Recordings of Today for Seafarers
by Jason Zuidema
TFS Day 29
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 29 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city." -Revelation 22:12-14 All seafarers know the value of clean and warm clothes. Mariners on deck in a northern port in winter know the importance of warm hats and gloves. Those in boiler suits all day are also thankful that they can wash them before the next shift! Not long ago I spent a day walking in a forest with some friends. The ground was muddy and wet in the morning, and the sun shone hot in the afternoon. Though it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, by the end of it my shoes and clothes were filthy. I longed to put on fresh clothes and enjoy dinner around the campfire. The Christian life might feel like a long and sometimes uncomfortable journey. According to Revelation 22, we have been given spiritual robes by God and are invited to wash them in the sparkling water that flows from his celestial city. This is a fantastic image, one that goes beyond out understanding, but it illustrates well the goal of our life's pilgrimage. We can relax and be at peace. Our work is done, and we can wash the clothing that might have been dirtied by the changes and challenges of life. With clean robes, we can enter the gates of the city and meet our Lord face to face. The whole journey, which started with restless wanderers who could no longer enjoy full life in God's presence here on earth (see Genesis 3-4), will culminate in the embrace of the Lord and Savior on whom we have fixed our eyes. To "the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2), to the Alpha and Omega be all glory, honor, and praise! For further thought: Why is it important to remember that life is a journey? Are you prepared for that journey? Explain. Are you looking forward to meeting Jesus at the journey's end? Prayer: Perfect God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—I come to worship you. Make me clean and give me a joy that goes beyond anything I can imagine. In your name I pray. Amen.
TFS Day 28
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 28 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. -Psalm 84:1-5 Do you feel joy when you visit church? Is talking about the Bible with crewmates or praying with other Christians on board something that motivates you? When was the last time you felt joy and longing as you set out to worship God? Psalm 84 describes a person who "yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD" and whose heart and flesh "cry out" for the living God. These are strong emotions. Do we need to feel that way every time we worship? Though we are not likely to approach worship in the same way every time, our relationship with God, as it grows, does draw us to desire God more and more. If we are not often eager to worship God, how can we focus our energies to enjoy, in a more profound way, meeting with our Lord in worship? In this psalm, the writer praises the Lord Almighty for the beauty of his dwelling place. It's a place where the psalmist can find rest, praise the Lord, be strengthened, and enjoy the favor and honor of God. It is a blessing to meet together with God and his people. Though the imagery in this psalm speaks about Israel going up to Jerusalem, it can also apply to Christians today. Worship still ought to have the adventure of a pilgrimage, with the destination being the presence of God himself. When we come together, we are not just a club or social gathering. We join to meet the Lord Almighty. Do you feel that way when you worship God? For further thought: When was the last time you worshiped God? Is it difficult to worship God while you are on a ship? Why is it important to remember that we come together to meet God in worship? Prayer: Lord, thank you for the blessings of your love and care. Draw me closer to you, to know you, to worship you with all my heart, by the strength of your Spirit. Amen.
TFS Day 27
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 27 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21 Do you remember the first time you were introduced to a maritime college? I bet it seemed a very impressive place—you might have had a great deal of fear thinking about whether you would get in or whether you would graduate. But what do you think of it now that you are working? When I was in high school, a group of college students came to visit my class to promote their school. I don't remember what they said, but I clearly remember that they seemed much older and wise than I was. From my perspective as a 14-year-old, those college students seemed like they had it all. Looking back now, after a few decades down the road, and knowing what I was like as a college freshman, I no longer see great wisdom! Often in life we think of something in the future as so incredibly important—and then when we arrive at it, we see it's not as important or exciting as we had thought. Some examples might be an upcoming move, graduation from school, or a new job. Why does it so often seem that "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence"? Jesus knows how the heart works. He knows that the heart can fixate on something, distorting its value and importance related to what we should really treasure. The problem is that if we make anything in this world our treasure, something that defines our desire and identity, we will be left empty-handed in the end. So what can we do? "Seek first [God's] kingdom and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33), the only treasure that will fulfill us in this life—and in the life to come. For further thought: How do our perspectives change as we grow older? What is God's kingdom? Are you a citizen of God's kingdom? If not, why not? Prayer: Lord, help me see the right way to live. Do not let the world tell me what is special, but let me learn it from your Word. May Jesus Christ be my treasure today. Amen.
