There's a much taught and preached story in Acts 27 concerning Pauls' voyage to Rome where he would stand before Caesar.  The ship they were on had been slowly making its way along the coastline when it put into a port called Fair Havens.  The season for sailing with any degree of safety was coming to an end, and Paul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, admonished them that it was in all of their best interests to remain where they were for the winter.  He told them that to ignore this was to bring certain destruction upon them, with the loss of the ship and all of their lives.  Scripture says that the Roman Centurion in charge was "more persuaded" by the pilot and captain of the ship.  He felt they knew far better than a landlubber like Paul.  More, they were motivated by the need to get the ship to port or lose the opportunity to make a profit from its cargo.
Verse 13 says, "And when a moderate south wind came up, supposing they had gained their purpose, they weighed anchor and began sailing."  Very shortly, a "violent wind" came up, and they were driven along.
    It's so easy for us to read this, hear this passage, and add our "tsk, tsk" concerning the foolishness of the centurion and the ship's captain.  Of course they should have listened to what God was saying through Paul.  We would have.  Wouldn't have we?  The captain and the centurion made their decision based upon what "appeared to be" reality.  Immediate circumstances "appeared" to verify what their central desire was, getting to Rome.  Paul's warning went against their desire.  When faced with a choice, they went with their desire and used as their guide what they saw with their human perceptions.  My question for each of us is; if, judging by how we make almost all of our real choices, whether in dependence on our own fleshly perception or by the guidance of His Holy Spirit, how likely are we to have heeded Paul's warning?  Would we have chosen any differently than the captain and centurion?  It's easy to say we would have, but what do the choices of our own lives say?  How much of our life is really guided by the appearance of what is around us, instead of by the voice of His Holy Spirit within?  How many disastrous choices have been made based on appearances?  How many relationship choices, occupational choices, financial choices, and yes, ministry choices, have come about as the result of how things appeared to be, and that those appearances brought us to, like the centurion and captain, think that we have gained our purpose?  How dull, even deaf, have we become to the voice of the Spirit, and instead listen to the tyranny of our own desires and wants?  And always to our own destruction.
    A.W. Tozer wrote "The only power God recognizes in His church is the power of the Spirit, whereas the only power recognized today by the majority of evangelicals is the power of man.  God does His work by the operation of the Spirit, while (believers) seek to do theirs by the power of trained and devoted intellect."  Paul and all those on board did suffer shipwreck, as will all who try to live life in the power of their own understanding, yet, as always, hope remains.  Paul, who was now seen as something more than a foolish landlubber, told them that the same God who'd issued the warning, now offered deliverance.  They would stay with the boat, even as it sank, and God promised to bring all of them to shore, alive.  And He did, and so will He do for all who will come to the place of refusing to be led by anything other than the voice of the Father.  No matter where our foolish and ill-conceived choices may have gotten us, He will, if we'll seek out His heart as well as His voice, lead us out of that place.  Our way may well have brought wreckage, but His way will, even in the wreckage, bring us safely home, whole in Him.  No longer living by the appearances of things around us, but by His appearing within us.  Day by day, living for His desire, and not our own.

Blessings,
Pastor O

 

 

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