Encouragement

encouragement = To encourage is to give active help or to raise confidence to the pointwhere one dares to do what is difficult. New Oxford American Dictionary

Everyone will needs it. As we wrap up the book of Acts we see a number of places where Paul is in need of courage. His ministry was coming to a peak of influence and controversy. Things got really crazy, pretty violent. These were the paths the Lord called him to walk.

The first big shot is found in Acts 23:11 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.” NET

The Lord himself came to Paul to encourage. Paul had just had a major battle with the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. He had fought bravely, even though he still needed strength to continue this battle. This fight was going to be difficult and cost him everything. So the Lord comes and walks by his side.

Here’s the second dose is found in Acts 27:23, 24 For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve came to me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar, and God has graciously grantedyou the safety of all who are sailing with you.’ NET

The Lord sent this angel to remind Paul of the fact that he was going to stand trial before Caesar. Paul and his companions, 276 of them are adrift in the Mediterranean in danger of sinking. They hadn’t seen light for weeks. They were helpless against the waves being tossed around. So the Lord wanted to “raise his confidence”. He lifts his spirit and confidence by reminding Paul, “You will be OK. You will finish the race. You will stand trial in Rome.” As we see the rest of the account Paul gains strength from this visit and leads even the centurion as they crash on Malta.

Here’s the final way Paul was encouraged. Take note here, it comes from a different source.

Acts 28:15 The brothers from there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us.When he saw them, Paul thanked God and took courage.

This time Paul was encouraged not by a heavenly source, but by common everyday people. These were nameless believers. They weren’t the big deal of their day. They were folks knowing Paul was somewhere in the Mediterranean, waiting, hoping he would make it to Rome. When they heard he had made it to Italy they joyfully went to see Paul.

Let’s not forget who Paul was. Paul the guy who had braved so many situations. Paul the guy who had rested in Christ’s strength so many times. The guy who had opened more mission fields than anyone. Paul the guy who had two separate appearances to remind him that he’d make it to Rome. He was even the guy on Malta that the Lord delivered him from the viper and used him to heal many on the island. This guy needed encouragement!

Look what the result was for Paul when he saw these believers…”he thanked God and took courage.”

So Paul goes on faces trial and probably a few years later was martyred for his faith. What got him there? Clearly the Lord, his inward encouragement by the Spirit and his very visible visitations. Let’s sell ourselves short because God uses us. The power of just showing up and presence gives courage to all.

 

 

 

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Comments
6 Responses to “Encouragement”
  1. Tim Rich says:

    What a great account of the miracles performed by God in Paul’s life, Dane !
    God had a plan to allow Paul access into Rome and preach the gospel…many believed and were saved.
    All along the way to Rome Paul is given great favor to make all this happen, including Herod Agrippa who confessed that Paul almost persuaded him to accept Christianity.
    Paul must have made an impression on the Jewish centurion because he wasn’t delivered to the Roman guards as all the other prisoners were; he stayed with a Roman soldier and was allowed to preach and testify about God.
    Then, Paul was allowed to stay 2 years in his own house; preaching to the Romans without restraints.
    After all that Paul went through to get to Rome…God’s plan for Paul in Rome was fulfilled !

  2. Dane says:

    Tim yes I agree Paul made a huge impact on those that imprisoned him. Crazy. That’s grace and humility in action.

  3. Dane says:

    Here’s one more thought I had this morning about Paul coming to Rome. The other factor is that many of these believers who came to see him when he arrived in Italy had read the epistle of Romans. Think about how excited these believers had to be. They had heard and were sharpened by the depth of the theology in the epistle. Now they were going to meet the author! Wow the anticipation for those believers to see the man who had been used so powerfully for the Kingdom. see ch 1:11ff

  4. Tim Rich says:

    Wow, I forgot about that Dane…Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans while he was in Corinth just before his imprisonment in Jerusalem.
    Do you know of any books or documents about how the epistle to the Romans got from Corinth to Rome…wouldn’t that be packed with examples of God’s grace in times of need !

  5. Tim Rich says:

    Acts 2:10 refers to Romans in Jerusalem that witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
    Andronicus and Junia were “in Christ” before Paul (Romans 16:7) because they heard Peter’s sermon in their own language that converted about 3,000 souls.
    Paul also refers to Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2) a deaconness in Cenchreae (town outside Corinth) that was going to Rome when Paul left Corinth for Jerusalem…Paul sent his Letter to the Romans with Phoebe.
    And, there was constant travel between Jerusalem and Rome in those days because of business, commerce, etc. Many Jews lived in Rome and Paul refers to the Jewish customs that needed correction…
    Dane, you can tell I have the day off today…I need to start on my “Honey Do List”….

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