Don’t think of saving yourself

Don’t think of saving yourself

Acts 27:30 “In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow.”

It seems that there is a human instinct in all of us to survive. That certainly is true for the sailors. They had previously let down the anchors at the stern, at the back of the ship. It would be obvious to think that letting the anchors down at the front of the ship was the right thing to do to give extra security. However, they were not thinking of that kind of security, they were thinking of themselves.

The moment you think of yourself someone suffers.

Of course no one benefits if you do not live healthily, if you do not take care of yourself and if you don’t sleep properly etc. But if you decide ‘to hell with everyone’ and ‘I am going to look after me for a change’, then that is the point of no return because people will be brought so low with that attitude that they may never recover.

I have lost friends who used to walk with me because at a given moment they looked around and saw the ship, the people on board and the rocks that seem to be coming ever closer and said, “I put myself first” and at that moment though I thought they were taking care of everyone, they didn’t, they fooled everyone, they tried saving themselves, but ended up losing everything.

However I have gained friends who understand ‘love and sacrifice’ and they will be the last one off the ship making sure I would go before them.

That is who I am also trying to be, this is my life’s aim, others first, stay on board.

 

Drop the anchors from the stern

Drop the anchors from the stern

Acts 27:29 “Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight.”

It was unusual to drop the anchors from the back of the ship when it was normally done from the front. But this would have kept them progressing further onto the rocks.

There are times when you just need to stop moving. That’s what you can do.

And then pray.

Do it today.

Stop.

Pray.

Get Measured

Get Measured

Acts 27: 28 “They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep.”

The Amplified Bible helps us in understanding what is going on here. A weighted line is thrown down and probably with grease at the end it picks up the debris off the bottom of the seabed and the sailors then can measure the depth, an indicator of how far they are away from the land and in their case the danger of the rocks.

Psalm 119:59 “I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes”.

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”

Throughout the Bible we have verses like the ones above, telling us to take soundings of our life.

In a storm it is essential to do so. When you are being pushed around, when things are just not ‘normal’ for you then you are in danger of not only drifting but being shipwrecked. Today are you where you should be? The fact that you are at least reading a devotional blog suggests that you do have a measure of spiritual depth.

You can easily download these days from the internet a list of questions that will help you ascertain the depth of your spirituality. The problem with some of these questions leads to ‘if I do a, b and c then I will be fine’ which often doesn’t help because it can lead to good works.

A friend or a loved one is usually the better way to test your depth. Being held accountable is so important. There is a lot of talk about accountability but not much is practiced. When a friend says to the other “I am seeing a rising anger in your life, let us talk about that” then it takes humility, wisdom and a desire to be all you can be to respond favourably. Not many do, they kick against the comment and take it as mere criticism. Many shipwrecks could have been avoided if accountability was operating.

Luke wrote, “They took soundings …” and perhaps a true measure of where a person is at can never be found alone, everyone needs someone to help measure the depth of their life.

We need facts and we need notions

We need facts and we need notions

Acts 27:27 “On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land.”

In any storm of life we need facts and we need notions.

Facts may not be many.

It is the 14th night since they set off, Luke had been counting.

The ship is still out of control, driven by the storm not by their desire.

They are somewhere in the Adriatic Sea.

It is around midnight.

Sometimes there are only basic facts available: We are still in the storm of life, we know what day it is today, we don’t know where we are exactly but we know it is the middle of the night.

But then there are notions, ideas that come from experience.

Farmers know how to spot the changes of weather.

Sailors know how to spot the approaching land because of the waves and the sound of the sea.

Similarly we also need to understand the times we are in (1 Chronicles 12:32).  The wisdom to know what to do springs out of the knowledge of where we are.

This knowledge isn’t necessarily hard facts; they can be simply signs, small notions, ‘It looks like’ moments. It takes for us to be spiritually alert, listening, inquisitive people.

So what are the facts of your life today? State them. What do you know is true?

Now ask the Spirit to help you spot things that others miss especially what He is doing or about to do or even what the enemy is trying to stir up. Ask the Spirit to help you see.

 

Remember what comes before your ‘nevertheless’.

Remember what comes before your ‘nevertheless’.

Acts 27:26 “Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

Even though the end result is good news in that He saves us, nevertheless, we are going to be shipwrecked onto an island we had never planned to visit.

Some days are shipwreck days. Some days we are pushed by storms into places we never wanted to be. However, focus is everything, let me show you something and it is centred on the word ‘nevertheless’.

He saves us nevertheless we get shipwrecked.

Or

We get shipwrecked nevertheless He saves us.

The latter sentence structure is more comforting than the first.

It is like when Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The comfort is in the fact that the positive is at the end of the sentence, the focus is there.

However there are days when we have to go down unknown paths so much so that, ‘He saves us’ loses its impact. It doesn’t appear in the sentence, it doesn’t have the impact that it should and it is of no help. Our whole attention is now on the bad news. This is the point, sometimes your nevertheless is so huge you lose sight of what has previously been promised to you. Focus is everything.

