2001-01-25 - Take Courage
Acts 23:11 But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, "Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also." (NAS)
There are many times when we look at the results of what we attempt to accomplish for God. If we took Paul's speech in Jerusalem and reviewed it with the results being the basis of judgment, it might well be seen as a failure. In our western society, we are results oriented. It is easy to fall into the trap that, if something is not showing results, God is not in it and we should change, or at least review, our current work.
The risen Jesus Christ visits Paul in the barracks of the Antonian fortress. Paul's heart for the Jewish people is written all over the book of Acts. So many times he debated and spoke in presenting the Gospel and he came up empty time after time. On the afternoon before, he had sparked a riot that required Roman soldiers to come to his aid or Paul would have been slain. But Jesus has a surprise for the disheartened Paul. "Take courage!" Jesus only used this phrase one other time. It was when he walked on the water to His disciples in the midst of a storm that threatened to sink their boat and drown them all. On top of all that, the disciples see Jesus coming and think they see a ghost coming on the water. They were terribly frightened. Jesus tells them, "Take courage! It is I." And Peter walks on the water to Jesus.
Take courage - Be of good cheer! Paul may have stammered out, "But Lord, I failed you." Jesus reminds Paul in His statement that Paul has testified to the Jews in Jerusalem. The apostle has accomplished the task that was given to him. The Good News of the resurrection of the Lord had been presented. Paul was not the Holy Spirit, and he would have been the first to agree. Paul had no way to change the hearts of the crowd that day. He did what he could. He told them about Jesus and His love for each one there.
A new goal is presented to Paul to speak again in Rome for Jesus. For well over a year, possibly two years, Paul was kept under house arrest in Rome. During that time, he spoke to many people. He spoke to the guards, to his guests, to anyone who had working ears. Jesus was at the very center of Paul's life. And even though Paul was a fallible as you and I, his deep focus on Jesus made his Lord the topic of many conversations. It is likely that Paul did indeed speak the Roman Emperor of Jesus Christ. Many Paul spoke to gave their lives to Jesus. I'm sure a number of people also walked away shaking their heads like Festus who stated that Paul was crazy because he had learned too much.
If you are in the middle of something Jesus has given you to do and nothing seems to be happening, take courage. If you are sure of the calling, hang in there. Only the Holy Spirit can touch someone's heart and help them to see Jesus. Only Jesus can change that heart. Our job is to tell the Good News to anyone who will hear us and leave the rest to God. If no one comes to Jesus, you have still accomplished God's purpose. Be of good cheer as your journey onward.
Lord Jesus - help us to get our eyes off of what is happening or not happening, and back on to the assignment we are given. Give us opportunities and the courage to speak for You. Give us wisdom to see that Your goals do not always include what we expect. Ours may be to plan seeds, and for someone else to harvest. Amen.
Grace & Peace,