Just as George Cafego could not be stopped, nothing could hinder the Gospel from being proclaimed as it spread throughout the book of Acts.
In Acts 27, we read the story of the great apostle Paul as God used him and others like him to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Nothing could stop the Good News of Jesus Christ, not even a ship wreck. As you may remember, Paul, Dr. Luke and Aristarchus, a devoted Christian from Thessalonica, were on their way to Rome so that Paul could appeal to the Roman government and also continue to share the Gospel as they went.
As they crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a ship, a terrible storm threatened to sink the ship and potentially take the lives of all on board. All the seasoned sailors on board were fearful for their lives, but Paul, the landlubber, told them not to fear. The Lord had appeared to him some time back and told him that he would survive and bear witness in Rome. Paul had courage in the midst of the storm.
Paul’s words contain several principles by which you and I can keep up our courage and be fearless in the midst of life’s storms. Storms come in our lives and sometimes they come quite suddenly and are fierce.
One day, you are at home and the phone rings and you hear tragic news. The storm descends.
How are we to stand up in life’s storms?
This is how Paul responded to the storm that had overtaken him:
•He knew that God was with him. We are told that an angel appeared to Paul and reassured him of God’s presence. Jesus, when He was about to leave this world, said to his disciples, “Surely, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This message is the same for us as it was for Paul. Christians have found Jesus with them as they have gone through life’s storms. They testify to it again and again.
•Paul knew he belonged to God. When Paul mentioned God, he identified him as “the God whose I am.” Paul was bought with a price; he belonged to God. The Scriptures give us some images of how we belong to God: We belong to God as the bride belongs to the bridegroom, we belong to God as a child belongs to their father, and we belong to God as a sheep belongs to the shepherd. Whenever we face temptation or when people give us trouble, we can look up to heaven and say, “Lord, do you know they are attacking your property?”
•Paul was serving the Lord. Verse 23 “an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve…” God had told him what he was to do and he had not done so yet. God has said he was going to Rome and he hadn’t made it. So God wasn’t through with him yet. We need to know that as long as God has something for us to do, God will keep us alive to do it.
•Paul trusted God in all circumstances. Verse 25 “For I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.” He knew God is the God of all circumstances and was able to trust Him for life’s details. That means we can trust God no matter what the circumstances. “When I lose my job?” When you lose your job. “When I have cancer?” When you have cancer. “When someone I love has died?” Yes, even then.
Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” When your circumstances are bad, don’t look at the circumstances but look to God. He sees the whole picture.
Because of his faith and because he knew God, Paul could be a source of encouragement to others. As you remember, Jonah was running from God. So when the storm came to batter the ship that was trying to carry Jonah, he was not on deck helping others. He was asleep in the hold of the ship, like many Christians. Others were in danger, but he was of no use to them.
But Paul, on the other hand, was obeying God. When the storm broke, he emerged as the real leader in the situation. Sometimes people say of Christians that they are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly use. But that is not true. It is the heavenly-minded people who are of earthly use. People who are earthly-minded are of no use when the real storms come.
Jesus, not long before his arrest and crucifixion, gave a Sermon on the Mount of Olives. He spoke of wars and rumors of wars. He shared that “life is filled with trouble and you will experience your share of it.” But he added, “See to it that you are not alarmed” (Matt. 24:6).
“Not alarmed by war and its calamities?”
“Not alarmed by the storms of life, as difficult as they might be?”
“Not alarmed by sickness, persecution, loss of jobs?”
Because God is the God of circumstances and He can preserve us in the midst of these. It is our job to trust Him and bear witness of Him. That is our job as long as He allows us to remain here on earth. So, what is stopping you? Circumstances? No, nothing should be stopping you. Spread the Gospel!
Dr. Dennis R. Culbreth is Senior Pastor of Jasper’s First Baptist Church www.jaspersfbc.org