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“Formulas for Disaster: Summary”

Acts 27:4-15

[Recap from previous passages] From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board. We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.

Much time had been lost, and sailing had already 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." But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.

When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the "northeaster," swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.

Thoughts for Today:

We've been in this series for seven days now so I thought it would be worthwhile to provide a brief recap of "A Formula for Disaster: Parts 1-7:

1. They got a late start (verses 4-9a). Ecclesiastes 8:6 tells us, "For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him." This verse basically says there is a right way (both time and procedure), and a wrong way to do just about everything. And if you choose the wrong way (or start too late in the season as in our passage), watch out for the misery.

2. They ignored experience with shipwrecks (verses 9b-10). Some of our best advice doesn't come from experts but rather people who have "been there and done that." The school of hard knocks is the one we don't all need to attend if we pay attention.

3. They were impatient (verse 11-12a). Proverbs 14:29 tells us, "A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man [or a man who makes quick decisions] displays folly."

4. They followed the majority (verse 12a). Just because most people agree doesn't make it right. If we want to make a lot of bad decisions all we need to do is follow the majority. Instead our first thought should always be, "What does God say about this?"

5. They prioritized comfort (verse 12b). Psalms 17:14, "You [the Lord] still the hunger of those you cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children." It seems we all have a God-sized hole in us that we try to fill with stuff; yet strangely we still feel empty. The Lord is the only One who can fill us, comfort us, and quiet our hunger.

6. They found something to justify their decision (verse 13). It is so interesting how we can always find the one reason (or a sign from "above") for doing what we want to do -- regardless of all the previous "signs," advice, and commonsense we've had against it.

7. They were caught by the wind (verses 14-15). Sin is like a gentle wind, it blows softly at first, luring us into believing that nothing is wrong and no one will find out; but before too long that gentle breeze so sweet and easy at first, turns into a wind of hurricane force. We're all susceptible, no matter how holy we think we are.

We all have made poor decisions at some point in our lives. I have had many times when I did not get what I deserved, and others in which the consequence seemed so much more severe than the offense. In looking back at some of my greatest blunders they can all be traced to (or rooted in) one of these seven "Formulas for Disaster." In Philippians 3:12 Paul tells us, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." I think Paul realized he was never going to get it right while on this earth (he would still make mistakes); but that didn't stop him from trying because he knew the ultimate reward.

Questions to Ponder:

Have you lost sight of the goal line? Have the problems got you down? Do you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again, wondering if you have been disqualified for the prize? Take heart because none of us can earn the gift of eternal life. We all deserve death. But Jesus paid the price once and for all, so no matter how many times I mess up, Jesus is right there with me, standing in my place as payment for my sin when I place my faith and trust in Him. He is worthy, I not -- I am human. Will you ask for His forgiveness and His life today? It's never too late. No sin is too big. Pray now.

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About the author

Pocket Devotions are written by Mike Brooks. A retired businessman, he is Moderator of South Shores church, leads the Deacon Board, serves on the finance committee, and he teaches a Men's Bible study and the Men's Ministry. Mike has a passion for evangelical missions. He is the husband of Sherry; the father of Ryan, Natalie, Krissy, Rebecca, and Amanda; the father-in-law of Ariel; and the grandfather of Conner and Christian.