Belt of Truth and Breastplate of Righteousness

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…” Eph 6:14 NIV

I ❤️NY. I always imagined living there. So, when I was invited to move there for work I was gushing with a big YES.  It was almost like a wedding proposal. The box was pulled out, he took a knee and then said, “I want you pray about it for 30 days before you decide… ” Wom, wom.  I begrudgingly assured my boss I would do so.

Immediately I was too busy planning a move from Dallas to NYC to inquire of God, or anyone for that matter; until I was also invited to consider Houston. I never liked Houston. I went into prayer certain the Lord would confirm my decision. To my surprise, dreams of NYC brought on nausea and Houston perfect peace. God made the answer clear.  It was my turn to stand firm in obedience.

Like Laura shared last week in her story, “I resolved to move to Houston.”  With every intention of moving back to Dallas, I headed to Houston and met my new friend, Laura Wilcox.  The journey has not been easy for either one of us, but we have stood firm.

To stand firm is not waiting passively but actively engaging all of God’s armor.  Dr. Constable in Sonic Light explains that “Paul described the items that the Roman infantryman wore in the order in which he would have put them on. He first put on, over his short tunic (long shirt), a belt that would hold both the “breastplate” and scabbard (sheathe) in place.”  Without the belt in place everything fell off, including the sword which was hung on the belt.  The “truth” could refer to both God’s revealed truth, that the Christian has believed, and the Christian’s own truthfulness, specifically: a lifestyle that reflects the truth.

The “full truth” of God (i.e., His Word and its power), combined with the Christian’s spiritual integrity, are together the only adequate basis for a defense against Satan.  Similarly, righteous conduct (personal righteousness) seems to be in view as well as the righteousness of Christ that becomes ours at regeneration, both forms of righteousness being represented by the “breastplate of righteousness.” “The “breastplate” covered the soldier’s body from the neck to the thighs. It was usually bronze or chain mail. It had a back piece, but it was the front part that gave it its name.

What I have learned about wearing these two crucial pieces of armor are invaluable.

God’s word is truth. Truth is truth regardless of what I see or how I feel.  For example, my fear doesn’t change God’s promise that he will never leave me, never forsake me. My inability to see him doesn’t mean he’s not right here with me until the end of time.  All that I am hangs on God’s truth.  I can stand firmly in it. I can rest in it.

The breastplate covers my heart and protects me from making decisions out of emotions.  A righteous path is the right way. There is always a right way – whether I want it or not. A righteous step of obedience releases the full measure of God’s best for me. When you are held together with truth and covered with the breastplate of righteousness, you can go confidently into any challenge, any battle, any new territory and confidently stand firm.

What decisions are you facing? I’d love to be in prayer with you. Feel free to share in the comments below or e-mail me at bsikes14@live.com.

The victory is yours.

In His Unfailing Love,

Brandi

Foodie Favorites: Do the Mandoline Slaw

In the hectic seasons of life, my salads have evolved from lettuce-based salads into “what’s-in-my-produce-drawer-today-salads.” Frankly, I got bored with soggy, lettuce salads from a bag. Give me crunch! Give me color! Give me creativity! Turning beautiful, raw produce into slaw form delivers on all three, thanks to a mandoline slicer, one of my favorite kitchen tools. Think of it as “going slawing,” like the old “Let’s go Krogering” commercials. My internal conversation goes something like this: “Ooh…an apple! Yea, a carrot!  Score, a few green onions! No way, a wedge of cabbage and a fennel bulb!” It’s the little joys of participating in transformation. Most raw fresh produce will slice easily into paper-thin results on a mandoline, but use common sense and skip items like okra, eggplant, and potatoes. Why? For several reasons, but who wants to eat raw okra, eggplant, or potatoes anyway? Here are some steps to demonstrate how simple the process is:

  1. Shave chosen produce into large mixing bowl. I recommend a mesh glove or use safety guard on tool to prevent hand-slaw. Again, use common sense and don’t try everything on a mandoline, like green onions for instance – just use the knife. If you don’t have a mandoline, order one! In a pinch, a box grater can suffice, but use the length of the item vs. the width. Or just practice those budding knife skills.
  2. Toss a fresh, fragile herb into the salad bowl, like cilantro, basil, tarragon, or mint (the bruisers – not hearty ones like thyme rosemary, or sage). Choose a theme based off the herb. Cilantro and lime? Basil and balsamic? Tarragon and lemon? Have fun.
  3. Make a trusted homemade vinaigrette to coordinate your theme. The ratio is 2 parts oil (extra virgin olive oil is standard but you can experiment with others) to 1 part acid (vinegar, lemon, lime juice, or a combo?). Then play a little with the balance…add more or less honey, pressed garlic, dijon mustard, and salt. For extra zing, add a little lemon or lime zest.

