The Lord of the Storm
Acts 27 contains one of the most famous shipwreck accounts of classical antiquity as the Apostle Paul makes his way to Rome. What do we learn here? He is sovereign over our storms, at work amidst our storms, near during our storms, trustworthy in our storms, and will deliver us through our storms. Jesus is the Lord of our storms.
We are rapidly approaching the end of our ten-month study through the great book of Acts. Acts is the earliest, authoritative, historical account of the early days of the Christian church. In it, Luke (the author; see also Gospel of Luke) traces the explosion of the Jesus movement during the first 30 years following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:6-11). One of Luke’s purposes for writing is to demonstrate that Christianity was born into a culture that was just as resistant, hostile, and skeptical as ours is today. Yet, amidst the widespread opposition and indifference, the case for Christianity was so strong that within 300 years 50% of the Roman Empire was Christian, the majority being located in urban centers. If it was true then, it can be true today – even in Seattle. Today, in Acts 27, we’re going to look at one of the most famous sea voyages of classical antiquity. Let’s read:
FIVE observations regarding how God relates to our storms:
#1 God is sovereign over our storms. vs24
To say that God is “sovereign” means that God is the supreme ruler of the universe. He is able to do as he pleases. Now, what’s interesting is that he could have stopped the storm, but he doesn’t. Instead, he permits the storm, while rescuing them through it. But, that raises a question. If he is going to deliver everyone, why the storm in the first place? Seems like pointless suffering, doesn’t it? After all Paul’s been thru, why wouldn’t God give him a nice Mediterranean cruise on way to Rome? This touches on one of the biggest problems people have with believing in God: problem of evil.
Common argument in Seattle:
- An all-powerful, loving God would not permit pointless suffering.
- The world is filled with pointless suffering.
- Therefore, the biblical God can’t exist.
There’s a false assumption right in the middle of this argument. What is it? Just because you don’t see the point of why something is happening, doesn’t mean there isn’t a point.
Ex. Kids. We do that to God. Isn’t the distance between God and us infinitely greater than that?! How could we say there’s no point?
Isa 55:8,9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Therefore saying, “There can’t be a point because I can’t think of one.” is a false assumption. If there is even a possibility of the existence of God, there is at the very least a possibility he is doing something beyond our comprehension. We have more than that within Christianity. Practically, this means that right now God is sovereign over your storms (eg. unemployment, singleness, financial difficulties, etc)
#2 God is at work amidst our storms. vs33-38
One of the primary points of this chapter is that God is at work amidst the storm. Its interesting to note that Paul is not running from God or being disobedient (see Jonah). The fact is that we live in a broken world and storms in our life are to be expected. This is highlighted by the fact that this isn’t his first shipwreck – it’s his fourth! Any of us would understand if he just started crying out, “Not again!” But, notice how does he react? He’s calm. Amidst the violent storm Paul says “let’s have a snack” as ship is about to crash on shore in middle of night.
What can we learn from this? How I respond when I suffer tells me everything about what I’m living for and trusting in that moment. Our storms and circumstances don’t determine your character, they reveal it. God uses storms in our life to reveal our character, hidden loves, our weak anchors. He does so not to mock us, but because he loves us. God is carrying out a work in our souls that can only be accomplished through storms of life.
2 Cor 11:23-29 “imprisonments…countless beatings…often near death…beaten with rods…stoned…three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea…frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people…danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea…in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure…”
2 Cor4:17-18 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”
Paul calls his troubles, “light momentary afflictions”. “Light” Compared to what? Eternal weight of glory. Glory means weighty, beautiful, splendor, magnificent. In other words, this means that God is making us real people through suffering. He’s purifying, cleansing, removing the chaff. Why is Paul calm? He knows this is nothing in comparison to the eternal weight of glory that awaits. He’s NOT being blown around on the inside, so he CAN handle being blown around on the outside. God uses suffering and difficulty to anchor our soul in him, making everything else seem light and momentary.
Rom 5:3-5 “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…”
Romans 8:18 “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing w/ the glory that is to be revealed”
God is making us re-newed people amidst our storms, as we trust him, so our hope will be in Him. As he does that, increasingly you won’t be blown around on the inside – even if you are on the outside. God doesn’t waste your storms. He is at work amidst your storms, but he’s more interested in changing you, than your circumstances.
