Summary: Disciples of Christ can expect to be attacked by bad things, but like Paul, we can shake it off.
First Christian Church in Earlington
Rev. Brian Morse
Traditional Worship: Sunday 9:30 am
Casual Worship: Saturday 5:30 pm
215 East Main Street, Across the street from the Post Office
FATHER’S DAY : SERMON JUNE 18, 2006 ACTS 28:1-6
(Note to the reader: Prior to this sermon the choir had just sung the old hymn, I’ll Fly Away.)
I) I’ll fly away. When bad things come my way, I’m not gonna run away. I’m gonna fly away. For as the Prophet Isaiah says, “Those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint”. (40:31).
“I’ll fly away. When the shadows of this life have grown, I’ll fly away. Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I’ll fly away.”
II) Does it ever seem like you can’t get a break? You know what I mean. Just when things start to look a little bit brighter, something nasty jumps out at you....trying to take you down. Bad things in life are going to happen. There is nothing that can eliminate them. I don’t want to downplay the pain and gruesome reality of these events. But you know what, when you spend your life in the service of Christ, you will find that often the very worst things that life can throw your way will not kill you. In fact, you will be surprised at just how often you will shake them off.
III) The biblical reading this morning is a short section of a long story. The story begins with Paul’s arrest in the 22nd chapter of Acts. Paul is held as a prisoner. He defends himself in court with keen intelligence. You see, the prosecution has trumped up some phony charges against him, but Paul is not just your ordinary fellow. He knows the law like a first-century Perry Mason.
He is in a situation where he can easily get the charges dropped and be on his merry way. However, legal defense is not his mission. Spreading the Gospel of Christ is. In a bold maneuver, Paul asks to defend his case before the emperor. This is kind of like having a guaranteed win in small claims court, but demanding to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Paul, however, has a plan. You see, Paul wants to give every ounce of his life to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as wide an audience as possible. Therefore, he sees this as an opportunity to have an audience with the Emperor of the Roman Empire. This way, he will be able to proclaim the Gospel to the most powerful and influential person in the world. When it comes to evangelism, Paul goes for the gold.
The next thing he knows, he finds himself being loaded onto a ship, along with other prisoners. Destination - Rome. It doesn’t take long before there is trouble. Violent winds are slapping at the ship. The men are getting anxious. Paul, as usual, gives his unsolicited advice.
“Sirs”, Paul yells above the wind, “I can see that the voyage will be with danger and much heavy loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” (27:10) Now, bear in mind, Paul is a prisoner on this ship....but he’s the kind of guy who is hard to shut-up. Perhaps you know some people like that.
Of course, the captain pays no attention to Paul. And of course, the ship gets caught up head-on into a terrible storm. In order to lighten the load, the crew throws the cargo overboard. On the storm’s third day they throw the ship’s tackle overboard. Listen to verse 20 of chapter 27. “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”
Throughout this horrible ordeal, the men have not eaten. Day by day, they are growing weaker and weaker as the storm keeps growing stronger and stronger.
Then Paul, never one to miss an opportunity to say “I told you so”, speaks boldly. “Men”, he says, “you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss”.
(That’s the kind of thing you expect Paul to say, but he goes on to offer encouraging words, saying), “I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship....”,
(Stop for a minute. Did you catch that? Paul had an angelic visit. Here is what the angel of God said.) “‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’”