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May 27, 2018

Every Thought Captive, a weekly devotional from Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA)

EXTENDING THE KINGDOM: A DANGEROUS VOYAGE

by Erin Golangco

"...Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.

Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island."

Acts 27:18-26 (https://pcpc.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=eba67192d3a27da52e93fefb8&id=da5bd4e0b4&e=82a9a8f891)

My eighteen-month-old daughter Olivia and I read a book each night that is a paraphrase of Psalm 23 called Found. One of our favorite pages says, “even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places, I won’t be afraid. My shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me.” Olivia will point to the lamb, and then kiss the shepherd. It’s a lovely picture of childlike trust.

We put our trust in a great number of things. Acts 27 captures one of the most vivid descriptive narratives in the book of Acts, and truly, in much of the New Testament. Luke writes to convey the gravity and peril Paul and the shipmates faced, the astonishing power of God’s sovereign care and deliverance, and nestled in the middle in verses 22-25, a portrait of trust under duress.

It is said that the night is darkest before dawn begins to break. As God’s children, we often can’t see His presence or purposes in the storms of life. This was the case in Acts 27. Days went on without light. The hurricane-grade wind howled mercilessly and the berating waves sapped their strength (27:14-20). But then, God spoke (27:23-24). He spoke into the darkness and despair to give hope: Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am the one who rules over this storm.

We often feel helpless, vulnerable and impotent to deal with the storms of life. And truly we are on our own. But by God’s grace we are not orphans, left to fend for life and livelihood by the scrappiness of our hands. We are beloved children who are always, always, in the strong grip of our good Father and sovereign God, who is our protector, defender, and caretaker in every single trial and trouble we experience.

Paul emulates in this passage what it means to depend on God as a beloved child in crisis. His ultimate trust was not in a certain outcome, but in God’s unfailing love for His children (Psalm 143:8). Thus, he did not assert himself aggressively when the centurion ignored him (27:11-12). He trusted the Lord’s voice when it meant destruction of their physical security, the ship (27:26). By inference, we know that Paul was praying fervently for God’s care and deliverance for himself and those in the ship as well (27:24c). He reminded his shipmates of God’s word (27:34). He praised God with thanksgiving in front of all (27:35).

This passage reminds me of Psalm 20:7: “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.” In the Old Testament, chariots and horses represent means of escape and protection. Today we put our hope in many things that we think will insulate us from discomfort, financial hardship, pain, and trouble. But to boast in the name of the LORD means to have confidence in and trust in the character of God, our God, who promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5).

Fellow believers, let us take courage that whatever storm we may encounter, we are not alone. His character is trustworthy. He is always with us, even in the dark, scary, lonely places. He knows where we are. He is here with us, now and forever.

###

About the Author

Erin Golangco
Director of Small Groups
Park Cities Presbyterian Church

Erin Golangco works at PCPC as the Director of Small Groups. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, and she will soon graduate from Covenant Theological Seminary. She is married to Paul, and they have one daughter, Olivia Maeve.

 

 

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God's Holy Fire from Heartlight

God's Holy Fire is a daily devotional about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
  • Spirit-Warned

    [Paul and his traveling companions] looked up the local disciples [in Tyre] and stayed with them seven days. Their message to Paul, from insight given by the Spirit, was "Don't go to Jerusalem."

    Acts 21:4 MESSAGE

    Key Thought

    Okay, I admit this is confusing. Paul is convicted that he must go to Jerusalem. At the same time, he knows hardship awaits him. Now this warning from the Spirit: "Don't go to Jerusalem!" I don't know any way to understand this situation other than one of two ways. One, Paul is disobeying the Spirit when he goes to Jerusalem. Two, this message is more of the Spirit alerting him that grief and hardship await him if he goes to Jerusalem than it is the Spirit instructing him not to go. Here's the bottom line: Either way, God uses this trip to Jerusalem to deliver the collection from the Gentile churches and to get Paul to Rome, where the good news of Jesus needed to be heard and where Paul was determined to go. Somewhere in the confusion we all face in trying to follow the Spirit's lead, we have to trust that God will get us where we need to be and doing what we need to do to honor him fully (Romans 8:28, 38-39). The question is whether we are willing to invest ourselves fully and trust in the Spirit leading us no matter what the short-term consequences of our commitment may be.

    Today's Prayer

    Gracious Father in heaven, I trust that you will use the Holy Spirit to lead me where I need to be to do the work you want me to do. I ask, dear Father, that my life glorifies you no matter where your leading takes me or what your leading entails. My deepest prayer, Lord, is that I never, ever, outlive my love for you and my trust in you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

  • Spirit Appointed

    [Paul, to the Ephesian elders at Miletus:] "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."

    Acts 20:28 NIV

    Key Thought

    Paul reminds the Ephesian elders of three heavenly truths about leaders:

    1. Leaders are to watch, feed, protect and care for (or shepherd) the people of God.
    2. The Holy Spirit is involved in putting leaders into their leadership role.
    3. Those who lead must always realize that those they lead (called "the flock" and "the church of God" in today's verse) never belong to them but to God, who purchased them at such a high cost.
    These truths give leaders a powerful and sobering reminder of their call as leaders and give followers a reminder to follow. For each of us, these truths give us a reminder of just how precious the church is to God!

    Today's Prayer

    Almighty God, please be at work in our churches today through the Holy Spirit's calling those you want and we desperately need in leadership roles in your church. I ask forgiveness, dear Father, for not valuing your church more highly, and I pledge to cherish it as you do. In Jesus' name, I offer these petitions and this commitment. Amen.


    Ⓒ 1996-2018 Heartlight, Inc. This material may not be reproduced in part or whole for commercial use without written consent. The Thoughts and Prayer for God's Holy Fire are written by Phil Ware.

    Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

    Scripture quotations marked MESSAGE are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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