Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
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. Today, the last chapter in an amazing story of faith.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, have you ever faced a storm like Paul faced? Of course, Dave, I have never really been in the same kind of storm.
I've never been in a boat that appears to be sinking. But all of us have encountered storms, disappointment, heartache. Oftentimes, we encounter storms when we have physical difficulties. Storms exist everywhere. And I need to emphasize that we're living at a time when we have national storms.
I'm talking about propaganda. In my new book entitled No Reason to Hide, chapter 10 is entitled Will We Submit to the Great Global Reset? There I discuss the issue of globalism, which seems to be developing, the borderless world, because after all, borders are racist. What about the death of money as we know it? These are the kinds of storms that are still lying ahead for our culture, and we have to be ready for them. This is one of the last days we are making this book available. It's entitled No Reason to Hide, Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture.
You can simply go to rtwoffer.com, rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And at the end of this message, I'm going to have more to say about globalism, so you stay tuned. 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. But 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. It's interesting to see how the other sailors reacted to all that was happening. You'll notice it says in verse 30, and as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship and had lowered the ship's boat into the sea under the pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved. You see, what the sailors were going to do is to escape secretly. When you are not a person of faith, what you are looking for is an escape hatch.
That's the first thing that I can possibly do to get out of this predicament and save myself and I don't care what happens to my family, I don't care what happens to my church because I'm number one. That's what was happening here with these sailors. Look at the response of the soldiers. And here we are going to read how the whole story ended.
I'm picking it up in verse 41. But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground, the bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. The soldiers plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. They wanted to save their own necks too. And of course, if you let a prisoner escape, your own life was in jeopardy. But what the soldiers were planning to do again is let me save myself, even if I have to kill you.
But the centurion wishing to save Paul kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and to make for the land and the rest on planks or pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land. That's after all of the wheat was thrown into the sea. You'll notice it says in verse 38, that's what took place. The apostle Paul gathered them together after 14 days. We didn't read it there, but it's in verse 33.
He says it's the 14th day since you haven't eaten, let's eat together. And then after they eat, everything else goes into the sea and the ship arrives, of course, totally broken up. Nothing is saved except their lives. But you see, the purpose of God was not thereby hindered.
Because of that little word must, you must go. You must go to Rome to stand before Caesar. Now, what was on that ship? Why was it so important that Paul make it? Well, the book of Ephesians was on that ship. If Paul had drowned, we wouldn't have that book in the New Testament. The book of Philippians was on that ship. How could we live without the book of Philippians and Ephesians? The book of Colossians was on that ship. Because it is generally believed that the Apostle Paul wrote those books after he got to Rome. The book of Luke was on that ship. Luke hadn't yet written his own book. He hadn't written the book of Acts. Can you imagine if Luke and Paul had drowned at that point and they never had an opportunity to do the writings that are part of scripture today?
Think of how impoverished we would be. So God says you must go to Rome and the storm will not hinder you. You're going to make it because it is my will and my purpose. Yes, we encounter storms when we're doing the will of God. I need to emphasize that some of you who are going through a storm today, you are in the middle of God's will. The storm does not mean that you're out of God's will. And the storms do not hide the face of God. He is there. He is watching.
He is caring. And certainly the storms do not hinder the purpose of God. What God proposes to do, he will accomplish despite the storms that you and I encounter. You say, well, Pastor Luther, if I'd have had a vision like the Apostle Paul, you know, if an angel were to come to me at night and tell me how the end is going to happen, then I could have confidence. Well, you know, I've never had a vision like that.
You probably have never had a vision like that. But do we really need one? You know, it's very interesting. In Romans chapter nine, verse six, the Apostle Paul is asking the question as to whether or not God failed with regard to the Jewish nation, because you see, the whole thing was Jesus Christ comes to the Jewish nation and for the most part they reject him. And so Paul is dealing with that in Romans. And in verse six, he says this. He says, it is not as if the word of God has failed. That's the way translators translate it.
