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Live Stream 8-8-2020
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  • Remain
  • Desert Song
  • Give Me Faith
  • I Will Lift My Eyes
  • The Eternal Optimist

    At around 10 years old I fell in love with a cute redhead. Not the hottie I am married to… this was Adrienne Stiefel as “Annie” in the production where my sister played one of the orphan girls.
    And what’s not to love about a young girl singing with such optimism.
    “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow.” Nothing gets Annie down, she is the eternal optimist!
    And me and my brother were dragged along to rehearsal after rehearsal, show after show.
    dozens, then hundreds of times.
    You know what gets really old?
    “Tomorrow, tomorrow...” shut up!
    Your optimism is grating on my nerves! Over and over and over again!
    Ready for some optimism? Paul is going on a cruise… and everything is going to be awesome!

    Mediterranean Cruise from Hell

    Apparently this chapter is a great resource for historians, Luke as the historian gives detailed insight into the practice of sailing the Mediterranean in the first century.
    But everything is not going to be awesome.
    Recall, Paul knows he is going to make it safely to Rome. For this trip, he is invincible! Because Jesus showed up to him 2 years earlier and said:
    Acts 23:11 ESV
    The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
    So now Festus and then Felix kept him in prison for two years, hoping for a bribe or a payout. Finally Paul testifies before King Agrippa and they decide to move him along to Rome.
    Acts 26:31–32 ESV
    And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
    So Paul is put in the custody of a centurion named Julius. Luke comes along, maybe as Paul’s personal doctor. Another friend, Aristarchus is along too.
    So off they head towards Rome. First they found a ship back towards the Roman province of Asia, to Sidon where Paul had been before. Then from there Myra in Lycia.
    But everything’s taking longer and summer is ending, so things are getting dicier… and Paul has a premonition of some kind.
    Acts 27:9–10 ESV
    Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.”
    Acts 27:11 ESV
    But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.
    … and they didn’t like the harbor there. So they headed to Crete.
    And it starts off well:
    Acts 27:13–20 ESV
    Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
    To this day these kinds of storms roll through the Mediterranean. Sometimes nicknamed “Medicane” as in “Mediterranean Hurricane”.
    They have no compass (hadn’t been invented yet). They have no GPS (also, not yet invented). The only way they can tell where they are is by the sun and stars.
    They don’t know where they are or where to head. They don’t know if they are stranded in the middle of the sea or about to crash into rocky shore.
    The storm was so bad and so long they weren’t eating, so Paul stands up to reassure them:
    And he sings, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow.” Chin up all, I’m sure it’ll get better someday!
    No. This is not un-anchored optimism. This is not wishful thinking. Paul has something infinitely better.
    Acts 27:21–23 ESV
    Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,
    and this angel reminds him of what Jesus had told him before:
    Acts 27:24 ESV
    and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
    What does that tell us about Paul’s emotional state? He had begun to fear! Even Paul, apparently fearless so often, perhaps the shadow of doubt has crept in over the last two years or over the last many days of the storm. That’s okay, he is human.
    God sends a message of encouragement. Fear not. You will make it to Rome. And everyone with you!
    “God has granted you”… what does that imply?
    That Paul had been asking. That Paul had been praying for those with him. Paul knows his safety is guaranteed… but he has no such guarantee for those with him.
    It implies Paul has been on his knees for them, seeking hope and faith, not only for himself but for all those with him. And God has granted those requests.
    Acts 27:25–26 ESV
    So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.”
    … but we must run aground. Here it has returned back to where Paul’s heart is. He has faith… but we must run aground. Faith and common sense, the human logic playing out the divine assurance.
    And Paul kind of takes charge from this point. As the holder of hope, he is not resigned to fatalism… he is calling out obvious things, logical things, bringing the best of his ability to play.
    Acts 27:27 ESV
    When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land.
    When the FOURTEENTH night had come! How seasick do you get? How long did that storm last? Remember the disciples waking Jesus up after a few hours at most? Fourteen days this tempest went on.
    They start sounding (letting down ropes and measuring the length), it’s getting shallower,
    Acts 27:29–30 ESV
    And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow,
    That’s messed up!
    Acts 27:31–32 ESV
    Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.
    Not divine insight, maybe, just human open eyes and paying attention… but God is using that too to work His plan.
    Acts 27:33–34 ESV
    As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”
    Acts 27:35 ESV
    And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.
    Paul is the captain now!
    Acts 27:39–40 ESV
    Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach.
    Acts 27:41 ESV
    But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf.
    Acts 27:42 ESV
    The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape.
    This sounds bad… but it makes sense. Roman law held the soldiers responsible for any escaped prisoners, they would be subject to the original penalty on the prisoner.
    But Paul has earned the trust… maybe even the affection of the Centurion Julius.
    Acts 27:43–44 ESV
    But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.
    all were brought safely to land.
    God’s promise to Paul fulfilled. Totally and completely.
    What did Paul due, through his captivity, through the literal storm on the Mediterranean? He held to faith. He held to hope. He chased after it.
    I believe he was on his knees every day. In fact he says that in his letters he is writing during these times. He is praying for the saints. He is praying for those on the ship with him… and God delivers them into his hands in answer to prayer.
    It is in prayer he finds hope. It is in prayer he finds faith. Because God’s not done with him.
    But this is not fatalism: Paul is doing the best he can at every moment!
    Many things Paul says in the moment don’t appear to be divine revelation… just common sense! “To get out of here, we’ll need sailors!” Good point. “It might be a bad idea to set sail in October, that’s when the storms come.” Good point!
    Paul had resilient hope. Paul had persistent faith.
    Not unquenchable or invincible.. Paul needed reassurance. He needed the angel to say “fear not” because he was afraid! But he got back up. He found hope, he renewed his faith, he took courage and strength and then gave it out to those with him.

    Resilient Hope, Persistent Faith

    What are we called to do in the storm?
    Resilient hope.
    Persistent faith.
    Hold to faith. Call others to faith. Hold to hope. Point others toward it. This is why people will then ask “What reason do you have for the hope that is in you?”
    … because you are unabashadly, unrepentently, unendingly hopeful.
    Resilient hope. Persistent faith.
    Not because life is great, or storms don’t come, or things aren’t dangerous, or because you have anything like answers for how to make things better.
    Because you are His… and He is not done with you.
    That is the hope you take into 2020. Is this a storm? Yes. But God isn’t done with you.
    God lets us walk into the storm, sail into the storm. Why? We usually don’t know. I have a theory about why Paul’s journey was so crazy, I’ll share that next week. But God told us the storms are coming… in this life you will have trouble!
    But take heart. Hold to hope. Hold to faith. He has overcome.
    So you have resilient hope. Persistent faith.
    You have it strengthen and encourage yourself… you are given it to then strengthen and encourage others.
    Bringing hope...
    Into your marriage.
    Into your family.
    Into our church. God isn’t done with us!
    In the storms of life we are called to unabashedly, unrepentantly, unendingly hopeful... because we are His and He is not done with us.
      • Acts 23:11ESV

      • Acts 26:31–32ESV

      • Acts 27:9–10ESV

      • Acts 27:11ESV

      • Acts 27:13–20ESV

      • Acts 27:21–23ESV

      • Acts 27:24ESV

      • Acts 27:25–26ESV

      • Acts 27:27ESV

      • Acts 27:29–30ESV

      • Acts 27:31–32ESV

      • Acts 27:33–34ESV

      • Acts 27:35ESV

      • Acts 27:39–40ESV

      • Acts 27:41ESV

      • Acts 27:42ESV

      • Acts 27:43–44ESV

  • Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

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