Devotions

Monthly Archives: October, 2015

Saturday | October 31st

The Potential of a Plan    

When I was growing up, I never really had much purpose or any aspirations. My normal routine consisted of getting up for school, going to school, coming home from school, playing video games, and going to bed. I wasn’t unhappy or depressed, that was just the life I was living. As my junior year came around, my high school introduced a football program and I was beyond excited to join. The entire summer leading up to my junior year, I was at the school practicing almost every day. From lifting, snapping the ball, running the field, and scrimmaging, I loved it! I had finally found a new purpose in my life. I thought that I was going to finish my high school career as the center on the varsity football team. However, that was my plan.

In Acts 28:30-31, Paul finds himself under house arrest in the city of Rome. He is living alone, with a solider standing guard 24/7, but he is allowed to have visitors come and go as they please. “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” When Paul became a follower of Christ, after the road to Damascus, I doubt that he ever planned years down the road being under house arrest in Rome for years. Yet, that is exactly what happened to him. For two years, he was living in his house and had the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to everyone who he came in contact with.

As the football season drew nearer, I hit a roadblock. I was faced with a decision that I had never planned to face. It was literally the week we began to practice with our pads, that I went to my coach and teammates to turn in my helmet. This was a difficult decision for me. I had planned on playing football till I graduated, but God had a different plan for me. Around the same time I started training with the team, I went on a mission’s trip to Atlanta with my church. It was from that trip that I found a passion for the Church and serving His people. I began to play the drums for the church youth band and had to make the decision of playing football or playing drums. Ever since that morning when I turned in my helmet, I have found my purpose in serving Him.

Just like I didn’t plan on playing drums for the youth group, Paul didn’t plan on being under house arrest for two years…but God planned for it. You see, as followers of Christ, we need to remember that His plan is always far greater and better then anything we could ever dream of.

Whose plan are you following after – your plan or the Father’s?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

 

Noble Baird
Director of Guest Services

Friday | October 30th

Looking to the Lord

One of the things that I love most about the Old Testament is how it continually points forward to Christ. Whether it be a fourth man in the flaming furnace, a heavenly soldier speaking to Joshua, or the Prophets foretelling of the coming Messiah, the Old Testament is constantly pointing to Christ. As Paul finally arrives in Rome after months of traveling, he is put under house arrest and allowed to live alone. A guard is posted outside his house, but visitors are allowed to come and go as they please. One of the first things he does is call upon all the leaders of the Jews to come see him. During this visit, Paul explains his case for Jesus being the Messiah and shows them who Christ is, in light of the Law and the Prophets.

In Acts 28:26-27, Paul quotes from the book of Isaiah saying, “Go to this people and say, ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.’ For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should se with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them” Paul flat out calls out the Jewish leaders and tells them to open up their eyes and stop being closed minded. They are doing exactly what Isaiah prophesied about. Their hearts have grown dull to the Word of God, they choose not to listen, and they are blinded to the truth. Now, there are a few who listen to what Paul is telling them and they grasp how Jesus is the Christ; however, the majority of them remain ignorant.

Just like those Jewish leaders, it is easy for us as Followers of Christ to grow dull to the Word of God and begin to miss the mark. In Hebrews 12:1-2, the writer of Hebrews challenges us to fix our eyes on Christ: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seared at the right hand of the throne of God.” As the weeks and months come and go, watch your heart. Do not be like the Jewish leaders who were blinded and grew dull to the Word, but fix your eyes on Christ as we press forward in the race He has laid before us.

 

Noble Baird
Director of Guest Services

Thursday | October 29th

Endure for Eternity

As Indiana Jones jumps into the plane during the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, he finds a snake in his seat. Quickly he picks it up and yells, “I hate snakes, Jock! I hate ‘em!” Every time I read this passage in Acts 28:1-10, this is the first image that pops in my mind.  I can completely relate with Indiana Jones, and I cannot believe how calm Paul stays as a viper bites him.

All 276 men had just made it safely ashore on the Island of Malta and the islanders had welcomed them with kindness. As Paul is throwing some sticks on the fire, a snake comes out and bites his hand. Instantly, all the islanders think that he is a murderer and that this was nature’s way of paying him back for his crimes. However, to everyone’s surprise, Paul simply shakes the snake off into the fire and is unaffected by the bite. Because of this, the islanders now go to the other extreme and think he is a god.

Often times, things will happen in our lives that we hate: Losing a job, our house or even a loved one. Car problems and family disruptions can set us back a step.  Just as Indiana Jones hated finding a snake in the cockpit of the plane, I assume the snakebite on Paul’s hand was not what he was hoping for that night on the island. However, God used that snake as an opportunity to minister to the islanders and show them the power of the true God.

