Statement of Faith Current Teaching Teaching Index
Avoiding Shipwreck - Part One
March 2018

In what is believed to be earth’s final century as we know it, this writer believes God will be establishing new living ministries while at the same time removing old and dead ministers and ministries.  This will take place at an unbelievable rate, in preparation for His son’s inevitable and soon return. Just the other day we got reports of prophecies being brought forth 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.
In any person’s journey there will be storms and hazards that must be withstood and overcome before one can get to the end of their divine journey and these tribulations and sufferings will grow worse as time comes to an end (Ref. 2nd Timothy 3:12-17). Tribulations 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 appointed destination. When trials and tribulations come, we must be prepared to stand against them with the wisdom given us by the Holy Scriptures. The shipwreck suffered by Paul in Acts 27 highlights notable errors and important principles that, if understood, can save the believer considerable trouble and any ministry from shipwreck. Following the important principles outlined in this chapter will prevent the destruction of our ministry, our followers, any loss of our goods, and lives.
          While the prisoner Paul was being taken to Rome a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon and threatened the destruction of the ship, the cargo and all life aboard. However, even though the actions the crew took were rational and consistent with the actions of sound thought and experience; human reasoning does NOT always work in a spiritual storm.  Rational thinking and human experience is often contrary to the actions that the Spirit of God needs us to take for survival. We must therefore, seek out God’s instructions take them to heart and apply them in our lives in order to successfully navigate through the storms of life. The following principles will help us do just that. But again, they are contrary to that which we often feel is the rational sensibleand intellectual thing to do.
Let us examine four notable errors that placed the ship and crew in mortal danger.  These four errors we must first, foresee and second, avoid to keep ourselves, our followers and our ministries from shipwreck.
1.     The crew was dissatisfied with their circumstances (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 our present circumstances is one of the greatest causes of shipwreck to a Christian. God tells us to “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5) and “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). We are not to go from defeat to defeat. God tells us that we are more than conquerors and have overcome the wicked one (Ref. Romans 8:37; c.f. 1st John 4:4-5). Did you know that to each church sited in the book of Revelation there was one similar statement made?  It was, "to him that overcomes" God will assure the victory. Circumstances and opposition are there to strengthen us, conform us and transform us into mature Christians and His image. When we submit to the forces 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 for our lives for our adversary the devil, is as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour.
2.     They were impatient (Ref. 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."
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 an extremely deadly combination. The Lord tells us that those who wait on the Lord, shall inherit the earth (Psalm 37:9) and Isaiah 30:18 states “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.” Let us also take note of what Isaiah 40:31 promises, “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’s promise, “the LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.” 
Remember Israel in the wilderness? They were to follow the movement of the pillar of cloud or fire. When it moved so did they. When it did not move, no matter how long it remained stationary, they stayed camped in the same place.  It took Israel forty years to finally get to their final divine destination. Let us also keep in mind that they would have never gotten there if they had not followed each direction the Lord gave them at the time it was given.  Ask yourself, how much longer would this trip to God’s land of promises would have taken if their dissatisfaction and impatience was not held in check.  Was not their dissatisfaction and impatience the reasons God’s chosen people spent forty years in the wilderness in the first place.  Let us learn to follow the Lamb of God and not act upon our dissatisfaction and impatience.
          We may set our heart on exchanging the insufficient for the satisfactory which was the case here. The port of Fair Havens was not sufficiently accommodating to winter in (Ref. Acts 27:12); that is why the sailors were obviously not satisfied harboring here.  Their faithlessness in Paul’s assurances left them feeling that they would be safer in another port which lay "toward the south-west and north-west.  Their hearts desire was to pass from the unsuitable to the appropriate, from the good to the better. Such hope is based, in the first case on what they deemed necessary; in the second, desirable; in the third, allowable. But such is the feebleness of our human nature and such the inadequacy of our own wisdom and efforts.
          Should not Christian believers be to the world what Paul was to the ship, filled with God’s spirit, knowledge and wisdom and able and willing to be used as God spokesman!  If we believe that Christ truly loves us and is truly all-powerful and all-knowing, we as His faithful servants should be able to take upon ourselves great responsibilities, and by the power of prayer save many souls from the midst of their storms while giving glory of God.
3.     They failed to heed the Word of the Lord (Ref. Acts 27:11).  
          “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). Pride causes us to disregard this tremendous promise and makes us believe that dependence on our human wisdom and ability will bring us a better future and hope without any assistance from God.  Pride simply says God is not necessary. I can do better on my own.  This thought pattern brings one right in the path of evil, discouragement, impatience and failure. Often even the most loyal of Christians go to and fro when discouraged and impatient and because they believe theirs is a better, faster and more profitable way they often go about from ministry to ministry trying to find someone with a word that agrees with their opinions. Be assured the evil one will provide that agreeing individual which will push the unsuspecting believer down the road to destruction.  For we all know that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And “He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusts in the Lord, happy is he” (Ref. Proverbs 16:18, 20). They looked to circumstances and their own wisdom and experience to give them guidance and they were soon caught in a storm which threatened everything and everyone.  “When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete” (Acts 27:13).
Many Christians have been led to believe that circumstances will always line up with the will of the Lord. This is totally false! A diligent studier of God's Word will see that at times circumstances lead in the opposite direction of God's will.  It is true that sometimes God will use circumstances to direct us, but not always.  Christian wisdom should always steer us to pray until we have heard from the Lord and follow His instructions.  As an example, read what happened to the Apostle Paul when he wanted to travel to Asia and then Bithynia to preach the Gospel.  They were forbidden, and were prompted by the Holy Spirit to go to Macedonia instead (Ref. Acts 16:6-8).  Galatians tells us: “he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:8). It also tells us “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
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.
There are however, several important factors that we must apply to our spiritual lives in order to successfully navigate through the storms of life when they come upon us.
4.     We must prepare for the storms before they come upon us.
Storms are inevitable (Ref. Matthew 18:7). Storms or better yet “offenses” must come.  The word used here in Matthew 18:7 is the Greek work “skandalon” which means stumbling-blocks, snares or hazards.  Which means we must always anticipate their arrival 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) faced a fierce storm. This shows us 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 better understand this point. A professional pilot learns a lot about weather for the specific propose of avoiding storms. But all pilots know that they will someday run into what is called a thunder-head. These thunder-heads or storms cannot only carry lightning in them that can be exceedingly dangerous, but the most violent turbulence on earth can be found in a severe 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, all pilots are taught when facing 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, or whether they are 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 and 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.
A.   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.”
B.    James 1:14 “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. (15) Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
C.    James 4:7 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
D.   Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
E.    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:”
F.     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.”
          Next month we will examine some proper ways of withstanding dangerous storms.  Until then may "The Lord bless you and keep you; (25) The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; (26) The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace." '
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