Jesus, The One and Only

Posts tagged ‘hardships’

“Weathering the Storm” Part 1

Beaufort scale

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Our travels with Paul take us through Acts 27:13-26.  A gentle wind turned into a storm stronger than before, a “wind of hurricane force swept down” upon them as they journeyed to Rome.  The ship couldn’t sustain the force of the wind and they gave way to it.  Fearing they would loose their life boat, they hoisted it on the ship and passed robes underneath the ship to hold it together!  They lowered the anchor one day, threw cargo overboard the 2nd day and threw their tackle overboard on the 3rd day.  There was no sun or stars for many days as the storm continued raging!!  Finally they gave up all hope of being saved.

Can you imagine the exhaustion they must have felt?  Can you imagine what they went through; for DAYS… probably with no sleep, no food, and the constant onslaught of gale force winds and the waves crashing at them from all sides!  

There have been times when I felt like I’ve been in these kinds of storms (circumstances) where it seems like you don’t see the light on the other side.  There seems to be no direction!  You have no idea where you are heading! You feel like life is spiraling out of control and it seems there is NOTHING you can do! And then you wonder if you will be saved from the torment!  Will you ever be delivered from this season!

In vs. 20 Paul originally includes himself with “we” who were loosing hope.  At first glance, Paul may have been a prisoner to those on the ship but many times Paul has referred to himself as “a prisoner of Jesus Christ”; the prisoner who was “in chains for Jesus Christ” was the one who offered hope when there seemed to be no hope at all!  The one who walked and talked with the Lord (supposedly as their prisoner) told them they should have listened to him at first… but never-the-less …keep up your courage, not one of you will be lost only the ship will be destroyed was the message Paul spoke to the men on board (vs.22-23)   Orignially Paul was a part of the “we” but do you now sense a peace, a hope from Paul with the message he delivered? And could you imagine what may have gone through the minds of the men who heard this message… by the way you will be saved but the ship will be destroyed! What do you do once you are in the midst of a catastrophic storm? 

Lately, we have seen all around us the devastation that has happened in Japan, the numerous tornadoes that ripped through the southeast and now the flooding that is taking place all along the Mississippi River affecting thousands of lives and land!  You may or may not be affected by these storms personally, but there are those who have.  What do you do? 

“For many days neither sun nor stars appeared, and the severe storm kept raging; finally all hope that we would be saved was disappearing.”(Acts 27:20)

“Psalm 121”

Vicky

“Wisdom of the Aged”

Read Acts 14:23-28

“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (vs. 23 NIV)

“Hopefully you don’t consider the older generation (as some do) to be irrelevant and out of touch.’  ‘Those new converts saw living examples of perseverance through suffering.  Paul and Barnabas departed from each city under difficult circumstances.”(1)

“Paul and Barnabas wanted to leave the new believers with ongoing strength and encouragement, so they carefully appointed elders who were not only spiritually mature but also (if I may say so gently) – old.’  ‘In Titus 2:3-6 Paul also charged older women, younger women, and younger men to faithful service.” (2)

Beth points out the effectual service of older generation and the maturity both in physical terms as well as spiritual.  Sometimes people get so excited and trying to reach out to the younger generation but have ignored the older generation. This generation that has persevered through the years and capable of imparting great wisdom and encouragement to others because of hardships, trials and persecutions and their dependency in trusting the Lord. 

Spiritual maturity depends on your relationship with the Lord.  Think how old many of biblical characters were in the bible before they walked in their calling.  Some didn’t begin their ministry until they were 80 years old.  David was anointed 3 times and about 17 years had gone by before He became king. I heard someone once say that when God is referring to a “generation”, He is referring to a move of His Spirit and it includes both the old and younger generation.  God is no respecter of persons and does not discount the older for the younger generation or visa versa.

Basically no matter young or old, spiritual mature or not, God can and will use whomever He has called to fulfill His purpose.  I hope I never think only of the younger generation at the expense of the older generation and that I too have an attitude of inclusion and see the value of God’s heart no matter how young or old someone is.   There’s something about “honoring your father and mother’ in the physical as well as spiritual sense! 

“We don’t have Paul and Barnabas, but we have hosts of older people who are more than happy to tell us about the faithfulness of God – if we’ll just stop, ask them, and listen.” (3)

Vicky 

There’s just something about the heart and blessing of a Father/Mother that all generations are looking for!

 (1-3) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith/Beth Moore/B & H Publishing

“Troubling Expectations”

Read Acts 14:20b-22

“The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. (NIV)

Paul and Barnabas are in Derbe and then they returned to the same towns where they suffered many hardships.  Remember last time they stoned Paul and dragged him out of town … left for dead!  So why in the world would they go back through these towns again? 

Acts 14:22 tells us they went back to “strengthen the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.”  “Paul and Barnabas considered this message about inevitable hardships such a priority that they risked everything to go back through those three cities and tell it.’  ‘We may not find a message about unavoidable troubles very strengthening! But we must first recognize that the inevitable nature of hardships can motivate us to redirect our energies.

  • Fear of trials sometimes depletes more energy than facing trials.
  • Realizing the inevitability of hardship encourages us in the faith.” (2)

“We wonder why we can’t seem to muster enough faith to be healthy, problem free, and prosperous.  Be encouraged to know that difficulty is not a sign of immaturity or faithlessness.  The Holy Spirit will do His job and let you know if you are suffering because of sin. Otherwise, remember – we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (3)

Sometimes hardships can be directly related to sin/disobedience in our life and sometimes not.  We should make a conscious effort to ask for guidance from those we trust.  We should also be praying and asking the Holy Spirit to bring clarity and truth; as Beth points out above “He will do His job.”

In the case of Paul and Barnabas, they suffered for doing what was right!  They returned to the very cities they were persecuted in and encouraged the disciples to “remain true to the faith.”   Think about the faith they carried to share a message greater than the trials they had previously gone through.  What would they have said?

Do you bring encouragement to those who are going through difficult times and reminding them to be true to their faith …even if you may going through difficult times yourself? 

Vicky

(1-3) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith/Beth Moore/B & H Publishing

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