And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship … they all escaped safely to land (Acts 27:37, 44).
Paul knew he would be spared dying at sea because God had already told him that he would testify in Rome (23:11). But no one else on that tempest-tossed ship had that same assurance. Luke (who was on the ship with Paul) even wrote, “All hope that we would be saved was finally given up” (27:20).
Luke wrote those words only three days into the storm. Little did he know that the storm would rage for another 11 days!!
On the storm’s fourteenth day, Paul called everyone together with good news: “An angel from God visited me. He assured me that the ship will be wrecked, but all of you will be saved. The only condition is you must stay on the ship with me. Therefore, take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (vv. 22-26).
Just as Paul told them, the ship ran aground and all 276 people on board made it safely to the shores of Malta!
When God gives a promise, hold fast to it. Don’t let the storms—no matter how many days they may rage on—cause you to give up hope.
And when God graciously gives you a word for others, be quick to be the message of encouragement to your storm-tossed, hope-lost companions who so desperately need something to cling to.
God’s word never fails. God’s word is never lost at sea or in any other calamity. Hold on … be encouraged … and give hope and courage to others too.
In my current Bible reading time, I am reading J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts On The Gospels as a read-along companion with my Bible. Bishop Ryle correctly feels the weight and effectiveness of prayer in the life of a Christian. Here are some of his quotes regarding prayer.
“If afflictions drive us nearer to Christ, the Bible, and prayer, they are positive blessings.”
“It is not for us to prescribe either the time or the way in which our requests are to be answered.… Let us rather ‘continue in prayer,’ ‘watch unto prayer,’ ‘pray always and not faint.’”
“Why is it that there is so much apparent religious working and yet so little result in positive conversions to God—so many sermons, and so few souls saved—so much machinery, and so little effect produced—so much running here and there and yet so few brought to Christ? Why is all this? The reply is short and simple: there is not enough private prayer. The cause of Christ does not need less working, but it does need among the workers more praying. … The most successful workmen in the Lord’s vineyard are those who are, like their Master, often and much upon their knees.”
“If we would have good ministers we must remember our Lord’s example and pray for them. Their work is heavy. Their responsibility is enormous. Their strength is small. Let us see that we support them and hold up their hands by our prayers.”
“Let us bear these rules in mind every Sunday morning before we go to hear the Word of God preached. Let us not rush into God’s presence careless, reckless, and unprepared, as if it mattered not in what way such work was done. Let us carry with us faith, reverence, and prayer. If these three are our companions, we shall hear with profit and return with praise.”
“Let a petition for more faith form a part of all our daily prayers. As ever we would have peace, and calmness, and quietness of spirit, let us often say, ‘Lord, increase our faith.’”
“Let us strive and pray that the same mind may be in us which was in our blessed Master. Like Him, let us be willing to go anywhere, do anything, suffer anything when the path of duty is clear and the voice of God calls. Let us set our faces steadfastly to our work when our work is plainly marked out, and drink our bitter cups patiently when they come from a Father’s hand.”
“We must seek to have knowledge as well as zeal. Zeal without knowledge is an army without a general, and a ship without a rudder. We must pray that we may understand how to make a right application of Scripture.”
“Prayer is one of the best and most powerful means of helping forward the cause of Christ in the world. … Not all believers have money to give to missions. Very few have great intellectual gifts or extensive influence among men. But all believers can pray for the success of the Gospel—and they ought to pray for it daily.”
“Prayer is one of the principal weapons which the minister of the Gospel ought to use. To be a true successor of the apostles, he must give himself to prayer as well as to the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). He must not only use the sword of the Spirit, but pray always, with all prayer and supplication (Ephesians 6:17, 18). This is the way to win a blessing on his own ministry. This, above all, is the way to procure helpers to carry on Christ’s work.”
“Daily bread and daily mercy are by far the first and principal things that mortal man needs. He is the rich man who possesses them. He is the wise man who is not ashamed to pray for them every day.”
“Nothing that concerns God’s people is too little for Him to manage or for them to bring before Him in prayer.”
“‘He spoke a parable to this end: that men ought always to pray, and not to give up.’ These words, be it remembered, are closely connected with the solemn doctrine of the second advent, with which the preceding chapter concludes. It is prayer without fainting during the long weary intervals between the first and second advents which Jesus is urging His disciples to keep up.”
“Let us often pray that we may have wisdom from above in order to answer rightly when perplexing questions are put to us. The servant of Christ must expect a portion like his Master. He must count it no strange thing if the wicked and worldly-minded endeavor to entangle him in his talk, and to provoke him to speak unadvisedly with his lips.”
“Whatever other means of relief we use, let us pray. The first Friend we should turn to ought to be God. The first message we should send ought to be to the throne of grace.”
…He steadfastly set His face… (Luke 9:51).
Some of the other Bible translations fill in this meaning:
Jesus could do this for at least three reasons—
Jesus calls His followers to the same path He walked—“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62)
It’s hard because people reject a resolute man.
It’s hard because the accommodations along the way are uncertain.
It’s hard because I have to give up my right to myself.
But the reward is incomparable—Heaven forever with Jesus!
This is part 33 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.
Have you ever been in the right place at the right time to experience something wonderful? Maybe you got to meet someone important, or you got the job, or you got the money, or you got to ride in that fancy car.
Some will call you “lucky” or say you “caught a break,” but both of those statements imply that something unexpected happened to you.
Is it still “lucky” to be in the right place at the right time if you knew ahead of time that it was coming? For praying Christians, to be in the right place at the right time when we are expecting God to provide is called “an answer to prayer.”
David prayed, “In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3). The Aramaic word for prayer means “to set a trap.” If we pray, and we live in expectation, then it isn’t luck when we’re in the right place at the right time, but it’s a “trap” that caught the answer to our prayer.
One man who—literally!—walked this principle out was Elisha.
Before we look at Elisha’s expectant, prayerful walking, let’s look at his prayer request—
When they reached the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you before I’m taken from you? Ask anything.” Elisha said, “Your life repeated in my life. I want to be a holy man just like you” (2 Kings 2:9 MSG).
Elisha was essentially asking to be like Elijah’s firstborn son, to be his spiritual heir. This was the original promise God gave when He told Elijah to anoint Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:16). From that point onward, Elisha steadily walked in expectation of God answering this prayer.
Elisha wouldn’t stay in a place of military victory, or in a significantly spiritual place, or even in a place surrounded by godly leaders. Elisha wouldn’t be held back by a lucrative family business, or the warning words of friends or his spiritual mentor, or even the seemingly uncrossable Jordan River. He kept on walking (see 2 Kings 2:1-15).
He kept on walking.
He kept on walking until “suddenly” God showed up and answered his prayer.
But was it really “suddenly”? Elisha knew it was coming. He believed what God had promised. He clung to it even when Elijah told him he had asked “a difficult thing.” Elisha kept on walking until he was in the right place at the right time to receive all that God had planned.
If you have prayed in faith, start walking. Settling anywhere else is robbing yourself of a blessing and robbing God of glory.
Just keep walking! And let your walking be your praying. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t settle. Don’t stop eagerly expecting that the next step you took could be the “suddenly” you’ve been waiting for. Just keep walking!
Join me this Sunday as we learn a valuable lesson from another bold pray-er from the Bible.
Teddy Roosevelt believed firmly that a nation rose or fell as individuals exercised strong character or lived a slothful life. He not only preached it, he lived it! The Strenuous Life is a collect of TR’s speeches that emphasized what he called “the manly characters.” Check out my full book review by clicking here.
“We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort; the man who never wrongs his neighbor, who is prompt to help a friend, but who has those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life.”
“A man’s first duty is to his own home, but he is not thereby excused from doing his duty to the State; for if he fails in this second duty it is under the penalty of ceasing to be a freeman. In the same way, while a nation’s first duty is within its own borders, it is not thereby absolved from facing its duties in the world as a whole; and if it refuses to do so, it merely forfeits its right to struggle for a place among the peoples that shape the destiny of mankind.”
“If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the domination of the world. Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Above all, let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.”
“Scant attention is paid to the weakling or the coward who babbles of peace; but due heed is given to the strong man with sword girt on thigh who preaches peace, not from ignoble motives, not from fear or distrust of his own powers, but from a deep sense of moral obligation.”
“Strive manfully for righteousness, and strive so as to make your efforts for good count.”
“We are in honor bound to put into practice what we preach; to remember that we are not to be excused if we do not; and that in the last resort no material prosperity, no business acumen, no intellectual development of any kind, can atone in the life of a nation for the lack of the fundamental qualities of courage, honesty, and common sense.”
“If a man permits largeness of heart to degenerate into softness of head, he inevitably becomes a nuisance in any relation of life. If sympathy becomes distorted and morbid, it hampers instead of helping the effort toward social betterment.”
“The quality of self-help is so splendid a quality that nothing can compensate for its loss; yet, like every virtue, it can be twisted into a fault, and it becomes a fault if carried to the point of cold-hearted arrogance, of inability to understand that now and then the strongest may be in need of aid, and that for this reason alone, if for no other, the strong should always be glad of the chance in turn to aid the weak.”
“The Bible always inculcates the need of the positive no less than the negative virtues, although certain people who profess to teach Christianity are apt to dwell wholly on the negative. We are bidden not merely to be harmless as doves, but also as wise as serpents. It is very much easier to carry out the former part of the order than the latter; while, on the other hand, it is of much more importance for the good of mankind that our goodness should be accompanied by wisdom than that we should merely be harmless. If with the serpent wisdom we unite the serpent guile, terrible will be the damage we do; and if, with the best of intentions, we can only manage to deserve the epithet of ‘harmless,’ it is hardly worth while to have lived in the world at all.”
“The boy who is going to make a great man, or is going to count in any way in after life, must make up his mind not merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses or defeats.”
“Softness of heart is an admirable quality, but when it extends its area until it also becomes softness of head, its results are anything but admirable.”
“A man is worthless unless he has in him a lofty devotion to an ideal, and he is worthless also unless he strives to realize this ideal by practical methods. He must promise, both to himself and to others, only what he can perform; but what really can be performed he must promise, and such promise he must at all hazards make good.”
More quotes from TR are coming soon, so stay tuned!