First the Blade
© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven
Building Mustard-Seed Faith (h)
Let’s say a young preacher starts a new church in your city. People who visit the new church report the preacher is four feet six inches tall. Not only is he short, they say, but he also has a weak presence and is a lousy speaker.
With what you know about the American church system, what’s your guess on his odds of ever being successful? Somewhere between slim and none, right?
The historian Josephus and scriptures state the above facts are true for the Apostle Paul. Unlike humans, God chooses men as His kingdom ambassadors, not on their height or outward appearances, but on their hearts.
Let’s look at how this short, weak, poor communicator handled a hopeless circumstance:
When it was decided that we should sail for Italy…(Acts 27:1)
Jewish leaders brought charges against Paul, causing him to appeal his case to Caesar. That meant he had to sail from Caesarea, and cross the Mediterranean Sea to Rome, while being guarded by a Roman centurion.
Contrary winds bogged the voyage down and the ship put into port. Because of the lateness of the year (October), the Mediterranean Sea was usually considered unsafe for navigation until springtime (March). Paul admonished them:
“Men, I perceive that the voyage will certainly be with damage and great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” (Acts 27:10)
The pilot, captain, and centurion disregarded the short preacher’s advice and sailed for Rome. The ship soon sailed into a typhoon, forcing the crew to dump the cargo, tackle, and cut sails. Nothing helped.
… from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned. (Acts 27:20)
After days of not seeing the sun or stars, the one person who had not given up hope, stood up in their midst, and got everyone’s attention. “You should have followed my advice, but you didn’t and now there will be damage and loss.”
Can you imagine what the pilot, captain, centurion, and crew thought when Paul spoke his words? Probably, something like, “Yeah, I wish we would have listened, but it’s too late now. We’re doomed!”
Paul continued on with his remarkable statement:
Yet, now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. (Acts 27: 22)
I guarantee Paul’s words captured everyone’s attention. It did not matter if the men were Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, or pagans because Paul spoke words of hope. Drowning men will always reach out for anything, which will keep them afloat. Paul’s words did exactly that.
What did Paul have, that the other two hundred and seventy-five men not have?
But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” (Acts 23: 11)
Paul had a promise from two and a half years earlier that the Lord was sending him to Rome. Yes, the circumstances were impossible and the waves were high, but Paul believed the Lord was not a liar and that He also foresaw the typhoon when He made the promise. Paul chose to ignore reason, logic, and circumstances, and believe the Lord’s promise.
What did the angel say to Paul during the typhoon?
“Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar, and behold God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.”(Acts 27:24)
While everyone looked at the storm, Paul reminded the Lord of His promise from two and a half years earlier. He prayed for the lives of the other men on the ship. The Greek word charizomai, which is translated into the English word granted denotes God had done a favor for Paul by allowing the men to live. This is called intercession.
Next, let’s talk about a modern promise which saved my day.
(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)