Do Sheep and Goats Make the Same Noise?

If the person listening had never heard a goat or a sheep before, they probably wouldn’t know the difference.  Also, different BREEDS of goat can sound very different.  Saanen (white dairy goat breed) goats sound similar to sheep except their voice is higher pitched–but Nubian goats sound very much like a crying human baby.  [See FOOTNOTE [i] ]

 This brings us to a passage in Matthew where the Shepherd (Jesus Christ) knows the difference between “sheep” and “goat” – Matthew 25:32 (AMP)

[32]  All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them [the people] from one another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats;  [See Ezek. 34:17]

Now before you start thinking to yourself of separating the goats from the sheep at your church on Sunday or in your neighborhood, this passage in Matthew has brought a debate to when all this takes place in time.  Some say it is at the beginning of the millennial reign while others say it’s at the end of the Millennium.  However, I believe the more important concept for us to grasp here, that there will come a time when King Jesus will separate people into two classes – SHEEP & GOATS.

OUR STUDY IN MATTHEW 25:31-46 is a conclusion to what is called the Olivet Discourse–where Jesus reveals the TRUTH of His second coming and the gathering of BELIEVERS and the JUDGMENT of the wicked and the LOST–non-believers.

Now for some reading this, the problem will be the SEPARATION–the righteous (those in Christ) and the judgment of the wicked (those who have rejected Christ).

THE REWARD for the SHEEP and the JUDGMENT for the GOATS –

To one group – JESUS says to enter in and enjoy your inheritance.

To the other group – Depart from me.

One is offered ETERNAL LIFE with God…

One group suffers ETERNAL LIFE without God.

The central truth to keep in mind is that when Christ returns (and He will return) to His glorious throne, there will be JUDGMENT based upon people’s response to Jesus.

THERE ARE SHEEP AND THERE ARE GOATS –

All of us came into the world as GOATS, born into SIN and far from God.  Some will allow God to TRANSFORM them and some will not because they like the way they are and by CHOICE stay far from God.

We read in Scripture that the Lord Jesus is JUDGE and SAVIOR.  He will allow each one of us to enjoy or endure the path we have FREELY chosen.  Now that’s worth reading again!

IMAGINE  the world where a GOAT, presented with an opportunity to be transformed miraculously into a SHEEP, could do so by grabbing the offer extended by the one making the offer.  SUPERNATURALLY the GOAT became instantaneously a baby SHEEP and cared for by the transformer (Jesus Christ, Savior, and King).  That happens by God’s GRACE and MERCY to all those that want and will let God TRANSFORM their lives.

That’s a God thing!

You cannot earn it.

You cannot buy it.

It is a FREE GIFT received only by acceptance!

When Jesus Returns with Angels All Around Him…SEPARATION BEGINS!

The SHEEP, those on His right, hold a position of honor.  Jesus says, starting with verse 34,  “The the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…

BY CHOICE they have decided to follow Jesus.

BY CHOICE they have participated in kingdom work.

We cannot earn SALVATION, but it’s very clear here that the RIGHTEOUS (God’s SHEEP) took an interest in people they were around.

The early church in the Acts of the Apostles exploded because they were willing to open their hearts and lives to others.

I remember years ago while in attendance at a Church Growth Seminar in San Diego, one pastor said this about the growth: “Quality first, then quantity.”

JESUS made it very clear!

“their inheritance was there since the creation of the world” – verse 34 (b).

That would have been long before they could have established any good works.

GOOD WORKS is not the cause of SALVATION, but the Effect of Salvation.

As Christians, our responsibility, and yes, as believers we have responsibilities…is to be more like JESUS.

GOOD WORKS is the direct overflow of God active in our lives.  I love being in the “overflow” [John 10:10 Amplified Bible].

GOOD WORKS are only acceptable to God because of our RELATIONSHIP with Christ–NOT in place of Christ Jesus.

RELATIONSHIP is an interesting word to grab hold of.  One Greek word, pros ko Liao,  describes “to CLEAVE (join with) someone in a personal (“interfacing”) relationship. – “to glue in” (for extending towards).  [Bible Hub – Relationship].  

Reminds me of a song made popular by Sugar Land, “Stuck Like Glue” –

Now GOATS can indeed perform acts of kindness,

BUT…their HEARTS are far from God and not right with God.  Their ACTIONS do not honor Him.

BELIEVERS, after always keeping our RELATIONSHIP with Christ FIRST…we are called to be a part of KINGDOM WORK–we are “glued in”.

