Friday, July 05, 2013

Challenging devotion: Instead of Listening - Acts 27:11

Acts 27:11       But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.

            One of the biggest frustrations that pastors experience occurs when their advice is ignored or treated as unimportant. I’ve had my share of those moments in both Scotland and the USA. Being part of a voluntary religious organization, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell people that their ideas, philosophies, and understanding about God, the Bible, or Christ is wrong, or at least off the beaten track. They often want God to fit in with their own personal choices and shape Christ into something that He is absolutely not. They don’t want to hear that God’s ways are not their ways. They don’t want to listen to Christ’s words either. As long as their lifestyles are tolerated and approved, then everything about God and the Church is okay. As soon as their choices are challenged, church leaders are stigmatized as being control freaks, or the Church itself is deemed to be no longer relevant in their lives.

            I wonder if Paul felt a similar frustration when the centurion, pilot, and owner of the doomed ship ignored his remarks. He was given incredible insight from God about the proposed voyage. He told them that the ship would be wrecked and that their lives would be endangered, but instead of embracing what Paul had to say, they ignored him and went on making the wrong, disastrous choice.

            It’s not easy being a Christian in today’s world. It’s sometimes not easy being a Christian leader amongst Christians either. Things in Society and the Church may be heading towards an almighty collision of faith vs. culture. I guess the only question that we will all have to answer when this occurs is this: who will I listen to – God or the World?

Questions for personal reflection

How often do I bring Christ into the major choices that I make in my life? Do I always listen to Him?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, keep us from wrecking our lives with foolish decisions. Guide us each day and help us to make better, more faithful choices. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is currently the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on or ask a question about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s ‘Southern Scenes’ series of drawings. It features the Plantation Road on Pawley’s Island, with Spanish moss hanging from the old oak trees. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link:

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