The Ship Logos Hope

I had the opportunity to visit the OM Ministries Ship, Logos Hope, yesterday. Their ministry uses a ship to get the Word of God and many other books to the nations. They also help people in villages and towns they visit with construction and service projects. I’ve wanted to board this ship for years but seldom been at a location where they docked.

What a joy and blessing to be onboard, see what they do and speak with their dedicated crew. A bit of time spent with Luke from North Carolina and Stephanie from Asia blessed me with the joy of Jesus.

Just as I volunteered my time in Mercy Ships, the crew is composed with volunteers dedicated to the Lord and serve Him with their talents. Truly we saw an international crew alive with the love of Jesus Christ. Onboard we wandered through their immense bookstore (mainly Christian help books, many children’s books, and of course lots of Bibles).

I encountered staff with the joy of Jesus exuding from their countenance. We recognized much of what they gave up to live onboard and at times perform mundane tasks to keep the ship and on board community thriving. . . but they did it with joy and excitement as they met people and helped them.

See this website http://www.omships.org for more information on this amazing ministry.

Live and Move by the Holy Spirit

We read in Acts where the Holy Spirit did miracles through Peter, John, Paul, Barnabas and others. They lived through the Holy Spirit. Pentecost was the watershed event pouring out the Holy Spirit, again opening up all mankind to receive God. Yes, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are still active today.

Filled with the Holy Spirit

In the gospels, the Twelve did this miracle and the 70 did that miracle. In Acts we read that Peter, John, Paul or Barnabas did miracles also through the Holy Spirit. These actions were done by Spirit-filled men (and some women too).

All of this was done as a normal part of ministering to man’s needs. A normal life for these believers, taught by Jesus and moved by the Spirit of God.

Spiritual Gifts in Action

The spiritual gifts are explained in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:1-11) as a guide to the right use of spiritual gifts and correct possible improper use. The amazing thing is that no one apparently needed to describe each gift or its use prior to this letter to the Corinthians!

Believers submitted to the Father and the Holy Spirit who the guided them. Look at some examples:

  • At Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell and hundreds spoke in tongues praising God (see Acts 2:1-4)
  • Peter and John looked “intently at a beggar,” on the way to the Temple. This shows discernment or discerning of spirits (see Acts 3:4)
  • Paul looked straight at a crippled man and saw this man had faith to be healed. Paul called to the man loudly saying “Stand up” and healing took place for this crippled man (see Acts 14:8-10)

Keep your eyes open to see the use of the gifts of the Spirit, as we read in the Acts of the apostles. Even though those key words aren’t necessarily mentioned, the spiritual gifts are in use through the Holy Spirit. God does amazing things. Yes, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are still active today.

Prayer: Father, you sent Jesus our Savior, so we may be close to you. Teach me, to discern what you want me to do —every moment of the day.

Questions: When did you first see the connection between living by the Holy Spirit and doing what ever task God has for you in your daily life? Quietly and prayerfully look at what Paul mentions in Romans 12:6-11 and again in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 for use by the Spirit filled believer. The Church also has a list of gifts for individual believers and ministerial positions, can you recall them (see 1 Corinthians 12:28)?

Listen To The Holy Spirit

The Church at Antioch was a vibrant one with them growing in the Lord. Paul’s impact on this Church took several years, but now they were ready to be a sending church—to guide and lead others to belief in Jesus Christ. They listened to the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit—The Advocate

In John 14, Jesus informed the 12 apostles that he would ask the Father to send a helper. Jesus said . . . “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative that is, the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26 NLT). The Holy Spirit will actually guide followers of Jesus.

The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost nearly overwhelmed those present. The book of Acts might rightly be called the “Acts of the Holy Spirit [through the apostles] to build the New Testament Church.” The astounding entrance of the Holy Spirit began God’s action with His Church.

