We love cruising! We took our first cruise in 2007 and decided that as long as we were able to, that we were going to cruise every year. And we have, mostly Caribbean but one Alaskan and we are looking at the possibility of a Baltic Sea cruise, maybe in 2019.
And cruising seems to be a natural fit for us, both of my parents and Angela’s mom come from an island and I come from a long line of sea farers, at least my father and grand father and my great grandfather were ship’s captains so maybe it’s not that long.
I first went to sea when I was fifteen, and after four years of throwing up decided that might not be the best place for me to spend the rest of my life.
Lord Nelson had advice for people like me, because he reportedly said that “The best cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.”
I’ve tried it and it works.
But even with sea sickness it’s hard to break the allure of the of the sea, it’s hard to get the sea out of your blood my office is decorated in nautical stuff and I have a plaque on my office wall with the words of Psalm 107:23-24 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.
So coming home this week ships were on my mind and what’s on my mind usually ends up beoming a message and so my first thought was to preach on the ships of the Bible, you know worship, fellowship and discipleship. But then I thought, “no that’s really stretching it a too much”
And so I came back to the Psalm 107, which is a poem about those whom God has touched and redeemed. Verse two asks this question Psalm 107:2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has saved you from your enemies.
And then David, the author of this Psalm goes on to talk about various ways God delivered his people, the people He redeemed, and one of the things he referred to was, those who went to sea in ships. And I began to think about different instances in the bible where people of God were on ships, or involved with ships.
Probably the first time a boat of any kind is mentioned in God’s word is way back in the book of Genesis, which is the very first book of the Bible. It’s a story that most if not all of you are familiar with and that is the story of Noah and the ark. And the entire story is summed up in one verse in the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament. It is here that we read this account.
Hebrews 11:7 It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about something that had never happened before. By his faith he condemned the rest of the world and was made right in God’s sight.
So the first ship in the Bible was The Ship of Redemption. The world was going to hell in a handbasket, so to speak and God spoke to the only righteous person on earth, a man named Noah. And he commanded Noah to build an Ark, which would save his life as well as the life of his wife, his three sons and their wives. And as a bonus the ark would preserve a sample of each species of animal alive at that time. You’ve heard the story. And there are a couple of things we can learn from the story.
The first thing that Noah had to do and we need to do We Need To Admit Our Need. It must have been a tough one for Noah to believe, he had never seen a great flood before, and why would a loving God destroy the world? And besides that, what God was talking about was impossible.
I’m pretty sure that Noah must have had a whole list of objections, but eventually he had to say “Ok, I’m not that good of a swimmer, this is a pretty rotten world that we are living in, so maybe I better do something”
Each person here today who is a believer, who has come to the point that they have accepted Jesus Christ not only as their saviour but also as the manager of their life had to first come to the place that they acknowledged their need. That they realized that the Bible was right when it said in Romans 3:23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. And tougher yet they had to acknowledge the truth of Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death. . .
If we are to going to get on the ship of redemption then we are going to have to admit our need, admit that we are drowning and stop pretending that we are only waving.
The second thing was that Noah had to acknowledge that There Is Only One Way. I’m sure that when God told Noah to build an Ark that Noah must have had a few questions, like “What’s an Ark?” I mean that would be a fair question considering that Noah had never built an Ark before, or for that matter even seen an ark before.
And I’m pretty sure that once God told Noah what an ark was, how big an ark was, and what an ark was made out of that Noah had another question “You have to be kidding?” “Like why can’t I just take my family up on top of a mountain and the animals can all swim? There must be another way?” But that was God’s way. And I know all about the impossibilities of the flood and of Noah’s Ark, and how that couldn’t possibly happen. But we are dealing with a God thing here, and if God can only do the possible then he isn’t much of a God.
And just as there was only one means of deliverance for the Righteous of that day there is only one means of deliverance today, and it’s not a boat. It is the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, when he died on a cross for us almost 2000 years ago. Jesus himself confirmed that when he said in John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
The third thing that Noah had to do was to Accept That Redemption Noah could have built the boat, filled it with animals and family members and if he hadn’t actually gotten on the ark he would have drowned. Regardless of how strongly he believed he still had to take that step and actually do it.
