Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Category: February Devotion 2016

Acts 27:44

And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land. Acts 27:44

One of the great perplexities of life is the close proximity and integration of the redeemed wise and the unredeemed foolish. This isn’t intended to promote superiority of the redeemed over the unredeemed through some sense of self righteous indignation or impending vengeance; but rather gives rise to the inevitable consequences of living alongside two polar opposites. And nothing speaks more clearly of this dynamic than, “we’re in the world, but not of it”. And it’s from that reference and tension that all believers exist. The temporal and eternal coexists for a time; one demographic driven blindly by sight through vanity, the other by faith through the knowledge of the unseen.

The sea voyage of Acts 27 took the Apostle Paul to Rome; where his death most likely ensued. However, the shipwreck en route to his martyrdom is filled with uncanny, present-day, practical advice. Far too much is detailed in that single chapter to assume it’s relegated to history. And there’s far too much inscribed minutiae for it to be a mere description of tragedy and daring rescue, or a dutiful remembrance of a persevering servant of Christ. Undoubtedly, and for our sake, Paul’s journey towards his final resting place is recorded so that the divine wisdom he exercised be ours in our 21st century turbulence and unexpected storms.

Our hope is to extract diverse wisdom as it’s revealed from this chapter, and have a series of devotionals drawn from its experiences. We will then dedicate them to those who’re journeying towards their final home with others who’re not quite so sure! Folks, this could be interesting!

Consider then first the mingled assortment comprising the 276 men on board! Prisoners, ship mates, ship owners, soldiers, Christian, Jew, heathen men, men of color, men of disrepute, men of substance, men of power, men with vast sea knowledge, men with little hope, men with a lot on the line… You get the picture! It’s a gated community for sure– you can’t get on board, and you can’t get off! And that becomes the first point we gather from this chapter.

We’re born into a world, not of our choosing, but of providence and God’s sovereignty. We’re born into a family of which we didn’t choose. As a child, we live in a community we didn’t necessarily ask for. Read the rest of this entry »

The Whos

“And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand. So David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. And David was in the Wilderness of Ziph in a forest. Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” So the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house.” I Samuel 23:14-18 NKJV

As humans, we are fascinated with the destination. Innately, every 4 year old verbalizes the same rhetoric when headed on family vacation; “Are we there, yet?” The longer the trip the more emphasis is placed on the word “YET.” As is the case for every human inclination, we can always find reasons to justify that mindset. Even using scripture and spiritual vernacular to support it.

Let me be clear. I believe God is extremely concerned about our destiny (destination). I believe that He has planned the end from the beginning and is so intentional that our “expected end” is sure and steadfast. I believe what He has planned cannot be thwarted or deterred by opposition, no matter how persistent our adversary is.

However, I believe that due to our incessant desire many times to see completion and fulfillment, we lose sight of the joy of the opportunity that we have to walk with Him on the journey. He provides innumerable benefits as we walk. There’s joy in the journey. Adventure. Purpose. Peace. Relationship. That will not be necessary at the completion of a thing but is to be realized as we walk.

One of the greatest benefits of the journey are the people that God allows you the privilege to do it with. Life is not just about “what” we get to do or “where” we’re going. I’m learning “who” you get to do it with is of far greater value. There is nothing more satisfying, more restorative, more stabilizing Read the rest of this entry »

The Sweet Fruit of Joy

“Thou wilt show me the path of life. In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11

In our give-it-to-me-now culture, the pursuit of happiness is fickle and fleeting. If the job you have now isn’t working for you, start trolling for new opportunities on the Internet. If you aren’t satisfied with how you look, try the latest diet that’s sweeping the country or, better yet, look into a nip-and-tuck procedure. If you don’t like your spouse anymore, you don’t even have to take responsibility for breaking your vows. Just file for a no-fault divorce.

Why not? Everyone deserves the right to be happy, don’t they? Well, you may want to sit down for this.

It may surprise you to learn that the Creator God of the Bible, who loves you and cares for your eternal well-being more than you can imagine, really doesn’t care that much about your temporal, day-to-day happiness. In fact, He may have even orchestrated events to bring you to the desert place where you are right now. He is much more concerned with your inner self, your spiritual growth as you are transformed into the image of His Son. This is the same loving Father who allowed His one and only Son to be tortured and killed for our sakes. Why? So we might live in a bigger house or drive a newer car? Surely we are not that materialistic and shallow in our theology.

In Jesus’ last conversation with His disciples before His crucifixion, He declared that He had taught them of His Father’s kingdom “that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). Here was the Son of Man just hours away from a grueling death talking about His joy! And He’s addressing a group of men who would be cruelly slain, decapitated, exiled and the like about the fullness of their joy!

Obviously, Jesus’ definition of joy was not what most of us would consider happiness. You’ve seen posters that read something like this: “Happiness is __________” with warm, fuzzy answers like “a puppy.” Pardon the bluntness, but let us know how that puppy is working for you when a bloodthirsty mob is ready to boil you in oil.

Our entertainment-crazed society — and, indeed, its far-too-worldly church — grabs all too frequently for the low-hanging fruit of what makes us feel better for the moment. Read the rest of this entry »

Enough! I’m Turning this Around!

3:15 But when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. 16 Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. 18 It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. 19 But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he said, “Keep silence.” And all who attended him left him. 20 Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat. Judges 3:15-20

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to decide. There comes a time in every company’s existence when they have to decide. Equally true, there comes a time in a church’s life when it has to decide. When enough is enough and things have to change. There comes a time to turn things around. There comes a time to act.

Ever felt that incredible level of frustration when things are simply not right? The conditions of your life are far from where they once were and should be? It might be because you made some decisions that appeared to be OK but they turned out to be bad. It might be that someone else made decisions that you have to deal with. Maybe it is on a much larger scale and you simply cannot account for how things have gotten to the place that is so badly affecting you. Difficult moments challenge who we are and force us to consider what is most important. When we suffer, we appeal to a standard that judges the wrong and reminds us of what’s right. Suffering can challenge our beliefs but, if we respond correctly, it reinforces our beliefs. It takes us back to our story of God’s provision in the past.

The time of the Judges was a dark period in Israel’s history. Following Joshua’s campaign to lead the nation into the Promised Land, Judges is the painful and faithless sequel. Without a dynamic leader like Moses or Joshua, the people of the days of Judges suffered from a lack of faithfulness to The Law, they were doing “what was right in their own eyes”. As a result, they suffered under one oppressive country after another. As the people suffered, they cried out and God raised up individuals to deliver them. The Book of Judges is the story of Israel’s sinful abandonment of God’s Word and God’s mercy to send judges to deliver them. The story of each judge’s deliverance provides spiritual insight for us to consider.

The second judge in Israel’s story is a man named Ehud. As the passage mentioned, he was a Benjamite. The name “Benjamin” actually means “son of my right hand” or “son of my strength”. The Patriarch Jacob was proud of fathering a son in his old age, thus the name of the tribe. However, in Ehud’s case, his tribal experience might have worked the other way round: he was left-handed! Read the rest of this entry »