Statement of Faith Current Teaching Teaching Index
Avoiding Shipwreck
May 2015

In these last days in which we live, God will be moving around men and ministries to prepare His church for His soon return. This will happen at an unbelievable rate. Just the other day we got reports of prophecies by well-known men and women of God, proclaiming that God will now begin to do things in days, which in times past took years. However, we must be keenly aware that in a Christian's or a ministry's journey there are always storms, hazards and oft times shipwrecks that must be withstood and overcome before one finish their journey. Storms and hazards can always be anticipated especially when the journey is directed and ordained by God. The destroyer will always be there trying to throw you, or your ministry against the rocks or drown you in the sea of despair and discouragement before you ever have a chance to reach the journey's end. When these challenges come, we must be prepared to move and change in order to either, avoid or withstand challenges or pitfalls.

The shipwreck suffered by Paul in Acts 27 highlights notable errors and important principles that, if understood and applied can save the ministry and the believer considerable trouble and perhaps shipwrecks. These principles can even prevent the destruction of one's ministry, the loss of goods, and even one's live and the life of one's loved ones.

Remarkably, the actions that the ship's crew took in the tempestuous storm were rational and consistent with the actions of sound thought and experience.  However, human reasoning does not work in a spiritual storm. Rational thinking and human experience is often contrary to the actions that the Spirit of God instructs us to take. We must take this understanding to heart and apply it to our lives in order to avoid or to withstand the storm's destructive and deadly capabilities, or to successfully navigate through them. These following principles will help us do just that. But again the Holy Spirits actions are often contrary to that which we feel are the rational and sensible things to do.

There are four notable errors that led the crew of the ship to place themselves in mortal danger. These four errors when recognized and avoided will keep us and our ministries from shipwreck.  They are:

  1. The crew was dissatisfied with their circumstances leading them to choose an irrational act (Acts 27:12). "And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there."

    Dissatisfaction with one's circumstances is one of the greatest causes of shipwreck for a Christian. God tells us that we are to go from Glory to Glory and the trying of our faith has benefits (Ref. James 1:3-4). We are not to go from defeat to defeat, but from victory to victory. God tells us that we are more than overcomers, we are conquerors (Ref. Romans 8:37)! To each church written to in the book of Revelation there was one similar statement made. It was "to him that overcomes" the victory is assured. Circumstances and opposition are there to strengthen us, transform us, and conform us into His image. When we submit to the whim of opposition and circumstance, we allow ourselves to experience the agony of defeat.  You can rest assured that the enemy will try to tear us away from the plan of God by presenting us with options that appear rational, right, good and easy.
  2. They were impatient (Acts 27: 9-10). "Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, "Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.  Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul."

    When we read the account of Paul's journey in Acts 27, we find that there was little doubt that the crew was impatient. They were in a hurry to get on their way. Impatience and dissatisfaction are a deadly combination. The Lord tells us that those who wait on the Lord shall inherit the earth (Ref. Psalm 37:9). Isaiah 30:18 say's;  "Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore  He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him."  We all recognize what Isaiah 40:31 say's, "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."  Finally look at Lamentations 3:25, it tells us that "the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him."  ?

  3.  They failed to heed the Word of the Lord (verse 11). Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.  Pride is a fatal enemy. We must remember, "I (the Lord) know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).  Discouragement and impatience often lead us to disregard the loving promises our God gives us. Often even the most loyal of Christians will go to and fro when discouraged and impatient, trying to find someone with a word that agrees with their views. This is a very dangerous practice, very often leading to destruction.  Do you remember the story of Saul's disobedience of Samuel's command which resulted in Saul losing his kingdom and ultimately his death?  This was the result of impatience which forced Saul to act foolishly by obeying man's wisdom rather than the anointed word of a man of God (Ref. 1st Samuel 13:1-14)

  4. They looked to circumstances to give them guidance (verse 13). When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete.  Many Christians have been lead to believe that circumstances will always line up with the guidance from the Lord. This is totally false! A diligent studier of God's Word will see that at times circumstances do line up with God's will, and that God sometimes uses circumstances to direct us. But these examples are the exception and not the rule. Again we are to follow the Lamb of God not circumstances.  Romans 8:12-14 teaches us an important lesson. "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."  Those of us who do not learn the lessons above, will inevitably have their lives thrown against the rocks of despair and discouragement.  Eventually these individuals may even find themselves leaving the ministry or even worse, leaving the Lord.

Now let us take note of several important factors that we must apply to our spiritual lives in order to successfully navigate through the storms when they come.  Be assured they will come!  Jesus assured us that they would.  "Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes" (Matthew 18:7)!  The word used in the original Greek is "σκάνδαλον - skandalon" which when translated means a “scandal;” a trap stick (bent sapling), a snare, something that causes us to sin due to displeasure - an occasion to fall (or stumbling), offence, things that offends, stumbling-block.  Therefore, we must prepare for the storms before they come upon us.  We must recognize that storms are inevitable. Storms and hazards can always be anticipated especially when the journey is directed and ordained by God. Remember the parable of the home built upon the sand and the home built upon a rock. This parable is in Matthew 7:24-27. Both individuals who built their house (life) had a storm come against it. This lets us plainly recognize that storms are inevitable. Notice also what Acts 14:22b says; "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."