 

~Lauren

Standing Firm in the Evil Day

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 10:13

“I really love your ministry and yet I plan on staying in Dallas after I graduate [from seminary].” About 18 years ago I wrote this email to a leader within the division of the missions organization which employed me. I responded to his inquiry about whether I would consider directing the women’s side of a ministry to professionals in Houston.

I so appreciated him reaching out. However, I wanted to remain in Dallas where I had lived for two years and begun to develop sweet community. Plus, I resisted moving to the place where I grew up because of dynamics with family members who lived in Houston; due to brokenness, pain, and challenges in our past, we all responded differently, fracturing relationships. I felt like I’d be harmed in the crossfire of the emotional and spiritual battles.

Fast forward a month. A dear friends’ mother who approaches the throne of God for me with fervent prayer – and did so before I came to Christ – told me during a phone catch up that she had been praying for me and didn’t know whether to share her impression. She felt like the Lord was moving me back to Houston. This dear prayer warrior had NO IDEA I was being offered an opportunity to work alongside a ministry in Houston. I started to weep after she mentioned her impression. I realized God was getting my attention. This was not just about a location and an outlet to fulfill my passion for ministry, it was about standing firm in my story and taking up the armor of God.

Satan wanted to keep me and my family from experiencing healing, growth, and new blessings. He used intimidation, temptation to avoid a battle, and fear of conflict as strategy to keep me from entertaining the location of Houston for my next step. I am grateful God makes His voice known when we truly want to do His will. In my mind, I subconsciously assumed God wouldn’t send me back to Houston and didn’t even recognize there was a battle until it came to light. This is where the admonitions in Ephesians 6:10-20 we are reflecting upon this fall in our series of Standing Firm in Your Story come to life.

In Ephesians 6:10-12, Paul exhorts the believer to be strong in God’s mighty power, introduces the armor as the way to fight against the devil, and describes in greater detail the battle against the unseen, evil realm. In verse 13 Paul speaks of actively taking up the armor in the “evil day.”  In the last year I read a classic written in the 1800’s by a Puritan named William Gurnall called The Christian in Complete Armour. Gurnall explains that the “evil day” can occur under multiple conditions: 1) a day when joy deserts us 2) a day when past sins are remembered 3) the day of affliction is the day when present sin is revealed 4) it is the day Satan comes to tempt 5) it is the day of trouble. Gurnall reminds us that we cannot escape the days of darkness. They will come but God makes a way to resist the evil day by standing firm through the armor He provides.

After I resolved to move to Houston, I recall the enemy threatening in an overt way since his subtle tactics had been exposed. I took up the armor of God to resist fear, self-absorption, and intimidation. I affirmed God was for me and able to protect me. I embraced His desire to pour out a new chapter in my story which I trusted would be for my good and spill over into good in the lives of others. By the time I moved to Houston I felt expectancy about what was in store. AND I can truly say eighteen years later that even though the battle remains challenging at times, I would have missed rich blessings on many levels had I not chosen to stand firm.

What “evil day” are you facing? Perhaps you are not sure how the devil is trying to steal God’s work in and through your story. Pray for wisdom, asking for the devil’s schemes to be brought to the light. I’d love to be in prayer with you. Feel free to share in the comments below or email me at laura@sacredstoryministries.org.

Sister, let’s make a fashion statement of faith. Go to your wardrobe and put on the armor.

~Laura

Next week Brandi will continue our series as she talks about specific pieces of armor in Ephesians 6:14.