#1 – Seek and save the lost.

#2 – Build each other up.

#3 – Minister to one another.

We cannot do that in isolation.

EVERYTHING WE SAY AND DO MATTERS TO GOD!

  • Kind words to others matter to God.
  • Small tasks of kindness to others matter to God.

In our ‘doing’, we may not be acknowledged by the one we are showing kindness to, but to God, kindness matters and done often enough becomes a LIFESTYLE instead of occasional work.

Matthew 25:37:  “When did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink?”

Jesus replies,

Verse 40:  “Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least [in the estimation of men] of these My brethren, you did it for Me.”

Our response to others is an indication of where our RELATIONSHIP is with the LORD.  For some, there will be a great REWARD waiting and we won’t even realize it because it has become a HABIT and we can’t remember each act of kindness we do.

We will be asking Jesus, when did you see us do these things.  And He will remind us of each act of kindness to others.

What About The Other Group of People, THE GOATS?

THE GREAT SEPARATION –

The DAY OF JUDGMENT will come; the LORD will separate and say…

Matthew 25:41-44 (Message Bible)

41-43  “Then he will turn to the ‘goats’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats!  You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell.  And why?  Because–

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,

I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

I was homeless and you gave me no bed,

I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,

Sick and in  prison, and you never visited.’

44  “Then the ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about?  When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?

Those that had no time for God.

Those that have spent their whole life centered on themselves.

One day they’ll find themselves out of TIME–out of EXCUSES of why they have not responded to the things of God.

Many people today want to SERVE God in their own way. without restrictions, without discipline, without having any commitments. 

They want EXTERNAL REWARDS now, and INTERNAL REWARDS later and to base their rewards on good intentions and a RELATIONSHIP that’s almost non-existent.

Kingdom Rewards in Heaven is given to those who SERVE without thought of REWARD.  

God GIVES out of His GRACE!

OUR INHERITANCE…

Our INHERITANCE has been laid out since the creation of the world, based upon a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ, Lord, and Savior of our souls.

ETERNAL FIRE was prepared for the devil himself and the rebellious angels that followed him,  and also for those that REJECT the FREE GRACE of God, that REJECT what Jesus did on the Cross, and say no to Christ.

The RELIGIOUS LEADERS of the day knew 1000’s of Jewish pilgrims would come for PASSOVER and FEASTS.

They knew that many will admire Jesus from a distance, BUT… few will follow Him.

Those who REJECT Jesus will not follow Jesus.

Those who have no time for Jesus will not have time for God’s people.

“Depart from me”  (v. 41 – NIV Bible)

These will be terrible words to hear from Jesus.  You have no time for me and you show no compassion for those put in your path.

It’s like an employee who puts on a good show when their boss is present and slacks off the times he/she thinks they can get away with it.

GOD SEES ALL…

GOD KNOWS ALL.

It is while we have time that we must decide to be identified with the SHEEP.

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like being called a SHEEP or a GOAT!

But I’d rather be a SHEEP and a follower of Jesus, than a stubborn GOAT that rebels at all authority and does things his own way.

Something I particularly noticed in this study is JESUS’ words:  Notice the SINS pointed out were not the things they DID, but rather the things they DIDN’T do (vs. 42-43).

He focuses on their SINS OF OMISSION; failing to act out of LOVE and COMPASSION for those in need.  And although GOATS may at certain times sound like SHEEP, even have certain characteristics of SHEEP, just like the sheep, the GOATS didn’t understand just like the SHEEP.  The GOATS are clueless to what King Jesus is talking about.

THE GOATS respond similarly as the way the SHEEP have.

Jesus responds in the same way as He did with the SHEEP–EXCEPT…the GOATS have not acted on behalf of “the least”  (v. 45).

This past week, I read about an instant CAKE MIX that was a big flop {brand in the photo is for reference only].  The instructions said all you have to do is add water and bake and you’ll have a cake.  The company couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell until their research discovered the buying public felt uneasy about a mix that only required water.  Apparently, people thought it was way TOO EASY.  So the company altered the formula, changed the directions to call for adding an egg to the mix in addition to the water.  

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The idea worked!

You know where I’m going here–some think the plan of SALVATION is too simple.  

Some people think that they have forever.

Some people think that God has no rules and anything flies.

“By Grace, you have been SAVED through FAITH, it is the GIFT of God, not of works”

And that is FACT!  You cannot add anything to the mix–that’s God’s recipe.

