Acts 27:9-31

Why would God take a chapter in the Word to tell us about a ship in a storm? Because it is more than history—it’s a teaching illustration.

Why are there storms in life?

Saved or lost, we all get into storms.

There are storms that we engineer by our disobedience. (Read Jonah 1.)

There are storms that God sends us into, to grow us. (Read Matthew 14:22-33.)

There are storms that other people drag us into. This is what happened to Paul. In Acts 27, Paul is a prisoner for preaching the Gospel of Christ. His captors are taking him to Rome to be judged.

In those days, there was a season when you did not sail. “Paul advised them, saying, ‘Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.’ Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 27:9b-11).

Paul had to go along.

Five Ways to Sink in the Storm

You can make the same mistakes this shipowner made.

Fail #1: Decide in haste.

“Now when much time had been spent…” (Acts 27:9a). The shipowner said, “Time is going fast!” People decide to do something in haste, without real leadership from the Lord.

Fail #2: Depend on worldly wisdom.

“…The centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 27:11). You must forsake any counsel not based on the Word of God!

Fail #3: Take the easy way out.

“And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in…” (Acts 27:12a). They weren’t comfortable. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Fail #4: Follow the crowd.

“…The majority advised to set sail from there” (Acts 27:12b). Learn this well: the majority is almost always wrong.

Fail #5: Base your decision on circumstances.

People say, “Things look good, so it must be God’s will.” (See Acts 27:13.) But that soon turned into a ferocious storm.

How should we react to the storms of life?

The Ungodly Reaction

When the ungodly get into a storm…

  • Their dreams dissolve. (Acts 27:14-15)
  • They work desperately. (Acts 27:16)
  • Their resources are wasted. (Acts 27:19-21)
  • They lose hope. (Acts 27:29)
  • They make foolish plans. (Acts 27:30-31)


The Godly Reaction

Paul announced, “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” (Acts 27:23-25).

Who put that smile on Paul’s face in the midst of the storm? The same one who gave him songs in a dungeon at Philippi—Jesus.

What is the result of the storms of life?

This ship was headed toward Rome. Earlier, God had said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (Acts 23:11b). And after this 27th chapter, “We went toward Rome” (Acts 28:14b). Bad decisions could not overrule God’s will.

Christians may flounder, but God’s sovereign power says we are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. (See Romans 8:29.) Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b).

Further reading: Psalm 2, Psalm 107

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