And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. ~Acts 23:11
What do you do when you’ve been rejected, scorned, and written off as a loser and enemy? This morning, let us see how Paul was encouraged and helped by our Lord when he was at one of the lowest points in his life. Let us see how the Lord is always there for us.
We see the scornful detractors.
“And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.” Paul is standing before his accusers, the Jewish priesthood and elders, for being a fervent disciple and witness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the most controversial man alive. He is hated and vilified. So great is the divided opinion about him, our passage describes his situation as being almost pulled in pieces. Whenever we take a firm stand for the gospel message, we must expect that there will be those who are hateful of our Christ that would seek to pull us to pieces as well.
We see a secluded dejection.
“And the night following….” The captain of the centurions acts quickly and brings Paul into the castle for his safety. There for an entire day and night, Paul sits in a secluded place wondering in his heart, “What will happen to me?” “Will I get a fair trial to testify of my faith?” Will I get to Rome?” “Will the Romans turn me over to the Jews?” Even though Paul was the boldest Christian alive of his day, he descends to the lowest point of discouragement in his ministry and service to the Lord. Paul describes his feelings in 2 Tim. 4:16 as, “No man stood with me, but all men forsook me.” As he sits there rejected and discouraged, he wonders if he was at the right place and doing the right thing.
We see a sustaining declaration.
“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” It is at his lowest point that the Lord comes to Paul’s side and gives him a sweet assurance of his protection and purpose. First, Paul is strengthened by the Lord’s presence. “The Lord stood by him.” Let us remember that as long as the Lord stands by us, we have all the help we need. The Lord’s presence bolsters and blesses him. Second, Paul is encouraged by four simple words: “Be of good cheer.” Be encouraged and not discouraged. Have joy and not sorrow. Be alive and not down for the count. Third, the Lord assures him that he would get to Rome and there also testify of his faith in Christ. Paul was sustained at the darkest hour of his ministry.
We see the shielded defense.
Right after Paul receives this promise from God, he gets word that 40 Jewish men have banded together to kill him. They enter into an oath with the high priest that they would not eat or drink until Paul was dead. They conspire to get the Romans to bring Paul out in public sight where they could find means to kill Paul. Amazingly, Paul has a nephew who happens to overhear this plot and reports it to Paul, who sends him to the captain of the centurions to report what he heard. The centurion increases his number of guards around Paul so that it becomes too risky for the Jews to attempt anything. God is supernaturally at work on Paul’s behalf and gives him a shielded defense. In spite of increased hatred, pressure, and threats, no one can do anything to harm Paul
Maybe you feel like Paul did: reviled, rejected, and at the lowest point of your life. Listen for the Lord’s comforting words to be of good cheer. Have faith in God to accomplish his purposes through you, even if you cannot clearly see the road ahead.
Have a strengthened God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 1 Corinthians 9-11