Text: Acts 27:9-20 June 3, 2012
1) A modern-day fiction story: A woman won a huge fortune in a state-run lottery. Upon receiving the good news, she called home to her live-in boyfriend and told him, ¡°I have just won the lottery! Start packing!¡± He boyfriend replied, ¡°That¡¯s fantastic! Should I pack for warm weather or cold weather?¡± The woman answered without emotion, ¡°I don¡¯t care---just pack all you can and get out of my house by the time I get home.¡± That man had a crisis for sure.
2) An ancient-day true story: Paul was charged of blasphemy by Jewish leaders and was tried by Governors Felix and Festus and King Agrippa. They couldn¡¯t find proof of accusation filed by the Jewish leaders, and decided to send him to Rome to be tried by the Caesar. (Acts 24-26) On the way to Rome his ship encountered a huge storm that threatened to drown everyone on board. (Acts 27) In the midst of the crisis, Paul played the role of a prophet that eventually saved everyone on board. (27-44)
DETERMINE THE CAUSES: Although most crises come to us totally expected and they find us at the most vulnerable moments, few crises, if any, just happen without cause or causes. Finding the root causes may help us better prepared to handle them.
In the shipwreck crisis in Acts 27 there are several obvious reasons that led to the scary situation.
1) They ignored warning words: ¡°Much time had been lost and sailing had become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them: ¡°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.¡± (27:9-10) Many, not all, crisis come to us are results of our intentional or unintentional ignoring of warning signs. Based on the experience in the past few days and the season, (27:4-8 Paul gave the people on board warning of pending dangers of the trip. But his warning got nowhere. Usually God will place warning signs or words along the path of our life if we are on a slippery slop to danger. If we are too proud to listen and heed the warning, chances are crisis is coming soon.
2) They listened to bad advice: ¡°But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and the owner of the ship.¡± (27:11)Some may think it makes more sense to listen to the pilot and the owner because they are professional in sailing, but the centurion should know that Paul was not merely a passenger, but a man God sent to deliver His message of salvation to the world. Too many suffer crisis because they listen to bad advices or advices from bad people. It is very important we seek advice from godly people, those who have spiritual wisdom to tell us the truth and point us to godly paths so we won¡¯t face crisis.
3) They followed popular opinion: ¡°Since the harbor was un-suitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix.¡± (27:12) In America, we are so addicted to democracy and follow opinions of the majority in many things: politics, pull numbers, elections, etc. There are examples both in the Bible and in practical life, majority may not always right when the majority doesn¡¯t fear God and do things their way. We all realize that being popular doesn¡¯t mean being right, but we tend to follow popular beliefs in our daily life. No wonder, we also face crisis for that.
DETERMINE YOUR RESPONSE:
1) Confront the crisis: Few, if any, can solve a crisis by ignore it, be it a sickness, a marriage conflict or a job situation. It may take you lots of time, energy or sacrifice to handle the crisis, but until you take your responsibility for the crisis, it can only get worse if you ignore it. Usually crisis is only the surface of a real problem in your life. The real cause is what you need to find out and do something about it.
2) Confess your part: If a crisis comes to you, most likely you are part of the problem. So, be man enough to admit it and ask for forgiveness from God and/or from people. Don¡¯t try to make excuses and don¡¯t blame others even they have some part to play in it. Accepting responsibility is a sign of being mature, sincere and being responsible. If any damages had occurred, pay the price, do the repair.
3) Claim God¡¯s promises: There are over 7,000 promises in the Bible, some scholars had found and listed. Before you begin to tackle the crisis, go to God for help and He is always there to help us go through life crisis. God is faithful. He will come to your side to help you handle your crisis. Remember that question asked by a Christian in the famous writing FOOT- PRINTS ON THE SAND? When the guy asked God why God had abandoned him when he was going through the toughest time of his life. God answered: My child. That was the time I carried you on my shoulders.
DETERMINE BENEFITS OF TACKLING CRISIS:
1) Turning bad into good: Most people consider crisis bad and will try everything possible to avoid it. But crises don¡¯t need our invitation they just come. Instead of lamenting the bad luck, it is more profitable to find out some benefits we may have from handling them. Don¡¯t just focus on the hurts, damages caused by crises, look also at some good things you may learn from going through the valley of darkness.
2) Counting some benefits: Managing or tackling crisis may help us grow in things we otherwise can¡¯t or hard to grow. Things like broadening our perspective of life. Real life is never as easy as we used to think. It also helps us to sharpen our skills to face problems and difficulties like military boot camp experience. It also helps us to purify our character. Many crises come to us because of our character or moral defects. Going through them helps us see our problems and provides us a chance to improve.
3) Time to get closer to God: Most people, if not all, get closer to God when going through crises. Although we all feel we are close to God in ordinary or good days. It is in those day in crisis we are willing to get closer to God, to taste His mercy, to feel His presence, hear His voice and see His working on our behalf. This is by far the most important benefit of living through crisis. Many Christians thank God for allowing them to go through the valley of death so they have seen the love and power of God at work in their lives.
1) Crisis is part of life: No one in planet earth may live a life without crisis. Big or small, we all have experienced some sort of crisis in our lifetime. So, do not panic when a crisis arrives with or without warning. Don¡¯t try to run away from a crisis. Take a deep breath and find out ways to handle it. Looking deeper into the cause of a crisis and try to mend the net so you won¡¯t make the same mistake again. Use the experience of facing a crisis to help yourself grow in perspective of life, sharpen your skills to face life and find our areas in your character that need purify or improvement.
2) The best of all is God: It is in that stressed condition, our spirit is better in tune to God and with God. Exercise the faith we use to claim we have, pray harder as we need to and we humble ourselves more in our relationship with God. God uses many kinds of method to draw us closer to Him and crisis in life is a very effective one. It is in those ¡°helpless, hopeless¡± moments, God becomes so real, so close and so powerful. Never leave a crisis zone empty handed.