But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf. (ACTS 27:41) *(Also read ACTS Chapters 27 & 28 to get the whole context)
Like the above ship, you may have hit a ‘sandbar’ and ran aground as you swam through the spiritual or physical seas of life. It could be that, that which you depended upon to slice a way through the waves is stuck fast and no matter how hard you try to get it unstuck, it would not budge. And if you could, the damage is done and the journey seems to have come to a sudden stop. For all intents and purposes, unless a miracle happens, you are ‘dead’ in the water… Well I have some news for you this month… Good news, there is still hope of reaching the final destination… A L I V E ! Did I hear you say how? Jesus is Lord of all including storms and He says the plans He has for you are not for harm but plans to prosper you and to give you hope and a future. I submit to you right now that there is a future despite the dire situation you are in! I am sure of this because God is not a liar and His other name is FAITHFUL. Now read on and see how…
Acts 27 details the journey of prisoner Paul (mark you he was already a prisoner!) from the moment he sets sail towards the court of Caesar for an appeal hearing against the false charges leveled against him by the Jews of Jerusalem. The journey is fraught with trouble from the word go. It may well be that your case is even worse than that of Paul and you keep sinking from one pit to another. Listen! Paul reached his destination and the same Lord who saved Paul is here today to lead you through the storms and trials to a safe landing. Believe HIS Word! Peter did and walked on water.
THE JOURNEY OF FAITH.
Many things always oppose the walk of faith. Paul and his fellow passengers got caught in the wrong place of shelter and where in a hurry to leave (Acts 27:4). Paul who was possibly the only man of faith in the ship counseled his escort against leaving Fair Havens. I like this name, Fair. The place you are at now may not be the ideal or best, but it is better than the unknown! The Centurion listened to the Pilot instead of Paul; I can’t blame him. Who in his right mind would listen to a prisoner on matters relating to sailing rough seas when a fully qualified shipmaster is on board? Definitely not the soldier! Whose profession emphasizes evidence, so when a gentle wind picks up they hasten out to sea only to be hit by a hurricane!
Be careful when less than acceptable things come along! It could be a setup for disaster. Listen to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit who shows us the way in every situation! I quite like the story of Gideon (in Judges chapter 6) where he tested God by asking Him for a sign when he was called to save his people from the oppressive Midianites. Gideon never rushed to battle at the first sign of confirmation from God! He asked Him for another sign and another until he was convinced beyond doubt that He had been called and had the backing of God. Hezekiah too asked God for a sign (2Kings 20:8-11), what boldness! Thomas had to see the nail prints and touch Jesus’ wound on the side before he could shift from his unbelief. Have you heard the adage, some things have to be seen to be believed? Well, let us not be too super spiritual and heaven bound until we forget that we still have our feet firmly here on planet earth! Paul was tuned to heaven alright, yet he had the presence of mind to warn the Centurion of the need to have the experienced sailors remain on board the sinking ship, if they were all to be saved. Have you noticed he never called for angelic salvation? Why not, I mean after all he was an apostle of Christ… Some situations call for active faith. So act, don’t just sit or stand there! Manna stopped falling from the sky during Moses’ and Israelites time in the wilderness! When we accept salvation and follow Christ, our prayers – or should I say complaints – are answered quickly. This however reaches a point where silence is the only good answer. I pity you if you are the impatient type!
Let me ask this; when life’s storms strike, are you well anchored? Or whom do you depend on for stability when shaking come calling? An anchor is a vital tool to a ship; it is lowered to the bottom of the sea when a storm strikes so that the ship does not drift. Jesus is the Christians anchor in the sea of life. He is an anchor that keeps us still as the waves of life toss us about. Unfortunately when serious storms strike, people cast off their anchor and shed off any useful baggage! Paul’s shipmates threw overboard the ships cargo and the tackle with their own hands! Some examples; a girl gets pregnant after a liaison with a boyfriend and they soon realize they were not ready for parent-hood and they decide to abort! Someone has a court case and it threatens to land him in prison or cost him his job, he bribes the authorities to get himself free. I call this casting off the anchor of Christian stability. May God have mercy upon us for some of our actions; past, present and future!
The journey of Paul and company seemed to have come to a dead end and the 276 passengers had all given up hope (perhaps except Paul). They had long stopped eating. Imagine if in the middle of danger, someone is busy having lunch. Thank God, it only happens in Western movies! In the middle of this gloom a message of hope arrives, Paul the man they could not listen to earlier opens his mouth and offers them hope with a divine message of rescue. Everyone pays attention including the soldiers and the qualified shipmaster. Sometimes God allows us to reach our end before He can make HIS first move. And sometimes He uses the least qualified, even babies, to bring a message of encouragement to the desperate. But do we ever listen to them? You can be the hope, the only hope of those perishing around you! Say something to them that shall brighten them.
