As most of you know, my pastor is also my husband. =) I love his preaching and think the world of him, of course. Sometimes, as he is preparing a message, he will share bits and pieces of it with me. He'll get really excited about something he studied out and say, "Did you know....?" or "This is so amazing..." I love it when he shares with me, but the best feeling is being in the congregation on a Sunday morning or Thursday evening and being totally blown out of the water by an amazing message. Lately, that has been happening more often than not. My husband is not one of those preachers that gets really "deep" or philosophical about things. He keeps it simple and straight from the Bible. One of his favorite things to do is take the title of his message directly from the verse and then the points of his message will be directly from the verse as well with more scripture to support it. I love it. Well, he recently preached a message that touched me in such a way, I asked him if I could share it here as best as I could. He said it would be fine and so I am going to share it with you. I hope I can share it with you as well as he shared it with us.
He's been taking us through the book of Acts on Thursday nights. Thursday is our midweek service and we have a Bible study/Prayer meeting time.
The Lord Stood By Him ~
Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
Some background on what was going on: Paul was being held prisoner at this time. He was standing before a group that wanted to kill him - the Bible says they wanted to tear him to shreds, basically. When the chief captain saw that things were getting out of hand, he told the soldiers to go and take him into the castle to be held. There were even people that wanted so badly for him to be dead that they vowed to fast (hunger strike) until he was killed.
What did Paul do to deserve this you ask? He was preaching the gospel. He was spreading truth. Nothing more.
You can imagine that he was not having a good day. You can imagine that he probably felt very low. Hard times and trouble was nothing new for Paul. He put his life at great risk many times in order to spread the gospel - he was not afraid. However, this time, he must have been at his lowest because the Bible says that in the night the LORD STOOD BY HIM. Can you imagine??
The Lord Stood By Him:
1. To encourage Paul. "and said, Be of good cheer, Paul" Isn't that awesome? He came to tell him to cheer up! God knows when our hearts are sad and distressed. He knew the extreme low that Paul was in and came to encourage him. You may think, "Wow, that Paul sure is lucky! The Lord stood by him!" But guess what? He not only stands by us, but if you are a believer - HE DWELLS IN US!! The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, dwells within us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
2. To acknowledge his faithfulness. "for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem" My friend, you may be weary today. You may be, at this time, feeling like nothing you do ever gets noticed unless it's negative. You may feel like all of your effort and hard work is in vain. Let me tell you - it is not. Do you know that people will hardly ever notice the good that you do, but as soon as you make one mistake or do something they don't like - they sure take notice to that, don't they?
God sees you single mom. He sees you, hard-working father. He sees you faithful Christian. He sees you young person trying your best to be different in this world. He sees you - and all your flaws and shortcomings, but He acknowledges your FAITHFULNESS.
Matthew 25:21 says "His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
3. To prepare him for future use. "so must thou bear witness also at Rome." Everybody was done with Paul. They had quite enough of him. He tried to reach people of all race and religion and way of life and most of them hated him for it. A lot of them wanted him dead because of it. However, God was not done with him. He may have felt like a failure. He may have felt like he tried his best and still fell short. God acknowledge his faithfulness and then told him that He still had plans for Paul. I love that!!
Do you know that God can use anyone? Did you know that He especially likes to raise up those that seem to be the least or the hardest in this world? Paul was once known as Saul and he was not a very nice man. He was a terrorist and hated Christians. He ordered the killing of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. To see Christ take a man like Saul, who made it his business of hunting out and killing Christians, was a complete miracle.
My friend, you may have made wrong choices, you may be falsely accused, you may feel like you are lost and that things are hopeless, but guess what? You can have a future in Christ. Romans1:15 says "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also."
Paul was now ready to go and preach. He was encouraged and he knew he had a future in doing what God wanted him to do.
Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
Our Heavenly Father cares for us in a personal way. Do you see this? He wants you to have a life of peace. He wants you to succeed and He wants you to prosper and reach your potential. He has great plans for you. He not only stands by you, He dwells within you and He will not leave you.
I pray that you are encouraged today. I know that there are hard days and difficult times, but He loves you! You are in my prayers dear reader!!