Acts Devotionals

Exercising Real Faith

It is a known fact that the world does not trust God. How can they trust Him when they refuse to believe that He is! In the face of all worldly opposition, are you able to trust the God of the Bible? When things really get bad, are you able to trust God? As your life flashes past and the end seems to be so close, are you are to trust God? Maybe I ought to ask … Are you able to truly trust God in your heart when your world starts to fall apart? As you read the following passage and if you were on board the ship Paul was on, how would you have responded to the danger they were in?

1) Thinking is not surety. Sailing ships, even large ones are able to move reasonably fast in a slight breeze because of the huge sails. Here the pilot and owners determined that they had found what they wanted

Ac 27:13 When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete.

Hoisting the heavy anchor would have taken a good few crew members. As soon as this was done, they set sail going westward along the Cretan Coast line. The word “thought” could mean thinking, but it also means “be of the opinion” or “suppose”. It seems as though those making the decision about sailing onwards were of the opinion because they supposed the gentle south wind would serve their purpose. If we are children of God, we never suppose things … neither do we trust our opinions, especially when it comes to serious matters. As disciples of the Lord Jesus we trust His Word, the Bible. Now some might say that it does not provide specific answers to specific questions. I’ll disagree because contained in God’s Word are principles to be applied to every environment. Far too often Christians say something like this … “In my opinion, the Bible is saying ….” or … “In my opinion Jesus means …”. You need to know God’s Word and use it as facts. Don’t think, suppose or draw an opinion about what you feel it says.

2) No time to admit mistakes. As I have implied before, going out into the deep seas is not getting onto the Highway at 70 miles on hour. Have a blow out on the Highway and you can, with difficulty, bring the vehicle to a standstill. Spring a plank on a wooden trawler way out at sea and the chances are the ship will sink! When things go wrong at sea you cannot reflect backwards and say … “I should have done it this way instead of that way.” It’s not just too late, there are more urgent things to consider.

Ac 27:14 Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. 15 The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.

The Mediterranean Sea was notorious for its surprise storms and hurricanes. At the same time, it was so close to the “no sailing” season. Reading this verse is rather scary for any sailor or pilot. From a rather calm sea to a raging hurricane force wind. The closest I have been to a hurricane was a tornado sweeping through the town we lived in. On 20th March 1990, there was a Multi-Vortex Tornado (this is a tornado with smaller, but stronger tornadoes spinning inside and around the tornado with winds of 200 kilometer an hour). Although this Tornado did not find a path through our suburb, the hail (literally ice rocks) did cause substantial damage our car and caravan. Having such an experience helps me in a small way to understand something of what happened with this hurricane force wind in the Mediterranean Sea. They were in the thick of it. They could not think backwards. They needed to deal with the crisis at hand. Unable to steer the ship, they gave way to the storm and resorted to drifting. No sailor wants to be in this situation because it can only mean disaster. As Christians, we move forward when God tells us to … and He does this through His Word … by providing principles to be applied. When in a spiritual mess, there is no time to go backwards and recount your steps. You need to move forward … and thank God for His Word and His Spirit to help you.

3) Escalating violent storms. Consider the gravity of the following verses:

Ac 27:16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. 17 When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. 18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

Remember they are drifting … and pass the small Island of Cauda, just south of Crete and opposite Libya. To prevent losing the lifeboat, they hauled it on board. Fearing the rough seas they passed ropes under the ship to tie it together in the hope it would not fall apart. The sandbars of Syrtis seems to be on the African Coast. Afraid they would run into these, they cast the anchor overboard to slow the ship down, preventing disaster. Yet the hurricane force winds did not abate. To lighten the ship they first threw the cargo overboard. Then the ship’s maintenance and loading equipment. For days they could not see the sun during the day or the stars at night. Luke writes … we finally gave up all hope of being saved. That is what things seemed like. A wrong decision. Unable to turn back the clock. The most horrendous hurricane. Dumping all provisions and mechanical equipment. No hope in sight, they resigned themselves to being lost at sea. Maybe your life is all messed up. Maybe you can’t see any hope. No help at all and you feel your situation is unsolvable. It won’t help one saying … I’ve been there … but it will help saying … read on!

4) Paul, the man of faith speaking up. The pilot, owners, crew, centurion, soldiers and prisoner were hungry … then Paul addressed the pilot and owners

Ac 27:21 After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.

Firstly there is a rebuke … you should have taken my advice. Arrogance brought on disaster and loss. Then there was encouragement … I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost. This was followed by a grave reality … only the ship will be destroyed. For us, when we do not follow God’s Word and wander away from His protection into sin, there are consequences. The loss of the ship was costly to the owners … sometimes our sin could be costly … financially, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. 5) A Word from God about their crisis. We ought not to miss the extreme danger these people were in. The sea can be wonderful and exciting … but it can also be cruel and deadly! Into this scenario God sent a Word to Paul!

Ac 27:23 Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24 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.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

See how faithful God is to His Word? He had a mission for Paul and this mission would be accomplished. In the wake of saving Paul’s life, everyone on board would be saved. See the confidence Paul had in His God? I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Exactly as God says things will happen, it will. You have to believe this. If you don’t, you are ruined!

Father, thank You for giving us the Book of Acts where You demonstrate how we need to exercise real faith in You as we negotiate the hardships of life holding tightly onto You through the Bible and Faith. Amen.

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