As we read on in Acts 28:7-10, Paul is given the opportunity to heal the islands chief official’s father. Out of this, Paul is then given the chance to heal many more sick people who came from all over and heard about the miracles Paul was preforming. It is not recorded that any of the islanders became followers of Christ. However, knowing Paul and the ministry he had, it is not hard to imagine how he gave his testimony and shared the Gospel of Christ with all those islanders he came in contact with.

Life is tough. If it were easy, there would be no such things as depression, suicide, hurt, anger, fear, sadness, doubt, and hate. But life is tough. As followers of Christ, we are going to face many trials and have to deal with things we hate, so that He can be glorified through us. James writes about this in James 1:2-3, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” So, when those hardships and things we hate come into our lives, endure. Endure and remember that through those trials, you are being used for His glory.

 

Noble Baird
Director of Guest Services

Wednesday | October 28th

Doubt your Doubts

“Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”  These were the words that Paul said to Julius and the soldiers as some of the sailors from the ship tried to escape. The sailors saw an opportunity for what they thought would save their lives. They were lowering the lifeboat in the hopes of sneaking away, while others thought they were simply lowering anchors. Yet, when Paul saw what they were doing, he warned Julius again of what would happen if they went against the Lord’s command.

All my life, I have never been able to swim. I was born in the mountains of Pennsylvania, moved to Michigan in the woods of Holly, and spent college days in the busy city of Chicago. I have just never had a pool or been around water much at all. This past summer, my girlfriend decided that she was going to take on the monumental task and attempt to teach me how to swim. Before we even got into the pool, she promised me that she would not let me drown.  She was going to be by my side. Yet, as I tried to learn, I found myself continually wanting to grab a noodle so that I would not drown or go underwater. Even though I knew my girlfriend was right beside me, I still wanted to reach for the noodle to stay above the water. After what felt like hours, I finally mustered up the courage to swim across the pool without a noodle, and I didn’t drown!

In Acts 27:27-39, the 276 men on the ship were hanging on for their lives. Paul has already given them the promise from the Lord that they would be saved; however, some still doubted. Even though Paul had guaranteed their safety and life, they still went for the lifeboats. They wanted to guarantee their own safety for themselves, instead of believing that the Lord would save them.

Just as the men had doubted that the Lord would save them, I had doubted that my girlfriend would be able to save me from drowning. Doubt is a disease that Satan and this world use to take us away from God. Because of the sailors doubt, all 276 men on the ship almost died. You see, they were willing to jump out of the true lifeboat in the hopes of saving themselves on their own. As followers of Christ, we need to cut the lifeboat we have created for ourselves and let it go. We need to drop the noodle, and have faith the God will do what He promises He will.

And Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen” (Matthew 21:21).

 

Noble Baird
Director of Guest Services

Tuesday | October 27th

Courageous or Coward?

My mother is one of the biggest Wizard of Oz fans in the world. I can confidently say this.  No only does she have so much memorabilia, but because of the fact that I can basically recite the entire movie from memory from watching it so many times with her. Some of my oldest memories of spending time with my mom, is of us sitting on the couch, putting in The Wizard of Oz on VHS into the movie player, and sharing a big bowl of popcorn. Honestly, I have grown to love the movie myself. From the flying monkeys, to the little munchkins, and of course the Tin Man, it is a story filled with fairy tale and of finding oneself.

Acts 27:13-26, recounts the storm that comes upon Paul and those aboard the ship traveling to Rome. This storm ruins the ship. They lose all the cargo, the tackle (ships brake system), and are almost completely out of food in a matter days. The storm was not ceasing any time soon, and all the men were losing all hope of being saved at all. However, Paul stands up and addresses the men. In verse 21-22 he declares, “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed” (NIV).

One of the characters I love from The Wizard of Oz is the Cowardly Lion. Normally the lion is supposed to be the “King of the Jungle”; however, this is not the case. The Lion is just a big coward who hides in the woods and cried when Dorothy yelled at him for trying to scare Toto. Yet, as the story unfolds, the Lion joins the group in hopes to find his courage. Likewise, Paul is on a boat filled with “cowardly lions”. They have lost all hope and are simply waiting to die. What man saw as a seemingly hopeless situation, God used for an opportunity to give peace.

God spoke to Paul in a dream and told him the words to speak to the men on the ship. Paul reminds them of their ignorance and decision to ignore his warning, yet God will still save them from the storm. However, the one thing Paul tells them to hang onto is their courage. No matter the storms and hardships you are going through, do not become like the “cowardly lions” on the ship. Instead, be courageous and remember that you are never alone through the storms of this life.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

 

Noble Baird
Director of Guest Services



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