Day 295: October 22, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Acts 22:30–23:11
30 The next day, since he wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and instructed the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and placed him before them. 1 Paul looked intently at the Sanhedrin and said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience until this day.” 2 But the high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing next to him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You are sitting there judging me according to the law, and in violation of the law are you ordering me to be struck?” 

4 And those standing nearby said, “Do you dare revile God’s high priest?”

5 “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest,” replied Paul. “For it is written, You must not speak evil of a ruler of your people.” 6 When Paul realized that one part of them were Sadducees and the other part were Pharisees , he cried out in the Sanhedrin, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees! I am being judged because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead!” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, and no angel or spirit, but the Pharisees affirm them all.

9 The shouting grew loud, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party got up and argued vehemently: “We find nothing evil in this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 When the dispute became violent, the commander feared that Paul might be torn apart by them and ordered the troops to go down, rescue him from them, and bring him into the barracks. 

11 The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
—Acts 23:11

Standing By
by Sally Cressman, Member of Brentwood Baptist Campus

Several years ago, I endured some health issues. One particular weekend, I’d had enough. I wanted to give up. The healing wasn’t coming even though I’d prayed. Finally, my husband suggested I call a friend.

That Saturday afternoon, my friend dropped all her plans, drove to my house, and sat with me on the couch in my living room. She stayed and listened while I poured out my story. She encouraged me and prayed with me. She said, “You’ll get through this Sally.” Because of her prayers and presence, I knew I could make it through the day.

Paul had a friend who also stood by him through another one of his many trials. In this scripture passage, Paul was once again accused by the Jews, specifically the Sanhedrin. Like a recurring nightmare, they were trying to find anything and everything to stop him from witnessing about Jesus.

In prison, Paul was led out to this council to defend himself. He stood up to the High Priest then the Sanhedrin by dividing the council on the topic of Jesus’ resurrection so they were arguing against themselves. The argument reached a boiling point where the Roman commander had to remove Paul from the melee fearing he might be ripped to shreds.

Then we come to this passage: “The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

In the dark of the night, in a dank prison cell, Paul laid exhausted after the latest confrontation with the Council. Up to this point, he’d endured imprisonments, escaped plots to kill him, and been ridiculed, stoned, and beaten with rods for testifying about Jesus.

This night, though, the Light of the World appeared to Paul and stood by him, dispelling the darkness. Paul wasn’t blinded by the light, but refreshed by the Light’s words, “Have courage!”

Jesus continued, “For as you have witnessed for Me in Jerusalem…” He wasn’t unaware of the many times Paul stood up for Him (Acts 13:16, Acts 17:22, Acts 27:21).

Jesus sees what you do for Him too. He hears the bedtime prayers for your children. He takes note of the time you bought food for the poor. He sees how you’re ridiculed at work because of your faith. He’s aware that your family members think you’re a religious fanatic. He knows the cost you pay for being His witness.

Then Paul received his next assignment, “So you must also testify in Rome.” Even though Paul was back in prison and guards surrounding him, the Lord stood by Him and essentially said, “You’ve stood up for Me. I’ll stand by you.”

In the physical sense, the prison looked like a dead end, but Paul “walked by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). God had a plan for Paul and he embraced it and was obedient to the next assignment in Rome.

Jesus wants to stand with you and speak to you also. He longs to tell you things meant only for you. He desires for you to experience His love and presence. He wants you to know that if you’re still breathing, He still has plans for you.

Reflection Questions

  1. What trials are you going through? How would they look differently if you walked through them by faith instead of sight?
  2. Do you remember a time when Jesus stood with you and spoke to you? How did that change your perspective?
  3. How high or low is the cost you pay to e a witness for Christ?           

About the Author

Sally Cressman

Since 2004, Sally and her family have been members of Brentwood Baptist. On Sunday mornings, you’ll find her in the Children’s Ministry area teaching kindergartners. She’s married to Drew and they have three children: Kendall, Derek, and Hannah. Her hobbies include biking on the trails in Crockett Park, reading fiction and non-fiction, and writing. Some day, she’d like to attend a Packers game at Lambeau Field in December or January.