Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

4-27-04

Title: Finding a Place of Safety



Text: “And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape.  But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.” 

(Acts 27:42-44)



Bible Reading: Acts 27:33-44

33 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. 

34 Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” 

35 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. 

36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 

37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. 

38 So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea. 

39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. 

40 And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. 

41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves. 

42 And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. 

43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, 

44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.



This experience that Paul had, while on his way to Rome, may cause us to see one of the great truths about Christian living.  


It is that Christians may have to suffer.  


Jesus didn’t promise us a life without pain and suffering. 


In fact, it was just the opposite.  


He told his followers that they shouldn’t expect to get along in this world any better than He did.  


We can expect the enemies of Jesus to also be our enemies.  


And since the servant is not better than his master, we may someday receive the same treatment that Jesus did.  


There is something good that comes out of suffering for Jesus.  


Paul talked about that; and he certainly suffered a lot.  


In several of his epistles, he listed those things he had to endure for Christ.  


It’s amazing that he could go through all that and still continue to be a faithful, enthusiastic servant of the Lord.  


Some say that the high point of Paul’s ministry was his hearing before King Agrippa.   


It was a fulfillment of the prophesy, which said that he should appear before kings and rulers.  


I believe that it was God’s will that he was brought before King Agrippa.  


If you were there, you would have been part of a large crowd of 200 or more.  


These were the elite of the city, dignitaries and officials from the Jews as well as the Romans.  


They were probably decked out in the best dress of that time.  


When Paul was brought into the room, they all looked him over and made comments to those around them.  


I would think that Paul looked them over too.  


This was not a trial, since Paul had already made it known that he was a Roman citizen, and demanded a trial before Caesar.  


His fate was out of Agrippa’s hands, because Paul now had to be tried before the Roman Emperor.  


But Agrippa had heard of the Christians, and he wanted to know more about them, and he wanted to hear from an expert; that would be Paul.  


So Paul is there, not to defend himself, but to preach the Gospel to this great king.  


He was probably in chains and wearing the prison garb of that time.


Paul began with a very courteous introduction, telling King Agrippa how he rejoices in this opportunity.  


Then he proceeds to give Agrippa a brief sketch of is youth and background.  


Then he tells of his conversion.  


And finally he attempts to reach the man for Christ.  


He presented the Gospel to this man-and to the entire crowd who were present in that place.  


He said, “That Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people and to the Gentiles.”  


I think Paul emphasized that word “Gentiles” because the king was a Gentile.  


Notice that he has presented the Gospel: that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again.  


He also says here that God intruded into the history of man and that God has done something for man.  


God has demonstrated His love—God so loved the world that He gave His Son.  


Agrippa was an intelligent man.  


He answered Paul this way, “Almost thou persuadeth me to be a Christian.”  


Friends, do you know that you can almost be a Christian and yet be lost for all eternity?  


What a tragedy that is!  


“Almost” will not due.  


It must be all or nothing.  


Either you accept Christ or you don’t accept Christ.  


Either you have Christ or you don’t have Christ.  


Either you trust Christ or you don’t trust Christ.  


Either He’s your Savior or He is not your Savior. 


It is one of the two.  


There is no such thing as middle ground.  


It cannot be “Almost.” 


It must be all.


In our text, we saw that Paul was in a life-threatening situation.  


The ship was at the mercy of a horrific storm and passengers and crew were afraid that they would drown.    


They are afraid that they might run aground on the sands surrounding one of the islands. 


Therefore they struck sail and allowed the wind to drive the ship away from land.  


The next day, they were still caught in the tempest, so they started throwing things overboard in order to lighten the ship.  


On the third day, they even threw the ships tackle overboard.  


Then in verse 20 we are told, “Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.”


Paul was in trouble, but there was very little he could do about it.  


Today, we would say that he was in trouble because of circumstances beyond his control.  


After all, who can do anything about the weather, and besides, Paul was the prisoner of a Roman Centurion.


