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"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play…it is war minus the shooting."

George Orwell

The Lord is near

“The Lord stood near Paul and said: “Take courage!” Acts 23:11

As one reads the narrative of Paul’s final journey – to Rome – it is easy, in the midst of all the shipwrecks, trials, plots etc to miss these nine words and the fact that the Lord stood near Paul. Now we know that God is always with us so the phrase “The Lord stood near Paul” suggests that on this occasion God in his grace gave Paul a very special sense of his presence.

As we read the account in the last chapters of Acts of all the challenges Paul faced we can easily wonder how Paul kept going. This verse gives us an answer. He was able to keep going because God appeared to renew his courage and affirm his mission – that he would reach Rome and testify there.

There are times when we too find life hard – a bad competition or a sudden injury can fell like a shipwreck! It is such an encouragement to know that the Lord is standing near. Sometimes we have a real sense of God’s presence but even when we don’t, we can be sure that God is keeping his promise never to leave us.

Let us go into today with the confidence that nothing will happen that with, with God’s help, we cannot handle.

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