THE GOOD NEWS we proclaim is FREE from works, BUT WORKS will follow those that truly are FOLLOWING Jesus.  It has to do with our RELATIONSHIP–“Stuck Like Glue”–with Him.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i]:  Do Sheep and Goats Make the Same Noise?  Ask For Answers @ yahoo.com

Photos:   Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP). Message Bible (MESS).

 

 

There’s A Time And A Place For Everything!

SCRIPTURE ECCLESIASTES 3:1-15

I have always been musically inclined, from a small boy pretending to direct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in front of my parent’s radio that rested 4-ft. high on the floor in the 1940’s to singing in choirs in elementary school and then in church choirs as an adult.

So in preparing for this study in Ecclesiastes, a tune began playing on my memory’s turntable of a 1961 classic Marty Robbins song:  A Time And A Place For Everything [See Footnote [i] ].

There’s a time and a place for everything

So let’s pretend we’re not blue.

There’s a time and a place for everything

Someday our dreams will come true.

A TIME FOR EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN –

We Christians tend to sing happy songs about God, and His blessings, and His goodness, and our relationship with Him.

I like happy songs; I’m in favor of happy songs.  The world’s songs, on the other hand, are often not so happy.  Even the ones that sound HAPPY and peppy are often not so happy when you listen carefully to the lyrics.

ECCLESIASTES sounds more like popular music today than the happy Christian songs we tend to sing.

We need to be careful.  Sometimes it is really easy for us to enter into a Christian cocoon.  Christian music, Christian friends, Christian decorations for our homes, and we even speak “Christianise”, as a pastor once mentioned in a Sunday message.

Now I’m very much in favor of all these things…but there’s a DANGER if we become so isolated that our message, even our lives, become irrelevant to the world around us in which we are to be salt and light.  We have to be careful we don’t become so isolated, so deaf to the regular questions of living and struggles of life without God, that we become MUTE to our neighbors and coworkers and families.

IN THESE TIMES…

More and more people are struggling to keep their heads above a rising tide of PESSIMISM about future prospects.  Of course, there are exceptions from a handful of optimists, predicting a better and brighter tomorrow.  Still, the larger portion of humanity is less convinced.

A hundred years ago [in the “modern era”], FAITH in human reason and progress was probably at an all-time high.  TODAY, it [seems] as low as ever with growing doubts whether the world can ever solve its problems on its own.

ECCLESIASTES speaks to this condition.

It expresses the intense disappointment that people feel when they realize, “Life should be better, but it isn’t.”

There is a classic rock tune that was released a year after I was married.  The group, The Byrds, in 1965, came out with “Turn, Turn, Turn” – YouTube has the original recording if you want to listen.  Apart from the title, all the other words in these lyrics were pulled directly from Ecclesiastes 3.  52 years ago, the Byrds understood that these words in ECCLESIASTES would resonate with the regular people.

[1] There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven;  [2] A time to be born…and a time to die.

Of these fourteen couplets…the FIRST THREE are along the same lines:

  • Born – Die
  • Plant – Uproot
  • Kill – Heal

We ALL have a time to DIE.

I know this isn’t a popular subject but try as we might to deny it, ignore it, avoid it, put it off…these lives as we know them, in these bodies, will come to an end.  We ALL have a time to die,  We just don’t know when that is.

Well, actually, we can know if we’d just visit http://www.deathclock.com.  Out of curiosity, I visited and answered a few simple questions and found out “Your time has expired.”  

The good news in all of this is the actual timing of my life here on earth is known only by God!

ECCLESIASTES 3:1-4 – New English Translation ( NET Bible)

A Time for All Events in Life

3  For everything, there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth;

  • A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted.
  • A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and time to build up.
  • A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

The TEXT says that there IS a time and a season for everything!

EVERYTHING, a full rich life with all kinds of experiences, a robust life, lived fully.

It seems to me the trick is to get the TIMING right.  We sometimes seem to get things backward and we’re doing the opposite of what we should be doing.

When you say “time” to a musician, I think in terms of RHYTHM.  There is something wonderful about locking into a groove.

LIFE ought to be like that…A RHYTHM to die…  But get that RHYTHM OUT OF SYNC, it becomes like clapping on the wrong beat.  We get out of sync.  When we should be PLANTING Encouragement and UPROOTING Discouragement, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around.

