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The Lord Stood by Me

Daily Reading: 2 Timothy 4

Scripture Focus: The Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that ... I was rescued from the lion's mouth. (2 Timothy 4.17)

Devotional Thought: As the Apostle Paul neared the end of his life, he found himself - often alone - in a Roman prison, facing the death penalty. The days and nights stretched into unbearable sameness and loneliness. He felt the sting of desertion and the hurt of being forgotten. But, he wasn't alone! Jesus was there to stand with him, to strengthen him, and to save him.

· The Lord stands. When Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was about to be condemned to death "he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7.55). Paul remembered that moment, for he was there as one of the executioners. Now, the tables were turned and he knew first hand that Jesus was standing next to him, standing up for him, and standing to receive him.

· The Lord strengthens. Paul found out in Stephen's story that God does not always deliver out of the trial. Sometimes, he delivers through the trial. To pray, "Do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7.60), Paul knew that Stephen had accessed a strength beyond himself. Now, again, it was Paul's turn to access that strength, from the one who laid down his life.

· The Lord saves. There are things worse than death. There are things better than life. Paul heard it in Stephen's confident words, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7.59). So, now Paul knew that the lion would not devour him. Death would be a doorway into the glorious presence of God. The Lord rescued him!

In the dark night of trial, look to Jesus. He stands with you - to strengthen you and to save you.

Prayer: Lord, in the words of the old hymn, "I need thee every hour!" Thank you that you are faithful. I turn to you in hope and trust. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 119.145-152

145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!

I will keep your statutes.

146 I call to you; save me,

that I may observe your testimonies.

147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;

I hope in your words.

148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,

that I may meditate on your promise.

149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;

O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose;

they are far from your law.

151 But you are near, O Lord,

and all your commandments are true.

152 Long have I known from your testimonies

that you have founded them forever.

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