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June 15, 2018
PASTORS BE ENCOURAGED CONFERENCE 2018 (PBEC)
July 2, 2018

SURVIVING THE STORMS OF LIFE

SURVIVING THE STORMS OF LIFE- LESSONS FROM ACTS 27

But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “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. However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

Acts 27:21-26 NKJV

One of the dangers we face as we read our bibles is that we do not often relate with the humanity of the characters in the bible, sometimes we see them as fictitious people isolated from the issues we face in our daily lives. It will help us immeasurably to remind ourselves that the bible characters were people just like us, with real problems or challenges and that they can show us how we also can ride through the various storms that living on this planet will bring.

Your ‘storm’ could be a life threatening sickness, a financial meltdown, a marriage that is breaking down, or a child that is hung up on drugs. Make no mistake about it, we will face storms, small ones and some not so small, they may be stuff peculiar to you or like in the case of the Apostle, you just happen to be caught up in something bigger than you. How you respond and who you are connected to is critical to your survival.

In our passage above the apostle Paul was on his way to Rome where he was to stand before Caesar Augustus, the ship he was travelling with ran into a storm, a very, very terrible storm and was in danger of sinking at sea, everybody was running scared but the apostle knew to draw upon the resources available to him, he went to praying and seeking God.

SURVIVAL TIP NO 1- KNOW GOD

Have a relationship with God, not a wishy washy Sunday Sunday relationship, but a vital ongoing relationship through Jesus Christ. This was the pillar of the Apostle, listen to him declare ‘I belong to God and I serve God’ God is committed to His own, the Psalmist declared ‘though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, your rod and your staff comfort me’ Ps. 23: 4  If you don’t have one, now is the best time to get it. God’s doors are always open to receive all who come to him through Jesus Christ.

God did not design us to live life outside a relationship with Him, he wants us to know him and to know him intimately.

SURVIVAL TIP NO 2- LIVE WITH PURPOSE

Be committed to God’s vision for your life, Paul did not only belong to God, he was serving God’s purpose through Jesus for His life. This was his passion and purpose, vision & ,urpose preserves! Our commitment to the purpose of Jesus for our lives commits him to ours. The Lord needed Paul in Rome, this was part of Paul’s life purpose.

Many people wander through life wondering what life is all about, don’t be like that! You were born for a purpose, the thing is that we can’t discover that purpose without him. Some people create a purpose for themselves; they call it their vision or purpose, again you can do better than that, draw close to him and ask him to lead you into His purpose for your life.

SURVIVAL TIP NO 3- PRAY

Pray! When everybody panicked and it looked like all hope was lost, the Apostle did not join the moaners & groaners, he went to God, obviously he was not unaffected by the crises but he knew the one who calms all storms. Don’t panic, pray! When the doctors report comes back with bad news, Pray! When the figures don’t just add up and you are drowning under a load of debt, don’t panic, pray!

Paul must have remembered the counsel from the writings of the Prophet Jeremiah

‘Call upon me in times of trouble and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know’

SURVIVAL TIP NO 4- HEAR FROM GOD

Get a word from God and believe what God is saying to you, in the midst of the Apostle’s greatest crises, God sent an angel with a word of comfort and assurance. God does not need to send an angel to you, he has already sent his written word, he may speak through any means, but whatever he says that you believe and confess. This is where the victory is won or lost.

Listen to the Apostle, ‘I believe God it shall be even as it was told me’ that settled it for the apostle and it should settle it for you. If you will read through the rest of the story you will discover that the storm did not cease, the rains kept on beating down, but the Apostle acted full of confidence and trust in God’s word, he knew it would be alright in the end.

God’s word will speak peace to your soul, will bring you direction and be a shield and be a defence to you. God always honors his word, his written word gives us insight into what He did yesterday and gives us a promise of what he will do today because with God there is no yesterday, today or tomorrow

SURVIVAL TIP NO 5- DON’T PANIC

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

Acts 27:30-31 NKJV

Don’t panic and don’t allow others around you to do so, the sailors were about to abandon ship, their actions were fuelled by fear not faith, the apostle had to put a stop to that because faith not fear was the safeguard. Sometimes we need to understand that the condition of those around us can affect the potency of God’s word, no wonder Jesus had to kick some people out in some places were he needed to do certain works of mercy. It is not that the word of God diminishes in power but that our capacity to hold on to the word by faith diminishes when we are afraid.

Keep your environment faith sanitised, free from fear, unbelief, doubt and skeptism.

SURVIVAL TIP NO 6- BE WISE

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

Don’t discount natural means, what do I mean? We read that the angel told the apostle that God would spare his life and those in the ship with him, but the angel did not say how that would be. The Apostle figured out that it was very important that the sailors (the professionals) stay in the ship to do what they knew best to do.

Some people don’t know how to balance the spiritual and the physical, they discount the use of medical care in the name of faith, some refuse to listen to professional advice when it would be clearly wise to do so.

God is the God of heaven (spiritual things) and of the earth ( natural things), he determines how deliverance and help would come. Don’t discount the help that may come through less spectacular means than you would associate with God, it may just be that God has chosen that way to come to you.

SURVIVAL TIP NO 7- WATCH YOUR COMPANY

Who are you connected to? Thank God for those sailors that they had a man like the Apostle on board, the angel said to the apostle,’ I have given you the lives of all those on the ship’ you need to be around people of faith, people who know the Lord. Many believers are destroyed because when trouble comes they are in the wrong company, amidst faithless, fearful people. When everything is good, it is hard to tell what stuff people are made off but the slightest whiff of trouble would soon reveal all.

Notice that I didn’t say hang around fellow believers in a blanket sort of way, why? Because some believers are the worst peddlers of unbelief or fear you can get around.

Your company can make or mar you, choose them wisely and trust God for the right kind of people around you.

Remember Psalm 1

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

That’s no no company.

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