Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Paul was determined to go to Rome, knowing it was a one-way trip. He would take the gospel to the highest levels of government.
But while en route, a shipwreck would slow the journey. Today, troubles on the way to see Caesar. Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Wind with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, Paul apparently knew that his life would end in Rome.
His determination to get there is amazing. Dave, I can't help but think of the words of D.L. Moody, this one thing I do and not these one hundred things I dabble in.
What we need to do is to learn from Paul to be gospel-driven in a world that has rejected the gospel. In my new book entitled No Reason to Hide, chapter 8 is entitled, Will We Live with a Gender-Neutral Society? Maybe I'm speaking to someone who believes that they are transgender. How should they relate to that?
What do we say to the person who says, I identify as a woman, and that is my right as a man? These are the kinds of issues I discuss in the book for a gift of any amount it can be yours. Ask for the book No Reason to Hide. I need to also emphasize that we're coming to the end of this offer. Here's what you do.
Go to RTWoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 and I'll have more to say about this at the end of this message. This is the last in a series of messages entitled, Light in the Darkness, How the Gospel Impacts Culture. And today we're going to discover how the gospel got to Rome as we end this series. And as we stop to think of all that has happened, let me keep in mind that, let you keep in mind that we're going to be talking about Paul on his journey to Rome and the storm that he was in. If you're here today and you are in a crisis, you have come to the right place because you are either in a crisis, you've just come out of a crisis, or God is preparing you for a crisis. And that's why you're here today because all of us go through storms and today we're going to learn how Paul did it and how we can do it too.
But first of all, a little bit of background. The Apostle Paul was there in Jerusalem, you remember, and he was accused of starting a riot and he was accused of desecrating the temple, both charges were bogus. And as a result, however, to save his life, he was taken to Caesarea and it is there in Caesarea that he stood before men such as Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa. And if you've been with us in this series of messages, you know that we discussed Paul's defense in the midst of these people of power. But Jesus had told the Apostle Paul that you are to bear witness to me both in Jerusalem and Rome and so the Apostle Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship and he said that he wanted to go to Rome and to Rome Paul did go. The Bible tells us that he left the beautiful harbor of Caesarea and now we are actually in the 27th chapter, the 27th chapter of the book of Acts. It says in verse 1 of chapter 27, and when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion named Julius.
We're not going to read this whole chapter by any means. It is absolutely loaded with nautical terms, probably 15 or 20, many of which I did not know what it was even referring to. But if you're a person who is interested in boating, it'd be interesting for you to study this passage almost word for word as the book of Acts explains what happens as Luke tells us the story. On board the ship there is Luke and there is Paul and there is Aristarchus as well as other prisoners and of course many sailors. And then the Bible tells us that they go and they go past Cyprus and then they come to a place called Lycia. We're now in the last part of verse 5, and it is there that the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and he put us on board.
Put us on board because remember, Luke is with Paul. Alexandria was the breadbasket of the world and we can understand that this ship which was loaded with wheat was on its way to Italy. Now the Bible tells us that they came to a place called Fair Havens. Fair Havens is really just off the coast of Crete. It says in verse 8, coasting along with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens which was near the city of LaCie.
Now I must read and then we're going to put it all in context. Since much time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous because even the fast, that is a reference to the Day of Atonement, we're talking about October, was already over, Paul advised them saying, sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss not only of the cargo and the ship but also our lives, but the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there.
On the chance that they somehow could reach Phoenix which was about 40 miles away, a harbor of Crete facing both southwest and northwest and spend the winter there. Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along just that far. Paul is going to encounter a storm and this passage of scripture tells us something about storms and it really does apply also to the storms in our life. When you read it, you almost get seasick because of the experience that the Apostle Paul and his friends and the sailors and the soldiers who were aboard what they had.
We're talking here about a ship that is about 140 feet long and about 40 feet wide with 276 people we discover and on the way they go. What I'd like us to do now is to look at some lessons that we can learn from Paul's experience here on the way to Italy, on the way to Rome. First of all, notice carefully that storms often come to us when we are doing God's will, when we're doing God's will. Now there are some storms that we bring into our lives and they are our fault, Jonah for example, his storm. The reason that he went through that experience is because he was a disobedient prophet. He was running from God and sometimes we blame the pagans for our storms when really the purpose of the storm and the reason for it might be some disobedient Christian who is bringing this storm upon himself. But there are some storms that we are involved in that are not our fault, that are brought upon us by others and that's what the Apostle Paul was experiencing here. You remember I read a moment ago that he was talking to the people and he said, let us not go because we are going to encounter a tremendous storm and destruction. And so Paul counseled them to spend the winter in Fair Havens.
