The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” Acts 23:11-15 ESV
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident. Psalm 27:1-3 ESV
When King James II ruled England, many people were unhappy because he was Catholic. They became more upset when a son as born to him who would be next in line to rule. They didn’t want this son to become the king because he would also be Catholic, and they wanted King James’ Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William to be the king and queen instead. A group of English noblemen invited William and Mary to come over from Holland to rule. William sailed over with his army and defeated James, ending his rule in England. There were some people who were very unhappy about this, though, and for many years there were circles of people who worked and plotted to put the Stuart descendants of James II on the throne again. One time there was an assassination plot against King William when he was out hunting. A group of men were going to waylay the king and kill him when he was out on his horse in the woods, but the plot was discovered in time and King William was kept safe.
There was also a plot against the apostle Paul to waylay him and kill him. More than forty Jewish men made a solemn vow that they wouldn’t eat or drink anything until Paul was dead. They went to their religious leaders and told them what they were planning. They wanted the leaders to ask the Roman tribune to bring Paul to the Jewish council so he could be questioned, but on the way there the men would ambush and kill Paul. Would their plot succeed? No, there would be no reason for Paul to be afraid. The Lord himself had stood by Paul and told him to have courage. He promised that Paul would have a chance to tell the truth about Jesus in Rome just as he had done in Jerusalem. Paul knew that his time to die hadn’t come.
We might not know when God plans to call us home, or what will happen to us while we are alive, but we can have the same courage that Paul had. We know that no matter what happens to us, Jesus will be with us to help us and give us courage. Bad things might happen sometimes, but nothing will separate us from the love Jesus showed us when he died for us on the cross. We know that God forgives us all our sins every day and that he loves us and calls us his children. He will help us through the hard times, and when our time comes to die, he will be with us and bring us into his heavenly kingdom.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and helping us and being with us, all through our lives and forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.