by Pastor Tim Burt
This morning I was thinking about a speaking engagement coming up on my calendar. I always seek the Lord about what to share and felt He was leading me to talk about relationships and the importance of them in our life. The second I yielded to that direction, thoughts about the shipwreck the Apostle Paul was in, came to mind.
The Apostle Paul was a prisoner for preaching the gospel. He was being taken by ship, to stand before and be heard by Caesar. God had warned Paul in prayer, that this ship would be ruined in a storm. Paul warned the captain but the captain would not listen. Not long into their journey, they found themselves in the storm about to be shipwrecked as Paul had warned them. As I was thinking about this story, the Lord brought this particular verse to my heart. Acts 27:44 “The centurion ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land. The others held onto planks or debris from the broken ship. So everyone escaped safely to shore.”
This may seem like an unusual verse for God to bring to my heart, but as soon as I remembered it, the Lord spoke these words: “Good relationships are like planks from a sinking ship—grab onto them and they can save your life. Especially if you don’t know how to swim.”
There is nothing glamorous about planks from a sinking ship and yet they were the lifesaver that many of the men on this ship clung to. God wants you to have relationships in your life who are like these planks. They aren’t necessarily best friends or even people who you hang with all the time, although that could happen. They are just God-loving people that you associate with in some way with the purpose of reminding each other who you are in Christ and what His primary mission is for your life—to be a light for Jesus and a touch of God’s love to those God places in your life. People like that are lifesavers!
For 30 years I have come just short of begging Christians to find or put together a small group of like-minded Christians whom they can study the word or pray with together. Sometimes it’s simply studying a Bible devotion together. I have personally never not been in some kind of small group of Christian men over the past 30 years. I have always built relationships with godly men who love the Lord whom I can talk and pray with. It isn’t that these men are always guys I hang out with or socially do things together with. They are men that help fulfill the biblical role of Iron sharpening Iron in my life.
In a group like this, you have a place to share thoughts which are sometimes great, and other times, need to be put in check. God is in the midst of a group focused on Him. The Holy Spirit speaks through everyone in the group in such a way that the things that are said bring correction, instruction, direction and wisdom, and plenty of love and good laughs. No one is directly trying to correct or instruct each other. The sharing and transparency of each other’s thoughts and lives just produces that result.
These people can be planks that you will on occasion, cling to. Proverbs 27:9 (MSG) says, “Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”
Over time they become friends who have come to know you and love you—as you in turn grow to love them. They care about you and will stand in prayer with you in those stormy times. They become a plank in the worst of times. They help to produce a stability and growth in your Christian walk that is like nothing else. Church community is critical to your growth and stability in Christ. When you decide to create a group for this purpose, God will help you! I've had a saying for years that is absolutely true! You can pick your friends but God picks better friends. Let Him show you what He can do as you yield yourself to it! In time, you'll have watched help you bring a group of people together that you would have never imagined. And through that group, you will become lifesavers to each other—and the best friendships you never planned!
Ecclesiastes 4:10 (TLB) "If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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