Dear Church Family,
This week's newsletter has been written by Stephen & Heidi Alderdice. They write:
My family owes a great deal to the freedoms that travel has afforded us in the past. If it weren’t for those freedoms, I would not have been free to serve in short-term mission work in Brazil where I met Heidi. If it weren’t for those freedoms, it would have been challenging to even build a relationship with Heidi or to marry and for our family to be together in the UK. It is safe to say that in this season, the restrictions on movement have some resonance for us and for our family abroad.
Now, simply because we had the freedom to travel, didn’t always make travel easy. At times during our dating, it seemed as if the created order itself was conspiring against our travel plans. Just when we were due to travel, we had events such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, airline strikes, and other potential showstoppers arise; I even recall a Christmas where I managed to board the last flight out of western Europe due to a big freeze. In God’s mercy, we always made our flight. Travel has always been a precarious business. We read an account in Acts 27 where Paul, having been arrested and put on a ship to testify before Caesar, was shipwrecked in a monstrous storm. I would like to share with you a word of encouragement, especially if like Paul you are experiencing a storm in your life today.
In the passage in Acts, we read how Paul, in spite of being a prisoner, was given favour and influence with the ship’s officers and his life was protected from harm. He foretold the disaster ahead (v10). He offered words of encouragement to the crew; and when all hope was gone, he testified to the Lord’s faithfulness (v22). He nourished the crew (v34). Finally, clinging to the debris of a wrecked ship, all 276 crew and prisoners escaped to shore (v44), just as the Lord promised through Paul.
You see, when the Lord has a calling on your life, He uses it to bless others, not just you. The Lord not only blessed and protected Paul, but He blessed the prison guards, the captain of the ship, He even blessed the other prisoners – all on account of Paul’s calling. Only three months after his shipwreck, the Lord had Paul boarded on a new ship to Rome. God not only wants to bless you but also your household, your colleagues, your circle. If God had simply brought Paul’s ship safely into dock, the captain would be congratulated. When every single man, woman, and child comes to dry land safely, floating on pieces of broken ship, the glory of the Lord is manifest.
Perhaps today you are in a storm experience, maybe you are even clinging to the fragments or what was your security. Whether it is a storm in your finances, your health, or your family, or if like Paul you are in some form of imprisonment, the Bible tells us that even and especially in our storm experience, we have a calling on our lives when we are believers.
“As a prisoner of the LORD, I plead with you to walk holy, in a way that is suitable to your high rank, given to you in your divine calling. “ (Ephesians 4:1 TPT)
Our calling is given to us by God, mostly for the benefit of others.
He has duties, favour and special abilities for you that he assigned to you before time itself and together in an appointed season, this is calling. Paul encourages the church in Rome some years after his Acts 27 testimony with these words,
“Yet even in the midst of these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything!.” (Romans 8:37 TPT)
You have access to the favour of God, just like we read in the life of Joseph (Genesis 38-41). Joseph experienced the Lord’s favour not only in times of prosperity as we read near the end of his story but also in injustice and in imprisonment too. Everyone whose lives were touched by Joseph were blessed; Potiphar, Prison Guards, Pharaoh.
When God calls you, He equips you. The Bible says in Hebrews 13, “[May God] Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His Will;” (13:21 AMPC) God has special abilities to give you to fulfill your calling. We read examples of this in the book of Daniel, “God gave these four men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom.” (1:17a NLT) “Daniel had insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.” (1:17a NET). These abilities were given not for their own benefit, but for the salvation of His people, and so it is with us, His church. It is given so that it can be given away.
God doesn’t ask us to ignore the storm, but he does expect us to begin to look at storms with eyes of faith, and a heart for God’s grace and protection. No person or event could get in the way of Paul’s calling to bring God’s word to Caesar. No person or event now or in the future can get in the way of your calling and God’s purpose on your life, provided you persist. The bible says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV) Persist, persist, persist.
When Joseph finally stood before his brothers in Genesis 50, he testified to the Lord’s calling over his life, “as for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose so that he could preserve the lives of many people, as you see to this day.” (50:20 NET)
God will see you through your storm. You will see the Lord’s promises fulfilled in your lives and even those, whose lives you have influence over. Shipwrecks are not the end for God. Jesus didn’t come to calm the storm; he came to prove that storms don’t prevail. After a windy week in Hutton, I pray that this encourages you to persist through the storms in your life and that you will never grow weary while doing good.
No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.
Love In Christ,
Stephen & Heidi