Jesus is Near
Paul’s speech was rudely interrupted by the Jewish crowd when he mentions that Christ had called him to go to the Gentiles. This sent the crowd into a frenzy (Acts 22:22) and they immediately call for Paul’s death! They begin to shout, throw off their outer garments and fling dust into the air.
The guard doesn’t understand all the commotion and assumes this man must have done something more than give a speech so he decides to have Paul interrogated and beaten to find out the real reason the crowd was going ballistic (Acts 22:24).
Paul, being a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:28) knows his rights and knows that it is not lawful to beat a Roman citizen. The Faithlife Study Bible comments, “Roman law forbade the punishment of a citizen without a trial.”
The next day Paul is delivered to the chief priests and the council to discuss the issues and once again Paul is permitted to speak and share a little of his story. There is a confrontation between him and the high priest (Acts 23:1-5) and things begin to get a little heated.
Once again Paul uses his wisdom to bring those examining him to the real issue…the real issue is Paul’s message about the resurrection! In particular it is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but Paul, being a Pharisee understands his audience. He knows that the Pharisees and Sadducees have joined together against him, but he also knows they are VERY DIVIDED about the resurrection. So in Acts 23:6 Paul points to the REAL ISSUE…the resurrection of the dead. This immediately gets the attention off of him (Acts 23:7) and puts it on the real issue. The Pharisees and Sadducees begin to argue among themselves (Acts 23:9) and things become violent (Acts 23:10). The military tribune responsible for Paul, decides Paul may be in danger in the midst of the violent dissension between the religious groups and decides to remove Paul from the scene.
Paul is taken back to the barracks and this brings us to the verse of Scripture I want us to ZERO in on this morning. Let’s read it again…Acts 23:11…in this passage we find “JESUS IS NEAR!”
Notice again verse 11…Scripture says, “The following night THE LORD STOOD BY HIM...”
When I think of the fact that JESUS IS NEAR, I realize we should...
Be Comforted by His Presence
Be Comforted by His Presence
What a blessing it is to read those words...THE LORD STOOD BY HIM. In spite of everything Paul had went through and everything he would go through, the Lord was standing by Him.
The Lord was standing by Him when he sensed it and when he didn’t sense it. The Lord stood by him when things were easy and when things were hard. The Lord stood by him when he was preaching and when he was in prison! THE LORD STOOD BY HIM!
It was Paul who reminded the church at Corinth:
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
It was Paul who reminded the church at Rome:
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
It’s really important that we understand that as believers we are NEVER ALONE! Just as Christ stood by the Apostle Paul, He stands by us in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is with us and He is in us! This is something that we can take COMFORT in. As a matter of fact before Jesus ascended into Heaven He reminded His disciples that He was going to send to them the Comforter:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
The website “Got Questions” says this about the Comforter:
The Greek word translated “Comforter” or “Counselor” is parakletos. [It] means “one called to the side of another”; the word carries a secondary notion...to counsel or support the one who needs it. This Counselor, or Paraclete, is God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity who has been “called to our side.” He is a personal being, and He indwells every believer.
Jesus called the Spirit “another Comforter”—another of the same kind. The Spirit of God is not different from the Son of God in essence, for both are God.
To have the Holy Spirit as our Paraclete is to have God Himself indwelling us as believers. The Spirit teaches us the Word and guides us into truth. He reminds us of what Jesus has taught so that we can depend on His Word in the difficult times of life. The Spirit works in us to give us His peace (John 14:27), His love (John 15:9–10), and His joy (John 15:11). He comforts our hearts and minds in a troubled world.
I am reminded of a little boy who was terribly afraid of the dark. One night, as his parents were getting ready for bed he asked them to leave the light on. One of the parents reminded him that Jesus was with him and he was never alone. The little boy responded, “But I need someone with SKIN on.”
