THE EARLY CHURCH (15)/ STRENGH IN THE STORM

Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh continued preaching the series The Early Church. The title for the sermon today was: ‘Strength in the storm’ . Her main text was taken from the Book of Acts, chapters 27 and 28.

PAUL’S JOURNEY TO ROME

We shall study Paul’s journey to the great city of Rome. We learn from him how to behave during a big storm that caused a shipwreck. This is the story… He was arrested in Jerusalem for causing a riot. The Religious leaders accused him of telling other Jews not to obey the Law of Moses; that they should not circumcise their sons. They also said that Paul brought Gentiles into the Temple to defile it. These accusations were false, but the Jews attacked him and almost killed him. The Roman soldiers arrested him to save his life. When they heard that Paul was a Roman citizen, they removed his chains but kept him with them in the barracks. They called the Sanhedrin, the religious supreme court, to decide Paul’s case. Paul made his defense, and the religious rulers were divided in their verdict about him. “But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (Ac 23:11). Paul now knows that he must arrive in Rome to testify about Jesus. Hearing that some Jews want to kill him, the commander of the Roman soldiers in Jerusalem sends Paul with an escort to Caesarea. In that city, Paul boldly testified before two governors, Felix, and Festus and before two royal figures, King Agrippa, and Bernice. This is according to God’s Word: “I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings and will not be ashamed” (Ps 119:46). It is also according to the promise of Jesus: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt 10:16-20).

*Lesson: God will open doors where we shall testify before ‘great men’ of the world. God the Holy Spirit shall help us to be strong, bold, wise, not shy, not worried, or foolish. God will supply the necessary words that will minister life to them. Paul witnessed to them about Jesus. He shared with them his testimony, how the resurrected Christ appeared to him on the way to Damascus and changed his life completely. None of these rulers could free him. Paul then uses his right as a Roman citizen. He asked to go to Rome to see Caesar who shall decide his case. From Caesarea, Paul goes by sea to Rome. The story is described in the last two chapters of the Book of Acts.   

The trip starts from Caesarea and ends in Rome. Paul is now a prisoner of the Roman empire. He is handed over to Julius, a Roman Centurion from the elite group of soldiers called the Augustan Regimen, under the direct authority of Caesar. Together with Paul, there were other prisoners who were sent to Rome. It is possible, that these prisoners were violent men. But Julius treated Paul with special kindness. This is God’s favor on Paul and according to His promise: “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (PV 16:7). Paul is accompanied by two close friends. This is a miracle. Prisoners were not allowed to invite others on the ship. It is possible that Festus, the governor, was touched by Paul’s testimony and told Julius, the centurion, to allow Paul to have two helpers. One is Dr Luke who has been Paul’s physician and co-laborer since they met in Troas during Paul’s second missionary trip. The other friend is Aristarchus, a convert from Thessalonica, who followed Paul as a disciple and a servant, to help him. At that time, the only way for Luke and Aristarchus to follow Paul on a ship is to agree to be his slaves. Paul calls Aristarchus ‘my fellow prisoner’ (Col 4:10). Both Luke and Aristarchus served Paul in Rome, until the end of his life. They were “not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but shared with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (2Tim 1:8). See how devoted they were to their leader! Paul nurtured close friendships among the brethren. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (PV 18:24).

*Lesson: A Christian leader is not proud, lonely, or selfish. He is humble, accessible, and friendly. He invests his life in godly friendships. By doing that, Jesus, the true ‘Friend that sticks closer than brother’, will always be his companion.

From Caesarea they take a ship and stop the next day at the port of Sidon. Julius trusts Paul and gives him the freedom to go into the town to visit some Christian friends. This is another great favor. It is possible that Julius was a witness to Paul’s trial and saw that Paul was innocent of the charges. Paul has fellowship with the brethren. They encourage each other. Never underestimate the power of Christian fellowship, the power of prayer and of agreement. This is another way to encounter the Lord Jesus Christ. “Again, I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt 18:19, 20). Please observe that Paul is a man of honor. He could have taken advantage of this freedom and run away. But he did not. At the end of the day, he came back to his imprisonment in the ship. Paul proved to be trustworthy. This honesty was a seed planted in the heart of Julius and the others in the ship. Later, when Paul becomes the pastor of the ship, they trust him and his words. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much” (Lk 16:10).

