"THE LORD STOOD WITH ME"
Intro. Paul is writing to his son in the faith, Timothy. Paul is in Rome being tried before Nero, and Timothy is in Ephesus. After the first hearing before Nero, things did not look good. Paul wrote, "The time of my departure is at hand, I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith."
I. PAUL FORSAKEN BY HIS COMPANIONS IN THE GOSPEL.
A. Demas has forsaken me.
1. Solomon said,
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
a. It is when you are in real adversity that you find out who your real friends are.
b. There are many who want to hang around when you are prospering. When a person wins the lottery it is amazing how many old friends come out of the woodwork.
c. There were many who traveled with Paul, but now that Paul is condemned, they all began to desert him.
2. Paul said, "None stood with me, but they all forsook me."
a. These are just some of the sad facts of life.
b. David was a very popular king until the rebellion of his son Absalom.
c. It is amazing how many defected to Absalom when it looked like he would triumph over David.
d. Even David's close advisor Ahithophel joined Absalom. Writing of that David said,
For [it was] not an enemy [that] reproached me; then I could have borne [it]: neither [was it] he that hated me [that] did magnify [himself] against me; then I would have hid myself from him:
But [it was] thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.
We took sweet counsel together, [and] walked unto the house of God in company.
3. If you have ever been deserted in your time of great need, then you know exactly how Paul was feeling at the time of writing Timothy.
a. He stood alone as he faced the wicked despot Nero.
4. We should perhaps take note of how Jesus also stood alone when He had to face the Roman court.
a. The scripture had predicted concerning the Messiah, "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered."
b. Mark thus records for us in his gospel, 14:50, "And they all forsook Him and fled."
5. Someone has said, "You must be alone to discover that you are never alone."
II. "NEVERTHELESS, THE LORD STOOD WITH ME."
A. It seems that in the hour of trial or discouragement, the Lord always stood with Paul.
1. It seemed like Paul's ministry was destined for continual adversity.
a. The Lord had said that He would show to Paul all of the things that Paul would have to suffer for the cause of Christ.
b. When he first ministered the gospel in Damascus, there was such a stir, that they had to let Paul down over the wall in a basket to escape.
c. In Lystra, they stoned him and thought he was dead.
d. When he took the gospel to Europe in Philippi he was beaten and placed in stocks in the inner prison.
e. When he went from there to Thessolonica, he had to escape from the city under the cover of darkness.
f. The next stop was Berea where he escaped by subterfuge.
g. He was rejected by the Athenians.
h. He finally came to that wicked city of Corinth, here he was probably getting a little gun shy while he waited alone for the rest of the team to join him. It was there that the scripture records,
Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
i. From there Paul went to Ephesus and had to escape from the city after a riot broke out over his preaching.
j. When he finally arrived back home in Jerusalem, while he was peacefully worshipping, the Jews set on him to kill him and he was rescued by the Roman guard.
k. When Paul tried to witness to his brethren a riot broke out, and Paul was kept in prison for safe keeping.
l. His life long ambition as a Christian was to share the gospel with his former classmates and friends in Jerusalem the opportunity had come but ended in disaster, and as Paul sat in that Roman prison, no doubt down cast and discouraged, the scripture records,
And the night following the tumult the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
m. When on the way to Rome the ship was caught in a vicious storm and was tossed on the raging seas for 14 days until they had all despaired of ever surviving.
n. It was then that we read,
But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of [any man's] life among you, but of the ship.
For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
o. And now as Paul appears before Nero at the first hearing, though his friends forsook him he declares, "But the Lord stood with me."
III. THE LORD ALWAYS STANDS BY HIS SERVANTS.
A. The three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace.
1. How many did we throw in?
2. How is it that I see four and the fourth looks like the Son of God?
B. Daniel in the lions den.
1. Was your God able to deliver you?
2. My God sent His angel who shut the mouths of the lions, so they have not hurt me.
C. Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord said,
Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. again
When thou passest through the waters, I [will be] with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
IV. TODAY YOU MAY FEEL AS PAUL, THAT ALL HAVE DESERTED YOU, THAT YOU ARE STANDING ALONE AS YOU FACE THIS OVERWHELMING TRIAL.
A. Jesus will stand with you. He said, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." He said, "I will never leave thee or forsake thee."
B. The prophet Azariah declared to king Asa as he returned from his victorious battle over the Ethiopians,
Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD [is] with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.
C. In the proverbs we read,
A man [that hath] friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother.
1. That friend is Jesus.
2. He will stand by you today.
3. Even though all your friends and perhaps family have deserted you, He will stand with you. All He needs is an invitation.