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Hope For The Hopeless

Acts 27:21-26
After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: 'Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, "Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you." So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.' (NIVUK)

The situation was hopeless. The ship on which Paul was being taken to Rome was being driven westwards from Crete by a very powerful storm with huge waves. The sailors and passengers had done all they could to make the ship buoyant, throwing the grain cargo overboard, and cutting the rigging to release masts and spars. The sea was an inferno with no relief for many days, doubtless with much seasickness and no food. Almost 300 people were on board and there was no prospect of anything other than a watery grave (Acts 27:14-20).

Paul took command: not the captain, centurion, sailors or soldiers, but the man of God. He firstly rebuked them for ignoring his advice not to leave a safe harbour. Secondly he urged them not to despair or give up, abandoning themselves to the waves. Paul revealed that the Lord had spoken to him the previous night. God told Paul not to be afraid – implying that the great apostle had also been one of the frightened passengers – because his mission to preach the gospel before Caesar would be accomplished (Acts 9:15).

Also the Lord said He would keep every person safe. The ship would be wrecked on the shore of an island but all the passengers, prisoners, crew and soldiers would be saved through God's grace. Paul's message was simple and direct. But it was important that everybody should believe him, stay with the ship until they were close enough to shore to get to land safely while hanging onto debris from the ship. The safety of all of them depended on faith – believing that the message they heard was from God and was true.

It was a living parable. Paul's reason for going to Rome was in obedience to the Lord's Word. Paul's heart was for everybody in the Empire to be saved including Caesar. But they had to believe that the gospel message he gave was the truth from God. It is the same today. Although there are many tragic circumstances in people's lives, each is a parable to repent of refusing God's way previously and to trust the Lord with their whole lives for the future. In order for people to listen to us, we need to listen to the Lord in His Word; and then dare to tell the truth about a God of grace who loves hopeless sinners and had chosen to provide a way for them to be saved. www.crosscheck.org.uk tells that story and ends with a call to repentance and faith. Show it to your friends and colleagues and urge them to be courageous and trust in Jesus.

Gracious God. Thank You for Your wonderful salvation from the judgement to come. I am sorry when I have been afraid for myself and careless of others, by not sharing the gospel of Jesus. Please help me to know that You are far more gracious than I deserve, so that I may put my trust fully in You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams