Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 4-16-04

Title: Four Anchors



Text: “Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.” (Acts 27:29).




Bible Reading: Acts 27:13-36



Introduction


Life is a hodgepodge of experiences—some good, some bad.  


There are people who say that life is a struggle, and others say life is good.  


I have heard different people say that life has its hills and valleys, or they say it has its ups and downs.  


But, I would bet that all of us would say; “I have good days and bad days.”  


Folks, human beings do not live on an even plane with every day a good day, and it’s a good thing when we realize that truth.  


We have a tendency to rejoice when all is well, and to fall apart when it’s not.  


I know people who show by their face how their day is going.  


They can’t hide it.  


They smile and act full of life when things are going good.  


But, when it’s not so good they pout and complain and appear defeated by their problems.


In today’s lesson, there are three simple truths that will help us when we face difficult times.


1. (Truth No. 1) Storms (troubles) do not mean that God is showing His disapproval of something we have said or done.  


When we have troubles, it doesn’t mean that God is mad at us.


2. (Truth No. 2) To be in a stormy (troubled) moment is not sinful.  


Trouble comes to all of us; no one is off the hook when it comes to life’s problems.


3. (Truth No. 3) There are anchors to hold us steady in times of stress.  


So we need to know what the anchors are.


Our text shows that Paul’s experiences support these truths.  


I’ll read Acts, chapter 27, verses 13-36.   


Here is where Paul is being taken to Rome by ship.  


A storm threatens to sink the ship, but God has other plans for Paul.

This is how the experience is recorded in God’s word.


READ FROM THE LIVING NEW TESTAMENT


-PRAY-


Paul had four anchors that held him steady just like the four anchors on the ship.


The first anchor: He Had a Firm Faith in God.


We can see his faith in the statement he made to the sailors, in verse 23:


“…last night an angel of the God (to whom I belong and whom I serve) stood beside me..”


Paul believed with all his heart that God was real, and that he was a child of God, and he served God as well as he could, even when he was under arrest and his life was in danger.  


Faith in God is absolutely essential to sustaining a steady nature and a good spirit.  


If you believe in God, and you were saved through faith in His Son, you can have this same assurance that removes all doubts, about the outcome.


Believing in God leads to the knowledge that God is in control; He’s in control of our lives and everything that surrounds us.  


He is powerful.  


I don’t believe that we have any idea just how powerful He is.  


And think about it; He’s on our side, He’s for us and He’s always close.  


When we are in trouble, we can count on our God to help us.  


Even though He doesn’t always remove our troubles, He will always give us the grace to get through the trouble.  


God always has the final say in every situation.  


There’s a good example of that in the 3rd chapter of Daniel.  


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were young Hebrews who had been deported to Babylon, but they excelled their captors in intelligence and ability.  


Therefore, King Nebuchadnezzar promoted them to be “over the affairs of the province of Babylon.”  


That resulted in a jealousy among the Babylonians who were passed over, in favor of these three Hebrew children.  


When Nebuchadnezzar set up a huge image of himself, and then ordered everyone in his kingdom to bow before it, these three Hebrews refused.  


Their enemies were quick to inform the king, because he had declared that the penalty for refusing to worship his image was death; death by being tossed into a burning fiery furnace.  


Nebuchadnezzar ordered the three men brought to him, since he could not imagine that anyone would not obey his orders.  


When they were questioned by the king, he gave them the choice of life or death.  


They could continue as rulers over the province of Babylon, if they worshipped the image.  


But if they refused, they would be tossed into the burning fiery furnace that Nebuchadnezzar had prepared and he even had it heated seven times hotter than ever before.  


But listen to the reply of these three brave men.


17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 

18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”


You know the rest.  


They were cast into the furnace; but, they didn’t die, because even though King Nebuchadnezzar thought he was in control, God was the One who was really in control.  


Jesus went from heaven to earth and stood with these three men, and he walked with them through the furnace.  


When they came out, they were untouched by the fire, and their clothes didn’t even have the smell of smoke. 


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had a firm faith in God, and they came through the fire, because God was in control of the situation.


Therefore, our first anchor is, “Faith in God.”


The Second Anchor: He Had Faith in God’s Word. 


If God said it, Paul believed it; he was that confident that God would do what He said He would do.  


He told those onboard the ship, “So take courage!  For I believe God!  It will be just as He said.” (v.25).  


This was very encouraging to those who were on the ship.  


In fact, it was the only thing they had to hold on to.  


So what was it that God told Paul?  


It was this, “Do not be afraid, Paul—for you will surely stand trial before Caesar!  What’s more, God has granted your request and will save the lives of all those sailing with you” (v.24).


In other words, Paul will live at least long enough to make it to Rome to stand trial before Caesar.  


So, he knows that he will not die on this voyage.  


And the others would not die either, because, God was going save them too, for Paul’s sake.  


Paul believed God, because he believed that God means what He says.  


The situation around him wasn’t encouraging.  


The storm continued to rage, and it looked like the ship was going to sink or be driven upon the same rocks that had already claimed many other ships.  


But Paul’s faith was not limited to what he could see.  


God said, “Do not be afraid,” and Paul wasn’t.


But, what about you and what about me?  


Don’t we tend to give lip service to God’s word?  


Sometimes, when we have problems, we have difficulty believing that God is going to help us.  