There are people here today, sitting in these seats who know that they need salvation, who know they need forgiveness, and who know they need God. And they are standing outside the boat looking up at a door that could close at any minute and are not willing to take that next step. And friends without wanting to be melodramatic, times a running out, it’s starting to rain and you gotta make up your mind.
To mix a couple of metaphors it’s time to sink or swim, fish or cut bait the word of God reminds us in 2 Corinthians 6:2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.
If you have never entered into a relationship with God we are going to give you an opportunity to do so at the end of this message.
So you on the ark, have you taken that step? Have you allowed God to take control? Some would say that if you have done all those things that from now on it will just be this easy little journey, gently floating down some sublime little river without a ripple or without a care. Uh-huh, sorry, God still leaves you with your will and you make the choices of what ship will carry you through your Christian life.
The next ship I want to look at from the Bible also comes from a familiar Bible story, you can find it pretty much summed up in Jonah 1:3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord. He went down to the seacoast, to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping that by going away to the west he could escape from the Lord. This was a Ship of Disobedience
Here was a man, a servant of God, one of the redeemed and he was asked to do something, something that everyone of us has been asked to do, and that is to tell other people about God.
God commanded Jonah to go to a city called Nineveh and to preach to the people. And instead of obeying, Jonah ran in the opposite direction completely.
He Knew What He Was Supposed To Do This wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t a slip, it wasn’t an opps, this was a deliberate act of disobedience. Jonah was fully aware of what he was supposed to be doing.
God is not a God of unwritten rules. When I was in Bible College a couple of times I got in trouble, well I actually got in trouble more then a couple of times but a couple of times I got in trouble for breaking an unwritten rule.
“Denn, actually it was probably Denny you aren’t supposed to do that.” And I’d say “Do what?” and they’d say “you’re not supposed to do what you’re doing” and I’d say “Why not?” and they’d say “Cause it’s against the rules” and I’d say “I don’t remember reading that rule” and they’d say “It’s an unwritten rule” and I’d say “Aghhhhhh” But that wasn’t the case here at all. Jonah knew what he had to do. And if we were willing to admit it we know what we are supposed to do and not supposed to do.
It’s not a hypothetically question, like; You are walking across the bridge that spans a raging river, you look down and see your ex-wife and her lawyer struggling in the water. You know that you are a weak swimmer and can only save one of them, would you a) go for a coffee or b) go to a movie?
No. When God gives us direction he expects us to respond. And if we don’t know then that’s why we got the book.
He Didn’t Do It. Jonah’s first act of disobedience was not doing what he knew he was supposed to do. In the book of James 4:17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
What is it that you know you are supposed to do, but you aren’t doing? I don’t know, I know some things that Christians are supposed to be doing, spending time in prayer, reading the bible giving to God’s work, loving and caring for one another, going to church.
But what is it that He has asked you to do, and for whatever reason you aren’t doing it? I’m just asking. But it wasn’t enough that Jonah didn’t do what he was supposed to do he also did what he wasn’t supposed to do.
If you know the story then you know that Jonah was supposed to go east and he went west, and not just a little bit west he was heading for the end of the known world.
And you probably know the rest of the story, a storm blew up and threatened to destroy the ship, the sailors pitched Jonah over board, because they presumed, correctly, that he was a “Jonah”.
Interesting how biblical terms work their way into everyday usage. It was at that point that he was swallowed by a very large fish, I know it’s impossible but let’s give God a little credit here, ok?
If this was a common occurrence then we wouldn’t see God’s hand in it. There’d be the story of how Jonah got swallowed by a fish, and how Bob got swallowed by a fish, and then the one about Sue getting swallowed by the fish.
And so Jonah stayed in the belly of the fish for three days and was then upchucked onto the beach where he decided that maybe Nineveh wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Too bad Jonah hadn’t read Galatians 6:7 at the beginning of the story, you know where Paul wrote Galatians 6:7 Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Have you read Galatians 6:7? Are you sailing on a ship of disobedience?
If you have entered into a relationship with God but you are living in disobedience to his will for your life we are going to give you an opportunity to get things sorted out at the end of this message.
The next ship is mentioned in Luke 5:3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. This ship wasn’t actually a ship, it was just a boat, they say the difference between a boat and ship is you can put a boat on a ship but you can’t put a ship on a boat.
But seriously, I worked as a helmsman on a six hundred foot oil tanker and when the crew was ashore, eventually someone would look at their watch and say, “Look at the time we better get back to the boat.”
