Yesterday in YG sunday school class we are in chapter 18 of Acts and I was reviewing Paul’s vision from the Lord where he is comforted with the Lord’s specific counsel and promise, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” (Acts 18:9-10) Now this was a specific time in Paul’s life and there were specific circumstances that Paul was experiencing and he was having specific responses to those circumstances. And the LORD knew. The LORD our Shepherd was still tending His sheep.
Whatever Paul’s circumstances, it seems that in this season of his life God’s promise spoken to Ananias in Acts 9:15-16 that Saul/Paul was a chosen instrument to carry the name of Jesus Christ and to learn suffering for the sake of that Name was being accomplished. Paul was in need of reassurance from the Lord. The faithfulness of our Shepherd is always sure. At this time, for Paul, it comes in a vision and a specific promise; and, it is sweet to see that promise tested almost immediately. Paul promptly gets attacked, but by God’s mercy and Sovereign grace – there is no harm to Paul; the enemy’s attack is rebuffed and Paul continues in faithful obedience.
As I daily embrace the ever-present promises found in the God’s word, such as Psalm 23, they become for me strong foundations to stand on… strong footholds to climb ahead by… strong shelters to take refuge in when the storm gets intense. It is the ever-present promises given to me by the Lord that teach me faithful obediance, willing surrender to suffering through challenging circumstances, joyful expectation and hope in the rest that waits for me.
But, like Paul, sometimes the circumstances take their toll and I get weary and need the specific promise spoken from the sure personal voice of the LORD…the LORD utters his voice before his army (Joel 2:10-11)…and though perhaps not in a vision, the Holy Spirit brings these promises with powerful assurance to my mind spoken with clarity and revelation that they might just as well be a vision from the Lord.
And so, whether His promise is given with timely specificity to anchor me in the midst of a storm or it is the ever-present assurance of His sovereign reign over all things and the promise of His faithfulness, His unceasing steadfast love and His refreshing daily mercies…
“I will hope in him”… Lam 3:22-24
“I will have no lack”… Ps 23:1
“for I am with you”… Acts 18:9-10
The LORD our Shepherd still tends His sheep.