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Avoiding Shipwreck - Part two
April 2018

          This month we will look at proper methods of withstanding the destruction and death of mammoth storms that try to withstand Christians, especially those of us who are trying to do the work that the Lord has called us to do.  For again we know that our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1st Peter 5:8b).
1.     You must stay calm in the midst of the storm and put your trust in the Lord.          
          “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; (6) Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.”
(Proverbs 3:5-6).
          In the story found in Mark 4:35-41 a severe storm arose while Jesus and His disciples were in a boat traveling from Capernaum to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus was asleep in the rear of the boat while the disciples reacted with overwhelming anxiety. They ran to Jesus screamed out in fear a thoughtless and insensitive question; “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing” (Ref. Mark 4:38)?  Jesus awoke and confronted the storm, calmly proclaiming  "Peace be still" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). 
          Our first priority is to cast your cares upon the Lord for He cares for you (1st Peter5:7), not too panic “for the peace of God, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).  We must keep our eyes focused on the fact that no storm, no matter how severe is nothing that the Lord cannot handle.  When Christ seems as if he is asleep in your storms remember, he is awakened by the prayers of his people; when we know not what to do, our eye must be on Him (Ref. 2nd Chronicles 20:12); we may be at our wits' end, but not at our faith's end, for we have a great and loving Savior to go to.  Be aware brethren tribulations are there to teach us more about Christ and who and what we are in Him.  By learning that we develop faith, strength and patience.  Your panic will cause more damage than the storm. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (4) But let patience have itsperfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
2.     You must keep a level head.
Staying level-headed and not reacting negatively to a storm is essential. Just like a pilot who is taught to stay straight, and not to react to the turbulence because negative reactions or over reactions can cause 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 if allowed to continue will eventually be the demise of your life and ministry. Let us look again at the story in 2nd Chronicles 20.
Jehoshaphat a righteous king of Judah was being attacked by an overwhelming army of Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites. While from every city of Judah people hurried to Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat, understandably was overwhelmed, discouraged and frightened, but his reaction to all this anxiety is to be commended and taken to heart. 

 First and foremost, Jehoshaphat did not delegate his responsibility to anyone.
 He first prayed to the Lord for guidance (verse 3)
 He called for a fast (verse 3)
 He called for corporate prayer with his people and prayed with them aloud (verse 5)
 Gave glory to God (verse 6-7)
 Acknowledged God’s promise of protection.  He laid hold of God’s covenant promise to His people (verse 9)
 Acknowledged the problem (verse 10-11)
 Acknowledged his helplessness and their need for God’s protection (verse 12)
Notice, that there is no mention of Jehoshaphat mustering his forces to fight against the invading army, for in the mind of this godly king, God must first be trusted in His faithfulness. The king’s great care was to obtain the favor of God, and secure His guidance and protection.
Even when the answer to their prayers came, Jehoshaphat still remained level-headed. Admittedly the guidance given them by a Levite was to say the least unbelievable and strange.  Most of us who would receive such a prophecy would most likely ignore it based on its unbelievable nature.  You will not have to fight this battle. Just take up your positions and wait; you will see the Lord give you victory.  In other words; do nothing and watch.  Be honest with yourself.  Facing this kind of trial could you just sit back and watch doing nothing?  Not likely!
Jehoshaphat kept a level-head filled with all the faith he had and did exactly what God told him.  As a result, God gave them the victory as promised.
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 did not try to avoid it or fight against it, they simply 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.”
          In other words, “when the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him” (Ref.Isaiah 59:19).  The Apostle Paul put it to the Ephesians this way; “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (13) Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (14) Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (15) and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) above all, taking the shield of faith with which, you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (18) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”(Ephesians 6:11-18).
          Let us not forget the Apostle Paul’s final words to the young Pastor Timothy; “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1stTimothy 6:12). And “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2nd Timothy 4:7).
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 judgement 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. James 1:6-8 warms us that a man who does this 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 suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  Have you ever noticed how, when our brethren find themselves in a tempest it is only then that they start examining their lives and start eliminating the excess baggage? The same baggage that if they had listened to God they would have eliminated months or years earlier.  We see this exact situation here.  God used Paul to warn them about the dangers of continuing on their journey by 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." (Ref. Acts 27:9-10).  They did not listen to Paul and at the instructions of the helmsman and the owner of the ship they headed for a harbor in Crete.  Oh, how often, to our shame and danger, does profit and convenience override what God tells us to do. Notice the sense of confidence they had making this decision.  God makes a point of putting some interesting words in verse 12 “if by any means they could reach Phoenix.” Simply put they wanted to take a chance on their own reasoning and means to arrive safely rather than obey a word from the Lord and believe their arrival would be guaranteed.
6.     Never lose hope.
          Paul's crew lost their hope they stopped eating, which weakening them even further, which further reduced their chance of survival. This led them to submitting to their circumstances and even death. Paul writing to the Romans wrote, “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. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Hebrews 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. For those who fear God need not fear anything else; let them fix their eye of faith on Him, and His eye of love will always rest upon them. For “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, (19) To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine” (Psalms 33:18-19).
When the crew finally listened and obeyed Paul's instructions;
1. Not a soul was lost.
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 that are in the same boat as the men described in Acts 27. They are dissatisfied, impatient, wanting to go their own way making decisions using earthly wisdom and experience while ignoring God’s instructions. These people do not allow the wisdom of God, His love, or His Omniscience to lead them. Eventually they will become overwhelmed and shipwrecked in the storms of life and ultimately just give up and be destroyed. But you that will be led by the Spirit of God is assured, by God Almighty that there is “There isn't any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape.” (GW 1st Corinthians 10:13).
            “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (25) To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25)
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