Foodie Favorite: Chalupas for Easy Entertaining

When I lived in Houston, I took a Spanish conversation class and was invited over to my teacher’s home for the closing class party where she served “Tostadas.” It was like the fishes and loaves; we started with a few groceries which expanded into a beautiful and plentiful spread after only minimal effort. When I moved to San Antonio, I noticed that same flat crispy tortilla showing up to entertain large family and friend gatherings. Here, they refer to it as, “Chalupas.” Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe, tostada, chalupa…it’s a essentially a Tex-Mex version of build-a-pizza. Start with the most important ingredient: the tostada/chalupa shells. Spread warm refried beans on the shell as the base for culinary expression and create from there using grated cheese, greens or shredded cabbage (our family likes the neutrality and nutrition of baby spinach), seasoned meat (my new delicious discovery: order bbq sliced brisket “to go” and ask them to chop it ahead) your favorite salsa, guacamole, sour cream…you decide your chalupa’s artistic destiny.

~Lauren

Waking up to the Real Battle

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” -Eph. 6:2

In his brilliant book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis records an imagined conversation between a high ranking demon and his nephew, a demon apprentice, as the two seek to sway a man’s soul away from pursuing God. They use clever tactics and deception in their ruthless attempt to steer their subject away from the safety of God’s truth and toward ultimate peril.

Worth reading, The Screwtape Letters effectively wakes us up to the unseen, but very real forces hovering around us all. Whether or not we believe it, there is a cosmic battle raging on in the angelic realm. God’s angels and Satan’s demons are at war- and we are all caught in the middle of it. What are we to do?

Acknowledging the war is only half the battle. We have to engage; sitting on the sidelines isn’t an option. We must fight by girding ourselves with the truth. When we fill our minds with the things of God by reading and meditating on God’s Word, we leave little room for the enemy to deceive us with lies.

In the book, Screwtape (the senior devil) says,“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” We are all prone to spiritual complacency at times; however, when we realize what is at stake, we must wake up and understand that without a solid, steady diet of truth we will be much more vulnerable to the enemy’s clever schemes.

This week has been a heavy one for me. My dear father-in-law seems to be approaching the final rounds of a courageous battle with cancer. In addition, I’ve watched my childhood friend, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, faithfully stand by her husband, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, on a worldwide stage.

Both of these situations have caused me to ponder the reality of spiritual warfare. Although my heart breaks as I watch my father-in-law, I also find hope in that he is nearer the end of his suffering and closer to meeting His Savior face to face. When that happens, he will no longer have to battle the forces of evil corrupting this world. He will be at peace in the presence of Jesus.

In the other situation, my heart has broken over and over as I’ve watched a family friend suffer unimaginably while our country fights and rips itself in two over the Supreme Court confirmation process. It is impossible to deny there is a spiritual battle going on, regardless of which side you choose. But I have hope in knowing that all authority is established by God.

In all circumstances, including death and suffering, we must remember who sits on the throne. Since God is in control, we can be faithful and not lose hope. Proverbs 15:13 tells us, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” He is omniscient and He is sovereign- nothing happens without His knowledge. Job 42:2 reminds us God’s plans cannot be thwarted. Indeed the battle rages, but more importantly, our Redeemer lives.

What are you battling today? Do not grow weary. You are not alone. If you are a believer in Christ, you stand in victory already through His completed work on the cross. Trust in Him for all things. Stand firm in truth. The battle is His.

~Courtney

P.S. Don’t miss next week when Mary Carmen will begin talking about the armor of God and the crucial elements we need as we face the battle each and every day.

 

 

 

Foodie Favorites: The “Manning Mango”

In my mind, the start of football season means the arrival of my favorite mango, the Keitt mango. While shopping at HEB yesterday, I spotted that long-awaited tall pile of football-sized mangoes across the produce area. With glee, I raced my cart over, fixing my gaze on their green grandness. I have been a fan following this varietal for almost fifteen years now. Here is my most pure and satisfying way to enjoy this mango (besides the pleasure of chasing it around my backyard as my seven-year-old spiraled it into our pool…let that be a warning to any moms!):

  1. Patience is key.  Determine if your mango is ripe by gently pressing on the skin.  It should give slightly (much like selecting a ripe avocado or peach).  The stem ends should also exude a faint, fruity fragrance as a sign of ripeness.
  2. Stand it up (“landscape,” not “portrait”) and carve as close as possible on either side of the mango’s thin, oblong pit. Use a larger knife such as a chef’s knife; a pairing knife is too small for a “Manning Mango.”
  3. Touchdown time: take a grapefruit spoon and savor scooping out the sweet flesh of each half.
  4. Final field goal: peel the leftover pit and devour it over the trash with juice squirting and dripping all over your chin.

