What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Praise and Thanksgiving: Acts 27:35

Last week I talked about being calm in the storms of life because we believe God from Acts 27. Today I’m going to look at another example Paul left us in Acts 27. This example convicts me. I fear I am too timid and too afraid to be an effective witness for Christ. However Acts 27:35 gives us an example of Paul being bold and sharing his normal practices before the people on the floundering ship.
“And having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of all; and he broke it and began to eat.”
Paul was unafraid, and even determined, to give the glory to God. This prayer of thanksgiving was probably the Jewish traditional prayer that is said before eating. It gives thanks to God and was in the customs that Jesus kept throughout His earthly existence. Everything Paul did had a purpose, and that purpose was to bring attention to the glory and love of God. However, here, Paul does this traditional praising and thanking in “the presence of all.” All those on the ship: sailors, soldiers, prisoners, and the few Christians on board. He did not shirk from his routine of bringing glory to God even though the believers on the ship were far outnumbered by those who worshiped idols (if they worshiped anything at all).
So, what’s this passage calling me to do? To not shrink back from talking about the great things God, in Christ, has done and is doing for me. That’s part of the evangelism process. Sharing from our natural lives is a great way to witness. We need to be authentic when we are doing it, and not just trying to sound righteous or religious. It needs to be filled with love and gentleness. However, it needs also to portray God as the mighty power He is. We need to be able to pray in such a way that uses the language that everyday people understand. Religious words and phrases don’t make sense to unbelievers (phrases like “washed in the blood of the lamb” may actually gross some people out; it would have grossed me out).
Therefore, believers need to use common language, not filled with religiosity, and let loose our praise and thanksgiving to God, even in public forums. This challenges me to pray in public, in the presence of all. It can be just a part of conversation with another, or it can be by myself. Giving glory to God is my aim and I will try to do whatever God calls me to do even if it means praying, praising and thanking in public.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Shipwreck!! Acts 27

Luke, the writer of Acts, who accompanied Paul on many of his missionary journeys, writes an accurate account of sea travel of ancient times. He used many details and navigation terminology. The details could’ve been used as the ship’s log. And, it is proof that Luke was there on the voyage with Paul as was stated early in the chapter (verse 2). All the information given by Luke lends credibility to the story and the truth of the occurrences described in the text.
All that being said, the key for me in this chapter is Paul’s trust and reliance on God’s promises. Paul had the promise from God that he would preach before kings and that he would be preaching in Rome. That had not yet happened, so Paul was confident that in spite of the devastating storm they were caught up in, it would not kill them. Verses 21-26 is a record of Paul reporting a visit from an angel of God, while being tossed about on the ship in the raging storm. He is again promised to survive to go to Rome and preach to Caesar. Paul reports the angel’s words: “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.” (vs. 24)
The storm did not abate; in fact, they were in greater danger of being shipwrecked. In fact, Paul says in verses 25-26, “Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God, that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on a certain island.” This verse contains the key verse for me: “keep up your courage . . . for I believe God.” O to have the same unshakable confidence in God!
This so obviously relates to my life right now. No matter what the future holds for me, I can have courage and confidence in God’s promises in my life being kept by God. There are many other places and people in Scripture that tell us to have courage and be of good cheer, however, Paul’s example here, in the face of a deadly storm where even the seasoned sailors were preparing to die, shows me an example of someone doing that. I can do it, too. There’s no reason to be downcast or depressed. There’s God and I believe Him. No matter what the future holds, even if it should be death, I believe God will do what He has said. My eternal salvation is secure forever.