Note from Jesus
Dear Precious One,
The events that led to Paul's journey to Rome and his shipwreck and other problems along the way began in Jerusalem. Some Jews from Asia Minor stirred up the crowd:
"Help! Fellow Israelites! This man is an enemy of our people, our religion, our law, and this temple! He travels around the world subverting our holiest customs! He is at this moment desecrating this holy temple by bringing outsiders into this sacred place."
The crowd went berserk, seizing and beating Paul until a Roman commandant intervened. Paul asked the commandant if he could speak to the crowd. Paul gave his testimony about becoming My follower. His testimony included My commissioning him to go to the Gentiles. That part further incensed the crowd and it went into another frenzy (Acts 22:1-23)
. The crowd was so angry that Paul had to be rescued from them once again. The commandant then took him into protective custody after being told by Paul that he was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:24-30)
. This citizenship gave him special rights and privileges under the Roman law.
The commandant arranged for a legal hearing for Paul before the Jewish ruling council called the Sanhedrin. This time, Paul capitalized on differences within the Sanhedrin and caused such a stir the commandant had to intervene again and have his soldiers rescue Paul from the hostile leaders' fits of anger (Acts 23:1-10)
Paul faced intense conflict after he was arrested. His enemies planned a murderous ambush during his transfer as a prisoner (Acts 23:12-35)
. So I came near Paul during the night and spoke to him to give him courage and remind him that I would not forsake him or abandon him. I assured Paul that he would reach his goal:
"Keep up your courage, Paul! You have successfully told your story about Me in Jerusalem, and soon you will do the same in Rome."
Paul would fulfill My purposes for him in Rome!
After a series of trials before different government officials (Acts 24:1-27; Acts 25:1-27; Acts 26:1-32)
, these officials honored Paul's appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:10-12; Acts 26:32)
. They sent Paul to Rome as a prisoner to stand trial. Paul then began his incredible journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-44)
. This voyage included terrible storms, mutinous actions by the crew, Paul's redemptive influence, and eventually a shipwreck. Paul spent the winter season on the small island of Malta with the crew, the Roman soldiers, and other prisoners before sailing on to Rome (Acts 28:1-11)
As Paul's journey to Rome neared its end, believers along the way began to join his group as they traveled to the capital city (see the verses below). They were not afraid to be identified with Paul even though he was a prisoner! They offered hospitality to him and his entourage. They came at personal risk to support, encourage, and accompany My passionate apostle on his journey to Rome. Their hospitality, fellowship, and accompanying him were sources of needed encouragement for Paul as he reached the city of Rome:
We set sail from Malta and stopped first at Syracuse. After three days, we weighed anchor and came to Rhegium. We waited there a day, and then a south wind sprang up and sped us to Puteoli. We found some believers there, and they invited us to stay with them for seven days. Then we reached Rome. The believers from Rome heard we were coming, so they traveled out to meet us at the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns. Paul thanked God and felt encouraged to see them. Once inside the city, Paul lived under house arrest by himself, with only one soldier to guard him.
Please notice four realities of discipleship that I demonstrated during Paul's trip to Rome. These four realities will also help sustain you in difficult times.
- My enduring presence in your life to bring you home to Me.
- My willingness to be near you and to hear your prayers.
- My encouragement to you through the partnership and presence of other believers.
- My work in your life to bless and empower you.
Just as I sustained Paul, I will sustain you!
Verses to Live
I will provide you these four realities of My grace if you look for them and seek them. Notice how these four are emphasized in Paul's letter to the Philippian Christians:
My enduring presence in your life to bring you home to Me.
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
(Philippians 1:3-6 NLT)
My willingness to be near you and to hear your prayers.
Most of all, friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice! Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.
My encouraging you through the partnership and presence of other believers.
Whenever you cross my mind, I thank my God for you and for the gift of knowing you. My spirit is lightened with joy whenever I pray for you (and I do constantly) because you have partnered with me to spread the gospel since the first day I preached to you.
But for now, I think it is best to send Epaphroditus home to you. He has become my dear brother in the Lord. We have worked well together and fought great battles together, and he was an encouraging minister to me in my time of need. He could not wait to see you all. He was concerned for you when he found out you knew how sick he really was. In fact, he nearly died. But once again, God was exceedingly kind and covered him with His mercy. And I, too, by His mercy, have been spared sorrow on top of sorrow.
I am so excited to be sending him back to you! I can picture the joy on your faces when he arrives; I can feel my worries falling away. Welcome him joyfully in the Lord. Esteem all spiritual leaders like Epaphroditus because he placed his life in grave danger for the work of the Anointed; he risked his life to serve me when you couldn't.
I could hardly contain my joy in the Lord when I realized you have started to show your care for me once again. Since you have not had the opportunity to show how much you cared until now, I want you to know how it touched me.
My work in your life to bless, empower, and sustain you.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
(Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)
I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without. I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.
Response in Prayer
Almighty God, I confess that sometimes I forget just how powerful You are and how near Your presence is to me and within me. Forgive me for taking for granted the nearness of Your grace and the steadfastness of Your love. Awaken my heart to Your work in my life as I offer myself fully to You. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.