But the actual Greek word is this. It is not as if the word of God is off course. I'm speaking to you today and you feel as if your life is off course. You are being windblown and tossed and you have no control over where you are going, it appears as if.
And you say to yourself, where can I find stability? Well, the Bible says it is not as if the word of God is off course. You might be, but God's word stands.
And there are plenty of promises, aren't there? Lo, I'm with you always, even to the end of the age. Fear not, for I am with thee.
I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ, even famine and a sword and a lost house or even health issues. Nothing can separate us, and it is on the basis of those promises that we continue on in our storms. And it is important for us to realize that God is with us in the process. I'd like to nail this down for us so that we never forget it and so that our lives are changed as a result of what we've seen here in the text today. First of all, storms are intended to get us to go where God wants us to be.
Storms are intended to get us to go where God wants us to be. You see, God wanted the Apostle Paul in Rome. And by the way, after the shipwreck, they discovered that they were in Malta. And they spent the winter there in Malta, and then the next spring they went to Rome. And the Apostle Paul, he was there in house arrest, and eventually he was put to death under Nero.
So that was his experience. But you see, God wanted Paul to get there, and he used a storm to bring it about. Now, it's possible God could have caused very warm and very tranquil waters. But God knows that storms do something good to people. You see, there are some of you here who are in a storm today. And let me explain to you exactly why you're in a storm. God wants your attention because you've never received Jesus Christ as your Savior.
And your destination that God wants for you is to accept Christ as Savior, to receive him into your life. And the only way he can really get your attention is to put you through a storm. When you're in a storm, you should always ask, God, what is it that you want to teach me while I'm here? Some of us, we go through storms because God wants to develop our faith. Sometimes storms might be discipline in our lives.
They have many different purposes, but all of those purposes always converge, and they become a part of God building us and transforming us and helping us to understand what our values should really be and showing us the nature of what's important and what isn't. Storms alone can do that. So let us remember, storms are God's way from getting from point A to point B. Storms also should never be encountered alone.
They should never be encountered alone. The Apostle Paul, as we pointed out, was on a ship, and he was on the ship with other people. And they were together in this, and a bad decision was made by somebody else.
Paul had to live with it. Now God intended that when we go through a storm, we always have the support of others. You see, first of all, your family is in a storm if you're in a storm. In fact, your whole family might be in a storm, and so you're in this boat together.
And you can't walk away from it because, after all, you're connected. If you're going through a storm, then there's also the Church of Jesus Christ that should be a part of your life so that you don't have to walk through this storm alone. That's one of the reasons why we stress so much connecting here at the Moody Church and even our equipping classes, which are beginning very shortly. All of that is very, very important.
The information is important, but connecting with one another is exceedingly important. And we want you to feel at home in the body of Jesus Christ because ultimately, when you're going through a storm, we want to walk with you in that storm because we are in the same boat together. And even as a church, we're in a boat together. So let us keep in mind that storms should always be confronted, not alone, but with others who are with you on the ship. Finally, I think it's important to realize that all of us are going to come to an ultimate storm, and that is death. The Apostle Paul goes to Rome for two years.
He is under house arrest, and most scholars believe that he may have even been free for some time. But then he is put into prison, and he dies under the Emperor Nero. So you see, the ship that took him there to Rome not only took him there to witness and to write, but also took him there to die. And eventually, that will be the storm that all of us take.
And it's important to realize that we need to be ready for that final storm. And God is going to use it, maybe an accident, maybe a health issue. There are many, many creative ways to die.
All that you need to do is to go into a funeral home, and sometimes it's surprising at the ages of people who are there, how they died. We don't know exactly how our death will come, but this much we do know that God is going to safely take us from this life to the next, despite the storms, despite the heartaches, despite the times when we can see neither sun nor stars. God will bring us safely to the shore, and we will be there.
Some of you know Tony Evans and his great ministry. He's a personal friend of mine, and he and I have been together a number of times, and he tells a very interesting story. He says that he and his wife Lois were on a cruise, and it came over the intercom that the ship was headed for a storm. And so the captain basically told the people, you know, buckle down, do whatever you have to do, because it's going to be very, very rough for the next couple of hours. His wife Lois didn't like that news, so she phoned the captain or tried to. She spoke to his assistant, and she said to him, why is it that we're going into the storm?