TFS Day 26
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 26 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” -John 14:1-4 Many seafarers dream of building a better home for their families. It can be one of the biggest purchases of their lives—and they may work many years to pay for it. My grandfather, an immigrant to Canada from post-World War II Europe, prayed more-or-less. He prayed that we might be "pilgrims to the Father-house with many mansions" and that "we would have strength to bear." These phrases seemed strange to me as a child, but they were based on an older English version of the Bible, which translated today's verses with the words, "In my Father's house there are many mansions. . ." These verses ought to be a great comfort to us. Jesus tells us that his Father has prepared a place for us—so we are expected guests. Though the older English translation may make us think of grandiose buildings, we ought not to minimize the reality that the rooms of the Father's house are custom built for us. These rooms are being prepared by God himself. It seems clear also that Jesus is not simply talking about a dwelling that is being built for us sometime in the future. He speaks of going there, after his death and resurrection, to prepare a place for us. This means that today we can have the joy of knowing that our living space is already prepared, even though we are still on the Christian pilgrim journey in this world. That gives us all the more reason to pray that God will make us joyful and faithful pilgrims! For further thought: What do you think will happen to you after you die? Why does the Bible say that Jesus is preparing a place for us? Are you excited to meet Jesus, explain. Prayer: Lord in heaven, thank you for preparing a place for us. We pray that we might be faithful pilgrims, never forgetting that you watch over our path. In Christ's name, Amen.
TFS Day 25
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 25 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. -Psalm 23:1-4 I am deeply troubled by people who say you can have health and wealth if only you have more faith and hope—as if seafarers could just pray a bit more and instantly have a good job at home. The message sounds so enticing: who would not want to be free from sickness and have more money in their pocket? It's true that there are benefits in living the Christian life. Scientific studies have shown that people who are faithful at church and regular in prayer generally find more balance and meaning than do others in our fast-paced world. But in my experience, some of the most faithful and deeply hopeful people I know have been those with chronic illness and limited amounts of money. And the Bible shows that while some faithful believers were wealthy, there were many more who remained faithful without growing rich or receiving great honors. "Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). Many faithful people do not see health and wealth in this life! We need to keep the whole message of Scripture in view. Psalm 23 does not promise that we will not be in dark valleys, but, rather, that when we are in dark valleys, we need not fear evil, for God is with us. In this way God gives us real comfort to face the challenges of life. For further thought: Think of some people you know whose faith is effective and inspiring even though (or even because) they struggle with illness? Give thanks for them today! Why is it important that God is with us when we are in trouble? Why is it important to pray to God for faithfulness rather than money or power? Prayer: Dear God, I have known dark valleys in my life. Thank you for being present with me in joy and pain. Please continue to show me your presence as I travel onward. Amen.
TFS Day 24
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 24 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:18-23 We might think that the greatest danger to the Christian pilgrimage is the temptation to leave the path, the way marked out for us by Christ. A common danger, though, is not only what is off the path but what is on it. We can become so preoccupied with things that are good— even spiritual blessings— that we can become distracted and stop moving forward. We stop progressing toward our goal of living faithfully for our Lord and Savior. The pilgrim life is not easy— our Lord knows that we get tired. For this reason, he feeds us and comforts us in our times of weakness. But we can easily be distracted by even these good things. For example, think of a tired pilgrim who stops to rest under a shady tree. The pilgrim might say, "This tree is so good; I will stay here awhile. I may even use some of it to make a shelter beside this trail. When I am ready, I will continue my journey." Time passes, but the pilgrim never moves along. Since he is so close to the path, he feels like a pilgrim but is only an imitator. Are you like that pilgrim? Have you settled somewhere beside or off the path, rather then continuing on in the pilgrim life? A true disciple keeps following the Master. Up ahead, he's calling, "Come, follow me!" For further thought: Have you ever been on a ship with engine trouble? What were the effects of having the ship lose power and slow down? Have you ever felt that you were losing your drive and motivation in life? Explain? How can you follow Jesus today? Prayer: Lord and Savior, keep my eyes focused on you. If I am weary, do not let me leave the path, but strengthen me by your grace and Spirit. My only hope is in you. Amen.
