Take Heart, For I Believe in God

Take Heart, For I Believe God

Acts 27:1-25

Tonight’s sermon originally had a different beginning. But much like in the story that you’ll hear tonight, circumstances have changed. That’s what they do, right? Things can go from good to bad in a heart beat and from bad to worse, from cautious to drastic and believe it or not even from horrible to great in a moment. Such is life. But our God is a Rock! and his word never wavers.

the governor’s state-wide, mandatory quarantine is going into effect as you watch this. Friends, That doesn’t change God’s word in the slightest and it doesn’t change tonight’s sermon. This passage, Acts 27:1-25 was chosen long ago . Before anyone around here was worried about the coronavirus and before businesses were closing their doors and people started storming costco, God spoke this word and put it in your leaders’ heart to preach on it this very night.

Although what Paul and hs companions went through on their frightful voyage was a hundred times worse, than what we’re facing, the parallel are eerie. So as you listen to the story, be impressed and be encouraged and feel blessed that your Heavenly father would send you such a timely and powerful word, in your time of need,

As the psalmist sings,  (Psalm 46:1,2) God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…

(read passage)

So you have Paul and his companions entering a ship and being put under the charge of Julius, a Roman officer who treats Paul kindly.

But before long, things start to take a turn for the worse. The weather turns. Sailing becomes rough. They have to take precautions and abandon the open sea in favor of the slower but safer coastal routs. In verse 6  they switch  to a great big wheat ship sailing from Egypt to Italy but the winds relentlessly blow against them and their progress is very slow and difilcult. After many days, they finally reach a half-decent harbor where they can take a break. Their break turns into a long stay because the weather is just too bad to sail. Things aren’t looking very good. They’re on a journey. They got a plan. They’re going somewhere. But it’s not working out. A storms arises on the sea, the winds are howling in their face. They just can’t make progress.

in verse 9 it says the sailing was now dangerous. It’s the time of year when sailing stops for the winter. it’s no longer safe to be on the water.

At this point in the story the guys in charge hold a meeting to decide what to do. Paul speaks up and advises them to winter where they’re at and not risk going any further. He says guys, if we set sail now, it’s not going to be pretty. We’re going to lose the cargo and ship and probably our lives as well.  

Now, it’s quite out of the ordinary to have a prisoner advising his guards what to do on their travel plans. Naturally, they don’t listen to him. The word of the captain, the word of the owner and the word of the  Centurion outweighs Paul’s warning. Its written that the majority advised to set sail.

The majority. the majority is not always right. The majority is against Christ. This is something every Christian must be aware of. Constantly, the world is contrary to the mind of Jesus. His followers aren’t taken seriously. the world does not highly regard their opinion. This idea that the majority is always right and that just because it’s the law means that it must be just, is absurd. The majority can be fickle and wrong and downright dangerous. Don’t look for safety or affirmation in “the majority”. 

Regardless of the views of the majority, truth needs to be heard and truth lovers need to stand and speak it. You are called To Be A Witness of Christ, to give God-honoring warnings to your neighbors, to your co-workers, and family. Every Christian is called to be a light on a hill. it matters not how they will treat you for it. The church is to be a faithful witness to God’s glory, and not to be concerned about its own welfare or being respected by the world. The majority will often be against you if you are in Christ.

Now, verse 13. The south wind blows Softly. This is taken as a good sign.

Everything seems right for their plans to make sail and try to reach a better harbor further on to winter in. And so they head off into danger with a false sense of security. Everything seems right. It feels good. But oh, how quickly circumstances can change!

Verse 14. All the sudden the fair south winds vanish. The skies darken and the wind begins to swirl and bite. the ship is tossed about like a little bottle on the waves. it’s impossible to keep going. They loose control of the ship and let it drive. These are typhoon force winds swirling about. Earlier in the day, everything looked right. Now, before the day is through, these men are reduced to trembling fear. They’re just being driven along by the raging waves. They’re completely at the mercy of God. Will they live to see the morning? no-one knows.

In verses 16 and 17 you see that the situation is so bad that the mindset shifts towards just saving their life. Just surviving. All goals and aspirations are out the window. Any certain destination is abandoned. At this  point they’ll be happy just to survive and make it to land… any land.

You will find yourselves in Crisis situations that are out of your control.

