“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.” Acts 18.9-11
Have you ever wondered why God appears to people in visions at night? I would consider this to be a dream. It was convincing enough that when Paul awoke he remained in Corinth for another year and a half. It must have been convincing because Paul was in fear of beatings, persecution and death. He remained in the Greek city proclaiming the Gospel even in the midst of attack.
It was the Lord who spoke to Paul, assuming that means Jesus and not God the Father, and he relayed specific instructions — “Do not be afraid….” “Keep on speaking…” “Do not be silent…” “For I am with you…” “No one is going to attack or harm you…” “I have many people in this city….”
These are specific instructions. Jesus begins by calming his fears to physical bodily harm by telling him not to fear or be afraid, no one is going to attack you. Then he tells him to keep speaking and not to be silent. He reassures Paul that Jesus will be with him and that he also has many people “followers” in this city. It was strategic for Paul to remain as the mouthpiece of the Lord. But why do so in a dream and at night? (Perhaps we might really be afraid if we heard the audible voice of the Lord and saw him face to face!)
Two significance steps happen in these three verses. First, Jesus sends a message to Paul for him to continue preaching the gospel, and second, Paul heeds the words of Christ and moves forward with the mission.
Lessons for today include — 1) If we don’t hear from the Lord, do not make a move! 2) When God speaks, do what he says! 3) Trust in the Lord over your own fears and insecurities!
I can certainly relate to all three of these lessons. When God speaks, I usually move. Sometimes I don’t, of course, and other times I am curious as to whether it is truly the Lord or not. Discerning his voice is key. Remaining out of sin and connected to his Word and Spirit makes hearing from God much more accessible and reliable.
However, there are times when my fears get the better of me. Even when he’s placed me in roles of responsibility and influence, I continue to doubt. These doubts fall back on my own insecurities and weaknesses. These of course are silly reasons for not obeying God. He has proven himself faithful and I need to hear and respond. Trust and obey. I am at my best when I fully trust the Lord to lead me.
Just as Paul heard from the Lord in a nightly vision/dream, so he will speak to us if we are willing to do what he says and follow his lead. The world desperately needs to hear from the Lord. Do not be afraid, for he is will you always.
“O Lord God, as I travel on an airplane to my next ministry destination, I must remember this was not my idea to go. You put me up to this. The conversations I have along the way, the times of interactions with you in worship and others in the church will be directed by your Spirit. I open myself to being used by you. Guide me this day and the next. Allow me to listen to your voice and heed your every command. Use me as you will for your purposes and by your grace. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen