Shipwrecks Are Part of the Plan

by | Oct 29, 2023 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Acts 27:1-44

Shipwrecks are not reserved for life at sea alone. Our lives are full of shipwrecks that threated to take us down in despair. Acts 27 teaches us that the shipwrecks of life are not by chance, but rather they are part of God’s greater purposes for our lives. In the midst of the shipwrecks, God graciously gives us His encouragement, purpose, and abiding peace.

Transcript

I think as long as human beings have been sailing the Seas uh shipwrecks have been a reality right uh Sailors know uh that they’re always possible it’s always a possibility when they set sale that they’ll be wrecked and yet it always seems to come at a great shock when it does uh when when they actually do come you know think about it the Titanic right the Titanic was was not supposed to be sinkable uh everyone didn’t know and thought it would in F fact there were so much probably Pride uh in it being Unsinkable that uh they didn’t pay close enough attention or they they didn’t think there was any Calamity that could really overcome it how about the Lucitania uh the Lucitania remember the one that was uh that was hit by the German yubo uh well they believed that no German UB boat could hit a boat that could move as fast as the Lucitania and so they marched on and forward and thought that uh thought that they would be safe the truth is is that shipwrecks are just a part of the reality of sailing they’re inevitable they’re going to happen there’s no way to possibly control every factor to mitigate every danger when you’re at Sea you know you might be able to mitigate some yes but you can never can eliminate the all shipwrecks though aren’t just for for Sailors at Sea life’s full of shipwrecks aren’t isn’t it our lives they’re they’re full of of shipwrecks yet somehow when they do come they take us by

surprise I think we try everything we can do to to insulate ourselves from the life’s shipwrecks when they come uh and when the Seas and life is calm and the uh the skies are clear we kind of get lulled into thinking that you know shipwrecks aren’t coming everything’s great my life’s my life’s smooth so when the storms do come and we’re surprised and we’re un unex unprepared and shocked when that shipwreck hits maybe it’s a recession maybe it’s the the loss of a job maybe it’s a broken relationship in your life maybe it’s the the death of a loved one maybe it’s an unwanted diagnosis that that you receive and those storms they can absolutely feel fatal can’t they like they’re going to drag us down to the depths of Despair and ultimately to death itself but what if the the ship the shipwrecks of Life uh aren’t a surprise at all what if the shipwrecks of Life are in fact part of God’s plan and purpose for our Liv lives part of a good plan that God has ordained for his greater purpose well the reality is it’s not even a question shipwrecks are a part of God’s plan for our lives they’re a reality you know just as we see in our reading this morning from from acts 27 today Paul faced this unwanted and this unexpected shipwreck in his life but it wasn’t a ship that was by a mistake or it wasn’t some random act of nature that just happened upon them or just the product of human failure and decision making it was a part of God’s greater plan for his life and his plan for the Salvation of the world you know in Acts I think has taught us this much as we as we’ve gone through this this holy this whole series is that nothing can stop God’s plan nothing not the the wrong not the works of the devil not the the the treachery of of human making not natural disasters as we see here and and not through human failure in sin God’s purposes continue he can’t be stopped through it all it continues God’s plan prevails throughout it all but what acts 27 does teach us is that even though and even in the shipwrecks of life that are part of his plan that God gives us three things he gives us his encouragement he gives us opportunity and he gives us his abiding peace even in the midst of the shipwrecks that we’re facing and so let’s look at acts 27 for just a little bit together I’m not going to be able to go through verse for verse we barely could read it um you know it was so long Paul’s now finally on his way to Rome he made his appeal to Caesar and now finally he’s on his way uh he was handed over to to Julius the the Centurion in the Roman army and and they were put on a ship and beginning that Journey towards Rome now notice that Paul was not alone right he he wasn’t alone yeah there 276 prisoners or are people on the ship including prisoners and sailors and the captain and the Centurion and uh and there were soldiers that were on board as well but even in the midst of that Paul wasn’t alone you hear that we that that’s put into this passage what does that tell us once again Luke’s there but not just Luke uh we’re also told we’re also that uh aist starus is there with him as well two buddies two brothers and Christ are there with him in the midst of this what a beautiful thing that God God gave because we don’t know how they possibly got on the ship by the way we’re not told uh how that Paul a prisoner was allowed to bring some buddies along with them uh you know they would have cost money that would have been an expensive thing so how are they allowed to go but God gave him two brothers in Christ to help him to be with him to encourage him in the midst of what was about to be a major shipwreck in his life and that’s the first thing we need to realize and the ship of life that are part of God’s plan God gives us encouragement in two ways that we see it work in this passage and that first one uh is is that God gives us encouragement through our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that we so desperately need people who can support us and care for us and pray for us and enter into the struggle that we’re struggling with in Christ and so God provided Paul with the the encouragement of Christian Fellowship you know you’ve probably heard it before and I hear it all the time you know I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian I don’t have to be part of a church to to be a Christian I can follow Jesus just just fine I can watch some services online I can you know watch them on TV and that that’s good enough I don’t need to be part of a a fellowship and and that may be partially true but avoid the Fellowship of the body of Christ at your own Peril is the reality because when the storms come and the shipwrecks come we need each other we need each other the encouragement the prayer the support the Comfort one another that only Brothers and Sisters in Christ can possibly provide us we can’t do it alone we weren’t meant to do it alone and God here graciously gave Paul the encouragement of these brothers in Christ to help him as as he went through this time but that’s not the only encouragement that God gave him uh in the midst of this this great storm that all of them are struggling to get through to survive God spoke to to Paul through his messenger through the angel and this is what he was told do not be afraid Paul you must stand before Caesar and behold God has granted you all those who sail with you PA was given the word of God in his life an encouragement of reassurance that this is all part of God’s plan but also an encouragement of incredible promise right you imagine hearing those words that God’s granted you all those who sail with you you’re going to make it you’re going to survive this in the midst of the the storms of your life where do you turn to for encouragement Fellowship yes it’s important it’s necessary but we also need more than that we need the reassurance and we need the promise of God God himself in our lives to make it