Disciplines Ingrained

The Church at Antioch ministered to the Lord by the worshiping, fasting, praying, and waiting on God. These were strengths of the early Church. Ministering to the Lord is not a term used often. We think of these as how we—believers do things—but these actions minister to the Lord.

Then, as they waited for guidance, the “Holy Spirit spoke, Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do.” So they commissioned them. In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying, they laid hands on their heads and sent them off (13:2b,3 The Message).

Fasting, Praying, and Waiting

In my opinion, fasting and waiting are now lacking in importance on how to minister to the Lord. Fasting is often not even a part of how we submit to God to receive guidance on a regular basis (let alone in times of dire need).

The ‘action’ of waiting on God is to decline the urge to jump into ‘must do this or must do that’ which begs on our minds. Waiting to hear God’s voice is exactly what our hearts need . . . then we believers will gain rest for our souls and guidance.

Richard Foster * describes spiritual disciplines as the door of liberation for the Christian. He goes on to state that joy is the keynote of each one as well as freedom from fear and self-interest.

The Church at Antioch received guidance for what God wanted them to do when they listened to the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Father, help me apply these spiritual disciplines to enable me to hear you better. I want to hear you all the time.

Questions: How often have you skipped over these essential words “waited on God” for answers or “fasted” for answers to prayer? Can you trust the Holy Spirit to give specific or personal guidance?

* Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth, Richard J. Foster, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1988, p 1,2.

Barnabas Son of Encouragement

When Paul spoke in the Synagogues of Damascus, Antioch and Jerusalem he met much opposition. As you remember, Antioch was the first place where believers in Christ were called Christians. God provided the encourager Barnabas to help Paul.

Boldly Speaking of Christ

As Paul came to Jerusalem, he tried to associate with the disciples, but they were afraid of him. They knew him as a vicious persecutor of believers. However, Barnabas knew Paul and brought him to the apostles. He told them of the miraculous encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Now a changed man, Paul boldly proclaimed Jesus was the Son of God. However, in Jerusalem Paul was rejected and sent off to Tarsus (for nine years).

Saul was a Pharisee of the School of Gamaliel. Bible scholars * reveal that Barnabas was likely a companion and student of this renowned school.

About Barnabas

  • Barnabas was noted to be full of the Holy Spirit and trusted to participate in ministry.
  • Bible scholars also state that Barnabas was one of the 70 Jesus sent out with direction and authority to “heal the sick and tell them the Kingdom of God is near you now” (Luke 10:11b).
  • Barnabas is mentioned twenty-three times in Acts and 3 additional times in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Galatians and Colossians.

A Helper for Paul

He assisted Paul for a full year with the new church in Antioch and together they carried contributions from the Antioch church to the church in Jerusalem. God provided the encourager Barnabas to help Paul.

Prayer: Father, I want to be an encourager for those who need uplifting. A helper for those I can.

Questions: How can you encourage those you encounter with problems? Whom have you found you can talk to when problems arise that you cannot overcome?

* Blue Letter Bible Dictionary, online, Acts.

PETER

In Your Bible: Acts 8:26-37; 9 :1-6; 32-35; 10:30-38

Philip, Peter, and Paul continued to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet peoples’ needs. Testimony of their obedience shows their zeal to hear and see what God wanted them to do in any situation. In Acts, the apostles were used mightily by the Lord.

Concurrent Action

Some Bible commentators contend that the phrase “meanwhile” (Acts 9:1) infers that the following occurred at about the same time:

  • Philip teaches the Ethiopian eunuch in the chariot (Acts 8:26-39)
  • Saul meets Jesus and is converted (Acts 9:1-9)
  • Jesus Christ heals Aeneas at Peters’ command (Acts 9:34)

What an amazing peek at God’s eagerness to reach out with spectacular timing and meet the needs of man.

God’s Inclusive Plan

God’s mysterious vision to Peter revealed his inclusive plan for all mankind. Peter quickly learned God’s new meaning of clean and unclean. This encounter changed Peter as radically as Saul was changed.

