Our plane had just taken off from LaGuardia International Airport, heading to my home near Tampa, Florida. It was 1981, and I had just finished a summer mission trip in Lake Placid, NY. I love flying, especially taking off and feeling the power of all of those engines forcing your body against your seat, similar to the G force that Astronauts feel. Okay, I know it’s not that dramatic….but that’s where my mind wonders.
The pilot chose a sharp incline to reach our cruising speed and height. We were only 15 minutes into the flight when we switched that pitch of going up and started a high-speed descent down. The pilot came over the PA system. “ Ladies and gentlemen, please buckle your seats and remain seated. We are going to have to make an emergency landing in Virginia.”
A mild panic spread throughout the plane. People were looking for smoke on an engine or anything that would help us know if we were going to be okay or not. We landed safely and quickly exited the plane on the tarmac and were taken to a hangar. The airline personnel told us that a call had come in just after take off that there was a bomb on our plane. They checked the plane and our luggage and searched our bags. Did you know some of the compounds in makeup are also used in explosives? After the all-clear, we loaded the SAME plane to finish our journey. Could we really trust our Pilot that we were safe?
Paul had a similar situation when their ship was in the middle of a storm. He had told them not to sail because of the bad weather awaiting them. Because a Centurion was determined to reach Rome with Paul as his prisoner, they set sail with a good breeze, even after Paul had told them they would sail into bad weather. Now floundering at sea in the middle of the storm, Paul receives a word from the Lord.
21 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. 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 to whom I belong 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.” Acts 27:21-26 NIV
God spoke to Paul as an angel stood by his side. This has not happened to me that I know of, although I believe an Angel could speak to you or me. But my concern is more with the content of the word from God. Whether God speaks to you from an angel, a dream, a vision, or His still small voice, we are responding to the content to determine if it is from the Lord.
“Do not be afraid, Paul.” Most encounters with angels in the New Testament started with the declaration of telling the person to “not be afraid.” It could be that the angel startled the person, evoking fear. It could be that an angel’s appearance reflects the holiness of God, which would explain a healthy fear of God’s presence. It might also be an encouragement for him, in light of his present circumstances, not to be afraid of the storm. Was death by drowning at sea about to happen to Paul and the others?
Similarly, with Jesus, the disciples were afraid during a storm. Jesus calmed the storm, attributing their fear to a lack of faith. He was with them, and that changed everything. This word from the angel was intended to increase Paul’s faith that God was in charge, even of the storm.
HEARD WORD: When God speaks, His voice always leads you to hope and encouragement. Even if the storms of life are raging around you, everything you were hoping for seems to be unraveling, and you are no longer in control of what is happening; words from God are light, life, peace, and hope.
God spoke to Paul that He had graciously given the lives of all of the men on the boat to be saved. Why? I believe that Paul had been praying for their salvation. Paul was heard praying for all 276 men on board. He didn’t have to be loud…just praying for God to save these men. “Don’t let them go into eternity without giving their hearts to you” God granted Paul’s request.
HEARD WORD: God hears your prayers as you pray according to His will. God desires that all would repent and be saved. Even if God has not replied…know that God hears your prayers of intercession on behalf of others’ lives. Jesus comes to seek and save those who are lost. God hears your prayers for the salvation of others, for your family, friends, and those who are far off
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. Paul voiced the message God had given to the men on the ship. He was so confident that this message was from God that he directed their salvation would be attributed to Him. In other words, Paul told the men that God, whom he served, was speaking to him. That’s boldness.
During the time when Paul was sharing the message he had heard from God, there was no sign of the storm ending or any evidence that they would be saved. Thunder and lightning were still happening. Rain and darkness were still present. Yet, Paul shared what he had heard from God. He told them all to eat to be strengthened. The men reflected their trust in Paul’s words by eating and then throwing the rest of the food overboard.
HEARD WORD: Expect faith to rise when you share what God has been speaking to you. Yes, there will be doubters and dissenters. But a sure word from God brings confidence for others to follow. Our leaders must declare “what God is saying during these turbulent times.” We don’t need opinions or good ideas; we need a clear word from God. Speak precisely what God is saying.
Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island. Sometimes God speaks to you about an impending hardship. This is not a declaration of a pessimistic attitude that believes terrible things are always going to happen. Instead, God revealed that this storm and deliverance were part of his journey to appear in Rome. God usually shares information like this so we will have the courage to endure when the trial comes.
Maybe you are praying for your children, and God says, “it will get worse before it gets better.” When things do get worse….HOLD on because it is evidence that God is in charge. Don’t jump in front of God…trust Him because He spoke to you before the event to give you the courage to endure.
Prayer: Father, God, there are many storms that I face in my life. Some are of my own making and some are the effects of sin in a fallen world. I become too easily discouraged and lack faith to be strong for you. Will you speak to me in my storm? Will you give me words to encourage my family as we walk through the storms of life? Will you awaken me out of my slumber to become a faithful child of the Lord. Give me ears to hear and a mouth that is bold to declare what you have spoken to me in the night season.
Daily Challenge: Find a promise in scripture. Memorize it. Then share it outloud with someone. For example,
Acts 2:39 39 The promise (salvation) is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” parenthesis added
The promise of salvation in Jesus through the Holy Spirit is for you, your children for all that the Lord calls…or who call on the name of the Lord. Meditate on this thought and then share the idea out loud with a friend, co-worker, gas station attendant, or family member.
Say something like this “Hey did know that the Bible has excellent promises like this one, Salvation from Jesus is not just for one person, but it is for a person and their families and even those who haven’t heard about salvation yet. Jesus is concerned with the whole family being made whole.
Go find a promise and share it.