Take Courage—God Is on Your Side
Day: 25 | Plan: Acts
Today's Reading: Acts 23
Acts 23:11 (NIV) “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.’”
Acts 23 opens with Paul again defending himself, this time before an informal gathering of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish religious and civil court). In his opening statement, Paul declared that he had a clear conscience before God. In other words, he had done nothing wrong and his arrest was wrongful. Paul’s declaration infuriated Ananias, the high priest, who had alleged Paul was a blasphemer (one who speaks irreverently against God).
After a verbal outburst between the two, Paul realized his line of defense was going nowhere and wisely changed his tactics. He knew the Sanhedrin was comprised of both Pharisees and Sadducees. One of the biggest lines of contention between the two concerned the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees believed only in the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) and denied the validity of the resurrection. The Pharisees, on the other hand, believed in the resurrection.
Paul’s new defense, capitalizing on this deep divide, asserted that it was his belief in the resurrection that was at the root of his arrest. Not surprisingly, Paul’s words led to a violent debate between the Sadducees and Pharisees. The dispute became so violent that the commander-in-charge ordered his men to move Paul to a safe location.
Imagine how unsettled things must have been for Paul. No official charge against him, yet still a prisoner. God knew Paul’s heart and appeared to him in a vision right there in his barracks and spoke two powerful words: “ Take courage!” The Greek word here is tharseo, meaning “be of good cheer.”
This was not the first time the Lord had met Paul in a time of need. God appeared to Paul in a vision in Acts 18:9-10: “ Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”
Scripture reveals Paul had plans to go to Rome all along (Acts 19:21; Romans 1:11-13; 15:22-32). And now in our key verse, the Lord confirmed that he will preach there! “ Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11b). God loved Paul and wanted to reassure him that His hand was upon him and He was with him every step of the way.
This is our God. It is who He is. The same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) What God did for Paul, He will do for us. In times of crisis and great need, God sees and is with us. His very names speak to these truths. El Roi means “the God who sees,” and Emmanuel means “God with us.” He rushes to our side to speak words of hope and encouragement. We too must take courage and be of good cheer because our great God is on our side!
Prayer: Father, I’m thankful You know the plans You have for me, and You are faithful to fulfill them. Help me trust You today with what You are doing. I can’t quite see the big picture, and at times, I feel lonely, confused and anxious about my circumstances. Speak to my heart as You did Paul’s. As I open Your Word, bring me encouragement. Help me take courage and be of good cheer because I know Your plans are trustworthy and You are faithful. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I searched the Bible and found other places where God appeared to encourage His people to take... Read More
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