If you stand for Him, He will stand by you
“But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “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
Many of us are familiar with this story; Paul had been arrested by the Jews who had identified him as a troublemaker. It is interesting that this time around he was not causing trouble (preaching Jesus and Him crucified); he was just worshiping in the temple. How I wish that all of us can each day wake up with the determination to cause trouble, at home, at work, at schools, and in the streets, real trouble – testifying about Jesus and His goodness!
Anyway, coming back to the story, Paul was arrested and he was almost torn apart by the Jews, if it was not for the Roman guards that came to rescue him.
I wonder what could have been going on in the mind of Paul as he spends another night in prison knowing that he has not committed any crime, but to testify about the goodness of God. It is natural for one to expect some special favours from God especially after dedicating one’s life to His service. Over the weekend I heard of an American preacher who wants his followers to buy him a new $65 million (USD) private jet because his old jet is no longer good enough. Now, I think that if there was a preacher who deserved a new private jet, that preacher would have been Paul. But here he is, not in the $20 million (USD) dollar Hollywood mansion, but he is in prison with all the prison gangs, drug dealers and hardened criminals. What was going on in his mind? Was he becoming discouraged? Was he afraid of what will happen next? What was his state of mind? We don’t know, but this we know, whatever it was, it necessitated a special visit.
The text says that the following night, yes, it was at night. Bad things usually happen at night. Robbers, witches, murderers, prostitutes, etc., seem to prefer the night. The visit came at night. We always hope to receive something in the morning, may be at noon-time, or in the afternoon. When the night comes we lose all hope of getting anything. It is the night that brings about hopelessness, loneliness, and discouragement. The visit came at the night. There are many today who are going through their night period, to some, this is their visit.
The text says the Lord himself stood by him. Now, the Lord could have sent Bro Gabs (angel Gabriel). I am sure that angel Gabs was prepared and willing to do this mission, but the Lord said “No, Gabs, you can go and save someone from a car accident in Johannesburg, this one I have to do it myself, I’ve got this”. The Lord Himself appears to Paul in prison. The Lord not only knew that Paul was in prison, but he had the GPS coordinates of the prison, the keys, the remote control or the biometric prints required to open the prison doors.
The Lord came at night; he didn’t wait for the visiting hours. The Lord does not wait for visiting hours. He does not even wait for month end to visit your finances; he can give you a breakthrough before even before month-end. He does not wait for someone in your home to get a job before He can provide your needs; he can provide three meals a day without anyone in the house earning a salary. He does not wait for you to get to church in order to bless you, he can bless on the street, in the taxi, or even whilst you still in the shower. So, He visited Paul in the night.
The text says He stood by him. I have heard a songwriter say: “When the storms of life are raging, Stand by me. When the world is tossing me like a ship upon the sea, Thou Who rulest wind and water, Stand by me”. In line with the words of the song the Lord came to stand by Paul at his time of need. The forces of evil had gathered against Paul. Satan and his angels had gathered on one side and it seemed like Paul was all alone, when at the midnight hour, at the “ungodly hour” when the demons seem to be in charge, the Lord came to stand by Paul. It was as if the Lord was saying to all the forces of evil, “Fellows, take it easy, this guy is with me”. Yes, he might be in prison, but he is not alone. He might be down, but the Lord is standing by him and for him. I can imagine that when the demons saw the Lord by Paul’s side, they quickly remember Calvary and how the Lord knocked them out on that Sunday morning. They probably went back to report to their master “We are in trouble, he’s got Company”.
I’ve heard someone say God does not take side, the question is not if God is on your side or not, but the question is if you are on His side or not. Now, Paul had already decided to be on the Lord side, and the Lord had just come to show-off that Paul is on His side, and therefore He will stand by him.
The point is that when you stand for Him, He will stand by you!
To be continued next week…