For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not. ~2 Chronicles 28:21
As of this writing, several pastors in the state of California have been issued cease-and-desist orders and have been fined for opening their churches up for indoor services. God has commanded that His people assemble for worship as a local church. I doubt any of us would have imagined an America where a church would be told to cease and desist its assembly and worship. The weight these pastors are carrying is very heavy and burdensome. There has been an outpouring of support that these pastors have received to encourage them in their stand. All of us need encouragement. The greatest encouragement each of us receives is that which is from our Lord.
There was the encouragement in the night.
Paul may have been at low point and discouraged. Acts 23:10 describes Paul's circumstances as potentially being “pulled in pieces of them.” There was great hatred and hostility against Paul. There was a madness that consumed some of the Jews to the point that forty men later banded together to not drink or eat until they killed him. Night is descriptive of being at a dark place in life: a place where we are overcome with doubts, fears, and uncertainties. When Paul may have been at a breaking point, the Lord gave him encouragement. Our Lord’s encouragement to us is our pillar of fire by night.
There was the encouragement of His nearness.
“The Lord stood by him.” When no man stood with him, the Lord stood with Paul. In our most difficult moments, it is an overwhelming comfort to know that the Lord stands with us as we stand for Him. The Lord standing by him gave him comfort. The Lord standing by him gave him courage. The Lord standing by him gave him completeness. The Lord stood by him! We must not overlook the nearness of our Lord to us in any circumstance. Everyone else might leave us, but the Lord stands with us. Everyone else might wait and see, but the Lord stands with us.
There was the encouragement against negativism.
“Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem....” The devil might have whispered in Paul’s ear, “What good have you accomplished in Jerusalem?” There might have been a few moments when Paul doubted if he was doing the right thing and if he was in the right place. He might have thought, “I should have listened to the brethren at Caesarea who begged me not to go." Negativism is when we become angry, bitter, frustrated, complainers, and murmurs. Negative thoughts blame God for our problems. Negative thoughts mark those who do us wrong, and we quickly write them off. The Lord told Paul, “Be of good cheer.” Be encouraged! Have positive thoughts! God reminded him that he did God’s will by going to Jerusalem to testify of our Lord.
There was the encouragement of his necessity.
“...So must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Paul was encouraged that God still had more for him to do. Jerusalem was the steppingstone that would lead him to Rome. Paul was told at the outset of his calling that he would testify of the Lord to Gentiles and to kings. Going to Rome would allow him to get the gospel to public officials. Along the way, he would witness to Felix, Festus, and Herod Agrippa. As He did with Paul, God encourages us about our necessity. God still needs you for His work. Whatever you are facing right now, listen for God’s voice as He comes alongside of you to encourage you.
Have an encouraged God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Ezekiel 5-8