When we ought to be putting to DEATH our old, rotten, selfish ways and nursing RIGHTEOUSNESS and HEALTH in our lives, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around, killing righteousness and nursing back to health our rotten sinful ways.

We LAUGH at what’s disgusting and evil when we should WEEP.

So, when should we DANCE?

Here’s an idea:  Believe we can get ‘circumstantially’ out of rhythm in life.  For an example, this very CIRCUMSTANCE:  CHURCH.

When we are together reflecting on and our singing about God’s goodness and greatness, we probably ought to DANCE, but some of us seem habitually out of SYNC and rather MOURN in church instead (at least the look on our faces seem mournful).

FOURTEEN COUPLETS OF POLAR OPPOSITES…and each has a time.

Some Bible commentators say that the numbers here of 14 couplets (7x2x2) is a significant indication of COMPLETENESS.  From BIRTH to DEATH and everything in between.  ALL of it intentional…ALL of it work!

AND NO, IT’S NOT YET TIME FOR ME TO BE SILENT (v. 7).

Our country is torn today in regard to whether this is a time for PEACE.  The TEXT brings back to this rhetorical question seen before in Ecclesiastes.  “In the grand scheme of things, what good is all the toil?”

HERE, THERE IS AN ANSWER:  “GOD HAS GIVEN US A BURDEN (TASK, CALLING, WORK) AND HE HAS MADE IT BEAUTIFUL (OR GOOD) IN ITS TIME”  [VERSE 11].

The verse continues and explains that it’s God who put ETERNITY in our hearts, our soul and spirit, a longing to know something beyond time in this life, in this world, and in these bodies.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (b):  “…yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

When, all is said, we only have a spark of eternity in our hearts; we cannot fully comprehend ETERNITY.

So, when you get right down to it, IT IS A GIFT OF GOD–

  • WE HONOR GOD BY ENJOYING THE GIFT HE GIVES US
  • WE HONOR GOD BY LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST AND BEING SATISFIED WITH HIS GIFT!

This becomes a reminder that God’s SOVEREIGNTY is powerful:

Ecclesiastes 3:14 (AMP)

[14] I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor taken from it,  And God does it so that men will [reverently] fear Him [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is].

It reminds us that any part we have in ETERNITY comes from our being in step with God; our soul’s attitude is in alignment towards Him with the help of the Holy Spirit in our life.  We are reminded that we are neither puppet nor parasite.   We are not merely running in program mode that’s set in place by a grand puppet master.

And…we’re not without resource to add or subtract from our lives and enjoyment.

We are invited to join God in His work, not adding nor taking from His work, but joining Him.

So, what exactly can we take from this PASSAGE of SCRIPTURE?

I know what I came away with, you, maybe something else.  It seems clear that the passage, like all of Ecclesiastes, meant to make think to ourselves.  It’s meant to call us to a REALITY CHECK.

We are called to wrestle with out humanity, this fallen world around us, and what God has to say about it.

NO ESCAPE!

It’s all about LIFE in a  fallen world.  ECCLESIASTES says we can deny it, fight it, hide from it, even try to make sense of it.  BUT…we can’t escape it!  The only response is to LIVE IN IT one day at a time, fearing God and cherishing as best as we can the STUFF of which life is made–food, family, work and not in that order.  These are GIFTS of God’s hand.

So we are to ENJOY THE GIFTS God gives us.

We WORSHIP Him by living abundant, robust, even happy lives.

We examine ourselves and the rhythm of our lives.

We should ask ourselves, honestly, are we honoring God by living full lives well?  Are we treating this GIFT OF TIME as a PRECIOUS GIFT?  Are we living in Relationship with God, or are we working for ourselves…which ends in VANITY, meaninglessness?

More importantly than asking ourselves…let’s ask our Heavenly Father.  Let’s be open to God, through His Holy Spirit, to speak to us, revealing where we can LIVE more fully and thus honor God.  And let us RELY on Holy Spirit to GUIDE, and STRENGTHEN and give us COURAGE,

Now it’s normal, I believe, when we stop and think along these lines, to have REGRETS…to wish we had done some things differently, to have different priorities over time.  BUT the GIFT we have right now, THE GIFT OF TIME, we are enjoying today and will enjoy tomorrow.  YESTERDAY is gone!

So where different priorities are often called for, we’ll need to make a FRESH START today!  I’m going to, will you?

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CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  There’s A Time And A Place For Everything – songwriters Benny Joy Edidson –  Published By – Unichappell Music, Inc., Elvis Presley Music.

