it become your God.
- Your relationship might be good – but God is so much more secure than even the closest relationship with your Creator.
IT WILL HAPPEN
“So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.’”
Again he says: keep up your courage. 276 men on this boat. Only one of them is speaking life and courage and hope.
Those whose hope is in God and not in the boat can speak courage to everyone else when they have given up all hope. Paul does that. He points them to God. Because what we fix our focus on will determine whether we are consumed by fear or fuelled by faith.
Paul is fuelled by faith – look at what he says: “I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”
Look at the conviction in those words: "I have faith in God." Where did that conviction come from? "God has told me." It’s not Paul’s opinion, it’s not mere conjecture, it’s not just a feeling he has, or some vague hope he has – he’s basing it on the Word of God.
When we speak the word of God we can speak with confidence and conviction.
When we stand on the promises of God we can do so with great boldness and undaunted courage.
Paul says: "God has told me that we’ll survive this storm - so my faith isn’t in what I see or what I feel – my faith is in what God has said."
And look at his words: "IT WILL HAPPEN."
Even if right now my circumstances don’t change – if God has said something – IT WILL HAPPEN.
Even if the situation gets worse every day – if God has promised something – IT WILL HAPPEN.
You may be battered and bruised and feel you can’t hang on much longer – but if God says he’ll get you through it then – IT WILL HAPPEN.
You might lose some stuff along the way that you thought was important – but if God says that stuff was your past but you’ve still got a future – then – IT WILL HAPPEN.
Even if the boat falls apart and begins to sink – my faith will stay afloat because God has said IT WILL HAPPEN.
My faith isn’t in the boat, my faith is in God and in God’s Word and if it says something then I can stake my whole life on it because - IT WILL HAPPEN!