Anchors Of The Soul

Bible Book: Acts  27 : 18-29
Subject: Peace; Hope; Assurance
Introduction

Several years ago while I was serving as pastor in Georgia, I went deep sea fishing with a group of men from our church. We were going about 50 miles out into the Gulf to the red snapper beds, so we left the pier at 2:00 AM. We were to ride through the remaining hours until daylight when we would arrive at the fishing beds about 50 miles out.

As soon as we were under way, we all went downstairs to the sleeping quarters and crawled in a bunk. I am not sure how long I slept, but when I woke up I was holding on to the bunk with my left hand and holding a piece of framing above my head with my right hand. The boat was tossing wildly in the water. I must have been pretty sleepy for I was the only one left in the sleeping area. Everyone else had gotten up. Getting out of bed was no problem. I just turned loose and was thrown from the bed to the floor. I staggered upstairs to the best of my ability and found that we were in the midst of a tremendous storm. At once the boat would rise high on the wave and then in the next moment we would be down in the valley between two waves that rose at least 12 feet above us on each side. I said, "What are we doing here!" I discovered that there was quite a discussion going on between the captain and the fellows from our church. I said, "Why aren't we headed back?" One of my friends said, "If the captain decides to go back on his own, we don't owe him anything. If we tell him to go back then we have to pay for the trip, even though we don't get to fish." I said, "Okay, if that's what this is all about, let's pay the guy!" As I remember, we ended up splitting the cost with him.

I knew something of what Peter must have felt when as he walked to Christ on the water he looked and saw the waves. The Scripture tells us that when he saw the waves that he became afraid. When I saw those 12 foot waves, I was scared to death.

It is difficult to remain peaceful in the storm. There are all kinds of storms. Perhaps you have been in several. Maybe you are in the midst of a storm at the present time.

Your family or marriage is in trouble, your loved one is critically ill, or recently died. The doctors have told you that you or someone you love is facing a serious illness. Your best friend has turned on you, or turned from you. You are experiencing severe financial problems, you can't get on top of your bills. Someone has slandered your good name. You are in a spiritual turmoil in your soul. Whether the storm is relational, societal, personal, or even denominational, you must know that it is possible to have peace in the storm. There is hope for the hurting. We are all dealing with turmoil of some kind. How are you handling it?

Lloyd Ogilvie refers to his friend John who has discovered the way to establish immediate rapport. When he first meets someone he asks, "Are you feeling better?" Ogilvie said, "One day I heard him ask a waitress that question, 'Yes, I am feeling much better,' she said, 'As a matter of fact, my headache is gone and I am over the flu.'

Surprised by the response, Ogilvie said, 'Do you know her?' 'No, not at all,' was the response. 'I just know that most people feel badly. If you ask them if they are doing better, they usually say yes or no. The next thing you know, you are into a conversation."

John also devised a wonderful plan of developing friendships at conferences with people he does not know. He first squints at a person's nametag to learn his first name. Let us say the man's name is Tim. Later, when he sees Tim he says, "Hello Tim. Is that situation solved?"

Tim responds, "How did you know about that situation?"

Immediately they are into a great conversation and a friendship begins.

This illustrates the fact that each one of us is getting over something or has faced some difficult situation, challenge, or opportunity.

There is a profound need in all of us for an abiding, unchanging, ever increasing peace. Tragically there are many who are called by the name of "Christian" who lack this peace.

Do you now sense the everlasting, ever-loving arms of Jesus Christ around you to reassure you and to encourage you that whatever it is you are going through right now will be all right?

It is obvious that Paul has a profound peace in the midst of the storm. There is no panic in his voice, no sweat on his brow, no wringing of his hands, no shuffling of his feet, no tears in his eyes, no confusion in his head, no clinching of his fists, no gnashing of his teeth, no question on his lips, no turning of his heart. Paul was peaceful in the storm. Why?

Verse 29 is a revealing verse: "Then fearing we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and waited for day."

