- What do you feel God is speaking to your heart about specifically in this series?
- Do you have a typical decision making process? What does that look like?
- Has God ever delayed something in your life? What did you learn during that season?
Good morning everyone! So good to see you, I’m pastor Peter, and I want to welcome you to Hope City Church. This month we are doing a series called “Divine Direction”, addressing the #1 Question that I get as a Pastor, WHAT IS GOD’S WILL FOR MY LIFE? Last week we said: wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a clear set of directions to guide us in all the big decisions we face in daily life? Like…
- Where to live? Do we rent or buy?
- Where should my kids go to school? I mean, we’ve got school choice here in FLORIDA… I’ve never thought more about where my kids go to school than right now. It’s killing me…
Our goal is to LEARN TO DISCERN God’s will in key areas of your life. It was great hearing from some of you this week talking about last weeks message…
I heard from one woman who said, “I desperately needed to hear this… I have been wondering what God was doing with my life. How do I go forward?”
This series is for every age and stage of life. We all face key decisions and the path we planned didn’t always turn out like we thought it would. If you remember our anchor verse for this series came from Proverbs 16:9
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
The Bible draws a contrast between Human Plans and Divine Steps. Human plans typically have to do with Dates, Times, and Destinations… But Steps are much smaller. You only take one of those at a time. And they lead in a general direction.
Sometimes that’s what following God is like. We make all sorts of PLANS for how our life is going to go. I’m going to graduate in 2 years… get a great job, be married by 30… and retire early and buy a house on the Key. But life rarely goes according to plan does it?
This happened to me last summer. I was traveling up to Canada to work with a company as we redesigned Hope City’s website, and I decided I would save the church as much money as I could, so I booked an AirBnB… It was cute, and quaint it said. Walking distance to every kind of restaurant you could want it said. Well let me show you what I walked in on.
Picture 1: Room, no pillow
Picture 2: Bathroom, fully equipped with Horse Shampoo
And I could walk to every restaurant I wanted… ALONG A HIGHWAY! PSHH…
I’m telling you, it is like the FYRE Festival all over again. But, I guess that’s what $25 bucks a night gets you.
Have you ever made plans and then found out that things weren’t going to turn out the way you thought it would?
Today we are going to catch up with our travel guide for this series Paul again in Acts 27, pg 765 in the Bibles around you. Remember that the Romans ruled the world at this point in time, and so if you were going to change the world for the Gospel, wouldn’t it make sense to head the capital city?
Paul is headed to the Capital City, but NOT in the way he imagined! He planned on arriving in Rome as a PREACHER, but instead, he went there as a PRISONER bound in chains. What’s his crime? Preaching the gospel and causing riots where ever he went! He’s a Christian Convict being shipped off to Rome to stand trial before a Roman Emperor named Nero.
Let me show you a quick map so you can get your bearings. Paul the prisoner gets on a ship here in SIDON, or modern-day Syria, and he begins his voyage to Rome up here in the west. As you can see, this is a long voyage across the Mediterranean Sea, about 2,000 miles. And he wasn’t sailing on Royal Caribbean, or Carnival Cruise Lines… He was on a simple Wooden Cargo ship with a large main sail. Everything was looking good until verse 9…
9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast[i]
Now this is important. Ships in Paul’s day had no compasses or GPS. They navigated by the stars. And this fast that Paul mentions, is actually the day of atonement which took place in October. And weather in October was overcast and unpredictable, which made sailing very dangerous. Verse 10:
So Paul warned them, 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.[ii]
Let’s be honest: If you were boarding a cruise ship—and there are 2 guys standing there: One is a CONVICT in handcuffs… and the other is the CAPTAIN of the ship, who would you listen to? OF COURSE! The CAPTAIN! He’s experienced. He’s got nautical training. What’s this prisoner/preacher babbling about. Don’t listen to him!
Well, Paul represents more than just Paul. Paul is carrying the Word of God—so He represents the Word of God on this ship. And God had spoken through Paul telling others that if they simply relied on human smarts and intellect the trip would be a disaster.
So here’s a question for you, when you face key decisions in life, what do you navigate by? We have a choice… Pt. 1 Are my decisions based on Human SMARTS or the Holy SPIRIT? Do you trust YOUR senses? You know the things that you can see, taste, touch, and measure? Or what makes the most sense in your mind? Or do you trust the Holy Spirit in your heart—asking God to give you guidance and then following it even when it doesn’t make sense?