Now, it’s true that people have a strong tendency to get themselves into trouble, into sticky situations, and into despairing struggles through their own bad choices. Sometimes however, the sky will turn black and the lighting will strike and the winds will blow you off course through no fault of your own. Maybe it’s some worldwide virus that strikes and you loose your health and your husband gets laid-off.  Someone may have falsely accused you and you find yourself in court or behind bars. How many people in this day and age have their whole world come tumbling down on them when they come home from work to find their spouse has betrayed them.

Catastrophe strikes! you might be on your way to church with your family in the car and you get T-boned at an intersection. In a moment, in a fraction of a moment crisis can strike. The gentle south winds were blowing and all was well with the world and now, you’re facing the storm and you’re just hanging on for dear life. you don’t know if you’re going to make it or not. you don’t know if you’re going to drown or not. is this whole ship going under and taking you with it or not. You wonder, Will I ever smile again? will i ever love again?

Such is life. Many of you know the feeling. and if you don’t, you will at some point. You are not strangers to calamity. This is a situation common to all mankind. Fear, doubt, confusion, panic… darkness. 

The ship is shaking and creaking and flexing and about to bust into pieces. They manage somehow to bind the ship together with huge ropes by literally passing them from one side to the other, underneath the vessel and sinching it together.

imagine for a moment that you’re on a flight over the rockies and the plane begins to shake and rattle and you see the wings just bouncing up and down about to snap off. People begin to panic and scream. The oxygen masks deploy. The pilot comes over the loud speaker and tells to to fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a crash landing. Getting to your destination is the last thing on your mind.  those around you are terrified. That’s something of the situation going on here, except this agony is prolonged. They spend the whole night being tossed about on the brink of death.

This isn’t just a momentary thing. this is the kind of fear and suspense that at any moment you could die and it just drags on and on and on and you’re constantly on the brink, never knowing if this moment might be your last.  they do everything they can to keep the ship from capsizing, they throw overboard all the gear and furniture and cargo. The only things left are what is absolutely needed for survival. They spend many days in this adrenaline fueled suspense and fear. They’re drenched, they’re cold, they’re shivering. they’re scared. they’re weak. Niether Sun nor stars are seen for many days.

Darkness, uncertainty, desperation.

Luke poignantly sums up the situation with these words, “all hope that we would be saved was lost.”

Then comes verse 21, the beginning of Paul’s address to the men abroad the ship. By this time, many days have gone by. It must have felt like an eternity. What strength could possibly be left, they hadn’t eaten, they probably hadn’t slept, or even hoped of ever seeing land again for days.

… This is the moment of destiny. In this moment a man of faith arises.

In the darkness he speaks forth words of life.  

“Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. ” (Acts 27:21-25 NKJV)

He isn’t bashful, but bold and confident. He doesn’t dare offer them some false hope, or tell them that he has a great plan and has everything under control. No. He comes to them and offers them the one thing that can sustain life… a word from God.

I urge you to take heart … to be of good cheer, to have high spirits and good moral…. take heart! For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.

Why is it that you should take heart? because you’re strong? Because you’re young and healthy? because you know the way? because of some vague belief that everything is going to be ok? because bad things don’t happen good people? No.

Take Heart because the God, to whom I belong, and whom I serve, He has spoken! and it will be just as he has said.  If He said that I will stand before Caesar, neither storm nor fire nor sword, nor death could possibly keep me from making it to Rome and standing before Caeser. If God said it, it will come to pass. It matters absolutely not what storm, what beast, what famine, what disease what calamity may stand in your way and roar and threaten to devour you. The word of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth has gone forth. It is easier for the mountains to tumble in to the sea and for the oceans to dry up than it is for the word of God to fail. If God has said that he has granted me all your lives, you will be saved. So take heart, smile, rejoice, be cheerful. The LORD has spoken in your favor!

now go and make it happen. gather your spirits, and your strength to brace the storm and do what needs to be done.

I believe God!

Church this is what a hopeless and frightened world is literally dying to hear from you! will you stand and offer them life? Will you change their destiny? Stand and proclaim and show that You believe God, that it will be just as he has spoken.

Indeed all hope was lost… they were all dead men. But then God sent word. He didn’t calm the storm and then calm their hearts. No, first he visits them in their trouble and speaks to them to calm their troubled hearts. Why? Because its the word of God that brings peace, not your circumstances.