THE BROKEN PIECES
When a ship breaks up; pieces float all over the sea. You may be at this stage in life now as you read this article. Your life is in shambles and you imagine no one can marry a single mother like you. You are having a baby and your man has forsaken you. Or you believe that your character has been so damaged by that much publicized court case that no employer in his right mind would touch your CV. Some even believe they are way past their sale by date! Too bad if that is what you have been thinking, but not anymore! Just as Paul and his fellow passengers who could not swim ashore used planks and the broken pieces of the wrecked ship to float ashore, you too can stay afloat long enough to reach the place of stability. Hang in there but do not commit suicide! Help is on the way!!! They all reached land and so will you arrive at your safe harbor in Jesus name!
AFTER THE STORM.
Apostle Paul’s life is a study of trial and adversity right from his moment of salvation until the very end. His was a stormy kind of life. His final words of…I have finished the race, I have kept the faith… indicate a life full of challenges. And like any race he expected to receive a prize! He spoke those words indicating fulfillment of his ministry on earth and he was ready to die. You may be twenty and in the thick of trouble, your life has just begun. Beware of calm that soon comes. Someone said prepare for the best while expecting the worst. Good advice.
THE CALM AFTER A STORM
After a storm, there is always a calm that can be so deceptive. Acts 28 details a warm reception for Paul and his fellow sailors. But the devil, that old serpent was not through yet with Paul and slithers out of hiding to finish what the stormy seas failed to accomplish. A viper one of the deadliest snakes hangs itself on Paul’s’ hand! Now I know this is debatable, but I know of no viper that does not strike at the first sign of disturbance. Those who handle snakes say that it is deadlier even than a cobra! And it has two pairs of fangs! So I believe the venomous snake did bite Paul! He stood on his Anchor; Jesus Christ according to the Word (Luke 10:19), that says we have power to tread or trample upon serpents. He did not even stop to ‘bind and loose’; he shook it into the fire. Exactly where real devils are headed for! Trouble does not cease to follow us even after reaching safety. You can still get tempted to fornicate or commit adultery. You can still be tempted to be corrupt at your place of work… Hey listen do not entertain the evil desires, shake the devil off your life into the fire. Paul did not entertain the viper, why should you?
YOU HAVE A DESTINY.
Remember that Paul was not any more special than you or me in terms of flesh. He affirms elsewhere that he had a thorn in his side that kept reminding him that he was no holier than the other members of humanity. Forget the thorns and let them help us instead of us continually crying out for relieve. Jesus knows they are there and for a purpose. Paul reached his destiny, Rome, and boldly without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. And like Paul God has a job for us too. Never leave until another vessel arrives to transport you to your destiny. Yea, that job could be a real drag, but wait while searching for another. Jesus said occupy till I come! I take this to mean till I visit you with a better one…
After 3 months in the island… ministering… not just idling around; Paul and company got another ship (Acts 28:11). Notice how Paul is not bothered that it has idol gods called Castor and Pollux! Somebody needs to be delivered from the fear of idols… may be you are working or have worked for a company that the bosses do weird rituals with the money before paying staff. Let it never bother you; take your salary after all you have rightfully earned it! Pay your tithe and offerings and let God do the rest. You are covered by the comprehensive insurance of the Blood of Jesus and no god, idol or demon can dare touch your wages after giving God the first fruits of your labor, the balance is thus holy!
It is your time to leave Fair Havens and launch out. The ship to your destiny is coming, if not already there! It may not be smooth sailing all the way, but you will reach your destiny!
Read the Psalm below and let it be your SOS call as you sail into your destiny!!
“Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the LORD, his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” (Psalms 107:23-30)
Even in your case, I say to you… it shall be CALM. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning!
PRAYER: May the Lord, who saved Paul out of the sea and the snake, help you in your hour of need. Let His angels be your protectors and bring you messages of hope and grace. May God bless you abundantly. Receive miracles and blessings in your life and as you receive share with others. Fear and worry be banished from your presence in Jesus Name. Be healed and be delivered from every calamity. I command every storm ragging against you to be cease and let the peace and calm of Jesus Christ be real to you. No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper and every tongue raised against you in judgement you shall condemn. Posses the gates of your enemies. Take back every stolen heritage and receive the desire of your heart. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN.