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A Spiritual Storm (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
March 7, 2024 6:00 am

A Spiritual Storm (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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March 7, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Christians should not undervalue their presence amongst unbelievers. It may not be something as dramatic as what I just explained.

Maybe it's something more subtle. Maybe it's someone going through something in life and you are there with the words of wisdom and truth and are able to minister the Word of God. So be prepared for that. What would happen if you're a Christian on the ship but you've got nothing?

You're not prepared. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 27 as he begins a brand new study called, A Spiritual Storm. The apostle Paul and over 250 shipmates are being caught in a storm. And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed on the next day, they lightened the ship.

On the third day we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands. Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. Many of you know what it's like to go through a storm in life and to be in a situation where it's dire and desperate. You're at the verge of giving up.

No sun, no stars. A Spiritual Storm, that's the title of this message. And there's no shortage of metaphoric application. Allegory is all over this chapter. I'm certain I won't even make an attempt to hit each point and try to draw out the metaphor. You overdo it, you lose much of the truth that's in there. So you've got to balance it. Most of the earth will skip God's word today.

It is routinely unused, unappreciated, and unnoticed by people on this planet. This morning as we return to Paul's dramatic journey to Rome, we hopefully will be benefiting from the lessons coming out of it. His Christian life was action-packed, and God had promised this servant hardship, promised him opportunities, and he promised him deliverance. Well, when we look back at chapter 9, we read, "'For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake.'" This was told to Ananias, who went to baptize Paul, and God sent him there, and he told Ananias, Paul's going to suffer for his name's sake. In chapter 26, in verse 17, Paul, giving his witness, said, telling his audience what God said to him, "'I will deliver you from the Jewish people as well as from the Gentiles to whom I now send you.'" Well, Paul was promised to be used, that he would have the hardship, that he would be delivered, and he went on to suffer, shipwrecked multiple times, snakebite, many discomforts, betrayal from churchgoers. I should add, beloved churchgoers.

I don't mean that sarcastically. Paul loved the people that he ministered to, and it had to have broken his heart as well as oftentimes upset him with a righteous indignation, as he does mention in the Corinthian letter. Well, finally, he was martyred. He was put to death for Jesus Christ, but not without first taking boatloads of people to heaven with him, at least being a big part of that.

And not only in his lifetime, but subsequently. This is how God decided to use this man. God has a deeper meaning for the word deliverance than what we might have. God's dictionary is different. It's not different.

It is superior. He goes beyond our mere meanings, and he sees from the eyes of eternity. Paul was delivered from failing. Oh, he would not say that, but as we look at his life, and of course, he's not the only man and character, man or woman in Scripture. There are others who faced hardship for Christ.

Well, Yahweh in the Old Testament, Christ in the New, same person. Think of Jeremiah. Think of Naomi, how much she had to put up with in life, and yet ultimately the Lord delivered her from her hardships too. Paul knew that he did not deserve God, but he also came to know he needed God. And that's a big difference between those who routinely pass by the use of God's word. For those of you who are growing, you know, and you're still in the home, mom and dad provide so much for you. Maybe you don't yet sense your need for God.

Well, you should, because there's a big life ahead of you, and you want to face it the right way. This man Paul, not only was he saved, but he could not live without serving. See, these lessons, they come out.

That's why they're recorded for us. The Bible comes out and tells us, Paul said, these things are written for our edification, to make us better at serving God. Like all the apostles, we have this in common with a shameless culture and society. They lived at a time when culture was unabashed by their sin, the decadence.

It was everywhere. And we are increasingly faced with shameful behavior that not long ago would have been unspeakable, but now it is paraded. But we have something in common, even with those who parade their multicolor flag in defiance of Christ, boasting that they are not ashamed of their lifestyle. What could we possibly have in common with them? They're not ashamed of their lifestyle, and we're not ashamed of ours. That's what we have in common.

That's about it. We are not ashamed of Jesus Christ, nor his gospel, his word, his miracles, his promise to return, and his judgment to come. They might not care for his judgment.

That will not be enough to stop it. We should have the audacity to live like we love Jesus around people who love defying Jesus. We don't have to be abrasive or intentionally so. We may be accused of that nonetheless. You stand your ground, you defy wrong, you're going to be accused of all sorts of things.

That's why you have to stand your ground. Jesus said, for whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Those are pretty serious words that Christ left for us. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so this mandate does not change.

In his time, it was a sinful and adulterous generation. What do you do if you are a pastor of a church and you don't preach the word? Because you're ashamed to preach it.

You're afraid people won't come back. Or maybe you've got some other sinister motive for not preaching God's word. What Christ says, whoever is ashamed of me and my words, pretty big deal.

Sinners may resist God's Son, but again, the wrath of God abides on this condition, and that's why we're here. That's why Paul was going through what he was going through to try to bring the gospel to people that they could make a sensible choice themselves. 2 Timothy, Paul said to Timothy, therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. Well, evidently, there were Christians in Paul's day that were ashamed of Christ.

You say, how can they be Christians then? Well, that's another sermon. But sticking to 2 Timothy 1.8, therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, his prisoner.