Photos:  Google Image, Advance Search Setting.

Bible Translations:  New International Version NIV), unless otherwise stated.

 

 

 

 

 

The KEY to An Anchor In Any Storm is The Rope

During World War II, Ruth Caye Jones wrote the words and music to a hymn that was a simple, yet powerful song.  A housewife related that in the middle of her busy day she received spiritual inspiration–she wrote what God told her to write down.  The song was written in response to the daily stresses and strains of a woman and her family while living in uncertainty of worldwide upheaval and war.  [See Footnote [i] ]

Here is but one verse from The Solid Rock, Lyrics and music by Ruth C. Jones:

In times like these, you need a Savior

In times like these, you need an anchor,

Be very sure, be very sure

Your anchor holds and grasps the Solid Rock.

 

Sound like a familiar theme?

When it comes to our life…”In times like these” we need to have an adequate ANCHOR for our ship (life).  We don’t need to throw out the anchor all the time…only in storms. God is our ANCHOR, but He is NOT just a crutch or a help in time of trouble.

For many people He is…they only call on God when they need help.  God is so much more…

  • He’s our CAPTAIN to show us the way.
  • He’s our COMPASS to guide our way.

God is there with us when things are going well, to bring us closer to Him.

But in those STORMS, in HARD TIMES…He is there to be our ANCHOR; to protect us and keep us safe.

This all brings us to our Bible study in ACTS 27:18-44 –

For Mrs. Jones, it meant the horrors of war…the poverty of rationing which my mother tried to explain to me when I was a child…tears of those who lost loved ones in battle.

For us today, IMAGES like these, can mean many different things.  Maybe seeking public assistance for the first time…memories of standing in line at the unemployment office week after week.  Oh, how I remember those days.

It may be the pain of watching your child’s life spiral out of control because of drugs or bad friends.

It may be the pain of watching your child’s life spiral out of control because of drugs or bad friends.

It may be watching your marriage slowly fall apart…because of infidelity or external stress.

It may be dealing with the mounting challenges of getting older…diminished health and abilities…a sense of uselessness or at least being devalued.

The Apostle Paul and his fellow prisoners in the midst of facing the STORM–

All prisoners aboard are being transferred to another prison when a terrible storm accosted their ship.  These sailors were probably not rookies, but seasoned salts.  This wasn’t their first storm, so the fact that they were so scared gives account to the storm’s severity.

IT WAS BAD, they didn’t think they could survive, they were going down, and they were making preparations.  So they took ROPES and passed them under the hull and cinched them up to strengthen the ship against the waves.  They even threw the cargo overboard to lighten the load to allow the boat to float higher and take on less water.

VERSE 18 says they did the unthinkable:  “they began to throw the cargo overboard”

They threw the ship’s tackle overboard because they weren’t leaving anything to chance.  They were taking DESPERATE MEASURES!

The next day a few sailors were so frightened they attempted an escape in a life raft but the attempt was discovered by Paul and stopped by the ship’s captain.

At one point they took sounding…checked the depth of the water and discovered it was getting shallow.  At about 90 feet deep. they decided that was close enough to shore because to get any closer, it might cause them to be smashed on the rocky coast.

SO THEY THREW OUT FOUR ANCHORS AND PRAYED–(27:29)

I underlined in my Bible Acts 27:29:  “Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight.”

The LAST thing they did was PRAY.

PRAYERS to God was the last-ditch anchors for them.  People who do that…never have Hoped in a storm.

The average depth of the Mediterranean Sea is 4900 feet.  Ships don’t anchor in water that deep, especially the ships of Paul’s time.  They only anchored in the bays and harbors along the coastline where the water is shallow.  I think the only reason they were anchoring at this depth was their FEAR of the storm and being run aground.

THEY THREW OUT FOUR ANCHORS…Why so many?

Was it because the STORM was so bad?  That’s what I thought at first reading.  But I don’t believe that was the reason.  The think the REASON they threw out FOUR ANCHORS is… each one did little good, so they thought there was safety in numbers.

Most of you know from pictures the design of an ANCHOR.

It is made with arms, some two, some more, and these arms are curved with points.

The points are to help the anchor bite into the bottom of the sea.  The deeper the bite or grab…the stronger their hold.  But because the arms are curved, it’s necessary for the ANCHOR to tip over to bite into the bottom of the sea.  If it doesn’t tip over it just slides along the bottom.  Have you ever felt in life’s raging circumstances you were just sliding along the bottom?