And the officer listened to the ship’s captain, instead of Paul, who warned, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.”


It says in verse 20, “Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.”  


The passengers and crew had given up.  


They didn’t have the strength to continue to fight against the storm.  


But Paul received a visit from an angel, who told him that he would not die in the storm, because God wanted him to keep his appointment with Caesar.  


The angel also told Paul that everyone on the ship would live.  


Paul told all of them what the angel said, and then he added, “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.”  


Paul was able to stay calm, when others could not because he believed God.


Now, I want to reread verses 41-44, since that is the end of the story.


It says:


41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves. 

42 And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. 

43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, 

44 and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.


Paul’s faith was rewarded; he was in a place of safety.  


I don’t know if God sent the storm or if Satan sent it.  


But I know one thing for sure; God was in control.  


Paul was safe all along, because God was not finished with him.  


He would appear before Caesar, but before that he put his time in prison to good use.  


He wrote several of his epistles and won many for the Lord from his cell.


And just like Paul, we must make sure that we are prepared for the severe storms that will come into our lives today.  


And just like him, we also need to find a place of safety.  


And we need to be like Paul, in our attitude toward life.  


He expressed this attitude in his letter to the Philippians.  


He wrote:


11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 

12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


Paul doesn’t need anything, since his joy does not depend on outward circumstances, but on Christ’s presence within.


Paul tells us here that it wasn’t always this way; he learned it through long, hard experience. 


He learned that in whatever state he was in-whether in prison and in chains or penniless and in hunger-to be content. 


Paul was totally independent of man because he was totally dependent upon God. 


Paul’s satisfaction and sufficiency were in Christ (II Cor 12:9).


He was put through God’s school of hard knocks, but he was a victor over every circumstance, and not a victim to any circumstance, because he adjusted well to the will of God.


God is good to His children.  


He provides the power we need for life and service (vv. 10–13) and He satisfies the material needs we have as well (vv. 14–20). 


Paul did not have a wealthy organization giving him support, but he did have a great God who enabled generous friends to meet his needs. 


Paul saw their gift as a fragrant sacrifice to the Lord (v. 18), and he rejoiced in the Lord for what they did.


Paul found the secrete of surviving whatever came his way.  


He found a place of safety from the storms of life.


THAT’S TODAY’S LESSON; FINDING A PLACE OF SAFETY FROM THE STORMS OF LIFE.


All of us have troubles!  


But let me check: 


Is there anyone here who has never had troubles of one kind or another?  


I thought so, all of us are in the same boat.  


Some have worse troubles than others, but as sure as death and taxes, we all have experienced storms in our lives.


Let’s begin our lesson with THE QUESTION OF STORMS IN OUR LIVES.


Do believers suffer?  


Absolutely!  


It’s natural for all of us to experience difficulty.  


Yet, so many people yell out, “Why me!  Why do I have to suffer so?”  


I was recently preaching about Job, when one of the ladies said to me, “I don’t want to hear that!  I don’t understand why God did all those things to Job.”  


Some people don’t want to believe that God may send trouble our way or even that sin may cause us to have troubles.  


But it’s true, and I could give you a lot of examples.  


For instance, the sin of adultery often leads to divorce and heart ache to the point that the man and woman become physically and emotionally sick.  


And consider what abortion can do to a woman.  


She may regret her decision to kill her unborn baby for the rest of her life.  


She may not be able to live with what she did.


However, not all pain and suffering is caused by sin.  


That idea has no basis in scripture.


Here are some examples from the Bible to illustrate what I just said.


1. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and he spent years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  


It was not because of sin; instead, it was part of God’s plan to save Israel and the world from starvation.


2. Job was a good man, and God even said so.  


But Job lost everything; his possessions, his family, and his health.  


It was not due to any sin in his life.  


It was because Satan brought the troubles.


3. Daniel was a faithful worshipper of God, who lived in a pagan country.  


But he was put into a den of lions, because he continued to worship God, in spite of the king’s command to only worship his god.  