We don’t believe God’s word, so we worry and try to solve the problems on our own, and we fail.  


But those who do believe God live stable Christian lives.


They’ll give the problem to God and wait patiently for His answer. 


Let’s be like Paul and believe God.  


Trust Him and know that every promise in His Word is true, and every thing He says will happen; it will happen just like He said it would.


Have faith in God’s Word!


Anchor No. 3: He Had a Firm Personal Relationship with God.


Paul had built a mature relationship with God.  


God communicated with him by visions and angels.  


On this occasion, we know that it was an angel, whom God sent that spoke to him, because we red, “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve” (v. 23).  


It was not just that Paul knew about God, but that he knew God.  


He even spoke directly to Jesus on the road to Damascus.  


We say today that a person has a head-knowledge of God, and that means that he knows about Him.  


Or, we say that a person has a heart-knowledge of God.  


That indicates that he loves God, and Jesus is his Lord.  


In Paul’s case, all the questions were settled in his life and mind.  


He loved and trusted God, and he served Him as well as he could.  


That’s what every child of God should do.  


In fact, it’s our duty to do so, since we were created for a purpose-to love and worship God.


This is one anchor that there is no substitute for.  


It’s not enough just to know about God.  


Even Satan can say he knows about God, but he can’t say this, “I love God; I trust Him and I want to serve Him.”  


Those who just know about Him are often frustrated, and they miss the pure joy that comes to all those who know God personally.  


Paul had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  


But like any relationship, his had to grow over time.


It doesn’t end when a person is saved by faith in Jesus.  


That’s just the beginning.  


We have to go on with Him by reading our Bibles, and by praying regularly to God with the proper attitude, and by serving the Lord by doing good works.  


Then, our relationship with the Lord will grow and mature.


Our love for Him, our knowledge of Him and our obedience should continue to grow, after we are saved.  


That’s what’s required for a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus.


Anchor No. 4: He Was Dedicated to His Faith in God.


Paul was totally committed to following God’s guidance.  


He didn’t have to understand what God was doing before he would follow Him.  


Instead, he accepted that God works in mysterious ways.  


That is apparent in what he said to the passengers and crew when they were preparing to abandon the ship.


We’re told…


30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, 

31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 

32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off. 


The crew was trying to abandon the ship, you see.  


They acted as if they were dropping anchor, but actually they were going overboard.  


It could have been a case of every man for himself.  


They were leaving a sinking ship: you could say, “They were like rats leaving a sinking ship.”  


But according to Paul, they were doing something they never should have done.


Paul tells the centurion that the only assurance of safety is for everyone to remain with the ship.  


Paul has put his faith in God.  


What a wonderful thing it is to trust the word of God.  


The angel of God had told Paul that he and the others would be saved.  


But they couldn’t be saved their way.  


They must be saved God’s way.  


God’s way was for them to stay with the ship.  


It was a matter of believing that God would save them or not believing and taking matters in their own hands.  


Paul had told them that he believed God.  


And he tells them that if they want to be saved, all of them will have to stay on the ship.


We must come to the place where we don’t have to have all the answers.  


We must be willing to do what we’re told in God’s word, without calculating what it’s going to cost us.  


In other words, we must trust God.  


This shifts the responsibility back to God.  


It’s His responsibility to see that we are equipped to do whatever task He has called us to do.  


But if we hold back, and we are not obedient to Him, then the responsibility will be ours.


Now, what’s the forth anchor?  


It is surrendering ourselves to God.  


Being totally committed to Him is a great anchor.


Conclusion:


Let me briefly give you the rest of the story.  


They had been fasting for fourteen days, and that would weaken even the hardiest men.  


The pagan unbelievers fasted because they were scared to death.  


Paul and the Christians may have fasted, because they were doing it unto the Lord.  


Now, they are near land, and they all need their strength to make it to shore.  


So, Paul tells them to eat, in order to get their strength back.   


Paul is using good common sense in this service for the Lord.  


Next, Paul gave thanks to God in plain sight of them all.  


This is a wonderful testimony by Paul.  


There were 276 people onboard this ship, so it was a large ship for that time.  


They had already thrown all the cargo overboard, and now they threw all their food overboard.  


Then they took up the four anchors, and allowed the wind to drive them to shore.  


But the ship never made it to shore, since it ran aground and began to break apart.  


The soldiers were immediately told to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them swimming to shore and escaping.  


But the centurion stopped them, because he wanted to save Paul.  


He commanded everyone that could swim to cast themselves into the sea and swim to shore.  


Those who couldn’t swim made it to shore on boards and broken pieces of the ship.  


Their making it to shore could be considered miraculous.  


However, God certainly fulfilled His promise that Paul and all 276 people on the ship would get to land safely.


God always keeps His promises, and you can take that to the bank.


So, let’s review: What are our four anchors?

1. FAITH IN GOD.

2. FAITH IN GOD’S WORD.

3. A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

4. TOTAL COMMITMENT TO OBEY GOD.


Although Paul started the voyage as a prisoner and passenger, he ended it as the captain of the ship. 


The ship was lost; but by the grace of God, Paul’s presence saved all the passengers. 


Can the Lord depend on you to sail by faith when you face the storms? 


He can, if you make use of the four anchors.


Can others depend on you?


They can, if you make use of the four anchors.


Amen.





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