Today, on Insight for Living, from Chuck Swindoll. Some of our favorite words in scripture came right from the Lord to Paul. He said, When I heard the Lord say, No, I also heard the Spirit say, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.
And now Paul's response, Most gladly, therefore, I will boast about my weaknesses, because when I am weak, he is strong. Have you ever had one of those days when you're feeling off balance? Perhaps your stomach is churning and you're not certain where the turmoil is coming from. Well, in those confusing moments, how do we discern whether it's nothing more than a lack of sleep or that God is trying to speak to us? Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues our study about the Holy Spirit. This is message number seven in a 14-part series called Flying Closer to the Flame.
Chuck titled today's study, Those Unidentified Inner Promptings. Normally, when you and I know that bonds and afflictions await us, we are frightened. But not when the Spirit of God brings a sense of reassurance. Could this not explain the relentless courage and determination of the martyrs and the missionaries of years gone by? When you read their lives, you say, shaking your head, I can't imagine how they endured such a thing. How did they live with themselves?
How could they even sleep at night? It was the Spirit of God. They were bound in the Spirit in the midst of these threatening fears. Could this not explain the courage and determination of the reformers, who though they would lose reputation, occupation, status? Imagine that. For their convictions, they would be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. For their convictions, they would be burned at the stake in some cases for their convictions, and they considered their lives worthy of death.
How could they do that? They are bound in the Spirit. And I say to you again, I can't make it more clear. I don't know how to make it clearer than that. There is just that inner prompting, I am here.
I am aware of what you're going through. I know of the threats. I tell you, I will take you through them. Turn from Acts 20 to Acts 27.
Let me give you this subject and then we'll look at it rather quickly. Acts 27, one of the most adventuresome scenes in all the New Testament. If you love sailing, you will love Acts 27. If you like life in the open sea and the challenge of going from point A to point B in a storm, you are weird, but you will love Acts 27. In this account, Dr. Luke is present, which is why he says we, all the way through the account.
He's the writer of Acts, and he's including himself with Paul. There's a crescendo of danger intensifying as each mile passes in the sea. So let me call it this, in times of potential disaster, the Spirit prompts inner reassurance and outer peace.
In times of potential, let's call it danger and disaster, the Spirit prompts reassurance, inner reassurance and outer peace. When it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they proceeded to deliver Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan cohort named Julius. Remember the centurion.
We'll see him several times on the ship. And embarking in the Adramidian ship, which was about to sail to the regions along the coast of Asia, sorry you don't have a map in front of you, it's very exciting when you study exactly where they went. We put out to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, and the next day we put in at Sidon.
And Julius, there's our centurion friend, treated Paul with consideration, allowed him to go to his friends and receive care. And from there we put out to sea and sailed under the shelter of Cyprus because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed through the sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia, and there the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy, and he put us aboard it. So they changed ships. And when we had sailed slowly for a good many days and with difficulty had arrived off Cnidus, since the wind did not permit us to go farther, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmon. And with difficulty sailing past it, we came to a certain place called Fair Havens. When considerable time had passed, the voyage was now dangerous.
Since even the fast was already over, Paul began to admonish them. And look at what he says. Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be attended with damage and great loss. This is called a premonition in human terms. Not only of the cargo in the ship, but also of our lives. I sense we're in for severe danger. But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain of the ship than he was by what Paul said. And because the harbor was not suitable for wintering, the majority reached a decision to put out to sea from there if somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete facing northeast and southeast, and spend the winter there. And when a moderate south wind came up, supposing that they had gained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began sailing along Crete close in shore. But before very long, there rushed down from the land of violent wind, called Uroquilo. And when the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along. We're in for trouble, okay?
We're out of control. And running under the shelter of a small island called Clota, we were scarcely able to get the ship's boat under control. And after that, had hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship and fearing that they might run aground in the shallows. They let down the sea anchor and let themselves be driven along. The next day, as we were being violently storm-tossed, they began to jettison the cargo. And on the third day, they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. And since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and no small storm was assailing us, from then on, all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned. I mean, we sit in this comfortable place and we read this story and we think, when is he going to get through?
I want to get that coffee before I go to bed tonight. I mean, we got our minds on a hundred other things. I mean, imagine this. And then on top of everything else, they're at sea and they're starting to lose cargo. They've already lost control and they're afraid of losing life. That's the picture. That's the panic. That's the disaster, the potential disaster.
And so, verse 21, when they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up in their midst. Now watch this. This is terrific. Men, you ought to have followed my advice. Don't you love guys like that? I told you so way back there. And here he is in the ship. Now men, I told you back when we were together that we didn't have to go through all of this.
And he's bouncing all around, hanging on to the lines, the cables. And not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. And yet now, I urge you to keep up your courage. How could he say that? It is the work of the Spirit of God that gives this kind of courage.
