“Belief is Necessary” 

Pastor David Moore

Old Testament reading: Deuteronomy 18:14-22 (NIV)  

“Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”  The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.  I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.  But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”  

You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?”  If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.  

Theme today: we continue with the Stoics and the Epicureans. In the context of being shipwrecked, how God can grow us and others in difficult times, and at the same time Paul sorts out the Stoics and the Epicureans in their wrong thinking.  

New Testament reading: Acts 27:15-32 (NIV)  

The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither the sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.  

After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said, “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 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.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”  

On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern  and prayed for daylight. In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away.  

We find Paul being taken to Rome to stand trial before the emperor. The ship was involved in a two-week storm that illuminates a complex way of understanding God and our relationship with God.  The first is this:
1) God has said to me no one will die.
2) The ship will be lost but all will live. ~D. Moore

Paul had already said everyone was going to live. So, what gives? This seems paradoxical. Why not let the guys leave? Here it is: if our destiny is fixed (stoic), then our choices don’t matter. If we believe our choices matter (epicurean), then in that moment we think history is wide open in terms of possibilities, and anything can happen. Paul says he and the Bible aren’t having it either. God is absolutely in control, and our choices absolutely matter, and we are responsible for our choices and their consequences. ~D.  Moore  

Your life is a result of the choices you have made. If you don’t like your life, start making better choices.  ~Zig Ziglar  

Prayer works because God is in control. The basis of all miracles is God’s sovereignty.  

We have a relationship with God that is much more sophisticated when we assume that there cannot be a point to suffering. Because we cannot see it, we’re returning to deal with the paradox, or in the mystery that God is so much greater than we are. God is so great and infinite that He could have some reason for allowing an event to happen we don’t understand. ~D. Moore  

This nuance of understanding God’s relationship to humanity is God is in charge and evil is not something God designed. God is involved and working with evil and overruling it according to His plan. ~D. Moore  

I’m told “not a hair on your head will be lost” means God has a detailed plan for your life. ~D. Moore 

Suffering makes us real, versus one who is blown here or there by circumstances. ~D. Moore 

Paul learned the secret of being content in any circumstance. Suffering has made Paul into a person of substance, weight, and depth.  

The question today, I hope, is how do we learn to receive suffering, like Paul did?  

The Stoic is wrong, just endure the suffering. The Epicurean is wrong to avoid suffering. But the answer is to engulf the suffering and understand it is temporary, and that God is in control.  

God uses the storms of life to reveal His great goodness and unfailing love, but we must keep walking toward Him to see Him. ~Shana Schutte  

The solution to our problems of evil and suffering will always be Jesus Himself. 

God bless, have a great week!