But of course the man who owned the ship and the other people, they thought that they could take the risk of going at least as far as Phoenix, another 40 miles away because this harbor evidently was not very good to winter in. But even so, it turns out that they are going to wish that they took the Apostle Paul's advice very much they're going to regret that they didn't. But now Paul is going to be in a predicament on the same ship with people who made it a decision for him and there's no way that he can get out of it because he's going to the same place that they are going to, just like you and I sometimes do in our storms. Maybe you're here today and you are in a storm that was caused by someone else. Some of you parents are in a storm that was caused by a child or your children. Some of you spouses may be here and you are in a storm that was caused by your spouse.
I think for example of a woman who became party to dishonesty because she signed an income tax form that was dishonestly filled out by her husband. So she's in a storm, not of her own doing exactly, but a storm that is brought upon her by others. Now what is really encouraging is for us to realize that whether you are in a storm today that is entirely your fault or whether you are in a storm that was brought upon you because of someone else, some friend, some member of your family, either way please keep in mind that God is there to help you. He's there to help us in the storms that we create and the storms that others create for us. There's a second lesson that we must learn and that is that storms cannot hide the face of God.
They cannot hide the face of God. Now in order to explain this we need to go back to the text to look at exactly how bad things were when they set sail. You'll notice it says, a tempestuous wind called a north-easterner, I'm in verse 14, struck down from the land and when the ship was caught and could not face the wind we gave way to it and we were driven along. Skipping a few verses, notice it says in verse 18, since we were violently storm-tossed they began the next day to jettison the cargo and on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands.
When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and no small tempest lay on us all hope of our being saved at last was abandoned. Wow, what an experience they were having. And you just imagine it now, all of their cargo is going to go.
They are going to save some wheat. Later on they throw it into the sea as well as we shall learn but for now they're keeping back at least enough for food even though the 276 people on board did not eat for 14 days, the text tells us. Now it's not because they didn't have something on the ship that they could eat but if you know anything about being storm-tossed and seasick you know that your appetite tends to go away and that's the kind of experience that these men on this ship were having.
And so the sun was dark and the moon wasn't there, the stars were not giving light for two full weeks, 14 days, these men were on this ship. Now in the midst of this Paul has a good word. You'll notice it says in verse 21, since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, men you should have listened to me.
Is there a parent who is listening today who has not said this to his child? Men you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart for there will be no loss of life among you but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of God to whom I belong and whom I worship and he said, do not be afraid Paul, you must stand before Caesar and behold God has granted you all those who sail with you. So the Apostle Paul receives a vision, the last vision that he receives as recorded in the book of Acts, there are six of them and this is the last. An angel of the Lord comes and the Apostle Paul has this special revelation that lets him know that God is going to take care of him because he's got to get to Rome. It's very important that he get there according to the will of God.
So everything now is jettisoned. You'll notice that the cargo has gone into the sea and all that the sailors and those aboard care about now is their own life. That's what's important to them. You know we have friends like that, Rebecca and I have someone who's not at all connected with Moody Church and he's about to lose everything. His home is over leveraged, it almost is certain that he's going to be losing his house, his car, he's without a job, everything is going to go. And in this experience that they are having as well, everything is going to be gone except their own lives. God is going to spare their life. And maybe there's somebody who's listening to me today and you're that person, it seems as if everything around you is being taken from you. Maybe you'll be able to go on but you don't know where you're going to live or what you're going to do because everything is lost.
That's the experience of these 276 people on board. But now I have to ask you a question, where is God in the midst of this? You can't look to the sun for perspective, you can't look to the stars for guidance. Does the storm hide God's face?
And the answer is of course, no it doesn't. As God was there in this experience, God knew the longitude and the latitude of that little boat. Long before the GPS was invented, God knew exactly where that little boat was or that ship. God knew exactly the depth of the water, the speed of the wind, and the height of the waves. All that was known to God.
His knowledge is so complete that he even knew exactly how much every one of those boards on that ship could handle. All that was known to God and he could see them even when they couldn't see him. And you know there are times when there are storms in our life when we can't see God, we just can't see him.
Three years ago I told you about the death of my close friend Mark Waltz with whom I played tennis for 20 years and how he told me that he walked into the room as he was struggling with cancer in all of his pain in the middle of the night, didn't want to awaken his wife, and just sat there. And he said it was as if all the faith just drained from his soul. What about all the verses of Scripture?