through and God may not speak to you through an angel he may you may have that experience but God speaks through Us by the authority of his holy word that’s available to us every moment words of reassurance think of of Matthew 28 and Jesus declaring behold I Am With You Always even to the very end of the age always I’m here how is that for reassurance words of Promise think of Isaiah 41 do not fear for I am with you do not be dismayed for I am your God I will strengthen you I will help you I will uphold you with my righteous right hand how’s that for our promise you know this might sound you know kind of dumb and juvenile but you know God taught me this lesson when I was pretty young uh I wouldn’t even say I’d been saved yet uh I didn’t know know Jesus fully as my my Lord and Savior at this point but when I was in sixth grade I wanted to play football and because I was a big guy um not big anymore of course but uh you know because I was a big guy in sixth grade I had to play with the ninth graders uh and they were big and they were mean uh and I was terrified I thought I was going to die and so I remember going home uh and just wanting to sweat sweat blood because I was uh so afraid it was going to happened but for some reason I I thought I need to I need to open the Bible and I opened it up to Psalms and I started reading and all of a sudden I heard all these these Pro one I heard David who was you know he sounded like he was in a worse place than I was uh and that he was wrestling with these things but God was giving him promises and God was at work in his life I can’t tell you what kind of comfort that gave me and I know it was silly it was just to get through a football but you know but it was God speaks to us through his word word and the shipwrecks of Our Lives that’s the time to continue to read to search the Lord search his word that he may speak to you and reassure you and give you his promises you may rely on them whose voice are you listening to in the storm because I promise you if you’re not listening to the Lord’s voice you’re listening to others maybe it’s the media maybe it’s co-workers friends people in your life maybe it’s that own little voice that you hear in the back of your head right just hear that voice I promise you none of those are going to give you encouragement the encouragement of reassurance and of promise what they’re going to end up giving you is only doubt and fear and worry and anxiety but God has granted us his word he has spoken to us directly to us for the especially for the shipwrecks of our lives so the second thing that the Lord has given us in the midst of the Shipwreck that we see at work uh in Paul In this passage is the opportunity to Bear witness to him in incredible ways that maybe we never would have possibly had an opportunity to do before Paul was just one of the the many prisoners and one of the many uh Sailors uh the people on the ship uh there were Sailors the Centurion the pilot the soldiers 20 76 I think it said and all uh at one point Paul tried to warn them about these dangers remember he told them in verse 10 s i perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss not only uh with the cargo but the ship and also our lives but they wouldn’t listen to him would they why would they listen to Paul he’s a prisoner he’s you know some sort of preacher nobody listens to the preacher right we’re Sailors this is our this is our life uh I you know I wasn’t I wasn’t talking about me I know you listen to me um but you know but uh but they wouldn’t listen to him you know Paul wasn’t a professional sailor but he had lots of experiences with sailing didn’t he through the book of Acts he sailed a lot so this isn’t new to him be being on a ship and sailing uh well things got worse didn’t they they didn’t listen to him things got worse and all hope were told of rescue was abandoned they had given it up they’re not coming out of this in one piece they’re not getting rescued out of this situation and so in verse 21 Paul gives them an I told you so doesn’t he and I told you so he says men you should have listened to me and not have set sail from creit and incurred this injury in this loss if I had been on that boat one of those Sailors I promise you I would have thrown him off I would have thrown him off there’s nothing I hate more than I told you