We realize “doing life and consuming food” is part of living your story so our culinary trained contributor Lauren Browning offers some of her “foodie favorites” over the next couple of months. We’d love to hear thoughts on how you are enjoying her tips. Prepare on sisters!

Victory in the Unseen

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11

This fall the ladies of Sacred Story are standing firm together. We are standing firm in our marriages, in our family, in our neighborhoods, in our spheres of influence. We are standing firm in a strength that is greater than our own, holding fast to the true identities our Creator gave to us, and walking confidently in the peace that overpowers all chaos. Will you join us?

When I was a teenager I had overwhelming conflict with my mother. We loved each other deeply, but we could not get past Tuesday night without a knock down, drag out fight over insignificant topics that escalated to what felt beyond our control.

Have you ever felt overwhelming opposition, overwhelming conflict or overwhelming animosity?

Have you lost hope in a situation that seems beyond your control?

These are indicators of the schemes of the devil.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear someone is scheming against my family, my close friends, my people, intentionally plotting for my demise and our disunity, I get revved up.

This is how I felt when I realized the schemes of the devil were controlling my relationship with my mom. Our conflict felt overwhelming and out of control, unending even. That’s when we realized we were under spiritual attack. We were in ministry together at the time, running after lost souls for Christ’s Kingdom, and the enemy wanted nothing more than for us to mutually destruct ourselves. So, we told Satan his time was up running our relationship.

There is an unseen world around us, one just beyond our earthy eyesight. One with an enemy that seeks to paralyze you, but one with a Savior who stands in supreme victory.  He is undeterred and unfettered by the enemy.

My mom and I started standing firm in Christ, together. We practiced standing firm in our God-given identities when conflict came up, which it continued to do. When you start putting on the armor of God, start focusing on the true enemy, often the Devil fights back harder. But he cannot and will not win.

My mom and I started believing in the power of God and practiced putting on the armor of God together: believing the truth that Satan is the real enemy, not each other, resisting accusing one another through righteousness, restoring peace quickly through forgiveness, resisting being hurt by flaming arrows in conversation, remembering we are both redeemed from our former selves, and praying in the Spirit for the redemption of our relationship. And Christ brought resounding, restoring victory, beyond what I could have imagined.  

I echo Elisha’s prayer in 2 Kings 6:16 this morning, that the Lord will open your eyes to see his victory and power is with you today in ways we cannot comprehend. Our real enemy is the devil, not flesh and blood, and we can resist his schemes in every battle we face through prayer and putting on spiritual armor. You are surrounded by victory in the name of Jesus against the real enemy. Put on your armor today, for He is with you!

In Him,

Emma Abernathy

Standing Strong in Your Story

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  Ephesians 6:10

We must learn to stand strong in our stories.  We must decide to stand in faith before the story begins, during the story, and afterwards. Standing is a key element for victory and it requires training.  This Fall we will learn how to stand in the armor of God so that we are prepared to enter, endure and finish well the stories God is writing through our lives.

When I was faced with an unwanted legal battle for custody of my daughter, I learned how to stand in faith. There was no other option. It was a battle I didn’t want to enter.  It was a fight I did not pick.  The storm raged on, fair or not.  There were no legal grounds on which someone could take my child from me, but that wouldn’t be proven until seven years later.

I knew a lot about the armor of God, but never really wore it, until then. For many hours before a jury of 12 strangers, I took the stand. I can’t recall the words I spoke, but I can remember specifically the peace I felt as He fought for me.

I had to decide in advance to trust God regardless of the outcome.  In the end, I received the outcome that I desired, but that wasn’t the greatest victory.  The true victory was learning to stand in the middle of a battle, trusting the King of kings, the Lord of lords, my only Righteous Judge. I wasn’t fighting against flesh and blood. I was fighting against principalities of darkness who desired to destroy me, to strip me of my hope, and leave me believing my life of great purpose was just a dream.

I also learned how to stand in my story after the storm. I remember hearing these words spoken into my soul, “Brandi, do you think everything that I showed you about my character, strength and great love was just for you?” The answer is no.  The Lord wouldn’t let me tie a bow on this horrible season and pack it away in the attic never to be spoken of again.  I wanted to rest, recover and honestly, go into hiding.

