Greetings, friends. Have you ever been in a storm where the wind is howling, the lightning flashing, and the thunder crashing? It can be a frightening experience. But imagine how much worse it would be on the sea, where the waves seem to be crashing over you while the storm swirls all around.
The apostle Paul found himself in just such a situation. We read about it in Acts, chapter 27, where the situation became so dire the crew and passengers began throwing everything overboard.
"And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship," we read in Acts 27:18 "On the third day we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands. Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up" (Acts 27:18-20).
That's a pretty dire situation. And yet, there was one on board who hadn't given up, and that man was Paul. For you see, this was not the first deadly situation the apostle had faced.
He describes his experiences in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27—"From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—"
This man of God had been through a lot! How was he able to keep pressing on through all of these trials and discouragements? I believe the answer is found in what he said while in the middle of that terrible storm on the sea.
Even though Paul had advised the captain of the ship not to sail further at that time, he still spoke faith-filled words of encouragement. Listen carefully to his words recorded in Acts 27:21-25:
"'Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, "Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you." Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me."
How was Paul able to have such rock-solid faith in the midst of a storm where everything seemed lost? How could he retain hope in what appeared to be an utterly hopeless situation?
Well, you might say, "it's because an angel came to him." I'm sure that was encouraging, and yet, I believe there was something more than just the presence of an angel—I believe it was the God-given message that the angel delivered to him. Notice Paul's words, again, "Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me." (Acts 27:25).
And that is exactly what happened. Although the ship was completely wrecked, Paul, and all on board were saved. Paul had peace and courage because he had full and total confidence in the word of God--that it would be just as God said.
Friends, we are told very clearly that "a storm, relentless in its fury" is coming. "Are we prepared to meet it?" The pen of inspiration continues: "We need not say: The perils of the last days are soon to come upon us. Already they have come. We need now the sword of the Lord to cut to the very soul and marrow of fleshly lusts, appetites, and passions. . . . The thoughts must be centered upon God" (Testimonies for the Church, volume 8, p. 315).
And what is this "sword of the Lord?" It is the same sword described in Ephesians 6:17—"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
Friends, our only safety, our only security in the days ahead is to take God at His word--as revealed through the inspired Scriptures of the Bible. The Bible has withstood the test of time over the centuries. The prophecies given have so far been fulfilled right on time, and we can rest assured that what remains will also take place just as the Bible reveals.
We have also been given, as indicated in Revelation 19:10, the wonderful gift of the testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of Prophecy, to help guide us through these last days of Earth's history.
As we navigate the days ahead, we don't need to worry. As long as we keep Jesus as our "North Pole," the Bible as our "compass," and the Spirit of Prophecy to illuminate the map, we can be confident in reaching our final destination in safety and joy and peace. Let us press together as we move forward in mission, proclaiming the three angels' messages through the power of Christ, and the amazing news that Jesus is coming very, very soon!
Let's pray together just now. Father in heaven, thank you for the amazing message that you give to us. Thank you for the Word of God, the Bible, that is as sure as any foundation. It is the foundation of all of your love, and your character. It reveals to us that your character is founded upon love and these precious words in the Bible are your love letters to us to give us instruction, and guidance. And thank you Lord for the Spirit of Prophecy, through the writings of Ellen White, your servant. Thank you for giving us the Spirit of Prophecy, which illuminates the way points to Jesus and to the Word of God. Thank you for the privilege of knowing that our future is secure as we lean upon the merits and blood of Jesus Christ every day, accepting his justifying and sanctifying righteousness, which is the very core of the three angels’ messages. Helping us to understand, to turn back to the true worship of God and proclaiming this to the world. Lord, give us a firm conviction that your Word is the source of all life and truth. Bless us now, as we move into the last days of earth’s history. Lord, we lean upon you on your word and on your instruction in the Spirit of Prophecy and we thank you for hearing us. In Jesus' precious name we ask it, amen.