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 23 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. -2 Corinthians 2:14-17, NIV Discovering other cultures is fascinating not only because of new things you see and hear, but also because of the variety of new smells. Though you might already enjoy some of that from various ethnic foods on your ship, many other smells from numerous cultures are distinctive and rich. Even within the same region there might be dozens of ways to make a similar kind of dish— all with their own blends of herbs and spices and their aromas. Not all of the smells in a different culture may be pleasant, however. It can take some time to get used to the smells of some unfamiliar places. Worse, rotting food, animal waste, or a general lack of sanitation can make your stomach turn. And foul odors might be not only disgusting but also toxic. Paul writes that believers who share the good news of Christ can be a kind of aroma to the people around them. For those are are ready to believe in Christ, this smell will be sweet and inviting. But for others, who think they can live any way they choose or achieve their own salvation, the aroma will be a turnoff, like the odor of death. However, as Christ continues to lead us and we show his love for everyone in this broken, decaying world, people will recognize God's goodness and grow to praise him for it. Let us pray that the smell of what we are bringing is not repulsive but attracts others to the Lord of life. For further thought: What is the smelliest food you have encountered from another city of culture in the world? What aromas from your home country do you miss the most? Is your life a sweet aroma for the people around you, or do you stink? Explain. Prayer: Beautiful Savior, make my actions sweet to the senses of those around me today. Help me to reflect your beauty in a world that is full of ugly conflict and disease. In your name, Amen.
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 22 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: After I have completed this task . . . .I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ. I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. -Romans 15:28-30 We are so used to commercial ships, cruise ships, airplanes, trains, and automobiles that it would be difficult to imagine traveling long distances on foot, by horse, or on a sailing ship, as Paul did. We all know people who like to go hiking or sailing for fun, but we would not imagine taking a hike or a sailboat to work. It would take too much energy. In a time long before engines and electricity, the apostle Paul traveled a great deal. That must have been tiring, and it probably required lots of patience. So when we read that Paul longed to see the believers in Rome on his way to Spain, we can better understand his anticipation. Paul's journeys were hard not only because of the distances he traveled but also because of resistance to the gospel message, the good news that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Though groups of believers gathered to hear him, Paul often faced conflicts with local political and religious leaders. Paul wrote about this in another letter: "I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers" (2 Corinthians 11:26). And yet Paul pushed on. His goal was nothing less than to share in "the full measure of the blessing of Christ." In your journey, what trials have you faced? Why? For further thought: Paul spent a lot of energy talking about Jesus. Why? Do you know the "full measure of the blessing of Christ"? Explain. What might you pray for to know Christ better? Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for prophets, apostles, and teachers who have served you faithfully. May my goal also be to share your good news with others. My life is in your hands. Amen.
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 21 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. -James 4:13-16 Sooner or later we are all faced with life situations that go beyond our control. On board a ship our work can go from boring to intensely dangerous in a matter of minutes. Most seafarers know what this intense and sudden pressure feels like. This is true in other areas of life also. Whether it's sickness, tension in a relationship or at work, loss of a job, or advancing age, we come to realize that we have no ability to control the outcome. We must simply be patient and, as is often said, "live one day at a time." Though we usually learn this lesson later in life, it might be helpful to learn it far earlier. Learning that we have no control over our lives, however, may not necessarily help us. It could simply lead us to despair that nothing will ever turn out. "What the use of even trying?" we might ask. But James gives Christian pilgrims the way to move forward with assurance: praying that God's will be done. Jesus taught his disciples this important principle in the Lord's Prayer, highlighting that his followers can ask that God's will be done "on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Jesus also prayed that God's will would be done through his own death for our sake. In paying for our sin, Jesus marked a path for us through death to eternal life so that we can walk with the assurance of God's presence and guidance now and always. Are you seeking God's kingdom and walking in his will, even when you cannot control your circumstances? For further thought: Why is it important that we live "one day at a time"? Why is it important to know that God controls the future—and that we don't? Do you pray for God's will to be done in your life? What are the results you have seen? Prayer: All-powerful God, if it is your will, I will do the things prepared for this day. If my plans are not in line with your will, please correct my path by your Word and Spirit. May I give glory to you today. Amen.