It doesn't come naturally. And gave them a sense of inner reassurance and outer peace. It says, I urge you keep your courage for there shall be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship for this very night, an angel of God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me saying, do not fear, Paul, you must stand before Caesar and before God and behold God has granted you all those who are sailing with you. Therefore, I've heard from God, keep up your courage, man, for I believe God, it will turn out exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on a certain island.
How's that for a concluding comment? By the way, we're going to run aground. But when the 14th night had come, as we were being 14th night, no wonder they hadn't eaten, vomiting 14 days in a row, we were being driven about in the Adriatic Sea about midnight, the sailors began to surmise, they were approaching some land, they took soundings, found it to be 20 fathoms. A little farther on, they took a sounding, 15 fathoms. Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak.
I love that. They go to the anchors, bring the daybreak, bring the daybreak, bring the daybreak, hurry, hurry, hurry. They waited for daybreak as the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had let down the ship's boat into the sea on the pretense of intending to lay out anchors from the bow. Paul said to the centurion and the others, unless those men remained in the ship, you cannot be saved, you guys are forgetting. In panic, you're getting off like rats from a sinking ship, stay exactly where I told you to stay. See, he had met with God.
The soldiers cut away the ropes from the ship's boat and let it fall away. Until day was about to dawn, Paul was encouraged them all to take some food. Isn't that great? Hey, let's have breakfast, you guys. Sit down, let's eat.
We're going to need a little strength. Today is the 14th day, you've been constantly watching going without eating, having taken nothing. I encourage you to take some food for this is for your preservation.
Not a hair from the head of any of you shall perish. He said this now for the third time. Having said this, he took bread, gave thanks, he broke it and began to eat. All of them were encouraged, they themselves took food. Isn't it amazing the power, the inspiration one man can bring to a whole ship full of people, even seasoned sailors? And here is this man, not that accustomed to sailing, who says to them, trust me, get a bite to eat and we'll watch God work.
And that's exactly what happened. And all of us on the ship were 276 persons, verse 37. And when they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing out the wheat into the sea. When day came, they couldn't recognize the land, but they did observe a certain bay with a beach and they resolved to drive the ship onto it, casting off the anchors. They left him in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach, striking a reef.
Where two seas meet, they ran the vessel aground and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable for the stern began to be broken up by the force of the waves. The soldier's plan was to kill the prisoners that none of them should swim away and escape, but the centurion, here he is again, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, commanded that those who could swim jump, get to land, and the rest should follow, some on planks and others on various things from the ship, and thus it happened that they all were brought safely to land. All 276 persons, exactly as God had said. How could Paul remain so encouraged? The spirit of God prompted him in this night vision, this presence, this sense of reassurance that he was in it and he would keep his arms around those men on the ship.
Rare, but real. There's one more, not as in the next book, Romans chapter 8, it is not as adventuresome as that, but it is just as real. Here it is, in times of great sorrow and grief, the spirit prays for us and ministers to us. Romans 8, 22 through 27. In times of great sorrow and grief, the spirit prays for us and ministers to us. Some of you need to hear that, you're ministering to those who are sick, you may very well be sick yourself. And you have the biblical assurance that even though you don't know how to pray as you should, the Lord prays for you.
Look at 22 of chapter 8. We know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves having the first fruits of the spirit. We ourselves groan within ourselves eagerly waiting for our adoption, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope. For why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it. And in the same way, the spirit also helps our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should, but the spirit himself intercedes for us.
Here are those promptings. He calls them groanings too deep for words. Have you ever been so overwhelmed in a need that you could not even articulate your prayers?
Yes you have, and yes I have. At that moment, God interprets the groanings. He understands what is best and dispatches it. And then comes that favorite verse, we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. You know a classic example of this?
I'm going to show it to you and then we're through. 2 Corinthians 12, where Paul didn't know how to pray as he should. He prayed for what he felt was the right thing to pray for.
He had a thorn in the flesh, some physical ailment, some terrible pain that he couldn't get rid of, and he wanted relief and he asked for relief and relief didn't come. And he tells us that verse 8, for this thing I prayed three times that it might depart from me. I've heard people teach that you're only supposed to pray for something once. Well Paul prayed for this three times. Our Lord tells us to keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. It's a heresy to say pray only once for something.
The Bible teaches you keep asking. Now it so happens after his third request the Lord broke into it. Said you're off course Paul, my answer is no, I'm not going to take the thorn away. This by the way is a real message for those who think that every suffering will deserves healing. Here's an example of God saying no I won't heal you. It is not always God's will that we be healed from our affliction or pain.
Paul wasn't. And what is it that the Spirit said to him? What were the promptings?