Did you hear that? its the word of God that brings peace, not your circumstances. Can you trust his word before it comes to pass, knowing that He is faithful?

Your God is a Firm Foundation. Each of his words will stand forever. they are more secure than the secret safes of fort knox. purer than gold. sweeter than honey. Stronger than death. Heaven and Earth were created by the word of his mouth. The seas and fields were filled with creatures of all kinds by the power of his lips. He commands the wind and the waves. Those stars and that son that you haven’t seen these last two weeks, He is their Creator and Commander. He holds your life in his hands. It is his wind in your face, His waves tossing your ship, and It is his air in your lungs, His water in your cup. If he says it, it will be and he has said that I will see Caesar and that he has granted your lives. Therefore take heart! I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.

Now imagine for a moment that you’re an all-powerful father, having the wisdom to make correct decisions and having complete knowledge, seeing the end from the beginning and being ever present, and having perfect and pure love… how safe would your children be? What would they have to be afraid of? How confident would they be in the face of life’s calamities? In the midst of any outbreak, in the bottom of any sinking ship, in the ICU of any Hospital, in the office of any failing business, how confident and cheerful would the children of such an amazing father be? Knowing that their all… their very life, their health, their happiness, their Everlasting future, their dreams rest secure in his ever-loving and mighty hands.

When has God’s word ever fallen? When has it ever mislead or let down? Is not your God, The God who said in the darkness, “let there be light” and there was light.?

Is not your God, The God Who told Noah to build a giant ark? How strange did that sound? What a crazy thing to do, but sure enough the Lord knew what he was talking about. Noah was faithful and when the floods came God took care of him and his family and brought them through, saving their souls and prospering them.

Is not your God, the God who said to Abraham I’ll make you a great name, a great father, a great nation? Wasn’t Abraham an old man who had an old wife and no children? But God told Abraham to look to the heavens, to see the stars, to count them if he could and to know that his descendants would be just as uncountable. And you know what? here you are today, children of Abraham, descendants of his faith, innumerable and glorious, part of God’s Everlasting Church!

It was your God, was it not, who sent his word to Moses and told him (Exodus 3:7,8) “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey”

and did he not bring them out of egypt with a mighty hand? yes he did! Even when the people were pursed by Pharaoh as they left and faced a slaughter, did God not send his messenger Moses to say to them, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

And was it not so? oh how he delivered his children! That very hour God did The Impossible for his children! He parted the sea and ushered them through to safety on dry land. And just as they crossed over God sent the sea crashing back down onto of their enemies. Time and time again he reassures them saying, be strong, be courageous I am with you.

(pause)

You see, the reason given for being cheerful and in good spirits is not some vague idea of, “oh well, God is good” or God is kind or God is just. or He’s got everything under control.

The reason given is that God said something. It can be believed in and relied on

Why? because it is God who spoke and his word has never failed. The reason is not, “The preacher said…”  or “I heard somebody on the radio say… but because His word is true. it is sure and YOU can be sure of it, It is unshakable and YOU can build an unshakable life upon it.  There is no uncertainty in God. He is altogether reliable, All together trustworthy, all together dependable!

so if he says you will make it out alive you will make it out alive and that’s great news! That’s the best…  and the only reason to have cheer, to stop panicking and start living.

This is all based on a concrete word from God. From a holy God who is not like weak, flaky, sinful, lying men.  He does not, cannot lie. he hates lies. He loves the truth. His word is an expression of his very being, it is firm, solid, mighty. Cast your life upon the Word of God in every circumstance no matter how bright and hopeful, no matter how black and hopeless it may look. When you stand on the word of God, it is impossible that you will be put to shame.

So, Take heart! Be of good cheer! For I believe God… that it will be just as I was told.

Do you live in such a way that you need to explain to people, saying … “because I believe God when he says…”?

Is this something you ever preach to yourself?  … Be of good cheer! For I believe God… that it will be just as I was told.

Is this something you ever say to your spouse? … to your neighbors? … to your colleagues? … to your children? When they have nightmares and come to you scared, do you tell them for the hundredth time that there is no monster in the the closet? Or do you say, Take heart little one, for we belong to God and He promised to never leave us or forsake us. I believe Him that it will be just as he said, that he will fight for you! He says, I leave you my peace.