As you follow Jesus, there are going to be plenty of times where God will ask you to take him at His word and do something that doesn’t make sense.
When Tiffany and I started Hope City Church, we didn’t have and still don’t have another job, other than here at our church… Which meant that we were reliant on the generosity of others to put food on our table, gas in the cars, etc. We were sitting at the beach one day and the subject of tithing, giving, came up. But not like, how much is everyone else giving… But HOW MUCH ARE WE GIVING? We decided in the very beginning that we would obey God and we would Tithe 10 percent of our income to Hope City Church. We would support God’s house, and God’s work with the first 10 percent of our income. How could I possibly stand here on this stage and ask you to trust God in all aspects of your life and not trust God in one of the aspects of my life? GUESS WHAT… it didn’t make sense for us to tithe… We were relying on the generosity of others… and we were going to give it back to God?
Here in Acts 27, the centurion is faced with a choice that many of you will have to face as well… Are my decisions based on Human SMARTS or the Holy SPIRIT? Do I listen to the CAPTAIN? Or the CONVICT? The convict is a preacher, not a sailor. So, I’m going with the CAPTAIN. Let’s head out, and follow the stars…
And that’s exactly what happened with Paul and this story. Let’s jump back into verse 14.
Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island.[iii]
Admit it… you thought the weather channel invented that word, or Tampa Bay’s PAUL Dellagato. This is a Biblical term.
The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.[iv]
This is what happens in life when you ignore God’s warnings. You make a dumb decision and now you’re driven along. Which leads us to Point #2 in your notes, Pt. 2 God’s PROMISE is secure; the PATH is not.
How many times have you had a dream or goal in your life, or a destination in mind, and you eventually got there, but the path led through some stormy weather first?
Maybe your first marriage was rocky—you made every mistake in the book. It was like bone on bone friction. But then you went through a divorce, through grief recovery, to finally understand what a healthy relationship looks like now.
God’s PROMISE is secure; the PATH is not. Sometimes we chart our path… but are confused when God doesn’t go along with our plan! And it can seem unfair, because storms aren’t our fault. They’re someone else’s bad decision—that’s Paul’s situation, right?
Listen to me, the Path God uses to get you where He wants you to go is up to HIM, not you. The Bible says that God is SOVEREIGN. Sovereign means He’s completely in control at all times… even when life feels out of control! Even when we make bad choices—God still has His hand on the wheel! I’m sure you can look back in your own life to a time when you felt clear on your goal or destination—but the way God got you there turned out different than expected.
Let’s be honest though, that can easily rattle our faith! The last place you wanna be during a Hurricane is in a boat in the ocean…. Paul must have been terrified!
16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. 17 When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together.[v]
They’re scrambling—doing everything they can just to “hold it together”. But this isn’t’ the moment to look for the lifeboat to see how you escape.
If you’re a Christian, this is the moment for DEFIANT TRUST! The way through a storm is to say, “I TRUST YOU JESUS!” in response to whatever happens to you. When you hold tight to God’s sovereignty in the storm—fear loses its grip. In fact, it’s IN THE STORM, that we learn to truly trust God 110%. Why? BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO HOLD ONTO!
I don’t know what you’re facing to start 2019. You may have a big storm on the horizon: Bankruptcy, or Divorce, or a chronic condition that requires treatment…. God never promised it would be smooth sailing. But he did promise: “I’ll be with you every step of the way… but you’ve got to trust me!” My promise is secure! God will get you to your destination, but the path may look different than your plans. Look at what happened to Paul…
18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. [vi]
ASHER RICKRODE STORY…
This past week, Cassidy and Brandon Rickrode celebrated the birth of their first born son; Asher. On Tuesday I had the opportunity to go over and hold this little boy. Many of you don’t know this, but Brandon and Cassidy have been waiting years for this baby, wishing and waiting. I asked them about what it was like to wait and here’s what they said…
We built the “perfect house” in the “perfect neighborhood” to raise our family. We waited and waited and waited. We tried everything man-made that is designed to “expedite God’s plan”. Vitamins, medications, shots, scientific methods. No matter what we tried, it seemed to us like nothing was going to work. If it can’t happen scientifically, can it happen at all?
We waited and waited begged and pleaded. There was doubt and frustration. Crying out when medical intervention didn’t work. We tried to make it happen on our own, but it didn’t happen in our timing.