Often times when we go through discouraging times we would like to feel Jesus’ nail-scarred hands in ours, feel the warmth of His embrace, hear the power and meekness in His voice…sometimes we would like someone with “skin on” standing with us.
But according to Jesus we have something even better! We have GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT not only standing “with us” but living INSIDE US! When we come together with other believers we are in the presence of others who are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit and we have fellowship with one another…we have fellowship with people who have “SKIN ON.”
Christian friend, let this truth COMFORT you today! He is with YOU! He stands by YOU! He hears YOU! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Be Encouraged by His Word
Be Encouraged by His Word
The first two words that Jesus speaks to Paul, after revealing that He is STANDING NEAR are these: “Take courage.”
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
David reminded us in
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
God reminds Israel of His presence with them in
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Jesus told His followers in
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
When Paul was trying to encourage a young preacher he reminded him...
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Having the COURAGE you need as a believer is directly tied to the Word of God! I don’t know what you are going through today and I don’t know what you will face tomorrow, but I can tell you this, the Word of God will help to instill COURAGE into your soul and provide the strength you need to face whatever may be around the next corner or whatever you may be facing today.
One of the reasons God’s Word provides courage is because it also provides God’s unshakable promises! This leads me to the final point...
Be Hopeful in His Promises
Be Hopeful in His Promises
Notice the end of verse 11. Immediately after the Lord Jesus tells Paul to “Take courage” He gives Paul a PROMISE! The promise is that Paul WILL testify about the Lord in Rome. It doesn’t matter how big and angry the Jewish mob is, it doesn’t matter how many people take a vow to destroy Paul’s life, it doesn’t matter what or who comes against Paul…GOD SAID PAUL WOULD TESTIFY IN ROME!
Paul can REST in God’s promises and have HOPE even when it seems all hope is lost.
We also have the promises of God as believers. No matter how dark the night, no matter how bleak the situation, we can have HOPE in Christ and in the PROMISES found in His Word!
I can have HOPE because I know that if I will put God first and seek God first He is going to supply my needs...
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
There are times when it seems as if God has forgotten us and nothing seems to be working out for us as God’s children, but we can have HOPE in God’s promise
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
There are times it seems as if God has delayed or even forgotten His promises, but Peter reminds us...
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Do you KNOW the promises of God?
Start learning the promises of God. What are they? Who did He make them to? What promises can you claim as your own?
As believers we know we have the promise of Heaven. The promise of a place with no pain, no sorrow, no tears, no goodbyes, no more night, no sickness and no death!
Lean ON and LEAN INTO these promises today!
In closing today I want to ask you some questions and I want you to really contemplate these questions today...
Do you know Christ as your own personal Lord and Savior? While it is true that God is omnipresent, in other words, He is everywhere, all at once, at all times, He does not manifest His presence in the lives of unbelievers the same way that He manifests His presence in the lives of believers. Scripture tells us that He “DWELLS” in our hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17). Is He at HOME in your heart? Have you ever called on His name to be YOUR Lord and Savior? There is nothing like the COMFORTING PRESENCE of God to be evident in your life when you feel alone, hopeless or lost. JESUS IS NEAR! Let His INDWELLING PRESENCE COMFORT YOU TODAY!
Are you a STUDENT of God’s Word? God’s Word is FOOD for your soul! God’s Word is FUEL for your life. God’s Word is WATER for your parched heart. Someone said:
Do not say God is silent if your Bible is closed!
God is ALWAYS speaking through His Word and His Word provides the strength and the nourishment that you and I so desperately need!
Are you claiming and appropriating the promises God made to YOU! Not all of the promises of God were written to us. Some were written directly to Abraham and others in Scripture. However, although not all of the Word of God was written “TO” us, all of the Word of God was written “FOR” us.
You can’t find STRENGTH and COURAGE FROM the Word unless you are IN THE WORD! Be a student of God’s Word to develop the COURAGE and the HOPE that is going to get you through the dark and difficult days that lie ahead!