PASTORS' DAILY DEVOTIONAL
Plans to Preach and ProsperJustin Smith
Acts 23.11 “That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.”
Angry mobs, arrests, trials, death threats, and whippings don’t exactly seem like plans for Paul to preach and prosper. Following His miraculous conversion and encounter with Jesus, Paul’s life went from cursing Christians to calling them to Christ. One would think that with his newfound commitment and courage to follow God he would find peace, but these chapters describe a far different plot that is anything but peaceful. Crowds calling for his killing, and court appearances became the norm, but Paul remained vigilant in sharing the message of Jesus wherever he was taken. From the outside looking in, he didn’t appear to be bearing much fruit, but he endured. One night God appeared to Paul in a dream, speaking a word of encouragement and revealing His plan for Paul to preach and prosper. God had a plan and purpose amidst the persecution and pandemonium, and Paul’s life would change the world.
I would wager to say that Paul’s faith and courage in the midst of the fighting and chaos did not stem from his inner will or self-induced bravado. Paul was a human just like me, with his faith in a constant fight with his flesh. When circumstances didn’t work out I’m sure he struggled with disappointment and doubt, so what kept him going? My guess is that his strength was founded in his encounter on the Damascus road. In that moment he heard the call of Jesus, he interacted with Him, and he experienced Him. Paul was in His presence, overwhelmed by His power, and the greatness of God was both indescribable and undeniable. Paul met Jesus, and he was never the same. When I struggle with fear and uncertainty, more often than not, the cause is that I have taken my eyes off of Jesus. Through my choices, I have forgotten my experience with Him, I have neglected His overwhelming power and greatness, and I have forsaken time in His presence. A deep knowledge and love for Jesus is that which will encourage, empower, and motivate us in tough times. Recognizing His plans for me, to preach and prosper, gives me hope and courage today.
Lord, I thank you for the hope and assurance I have in you. Thank you for reminding me that regardless of the circumstances that come my way you have a plan to use me. As I spend quality time with you, please allow me to better comprehend your character that I might walk in commitment to my calling.