When Paul was in Jerusalem a lot happened to him. He was dragged from the Temple, beaten by Jews, arrested by Romans, threatened with flogging, brought before the Chief Priests and all the Council. The Sadducees and Pharisees became so violent, the Roman Tribune feared for Paul’s life and had him taken to the Roman barracks. While all this was happening Paul continued to testify; he continued to tell the truth about himself and about God.
Paul’s life was in jeopardy because of what he was saying. I imagine, Paul, being human, felt some discomfort, if not fear. It seems if he had just stopped talking he would not have been in danger of being hurt or even killed. But Paul did not stop talking. Through it all he refused to take the easy way, the comfortable way, and tell the people what they wanted to hear. He kept on telling them what they needed to hear.
The following night while Paul was in the Roman barracks the Lord came and stood by him. And after all he had been through what did the Lord have to say to him? Did He say “well-done, now take some time off, get some rest, visit friends and family, enjoy.” No. The Lord gave him the next assignment.
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 23:11 niv
As Jesus tells Paul what he must do He also gives him something. Paul was not being sent off to Rome without resources. He already had his testimony; and now Jesus says, “Take courage.” He was giving to Paul what he would need for the journey to Rome and what he would need while there.
The bible is history. It tells stories of the Saints who came before us. But it is also about current events; what is happening to the Saints now. The history tells us what God had people like Paul do and how He equipped them. It is the same today. When we read these words they are meant for us, too. He does not leave us without resources; as He said to Paul, “Take courage,” so He says to us, “Take courage.”
Just as Paul had a testimony so do we. Now is not the time for us to rest and relax. We have an assignment, a story to tell. We may not be sent to far away places to tell the story but we are sent. And we are equipped by the Lord. Just as He offered courage to Paul so he offers it to us. It is offered not forced upon us. We decide whether to accept or refuse.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord.
Psalm 31:24 esv
I wonder why it is hard to accept what is so freely offered to help with the assignment given?
I wonder if I do not accept what is offered thinking that I will not have to take the assignment?
For the last several years instead of New Year’s resolutions I have chosen a word (or verse) from scripture as my word for the year. During the year I will look up the word in dictionaries and commentaries to learn the different meanings it has. I will use it in my meditations and in my prayer time. Not every day or every week but at least once or twice a month it will be my focus. Past years I have been quite happy with the word I chose. This year is different–I did not choose the word.
In December I started scanning my bible looking for the word for 2011. Nothing really stood out…except this one word kept coming to mind. I do not especially like this particular word so I would shake it loose and keep looking. Then a verse kept coming up, and of course, it had the word in it.
I tried really hard to ignore the promptings and find another word. I chose other words and verses but the Spirit would have none of it. So, this year, the word and verse were chosen for me.
The verse is Psalm 27:14, the word, wait.
Wait on the Lord; be of good courage,and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.
WAIT! Ugh, I do not like to wait. I get nervous when I have to wait. I worry when I wait, I get angry and impatient. I am not a nice person when made to wait.
Think maybe the word, wait, was chosen for a reason?
Well, I have done a little word study on three words of this verse; wait, courage, and strengthen. Wait here is not passive; it means be in readiness, to expect, to watch for, and hope, patiently. To be of good courage is to seize, to fasten upon, and be established. Strengthen is to be alert, to fortify, prevail, and increase.
Okay, what have I learned so far?
I am to be in readiness and to watch for and expect the Lord, with patience.
I am to be joined to Him and established in Him.
The Lord will awaken my heart, He will fortify it and make it strong so it will prevail and grow to be like Him.
The Living Bible Paraphrased says it this way,
Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and He will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted and courageous. Yes, wait and He will help you.
Still that word wait!
I wonder why, just when I am feeling calm and settled, this word?
I do not wonder if He has a sense of humor!