In The Ship.....
Christmas message to you from Mary E. Adams Singapore, 2001
ancient times, mariners have looked through crude sextants to find
their ways across the seas when there was nothing on the horizon to look at
except the stars in the sky. But there were times when no stars
appeared...angry storms obscured the heavens and days passed by with no relief
in sight. And during the long wait, as anxiously they awaited calm seas
and clear skies, hope was all they had....it had become all they had.
said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye
cannot be saved." (Acts 27:31)
these perilous times the whole world is experiencing, there is a story in the
Book of Acts that becomes very relevant and timely for us to read again.
It is the story of Paul and a shipwreck that occurred during the later part of
his years as a missionary-apostle to the early church.
day, in preparing myself to bring a message to a small home-cell meeting in
Malaysia, I was searching for something that would be a timely encouragement for
a people going through "rough waters". They needed to know what
God was saying to the church, what instruction could answer their fears and
apprehensions, and as I picked up my Bible to begin studying for that
meeting, I was led to re-read this story. I was surprised to find it an
answer of great importance for this day...
Paul, (then Saul...a zealous persecutor of Christians) was blinded on the road
to Damascus. a voice from heaven said,
"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou
"who art thou, Lord?"
Jesus whom thou persecutest;" came the answer. "It is hard for thee
to kick against the pricks."
astonished, Saul replied, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? "
And the Lord
said unto him,
'Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what
thou must do."
another part of Damascus a Christian named Annanias was praying and had a
vision in which he saw Saul praying. God spoke to him to go and pray for
Saul's sight to be restored and to receive the Holy Spirit,
"for he is a
chosen vessel unto me." Saul's name would be changed to Paul and
prophecy would seal his destiny...he would take the gospel before kings and
suffer many things for Christ's' sake. And so, in this famous story,
Paul was set to be taken as a prisoner to Rome...
closely at this picture. Bound in chains, with a heavy Roman guard, he
is placed on a ship with almost 300 passengers, soldiers, and crew, and after
several days of good sailing, they came to a place called the Fair Havens.
But it was late in the season for traveling on the high seas, and Paul warned
and admonished them and said unto them, "Sirs, I perceive that this
voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but
also of our lives."
Paul was a man
of prayer. A spiritual giant who heard from God...but neither the
Centurion nor the owner of the ship heeded Paul's warning and proceeded to
head for Phenice and winter there.
As the ship
left port, Paul must have looked at his present predicament and directed his
"Lord, I have given them your Word, but they ignore
it. Yet I trust in you, that as you long ago told me I would be going to
Rome, it will come to pass."
Hid in with these thoughts, Paul was resting
in the place Psalm 91 describes as "the hiding place of the most high
God." It was his spiritual "cocoon".
WORD FROM GOD! How
we need that most precious treasure in these days! And when that Word
comes...we have an anchor, a solid and secure rock to stand upon!
Yet, it is what we DO with that Word that determines its effectiveness.
So far, in this story, the Word that Paul spoke has fallen upon ears that
refuse it. But isn't that the usual case? Men choose to listen
more to their own ideas.
So the journey
continued...first with smooth sailing, then gradually the skies began to
become gray and threatening...the winds began to build. An ominous
storm, called "Euroclydon" (hurricane?) started to bear down upon
this creaking vessel. Heading for shelter at a nearby island, they soon
found themselves about to be stuck in quicksand and had to lighten their load
by throwing the tackling overboard. Striking sail again, they
escaped...but then the tempest bore down upon them with a vengeance and for
days they were pounded with huge waves and driving winds. Think of what
their thoughts must have been....there are no rescue vessels to
help...nothing. Surely the ship will come apart soon, and they will all
be cast into the angry seas to drown.
when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and
no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should
be saved was then taken away". (v.20)
loved ones again...what heaviness of heart to face death in such a way!
Paul. After waiting for a length of time, Paul stood in the midst of
them and said, "Sirs, you should have hearkened unto me and not have
loosed from Crete and to have gained this harm and loss. AND NOW I EXHORT YOU
TO BE OF GOOD CHEER! for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you,
but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God,
whose I am, and whom I serve. Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought
before Caesar: and lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee."
Be of good
cheer??? Wasn't that the exact words Jesus spoke when he raised the
dead, healed the sick, did wonderful miracles? But they almost seemed a
mockery as those men were being tossed about and pounded by furious waves and
wind...could they be believed?
spotted a small island and drew near, the ship was indeed about to be broken
apart on the rocks. Some of the crew let down the boat to try and
escape. But Paul warned,
"except these abide in the ship, ye cannot
be saved." Why? What they were doing was contrary to the
dream and vision....and the next day, after finding a creek flowing out from
the island, the ship was driven until it stuck fast and all aboard could then
swim ashore safely. Thus had Paul's words saved them all.
days of frightening events, never before have we needed a Word from God any
more than we do today...our boat is being tossed about by a horrific storm
that threatens our very lives. People are fearful and despairing.
BUT BE OF GOOD CHEER! God has a Word for us...just as He did for
Paul. Our "ship" may be breaking apart and sinking, but all
who sail with the "Pauls" of this day will suffer no loss of life. God
will direct us to a safe haven. Only those who refuse to stay with the
ship will be lost.
Psalm 91 is
so very relevant for our day:
dwells in the secret place of the most High God shall abide under the shadow
of the Almighty.
I will say
of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God in Him will I
shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome
cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his
truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by
Nor for the
pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at
shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not
come nigh thee.
thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy
no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall
give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou
trample under feet.
hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on
high, because he hath known my name.
call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will
deliver him, and honour him.
life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation."
listen to the voice of the Lord speaking through His servants and His
handmaidens...those who live in the "secret place of the Most High God
and abide under His shadow"...who walk in His Spirit and know His
voice. And those servants and handmaidens must rise to the
occasion...seeking God as never before for the sake...not only of His
people, but of all those not yet saved and knowing the Lord who share in the
mutual trial. They need to see that Christians truly serve a Living
God who never leaves us nor forsakes us...an "ever-present help in time
May you and
your precious families be blessed this Christmas season!
READER: Thank you for taking the time to read this. If it has ministered hope,
encouragement or insight to you in any way, would you please take the time to
send Mary Adams a quick E-mail at email@example.com
and share the blessing with her? She would love to hear from you!
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