Simon Peter, who most of us know better as simply Peter owned this fishing boat and I find it interesting that almost every time it’s mentioned in the Bible Jesus is asking Peter to do something and Peter is obeying. If Jonah sailed on a ship of disobedience Peter sailed a Ship of Obedience
The first command that Jesus gives to Peter is “Push out”. This is the easy one, nothing tough, just “Hey Pete, I need to use your boat as a floating platform to preach off, could you shove it out a little bit?”
It’s interesting how God starts us off with the easy ones. And that’s where you need to start being obedient. Cause if it don’t happen with the easy ones it won’t happen with the tough ones. And they did get tougher. Just a couple of verses later Jesus told Peter to cast his nets.
Now you gotta understand, Peter and the guys had fished all night and hadn’t caught anything. It was one thing for Jesus to ask them to push the boat out into deeper water so that he could use it as a pulpit, they didn’t have to do anything, kick back and lay in the sun and listen to what he had to say. But this is a whole new kettle of fish, so to speak.
Now this was going to require some effort, but listen to Peter’s response in Luke 5:5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, we’ll try again.”
The request got a little tougher but Peter was still obedient. If the first command was to Push out the second command was to Cast Out In Matthew 14 We read another incident that happened in Peters boat. The disciples had gone ahead of Jesus in the boat while he went up on the hillside to pray, and while they were crossing the sea of Galilee a storm blew up that threatened to capsize their vessel, and just when the apostles had given up hope of surviving who should appear but Jesus, walking on the water. Listen to what happens next Matthew 14:28-29 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water.” “All right, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
A little tougher eh what? First it was push out the boat, then it was cast your net, then walk on the water. And Peter was obedient. The really tough though one came at the end of Christ’s ministry. It wasn’t on the boat but it was related to the boat.
In the days following the resurrection Peter and some of the fellows had gone back fishing and one night after catching nothing a voice called out from the bank telling them to cast their nets on the other side. Which they did and they caught a ton of fish, more or less.
It was then that Peter recognized Jesus, jumped overboard and swam ashore. If you know the story then you’ll remember how they go through the dialogue where Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him and three times Peter said he did, and Jesus told him to feed his sheep, which meant; take care of the believers.
Now listen to what Jesus tells Peter in John 21:18-19 The truth is, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked and go wherever you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will direct you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know what kind of death he would die to glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
Wow, and even more wow was that Peter continued to follow. Now Peter would never have gotten to the position of leader of the early church if he had of disobeyed at any of those points.
How many people have heard of the Peter Principle? It was developed by Laurence Peter, A Canadian, we do that whenever we talk about someone who is even remotely connected to Canada we add, “A Canadian”.
William Shatner, Celine Deone, Alex Trebreck, it doesn’t matter. Accept when we mention Justin Bieber. That was what we call a Tangent. The Peter Principle basically says “An employee within an organization will advance to his or her level of incompetence and remain there.”
Which means of course that you go into the school system as a supply teacher and you do a pretty good job at that so they make you a teacher and you do a great job at that, so you become a vice-principle and you excel at that, and they make you a principle and you really stink as a principle, and there you stay. By the way that example was used because I had to use an example and for no other reason so if you are a teacher or a principle take a deep breath and relax ok?
I have developed the Guptill Principle of Christian Growth that says that “Every believer will continue to grow in their Christian walk to their own personal level of disobedience”
You know what happens you become a Christian and you are so excited and as the Holy Spirit leads in your life you are so willing to obey God. And then you come to an area that you are either unwilling or you think you are unable to obey and you go into rebellion. And your Christian growth stops. Plateaus, and there you remain bitter, unhappy and miserable. You’re not a good saint because you’re being disobedient, but you’re not a good sinner cause you know better.
So there you are. Three options, the first is that you stay there and stay miserable and make everyone around you miserable, the second is that you regress and become disobedient in those other areas of your life that you once were victorious over until you walk away from Christ. Or here’s what God’s hoping will happen, you surrender that area of your life and begin to grow again. And the choice is up to you.
So where you at? What boat are you sailing on today? I hope every one of you is on the ship of redemption. But I kind of doubt it. But you can be. And if you aren’t I would suspect that because you are here today you know what you have to do.
And if you are on the ship of redemption I hope that your Christian walk is one of obedience, and if not than you know what to do to change that.