At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. (17) But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. (18)The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:16-18)
Sometimes even the best of us, the ones whom people think have it all put together, can feel beat down, press upon, disrespected and just plain mistreated. You saw it back in the 1970's when members of the United States Armed Forces returned from a pointless war started by politicians and were spat upon. You see it now with the people of God persecuted in subtle ways in North America and Europe and in typical barbaric ways in the Middle East and Asia.
Here (in the passage above) we have the great Apostle Paul himself. He is the only man ever personally taught by the Risen Christ Himself in the deserts of Arabia, and yet, there were Christians in Rome and elsewhere just laying into him. They weren't there when he lay in the filthy Roman dungeons for the sake of Christ or even at the end of his life here in 2 Timothy 4, he sat chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day!. No wonder he said in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 "afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed".
Back then, it was the persecutors of the church doing that to him but at the end of his life, we see many (so-called followers of Christ) deserting him in his final days. But guess who stood with him.
Guess who had his back.
Guess who will always be for you and I.
Guess who will never leave nor forsake us.
When you're done and troubled and feel like alone in a crowded room and everyone is against you, look to 2 Timothy 4:17a:
- The Lord will stand with you. The original meaning of "the Lord stood with me" is more powerful than any English translation. God will be present, stand closer than a brother and will make His Holy Presence known to you, if you will just let Him.
- The Lord will strengthen you. This word "strengthen" has proactive connotations and follow the Truth that He is present right alongside and in your spirit as well. This is important because God can only empower His own - those who are born-again into the family of Christ. This empowering is beyond description, as you and I will be able to persevere through the most horrid evil and emerge victorious - in His Strength.
The next step in the process of being oppressed, spiritually, emotionally and even physically can be found in verse 2 Timothy 4:17b and 18 above:
- He RESCUES us! The original meaning is "He snatches us out of the jaws of the enemy and draws us unto Himself"! Can you dig that! Yeah though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of death....the shadow of the evil one and his agents here on earth mean nothing to the King! He sits in the heavens and scoffs, He laughs at them! He Who hung the earth on footings we cannot see and giveth life and breath which we cannot create in a laboratory, He is faithful and true to deliver us from all evil....and He says so in verse 18.
- He rescues us from every "evil deed". Today, with the sons of desert in their evil persecuting God's people, it does not appear that way, does it. But it is. Even with the acts of the follows of a false religion, God is drawing His true saints to Him and while we may not see it now, the fallen of the Faith's rewards will be a lot greater in Heaven, than any over-paid preacher in America, who sat in his comfortable mansion and said not a word, when the saints were persecuted for the Name of Jesus Christ.
The thing is nothing can come near us, unless we are being refined by fire for a greater purpose. These times of spiritual battle and woe will fortify us in the inner man if we just have the right perspective, if we just know the Scriptures and if we continue living surrendered lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
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