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Cutting Away the Dinghies

Cutting Away the Dinghies
Words of Faith 8-17-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Acts 27
[27] On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. [28] 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. [29] Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. [30] 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. [31] Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved." [32] So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away.

Paul’s advice on the ship had originally been disregarded. His suggestions were disregarded perhaps as the impractical concerns of an eccentric Jewish teacher. But now he was in virtual command of the ship because he had the centurion’s ear.
Suddenly Paul spotted a serious problem. Some of the sailors were scheming to abandon ship and save themselves by lowering the dinghy (lifeboat) while pretending to lower anchors from the bow. Paul saw through the ruse realizing that no sailor would drop anchors from the bow under such conditions.
Paul knew that in order to make it to shore in the morning they would need every member of the crew. Together they would have to run the whole ship aground in order to have a chance to save all aboard. Paul warned Julius, the Centurion, that all would be lost if the sailors deserted the ship. Though Julius had not listened to Paul earlier he took his advice and ordered his men to cut the lines holding the dinghy and let it fall away.
There are three powerful messages here.
1) First, is the need to stick together in times of peril. This shipload of passengers and crew numbered 278. We may not think of this as a “church image” except that an angel of the Lord had given reassurance that no one would be lost. The angel had said, “God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” The protective grace of the Lord was being extended to this group of people for whatever reason. Still, it was vital that those aboard stick together. Running a ship aground was no simple task. The crew was needed to guide the ship properly and keep it from being battered to pieces.
Actually that is a pretty good image of the church when we face difficult or perilous times. We need to stick together. We cannot abandon ship in order to “save ourselves”. Paul’s teaching in his letters is consistent that we need one another and we have a variety of gifts that are not intended just for ourselves but for the whole body.
2) Second, is the need to listen and get involved. Paul was not passive in this matter even with the reassurance he had received from the angel. He might have sat back and said, “Well, the angel said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” Instead, Paul must have listened to the Lord and understood that survival required his involvement and leadership. Even when God’s grace is powerfully at work, we need to listen and cooperate with what God is doing.
A few years ago, I saw a television show documenting the rescue of a woman stranded in a perilous spot with rushing water all around. The rescuer came in on a rope from a helicopter and the woman slipped away several times before being saved. The rescue team later noted that a person being rescued must not be passive. A person being rescued must work hard to take hold of the rescuer.
Our engagement with God is often like that. God had offered a plan of survival to the ship Paul was on but they were going to have to stick together and work hard at making it happen. Perhaps this is why Paul wrote “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). God has reached out to us in His grace but also calls us to work with Him in our rescue.
3) A third message is that sometimes we need to cut away the dinghy. The dinghy is that tempting way of escape to which we are sometimes drawn. On this ship, it was not a matter of just deciding to forbid the use of the dinghy. The commitment to face danger together required cutting away the dinghy.
Our resolve in responding to God often requires cutting away the dinghies that tempt us, the escapes that threaten to unsettle the plan of God. Perhaps that is why Paul wrote that we are to “make no provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:14). We are not to have “escape plans” away from God’s gracious provision.
How are you at “sticking together”? This is a good time of year to examine our lives, relationships and church connections. Are you involved in bringing all the passengers through in safety or do you mostly just look after yourself?
How are you at “getting involved”? Not just jumping in to make motion but really listening to God and responding to how He wants you to work at the plan He has devised.
Are there any “dinghies” that you need to cut away from the ship? Any plans of the flesh that need to be separated from your life?

Lord, draw me close to You. Draw me close to Your people, Your Body of Christ. Teach me how to listen and respond when You want me to get involved. Help me to cut away the escape plans of my flesh that I may walk with You in complete resolve. In Jesus’ name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2001, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.