THE LORD’S PRESENCE

Scripture Reading:  Acts 22:30-23:11

“The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about Me in Jerusalem, so must you testify also in Rome.'” (Acts 23:11)

At the time of Paul’s conversion, God spoke these words about him:  “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My name'” (Acts 9:15,16).  As we have seen throughout the book of Acts, Paul did suffer greatly for the sake of Christ’s name.

In our passage today, Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin where he was mistreated again.  The high priest ordered that he be struck on the mouth (v. 2).  On many occasions Paul faced opposition and physical abuse.  He even faced death several times during his ministry.  Yet, Paul remained faithful to his calling — to carry the name of Jesus before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.  He could do this because he knew the Lord was with him.

On the following night after the trial before the Sanhedrin, we are told that “the Lord stood by him.”  Jesus was standing by Paul’s side to encourage him.  He said to him, “Take courage.”  I have never faced the kind of opposition that Paul faced, but I have faced many trials in my life. As I look back over some of the most trying times I have experienced, I know that the Lord was standing by me and encouraging me to “take courage.”

Jesus promises that He will never leave nor forsake us.  He is always by our side to defend, encourage, and comfort us.  Life on this fallen earth is difficult.  We will face trials, pain and even death.  But we are never alone.  Jesus stands with us.  Therefore we can take courage and stand firm.  His presence enables us to be faithful to our calling to follow Him.

Lord Jesus, I know that I am never alone.  You are always with me.  You stand by me to encourage and to comfort Me.  Enable me to take courage and to be faithful in my calling to deny myself, take up my cross and follow You.

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