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A Three Hour Tour
Scripture: Acts 28:1-10; Acts 27:3,7,13,15,18; John...
Track 6 of 7 in the Wild Goose Chase series
Running time: 1 hour, 05 minutes, 10 seconds.
Failure handled improperly can be devastating, but failure handled in the right way can be the best thing that can happen to us. It is failure that teaches us our most valuable lessons, not success. It keeps us from taking for granted the successes to follow later. Failure helps us to discover that when we are down flat on our faces that God is right there to pick us back up again.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

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A Three Hour Tour
Coming Out of the Cage of Failure

Do you ever wonder if God laughs up in heaven? I wonder what made Jesus laugh. We see many times in the Gospels what made him weep or what made him angry. But what do you think makes God laugh?

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. John Chancellor

I have to admit that this happened to MPCC once. I wish I could tell you the whole complete story but there isn’t enough time. Back in the early 80’s when this church decided that we needed to make a serious change and actually do something about growing, we hired a company that came in and helped us formulate a plan to grow our church. We developed a 25 year plan and embarked on the wildest goose chase we had ever experienced.

To be honest, we thought it was a really good plan. We had pretty much everything figured out but there were some problems that had to be overcome. In our technical faith approach, we figured God would help with the problems. The only problem with our plan was, it wasn’t what God had in mind. As I look back at those days, God probably had a pretty good laugh over what we thought was a good idea. Fortunately for us, God honored our dream and vision even though we way underestimated what was actually possible.

But there are times when the opposite happens. There are times when we go way out on a limb for God and before we know it, everything falls apart. The dream we had implodes. We wonder what happened and we are faced with the reality that our efforts failed. Failure handled improperly can be devastating, but failure handled in the right way can be the best thing that can happen to us. It is failure that teaches us our most valuable lessons, not success. It keeps us from taking for granted the successes to follow later. Failure helps us to discover that when we are down flat on our faces that God is right there to pick us back up again.

True or False: Failure opens us up to other options.

Is it important to plan? When is planning a good thing? When is planning a bad thing? It is bad when we trust our plans more than we trust God. Too often our plans keep us from pursuing Him and His will.

The reality is, sometimes our plans have to fail in order for God’s plan to succeed. But too often we allow failure to become our cage. Because we failed once we are too scared to follow again after the passions God placed in our hearts. But here is the really good news, THERE IS LIFE AFTER FAILURE! The door of the cage swings open and the Wild Goose calls you to a life of new adventure.

Paul is one of those individuals who comes to my mind when failure turns out to be the best thing to happen. To make a long story short, late into Paul’s ministry, Paul is on his way to Rome to stand trial before Caesar when all of a sudden, his ship sinks. I can’t imagine what that was like but from the account in Acts, it wasn’t a fun venture. But he and everyone on board made it to shore. Even before Paul could even dry off, his bad day grew worse.

Acts 28:1-4 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.”

It is one thing to experience a shipwreck and survive it, it is another thing thinking you made it and then be bitten by a poisonous snake.

Do you know what the one snake said to the other snake? I hope I’m not poisonous, I just bit my lip.

As we go onto the rest of the passage, Paul was pretty cool about it, at least that is what scripture records. But what about you, how would you have handled that situation? I might have thrown my arms up in the air and said, if I was going to get bitten by a poisonous snake, why not just let me drown instead. What a bad day gone worse.

But God has a tendency to turn what looks like bad luck into a big break. He turns ship wrecks and snakebites into supernatural events that somehow serve his purpose.

Acts 28:5-10 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.

Now when you look at this event, there was no way Paul and Publius should have met. This was in no way part of Paul’s plan. Even if Paul had asked to stop at Malta and then requested to see Publius, Paul would have been laughed off the island. It took a shipwreck and a snakebite to set up the divine appointment. What is the point? When you are out chasing after the Wild Goose, you never know where you’ll go or who you’ll meet. Only God would have thought of using a shipwreck and a snakebite to set up and islandwide revival.

I want you to open your Bibles up to the back to where your maps are. Look at the journeys of Paul. Do you see any straight lines of travel? How many places did he go to that he didn’t plan on?