He never felt he was Rome's prisoner. He was the prisoner of Christ. But share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God. Salvation will come through Christ, but not for those who refuse him. And what we're seeing on this ship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea 2,000 years ago are people going through, metaphorically, the storms of life, and they will be given the invitation to believe Christ.

What they do with it after that is between they and God. We look now at verse 17 and hopefully can come back with these verses, color in everything I've been introducing, or trying to introduce at the least. Verse 13, when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. Well, Luke writes, he says, they thought they received their, Paul said, let's not do this, but he was overruled by the centurion, the ship's owner and captain.

And Luke inserts that they thought that that was the right thing to do. It was going to be a disaster, of course, knowing this ship ends in shipwreck. And the south wind blew an ill omen that is misleading. This ill omened, misleading sign passed right by those who were in charge. It didn't pass by Paul. And not always in the Bible is the south wind indicative of coming disaster.

It's used twice again in Scripture. And actually, before Paul gets to Rome, the south wind will blow when he gets on another ship and they'll arrive safely. But this is a different situation.

This was not the season to be at sea. And they had warnings. This is a perfect picture of an unbeliever in prayer with human logic, human effort, wasted hope. I don't know why people have a hard time believing that there are false religions.

I don't know why they have a hard time believing that they're all false except one. This is a principle that we practice. Your wallet is for you. Well, maybe your wife and something like that, too.

But a stranger cannot just come use your wallet. There are rules. Well, with God, there are rules, too. Those prophets on Mount Carmel that were going against the prophet Elijah, they're very sincere, very devout. A lot of human effort went into their parading themselves around the altar and cutting themselves and chanting for hours, all for nothing.

Their religion got them death. When the south wind blew softly, everybody was unaware that a typhoon was stalking them. Elsewhere, as I mentioned, the south wind is relatively harmless, but not here. The quiet before the storm. This is a spiritual storm. Satan does not want Paul to make it to Rome. It's not what hell wants. Hell fears such servants getting a platform to preach.

Well, we see this today if you use media and you're getting too many followers and you're not following the agenda, you get cancelled. Well, Satan is trying to cancel Paul because you've got to say, well, God is sending him to Rome. Why would he let them get in such a horrific storm? Well, because we're looking at one way spiritual war is conducted. This is a spiritual event. God knows why he allows these things.

He does not always tell us why. Job is, of course, one of the poster boys for such an experience. Luke clearly recalls the day the south wind blew. It was like this warm air coming up from the south.

Well, there's going to be a violent wind coming from the northeast, the rocks of Malta. They are awaiting this ship. And it's interesting that as Luke is going through this and keeping a journal, it's going to be future scripture for them. It's present scripture for us. It made it into God's history book. God felt that this was important enough to benefit future generations. And it has become holy scripture because of God's involvement and the lessons that abound supposing that they had obtained their desire. Well, again, the captain and the pilot, the owner of the ship and Julius, the centurion, they felt confirmed, not heeding Paul to stay put in fair havens.

They wanted to make it just 50 miles west to Phoenix. And they won't get there. This ship will never dock again. Many an unbeliever refuses to heed the warnings that the believers give. And so we tell them, beware of the devil's charm. These men felt that staying the course, we're going to just have to plow through.

Well, sometimes in life you do. But again, there's a way that seems right to man, but its way leads to death. And these chaps here had the warnings, but they felt they'd overcome. Well, why didn't they listen to the man of God? A carnal man cannot receive the things of the Spirit, nor can he know them.

They're spiritually discerned. Their foolishness to him, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. Of course, that's the Isle of Crete, and the wind's going to shove them out to sea.

They're going to be shoved so violently, they're going to fear that they're shoved to Africa, literally. Well, we come out now to verse 14, but not long after that south wind blew, a tempestuous headwind arose called Eurocladon. Now this Eurocladon is a nor'easter, you could say. Their sense of well-being was short-lived, and they have passed the point of no return. They just want to go inland to the north, but that's where the wind is coming from, and they can't. They won't let the ship do it. This tempestuous headwind arose, this Eurocladon, surging out of the north, tempestuous there, translated in the English.

In the Greek, we get our word typhoon from that Greek word that is translated tempestuous. So that gives us an idea that these men are going into very serious, uncooperative, and deadly weather. Verse 15, so when the ship was caught and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.

Men, there are times you're forced to let her drive. That's biblical. As I mentioned, they couldn't return to fair havens. And if you're offended by such a little humorous statement like that, it's because you've been indoctrinated.

You've been told that any humorous things that somehow makes you inferior and stuff like that, I hope you don't succumb to the world's just junk. Anyway, sometimes in life, we get caught in a storm that we knew we had to dodge, but we couldn't dodge it because of others. That's why we couldn't get around the storm. Somebody else has just put us on the ship. We have no say so at that point. That was Paul's condition. What could he do? Again, the only two that we know of that could have opted out were Luke and Aristarchus, and they decided they're going to stick with Paul.

They're not going to turn to him. What courage those men exercised. Well, control was drastically diminished of the ship. Verse 16, and running under the shelter of the island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty.