The apostle had peace in the storm because he was anchored by four glorious anchors of his soul. For the real anchors that were cast into the sea there were parallel spiritual anchors in the life of the Apostle Paul that held him fast in the midst of a tumultuous storm at sea. The first anchor we will call "Assurance".

I. Assurance

I suppose that of all the people in the world at the time the Apostle Paul had good reason to be without hope and to feel the absence of assurance and good cheer. He was bound on a ship as a prisoner for Rome, delivered to the Romans. Because of the vicious bitterness of the Jewish leadership the Apostle Paul faced some of the most difficult days of his life. Now on board a ship that is breaking up in a tremendous storm he says with profound assurance, "Now, I exhort you to be of good cheer."

There may be some of you this morning who are facing death. You are wrestling with life's greatest enemy and feel that you are losing. Remember that because Paul had the grace of Christ in his heart in the midst of even that storm he could say, "Be of good cheer."

I am reminded of the disciples who had retreated to the upper room following the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As far as they were concerned they had the sentence of death in their own hearts. They might as well prepare to die. They were all identified with Jesus the Galilean who had been crucified on the cross. Surely they would be next. They couldn't live in the upper room for the rest of their lives. All of their hopes and dreams had gone down with the ship when Christ died upon the cross. There in the darkness of the upper room, shattered only by the flickering of a few oil lamps, a darkness that matched the darkness of their very own souls, Jesus, the Light of the World, entered instantaneously and shattered the darkness. John 20:19 says, "Jesus stood in the midst, and said unto them, peace be unto you." Then again He said in verse 21, "Peace be unto you, as my father hath sent me, even so send I you."

The peace that replaced their hopelessness was enough assurance for them to become the vibrant and active preachers of the Gospel that turned the world to Jesus Christ and established the Good News that we celebrate today.

Just as the announcement of the Apostle Paul that no man's life would be lost, but only the ship would be lost, brought great assurance to those who accompanied him; just so the announcement that the grace of God can prevent your life from being lost eternally can bring assurance to you even though you are in the midst of a storm. Even though the ship around you may be falling apart.

When I was in pilot training I learned two very important things about emergency situations. I remember that during the ground school the instructor said if you must crash in the trees go straight into them and lose as little of the plane around you as possible. In other words he was saying remain calm and peaceful. Keep your head even though the plane may be breaking up around you. Plan your decent wisely. It was my flight instructor who said if you happen to fly into a thunderhead you will find yourself in a very dangerous situation. Now thunderhead clouds have tremendous storms of wind thrusting upward at great speeds. Small planes that fly into thunderhead clouds often lose their wings and fall to earth because of the treacherous winds. This happens when the pilot in panic tries to turn the plane or puts the plane in a dive because of his own disorientation. The stress on the wings with the severe winds causes the plane to come apart. The instructor said something to me that I will never forget. He said if you find yourself in the midst of a thunderstorm turn up the lights in the cabin so that you can see your instrumentation. Keep the plane straight and level and fly straight through the storm. Don't turn to the right or to the left, but go straight through.

I think that is great advice for all of us. When you find yourself in the storm you may break apart if you do not fly straight and level, keep on your course and keep your eyes on the instruments. Don't turn to the right or to the left, but keep a steady course.

The only way to do this is through the power of Jesus Christ that gives us the strength to stay the course when we are getting bumped around by severe winds and storms.

Perhaps today you need to throw out an anchor, the anchor of assurance: "Be of good cheer."

II. Identity

Another spiritual anchor that Paul threw out in the midst of the storm was that of his spiritual identity. It held fast and gave him great maturity in a treacherous moment. Notice that in verse 23 Paul said, "For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am..." Paul never forgot that his life belonged to God.

I remember as a boy being upset and concerned as my father boarded a flight for Europe. As I remember it was a DC3. He was going to be gone for a month and would be doing extensive travel. We feared for his safety and he said, "My life belongs to the Lord. I am doing His work. He will take care of me. Don't worry about me. I am in His hands." What he was saying to us is I belong to God.

