He Is Always with Us
Our passage today is much longer than usual. The entire passage is very important for today’s devotion but we will be focusing on verse 11. Please take a few minutes and read the whole passage carefully, so it will make sense to you. He truly is always with us, sometimes even closer than other times.
Acts 22:30 and 23:1-11 NIV
30The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.
1Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” 4Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!” 5Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”
6Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” 7When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8(The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.) 9There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Phariseesstood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
The Lord Stood Near
Consider Paul’s circumstances. He is desperately trying to get to Rome to testify about Christ there but things keep happening to keep him away. As you have just read, he had been arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees to defend himself. The Roman military leader is not comfortable with what is happening to this Roman citizen so he is staying close by. When the uproar breaks out, he has Paul removed from the situation to preserve Paul’s life.
The prison cell Paul had come from was probably looking pretty good at that point. It was a lot safer than being in the midst of all those emotionally charged leaders, leaders who wanted him dead.
The Tenderness of the Lord
As we go to the verse I hope you will notice the beautiful tenderness of our wonderful loving sovereign God. He could have just intervened and never told Paul that He was going to, but He stood near Paul and told him that he would go on to Rome.
“The following night the Lord stood near to Paul…”
It is not often that we read that the Lord stood near to someone in the New Testament. He did not send an angel this time. He came Himself. With all that was going on its possible that Paul was getting discouraged and feeling like he really was not ever going to get to Rome.
Have you ever felt like if you could just feel God near you, you would be okay? Just to know, really know that He was with you?
How Tender He Is
He is so tender that at times He allows us to feel this special closeness. He is always with us, but in times of deep distress, He lets us know even more clearly that He is right there. When circumstances scream loudly, His presence can whisper loudly. What an awesome beautiful Lord we have!
“…and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem so you must also testify in Rome.’”
God knows His plan and how to carry it out. Sometimes He quietly carries it out and other times He shows His great might and ultimate control in a big, big way! We will see just how He fulfilled what He said to Paul while He stood near to Him.
Things to Ponder:
- Have you felt God standing extra near you at a hard time in your life?
- Are you in a time now in which you need to feel Him closer than usual?
- He loves you and me so much. We are never alone but when we need Him more tangibly close He can bless us with that when He needs to.