In stormy times, I’ve learned the best way to maintain a Christ-centered perspective is to count my blessings. One of the blessings of this quarantine is the access to spiritually uplifting content online. You don’t even have to look further than Facebook.
The second Sunday I was at home obeying my governor’s edict, I listened to this sermon from pastor Travis Lane in Astatula, Florida. I know Bro. Lane personally. He spoke at a couple events at the church I was a member of several years ago. He stayed in our home. My husband and I attended a couple’s retreat sponsored by his church and visited the Sunday services at Astatula Baptist Church.
I might not recommend listening to any old sermon online, but I can highly recommend Bro. Lane’s sermon.
As I prepared to write a blog post about the message, I decided I didn’t want to recap his great points. I wanted to give you my personal takeaways from the passage in Acts 27:1-36.
The Apostle Paul has been arrested and has appealed to Caesar’s judgment of his case. He’s being transported to Rome so he can stand trial before the emperor.
Paul had a word from the Lord. He passed the word along to the Centurion in charge of him, but that man discounted it. After all, why should he listen to the advice of a scholarly Jew in matters of sailing?
He took the advice of the professional sailors.
In these difficult times, advice is easy to find. Don’t just take anyone’s advice about how to deal with this storm. Yes, you should check in with the CDC for advice in dealing with the virus, but you should also check in with the Lord for direction.
He wouldn’t have you afraid to leave your home for essential tasks like getting food for yourself and family or seeking medical attention. His power can protect you as you’re out in the volatile world of uncertainty, but don’t use his grace as an excuse to act rashly.
In Acts 27:14, the storm arrives in the form of a tempestuous wind. The ship “was caught and could not bear up” (Acts 27:15).
We are caught in a virus storm, aren’t we? Some of you may be facing multiple storms like financial turmoil and a personal crisis caused by the wake of the government’s attempt to “get ahead” of this pandemic.
But the only reason you will not be able to bear up in these storms is if you choose to face them like the Lone Ranger. Jesus Christ is Lord of this virus, and as he spoke peace to the storms on the Sea of Galilee, he can speak peace to this storm.
Paul and his crew were “exceedingly tossed” and they chose to lighten the ship. This means they tossed the non-essentials overboard.
What’s weighing your spirit down? Is it the constant rain? Is it the worry of contracting the virus? Is it wonder about how you’ll feed your family when you can’t work?
Friend, lighten the load. “Cast all your cares upon (Jesus) because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). Just as the crew on Paul’s ship had to lighten the load multiple times, you will, too. Our human nature wants to cling to these worries and cares, so keep praying. It’s fine if you think you sound like a broken record. God is listening, and He will answer.
Seeing Hope in the Midst
“And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away” (Acts 27:20).
Please note that all hope in the physical realm was taken away from the crew and passengers on the ship with Paul. But the God of Hope appeared with a message, “Be of good cheer” (Acts 27:22, 25).
What? The storm was raging. It had been two weeks and things had only gotten worse. The sailors were faint with hunger, and nothing they did changed their circumstances in the least.
We are quarantined, but we can be of good cheer because God is in control. He knows what’s next. He promises life eternal to those who trust Jesus Christ for salvation.
In Paul’s case, God also promised to spare the physical lives of those in the boat with him.
I can’t make the same promise to you, my friend. Dying from the virus might be God’s plan for you, but death is not the end.
Praise the Lord, we know that death is simply a door that leads from this temporal earth to the eternal heaven. Maybe, like me, you’d like to live long enough to see your grandchildren grow up and live for the Lord.
The avenue to peace in the midst of the storm is having Jesus in the boat with you. Do you have Jesus Christ dwelling in your heart by faith?
If so, you are more than a conqueror no matter how many storms life throws your way.