We prayed XXXXX# of days for you.
Isn’t it amazing to know that God can still fulfill his purpose for our life—even if it takes another path? pt 3. GOD’S DELAY’S ARE NOT ALWAYS GOD’S DENIALS. Smooth sailing is over-rated. It’s in the storm where we build our FAITH!
Some of you are facing a delay in your life right now. You believe God has a relationship in your future, you want to be married, but it hasn’t happened yet. When you pray and God answers “NOT NOW” that does not mean “NOT EVER!”
Maybe you’re waiting on a new job. And you know God has promised to use your skills and talents in a one of a kind way, but it hasn’t happened yet. God is not saying never… maybe not now.
Maybe the house hasn’t sold yet, or you haven’t closed on the home yet. It’s okay. Can you trust God in this moment? You don’t have to question His character. He has plans to bless you, to prosper you, and to give you a hope and a future. But you need to trust him in the hurricane!
Paul jumps up in the midst of this storm and says,
“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. [vii]
I don’t know who this is for today, but those words are powerful! Pt 4 KEEP UP YOUR COURAGE. You may be going through a storm right now where you can’t see the stars or the shore, and everything is going down. Your relationships have gone down. Your bank account has gone down. But God says, KEEP UP YOUR COURAGE!
Let me ask you, Is your faith in the Boat? Or is it in God? Be Courageous. If your faith is in the BOAT, or your circumstances, when the boat sinks, your hope goes with it. But if your faith is in God, even though the ship may go down, you won’t go down with the ship!
God promised I’m going to get you to Rome PAUL. Let’s finish Paul’s story…
But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.
42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety. [viii]
276 sailors and prisoners went into the ocean and washed up on shore. Why? Because even though the path may look different than you planned, GOD WILL GET YOU WHERE HE WANTS YOU! In His Time, and In His Way.
You may have to grab onto a plank or a busted up piece of the ship. You may have to doggy paddle, or swim your way to the shore, but just keep swimming. Keep up your courage! Because god will get you where He wants you!
Even as a SINGLE PARENT? EVEN THERE
Even in RECOVERY? EVEN THERE
Even in a LAW SUIT? EVEN THERE
Even in CANCER? EVEN THERE
Even in DIVORCE? EVEN THERE
The Bible promises that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. In other words, God FINISHES what He STARTS.
When Paul reached Rome, less than ½ of 1% of the world had ever heard the name Jesus. The only name they knew was NERO, the emperor who built this 100 foot bronze statue of himself next to the Coliseum. Paul would have seen this when he walked into the city.
Now think about this. The entire world knew the name NERO, but never heard the name JESUS or PAUL. Until some penniless prisoner in chains washed up on the shore telling some crazy story about a shipwreck and a Jewish carpenter who rose from the dead.
If you were an innocent bystander, which man’s message would you predict would survive & spread across the world? Nero’s empire or Paul’s Christianity?
The reality is that Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ for 2 years in Rome. Paul’s preaching was so powerful, and Christianity exploded through Rome and Italy and Europe. And it turned the western world upside down.
Do you know that if you visit Rome today you’ll see the statue of Nero is missing, in it’s place is a Cross in front of the Coliseum, and a statue of Paul next to the Vatican. Both the Roman Empire and Nero are dead and gone; BUT JESUS? He’s alive and still speaking to the hearts of Christians all over the globe.
Will you trust God with everything? Even when it doesn’t make sense to you… Will you trust God? Will you say, enough with my plans, enough with my strategies… I’m in God. I’m going to obey and follow you.
- Maybe for you that is getting serious about your finances and deciding that you are going to tithe the first 10 percent of your income and give it to the Lord’s work in the Lord’s house here at Hope City.
- Maybe you are going to surrender your career timeline to the control and wisdom of your creator.
- What would it look like for you to say, I’m going to parent my children in a way that trusts God’s plan, more than my own.
I don’t know…. you may be facing a storm today. Feeling driven along by the winds. Or maybe you’ve made some bad decisions, tossing stuff overboard, even lost hope that things can be different. Sometimes God lets the boat break apart in our life’s so that we’ll call out to him. And I believe that God ordained this moment for you. He’s calling to you. It’s [ix]not too late. Remember, whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. The Promise still stands. Jesus is here and can give you the strength you need to survive the storm your in. Just trust in Him.