*Lesson: Trust in men is not forced, it is not demanded. It is earned over time. From showing himself trustworthy ‘in least’, Paul prepared his platform to be trusted ‘in much’. In all things, Paul proved himself as a true ambassador of Jesus Christ who alone is ‘worthy’ of all our trust!

From Sidon they sailed close to the Island of Cyprus, and landed at the port of Myra, in present day Turkey. Here, they take another ship that was coming from Alexandria. At that time, Alexandria was the biggest city in Egypt. Ships loaded with corn and wheat go to Rome. From Myra they go towards the island of Crete. They arrive at a place called Fair Heavens, on the Southern part of Crete. This is a naturally beautiful harbor. The journey to this point was simple but slow. They wasted too much time along the way. The owner of the ship was in a hurry to go to Rome to discharge his load and to make money. The time was now ‘after the fast’ (Ac 27:9). The fast refers to the Day of Atonement, the only time in the year when the Jews fast. That tells us that it is the beginning of October. From now on, the weather is bad for ships in the Mediterranean Sea. When Paul saw that they wasted time he advised that they should not proceed further. That they should wait. This was not a prophesy. It was a wise advice based on experience. He said: “three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea” (2 Cor 11:25; NIV). Paul has been to Crete Island and preached the Gospel there (Tit 1:5). He knew the weather well. He knew that after the middle of September, no ship can sail safely because of the strong winds coming from the north. He advised the owner and Julius, the centurion, that they should stop the trip and wait for the springtime when the winds cease. But the centurion did not listen to Paul. He respected him but did not want to submit to his advice. He listened to the Captain and the Owner of the ship, and they decided to sail on. That was a mistake!

Paul experienced rejection like the prophet Ezekiel: “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed, you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them” (Ezekiel 33:30-33).

*Lesson: we preach the Word of God. If people listen to it or not, that is not our responsibility. God will judge each man according to his response to God’s Word. Also, God will justify His servant even when men reject his words.

The captain decided to continue the journey trying to go to Phenix, which is a bigger safer harbor in Crete, only 12 miles away. But they never arrived there. Initially, the wind was gentle, and they thought that they got what they wanted. Many people assume that God is with them even when they walk in disobedience. But soon, a hurricane wind from the northeast called Euroclydon started blowing. They lost control of the ship. The seamen could not use neither sails nor oars. From this Fair Heavens the hurricane wind drove them 600 miles to the Island of Malta. Selah!

*Lesson: human strength always fails in the trials of life. Trying to be ‘wiser’ than God, you fall into bigger problems!

This storm was sent by God. It was like the one that Jonah encountered when he was running away from God. But here, Paul was not running from God. He was in the middle of God’s plan for him to go and preach the Gospel in Rome. Why then did God send the storm? To prove that Paul was a true prophet! God, thru Paul, revealed to him the danger ahead. But the people did not listen to him. Julius trusted the words of the captain more than the words of the man of God. He trusted human wisdom more than God’s wisdom. They almost had a shipwreck into a small island. They had to raise the sails so that they go away from the island. They could not ‘land’ safely. They had to continue in the storm.

*Lesson: If God has not opened the door of safety for you, then pray for grace in the midst of the trial.

In the storm, they apply emergency measures. The seamen ‘undergirded’ the ship. This is a dangerous and difficult operation called ‘frapping’. They carry long cables under the belly of the ship so that it will not scatter under pressure. Then, they all threw the grain overboard. That was a great loss. Then, they threw overboard ‘the ship’s tackle’. This word describes furniture and equipment. Apostle Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus helped throwing the things in the sea. They threw their beds, their personal possessions, and the ship navigational equipment but not the anchors. This is human wisdom. But it did not work for the storm continued to batter the ship.

*Lesson: No man can win against God! There are men who love money more than they love God. They make a shipwreck of their faith and their conscience, and they backslide. “Having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1 Tim 1:19).  For the love of money, they perish with their material goods. Lesson: if you have to lose something to save your life, then do it! Chose to live poor than to die rich! It is better to shipwreck your finances than to shipwreck your faith in God and your conscience!

