“Take Courage!” ( Acts 23: 11, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Ananias orders Paul to be struck in the mouth. Paul says, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!” (Acts 23:3) Some overhear Paul’s angry remark, and say, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” Paul responds, “Brothers, I did not realize that he is the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'” (Acts 23:4-5)

Paul “stands on trial because of [his] hope in the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 23:6) The Sadducees and Pharisees, who disagree as to whether or not there is a resurrection of the dead, argue in “a great uproar.” (Acts 23:9) The commander is “afraid Paul will be torn to pieces by them. He orders the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.” (Acts 23:10)

Jesus, on the following night, “stands near Paul and says, ‘Take courage!'” (Acts 23:11) Jesus tells Paul that he is to “also testify in Rome” about Him.

The very next morning, a conspiracy develops among some Jews who swear to kill Paul. Paul’s nephew hears of this plot, goes to the barracks and warns his uncle. Paul sends his nephew to the commander, who arranges for Paul to “be taken safely to Governor Felix.” (Acts 23:24)

Governor Felix keeps Paul in prison for two years, calling for him frequently, hoping Paul will bribe him. The Jews attempt again to plot their murder of Paul, but fail when the new governor, Festus declines to transfer Paul to Jerusalem. While in Caesarea, Paul appeals to Caesar. King Agrippa arrives. Festus explains that the Jews’ accusations against Paul are surprising and unexpected. He tells the king that “they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claims is alive.” (Acts 25:19)

Paul makes his case to King Agrippa. “Now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:6-8) King Agrippa knows Paul should be set free, except he has appealed to Caesar.

Paul along with other prisoners sail to Italy, but “the ship is caught by the storm” and “takes such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they begin to throw the cargo overboard.” (Acts 27:15,18) They “finally give up all hope of being saved.” (Acts 27:20)

An angel of the Lord stands beside Paul that night and says, “Do not be afraid, Paul.” The angel reminds him of Jesus’ words spoken several years earlier –“As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

Paul says to his fellow prisoners, “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.” (Acts 27:25) “Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” (Acts 27:34)

Finally Paul reaches Rome; he calls the leaders of the Jews together to discover that no negative reports have come to them from Judea. Paul is free to preach the gospel, to testify about Jesus for two years “boldly and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:31)

“No Place For Human Pride” ( 1 Corinthians 1: 30, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“There is no place for human pride in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1: 30)

 

When Jesus heals a demon-possessed man of his blindness and deafness, the Pharisees say, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” (Matthew 12:24, NIV) Jesus tells them, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:30-31, NIV)

 

In His hometown, Jesus offends His neighbors — people who’ve known Him all His life. Jesus says, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (Matthew 13:57, NIV)

 

The Pharisees complain against Jesus’ disciples, accusing them of not washing their hands before eating. Jesus replies, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3, NIV) He reminds the Pharisees that they avoid financially supporting their own mothers and fathers via setting aside money as a gift to God. “Thus,” says Jesus, “you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition.” (Matthew 15:6, NIV)

 

The Pharisees and Sadducees ask Jesus to “show them a sign from heaven.” Jesus tells them, “you know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:1,3-4, NIV)

 

Human pride is reflected in each of these encounters. The Pharisees are awash with self-righteousness and self-aggrandizement. Jesus says, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child never enters it.” (Mark 10:14-15, NIV)

 

In the presence of Jesus, there is no place for human pride.