Voyage to Rome | A Late Start

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Matala Beach, Crete, Greece ©CanStock Photo/gatsi

The Jewish leadership of Jerusalem has accused Paul of sedition according to their law (Acts 21-26).  After possibly being held for ransom in Caesarea for two years by then Governor Felix, Paul’s case is heard by the new Governor Portius Festus and yet another politico named King Herod Agrippa II.

Paul eloquently defends himself to these authorities and also gives witness about Jesus to everyone there with no evidence of belief in the room.    However, Paul is granted his appeal to be tried by Caesar and handed over to a Roman centurion of the Augustan Regiment named Julius.

How many times have I thought I was headed in the right direction and then out of the blue I’m derailed into some kind of weird time-loop-thing I can’t seem to make any sense of, but is hindering my progress!  Not just me, but other people tell me they experience the same thing.  Praise God! His timing is perfect! …. I tend to blunder along and sometimes God sends me a big, “WHOA, SLOW DOWN!” command … anyway, back to our story of Paul, who appears to be two years late from the git-go on heading over to Rome …

Time to shove off!

Julius wastes no time in setting sail for Rome with Paul, Luke, Aristarchus, and some other prisoners in tow.  Within a day, they reach the port of Sidon, where Julius shows a bit of kindness toward Paul and allows him freedom to visit with friends before setting sail again.  A bit of a wind tosses the ship, so the captain steers along the leeward shoreline of Cyprus and hugs the southern coastline of today’s Turkey before pulling into Myla, a city of Lycia.   Julius quickly books passage on an Alexandrian ship heading to Italy, and as soon as his responsibilities are all aboard, probably kicks back for a game of dice with his officers; thinking that the voyage to Rome is going along better than he could have expected.

Not so fast!

7When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. 8Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.” ~ Acts 27:7-8 NKJV

Now winter is pressing upon this little ship of fools – Ooops! I mean souls.  So much time has passed by now that even The Fast is mentioned in verse 9, or Tisri (The Day of Atonement), indicating the date to be September 24th in that year.  After much time spent debating whether to put up here for the winter or to press forward to Crete, Paul warns Julius against proceeding.  Paul predicts loss of cargo, the ship, and even lives if the ship continues.

Against Paul’s warning Julius accepts the captain’s and ship-owner’s advice to continue onward to Crete.  There is a better winter harbor at Phoenix on Crete and perhaps Julius values the judgement of experienced sailors over a prisoner who may or may not want to delay legal proceedings in Rome.  Regardless, the winds let down, majority rules, and off they sail … thinking they have favor with the sea gods!

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Ancient Greek Ship ©CanStock Photo/Diomedes66

How often do I launch my boat against good advice? – Or even worse, against God’s will?  Hah! Too many times for me to confess here.  At least with the Holy Spirit’s help I chose the right harbor – Jesus is my rest.  How about you, friend?

Stay tuned to hear Luke’s account of what happens next as the wind changes and calamity strikes!

 

 

Photo of the Month | August 2018

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Psalms 103:15-17

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is  gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children;

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Video of the Month | June 2018

The May Tree blooming in June.  It has a friend that lives beside it – A Siberian Larch.

Even the wilderness and the desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display His glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you. ~ Isaiah 35:1-4 NLT

Anything

I just wanted more time together.  Just another hug . . . one more chance to hold his hand . . .  tell him how much I love him again . . . I would have given . . . anything.

My stepdad battled Alzheimer’s for over ten years.  Our last days with him have been crying days – mostly for him.

One family member said, “I hate what Alzheimer’s does to people.”

I agree.  As my stepdad slowly broke down under the insidious disease process, we crumpled emotionally beside him.  There were times as we held hands at the dining table that he would look away with a hurtful expression on his face and mutter to the wall, “Oh well . . . It is what it is.”

In my heart I waged war; won his battle by finding a miraculous cure; traded places; did more; did anything to prevent what we all knew was happening.  But in reality, I had no such ability or power.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  ~ 2 Tim. 4:18 NIV

My stepdad was a Christ believer.  His heart was huge for everyone he knew; and he was so loved in return.  Then our prayers for a miracle were painfully answered as our family expected – but dreaded.  My stepdad was released from Alzheimer’s torment a few days ago.  Even though I am mourning the loss, I am thankful to God for mercifully calling him Home.  He will no longer suffer.  He is leaping for joy in Heaven with Jesus, friends, and family in Glory.

My friend, John, called yesterday to pay his respects to Mom.  He told me to “just look at it as if he has graduated.”  Thank you, John.  That simple encouragement has comforted me more than anything else.  Graduation means a reward at the end of the struggle; the victory over life’s hurts.  His diploma is now a page in The Lamb’s Book of Life with his name written there for all to see.  It means honorably finishing the course and moving on to a new beginning.  Thanks to Jesus, It is finished!  Jesus paid the price for our sins and didn’t leave anything undone.  He has done everything that no one else is able to do.  Thank you, Jesus.  I know that I will see my stepdad again when it’s my turn to graduate.

