October 27, 2019
Acts 23:11 (NIV)
That night the Lord stood near him and said, “Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.”
Remember how Jesus ended his Great Commission to the disciples? “And surely, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I always imagine Peter standing up in reply saying in good Airplane form, “We know that, and stop calling me Shirley.”
All kidding aside, today’s text is an incredible snapshot of Jesus keeping his promise. It also gives us another glimpse of the nature of Paul’s relationship with Jesus.
“The Lord stood near him . . .”
It sounds exceptional and unusual as though this were a rare occurrence. I think this reality of the Lord standing near us is the norm of a Holy Spirit filled life rather than the exception. We simply are not attuned enough to the Holy Spirit to recognize this most of the time; or our circumstances are not desperate enough.
Being strong in the Lord is not about mustering up the courage to stand on your convictions. Being strong in the Lord comes from being directly encouraged by the Lord himself. This encouragement can come in the form of another person or in the form of a strong yet quiet inner impression of the Lord speaking to you. It can come in any way the Lord chooses to deliver it. In either case, he is standing there near to you.
I am also convinced this reality of the Lord speaking directly to us is the norm of a Holy Spirit filled life rather than the exception. The Lord is always speaking. I only hear him when I quiet myself long enough to really listen. Listening for the whisper of the Holy Spirit is a cultivated skill which must become part of our discipleship. Over time one learns both to trust the inward impressions and to test them.
The biggest impediment to this happening for most people is they don’t believe this kind of thing really happens. The truth? For those who don’t believe, it rarely happens. Those who will suspend their disbelief and risk faith can expect surprises and entrée into a whole new level of learning to enjoy the Lord and adventure with him.
Paul needed to know his nearness that night and he needed to hear those words: “Keep up your courage!” I need to hear them regularly myself. How about you?
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
Do you ever sense the Lord “standing near” to you? How do you hear him speaking to you? What is he saying? Do you believe he wants to speak to you? If not, why not?
For the Awakening,