There’s more…

So as I see it, the PROBLEM for the sailors was not the STORM, and it wasn’t the ANCHORS, it was the ROPE!  The ROPE was too short!!

BECAUSE of the lack of rope, it wouldn’t allow the ANCHOR to tip and bite–to take hold–that’s why they used so many.

WE ALL HAVE A BOAT IN OUR LIFE…

We ALL get into storms…problems.

We ALL have an ANCHOR…God.

These are the same for ALL of us.

BUT…NOT ALL HAVE EQUAL ROPE!!!

Some have more ROPE than others.  What I’m getting at is, THE ROPE is your FAITH!!!

FAITH is the thing that connects the BOAT (US) with our ANCHOR (GOD)–

WE CAN ALL HAVE IDENTICAL BOATS WITH THE SAME ANCHOR and one holds on better than another.  That occurs because of the ROPE.  One has more rope and his anchor can tip more, bite deeper and hold stronger!

In MARK 9:24 I love the man who said to Jesus,  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”  Using this passage of Scripture, he was saying, “Lord, I have enough rope (faith) for the shallow water (little troubles) so give me more rope so I can handle the deeper water.” [paraphrased]

I don’t know about you, but I certainly need more ROPE in my life at times.

That brings us to the other things God reveals in the Bible.  

I believe the sailors HAD MORE ROPE–enough rope to easily anchor at the depth of 90 feet…BUT wasted it!

Look at verse 17 in the Amplified Bible:

[17]  After hoisting it on board, they used supports with ropes to undergird and brace the ship; then afraid that they would be driven into Syrtis  [quicksands off the north coast of Africa], they lowered the gear (sails and ropes) and so were driven along. 

They wasted some of their rope, ROPE that would have allowed their ANCHOR to tip and grab and hold…they wasted it trying to SAVE something that was bound to perish anyway.  Paul had warned (Acts 27:10) that the ship they were on would be lost, destroyed.  But they took ROPE from the anchors and used it to try to save the ship.

RESULT:  Rope was too short for anchors.  The ship was lost anyway.

WE ALL HAVE OPPORTUNITIES TO LENGTHEN OUR ROPE…(FAITH)

When the sailing is smooth…more time to PRAISE, PRAY, GIVE THANKS, READ, MEDITATE, ETC.  That’s when we seem to have more time to devote to our FAITH.

HOWEVER–like the SAILORS, we waste time and the opportunity by using the TIME to try to tie up and protect the STUFF that is going to perish anyway.

We spend time…cutting grass that will grow back; watching TV shows that don’t matter and playing video games because there’s nothing else to do.

Am I saying we shouldn’t take care of OUR STUFF, or have any fun?  No, that is STEWARDSHIP.  What I’m trying to say is, we should use more of that time to get closer to God and let Him give you more ROPE so you can handle deeper water.

Look at the SAILORS…ROPE TOO SHORT–ANCHOR NOT HOLDING.

Look at Paul.  Paul’s ANCHOR was holding in the ROCK of God’s presence.

ACTS 27:23-25

For Paul, just having a WORD from God was enough to anchor him and give him blessed assurance.  He knew God was a PROMISE-KEEPING GOD!

Romans 4:21 (AMP):  Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.

The ANGEL OF THE LORD that ministered to Paul told him of GOD’S PLAN (V. 24):

Acts 27:24:  ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.  You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’

PAUL’S ANCHOR WAS HOLDING IN THE FIRM FOUNDATION OF GOD’S POWER!

(v. 44)  …And so it was that all [276] escaped safely to land.

GOD HAS THE POWER TO DO ALL THINGS!

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you,” says the Lord, “thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome”  (Jeremiah 29:11 – AMP).

  • If God has the POWER to cause an ax head to float…2 Kings 6:6
  • If God can cause a donkey to speak…Numbers 22:28
  • If God can raise the dead…
  • If God can tell the thunder and lightning to stop…

HE CERTAINLY HAS THE POWER TO KEEP YOU AND ME SAFE THROUGH ANY STORM!!!

Why then did Paul’s ANCHOR hold and the Sailors don’t?

MORE ROPE (FAITH) –

In times like these, we need an ANCHOR.  Be very sure your anchor holds and grips the SOLID ROCK.

Is your ANCHOR holding?  Do you need more ROPE right now?