Peter admitted, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:34-36 NIV).

As Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard him. Circumcised and uncircumcised alike began speaking in tongues and praising God (Acts 10:44-46).

Saints

The term saints was first used in Matthew 27:52. At Jesus’ death on the cross—when the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints were raised.

Peter described Church members as saints – the Greek word here is actually hagios, meaning holy. The root meaning and intent is “different.” Paul often began his letters to churches he had planted with a greeting, “to the saints at”. Additionally, the endeartng term saints is used in Hebrews, Jude and Revelation.

In Acts, the apostles were used mightily by the Lord.

Prayer: Father, I want to be bold and available to be used by you for your purpose. Help me be ready to follow through.

Questions: How would you compare Peter’s vision (Acts 10:9-13) with Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. What does it reveal about these strong leaders?

Philip

In Your Bible: Acts 8:1-40

It was the worst of times. it was the best of times. Persecution raged against the new believers, which prompted the Holy Spirit to intervene. God worked, the apostles witnessed, God’s message spread, and needy people received healing in every town in Samaria. The Holy Spirit did and does amazing things to proclaim Jesus Christ.

In Samaria

Because of the great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, most believers scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.

The apostle Philip went to the city of Samaria to proclaim Christ to the crowds. They received his testimony and saw many signs, wonders, and healings. Yes, there was much rejoicing. When the apostles, who remained in Jerusalem, heard the good news was received, there they rejoiced. Immediately they sent Peter and John so these believers might receive the Holy Spirit also. Alleluia, they did receive the Spirit.

With the Eunuch

Next, an angel from God spoke to Philip. His message: simply go to a desert road (one that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza). That’s all the angel said. Philip did as the angel commanded. He met an Ethiopian Eunuch, sitting in a carriage reading Scripture from the Prophet Isaiah:

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
    yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
    And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
    he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
    that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
    for the rebellion of my people (Isa 53:7b-8 NLT).

Philip asked the Eunuch if he understood what he was reading. The eunuch replied no, he couldn’t and asked Philip to tell him know what it meant. Then, beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus (See Acts 8:35 NLT).

The church developed from a purely Jewish institution. Then, through persecution the Good News reached the Gentiles. This confounded the entire world. Yes, the Holy Spirit did the and does now amazing things to proclaim Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Father, I do believe the Good News about Jesus the Christ. Give me strength and willingness to respond to all you want me to do.

Questions: How can we, as believers, listen to God’s message or even his messenger and respond to what He says? Are you prepared to respond even if you don’t understand?

Saul – Persecutor to Proclaimer

Saul watched as Stephen was stoned and became an adamant persecutor of followers of the Way. Then he encountered Jesus in a dramatic manner on the road to Damascus. Saul was changed forever.

God’s Chosen One

I think it’s notable that the Lord told Ananias why he must go to Saul “This man is a [deliberately] chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will make clear to him how much he must suffer and endure for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15,16 Amplified).

Saul’s proclamation reveals great insight.“The one who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I could preach him among the Gentiles” (Gal 1:15,16a New English Bible).

Boldly Speaking of Christ

Saul escaped from Damascus, when some of the Jews plotted to kill him. He went to Jerusalem to meet with Jewish believers [and explain how changed he was], but they were afraid of him.

In Jerusalem, Barnabas became an advocate for Saul and took him to the apostles. He described Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and how Saul had preached boldly in Damascus in the name of Jesus.

So Saul stayed with the apostles and moved freely in Jerusalem also speaking boldly in the name of Jesus. But some Hellenistic Jews disagreed and threatened to kill Saul. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus (Acts 9:30 NASB). He did not stop speaking boldly of Christ.

Saul was changed forever.

Prayer: Father, help me fulfill the purpose you have for me. I want to take each step you have for me.

Questions: How were you changed when you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior?