Sermon: Trusting God in Times of Danger Acts 27

Trusting God in Times of Danger

Acts 27

Introduction

To the Romans, Rome was considered the center of the world. However, for the Jews, and for the spread of Christianity, Rome was the end of the earth. Here, Luke writes this narrative as an eyewitness making sure the reader gets the meaning. When we read this we should understand that the Gospel is being taken to a very far away place wrought with many difficulties. Through human effort, the Gospel would never make it this far but it is not through human effort. The Good News is traveling the sea and God is carrying it along at every juncture.
Acts 1:8 (ESV)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Also, by way of introduction we begin reading again what theologians call the “we” sections, indicating that Luke himself was one of Paul’s companions. He experienced this fantastic voyage at sea. He heard the wind, waves, and wisdom from Paul as they struggled for their very lives.

TT- Trust in the Word of God because He always keeps His promises.
Human need met by text

Why is it do you think that Christians suffer? You might answer that sin is a reason we suffer. God sends trials as a result of our sin by way of discipline. If answered that way you would be right…sometimes. Why do you think Paul was made to endure this amazing struggle after already being imprisoned for two years for doing nothing wrong?
We can see why God would send a storm in the Book of Jonah. We get that one. Jonah was disobedient and was running away. God brought the storm and the fish to bring him back.

map 9.7.14

In another story, we can see why God would send a storm when Jesus was on the boat because nothing was too great for Him to handle. All Jesus had to do was to shout back at the waves and wind and they stopped their raging.
Here, Paul is obeying God. Jesus said that he would go to Rome and Paul is headed to Rome. Jesus said he would be His witness and Paul is witnessing every step of the way. So why then is he having such a difficult time?

Have you ever found yourself struggling with something and wonder why? This passage meets us today in the realm of difficulty. Why is it we sometimes struggle when we are doing what God wants?

This passage has been preached many ways, some look at it and trace out every step where the ship went. We will do a little of that. However the point of the text has to do with struggling, trusting, and obeying. That is how we are to address these verses today. What a person says and does when they are in a dangerous and stressful situation shows who they really are. The Apostle Paul was a man of God and when they were almost drowned; he shines forth as the great leader he was.

Please here God’s Word for GCC today…

  1. The Warning
    10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.”


1 And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius.
2 And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica.
3 The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for.
4 And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us.
5 And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia.
6 There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board.
7 We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone.
8 Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.
9 Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,
10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.”
We remember last week when in Acts 26, King Agrippa said to Festus that Paul would have been released if he had not made his appeal to Caesar. The reason Paul determined to make his appeal to Caesar was to fulfill God’s will that he would go to Rome with the Gospel message. In that section, Paul tells everyone that he’s not afraid to die. So, the appeal is not a last ditch effort to save his own neck. Rather, his compassion for the lost coupled with his Lord’s command is stronger than the hurricane force wind driving the ship.

While Paul was no sailor, he had ample knowledge of sailing and navigation to realize the time for making such a trip has past.
Traveling west using the winds was done certain times of the year. It was considered a bad Idea beginning in the middle of September and the later it was, became impossible. There were massive storms that would spring up plus the normal winds were not that great to start with later in the year.

The first verse introduces us to a Centurion Commander named Julius. There is something different about this soldier. So far, Paul has not received very good treatment from those in charge. He’s been falsely accused, tried, and kept in prison for two years. He’s been treated, as a slave that could be summoned at will by Felix, Festus, and Agrippa. Now, it seems the tide is turning. Julius is different and it seems as if he knows Paul. Under normal circumstances, no Commander in the Roman army would treat a criminal so well. He treats Paul kindly.

3 The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for.
Not only did he treat Paul well but he trusted Paul. Notice what this verse tells us…He let Paul go for a time so that the church in Sidon could care for him. This is the Greek word that indicates sickness. Paul was not well. He’s getting older now and two years in a Roman prison would have taken its toll on the Apostle. So he is temporarily released to be cared for by those who loved him.