[Leave your answers or your comments in LEAVE A  REPLY box at the bottom of this page]

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FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i] :  Hymnspiration: In Times Like These by Sharon Hall/May 17, 2015.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Advance Setting.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I CAN ALMOST SMELL THE BREAD BAKING!”

RECIPE (Scripture Study):  Acts 13, Acts 16, and 1 Timothy 4:11-16.

The simplest bread recipe I’m told only has THREE INGREDIENTS–Flour, water, and yeast.  When combined together you get warm, fluffy, delicious bread.  END OF STORY?  No.  Unless ALL three of these ingredients are modified in some way,  the end results will never be useful.

AFTER HARVEST, the wheat must be threshed, winnowed, and ground into flour.  If one or more of these steps are not completed correctly, the BREAD will fail.

Water must be purified–if too many impurities are found in the water, the bread will have a bad taste and not rise correctly.

Yeast is an odd animal–and yes, it is an animal.  It is a microscopic little critter that changes something chemically.  We don’t know where the first YEAST came from, but historians think the first batch of yeast may have come from natural impurities in the flour and was left in the sun too long.  Bakers would then take small pieces of dough–called LEAVEN–that had already risen and mix it into the new dough that rises well.

IN THE BIBLE, the Israelites are called to make unleavened bread; not adding the leaven to their dough, preventing the dough from rising.

Just like bread making can only be made if ALL ingredients are mixed together properly, Christians must also work together with other believers in order to become something better.

Just like the THREE aforementioned ingredients are needed to make BREAD, also THREE types of people must work together in order to become more mature as true believers.

Let’s take a look at the life of the Apostle Paul and find out what these types of people look like:

PAUL started out as SAUL, a Pharisee, dedicated to wiping out Christianity off the face of the earth.

While traveling to Damascus, he has an amazing encounter with God, changing his life forever.  After this meeting, though, the real fun begins!

Saul is now a CHRISTIAN and began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus.  The CHANGE was so amazing and the transformation so complete, the people around him began wondering what was going on.

Eventually, the Jews of Damascus got so suspicious of Saul they began to plot to kill him!  So when Saul heard about this, he gets while the gettin’ was good and escaped to Jerusalem.

Well, things didn’t start much better for him there–the disciples were afraid of him thinking he was trying to trick them.

Finally, A Man Named Barnabas…

Barnabas took Saul to the other apostles telling them his story.

Saul was able to stay with them for a short time, until, more threats sent him away.

Eventually, Saul meets back with Barnabas at Antioch, and they are sent together on a missionary journey covering eastern Greece and most of Turkey.

ACTS 13:4 –  “So then, being sent out by the Holy Spirit. they went down to Seleucia, and from [that port] they sailed away to Cyprus”  (AMP).

Now skipping ahead to VERSE 44:  [44]  The next Sabbath almost the entire city gathered together to hear the Word of God [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God].  [45] But when the Jews saw the crowds, filled with envy and jealousy they contradicted what was said by Paul and talked abusively [reviling and slandering him].  [46] And Paul and Barnabas spoke out plainly and boldly, saying, “It was necessary that God’s message [concerning salvation through Christ] should be spoken to you first.  But since you thrust it from you, you pass this judgment on yourselves that you are unworthy of eternal life and out of your own mouth you will be judged.  [Now] behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (the heathen).  [47] For so the Lord has charged us, saying,  “I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles (the heathen), that you may bring [eternal] salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

Without the INFLUENCE of Barnabas, Paul would have likely died in Jerusalem, and certainly not have gone on to be a MISSIONARY to the Gentiles.

Barnabas didn’t have to vouch for Paul, but he did anyway.  In fact, Barnabas was always looking for someone to ENCOURAGE.

Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas part ways because Barnabas wanted to give someone else–John Mark–a SECOND CHANCE.

This is fitting I think because the name “BARNABAS” wasn’t his given birth name. Actually, he was named Joseph, but because of his repeated actions of encouragement, the other apostles renamed him, Barnabas, meaning “Son of Encouragement.”

We also need a BARNABAS in our lives.

True, Paul had the POWER of the Holy Spirit behind him, but that doesn’t mean that he never made any mistakes.  He was still very immature as a believer and needed a mentor, someone like Barnabas to encourage and help him grow in his faith.

We also need a BARNABAS in our lives–for that’s the FIRST of the 3 Types of people we need to work with.

We ALL need someone who is spiritually more mature than we are to encourage us when our life gets tough and act as a mentor.  This person may be older, younger, or the same age we are but will be further along in their walk with the Lord to help us as we follow the Lord in our own walk.