so but Paul wasn’t just being smug right he wasn’t just being being smug I don’t think he was being smug at all actually uh in this moment um Paul actually cared about them he actually cared about all these people’s well-being as we see over and over again in the passages that come late yet later in verse 232 through I think 24 yet now I urge you to take heart he told them for there will be no loss of life among you but only the loss of the ship for this very night again the angel of the Lord Has Come to Me whom I belong and and to whom I worship and he saido not be afraid Paul you must stand before Caesar and behold God God has granted you all those who sail with you and then he said to all the rest of them so take heart men for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as he has told me Paul In This Moment was able to Bear witness to the truth about God wasn’t he he was able to Bear witness to them to God’s faithfulness God’s truthfulness to his promises he was able to Bear witness to them in this moment in a way that he never would have had before unless he was in the midst of the Shipwreck Paul also cared for them even though they were his captors right even though they didn’t even listen to him these numb skulls they didn’t care to listen to him even though he knew he was right when he noticed that they were hungry he encouraged them told them they needed to eat he thanked God for the bread he broke it he began to eat and encouraged them to eat themselves through his witnessing and caring for these men uh when it came time to actually get Abandoned Ship right when that final moment came the Centurion kept Paul that they wanted to the rest of them wanted to to kill the prisoners because they were worried about getting in trouble because if they get loose it’s going to be on their head but the Centurion had heard something in all this he he had been cared for by Paul and he wanted to save Paul’s life and he kept them from being able to do that when we realize that the storms and the shipwrecks of Our Lives aren’t actually just mistakes but are the the product of or the product of ill fate but but actually part of God’s good and perfect and pleasing plan for our lives those shipwrecks are

transformed not just some ill fate that are there to to meet for us to meet our Doom they become opportunities of the Gospel they become opportunities for us to witness to care for others to point them to the God who loves them you know here’s just one example and I know this this for some of you this may hit uh close to home as far as being relevant to your time of life um you know how about uh a time of a assisted living I know uh it’s something that brings a lot of fear I mean even if you’re younger you still think about assisted living and it brings a sense of fear and probably anxiety in into your heart because it means a loss of Independence it means uh it means uh putting your safety and well-being into the hands of other people for many is nothing less than a shipwreck of the worst

kind but you know what one of the greatest Mission fields that exists is in this world it’s the assisted living

facility full of people who are longing for Hope who are longing to hear about a God who loves them and cares for them Longing To to have real fellowship and connection uh with other people it is the most ripe Mission field maybe in the world today I was with someone uh this past week week I got to sit down with them in uh in the dining hall apparently I wasn’t supposed to do that I got fussed out later but I was in the I was in the dining hall with them and I just watched is people coming and going and engaging with each other and uh and just what a a feel of community and people desperate and longing for connection what an incredible opportunity that can be what if what if what you think is a shipwreck is actually God’s opportunity for his kingdom in your

life what if we go when it’s time to go and visit them and decide which one’s the right place for us what if we looked around and said God where can I be your witness and your minister here in this place which one but we get so caught up in our own comfort and our own security which are important they’re not not important that we can’t Poss possibly see it as God’s plan so often we fight things like this so hard that we actually miss it is an opportunity at all we see it just as a place to die but the Shipwreck it is God’s plan what is the shipwreck in your life right now that God has planned as an opportunity for you to share the gospel with others there’s no more powerful time than to meet some in the Shipwreck of their own life and what they’re going through with care and love and the hope of the Gospel where is that moment for you but thirdly in these shipwrecks that are part of the plan God grants us his abiding peace you know there are generally two I think views about life uh that most people have I think this goes back all the way to the to the ancient world that life is either a matter of fate or it’s a matter of uh free will or the choices that that we make and uh either everything has been determined or we’re and we’re mere pro pro uh Pawns in this Cosmic game uh of life or that our futures are all dependent upon the choices that we make and both of these uh if you take them both of these to their extreme are really problematic if life is just a matter of fa fate then what our choices don’t really matter right it makes no difference this goes back to the edus thing if you you know go back and read edus it didn’t matter what he did fate had determined it so there’s nothing we can do to change anything which means there’s no hope it’s absolutely crippling isn’t it but on the other side if our future is completely dependent upon the choices we make and our own behavior alone how can we ever be sure that we’re making the right choice because if we make the wrong one all’s

