Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: How the Lord gives us courage and strength in just the right time and in the right amount

How God Sends Courage to Us In Our Weakest Times

(Acts 23:10-12)

Illustration:Author Leo Buscaglia tells this story about his mother and their "misery dinner." It was the night after his father came home and said it looked as if he would have to go into bankruptcy because his partner had absconded with their firm’s funds. His mother went out and sold some jewelry to buy food for a sumptuous feast. Other members of the family scolded her for it. But she told them that "the time for joy is now, when we need it most, not next week." Her courageous act rallied the family.

Christopher News Notes, August, 1993

1. Have you ever wondered why God waits to send His encouragement to us when situations appear to be at their worst?

It unlikely that few of us will ever experience anything as terrible as Paul endured in this passage.

Paul is surrounded by angry prisoners, ready to tear him apart; limb from limb. The Roman commandant is so afraid that that Paul will be tortured to death in the group cell that he orders his troops to take him forcibly from them and escort him back to the safety of the military barracks. All human hope is gone. Paul is hated, misunderstood and imprisoned for doing God’s will. Talk about injustice, Paul could have easily sunk into depression and quit.

Whenever you are feeling helpless, hopeless or misunderstood remember these words from God to Paul, “Take courage – Be of good cheer!” (Acts 20:11) God tells Paul, “For as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

Ask the Lord to help you open your spiritual eyes and ears to the light, love and encouragement found in Christ. (Phil. 2:1,2)

2. When Paul must have felt most perplexed, confused and troubled, God sent clarification. The great apostle must have wondered if this would be his last moment on earth. No doubt he probably wondered if he would die as a martyr in this frenzied jail house. Here was a man who wanted to preach the gospel in many more lands, but he must have felt a sense of resignation in the face of such terrible opposition and adversity.

When conditions got to their worse, God came to Paul in the night. Never doubt God’s ability to come to you according to His perfect scheduling.

We may feel totally distraught, disillusioned and despondent, but God is able to provide clarifying light just when we need it most. Trust the Lord to send His clarifying guidance to you when you seem most perplexed.

3. When Paul must have felt insecure God sent His assurances. Paul’s heart must have ached for an assuring word, but no human help was to be found in that jail cell. Yet, in the still small voice of calm, the Lord spoke through the tumult to the heart of His servant. God sends us assurances when we are feeling insecure, alone and hopeless.

Our dear Lord holds out positive prospects to us when we are most in need of a word of hope. When we sense that all of our desires will come to nothing, the Lord delivers us with His satisfying presence.

David wrote, “In His presence is fullness of joy and in His right hand are pleasures for evermore.” (Psa. 16:11)

Ask the Lord to help you praise, thank and remember God’s assurances.

4. Paul learned that his faithful work would not go without God’s intervention and encouragement. Never doubt in the darkness what God has revealed in the light. The Lord will reveal to us what He wants us to do if we are willing to obey.

Most people who lack a sense of hope have somehow closed their spiritual eyes and ears to the foresights of the future God has for them.

Illustration: Follow the good example of the song writer George Matthewson who became blind at age six and later wrote, “Oh joy that seeketh me through pain. I cannot close my heart to Thee. I trace the rainbow through the rain. And feel the promise is not vain. That morn shall tearless be.”

Trust the Lord to reveal what He wants you to do, where He wants you to go and what good things He has in store for you in the coming days.

Conclusion:The late Earl J. Fleming, an Alaska state biologist, was perhaps the only man to investigate objectively the bear’s reputation for attacking humans. When Fleming encountered a bear, he neither ran nor shot. At the end of his unique study, he had encountered 81 brown bears, and although several staged mock charges, not one actually attacked.

Mark Walters, Reader’s Digest, November 1992

Do not be intimidated. Move forward in God’s strength, His will and His word.

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