Be Encouraged

Acts 23 tells us of Paul’s continued challenges as he preached the Good News about Christ. In this passage he encounters trouble with those opposed to him.  He knew the differences between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and was able to pit them against one another in an attempt to evade a mob. A very intense fight resulted between those parties to the point that the Roman military commander was “afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces.” As a result, he rescued Paul for a second time and brought him to the barracks for protection.

After these events it is very possible that Paul was discouraged and needed encouragement, I know I would!  That night in verse 11 is says, “the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.’”

Did you notice the text says that “the Lord stood by him”? Many commentators interpret this as a vision Paul had, but the text does not say that and the Greek simple says that Jesus “stood by him.” It is possible that Jesus appeared to Paul and spoke to him so that he would press on with courage in his mission. Jesus lets him know that his current troubles would not stop him from going to Rome. God’s plan for him was not done!

As the story continues, 40 opponents of Paul took a vow to kill him but the son of his sister informed the Roman Commander about the plot. What does the Commander do? In verses 23-24 it says, “Then he called two of the centurions and said, ‘Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to aFelix the governor.’”

Isn’t it amazing how God ensured that Paul was protected and escorted to Rome so that he could testify for him? God not only protected him, but he even gave Paul a mount to ride for the journey!

Father, it is so easy to see the negative in difficult circumstances and forget how you do not miss anything going on in my life. I also can forget how easily you can work through men to accomplish your will for me. May you help me to remember this story when challenges come because you proved that you cared about Paul and were dependable in relation to your promise to him as you abundantly provided for him.

Following Jesus with you,

Jeff

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