Father, I want to make my days and years count and advance Your Kingdom here on earth.
Consider: "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood" (Fanny Crosby, 1820-1915). Like Paul (11), we need to remember this truth!
A popular blues song from the 1990s included this refrain: "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all" ("Born Under A Bad Sign," William Bell). I wonder if the apostle Paul ever felt that way. It's natural to assume that if we've decided to follow Jesus, and are serving him in ministry, our way will be smooth. But that wasn't Paul's experience, and it probably won't be ours either. Paul understood that his struggles had nothing to do with "bad luck." As he later wrote to his dear friends back in Ephesus, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12).
That's the deeper reality in his heated exchange with the high priest Ananias, whom history reveals as a corrupt religious leader. Some commentators criticize Paul for his angry sarcasm here, especially since Jesus responded so calmly in a similar situation. But there's a time for righteous indignation, and this was it. In any case, Paul had the presence of mind to lob a theological hot potato into the discussion, thereby turning the attackers away from him towards each other.
We're left with the question: how did Paul keep going through all of his troubles? The answer comes at the very end of the passage: "the Lord stood near Paul" to renew his courage and affirm his mission (11). Without that, he surely would have been overwhelmed. God might not intervene in quite the same way when we face ministry struggles today. It's more likely he'll encourage us through Scripture, prayer, a word from a Christian friend or even a timely experience. The point is, ministry involves struggle, so we must look to God for assurance and guidance every step of the way.
What is the biggest ministry struggle you face? How could you look to God for assurance and guidance today?
Mighty God, today I look for guidance and strength. I embrace the courage that You give to me.
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