What about all the promises of God? Listen, there are times when you can't see God, but when push comes to shove as it often does in life, I need to emphasize that it is more important that God can see us than that we can see God, and God is there, even at times that we cannot see him. You see, that's why we sing, when darkness veils his lovely face, I rest upon his unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil. God is with you today, even when you can't see him. Storms are encountered in the will of God.
That's the first lesson. Why was the Apostle Paul in the predicament he was in? He was simply doing God's will. God says, go to Rome, he's on his way to Rome, and this is what he gets. That he's in the middle of a storm, but storms cannot hide the face of God. And there's a third lesson, and that is that storms cannot, storms cannot hinder the purpose of God. God had a purpose. There was a reason why that boat had to go to Rome, a very important reason. And you'll notice that God in the purpose comes and speaks to the Apostle Paul by means of an angel, and you know in verse 24, the angel says, do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar.
I love that little word must. About 10 years ago, I preached an entire message just on some of the musts of the Bible. God says, you have to go there because that's my purpose for you.
So there was no chance in the world that the Apostle Paul was going to drown. God had a plan for him, and the storm was not going to thwart that plan. Isn't it wonderful to know that when we are in the hands of God, God is the one who determines where we go, the issues that we confront. But we also have to pray that we will confront these issues boldly, lovingly, but with truth. That's why I've written a book entitled, No Reason to Hide. And I hope that you have time to pick up a pencil or a pen because in a moment I'm going to be giving you some very important contact information. Let me ask you a question.
Should we call people by their preferred pronouns? Well those are the kinds of issues I discuss in my book, No Reason to Hide. And I need to emphasize that we are coming to the end.
This is one of the last days that we are making this resource available. You know, Anne Rand, who was not a friend of Christianity, nevertheless said some very wise things. She said, you can certainly avoid reality, but you can't avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.
We're living in an era where people want to avoid reality. I believe that this book will help you to interpret the culture and of course also give you examples of standing against it. Here's what you do. Right now you can go to your computer or your tablet, type in RTWOffer, RTWOffer.com because for a gift of any amount this book can be yours. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Go to RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Does an affair have to be physical to be a real affair?
Listen to the story of this anonymous listener. My husband has been having an emotional affair with a coworker. He's been caught in this relationship twice, but says now that he's truly sorry. But the trust and respect between us has been damaged. How do I, as the offended spouse, start the healing process when the wound is so new?
I'm staying married to him because of the children, but is an emotional affair grounds for divorce? Well, my dear friend, thank you so much for writing about this question. And I believe that you are touching a nerve. Probably there are hundreds of marriages, maybe thousands, that are in trouble today. There are many women facing the very same question. There are men that are facing the same question.
Couple of comments. First of all, your ability to heal ultimately and to trust is going to be directly tied to the attitude of your husband. You say that he is now truly sorry.
I'm skeptical. I doubt whether that is enough for you to be able to trust him again. Because the words, I'm sorry, come so easily to a person's mouth. The question is, is your husband really repentant? Does he understand the damage that this relationship has done to you?
Does he understand the extent of your hurt? You know, I've said it often on this broadcast that sin, when it is viewed superficially, is dealt with superficially. This sin needs to be dealt with in a very strong way. So the question is, is your husband repentant? Now, a couple of things. Number one, is he willing to make sure that he cuts off all these relationships and what he has done?
Is there proof that he is able to do that and that he has done it? Secondly, is he willing to be accountable to somebody? I really think that you can't solve this problem between the two of you.
What you need is accountability. You need a counselor to intervene. You need someone who is going to hold your husband's feet to the fire, so to speak.
Because I don't think that you can rebuild trust unless that relationship is on solid ground. Now, with reference to your question whether or not you have grounds for divorce, I really think that this is not a time to think about divorce. As you mentioned, because of the children and so forth, your husband has to be given the benefit of the doubt, but at the same time, he can't simply view this as something superficial that he can take care of on his own. You need intervention, and I pray to God that your marriage will be saved. Thank you Pastor Lutzer for those words of counsel. If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can.
Just go to our website at www.offer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Storms teach lessons that calm seas never teach. A boatload of prisoners was sailing to Rome when their vessel sank in gale force winds. Were it not for the courage of Paul, a fellow prisoner, all aboard would have been lost. Next time on Running to Win, the final chapter in an amazing story of faith.
It's no secret that America is in crisis. Pastor's book, No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture, will be sent as our gift to you when you give a gift of any amount to support Running to Win. Just call us at 1-888-218-9337, that's 1-888-218-9337. Online go to www.rtwoffer.com, that's www.rtwoffer.com. Your right to Running to Win, Moody Church, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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