The Trials of Paul (7)
Pray Psalm 26.8-12.
LORD, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells.
Do not gather my soul with sinners,
Nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
In whose hands is a sinister scheme,
And whose right hand is full of bribes.
But as for me, I will walk in my integrity;
Redeem me and be merciful to me.
My foot stands in an even place;
In the congregations I will bless the LORD.
Sing Psalm 26.8-12.
(Aberystwyth: Jesus, Lover of My Soul)
Lord, I love Your dwelling-place, there where all Your glory shines.
Keep my soul before Your face, lest for sinful ways it pines.
As for me, in righteousness, I shall walk on level ground.
Save me, Lord, renew and bless! Let me with Your Church be found!
Read Acts 23.1-35; meditate on verse 11.
1. What did Jesus tell Paul to cheer him up?
2. Where was Jesus preparing to send Paul?
This was now the fifth time Jesus had spoken to Paul directly (cf. Acts 9.4-6; 18.9, 10; 22.17-21; 2 Cor. 12.9). There may have been other, more extended and in-depth conversations between them earlier in Paul’s journey of faith (Gal. 1.11, 12). How precious to Jesus was His chosen apostle to the Gentiles! How precious to Paul were the Savior’s words! No wonder Paul was so cool and civil throughout his trials. He was resting in Jesus’ Word.
We do not expect such revelations today. Now we have the written Word of God, which Paul tells us is “profitable” for all our revelation needs (2 Tim. 3.15-17). The written Word can make us complete in Jesus and equip us with everything we need for the good works for which we have been saved (Eph. 2.8-10).
The Word of God is the Word of Jesus Christ. All Scripture speaks of Him (Jn. 5.39), and His Spirit teaches and calls to remembrance all that Jesus has spoken (Jn. 16.14). Wherever we look in Scripture, if we read deeply enough and connect carefully with other passages, we will hear the voice of Jesus saying to us, “Rejoice!” and “Be my witness!” and “I have more work for you to do!” and “Rest!” and much, much more.
Like Paul, we have reason to rest: Jesus speaks to us every day from His Word.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Paul kept his focus on Jesus. He said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8.18); and he lived like he believed it.
Solomon wrote, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Prov. 24.10). And what we see in Paul is that his strength was grounded in the knowledge of his own weakness. He believed what Jesus said to him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is make perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12.9).
Jesus wanted Paul to take His Words to heart. And he did. “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (Acts 23.11). Paul thought and behaved in a manner that was: Cheerful, peaceful, restful, and ready to bear witness.
Jesus wanted His disciples to take His Words to heart. He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” (Mk. 4.35) So they all got in a boat and set out for the opposite shore. But as sometimes happens on the open water a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was filling with water. And Jesus was in the stern of the boat resting peacefully with His head on a pillow because He knew they were crossing over to the other side, and He was behaving like He believed it. However, the disciples were not so sure about their prospects of the safe arrival on the other shore and so they panicked. They woke Jesus up saying, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk. 4.38) He then got up and stepped onto the deck and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” “And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mk. 4.39).
But here is where things get troublesome for the disciples. Instead of being sympathetic to their “fainting in the day of adversity”, Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith. “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mk. 4.40) What He wanted them to comprehend was that the whole adventure had begun with Him saying, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Enough said. Let’s go. To the other side. Not let’s go and we’ll sink midway. Enjoy!
Jesus wants us also to take His Words to heart. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (Jn. 14.1-4).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14.6).
When we believe His Words, we have reason to rest.
1. What can keep or hinder us from hearing and believing the words of Jesus?
2. Paul was holding on to the promise of Jesus that he would get to Rome. What promises is Jesus calling you to hold onto today?
3. Whom will you encourage today to hold fast to the promises and Word of Jesus?
… let us learn, even in most extreme afflictions, to stay ourselves upon the word of God alone; and let us never faint so long as he quickeneth us with the testimony of his fatherly love. And because oracles are not now sent from heaven, neither doth the Lord himself appear by visions, we must meditate upon his innumerable promises, whereby he doth testify that he will be nigh unto us continually. If it be expedient that an angel come down unto us, the Lord will not deny even this kind of confirmation. Nevertheless, we must give this honor to the word, that being content with it alone we wait patiently for that help which it promiseth us. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Acts 23.11
Pray Psalm 26.1-7.
Wait on the Lord in silence as He examines your soul. Confess and repent of any sins He suggests. Rejoice in His lovingkindness and commit yourself to walking in His truth today. Offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving for all His many gifts and blessings.
Sing Psalm 26.1-7.
(Aberystwyth: Jesus, Lover of My Soul)
Vindicate me, Lord on high; I have walked within Your Word.
Never wav’ring, though I sigh, I have trusted You, O Lord!
Prove me, Lord, prove even me! Test my heart and try my mind.
Let Your steadfast mercy be in the path for me to find.
Men of falsehood shall not sit in my presence, nor will I
suffer any hypocrite to find favor in my eye.
All the wicked I abhor; ‘round Your altar let me stand,
loudly singing evermore of Your gracious, mighty hand.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.