Archive | July 2014


Reading Acts 27 today.   What a lesson!

ship_stormPaul, on his way to Rome to appeal to Caesar on trumped up capital offense charges from his Jewish brothers, is aboard a Roman transport ship, the second one since leaving Caesarea,  accompanied by the Centurion Julius,  more prisoners and soldiers, the ship’s owner, pilot and crew; two hundred, seventy-six in all.

They got a late start (late October/early November) due to (1) the various hearings Paul endured before the Roman Governors Felix and Festus and King Aqrippa, and (2) the observance of the Day of Atonement, the Jewish high holy day. The weather had turned foul, typical for that time of year, but the ship made it all the way to FAIR HAVEN on the off-wind side of the island of Crete.

PAUL: Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.  Stay here for the winter!

THE MAJORITY: (Ship’s pilot, owner, and the centurion in charge of prisoners who had the final say): NO. This is not a suitable place to winter. Let’s make for Phoenix. It’s only a short way.

So, they departed, a deceivingly auspicious warm south wind taking them to sea.

And then the TEMPEST broke loose. A Northeaster of epic proportions.Terrifying, devastating. They were only able to pause briefly on the lea side of a tiny island long enough to run supporting cables under the the boat, haul in the dingy and lower the sails. Then they could do nothing but run before the wind and endure the ferocious gale and sea. So fierce was the storm that they had to cast off the cargo, the dingy, and all the tackle just to stay afloat.

For FOURTEEN DAYS they endured this mighty storm of wind and sea and darkness, with not a glimpse of light from sun, moon or stars. They were not able to eat a bite of food. They were terrified. Abandoned. Lost. All hope of salvation gone.

And then God spoke to Paul in a vision: “I have ordained that you must speak before Caesar, therefore, you and all 276 souls with you… will NOT PERISH.”

PAUL: We must run aground on ‘some island’ (not Fair Haven where they could have wintered). Meanwhile, let’s eat a little….

They did, then threw the rest of the wheat into the sea.

CREW: (After “sounding” the depth several times) LAND, HO!!

They released the stern anchors (holding them facing the island) and let the ship go her way. But instead of landing on the beach in the bay, a reef caught her fast by the bow and the stern began to break up under the terrible pounding surf.

SOLDIERS: We must kill all the prisoners! If they escape we will be killed!

CENTURION: (Looking to Paul, remembering the promise of God that none would perish) No! Those who can swim, jump over and swim to shore. Those who can’t swim, grab a bit of flotsam and ride it to shore! GO!!!

Every person arrived safely on shore and then turned to watch the ship disintegrate into the sea. A needless total material loss.

~  ~  ~

Wow. This story taught me to “Trust in the Lord with all my heart, and LEAN NOT ON MY OWN UNDERSTANDING, to acknowledge HIM in IN ALL MY WAYS… because He will direct my path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)  Obedience and trust. God’s way is always best for us. But if we think our ideas are better, choose to go our own way, disregard the warnings in his Word, then we will suffer loss.

Sure, many of the natives and probably the shipmates were blessed in Malta where Paul and the others were marooned for 3 months – God works ALL THINGS together for our good for those who believe him.

But oh the blessing for the the ship’s owner and pilot if they’d have stayed in the safe fair haven when first instructed and warned… if they hadn’t taken things into their own hands… and if Julius hadn’t feared losing control over his prisoners in that town.

How do you and I respond to the warnings and the promises of safety revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him WILL NOT PERISH but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Sure, perhaps we might have another chance at the end of our life (or perhaps not), but what a waste!  Yes we may be saved, but what COULD we have done for Him with our lives?

WARNING:  There might not be a Paul “aboard your ship” when the end of your life is near. You may just be entirely ON YOUR OWN…

What’s NOT To Love?

Reading from 1 John 2:15-17

John  – Son of Zebedee, Son of Thunder, one of the three “inner circle” disciples of Jesus, brother to James, and the longest living  of The Twelve Disciples, referred to himself in humility, simply as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

One of the things John writes about in his first letter is LOVE – the love God has for us.