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 20 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. -Hebrews 11:13-16 Have you ever thought about the end of your life? What will you have accomplished? What will you be able to say about the time you have spent on board a ship? I once remarked to a friend that I realized my life could already be half (or more) over. He responded by saying he had done a spiritual exercise with others in his church to help them focus on the top priorities in life. They decided to take time to write their own obituaries. They reasoned that if we thought about how others would remember us after we die, we could concentrate on the best priorities in life before we die. I don't know if I am ready to write my own obituary, but I know that obituaries can be revealing. Though most obituaries present only basic information about the deceased, some are among the most honest and life-affirming documents I have ever read. This leads me to wonder, "What do I want the top priorities in my life to be?" Today's reading from Hebrews is a kind of obituary. The writer says that these people "were still living by faith when they died," meaning that they remained faithful to God and trusted in all his promises— even though the promises had not been fulfilled by the time they died. Their journey of faith in this life continued into the next life, even though they did not yet see the full reality of all they believed in. Can we say this about ourselves? God is the one who gives faith. So in his strength it really is possible to live by faith even while we are dying— and to trust that when we die, we will go on living in God's presence. For further thought: What might your family and friends say about you if you died today? Are you living a faithful life? Explain. Have you asked Jesus strengthen your faith? What are the results? Prayer: Lord, I confess that in "body and soul, in life an in death," I am "not my own, but belong" to you. Not even a hair can fall from my head without your will. What a comfort! Praise be your name! Amen.
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 19 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: ...Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. -Hebrews 7:22-26 Have you ever gone hiking in your home country? Many seafarers have told me about the beautiful mountains, valleys, lakes, and beaches in their homelands. The world is a beautiful place and there's so much to discover and explore. Veering away from the most popular tracks during a hike can be exciting and rewarding. Finding hidden parts of a forest or mountain that few have seen before can be exhilarating. But going into unknown territory can sometimes be dangerous. Authorities put up warning and boundary signs for good reasons. And we should obey those signs because they are usually posted to help keep us safe. Unfortunately, we sometimes hear about people who were hurt or killed because they ignored warnings and went into places of great danger. Warning signs also exist in our spiritual life. In particular, Scripture points us to Jesus Christ as "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). In our reading from Hebrews today we see that through Jesus we have access to God. He is not a temporary Savior; he continually intercedes for us– that is, he continues to mark a clear and safe trail for us in this life and into the next. Our pilgrimage as Christians is not simply for a period in this life. It is a journey that stretches forward into the joys and exciting discoveries God has prepared for us with him in eternity. Are you walking safely today– that is, with God? For further thought: Have you ever had someone help you when you were in trouble? Have you been saved from an accident while on board a ship? Why is it important that Jesus can help us when we are in need? Prayer: Protector of life, I long for the day when I will be completely safe. Thank you for giving me your Spirit, who provides a foretaste of the joys of eternal life. All I do is in your hands. Amen.
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 18 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” -Matthew 15:10-14 The seafaring jobs leads us to use all our senses— it can be physically demanding. For safety reasons, seafarers need to keep their eyes and ears open. In enclosed spaces they have to pay attention to protecting their nose and mouth. And protective gloves help them handle things safely. Scripture has a lot to say about the human senses. And just as we can damage our physical senses, we call also damage our soul. Jesus often talked about people who were spiritually blind, deaf, or lame. This was not meant to put down people who have disabilities. In fact, Jesus often praised those who were physically disabled but were spiritually whole. Some religious leaders in his day were physically whole but spiritually corrupted— and they should have known better. In speaking against Jesus, they showed themselves to be lacking spiritual sight. They had pious, wise-sounding words but they didn't open in their eyes to the way the kingdom of God worked. Often we are attracted by the words of leaders who sound wise to the world. We might even ignore the fact that their teaching goes against Scripture. But at what cost? The apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:3, "The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching want to hear." Paul is saying that when we follow a leader just to hear what we want to hear, we will end up in trouble, like falling into a pit. Do you have "itching ears," or will you walk on the path of sound teaching? For further thought: Why did Jesus consider some religious leaders to be "blind"? Have you ever met another seafarer who didn't practice what they taught? How should we respond to hypocrites? Prayer: God of heaven and earth, I confess that lies are often more attractive than truth. Help me to listen to your Word so that I can follow the path to salvation. Amen.