Sin had nothing to do with what he suffered.


4. Paul talked about what he had to endure in his epistles.  


It’s a long list.  


But, it was not due to sin; instead, it was used by God to mold him into a loyal servant of God.


Jesus Himself was subjected to many of the pressures we experience.  


But we know that He never sinned.  


All of His suffering was for us.  


As He hung on the cross, He experienced more pain and sorrow than anyone has ever had to endure.  


Sin didn’t cause the pain; we did.  


It was our sin placed on Him, not His, which caused the pain.  


What about us and others who suffer?  


At times, in our desire to understand why we are having troubles, we make the assumption that we deserve what we get.  


When that happens, just ask yourself; did Joseph, did Job, did Daniel, did Paul, did Jesus?  


Do we deserve what we get?  


Sometimes we do.  


But, many times we don’t.


Nevertheless, whether we deserve it or not, there will be storms.


FOR THAT REASON, THE QUESTION IS, WHAT SHOULD WE DO WHEN STORMY SITUATIONS COME?


Our experience tells us to find a place of safety.  


That’s what we do when a tornado is coming our way.  


We just don’t sit still and continue to watch television.  


We look for shelter; some place where we will be safe.  


We get under a piece of furniture or behind strong walls.  


When thunder storms come we may do the same thing.  


My sister is so afraid of them that she gets under her bed.  


When there are thunderstorms and tornados, we look for a place of safety.  


What about the other storms of life?  


What about sorrow, and money problems.  


How do we react?  


Don’t we look for a place of safety?  


Sometimes the greatest miracle is not the removal of the storm.  


It’s a miracle that we are able to survive the storm.  


Didn’t Jesus say He would help us bear our troubles?  


He never said we wouldn’t have trials.  


Actually, He said that we would suffer trials, because we are following Him.  


Christians will survive the storms of life, and each storm has something to teach us.  


We are survivors, and each storm teaches us how to handle future situations.  


In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul tells us, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”


Paul knew his own ministry was almost over and he felt the deep satisfaction that comes from having been faithful to God. 


What a horrible feeling it must be to come to the end of one’s life and have nothing but regrets and to think that their life was wasted. 


Let’s not waste whatever time is left.  


Let’s serve Jesus.  


Whatever is done for Christ will last, and God’s servants are indestructible until their work is done. 


THE FINAL QUESTION FOR US TO ANSWER IS, HOW DO WE BUILD A SPIRITUAL STORM SHELTER?


If I don’t know anything else, I know this; we must begin with a strong relationship with Jesus Christ, and that can only come from a personal encounter with Him.  


I’m talking about receiving Him as your Savior.  


Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  


It is only when He is Savior and Lord that we can have a relationship with Him.  


Out relationship with Jesus is built by having absolute faith in His guidance, and through living an obedient live that is surrendered to His will.


There are a lot of people who want the safety that Jesus brings, but they think they can wait until there is a cloud on the horizon to build their shelter.  


That’s the person who believes there is plenty of time; that they will be saved sometime before they did.  


So, they don’t do anything until the storm hits.  


Then, they’re like someone drowning who cries out for help.  


It will be too late for some, because they don’t have a shelter from the storm.


The Bible tells us that we are going to face storms.  


In the parable of the wise man who built his house on the rock, it talks about a storm.  


The foolish man, who built his house on the sand, watched the flood destroy his home, but the wise man built a house that sheltered him from the storm.


We know about the storms of life, and we know they are coming, so why do we wait to begin to make preparations for the inevitable.  


Why not make sure that we are indestructible?  


Conclusion


For us, most of life’s storms have come and gone.  


You may be here today, because you have built a relationship with Christ.  


You call Him Savior or Lord.  


You have your storm shelter.  


Praise God!  


But it’s not that way for everyone; someone here may need a place of safety.  


You may need a storm shelter sooner that you think.  


Start to build your shelter today by accepting God’s salvation.  


I will be happy to pray with anyone who needs the Savior or for any other need you may have.


Amen.


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