Passage for Study: Acts 23 … Acts 23 linked for study …
My Journal for Today: Chuck Swindoll nails a lot of us in his devotional entry for today as he points out our fear reaction to calamity in our lives. He begins by asking if any of his readers have ever been in an extremely fearful place in life. And when I read his questions in this regard, I thought of those who’ve returned from war in Iraq, having dodged bullets whizzing by their heads. I thought of someone coming out of a near-death experience from an extremely rough air flight; or someone who’s been through a horrible storm, like a hurricane or tornado and has lived to recall the experience. Anyone who’s been close to death with calamity surrounding them can attest to the state of mind of not being able to think straight and quite possibly being paralyzed with fear.
But such was not the case for the Apostle Paul as you read through Acts, Chapters 21 – 23, especially this last chapter. And when you go to 2nd Cor. 11: 16 – 29, you can read of all the horrible and near-death calamities experienced by the Apostle as he carried out his calling to take the Gospel to the Gentiles of his time. And yet, as we read from Dr. Luke in Acts and Paul himself, in his letters, Paul was able to retain straight thinking in the midst of all of his storms of life, … all of the persecutions, … all the torture. And when we read that, we have to ask how Paul could remain cool and trust God so implicitly in the face of life threatening circumstances.
And really the answer to that does not require a genius IQ or a Ph.D. level education. No, the answer is quite simple. Paul quite simply knew God’s word and trusted in its truth. Paul knew and internalized the reality and authenticity of such Scriptures as Deuteronomy 31: 8 or Proverbs 3: 5 – 6; and you read those references, I hope you know what those scriptures tell you. I hope you not only know what they say; but you believe them; and as you believe them, when you are thrown into some storm in your life, you can react as did Jesus in the back of the boat in Matt. 8: 22-24, rather than like His disciples who were wracked in fear.
Personally, and in reality my dear friend, I don’t really know, right now, how I would react if I were in a small boat out on the Sea of Galilee almost being turned over by the waves. I’d probably be afraid for my life; but hopefully having rehearsed my trust in God’s promises and the hope I have in Christ, I’d be able to have enough straight and trustful thinking to see that even the worst, my death, would only bring me into the presence of my Lord, Jesus. And that, my dear one, is a good thing, not a calamity.
So, now is the time, when the seas are calm and we are safe, to rehearse and steady our minds with the truth of God’s word. That’s one reason – and certainly not the only one – that I went through the discipline of putting the truth of God’s word deeply into my heart/mind as I memorized many of the truths of God’s word, which, when I’m tested or tried in life with calamity, I can recall God’s stabilizing truths to allow me to declare – to myself at least and maybe others – the trust I have in God’s wonderful promises.
When the Apostle Paul was tested by that thorn in his life (see 2nd Cor. 12: 7 – 11), that thorn which caused him great pain and drove him to prayer to avoid it, he remember the words of His Savior, Who had said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” I hope you know, believe, and can rely on that word from God in the midst of any pain you may have experienced in life – or may currently be experiencing. And now that you’re safe and can think straight, I hope you’re consuming God’s word and truth into your mind and heart by memorizing key passages of God’s word, which one day you can call up to keep your heart calm and allow you to have God-inspired straight thinking in the midst of some life altering calamity.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, let Your truth resonate in my mind to keep me thinking straight when life gets turned upside down. Amen