The Apostle Paul experiences a literal shipwreck in Acts Chapter Twenty-Seven. We may wonder why Luke wrote such a detailed account of this voyage since Paul had been shipwrecked before. Perhaps the Holy Spirit, speaking through Luke, wanted us to see God’s providential care in fulfilling His promise to see Paul safely to Rome.
We are more likely to experience a figurative shipwreck today. Life has a way of bringing to us troubled seas. If you have ever felt like you have been cast upon a deserted island, wondering why you are there and what to do next the most important thing to remember is to keep your fire for the Lord burning in your heart.
All of us face some rain in our lives and there are times when the rain turns to a storm likened unto a hurricane that whips us in circles. The winds can blow against us and shake our faith. Life’s storms have a way of sapping our strength, draining our energy, weakening our hope and crushing our resolve. Hold on to God in the storms. Galatians 6:9 reminds us the harvest is ahead. Don’t give up! Romans 12:11 tells us to keep our spiritual fervor. Stay close to God, feed on His Word and devote yourself to prayer. In this way, the storms of life may shake you, but will not deter you from the Heavenly course (Philippians 3:14).
While director of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover said, “The force of prayer is greater than any possible combination of man-made or man-controlled powers, because prayer is man’s greatest means of tapping the infinite resources of God.” The inspired writer James wrote this for our learning, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16 - KJV). The New International Version reads, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
I am convinced things happen when we pray. You do not have a sin in your life that proper prayer cannot overcome. You do not have a need in your life that prayer cannot fill. Our devotion to prayer, privately as well as publicly, is an indication that we are fulfilling the admonition to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2 - NIV) The apostle speaks of a servant of Christ who was “always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in the will of God, mature and fully assured.” (Colossians 4:12 - NIV)
Prayer expresses spiritual needs and contributes to spiritual growth. The humble person grows in humility through the act of prayer. Anxieties are prayed away by expressing gratitude and asking for help in times of difficulty. (See I Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6-7). Prayer changes us as it links us to an all-powerful God. Let us devote ourselves to loving and laboring prayer.
One of the metaphors the Bible uses for describing the Christian life is the metaphor of running a race. I have looked into the Scriptures and have noted several different places in the New Testament where the metaphor of a race is used to define and describe Christian living (see Hebrews 12:1 and 1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
The Christian race takes effort. You know who the serious runner is – it is the well-trained runner. Anyone who is preparing for a marathon who gets up and runs around the block comes in and eats a stack of pancakes with a cup of syrup and says, “I am going to run a marathon!” is not a serious runner. Spiritual training is not always easy, but it is always beneficial. The Bible says “...train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
There is a difference between trying to be godly and training to be godly. How can we tell if a Christian is serious about running the race? What’s their attitude about training? Do they want to learn more about Jesus? Do you find them praying, and trusting, and serving God and His people? Are they wanting to know more and more and more about their Savior? Are they exercising energy for the kingdom of God?
Willie Mays began his major-league baseball career with only one hit in his first 26 at-bats. Though he went on to hit 660 home runs and steal more than 300 bases, his debut was so unimpressive it seemed unlikely he would last more than a few weeks as a big-leaguer. The turning point for Mays occurred when his manager, Leo Durocher, found him crying in the dugout after yet another miserable performance at the plate. The coach put his arm around Mays and said, "What's the matter, son?" Mays said, "I can't hit up here. I belong in the minor leagues." Durocher said this to Willie Mays: "As long as I'm manager of the Giants, you'll be my centerfielder." The story ends well.
It wasn't long before Mays began hitting the ball, and he was on his way to becoming a legend of the game. If Willie had been left alone in the dugout that day, his career might have ended before it started. Fortunately for him someone believed in him even when he didn't believe in himself. The coach didn’t say "You're a disappointment and you're on the verge on blowing your big chance!" He said, "I know you can make it."
Do you know someone who no longer believes in their ability to do what God has called them to do? Do not underestimate the POWER of your encouraging words (Hebrews 3:13).