Christian, don't ever forget whose you are. You are God's and God is able to take care of you and provide for every need that you have according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. His grace is totally sufficient!

You know, it really is the truth that when we forget whose we are and begin to live like the world we lose our identity and when we lose our identity we lose our peace, for our strength comes in the fact that we belong to the Lord.

Jesus my Lord will love me forever From Him no power of evil can sever He gave His life to ransom my soul, Now I belong to Him.

Now I belong to Jesus,

Jesus belongs to me,

Not for the years of time alone, But for eternity.

There is miraculous peace in the anchor of identity. Paul said, "For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am..."

III. Commitment

The Apostle Paul had peace in the storm because he cast out an anchor called commitment. It was an anchor that said Paul had his priorities right. If your head is on straight then when you get in a storm of temptation and misdirection you will be able to stay the course.

In his book YOGI, Yogi Berra tells a great event out of the life of Bobby Richardson immediately brings to mind the subject of baseball. However, what Del Webb, New York Yankee co-owner from 1947 to 1960 most remembers about Bobby Richardson is not his performance on the field, but his performance in his office. When he was trying to renegotiate a contract with Bobby.

Bobby Richardson was 30 years old and the Yankees needed him, so Del Webb set before Bobby Richardson a blank contract. After a few minutes Richardson pushed the blank contract back across the desk and said, "The Yankees have treated me well, and I am not interested in filling in the blanks in that contract. My interest is filling in the blanks in my life as a husband and father."

Webb concluded, "After that I knew what he was made of...We were running a business and he was running his life."

We are to run our lives with a strong measure of commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and to those very important precepts of Scripture which He has given as a guide for our lives. The Apostle Paul had not forgotten the One whom he served. He knew that he was in that place because God allowed it to be so, and he had a great confidence that he was all right because God knew where he was; God knew what he needed; and God would provide for his needs.

IV. Belief

The fourth spiritual anchor that I see Paul throwing out in the midst of this storm is the anchor of belief. In verse 25 Paul said, "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."

There is a difference in the words "I believe in God", and what is said here: "I believe God". When a preposition is inserted it removes God from one's immediate situation and makes the relationship more objective, but when Paul said I believe God-that is a very subjective statement. Paul was saying, "I believe His direct word to me."

To believe is to have faith in and it is important that you know who you believe, what you believe, and why you believe it.

First, it is important to know who you believe. In our fellowship chorus we sing: What a mighty God we serve

What a mighty God we serve Angels bow before Him Heaven and Earth adore Him What a mighty God we serve!

It is equally important that you know what you believe. You remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They faced the fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar because they refused to bow down and worship him as God. Their response to the king's edict spelling out their punishment is one of my favorites in all of the Bible (Daniel 3:17-18, read).

It is important that you know what you believe about God. Do you join these three young Hebrew children in saying that you know that God is able to deliver you if it is His will. If it is not His will then that is fine too. Sadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were able to be calm in the midst of their storm because they knew what they believed about God and what was that-He is able!

In order for the anchor of belief to hold firm in the midst of the storm you need to know why you believe. The why of our belief comes through the experience of faith and through the experience of life. Every Christian should have a testimony. Every now and then I encounter a Christian who says: "I have no testimony to share." One would have to be either dead or totally unobservant to have no testimony. For every day God is at work in our lives. We should know why we believe in Him because of the way He has proven Himself to us through many circumstances and through many storms.

Conclusion

Every Christian should have a testimony. As you have been out there walking on the edge, God has proven Himself to you as a faithful and loving companion.

That is why Paul could stand in the ship that day, hanging on to the rafters around him, shouting out, "Be of good cheer: for I believe God!"

You can be like that today. In the midst of your storm with the ship around you coming to pieces, while you hold on to the rafters call out with great confidence those words: "Be of good cheer: I believe God!"