Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Category: May Devotion 2016

Acts 27:13

3rd in a series of wisdom points drawn from Acts 27

“And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.” 

Invariably and strangely, the warmest breezes seem to comfort those who resist their rudder of conscience. The soft winds of consolation and convenience blow; and with subtle persuasion soothing breezes coerce the shallow and distant heart. So that weak hearts in moments that demand a choice, often allow the presence of some comforting circumstance to cast its decisive vote.

Exactly why the ship’s captain, centurion and passengers rejected Paul’s sharp admonition to remain at the port of Lasea is open to debate; but it’s certain the decision to leave port and sail further came from their sense-driven logic. Certainly they discussed at length their reasoning. And certainly they justified their decision to lift anchor and sail on. And certainly they had serious misgivings and trepidation on their course of action. And isn’t it fortuitously nice sometimes when outside confirmation tips the scale in our fleshly favor? Even when we know, oh yes we know, we ought to slow down and rethink?

Maybe Paul’s unsolicited advice, he being prisoner under the centurion’s care, was deemed rude. Maybe his prophetic words were unwarranted and unmerited, they being ignorant of his spirituality. Maybe his words were pompous intrusions into the world of sailing of which he possibly had little expertise. Or maybe he, being older, was simply viewed as uninformed and insensitive to the younger guy’s interests. Or maybe, their decision to loose anchor and journey on came from casting lots. Or maybe, they even appealed to Lady Luck. Or maybe, and most likely (from a red blooded American male perspective, of course), just the thought of being holed up an entire winter in a small town with few bright lights, drinking holes, beautiful ladies or Wifi, was sufficient reason to sail on to the more pleasured port of Phenice.

But may the consequences of choices be remembered and analyzed; for the results of a decision determine the wisdom of it. And a grain filled ship with 276 passengers headed to Rome has a lot to lose. Should you read ahead, the tragedy awaiting this ship is worthy of a world-class documentary. History books should include the details. And students of life should read it a second time. It’s that invaluable to the sincere. So consider well the risks and rewards of life, and consider the entire volume of wisdom and available information before choices are rashly made.

Either way, whether with logic or lust, the decision to leave port was supported by the providence” of those southern soft winds. Wow! So that any remaining doubts as to the decision to sail to Phenice were removed by the convincing evidence of favorable winds! Thus how easily we leverage our actions with circumstances that bolster our predetermined decisions. How quickly we assuage our troubled conscience when other things around us advance our cause! And how assured we are of our own unpublicized uncertainties when a few positive circumstances come alongside to console us!

However, the world we now inhabit demands the virtue of faith for our success, not sight and externals. To prevail and overcome, a more sure and stable source of wisdom is needed. The Word to us is that unmovable Rock! Read the rest of this entry »

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Matthew 14:23

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart, to pray; and when the evening was come, He was there alone.

There’s just something about the mountains. Wouldn’t you agree? Whether it’s a whirlwind weekend in the Blue Ridge hills of western North Carolina or a weeklong sabbatical in northern Georgia or visiting friends in the Colorado Rockies, the majestic scenery and the pure air just seem to clear our heads and give us a fresh perspective.

Time and time again in the Scriptures, we see Jesus getting away to the mountains. Granted, they were within walking distance for the Master, but still it was His conscious decision to scale the rocky hillsides – sometimes with his full entourage of disciples, occasionally with only His closest companions, and often alone.

At times, it may have been out of simple practicality: when Jesus was ready to share His longest recorded message, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), the natural amphitheater created by the topography undoubtedly gave the Savior’s voice the ability to carry so that thousands could hear.

But there has to be more than mere acoustics that drew Jesus to the higher elevations. Consider just a few of the momentous events in His life that happened on or around a mountain:

  • The Transfiguration (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9) when Jesus reveals His glory to his inner circle of Peter, James and John.
  • The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, where Luke specifically records that the King of the Jews rode a colt “at the descent of the Mount of Olives” (Luke 19:37).
  • The Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) when the greatest Prophet who ever lived foretells signs of the end times to His disciples.
  • The Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed on the night before His arrest and crucifixion was located on the western slope of the Mount of Olives.
  • The Ascension into heaven was from the Mount of Olives, as confirmed by Luke in Acts 1:9-12.
  • The Second Coming of the Lord when He victoriously returns to earth in triumph over His enemies will be to the Mount of Olives, as foretold by Zechariah 14:1-4.

Yes, there’s definitely something about those hills! Just think about it: The One who created the mountains is Himself referred to Read the rest of this entry »

The Eternal Value of a Delay

John 2:3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus *said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”

John 7:3 Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him. 6 So Jesus *said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.

John 11:6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.

  • A mother’s assessment of a need, implying that He should address it, goes unheeded.
  • His brothers’ challenge to reveal Himself to the world, unbelieving as they were, was refused by comparison to His sense of time and theirs.
  • A beloved friend lays deathly sick and He knowingly prolonged His stay two more days, separated from the assumed loving action of healing.

His mother, His brothers, and His beloved friend’s circumstances were not enough to prompt Jesus to change His action to fit the urgency of human needs. God operates on a different clock than we do. Solomon taught, “There is an appointed time for everything… He has made everything appropriate in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11).

Divine delays to our human travails creates anxiety in our lives. Actually, and more precisely, the anxiety was already there. It remains in our minds because we have either not prayed, imagine that we didn’t pray the right way and just worry from the difficult experience or, we expectantly prayed and have not yet seen an answer. God is delayed by our expectation.

The three events in the Gospel of John reveal that Jesus did not immediately respond to the people of need. He wasn’t on their time schedule. He was waiting for the Father’s will. To their credit, Read the rest of this entry »