#3 God is near in our storms. vs23
When the average person faces the storms of life they tend to freak out. But, where does Paul go? Listen: vs23 “the God to whom I belong and who I worship…” ie. “I am God’s treasured possession. I belong to him. I know he loves me and cares for me. I am his.” In other words, amidst the storm, Paul appeals to the fact that he belongs to God. That’s the anchor of his soul. Q: Now, how does he know that amist the storm? Answer: Jesus the Christ.
The good news of the Gospel is that God came for us in Jesus Christ. He suffered, died, buried and rose again – for us – to forgive our sin and make us his own possession.
1Cor6:20 “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.”
Acts20:28 “[Jesus] obtained [the church] with his own blood.”
Isa43:1 “Fear no, for I have redeemd you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
Rev21:3 “[God] will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
By faith in Christ, you belong to God. You are not afterthought, not step-child, not forgotten. You are a joint heir w/ Christ. Jesus endured the ultimate storm of sin, death and the wrath of God – to get you. Jesus was rejected, betrayed, abused, treated unjustly, lost his friends, died a brutal death – to get you. That’s how you know you belong to God.In Christ, God will never cast you off.
Heb 13:5 “Never will I leave you, nor forsake you.”
Mt28:20 “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So, when we face hardship and storms we say, “I don’t know reasons for this storm but I know this, he died for me and I am loved and he knows. I am his.” Jesus is: our King who conquered sin for us, our High Priest who intercedes for us, our Savior who saves. No other believe system in the world comes close to offering anything like this relationship with God.
#4 God is trustworthy during our storms. vs23-25
In verses 23-25, Paul is told for the second time that he’s going to Rome (23:11). Now, how sure is he that he’s going to Rome? 100% sure. 14 days. Violent storm. Lost. NoGPS. No compass. No sun/stars. We’re going to Rome! Point? When God tells you something, it will be exactly what he says. He does exactly what he says. When God speaks it is going to happen. God does not lie.
Now, clearly Paul could have looked elsewhere for direction:
#1 Could have looked at his circumstances. (wind, waves, darkness, no food, no direction, no gear)
#2 Could have looked at panicking crew. (“we’re going to die”).
#3 Could have listened to his own feelings. (fears, doubts, questions, anxieties).
But, where does he go? Trustworthiness of God’s word. “I have faith…it will be exactly as I have been told…” So, this means that we have a Spirit-filled choice to make: Are we going to look to our circumstances, others or internal fears, or Bible? The cynic focuses on the storm, but the child of God focuses on the Shepherd.Ex. Psalm 23.
This is why two people can face same tragic circumstances, but it destroys one and transforms other. Makes the first more bitter, anxious, depressed, angry, isolated and aloneMakes the other more humble, dependent, thankful, patient, and compassionate. My prayer: that we can say, with Paul, “I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told”
#5 God will deliver us through our storms. vs44
I love this. What does it say? “all brought safely to land” Really?! There is nothing safe about this chapter. Starved, wet, nothing. Here’s the point: God takes care of his people – may not look like we’d expect. In fact, it often doesn’t look like we expece. But, he will deliver us – even in death. In the end, isn’t that all we need to know? Ex. Journals. He will never fail to come through. Maybe God brought you here for this word alone today: God will deliver you through your storms.
2Cor4:16-17 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…”
Is43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…”
Wonder if Luke was thinking of a story of Jesus he recorded in his gospel account: Luke 8.
22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”
Jesus is the Lord of the storm. He is the Lord of our storms. He is sovereign over our storms, at work amidst our storms, near during our storms, trustworthy in our storms, and will deliver us through our storms. He is the Lord of our storms.
You can trust him. How can we know? He took all the violence of the ultimate storm of your sin, debt, rebellion…he took it, he entered into it for you, so you don’t have to. That’s how you know: (1) he loves you, (2) you belong to God, (3) you’ll get thru every lesser storm (whatever it is). And that’s how you know it will said of you, if you love and trust Jesus, on that great day “and so it was that all were brought safely to land.”