Summary: Our faith can give us the courage we need to make it through the tough times in life.
When Fear Meets Faith
Acts 27 (esp. 21-26)
Intro: I’d like to show a video clip of a portion of Paul’s life. This excerpt is about 10 minutes long and will cover chapters 26 & 27 of Acts. We will start off with Paul speaking to King Agrippa who came to visit Festus, and end with the shipwreck. [Play clip]
-Paul was clearly a man of faith whose life was not his own. There were many times when Paul’s life was in danger, and Scripture indicates that he did have to deal with fear during those times. There was a reason for Acts 23:11: “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Even though Paul was battling fear, I don’t believe the Lord was telling Paul to buck up and pull himself together. I think the Lord was saying, “Here Paul. Take courage. You will need it. Paul continually received courage from the Lord, and his faith was always growing.
-Today I’d like to share a few simple thoughts about faith and fear. I would like to focus on vv. 21-26 as Paul is talking to the people on the ship in the middle of the storm. Here is the main thought I’d like you to get a hold of.
Prop: Our faith can give us the courage we need to make it through the tough times in life.
Interrogative: How can we become people of faith who aren’t immobilized through fear?
TS: Let’s look at 3 truths that describe a person of faith, as seen in Paul’s life.
21 After the men 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. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24 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.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island."
I. People of Faith Hear from God (Acts 27:23-24)
23 Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24 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.’
-Hearing from God builds our faith, and faith helps us conquer the fear of the unknown. The people on the ship with Paul had no way of knowing what was going to happen to them. They feared for their lives, thinking that this could be it for them.
-Why do people fear death? Why is death so intimidating to us? It is not because we are so afraid of losing the opportunity to live and enjoy life. I believe it is because of what lies beyond death’s door – judgment, mercy, etc. People seem to have a sense that there is more to reality than this life. Something either wonderful or terrible awaits us on the other side. Crossing over to the other side is when we find out how well we navigated our life on this earth. If we did it God’s way, we have nothing to fear, because we already know Him. If we did it our own way, it is a very fearful thing to face death, not knowing what lies beyond.
-People of faith, however, aren’t left in the dark, whether they face death or some other crisis. Why? Because they hear from God. We hear from God through His word. We hear from God as He speaks to our hearts. We hear from God through other people of faith. God may speak to us in dreams and visions as He did to so many people in the Bible. God may speak directly to our situation as he did for Paul through an angel. It is not out of the question to hear from an angel, although I never have that I know of.
-The point is this: God speaks to us in a variety of ways in order to give us direction and courage so we will not lose heart and just give up. Without God’s voice of encouragement in our lives, we would get overwhelmed and probably throw in the towel. People of faith hear from God and it keeps them going.