So the little dinghy, keep it from flapping around and banging into the ship, they secured it. The sailors will try to use that to abandon ship without the others later in the story, but all the forces seem to combine to make impossible the trip to Rome. Again, it's a spiritual storm. Satan is involved. God's going to let the storm play out, but he's going to do his thing in the midst of the storm nonetheless. And if you've been there in life, where you have these storms in life and you want out, and God is saying, I'm not going to let you out yet, and I'm going to be with you. I don't know about you, but sometimes I still say, Lord, I still want out. I know you're here.

But this is not pleasant, and that being kind to the experiences. Verse 17, when they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship, and fearing lest they should run aground on the certus sands, they struck sail and so were driven. And the Greek is really just certus because that implies the shoals, the shallow waters where the sandbars are. When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship.

Well, the cables were draped under the ship to help hold the boat intact, like putting a giant rubber band around the hull to try to keep it from falling apart. Now, Claddagh is about 170 miles from the African shore. And so for them to fear that they're going to run aground on certus, which is in Africa, gives us an indication that those winds were pushing them hard. And they didn't know where they were, but they felt, you know, just, man, the way we have been pushed from the north, from the northeast, we have got to be heading towards Africa.

And so it's a pretty rough ride for them. A lot of sea sickness. They could not eat for much of the trip. And where it says they struck sail, more accurately in the Greek, they lowered the gear, they rigged the ship so that it could be driven by the wind because they didn't have any control. And they didn't want to be broadsided and capsized. And so they tried to yield to the weather.

It was the best thing they could do at this point. I don't know a lot about sailing. I know I wouldn't want to be on the ship with them.

I know that much. Verse 18, and because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship, they being the crew. How else does Luke tell us how nauseating, how terrifying this was? He says, we were exceedingly tempest-tossed. We were exceedingly typhoon-tossed.

What other adjectives could he have used? So you have to understand, just, man, this is a rough ride. So next time you go through something miserable in life, you know, it helps to remember God has been there before and His people have been there before, and He will never leave us nor forsake us. The simple promises of God are sufficient if you lay hold on them. Verse 19, on the third day we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands.

Well, you really couldn't use anybody else's hands. Anyway, again, they've got 11 days to go. This is the third day. They'll be two weeks dealing with this storm. It's kind of hard for us to imagine such a thing with, you know, modern ships, but modern ships would just sink and this wooden thing just got thrown around. Were there other ships on this sea caught in this storm with no Apostle Paul? Did they perish if they were on the sea? I think Christians should be careful not to undervalue their presence amongst unbelievers.

This ship survives because of the Apostle Paul. Years ago, I was working six and a half stories up, and the person I was working with forgot that gravity is brutal, and he fell. He fell 65 feet, and as I watched him twirl, he fell so long that I called out two or three times and man was in the hole, and I prayed for him as he was falling. His head was about to hit one of the beams that were coming across, and I looked away, still praying. It hit his shoulder. He survived the fall. He lost his spleen, careless of him, and use of his arm for a while, forever, but he got some of it back. My point is I firmly believe that my prayers to our God saved that man's life.

There is no reason he should have survived that fall, and he did. And so I come back to this to say that Christians should not undervalue their presence amongst unbelievers. It may not be something as dramatic as what I just explained.

Maybe it's something more subtle. Maybe it's someone going through something in life, and you are there with the words of wisdom and truth and are able to minister the word of God. So be prepared for that. What would happen if you're a Christian on the ship, but you've got nothing? You're not prepared. You haven't been in the word.

You haven't been loving on the Lord and praising the Lord and pushing through moods that will rob from you everything that Christ wants to give to you if they can. So there is yet another lesson. Here we have this ship of men that are doing what men do, trying to push forward to get to a better place, from Connecticut to Phoenix.

It's just a short run on the map. But anyway, there they were. Paul was stuck with them. Verse 20, Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. Coming back to verse 20, here they are lost at sea in the lesser sense. Not all the souls are lost, but the ship is lost. No magnetic compass, unable to navigate with the stars and the sun. There's no such thing as a mayday to send.

There's nobody to receive it. This sickening fear that they're going to sink in these waters. Luke says, and no small tempest beat on us. They were hostages of the sea. And we have been in storms in our lives, metaphorically again, where no small tempest beat on us, driving us to prayer, trying to keep our head above water, not becoming sort of drowning in our sorrows and our condition, understanding there's other things in life we have to still do while the other part of our life is falling apart around us, or you know, in the midst of these things.

No small tempest beat on us. Years prior, Paul was beaten with rods three times. He was whipped five times. He was stoned once. He understood beatings for Christ, you know, to avoid being beaten for no purpose, just for carnal reasons. It's just such a loss. Here is a man enduring these things for Christ, often sent by the Lord into harm's way. Well, we applaud that when we see a naval vessel sent in harm's way in times of war.

Well, the Christian is always at war too, maybe not as glamorous in this life, but it is far more worthy. It's eternal. You've been listening to Cross-Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit That's We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross-Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at or simply search for Cross-Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Acts, right here on Cross-Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-07 08:57:53 / 2024-03-07 09:07:03 / 9

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