That brings us to the SECOND type of person needed.

Moving to Acts chapter 16, we see Paul is traveling with SILAS and Luke.

While in Philippi, something amazing happens.  A female slave who had a spirit that was predicting the future, constantly following Paul and his comrades, shouting that they were servants of the Most High God.  She kept this up for so long, eventually, Paul became annoyed, turned around, and told the spirit to leave the woman.  Let’s pick up the story in VERSE 19:

[19] When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.  [20] They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar  [21] by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”  [23] The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.  [23] After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.

I thought this passage of Scripture was interesting.  This chapter of Acts does something few chapters in the Bible do.

Acts 16:1-10 are all written in the third person–that is, using phrases like “he did this” and “they did that.”

Starting in verse 11, it now switches to the first person–using phrases like “we did this” and “we did that.”  Since the author of the book is usually thought to be Luke–who was actually present here and dutifully recorded everything that happened.  This means that Luke was with them during their encounter with the fortune teller.  In fact, Acts 16:17 says, “She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, these men are servants of the Most High God…”  That tells us that there were more than just Paul and Silas and Luke–but a small group of fellow disciples and followers were there as well.

So why then, would the local authorities only arrest Paul and Silas instead of the entire group?  Because Paul & Silas were their leaders.

Paul and Silas worked together to bring the Good News to the people of Philippi because they were both at the same point in their Christian WALK by constantly encouraging each other and standing up for each other.

A Perfect Example–

Paul is the one who commanded the spirit to leave the slave woman, NOT Silas.  But Silas stood next to Paul in front of the magistrate; Silas went to prison with Paul; and, as we can read in Verse 25…Silas prayed and sang hymns in prison with Paul.

THE SECOND type of person we need in our lives is a SILAS.

We need someone who can walk alongside us as we follow Jesus.  Typically, this person ends up being an ACCOUNTABILITY partner–the person you feel so comfortable being with that you SHARE everything–your deepest doubts, and hardest troubles.  Oh yes, your DESIRES too!

So we need a Barnaba as well, to WALK AHEAD of us and a Silas to WALK ALONGSIDE us.

So, it becomes pretty obvious that the THIRD person needed in our lives–is someone to WALK BEHIND us.

In Paul’s life, that person was Timothy.  Timothy was a native of Lystra, where Paul and Barnabas had healed a crippled man in ACTS 14.  By the time Paul returned to Lystra in ACTS 16, Timothy was already respected–if young– a member of the Christian community.

Timothy joined Paul on his missionary journeys and is even credited as a co-author with Paul to the books of 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.

Paul wrote TWO letters to Timothy giving him advice and encouragement in his ministry–just like Barnabas did to Paul years earlier.

1 Timothy 4:11-16 is some of the most well-known advice given from Paul to a young man in the ministry:

[11]  Command and teach these things.  [12] Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.  [13] Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.  [14[ Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  [15] Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  [16] Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul’s advice to Timothy was good, and Timothy grew to become a LEADER in the church.

When Paul was in prison in Rome, he saw his life approaching an end and called Timothy to him in 2 Timothy 4 for a final visit.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE–

Just because Timothy was younger than Paul doesn’t mean that those we mentor must be younger than us.  It’s entirely possible for a young person to be further along in their Christian WALK than an older person.

THE THREE TYPE OF PEOPLE WE NEED IN OUR LIVES–

A BARNABAS, who walks before us; a SILAS, who walks beside us, and a TIMOTHY, who follows behind us.

If we don’t have all THREE INGREDIENTS–types of people in our life– then we’ll be unfinished, like unleavened bread.

What’s more, though, is that we are not only expected to HAVE all three types of people in our life, but we’re also expected to BE all three types of people for others in our life.  

We are not only expected to be MENTORED to but to be a MENTOR.  We are not only expected to have someone to walk alongside us and encourage us but to walk alongside them and encourage them to encourage them.  In this way, ALL BELIEVERS work together for learning, encouraging, and teaching, to proclaim the Good News, the Gospel, and spread the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth.

So now you have the know-how to put three specific ingredients (three types of people) together in your life.  

So are you ready to smell the FRESHNESS of New Baked Bread?  If you haven’t already, it’s time to start assembling the ingredients first!

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CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

Bread Making Source for this Blog:  Basic bread making; re-learning traditional skills, Part 1 – the components of a good loaf – Bondant Welsh Food.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).