They need to hear you say this. They need to see your peace, your courage and your cheer in the midst of strange and turbulent times. People are desperate. Many are hopeless. Many more hold on to false hopes.  They’re barely hanging on. They don’t know what tomorrow will bring, whether it will be the end of them or not. they are suffering silently. they need someone to stand in their midst and inspire them to be of good cheer, not with cute sayings and cliches but by saying, I believe in God, the God who created me and owns me and whom I love to serve.

People all around you desperately need to be visited by an angel, a messenger from God, a servant of God that comes to them in the night and proclaims to them the life-giving word of God. Oh, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Will that be you?

Oh What A Difference just one man of Faith, one woman of faith, one child of faith can have!

What a mighty affect one person can have, one person who knows that they belong to God, that their life, their all, is in his hands. Such an ambassador of God has the power to change, to influence, to direct, the eternal destiny of his fellow man.

Brothers and sisters, choose this day to stand in Christ, in the midst of life’s storms, in the darkness and be a light by saying, “I belong to God. I am his servant. I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” and then act it out.

But to do that, you need to know and cherish what God has spoken to you. What is it that He has said, that you believe in, that dictates your ideas and emotions and habits? … that gives you power and a desire to live a holy life?

Does He not say concerning those who believe… ? (Isaiah 41) I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Has He not declared….?  (Isaiah 54) For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”

Was it not He who said, … ? (John 8:12) “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Does Jesus not command you, saying, …. ? (John 14) “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  … I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Does He not give his word, saying, ?… (John 14:18,19) “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 

Was it not the Lord, Almighty who spoke and said ?… (John 11:25,26) “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

Some of you are so weary and downtrodden, have you forgotten, do you not know that, (John 8:36) “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  PRAISE GOD! how sweet and precious are his promises.

Have you not heard him say to you?… (Matthew 11:28) “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (repeat?)

Surely, (Isaiah 40) they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength

Are you concerned about corrupt, godless, oppressive government authorities? Do you not know that the word of God says The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. (Proverbs 21:1)

Are you concerned about your health, or your aging parents or growing medical bills that you have no idea how you’re going to pay them off? Am I going to have enough money to pay the rent this month? Am I going to get the virus?, is there going to be food at the store? Am i going to be a burden to my loved ones in the end? … these are questions of the age. but beloved, what does your brave young savior have to say to you? (Matthew 6) “do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. … which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Has your household been thrown into confusion through this quarantine? Are your kids home from school and you’re scrambling for childcare? Are you beginning to homeschool and feeling inadequate and stressed and overwhelmed? Turn to the Word of God. It never fails. He speaks to you to lift you up and give you instruction. Children, God commands you saying, obey your parents.

Parents, he says do not provoke your children to anger so that they’ll be discourage

His wisdom says raise up your children in the way that they should go and they will follow it. He commands you to instruct your children, then he promises that he will be with you. Church, to you He says, Bear one another’s burdens

Cast yourself unto God, listen to his words. Be comforted and built up by them. There is no fear that will overtake a child of God who is Standing on the Promises of God.

Oh Church! throw yourself upon the precious promises! Attach yourself to them, plug into them and juice up! fuel up! stand up! The scriptures declare that God, (2 Peter 1:4) he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

He gives them to you for a reason, so you can arm yourself with them and be victorious.

God has spoken to you. Is that the reason for your actions? because God said…?

Does that thought spur you on to do something? to live in a certain way?

What evil deeds don’t you do because you believe the word of God?

Does it keep you from worry, from Panic, from sin? (Romans 6) God said, the wages of sin is death. do you believe that, and steer clear of sin, like run away from it as if it would actually kill you? Some of you are scared of the virus. What you need to be scared of is Sin! … and the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

At the sound of His voice, the winds and the waves stood still. On His command, the fishermen threw in their nets and drew up a bounty too big for their boat to handle. By His word the demons fled, the sick were healed the blind received sight. And to you he says (James 4:7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

Oh brothers and sisters … be encouraged

Listen to the Lord and find peace and great strength in His words. Gold and silver, stocks and bonds, insurance and sidearms can not bring you life or keep you safe.  But the word of God, if you cling to Him, he will bring you safely and soundly and happily home to your great God to your loving savior to your beautiful and strong and courageous Jesus, who said (John 16:33) “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

invitation to accept Jesus

prayer,

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