• How did Paul end up in Athens? Chased out of town at Thessalonica
• Why did he travel to Troas? The HS closed the door to Bithynia.
• How did Paul get to Malta? A storm and a shipwreck.
• How did Paul end up getting the chance to witness to Nero?

What does it take sometimes for us to get into step with God’s plans? Sometimes we need to incite a mob or punch a hole in the bottom of our boat. Here is something to think about, how many great opportunities have we missed only because we made plans and wouldn’t vary from them?

Can we control what happens to us? How many of us actually try? How much time and money do we spend planning for the worse? Why?

You and I can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond.

True or False: How we handle shipwrecks in our lives determine whether our lives becomes a tragedy or a comedy.

Here is what we have to always keep in mind; when our plans get interrupted, start looking around for an opportunity. I am not saying that every time our plans get messed up God is involved but we need to start being more aware that God does have His plans for us. God does use bad situations in life to help us reset and refocus where we are going. If we are in tune with that reality, shipwrecks don’t shake us, snakes only end up being thrown in the fire when they bite us. Adventure is always at hand if we just allow it to happen.

So how did Paul end up on Malta? The wind was the reason. They landed on Malta because something that was out of their control pushed them to where they ended up.

Acts 27:3, 7, 13, 15, 18 The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs. 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. 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. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.

Can someone explain to me the phrase “wind factor”. What is it and how does it affect us?
Have you ever been on a plane before that was heavily affected by the wind? Did you ever have to divert because the wind wouldn’t let you get to where you wanted to go? Can you give me the characteristic of wind? Where does it come from and what causes it? Can you see it and can you control it? Can we predict it? Can we use the wind or harness it?

John 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Chasing after the Wild Goose requires us recognizing which way the wind of the Spirit is blowing and then responding to it. A great ship captain knows how to use the wind to get where he needs to go and he does this only by being sensitive to the movements of the wind. To chase the Wild Goose, we too must be moment by moment sensitive to where it leads. We have to trust it more than we trust our own plans. Instead of getting frustrated by the wind and fighting it, we need to just let it go and allow it to take us where it wants.

So what about failure? What should our attitude be about failure? Do you allow yourself to fail? Do you allow others to fail? Describe for me the “Closed Door”. What is the point to a closed door? What about a closed door in life? What is the point? Enables us to consider other options.

Revelation 3:7-8 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.

If you remember your Old Testament, this passage in Revelation points back to Eliakim. He held the highest position in Hezekiah’s royal court. As mayor of the palace Eliakim wore the key to the house of David around his shoulders. The key symbolized his authority. He was the only person in the palace who had access to every room. There was no door he couldn’t shut and there was no door he couldn’t open.

Jesus holds the key of David. What he shuts remains shut and what he opens no one can shut. Jesus is the door and when we walk through that door, we will never know where we will go, what we will ever do or who we will ever meet. Jesus is the same God who opened the prison doors for Paul and made appointments with important people like Publius. Don’t ever think closed doors means stop, they mean consider another door, consider another plan.

Describe for me your approach to travel, going on a vacation, driving to your favorite vacation spot.. Are you someone who plans to travel from point A to B without any detours? Or are you someone who starts out and really has no set plan on how to get where you’re going without any time table? What do potty stops do to you? What do detours do to you? How about traffic jams and construction delays?

Do you have fun or is traveling a serious business with no change of plans?
Do you stop along the way and read the historical markers?

True or False: We tend to live the way we drive.

I made this mistake and I am now just learning something I wished I had learned years ago, I cared more about arriving in Florida than I did the journey along the way. The same is true about my spiritual life, getting to where God wants me to go sometimes is more important than becoming who God wants me to be during the process. Did I have fun getting to Florida as much as I enjoyed being on vacation? I have to admit that some of the more memorable moments happened during the journey or while we were delayed.

True or False: It is the process not the end that gives glory to God.

I don’t know how many people Paul won to Christ once he arrived in Rome. We do know this, he won many for Christ while on the journey. The key is to enjoy the journey. I don’t know what stops and detours life has thrown your way. I don’t know how many dreams and plans have been lost of put on hold, but there is basically two ways to look at it, we can allow it to drive us crazy or we can learn to simply enjoy the journey. The choice is yours.