|Today’s devotion is written by Mark Crain.|
Many times in the past two or three years it has been easy to focus on the discouraging circumstances of COVID, politics, the economy, church, etc. I wonder if the Lord prepares to use our troubled times as opportunities to say “Take courage!”
If anyone had been through challenging experiences, it must have been Paul. His world was turned upside down, rearranged and driven in a completely new direction. It would have been easy for him to despair, as his gospel message met with mixed reviews by the audiences he addressed. He was temporarily blinded, driven out of town, and imprisoned multiple times. He was stoned. On more than one occasion, a conspiracy to kill him could have succeeded. Still, Paul kept telling his story.
In Jerusalem, Paul comes before the Sanhedrin only to be repeatedly struck on the mouth at the order of the high priest. Clearly Paul’s experience and message of the resurrection had not gained traction within that politically powerful group! Still, Paul kept telling his story.
I have often wondered why, after his crucifixion, Jesus didn’t appear to the skeptical Sadducees & Pharisees. It could have changed the course of Christianity, don’t you think? Could it have rearranged their priorities and ambitions? Would they have listened to Paul as an ally, instead of an enemy? How frustrated Paul could have been to see the gospel summarily dismissed and ignored by his fellow Pharisees, the government leaders, and local fanatics. Still, Paul kept telling his story.
The 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.” (v. 11) Wow. The Lord stood near Paul and said “Take Courage!” As God’s people, we are encouraged, knowing that he will stand beside us in times of trouble. In spite of our failures, God will be pleased when we share the gospel of Jesus in difficult circumstances. God will provide the opportunity and means to fulfil his plans – now and in the future.
Still, Paul kept telling his story.
What story does God want me to tell today?
What difficult circumstances can be overcome knowing that the Lord stands near?
Do I leave room for God to encourage and have confidence in me?
What are your thoughts, ideas, comments, questions?