Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Urge You to Take Heart

Acts 27:31 - Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved."

There is an account in Acts where Paul is being sent by ship to Italy to appeal the case for his imprisonment (for refusing to stop preaching the Gospel). He fasted as they began their they voyage, and at the end of the fast Paul warned them he suspected rough days ahead and possible loss of lives and cargo. Of course those in charge of the ship were not persuaded and the trip continued as planned to seek a port in which to spend the winter.

The ship was on the Adriatic Sea and leaving Crete when storms arose and the men on the ship feared for their lives. They began the arduous task of lightening their load. The storm went on for days till they had lost all hope of surviving and sought to escape.

Paul spoke up again and pretty much told these experienced seamen they should have listened to him! But he also countered that with a bit of hope: And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. And he shared with them how he had been visited by an angel of God and told that he would be brought before Caesar; therefore God would protect them. The men still feared for their lives and were determined to abandon ship.

Again Paul urged them with words of hope and demonstrated his faith as he prayed, gave thanks to God in front of them all and ate. They ate as well, we're encouraged, abandoned the escape plans and instead set about to lighten the load of the ship.

All that to say like the Ark was security for Noah and his family and like these men were asked to stay on the ship and live, so is it with Jesus. Jesus was a type of Ark and He is who we should enter into relationship with to be saved. Paul was urging them to remain in and cling to the ship for safety.  Jesus calls us to remain in Him and cling to Him for our eternal safety. When we do this, life is not lost despite what storms of life come our way.

As I reread this, I the phrase there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. We are reminded that this body of ours will perish. It houses the soul, spirit and heart of each person...only. When we pass on, if we are in Christ there will be no loss of eternal life, but only of the body.

There is yet another verse in this particular chapter that spoke to me: ...they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea. I looked at that to mean like what we are to do when we come to Christ. We unburden ourselves. We lay our burdens down because the Lord tells us it is His yoke that is easy and His burden that is light. (Matthew 11:30) We cling to Him and He is the anchor for our soul. (Hebrews 6:19)

There was still a lot of work ahead for these seamen before the ship would run aground. And with the prayers of Paul, help from God, all lives were saved even in the midst of escape in the waters while the ship was torn apart by the storm. This is what our God will do for us if we determine ourselves to follow after Jesus.

If you remember, there was another time when a boat and men were in the midst of a storm. We will have storms in life, but if we are in and stay in Jesus, He will save us.

Matthew 8:23-27 - Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

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