But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye 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. (Act 27:21-24)
The picture above appears to be of the disciples in a storm and a much smaller ship than Paul was talking about. Nevertheless, the storm is equally frightening and hopeless without the hand of God. There may come into your life such a storm that more than anything in the world, you want the angel of God, the hand of God to come and stand by you. I have been there more than once. It is times like this when God is about to become more than a story book picture or an idle tale you’ve heard repeated again and again. It may be at the hospital or it may be when the pink slips are passed out. Sometimes the telephone must have made a mistake.
God does not send an angel for our entertainment or to teach us the fundamentals of the faith. It’s like in the Old Testament when a prophet of God showed up. They never showed up because everything was going smooth and the nation was at peace with God. When Elijah showed up, it was because God was at the end of His patience and He was now going to try one more time to get their attention. God’s ways are often past our understanding and He doesn’t always do it like we would have done it. Sometimes God plays it within an inch of our lives, not for correction, but to reveal Himself to us in a way that could not take place any other way.
In the case of Jesus in the boat with the disciples, why didn’t God suppress the storm and prevent it from happening? Do you remember the famous picture of the children crossing a bridge and a board was out? The angel, unknown to them, was standing over them, protecting them from falling through the bridge. A woman looked at the picture and exclaimed: “Why doesn’t the angel just fix the bridge?”
Yes, why doesn’t the Lord deliver us from all danger so that we never need fear what might happen to us? Well, that would eliminate the need for us to trust God, wouldn’t it? It’s risky to have to trust God. The bottom line is that we don’t trust Him and we don’t want to have to trust Him. But God tells us: But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Heb 11:6)
Truth is, when we get saved, we are immediately enrolled into the school of faith. We find ourselves trusting God for little things and it grows until we are comfortable in trusting Him for the big things. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Rom 1:17) We go from one level of faith to another level of faith. We never get beyond God’s plan for us to trust Him.
In the case of Paul on board the cargo ship, Paul had warned the captain of the ship. The ship captain paid no attention to Paul. And now, that the ship is about to be lost, Paul gently reminds the captain that he told him already. But, Paul doesn’t dwell on it, trying to score points. He said: “Be of good cheer.” How is the captain going to be of good cheer? By believing that an angel from God had stood by Paul and told him that nobody was going to die from the ship wreck. The ship would be lost but nobody would die.
The ball is now in the Captain’s court. There were 276 people on board. Paul told them all to eat something, which they did. When they were all fed, they began to throw the wheat overboard. A lot of money was lost that day. Why did God allow the ship and its cargo to be lost? We could ask the same thing about the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida. It’s part of trusting God to be able to suffer loss and yet, like Job, declare that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!
We are used to being in control. God made us that way. That is not evil. But, when God steps in, we have to transfer our sense of security from ourselves to the hand of God. That’s a big step. We need to get this one prayer fixed in our minds: Stand by me! Someone wrote a song about that and Tennessee Ernie Ford sang it. He was born in 1919 in Bristol, TN and I was privileged to work in a church there a few years. Ernie Ford’s mama and daddy would sometimes visit the church on Sunday nights. Ernie was gifted with a great singing voice and winning personality. He came from a strong Christian family.
He ended up as the bombardier on a B-29. He married and followed his gift of music. But, along the way both he and his wife were captured by whiskey and it took the lives of both of them. When he was the figure of the Ford Show for five years, for the Ford Motor Company, he insisted that every program would end with a hymn. They opposed him but he insisted. One of the songs he sang was: Stand by Me. There are 40 songs in the package and you can listen to as many as you like. I can’t separate them. So, when you get through, just shut it off.
Read Through the Bible in a Year
September 25, 2017 – MONDAY
A.M. Isaiah 4-6
P.M. Gal. 3
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
A Great Memory Verse:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deu 6:6-7
Verse of the week:
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; (Deu 4:9)
Song for Today: Stand by Me (Ernie Ford)
You may have to adjust the volume.