lost in this what we call Free Will scenario life is is full of anxiety it’s full of doubt it’s full of fear every choice that we make uh is just another brick of doubt that we’re adding to that backpack until it just completely stocks up and breaks us under its pressure and under its weight have you ever experienced that that weight of make having to make a decision maybe it was where to go to school right because if I don’t make the right decision about where I go to school my future is is done maybe it’s uh what major to pick if I don’t pick the right major I’m going to be a failure in life and all is going to be lost maybe it’s what job offer to accept right especially the first one if I don’t pick this one right then life is going to be difficult the rest of the way or maybe it’s who to marry or maybe it’s should we as a couple should we have children or maybe should we undergo Chemo when should we retire and again should we enter the assisted living facility these are huge these are all are life altering decisions aren’t they they set the course for how things are going to go for us they’re the questions that we have to answer and what if we’re

wrong because everything hinges on whether we’re correct that is a life of constant anxiety self-doubt and fear but what if neither of these two scenarios is true what if there’s a scenario where personal decision and behavior do in fact matter and they’re important but they don’t determine our future and our well-being what if there’s a good and a perfect and a pleasing plan for our lives that still calls us to make decisions and and and where Behavior does in fact

matter if such a scenario exists what would that do to you would it create anxiety or would it give you peace would you feel a peace in your hearts knowing that you do have to make the decisions they matter and their consequences for those

decisions but that there’s a plan that can’t be changed that there’s a God who’s in control of it

all we’d be free to do our best because our Behavior counts and our choices have real consequences but at the same time we can relax because whatever we do or whatever happens it cannot change the God’s purposes for our lives and for this world and that’s the scenario that we see here at work in Paul in the Shipwreck through an angel God declared to Paul that all were the people of the boat were going to be saved right he had declared that but then when things got bad and those Sailors were ready to abandon everybody else remember they were going to jump in the lifeboats and they were going to escape with no one else watching uh what did Paul said Paul said unless these men stay in the ship we cannot be saved but God declared that they would all be saved but now Paul is declar that it comes with some sort of condition right a decision has to be made the right Behavior has to follow the choice in other words it mattered and so they the centurions and the soldiers listened to Paul they heard him they believed him and they cut the ropes and let those uh let those lifeboats go they put their trust in other words and Paul and it his God and indeed they were saved weren’t they you I don’t want to dwell on this this for too long but what this tells us is that God is absolutely Sovereign over our lives absolutely Sovereign and at the same time human responsibility it matters which means that we can strive to do our best and that our behavior and our choices do have real consequences for good and for bad but at the same time we can relax because whatever we do and whatever happens it cannot change God’s purposes for our lives and in the bad decisions it cannot stop God’s grace from intervening for

us and that’s what we call abiding peace or at least I do our choices matter but God’s gracious will he’s the one who’s in control and there’s so much freedom and that reality there’s so much freedom and hope friends shipwrecks they’re part of God’s plan they’re they’re a reality and he is at work in all of them they shouldn’t surprise us they shouldn’t creep up on us we should expect them but we don’t have to fear them because in the midst of the shipwrecks of Our Lives God is giving us encouragement through through Fellowship through his word he’s giving us purpose and bearing witness to others and caring for them and sharing the gospel with them and God’s giving us his abiding peace knowing that that while our choices and behaviors matter that he’s the one in control and nothing can change that and all of this is possible because Jesus when he faced the greatest shipwreck of all he was betrayed he suffered and he died he was denied the encouragement that God has given to us all of his Apostles and his followers they abandoned him in his time of need in his greatest moment of need God’s voice was silent my God my God why have you forsaken me as he carried the full weight of our sin upon himself and God because he loves us so much stayed silent didn’t intervene and didn’t offer his own son the encouragement that he alone deserved yet on the third day God’s purpose prevailed Jesus was raised to life and he seated at the right hand of God the father and victory and Glory friends shipwrecks are part of the plan but God’s victory for our lives it’s assured amen

 

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