Today if you are facing a shipwreck, if you are being told you are going down unfamiliar paths and it is causing fear then do not lose focus on what has also previously been told you. That Jesus is your Saviour, your Healer, your Restorer and your Guide. It is the other side of your ‘nevertheless’ so you need to bring it to you, you need to recall them to you, you need to hold that truth when you simply ‘must run aground on some island.’

Courageous Leadership

Courageous Leadership

Acts 27: 25 “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”

There are times when someone has to stand up and say “I have heard from God. Don’t give up. We will come through this.” It is courageous leadership.

Anyone can lead when all is well.

But when the ship is sinking and everything has been thrown overboard, when all hope is lost and everyone around is afraid, that is when courageous leadership rises above all others.

When do people need a leader the most? It is in times of uncertainty.

When is it the most difficult to lead people? It is in times of uncertainty.

On the morning of 11/09/01 Rudy Giuliani was facing failure on all levels. He had cancer; he had committed adultery; he was a mayor with a divided city of New York. But by the end of that day he was calming a frightened and anxious nation. He had truly stepped into courageous leadership.

What happens when people are uncertain? They look for security. They reach out for hope. They also do nothing, they freeze.

What do courageous leaders do? They give everything. Giuliani that evening read the words of Churchill: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

Leaders give hope to others. The day after the event Giuliani said, “We’re going to come out of this stronger, politically stronger, and economically stronger.”

Leaders show courage to others. Courage is being afraid, but then doing what you have to do anyway. He said, “We will strive to save as many people as possible and send the message that we are stronger than any barbaric terrorists.”

Paul was a courageous leader. See how in this one verse today:

  1. He commanded courage
  2. He revealed the weakness of man and the power of God.
  3. He made his choice who to trust.
  4. He had been with God.
  5. He was carrying a promise of destiny.

Are you following a courageous leader in times of uncertainty, are you one?

Dei

Dei

Acts 27: 24 “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.”

Dei: a short but strong word. It means ‘it is necessary’.

There are some things in life, in our lives that are just necessary. They have to happen. It is used many times throughout the Bible and Luke uses it on several occasions in Luke/Acts.

Luke 2:49 “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” – There are times when only you truly know that you had to do something or be somewhere.

Luke 4:43 “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” – Knowing what is necessary will give you direction and help prioritise your life.

Luke 17:25 “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” – Struggles are eased when you know there is purpose.

Acts 1:21 “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us” – After the days of despair and discouragement of fall-out and failure, the choice of what to do next is actually not a choice, it has to be done.

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” – There is no greater must than this!

Acts 14:22 “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” – We long for the rule and blessing of God in our lives but there is only one way to that place.

Acts 23:11 “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” – The Lord has plans that are definite for our lives.

Knowing what is Dei takes: Wisdom, Experience and Revelation.

Who is standing before you?

Who is standing before you?

Acts 27:23 “Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me.”

An angel who stands before God stood before Paul.

There are times in our lives when we need to be surrounded by those who stand before God.

We need messages in the hours of darkness.

We need reminding of who we belong to and who we serve.

We need a strong presence in the storm.

I don’t doubt that Paul witnessed a definite angel.  But I would settle for a man or woman so long as they stand before God.

Around our life we need people who know God.

We need people who believe we can do it.

We need people who carry messages of hope.

Man or Angel? In a storm it matters not, so long as they stand before God.

 

Ships sink

Ships sink

Acts 27:22 “But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.”

They were created to float but ships do sink. The oceans are littered with sunken ships. Stuff like this happens. Welcome to the sea. It’s life.

What carries you may go down. The storm of life may cause your security to be broken up. The foundation gone. The vehicle that is taking you to your destination lost forever. Yet at that time you will find that what you thought was carrying you actually wasn’t. It is someone else who is carrying you. The God of the seas is carrying you!

You won’t go down with this ship. You will not be lost. You have a Saviour. And if you do go down He not only is Saviour He is the Resurrection! You don’t lose.

But it takes courage to remain when the ship sinks. You have to make a decision to maintain your resilience. Never surrender your life to any storm that comes your way. From moments of discouragement to depths of despair many have said ‘I give up’. But Paul urges them to hold on and the Spirit urges you today to hold on, to get a grip of yourself. You see, the real battle is not the storm of circumstance but the storm within.

Let the ship go down, not everything lasts, but the eternal everlasting all-powerful Father will never lose you. He holds you today, so take courage.

I told you so!

I told you so!

Acts 27:21 “After they 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.”

When things go wrong the last thing you need is someone coming along to say “I told you so!”

We often dismiss that voice as being rude, arrogant and pointless.

And so we never learn.

  • The voice of the inexperienced should not be overlooked.
  • Sometimes the best approach to life is to say NO.
  • Storms always cause damage and loss.
  • You are not invincible.
  • In every storm you can make matters worse by bad decisions.

There, I told you so.