Acts Devotionals

Energy to Endure

Although the stories are fiction, I used to love watching the “A Team” with our children on Television when they were small. Each episode ended with the good guys (A Team) coming out on top. The four in the team were Lieutenant Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, Arthur Templeton “Faceman” Peck, HM “Howling Mad” Murdock and Bosco Albert “BA” Baracus. After each successful mission, Hannibal would say … “I love it when a plan comes together.” By the time we get to the end of Acts 27, I wonder if this is what Paul thought. Please read:

Ac 27:33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37Altogether there were 276 of us on board.

1) Food is energy. When running the Comrades Marathon, we would get up at 3am, prepare ourselves, make certain all our kit was in order as well as our boosters, refreshments and at least two vitamin drinks before being dropped off either at Durban or Pietermaritzburg, depending on whether it was an up or down run. If it was in Pietermaritzburg, we would have disposable windbreakers, jerseys, black garbage backs cut out as a rain cover, gloves and beanie because of the icy winds and temperature. As you ran along you discarded the coverings piece by piece as required.

The trick was not to eat before the race other than having a half of a soft banana. Having all the additives and vitamin drinks, you did not feel hungry. Jenny would wait at the half way point with a soft porridge mixture. I never felt hungry let alone ready to eat … yet she rightly forced me because after the last five or five and a half hours without food, it’s easy to run out of energy and collapse. She knew the last half demanded more energy than the first. Breakfast was vital.

Paul knew this as well. After not eating for some two weeks these men would be drained of all energy. What lay ahead required they eat and this was Paul’s objective in pleading with them to eat … and then showing them that he applied the same rule to himself by eating … and praying “grace”. He wanted them alive and says … “You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” Perhaps many of them had given up all hope of making it out of this crisis alive. His motivation is … “You need it to survive.” You need food to build up energy resources to survive. He also assures them that not one will be harmed … not even to the losing of one hair on their head.

Are you aware just how much you need to nourish yourself on God’s Word daily to survive? What is the first thing that happens when you go lean on the Scriptures? You cannot stand against the world, the flesh and the devil! You fall to temptation and the longer you starve yourself from the Word the worse it becomes! Just as Paul told the people on board that they need to eat food to survive … so you too need spiritual food, God’s Word to survive the tempests that come as onslaughts against the holy people of God. The Holy Spirit had carefully and strategically place all the contents of Scripture in the place where it must be. The Book of Ephesians as an example tells us whom we are, what we were, what happened to us and how we need to live … but then we find chapter 6:10-18 which we commonly call the “Armor of God”. See what each part of the armory listed is dependent upon:

Eph 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Both weapons are Holy Spirit driven … The Bible and Prayer. There are no Christians who have not experienced stumbling through a lack of soul nourishment. Ask those who are willing to tell you their story … and how devastating the results of their starvation are … and of their renewed commitment to remain satisfied in the Word and Prayer to prevent another spiritual derailment.

2) Brave strategy decided. Now that they had eaten sufficiently they put together a plan to reach dry land.

Ac 27:38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. 39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. 40 Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. 41 But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.

They lightened the ship so that once the morning light arrived they could see land, but did not identify it as any land they knew. However they sighted a bay with a sandy beach. This would be their target. The cut loose the anchor, freed the rudder and hoisted the foresail … aiming for the beach … but tragedy happened. They hit a sand bank. That is how close to the shore they were. The waves, still influenced by the strong winds beat the ship’s stern, breaking it into pieces. Sometimes the storm in life are very destructive. Even though certain branches of Christianity promise wealth, happiness and total protection, the Bible never does. You will suffer many curved balls in life. You might lose possessions, health, loved ones, relationships, careers … and endless other things … life is hard. But … you have your God, the Lord Jesus Christ on your side and you have the Holy Spirit inside to comfort and encourage and help you through your storms, however violent they are. Because you have nourished yourself in the Bible and Prayer, you will have the spiritual stamina to endure and persevere to the end!

3) The protective promise of God realized. By now you are aware that all of life including every spiritual dark night and material loss happened within the permissive will of God. The soldiers wanted to protect the Empire whilst the centurion wanted to protect Paul.

Ac 27:42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety.

He saw God in Paul and wanted to do all in his power to save Paul because Paul made sense of all that had happened. He knew that they ought to have listened to Paul in Phoenix, Crete. However, behind it all was God who needed Paul to reach Rome alive. Paul was to be God’s expert Gospel witness in the heart of the Roman Empire. Nothing will derail the plans of God. Just think through this Note! Have you seen how God has had His hand upon your life? Have you seen how He has brought you through the valley of the shadow of death countless times? How you witnessed that:

Jos 22:45 Not one of all the LORD’S good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

You may trust Him totally to see you through this life … through the vail of death … and into His glorious presence, forever!

Father in heaven, thank You for guiding, protecting and providing for us Your people. At times we felt so destitute, but then You showed us Your good hand and delivered us. How we love and adore You Lord. Amen.

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