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 17 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. I have suffered much; preserve my life, Lord, according to your word. Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. Psalm 119:105-108 The shipping industry is closely tied to many other mega-industries throughout the world. Many of these industries have things in common, including safety regulations, because of their size and the materials they handle. My brother works in the world of underground mining, and several years ago I visited the mine where he worked and rode an elevator down into the earth where rocks had been blasted away to make a tunnel. We had to wear special gear for protection, and we had to make sure we had enough light. While we were down there, however, the attendant shut off all the lights for a few minutes. He warned us that he would be doing this, but the effect was shocking nonetheless. The darkness was total: my eyes were wide open, but I couldn't even see my hands in front of my face. Scripture speaks of the twisted effects of sin as total darkness. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that without God's grace we are blind: "If your eyes are [sinful, selfish], your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness" (Matthew 6:23). In other words, we might have our eyes open to the things of the world, but we will grope around blindly, trying to find real meaning or something that satisfies our hearts. It is not without reason that Christ calls himself "the light of the world" (John 8:12). A world of darkness needs his light. Indeed, as God's living Word, he is the one who gives light to our path. If you are groping around on the path of life, not knowing which way to go, following the leading of God's Word. For further thought: Why is sin like blindness? Have you ever felt that it was difficult to see your way forward in life? Why is the Bible like a light in our lives?
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 12 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[a] is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." -Matthew 24:32-35 Though we don't always have the time on board a ship, most seafarers like to play sports. One year, while playing hockey with one group, I was beginning to feel quite comfortable with my skill and the level of play. But then one afternoon we were joined by some other players. It soon became clear that they were much more skillful than I was. Compared to the earlier group, I was acceptable, but with these players I felt like a beginner. We can make discoveries like that on our spiritual journey too. Often we compare ourselves to the people around us and feel more or less on the same level with them. So we think we must be OK in God's eyes. But we need to view ourselves in light of God's Word, which shows that we are totally lost in sin and unable to measure up to God. To our relief, God's Word also reveals that Christ has fully paid for all our sins, saving us to enjoy new life with God forever. The Savior also calls us to a high standard of loving God and others with everything we have. In today's reading from Matthew 24, Jesus speaks from a kingdom perspective that goes far beyond the physical and spiritual wolds we know about. From a worldly point of view, the words of Jesus may seem as nothing compared to the vast universe. Yet Jesus says that his words "will never pass away," while everything else will pass away. As you journey through life, are you comparing your life to the things of this world or the words of Jesus? Only he has the words of eternal life, and they will never pass away. For further thought: Do you find it is harder to be a Christian while on board ship? Explain. What do you do to stay close to God in your everyday life? Why are the words of Jesus important for you? Prayer: Dear God, as I continue on life's journey, I realize that I can go nowhere without you by my side. Please be my travel companion in my journey today. Amen.
Donielle Hart Goad
This is an audio recording of the Day 15 entry in Today: Devotions for Seafarers (Vol. 2) by Jason Zuidema. Listen to the audio and/or read the text below: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 Having a good friend on board ship often makes the contract more enjoyable. The great sights and sounds of the maritime world are impressive even when seen alone, but when we are able to share them with someone else, we savor them even more. Even the pictures we take when we are alone are meant to bring our family members virtually along on the journey. The same is true of our Christian journey. Though some have walked the pilgrim path relatively alone, we are meant to walk it with others. God's people are not lone rangers in the life of faith. Rather, we are brothers and sisters connected in Christ's body by the closest of bonds. We are tied together with Christ. More than anyone else, he is our travel companion. Though Jesus went physically to heaven, he is present through his Spirit wherever we are, wherever we go, with each step we take. But he is not just an observer. Christ provides for us: he has promised to give us everything we need to make it to the end. He binds us with his body, the church, and he fills us with his Spirit. He is with us to bring true comfort and real enjoyment in all the thrilling episodes of life's journey. As our Lord promised his disciples before he ascended into heaven, he is with us always. For further thought: Why is it important to be friendly with other crew members? What is it like to be on a ship without friends? Is it important to you that Jesus promises to be present with you always? Explain. Prayer: God of the universe, I need you to be present with me today. I need you to protect me in all my work so that I will bring glory to you. May your Spirit bring me your comfort and joy. Amen.