We see that even with all that sacrifice and loss, the storm did not stop. The ship ‘was caught’ in the wind. The word describes something seized and dragged by force. This proves that God sent the wind and arrested the ship. The word ‘wind’ describes a stormy powerful movement of air. In Greek, the word also refers to false doctrines. Jesus sent His Word, His Spirit, and His Gifts to men to protect them against the storm of false doctrines and to help them grow in peace. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph 4:11-16).

*Lesson: Preaching truth is safety! Preaching falsehood is trouble! Be careful to attend a living church where the Gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected is preached. Doctrine determines behavior! Be careful about what you hear and who leads you spiritually!

With all their efforts, the ship was still led by the storm. They did not see the sun or the stars for many days. It was dark and cold. They could not read the directions using the sun or the stars. They were completely lost at the sea. They worked without rest. All this time, they did not even eat. The fear of death came in. They finally lost all hope to survive and gave up the courage to live. At this time, Paul stands and speaks again. He has been praying for a word form God. He knew that he has to arrive at Rome. But the situation was hopeless. He knew that only Jesus can them. In the middle of despair, God sent an angel with a great message of hope to Paul.  “But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “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. However, we must run aground on a certain island” (Ac 27:21-26). God sent the storm and God sent the Angel to Paul. This is the effect of the storms of life. The wicked become silent and the children of God speak with resurrection power. “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever” (PV 10:25).

*Lesson: Fear not! Pray! Wait for God’s Word in the middle of the storm. His Word is your strength and courage to stand as a servant of God!

From this moment on, Paul takes charge of the ship. He is now the leader and the pastor of the ship. Julius, the captain, the owner of the ship, and all the seamen have lost hope to survive this storm. They also lost their pride. They cannot argue with Paul, who alone has the Word of Life! Defeated, they are all humbled, like fishes in Paul’s net of ministry. At the point of total surrender, God intervenes and saves man!

*Lesson: The preparation work of the Holy Spirit to bring a sinner to the point of salvation is difficult and painful. Godly sorrow is a real spiritual emotion. God is the Helper not of them who can help themselves, but to the weak and the helpless. “For He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy and will save the souls of the needy” (Psalm 72:12, 13). God allows a sinner to come to the point of despair before He will save him.

Just imagine the scenes. The storm goes on and on. There are 276 souls in that battered ship. These are the owner and the captain, the seamen, businessmen, Julius, the centurion and other Roman soldiers, the prisoners, including Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus. They need a miracle to survive. We do not know if all these people had time to pray to their gods like the seamen traveling with Jonah. But we know that Jesus was there in that boat in the middle of the storm. At this point in time, these people did not know that God has granted a miracle. God has given Paul all these souls as a reward for his intercession. The angel could have saved Paul alone and let these stubborn unbelievers perish in the watery grave. But God decided to save all these souls for the sake of Paul who prayed for them. Paul declares that he has complete faith in the promise of God. He encourages them to eat something, as a prophetic sign that they will all live.

*Lesson: The world does not appreciate the believers. They persecute them. They do not know that as salt preserves the meat, God blesses the unbelievers for the sake of His children. God told Abraham: “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes” (Gen 18:26).  “Laban said to him, “Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the Lord has blessed me for your sake” (Gen 30:27). God blessed Potiphar and the Keeper of the prison in Egypt, because of Joseph. “So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field” (Gen 39:5). “The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper” (Gen 39:23). God rewards our intercession and our faith in Him. God blesses others for our sake. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6). Never give up praying, no matter the situation in life!

Paul stands and speaks! He brings light in the darkness and hope in despair. It is the power of resurrection thru God’s Word! The tables are overturned. The prisoner becomes the captain and the comforter of the ship. First, he rebukes them for rejecting his God given wise counsel. If they obeyed his word, they could have been spared this stress and loss. Paul then shows compassion. He tells them that God sent an angel who assured him that though the ship will be destroyed, none will die. Paul speaks with faith and boldness. There is no fear in his voice! All will be saved because of Paul. “Even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be shaken” (1 Pet 3:14).

*Lesson: Men must repent of their sins so that they can be encouraged. Leadership emerges thru the trials of life. No storm can change God’s will for His people. Grace removes the fear of death from your heart. Grace gives you the strength to stand and preach when all others faint from fear. This supernatural boldness is a great tool for evangelism and gives God all the glory!