A lesson from a professional pilot might help us at this point. A professional pilot learns a lot about weather for the specific propose of avoiding storms. But all pilots know that they will some day run into a thunder-head. These thunder-heads cannot only carry lightning that can be exceedingly dangerous, but the most violent turbulence on earth can be found in a thunder-head. There can be an updraft rising at six thousand feet per minute right next to a down draft of six thousand feet per minute. Going from one of these to another can rip the plane's wings right off. So pilots are taught when in these situations, fly by their instruments. They must know what each instrument is telling them, and obey them. These instruments tell them whether they are flying the plane upside down or right side up. They tell the pilot whether he is flying straight or turning, descending or ascending. Remarkably, the same procedures taught to pilots about getting safely through a thunderstorm, parallel the Biblical council of navigating the storms of life.

Our instruments can be found in God's Word. Our Christian walk, which is to be made by faith, is our greatest training. God's Word when combined with our experience of walking by faith by the leading of the Spirit of God will always successfully get us through life's thunder storms. These verses of Scripture will help in that training.

  Matthew 16:24-25  "Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

  2nd Corinthians 4:8-11, 17-18  "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed--always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

  Philippians 1:28-30 "And not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me."

  2nd Timothy 3:12 "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."

  Hebrews 10:32, 36 "But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:"

  James 1:2-4 "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

  1st Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

1.      You must stay calm in the midst of the storm.  When Jesus confronted the storm, He proclaimed "Peace be still." Our first priority is not to panic, but we must keep our eyes focused on the fact that the storm is there to bring you closer to Christ. Your panic will cause more damage than the storm itself.

2.      You must keep level.  Staying in balance and not reacting to the storm is essential. Just like a pilot who is taught to stay straight, and not to react to the turbulence because reaction causes over reaction, loss of control and ultimately a crash. We are told to stay calm and let the Lord fight our battles. Over reaction causes stress, which causes more over reaction, which causes more stress. This vicious and deadly cycle continues until your plane crashes.

3.      You must hold your course.  Maybe the greatest lesson a pilot learns is to fly straight through a thunder-head because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The largest of thunder-heads are only a few miles across. When a pilot turns the plane, he remains in the storm for a longer length of time which increases the risk of destruction or serious injury. The crew of Paul's ship let themselves be driven by the storm. They let the storm dictate the course. This was the beginning of the end for Paul's ship. It will be the beginning of the end for yours also. The way out of a storm is not by submitting to it but overcoming it. Hebrews 12:12-13 confirms this lesson; Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

4.      Do not abandon your cargo while in the storm.  We are told to get rid of our excess baggage before we run into a storm not after we enter one. We are told to hold on to that which the Lord has given us while in the midst of the storm. We do this by keeping in mind that our teaching and experience, our faith and ultimate hope will help us through the storm. We cannot abandon them when we get into the storms of life. Taking a chance on our stressed out judgment during a storm can often lead to throwing away that which is vital for us to keep.

5.      Do not submit to the storm, submit to God.  By submitting to the storm, we take the control of our lives out of God's hand and the storm now becomes the controlling factor in our lives. James 1:6-8 warms us that a man in this condition will receive nothing from the Lord. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man supposes that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

6.      Never lose hope.  Paul's crew lost their hope and stopped eating, weakening them even further. This can easily lead to submission to whatever comes, even death. Paul writing to the Romans wrote, and not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:3-5). And to the Hebrews he wrote "that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:18).  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, (Romans 6:18-19). Hope is the anchor our soul needs in the midst of storms and rough seas. It is hope that enables us to enter the presence of the Lord ("within the veil").  God will always without fail get us out of the storm safely.  When the crew on Paul's ship finally listened and obeyed him;

1)      They did not lose a soul.

2)      They were provided with a safe haven for spending the rest of the winter.

3)      God was glorified and was witnessed about on the island.

4)      Many were saved.

5)      They were provided with another ship to finish their journey.

There are people right now that are in the same boat as the crew in Acts 27. They are dissatisfied, impatient, wanting to go their own way based upon earthly wisdom and experience. These saints do not allow the wisdom of God, nor His love and His Omniscience to lead them. Eventually they will become lost or settle in as church butterflies going from one place based again on their own choice they another never settling down because they cannot bear to hear what God is telling them.  This choice most times leads them to a selfish religion where only they have the right answers or worse they just give up and their end is destruction.  But you that will be lead by the Spirit of God are assured, by God Himself, that "the peace of God will rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Colossians 3:15). They will recognize that "the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:17-18). Brethren, "do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:12). Which choice will you make?  Will you follow the Holy Spirit of God, no matter how large the storm; or will you go the way of personal choice based on your earthly wisdom?  The choice will have to be made eventual.  Choose wisely!

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