LOVE canstock5305971“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. He that loves not, knows not God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:9-10

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16

John also writes about the LOVE that believers (should) have.

LOVE Matthew_22-37We love Him (God) because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  1 John 4:11

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:21 (with John 15:12)

The Greatest Commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul & strength, and the second greatest  is to love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:38-39

Jesus even commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

So…. what does John say we are NOT TO LOVE?

“DO NOT LOVE THE WORLD OR THE “THINGS” OF THE WORLD. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world … is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with it’s desires. BUT, whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

Just what ARE these worldly things we are to not love?

1. the Lust of the Flesh – This is the desire to INDULGE  – your “self”

2. the Lust of the Eyes – This is the desire to ACQUIRE  – more “stuff”

3. the Pride of Life – This is the desire to IMPRESS – other “people”


So then….what is “the will of the Father” (the desires or attitudes) that, in doing, results in life forever (in this context)?  It is the OPPOSITE of the above.

humility PUBLICANpppas00701. “DENY YOUR SELF, take up your cross (the cross symbolizes death; death to self), and follow me (Jesus).” (Matthew 16:24)

2. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures (“stuff”) on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but LAY UP FOR  YOURSELF TREASURES IN HEAVEN… (Matthew 6:19-21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”(Matthew 6:21)

3. “HUMBLE YOURSELF before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10) “A broken and CONTRITE HEART, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

The Apostle Paul explains more…

“Put off your ‘old self’ which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

HUMILITY a-teenager-prays“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

Let this mind be in you, that was in Christ Jesus, who … made himself nothing …. who humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8-11

After reading the 1 John 2 passage (and connecting verses) I searched my heart to consider whom and what I love?  Am I putting off those “deceitful desires” John writes about?  Whose will am I seeking to do…. my own or God’s?

How about you?

“Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk IN LOVE, as Christ LOVED us and GAVE HIMSELF up for us, a fragrant offering and SACRIFICE to God.”

“Give Me Liberty!”

ATT222MA14888213-0023My Bible reading today took me to Acts 13:32-39 

Paul’s sermon to the people in the synagogue at Antioch seems perfect for our July 4th, Independence Day. The leaders there asked him to give them “any word of encouragement for the people,” and Paul preached about freedom.

As with our own liberty in America, his sermon began with a lesson in history. Paul reviewed how God had been faithful to His chosen people, delivering them from bondage in Egypt, teaching (and disciplining) them through the long wilderness journey, and bringing them into the Promised Land.

He reminded them about their most righteous leader, King David, whom God testified was “a man after my heart, who will do all my will,” and about God’s promise concerning him. A savior for Israel (and the world) would come through this David’s lineage. He would be of David’s offspring: Jesus.

Then Paul preached the message of salvation.

Those who lived in Jerusalem, and their rulers, DID NOT RECOGNIZE or UNDERSTAND the words of their own prophets, which they read from every Sabbath. But they “fulfilled” them anyway, by condemning Jesus, and though they found no fault in Him, asked Pilate to execute Him. When He died, they buried Him.

But that was NOT THE END. God raised Jesus from the dead and He appeared to many of those who followed Him, who are now His witnesses.

And now, the CONCLUSION to Paul’s sermon. “We bring you the Good News! (the Gospel)”

1. God’s promise of a Savior was fulfilled in Jesus.

2. Through HIM the forgiveness of sin is proclaimed to you.

3. By HIM everyone who believes IS FREED from everything from which the law couldn’t free you.

“For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, he condemned sin.” Romans 8:2-3

And Paul’s final warning: “Beware lest what is said in the Prophets should come about…  that, as scoffers, you are astounded (by the Gospel) but perish. “I (the Lord) am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.”  Instead, believe and receive the Good News. Amen!

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36


Give me  liberty, or give me death!”  ~~~ Patrick Henry (about the fledgling United States of America)