Julius is taking a risk because if Paul takes off and he looses him then, as was the tradition in the Roman army, the one in charge of the lost prisoner would suffer the prisoner’s sentence. Why did Julius do this? Actually, we’re not told so we must be careful to jump to conclusions that may not be true but suffice it to say, something is different about this man. Perhaps God is moving in his heart or perhaps he is one of the Roman soldiers who has heard the Gospel and has believed?
Luke’s writing here is meant to convey the difficulty the ship is having under normal conditions…
we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us.
7 We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus

we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 8 Coasting along it with difficulty,

9 Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over

This referred to the Day of Atonement, which was in October. So sailing this time of
year was dangerous.

11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.
12 And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.
13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore.
14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land.
15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along.
16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat.
17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along.
18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo.
19 And 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 no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

This was no normal storm. The language being used here indicates that the ship was up against a typhoon and given the type of ship being a single mast cargo ship, it was no match for such a massive and severe storm. Notice how Luke reports that they could not see the sun during the day or the moon at night. They had no way to navigate and really couldn’t even if they could see the sun, moon, and stars. They were totally helpless, blind, and hopeless.
Something else is going on here on the ship. Another strange occurrence, the prisoner is slowly gaining credibility and will soon be the commander of the ship. There is something about a good leader that happens when there is a difficult trial, they lead. When a trial comes good leaders rise to the top, they don’t shrink back but stand firm and lead out of danger and trouble. Paul has already told them that the trip was a bad idea. Now he’s going to tell them something else…
2. The Encouragement
21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.
22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.
23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,
24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.
26 But we must run aground on some island.”
27 When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land.
28 So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms. A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms.
29 And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.
30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow,
Notice that by now, Paul is the captain of this vessel. His warning that had fell on deaf ears has come true. Now, the Apostle has heard a Word from God…
23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,
24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.
26 But we must run aground on some island.”
Paul has such a strong faith that regardless what things look like he believes God more than even his own eyes. He perceives that they are all still in danger. His senses say “you are all going to die in this massive typhoon” but God said you must go to Rome. There is potential here for a struggle in faith. Almost like when God told Abraham that through him He will make a great nation and then later He told him to sacrifice his son, his only son. Sometimes we must look to the truthfulness and veracity of God and let go of our reasoning and perception. If God says, Paul will go to Rome to preach the Gospel Paul is going to Rome to preach! I pray we have this same sort of faith that believes what God says as we find it in the Bible. He was living by faith and not by sight and so must we.
3. This Ship is the Safe Harbor
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 ship’s boat and let it go.
33 As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing.
34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”

The Apostle tells everyone that they will not die in the storm but that everything will be lost…including the ship.
God told Paul that he was going to Rome to preach and that everyone who was the ship would also be saved. This is an important covenant principle. That even lost people receive some level of blessing from God because of their association with Christians. Everyone on that ship would live because they were on the same boat as Paul and God wasn’t through with Paul yet.
We see here another important application and that is God is sovereignly taking Paul to Rome he will get there. However, there is still much to do. God works in cooperation with humanity. They still had much to do. Paul’s point is you should get something to eat because you are going to need you strength. The worst was still to come.
God works through His people. Our efforts are not in vain. Paul was weary but he knew God’s will would come to pass. He also knew that they had all better eat to stay strong because they had much to do.
Your efforts in evangelism, in godly living, and in Christ-like maturity are not in vain. Cooperate with God and believe God and in time you will see fruit for your labor.
4. Giving Thanks in All Situations
35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.
36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves.
37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.)
38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.

39 Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore.
40 So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach.
41 But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf.
42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape.
43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land,
44 and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.
I find it remarkable that Paul has now become the leader. He is commanding the ship. He tells everyone to take some food so they will be strengthened. He tells them that everyone will live because that’s what the messenger of God told him. In the middle of the hurricane they give thanks to God for their food.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Paul trusted God and could thank God for their safe harbor while still in the midst of the storm.
Beloved, have you ever thanked God ahead of time? Have you ever from the eye of the storm thanked God for bringing you home safely? Giving thanks in all situations from a sincere heart looking to Christ is the mark of maturity as a Christian.
Remember what God said to Paul?
24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.
26 But we must run aground on some island.”
God’s promises always come true…

43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land,
44 and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.
“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.
He plants His footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs, and works His sovereign will.”

Are you trusting in God’s promises? Do you trust God even when things seem not to be lining up with what God promised? Can you give thanks even while in the midst of a trial?

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