Daily D – Acts 18:9-10
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” ACTS 18:9-10 (NLT)
Psalm 23:5 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows,” (ESV). This verse has always confused me. Why would God invite my enemies to dinner with us?
There might be a couple of reasons. One, our Father in heaven operates from a different mindset than we do. I heard John Maxwell read a letter he received from a leader requesting something of a favor. The man began his appeal this way: “Knowing you are the kind of man who thinks strangers are friends he hasn’t met yet, . . .” Perhaps our Father in heaven thinks about our enemies like that. Maybe he thinks of our enemies as sons and daughters who have not yet joined the family.
Another reason God might set a table for us in the presence of our enemies is to remind us that however big and powerful they may be, he is bigger and more powerful. However much they want to take away the most precious things we call our own, he wants to provide for us all we need. Notice what David said about God: “you anoint my head with oil.” Bring the wounds your enemy gives you to our Father and he will heal them.
David goes on: “my cup overflows.” Enemies have a way of robbing us of what is most precious to us whether it be material goods, physical life, or joy and contentment. Our Father in heaven has more than enough of everything and gives us more than we need. He is truly better to us than we would be to ourselves.
Psalm 23 is so much more than a nice poem to read at funerals. It is truth. Paul discovered its truth in Corinth. Corinth was kinda sorta a combination of a Wild West frontier town and a snootily sophisticated East Coast university town. Steve Martin would have loved it. It was a wild and crazy place.
As Paul stepped into the hustle and bustle, the wild and crazy, God spoke to his heart. Our Father told him what he tells all of his followers from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to Moses, Joshua, and David, to Peter, James, and John, and to you and me. He said, “Don’t be afraid.” This is the number one command in the Bible. He said, “For I am with you.” This is the number one promise in the Bible.
If there are two things you need to remember every day and every moment they are these. We are to live courageously because God is with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. You have never lived a moment outside his presence. You never will unless you finally, ultimately choose your way over his way and end up in hell. There is no hope for any good thing there because it is the one place where all goodness is utterly, completely, finally removed. There are no friends in hell. There is no comfort there. However, because you wanted God to leave you alone, he grants you this wish. One second in and you will learn the full meaning of the phrase Eternal Regret.
Let’s get back to the good stuff. When we stand in relationship to our Father in heaven as his beloved son or daughter, he promises his presence and all the goodness and mercy (Psalm 23:6) we will ever need.
Live in the full reality of God’s promise that he is with you. He is not with you to make you a Hollywood star. He has much better plans than turning you into a spoiled brat. He loves you too much to allow you to live all concentered within yourself. No, he is with you to express his love through you to even those who consider you an enemy. In the toughest places, in the hardest of times, in the darkest of nights, God is at his best. Do not shrink back from evil. Instead, overcome evil with good.
We can live courageously and confidently because of what God showed David and told Paul: “Don’t be afraid,” and “I am with you.”
I will live courageously and confidently.
Our Father, thank you for directly addressing my two biggest life concerns. Fear comes easily and often to intimidate me. Confidence drains away when arrogance and evil arise. Thank you for never leaving me nor forsaking me. Abandonment is nothing I will ever experience from you. Thank you for giving me courage and confidence for all I will ever face. Empower me to live courageously and confidently in the boldness of your loving nature today. May your goodness and mercy follow me today in abundance. May it equip me for what is before me. May it clean up the messes of all my mistakes. Amen.
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2 Timothy 2:3-6 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. (NLT)