Paul introduces himself as a servant of God. In the midst of the storm, among stubborn proud unbelievers, Paul continues to commune with God. Paul never stops praying! The angel came on the ship to encourage Paul. No other man saw the angel, except Paul. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah” (Ps 46:1-3).  

*Lesson: Pray! Nothing stops God from answering your prayer! No storm is too great for God. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). Your life is in God’s hands! For as long as God desires to use you for His work, you cannot die! It is a privilege to serve God! It is possible that Jesus called His apostles from among fishermen because they were used to hard life, to the storms of life. “Endure hardship as discipline!” (Heb 12:7).

Paul tells everybody that they will be cast on an island. At this time, they are totally lost in that great Sea. The captain has abandoned his post. They have no idea if there is any island close by. But Paul’s words come to pass. In the darkness, as the storm is still blowing, by faith in Paul’s words, the sailors measure the depth of the sea and discover that it is getting shallower. They now know that they are getting closer to the shore. At this point they drop four anchors from the stern and pray for daylight to come (Ac 27:29). They now totally surrender to Paul’s God.

*Lesson: Spiritually, what are these four anchors? What can strengthen my soul in the midst of trials? These anchors are Faith, Hope, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost! The first anchor is faith in God’s eternal Word and His promises! “Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matt 7:24, 25). The second anchor is the hope of glory! “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Heb 6:19). The third anchor is the peace of God that passes all understanding! “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). The fourth anchor is joy in the midst of trials! “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6, 7). These anchors never fail! To the glory of God!

Paul encourages the others with the encouragement he has received from God. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:3, 4).

*Lesson: Do not be selfish! Be generous with your hope! Encourage others with the encouragement you have received from the Holy Spirit!

The storm goes on. They are going towards the land. It was the island of Malta. Suddenly, there was another danger: rebellion! The sea men decided to lower the skiff (the lifeboats) and run away leaving the rest to die. They did not believe Paul’s word and wanted to save themselves. Paul said that God granted life to all the passengers but with the condition that they remain in the ship. For example, it was only Noah’s family inside the ark that survived the flood (Gen 6:18). Rahab and her household were saved with the condition that all stay together in her house (Josh 6:17). The rebellion of the seamen may have happened suddenly. Paul was very attentive. This is a mark of a true leader. When Paul told Julius and the soldiers that their deliverance will happen only if they stay together in the ship, the soldiers acted immediately. They cut the ropes of the lifeboats and let them loose. It was a loss to them, but it shows how much faith the soldiers have in Paul’s word now. Paul encourages Julius and the soldiers to continue to do their work, to keep the law and order on the ship, even during the storm.

*Lesson: your salvation depends on another. You cannot be saved by running away from death. You are saved because of the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ who died that you may live, united with Him. In all situations, abide in the center of God’s will and you’ll be safe! Watch and pray!

In the navy, there is a law saying: ‘the captain goes down with his ship’. The captain of a sinking ship has to do his best to save all the passengers and his crew before he can save himself. In a sinking ship, it is the women and the children that are saved first. This is a matter of honor, of helping the weak. This same law applies to the senior pilot of a plane or leaders of military units during war. Desertion is defined as abandonment of a military post without permission and done with no intention of coming back. Decimation was a form of punishment in the Roman Empire army by which, one out of ten soldiers was killed when many rebelled against their commander. The tenth soldier in a unit of ten was selected by lots. His nine colleagues must kill him by stoning or by stabbing. This was done to maintain order and discipline in the army.

The seamen who tried to run away are like the hirelings. They are not faithful friends. “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint” (PV 25:19). You cannot eat with a bad tooth, and you cannot walk with a dislocated foot. The unfaithful friend will disappoint you when you need him the most. Jesus is the good shepherd. He died to protect His sheep. But the false brethren run away during danger and abandon the flock. Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep” (Jn 10:11-13).

*Lesson: No matter the trial, the leader cannot abandon his responsibility to his followers. The shepherd cannot abandon his flock. The parents cannot abandon their children. Pray before you make friends. Test them not only when things are good, but especially during the trials of life!