This is my story and I would go through it again if that’s what it would take to encourage you to stand, right where you are, right now, in the center of God’s story for your life, in His strength. I am not stronger than you.  I’m keenly aware of my weakness, and His great power.

Whatever you are going through is too much for you, but it’s not too much for God.

“Be strong” doesn’t mean stand in your own strength.  It’s a command for every believer who professes faith in Jesus Christ, to stand in Christ’s strength and make room for His power.

When your plans fall apart, and you fall down, you get to choose to give up or get up. Learn how to get up and stand with us this Fall.

What are you going through right now?

How is your strength holding up?

Are you willing to let your story be told like’s Paul’s?

“Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” 2 Timothy 4:17

In His Unfailing Love,

Brandi

Invite friends to stand firm in their story by signing up to receive the Sacred Story posts as an email when they are published. Visit the home page of our site and look for “subscribe via email” on the right side.

101 Christianity

     II Timothy calls us to invest in others as we live our story through spiritual multiplication. This principle of a believer’s faith being multiplied into people who will go on to multiply into others (and so on!) finds its source in II Timothy 2:2, “And the things which you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will be qualified to teach others.” Pray about inviting the people God places in your path to study the Bible with you. You can partner with the Holy Spirit in changing a person’s story through looking into His life-giving Word together.
     Courtney Garrett, one of our blog contributors, released her new study 101: Exploring the Basics of the Christian Faith. This study is perfect for a Bible study in your neighborhood or workplace. Below is an FAQ with Courtney about 101. Congratulations sister! We celebrate all that God is doing in and through your story.

Q: What is 101: Exploring the Basics of the Christian Faith? Is it a book or Bible study?

A: 101: Christianity Exploring the Basics of the Christian Faith is the first Bible study in the 101 Christianity series. It is a 10-week Bible study, not a book, although it is written with a lot of explanation in each chapter.

Q: What is the bigger vision of 101 Christianity?

A: Over the past 15 years, I have been asked repeatedly to recommend material for someone who is new to Christianity or searching for a good foundation. I have looked and looked and never found a curriculum with everything I wanted. I decided to write a study myself. The mission of 101 Christianity is two-fold: 1) to provide foundational materials for a new believer or seeker in order to build a framework for understanding the Christian life, and 2) to encourage Christians to use these materials to reach those around them who are seeking or new to the faith.

We all need a starting point. Over the course of our lives God puts people in our path that He intends for us to reach. Sometimes we feel at a loss for how to communicate truth easily and effectively from God’s Word. The 101 Christianity materials are an effort to make it easier for us to have these important conversations with those we love who have not yet understood the Gospel and how this truth changes our lives.

An individual can go through the study by themselves; however, we are made for community. It will be exponentially more effective if studied with a friend or group. A transformed life is the most effective tool to reach others for Christ. We don’t have to know all the answers before we are ready to invest in those around us. We just need to be dependent on the Lord.

Q: What is the 101-Christianity podcast?

A: The podcast is made up of live recordings of my teaching in the women’s study in the fall of 2017. Some of the teaching is geared toward women but most of the material is basic information for anyone.  The 101-Christianity podcast is available on iTunes by searching “101-Christianity” or “Courtney Garrett.”

Q: I’ve wanted to start a Bible study in my neighborhood but my neighbors all come from different backgrounds. Would this study be appropriate? I’m nervous and intimidated to start a group!

A: This is precisely the reason I wrote this study! I LOVE hearing from people who are ready to step out to lead a group.

I’m passionate about encouraging us all to step out of our comfort zone and reach those who the Lord puts right in front of us. We sometimes feel overwhelmed at the thought of sharing the Gospel with others because we feel that converting others is our job. It’s not. That is the Lord’s business. Our job is to simply expose others to the truth by sharing it. We get caught up in numbers and worry about rejection. What if you send a email and invite 12 people in your neighborhood or workplace to do 101 with you and only 3 say yes? Wonderful. You have 3 people who are open to hearing truth. What if only 1 says yes? Amazing. You have the opportunity to invest in one person. Let’s get over our need for approval and stop thinking success is in the numbers. Do it scared. Hit the send button and trust the Lord to bring who He wants and then leave the results to Him.

As for the study material, there are about 4 -5 pages of homework each week in a simple question/answer format. There are Bible verses to look up and questions to answer but the study is straightforward and not too academic.

Q: On average, how long does it take to complete a week’s session?

