When the argument became so great the commanding officer feared that they would tear Paul to pieces, he ordered the detachment to go down, take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Have courage, for just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” – Acts 23:10-11
One of the passages of Scriptures that is dear to my heart for situations like the one Paul faced in Acts 23 is Mathew 28:18-20:
Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I can imagine Paul feeling anxious and nervous in that cold and dark cell, maybe even hungry, thinking about what would happen to him. The Sanhedrin were divided. They refused to listen to Paul, and some of the Jews were planning to kill him. It appeared that Paul would be killed in Jerusalem and his plans to take Christ’s message to Rome and further might never be realized. I know I have felt like that when praying for someone’s salvation and they seem to be running away from God. It feels so frustrating, like my prayers are not answered.
God appeared to Paul at this critical time to encourage and assure him that he would still be a witness for the gospel in Rome.
The promise of God’s presence and help is true for us today, empowering us to keep living the life of Christ for all to see. Keep praying for the salvation of that friend or family member, keep praying for more people to hear the gospel. The Lord Himself has promised never to leave us or forsake us as we continue to do what He has placed on our hearts and in our hands.
The Bible records that the Lord appeared to Paul three more times to offer reassurance. Anytime you feel discouraged as you proclaim the gospel, remember today’s verse and have courage.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of Your continuous presence in our lives. We pray for our hearts to remain steadfast in You, and for the courage to proclaim the gospel wherever we go, in whatever capacity we can, with boldness. In Jesus’ name, amen.