If you know that the storm is out there, why don't we just stay here and ride it out rather than going into it? And the assistant said, I'll speak to the captain, and I'll call you back. A few moments later, he called her back and said, the captain said, tell her that this ship was built with this storm in mind. When you trust Jesus, who died and proved that he had the power of death by being raised from the dead, you've trusted someone who has your storm in mind. And he will take you all the way on your journey to your heavenly home. Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come, because grace led me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
When you're on that ship, my friend, it was built with your storm in mind. Let us pray. Father, we do ask in the name of Jesus that you might help us to see that you are bigger than our storms, you see us in our storms, and your grace is poured out upon us in our need. For those who have never trusted Christ as Savior, we pray that they might do that. In fact, right now, if you've never trusted Christ, you can believe on him where you are seated.
Say Jesus, I want to trust you, I want to believe you, I want to accept your death in my behalf. Do that, oh Father God, we pray, and make this a transforming time for each of us as we worship you acceptably through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray, amen. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer, isn't it wonderful to know that no matter how bad things get in this world, God is with us, and the best is yet to come. Where is this world going? Well, in Revelation chapter 13, the Bible says that when the beast rules, all who dwell upon the face of the earth shall worship him, except those whose names were written in the Lamb's book of life from before the foundation of the world. Eventually the political, the religious, and the economic control of the world will be concentrated in one person. I hope you have time to pick up a pencil or a pen because this is one of the last days that we are making a special resource available to you. It's entitled No Reason to Hide Standing for Christ in a Collapsing Culture.
In this book, I discuss many different issues such as forced ideological conformity, the cancel culture, the war against white supremacy, the triumph of the self, diversity, equity, and inclusion, all of this so that we might better understand the culture but also be given instructions as to how to stand against it. Go to RTWOffer.com. Of course, RTWOffers, all one word, RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
And I want to thank the many of you who stand with us with your prayers and your support because running to win is making a difference. Right now, go to RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book No Reason to Hide. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Recently, we got a listener question about the very Bible passage from which running to win got its original concept and name, the image of a race being run on earth with a very special audience in the stands.
Here is the question we received. Please explain the term cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12.1. Are these individuals in heaven who are encouraging us along the way? Well, my friend, thank you so much for asking that question because absolutely running to win came from this passage. Therefore since we have such a cloud of witnesses, let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
I still remember the time when I sat down with our producer Dave McAllister and we were discussing what we should call the program. And this passage of scripture came to mind and so we agreed on running to win. But the cloud of witnesses, I do not believe that these are people who are in heaven who are watching us on earth. What we need to do is to understand the Bible in context. Remember that chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews talks about all those heroes of faith who went on before us. So I see the cloud of witnesses. It is not as if these heroes of faith in chapter 11 are looking at us, but rather we are looking at them. They have gone on. This 11th chapter is not so much about the miracles, it is about their endurance, their ability to continue to believe no matter what. In light of what they have done, we are inspired.
And so that's the way in which I interpret it. Now I do believe that people in heaven could ask questions of Jesus. I could imagine, for example, a husband asking about how his wife is doing on earth. But I don't think that the saints in heaven see us.
They have better things to do. But thank God because they are there and because the record of their victories has been recorded for us in scripture, we continue in the presence of those witnesses to run the race that is set before us. Thank you for asking. God bless you and have a good day all day. That was Dr. Erwin Lutzer, as always, running the race. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
That's 1-888-218-9337. Why is the word that haunts us when things go wrong? A child dies. A job is lost.
A reputation is slandered. None of us escapes those times when we question God's purposes. Millennia ago, a man named Job showed us how to ask why. Every time on Running to Win, we begin a series asking a heartfelt question, God, why me?
Learning about suffering from the life of Job. We hope you'll join us. 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. Call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. Online go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com. Or write to Running to Win, Moody Church, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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