My stepdad was a boxer as a young man – a fighter; and he fought the ravages of time (he was 85) and of Alzheimer’s right up until the end.  Even though he could no longer speak the Words, I will copy them here on his behalf; as I am confident he owned this scripture as he took his last breaths:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. ~ 2 Tim. 4:7-8 NIV

My stepdad was also a race car driver when he was young.  He always drove a pickup truck and never relinquished his set of keys after he quit driving.  I’m sure he hoped he would need those keys again someday because that truck is still parked in his garage.

Gosh!  I would give anything to see him driving it around in Heaven right now . . .

Do your best to come to me quickly, ~ 2 Tim. 4:9 NIV

 

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Divine Wilderness

A wild, empty, or remote area (wilderness) is what most people rarely frequent.  Wilderness is mostly inhabited by untamed animals that thrive in a mysteriously desolate, yet awesomely beautiful place.  It is a place without highways; crisscrossed randomly by well-trodden game trails.  When I meet with my Heavenly Father in such a place it morphs into a Divine Wilderness.

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Ramon Crater at Negev Desert, Israel

I must come alone.  But I will not be lonely, as the Holy Spirit will be there with me.  In fact, He is my guide – just as Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to pray.

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, ~ Luke 4:1 KJV

Jesus was always our perfect example in every aspect of His life in the flesh:

  • He always retreated from others when He prayed.
  • He sought isolated places to be alone in prayer with His Father; often ending up in the wilderness just like Abraham, Moses, and John the Baptist.
  • Multitudes followed Jesus into the wilderness and He spoke The Word to them.  He fed them out there – bread and fish (about 5,000 men plus women and children).
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.      ~ John 6:33-35 KJV

Since I am a night owl, my wilderness is located somewhere in the far distant gloom of night.  It’s sometime between midnight and four a.m.  Others speak of morning devotions and I have never been successful finding time with God in the morning (I’m talking crack-of-dawn morning).  But while others sleep, I become unfettered to the cares of this world.  I am free to be alone with my Father with no interruptions.  Mind you, I am not saying that I have made every appointment – far from it!

But that is my weakness, not His.  He awaits in perfect faithfulness to me while I am wasting all that Divine Wilderness on nothingness.

“Father, forgive me for not making our time together the highest priority each night.  I am often absent when I should be searching Your Word nightly in the Divine Wilderness of Your love.  Thank You for patience toward me, and for giving me another chance to work on this, as I need Your Wisdom and Presence to recharge my soul every night so that I can shine for You every day.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.”

No matter what time of day or night, are you spending time alone with your Father in His Divine Wilderness?  If not, will you join with me in re-dedication to daily devotions?

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The Crying Days

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Everyone has them, and most of us just want them to end.  For me, that is not happening; so I am left with a journey I call “living through the crying days”.  At least I am not traveling this road alone.  Jesus fights my battles for me when I think to ask Him, and the Holy Spirit consoles me as the tears flow.

Whether illness, grief, loneliness, or unwelcome burdens – sometimes one can only cry.  Our Heavenly Father knew this, of course, before He even created the cosmos.  He lovingly created tears for all broken-hearted souls.  The ancients collected tears in bottles as highly prized keepsakes.

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle, are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know, for Elohim (Supreme God) is for me. In Elohim will I praise his word: in Yahweh (Self-Existent; Eternal; Jehovah) will I praise his word. In Elohim have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Thy vows are upon me, O Elohim: I will render praises unto thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before Elohim in the light of the living? ~ Psalms 56:8-13 RSB  (Parentheses added)

The act of crying has a bad rep in many circles.  “What good does it do?”  “Just buck up and take it on the chin!”  “Crying doesn’t solve anything!”  But God’s Word is clear:

The prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah in 713 B.C. that Hezekiah would soon die.  Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed for mercy:

And Hezekiah wept sore. Then came the word of Yahweh to Isaiah, saying, “Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith Yahweh, the Elohim of David, thy father, I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.” ~ Isaiah 38:3b-6 RSB

So Almighty God not only added fifteen years to the life of Hezekiah, but He vowed to deliver the Israelites out of the hands of the invading Assyrians and to fight the battle for them.  Wow!  Hezekiah hadn’t even prayed for that!

Our God is SO GOOD!  He promises to one day create a new heaven and a new earth.  There will be no more crying days.

And Elohim shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. ~ Revelation 21:4 RSB

Today there are reported over 900,000 believers martyred every year on this earth.  These are Crying Days, folks.  Don’t hold back on the prayers or tears for our persecuted brethren suffering for their faith in Christ; for our nation in peril; and for those lost and on their way to eternal outer darkness.  These crying days are the last days before Christ returns.  Pray tearfully for the sick, the dying, the poor and the needy.  Remember to love one another as He loves us and in the words of Jesus, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).  Few of us are called upon to make that level of sacrifice, but prayer changes things.  Sincere prayer can even change the will of Almighty God, as we have seen in the case of Hezekiah.

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for meeting our every need with your tender Spirit of love and truth; for hearing the prayers of your church; and for noticing tears of the humble being shed during sorrowful days.  We look forward in faith to victory in the Only One Who Fights Our Battles For Us – our Savior and Redeemer, Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus The Anointed One.  In His Holy Precious Name Above All Names, Amen.

I pray that you are encouraged by God’s Word as you are living through your own crying days – whatever they may be.  God bless you, and thank you for following importantstuff.live.

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