Paul now strongly encourages everybody to eat. For the last 14 days they worked and worked trying to save the ship. But their worked in vain. Now, once God’s Word was spoken, by faith, they should stop all work and eat. They need the strength to survive. Paul leads by example. He took bread and gave thanks to God for it. He then eats in the presence of them all. “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam 16:22). To refuse to eat is rebellion. To commit suicide by starving is sin. They all obeyed Paul. They eat by faith. Labor is connected with good appetite. Lazy people should not eat. “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess 3:10). But a laborer should eat. “Every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor; it is the gift of God (Ecc 3:13)”.  The angel told Elijah to eat to have strength for the journey ahead (1Kg 19:5-8).

*Lesson: God is interested in all things about you. Work hard! Eat and sleep taking care of your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit! Give thanks!

Paul speaks by faith that they will not lose even a hair from their head. This is the strong faith and prophetic confidence of a true leader. See how far God has brought Paul, from a prisoner who entered the ship in chains, when none listened to his advice, to this point of true spiritual leadership manifested in the storm. Like the earthquake in Philippi, the storm only broke the chains! Paul is now the pastor of the ship!

*Lesson: There are two storms that reveal the truth in your heart: personal trials and witnessing God’s grace blessing another you think is less worthy than you! It is the danger of discouragement and jealousy! In Christ, your testimony and faith will shine like gold purified in the fire!

Finally, after 14 days of darkness, ‘it was day’. They saw the land. They lifted the anchors and the ship got stuck in the sand. This was the breakthrough they were all hoping for. Then, another danger came. The devil does not rest. The soldiers became afraid that the prisoners will escape, and they wanted to kill them all. But Julius, trying to save Paul, stopped the soldiers from killing them. Clearly, during this difficult journey, Paul has gained his respect. All were free to jump into the sea and swim to the shore. All Roman soldiers were good swimmers. It was part of their training. Maybe Julius told the soldiers to jump first, to go to the shore and wait for the prisoners so that none will escape. As Paul told them, all had survived! This is a miracle indeed! In this hurricane of more than 14 days, during this total shipwreck, all 276 men got saved.

This was their testimony: “Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, They see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; So, He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps 107:23-31). Halleluiah!  

*Lesson: trust the Lord Jesus, who is the Master of every storm in life! But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matt 8:26, 27). Remember to give thanks to God, before, during, and after the storm! Praise the Lord!

TRUE GODLY LEADERSHIP

In this world there are few good mature godly leaders. It is not easy to be a spiritual leader, a mentor, a pastor, a husband, or a parent. Leaders take responsibility for all things, on behalf of their followers, even if they are good or bad. God delegates His authority to human vessels. God uses people to reveal Himself as the Leader of His people. This is the story of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Deborah, Paul, Peter, and others. Many people take pleasure in criticizing leaders. That is a bad habit.  Pray for all people in authority, for your pastors and leaders in the church!

Based on this story in Acts 27, and observing Apostle Paul, these are some of the godly qualities of a true leader:

A true leader is spiritually strong. He can handle the stress of life more than the others. He solves difficult problems. He can be trusted in crisis.

A leader is loved by the people he leads. “Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen” (Titus 3:15).

A leader is strong and flexible at the same time. He rebukes and he encourages!

A true leader obeys God’s Word, and he always prays!

A true leader is faithful to God who appointed him. He is not a hireling. He does not oppress or manipulate his followers. He leads them to God!

A leader does not give up. He perseveres against all hindrances unto the end. Paul suffered so much in his life yet, he never gave up on Jesus!

A leader is wise, theoretically, and practically. He is not foolish. He preaches the right doctrines and their correct application!

A leader is bold and speaks with authority. He knows that God is backing his words. “Where the word of the King is, there is power” (Ecc 8:4).

A true leader is compassionate and encourages others. Paul ate first. He led by example.

A leader is strengthened by God, and he strengthens others. Paul was encouraged by the angel of God, and he encouraged others.

A true leader has an established faith. Like Abraham, the leader does not stagger in unbelief but gives glory to God (Rom 4:20).

A true leader demands obedience. Paul told the people to stay in the ship so that they can be saved! He was right! His grace covered them!

Finally, let Paul have the last word: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1Cor 11:1; NIV). Worship the Lord!

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