A: 30-45 minutes

Q: What is the next study in the 101 Christianity series?

A: The next study I’m writing is 101: Discovering the Character of God which will cover basic attributes of God. It will hopefully be available in 2019. Ideally people will complete 101: Exploring the Basics of the Christian Faith before going through the second study; however, it’s not mandatory as each study will stand alone. Plans for more studies include An Overview of the Old Testament, An Overview of the New Testament, Themes in Proverbs, An Overview of Paul’s Letters to name a few.

Q: Is this study only for women?

A: 101 Christianity was written specifically for a diverse audience. It is a gender neutral study anyone can use.

Q: Is the study appropriate for high school or college students?

A: Yes!

Q: How do I purchase a copy of the study?

A: You can purchase from Amazon here.

Q: Could this material be used at my church for a new member’s class at my church?

A: Yes. Since the study is for both men and women it would be a great study for a new member’s class. Often times many adults have never learned many of the basic truths in a simple format. This study was designed to boil it all down so it is accessible for anyone.

 

Tuesdays in II Timothy 4:12-22

Introduction:

I can’t believe our study of II Timothy is ending. What a rich gift in this letter Paul recited – mostly likely to his friend Luke – from a damp and dark prison cell. Mary Carmen reflected on the reality that the apostle finished the race of ministering the Gospel. Paul is keenly aware he soon will be “loosed” from the hardships of this earth to enter his Savior’s presence face to face. Now we turn to Paul’s closing words to Timothy which reveal his emotions and love for the believers who labored alongside him. As Beth Moore says in her study Entrusted: Paul not only kept his faith, he kept his heart.

Scripture:

12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 19 Greet Priscilla[a] and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21 Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters. 22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.

Observation: What does the passage say?

Comparison- Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus, left Trophimus in Miletus, Erastus in Corinth with the location of the other disciples mentioned earlier in the chapter (4:1-11)

Cause/Effect – Alexander the metalworker’s evil behavior toward Paul will cause the Lord to take vengeance (4:14)

Warning – Paul tells Timothy to stay away from Alexander the metalworker (15)

Contrast – All deserted Paul but the Lord stood with him and strengthened him (17)

Cause/Effect – the Lord stood with Paul and strengthened him so he could complete his ministry of preaching to the Gentiles (17)

Comparison – Paul talks about being delivered from the lion’s mouth, being rescued from every evil attack, being brought safely into the Lord’s heavenly kingdom (17-18)

Interpretation: What does the passage mean?

We are hard wired for relationship with God and people. Paul knows that Timothy will draw strength and receive comfort from the friendships of Christ followers they both know especially when his dear friend and father in the faith departs. Paul shares the location of those who are fulfilling the ministry; and provides a warning about those who are against the cause of Christ. Paul also reveals the hurts he continues to experience through the attacks of unbelievers and the abandonment of believers in critical times in his ministry. He exposes his human-ness in looking to the Lord to bring vengeance on those who have intended harm and to forgive people who failed to stand with him in the cause of declaring Jesus. His humanity is also present in his desire for the things he requested: his cloak, the parchments, and his hope to see Timothy before winter. When Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus he reminds Timothy that brokenness continues to plague believers and unbelievers alike; while God can do the miraculous He doesn’t always choose to do so. Paul moved forward with how God was leading him in spite of leaving Trophimus in tough circumstances.

Application: How does the passage apply to me?

Extending forgiveness and letting go of grudges is a lifelong experience. We will never come to the place of things just “roll off of me” without having to work through our emotions and the hurt. I find myself recently processing another “layer” of forgiveness in a situation.

Is there someone you need to extend forgiveness? Is there a grudge you are holding? For further input see my post Making Peace With People Who Hurt You

When God asks you to make a transition, whether geographical or otherwise, how can you let go of the “undone things,” connect those who have come to count on you to other believers and entrust those you wish you could support in person to the Lord?

I remember receiving a card from a dear sister I discipled in college who is now a pastor’s wife. She thanked me for the time spent with her and the effort I made to build into her when we attended the University of Texas. I will always treasure her note and her love as a dear sister in the faith.

Who are the people in your story who have made a difference? Who are the people you have served alongside for the sake of the name of Jesus? How can you express gratitude?

I remain beyond grateful for you, my sacred sister. The Lord be with you spirit.

~Laura