Do you know what they were? They're right here in verse 9. Some of our favorite words in scripture came right from the Lord to Paul. He said when I heard the Lord say no I also heard the Spirit say my grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness. That's what the Lord said to Paul when he told him no. And now Paul's response most gladly therefore I will boast about my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
When are we going to learn the truth of that? I mean if we want to boast in anything boast in the things that you are inadequate over or about. Terrible English but it's true. The things that you feel weakness in inadequate over things that you have to candidly admit you struggle with say that. Paul says I will boast in my weakness.
I won't hide the fact that I live with pain because when I am weak he is strong. Verse 10 therefore I am well content with weaknesses and insults and distresses persecutions difficulties for Christ's sake for when I am weak why I'm strong. I can tell you from firsthand experience that some messages that I have brought in times of enormous pressure and weakness and inadequacy in my own life have been the messages most blessed of God.
And I struggled through them didn't feel like anybody would even want to listen. I couldn't wait to get out of the place where I was teaching or preaching because of my own struggle at the time and I heard response after response. I can't tell you the times when in weakness God's power has been perfected and revealed. There is something about pain that gets us to identify with other people all the walls break down and God really ministers. Well those are the promptings.
Did you get them? In times of extreme loneliness desperation the spirit prompts hope and encouragement. In times of threatening fears the spirit prompts calm determination and courage. In times of potential danger and even disaster the spirit prompts inner reassurance and outer peace. And in times of great sorrow and grief even weakness the spirit prays for us and ministers to us.
A couple of practical suggestions if I may then we're through. When we're not sure it is from the spirit and sometimes it's not read softly. Don't be too dogmatic. In fact keep it to yourself.
Say little. Be sure that nothing that you're promoting contradicts scripture the Lord doesn't lead against his own revealed word. So don't get on a hobby horse over something that is clearly non biblical. Please when you're not sure tread slowly.
Keep it to yourself. If Paul had not been so sure on that ship I doubt that he would have stood up and said not a hair from anyone's head will be touched. We'll all make it safely to land. Now when we are sure that it's of God stand firm even against other people's doubts. Be strong.
Be confident. It's a part of walking by faith. There are times that you will have other people say there is no way in the world that God could be in this and you know absolutely in your heart that he is stand firm. You won't be able to convince them. But your testimony is that God has prompted me in this and I am assured he is in it and will see me through.
You know I don't know where you are in this time in your life. I don't know how God is going to use this message in anyone's life hearing my words today. But I have a feeling some of you needed to hear these things.
He said one thing to one person and something altogether different to someone else. But there's something in all of this for some of us. And I hope you will hear and not soon forget. Dear Father, thank you for your counsel which comes so consistently from your book that has withstood the test of time. Thank you for truth that is more reassuring than feelings. Thank you for a sense of confidence in the midst of pressure and even danger that gives us hope to endure. Thank you for reassurance through the path of pain. I pray that you will use what has been presented from your word in a special way in the lives of a few people.
Take away our fear of the unknown. And while we wish to have discernment, Lord, in the midst of the supernatural we're often a little unsure, for your work is supernatural. So we pray that you will guide us into truth and not error as we begin to live this out. And I do pray that you will bring a great deal of comfort to an individual or to individuals who at this moment need that the most. A quiet, calm sense of confidence that you are at work in the dear name of Jesus Christ, we pray.
Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living. Today's message from Chuck Swindoll is titled, Those Unidentified Inner Promptings. This presentation is part of a comprehensive study on the Holy Spirit that Chuck called, Flying Closer to the Flame. To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. Each of these programs is located on the Insight for Living website. And by utilizing this great resource, you'll have Chuck's teaching right at your fingertips. Not long ago, someone left an affirming comment that said, Thank you for this ministry. My parents used to listen on the radio. Now I can listen on my computer.
Maybe you're not one to use the computer in this way, or perhaps you're looking for something more tangible in nature. Well, Chuck wrote a full length book that's called Embraced by the Spirit. This vital resource parallels the teaching series in many ways and puts it right at your fingertips. It's perfectly suited to use in your personal time with God or as a discussion tool in your small group Bible study. The subtitle gives you an idea of what you can expect.
Embraced by the Spirit, The Untold Benefits of Intimacy with God. To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash store or give us a call. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Well, we are so grateful to all those who give generously to Insight for Living. God is using your generosity to change lives. To give a donation today, call us.
If you're listening in the United States, the number to dial is 800-772-8888 or go online to insight.org slash donate. Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun. All in the company of those who share your respect for God's Word and God's creation.
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The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll presents a helpful message about the spirit and our emotions, Tuesday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Those Unidentified Inner Promptings, was copyrighted in 1993 and 2003, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2003 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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