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Courage in the Lonely Hour

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
April 15, 2024 12:00 am

Courage in the Lonely Hour

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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April 15, 2024 12:00 am

Gain knowledge on how to overcome periods of loneliness.

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Charles Stanley

Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, April 22. Personal conflict is basically unavoidable. So today, you'll hear simple guidelines to follow in the heat of conflict. When you're going through some very trying situation in your life and there's no one there. Well, how do you respond in those moments when there's that overwhelming sense of isolation or disconnectedness and you're facing something you cannot do anything about? Well, the Apostle Paul was in that kind of a circumstance and how he responded and what God worked in his life is a most, most encouraging word for all of us. And so I want you to turn, if you will, to 2 Timothy chapter 4 and the title of this message is courage in the lonely hour. And so the Apostle Paul has come to a very difficult time in his life. He knows that death is imminent.

And so in this second epistle of Timothy, young Timothy, whom he loved dearly, had discipled him. Look, if you will, beginning in verse nine. He says to him, now watch this one key verse phrase here, make every effort to come to me soon because he knows that life, his life may be coming to a close. He says, for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. And Crecans has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia.

Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is a useful servant to me. But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.

And when you come, watch this, bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. The Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching. He says that my first defense, no one supported me, but all deserted me.

May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me. And all of that through me, the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear, and I was delivered out of the lion's mouth. That is, at that time, they did not take his life. Here he is now before the Roman court, and they are giving him the opportunity to make a defense to declare that he is not guilty. And he said that when he showed up, when he came to make his defense, he said no one supported him.

He stood there alone. Now you think about how disappointed and how lonely he must have felt. Here he'd been out there preaching and teaching the Word of God, winning these people to Christ. He had enlightened their hearts in a way that they'd never understood before, establishing churches in their cities where they live, going back and discipling them again and again. How they must have loved him and how they must have just feasted on what he had said and the letters that he had written.

And of all the times in his life when he needed someone to stand with him, somebody just to be present, someone who would at least say, I know this man and hear the good things that have happened in my life as a result of him not a soul. He says at my first defense, no one supported me, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them.

But listen to his response. He said, but may it not be laid to their charge. He was not feeling hard toward them. He was not blaming them. He was not accusing them.

He said, don't lay it to their charge. And so here's Paul, the apostle Paul feeling this sense, overwhelming sense of loneliness and fear. You say, well, the apostle Paul was never afraid. Yes, he was. The apostle Paul experienced fear just like any man does.

There were times when he feared the situations and circumstances like anyone else. And so what we have to ask is, how do you and I respond? How do we respond? We face those moments when we seem to feel lonely or feel alone. Well, when I look at this incident in the life of the apostle Paul, it's one of the most encouraging passages.

And I certainly hope it will be to everybody who reads it and everyone who listens. So what I want us to see here is something happened. So what I would like for us to look at here is this. The reasons. What is it that motivated this man to be able to stand courageously and boldly alone? None of his friends were there.

They were all gone. And yet listen to what he says. I want you to look at these two verses, because this is what I want us to major on. Verse 16, at my first defense, at my first hearing, no one supported me, but all deserted me. What is it that motivated this man to be able to stand there with this awesome sense of confidence and boldness and assurance?

Here's what it was. The awareness of the presence of Jesus Christ with him. Listen to what that verse says. I mean, there's a tremendous message in this verse at my first defense. No one supported me, but all deserted me. But the Lord stood with me. I believe the apostle Paul, when he walked up and stood before those that court.

What happened? God just made him awesomely aware that the Lord Jesus Christ was standing with him and that he was where God had placed him at that moment. And recalling the other times when he was in danger that the Lord was bringing to his mind. Paul, I am with you. I am with you. I am with you. Down through the ages, God has said to his men and said to his women, when they came to those places where it appeared it was just they were there by themselves and there was no one they could rely upon. And all of a sudden, what? God reminded them, I am with you.

I am with you. That's why it's so important for you and myself to understand. Who is this God? Who is this Jesus? If some stranger walked up to me in a difficult situation, circumstance and said, I'm going to be with you, it'd be meaningless. Because I'd say, well, who are you? What good could you do?

How can you help me? But when the Lord Jesus Christ stands by your side, you don't have to ask that question. Because you and I know that he is the absolute ultimate sovereign of this universe.

Not one soul can do one single thing apart from the permissive will of a loving Father. And so, he said, no one stood with me, but what? He says, but the Lord stood with me. He was aware of this awesome sense of the presence of Christ. And when you stand alone in those difficult circumstances in life, if you are aware of his presence, he said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. And you and I can quote those verses to others, but somehow, when we get in those situations and we become fearful or threatened in some fashion, we need to remind ourselves of exactly what our Lord said.

I will never leave you nor forsake you. He said, I'm going to send the Holy Spirit. He'll be in you with you and upon you. Jesus was saying, I'm there in the presence of the Holy Spirit and everything you need.

He says, I will equip you for and you will be that in that situation. And as someone who said, when a person is immersed in what God has called them to do, fear absolutely dissipates. Well, this is exactly what happened to the Apostle Paul. He walked up before that court standing there, did not see anyone around him, absolutely alone until he stepped up there knowing. And all of a sudden, I believe the Lord Jesus Christ made his presence known.

You say, well, now, wait a minute. Didn't he know Jesus was with him sitting over here in the chair? That's true. But, you know, there is something about the way the Lord works. And that is why you and I are very much aware that he's with us all the time. When he puts us in that pivotal pinnacle point, when we are standing there in that moment, how does God provide what you and I need? Not, he doesn't provide two weeks ago what you and I need this morning.

He provides what we need at the moment we need it. That's why when he says, when I stood there, he says, the Lord stood with me. He remembered Corinth. He remembered Jerusalem. He remembered the wreck at sea. He remembered those things. He remembered how God had stood with him in the past and how God has stood with his saints in the old and how God the Father had stood with his Son.

He remembered that. And I say all that to say this to you. It doesn't make any difference what you face in life. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ is your personal Savior, here's what he says. I will never desert you. I will never forsake you. Never, never, never, never forsake you. Never desert you. You cannot face a single solitary experience in life apart from the living presence of Jesus, whether it is some battle in this life or whether it is the last moments of life when we know that our life is ebbing away. Our heart won't beat very many times after this.

And what happens? We know the Lord Jesus Christ is standing by our side. Which brings me to the second motivation. What is it that motivated Paul to be so courageous, so bold to stand and do what he did before that court?

Here's the reason. Because in those moments he experienced the strength of Almighty God. The presence of the Lord Jesus Christ with him. His presence and understanding who Jesus Christ is in that moment, he was strengthened. He says the Lord stood with me and strengthened me. He says in those moments I felt clothed with the power of Christ. I felt infused with the power of Christ. I felt filled with the power of Christ.

In those moments there was absolutely no fear. The Apostle Paul wrote to those Ephesians in the first chapter, he used four different Greek words to talk about the strength and the power and the might of God. And so he understood that. And now he is experiencing the very same. So first of all, it was the awareness of the presence of the Son of God that motivated him to be courageous and bold at that moment. Secondly, it was that infusion of strength. There was something about this man even they could not figure out. Well, there was a third motivation for that.

And what was that? The third motivation was simply this. The awareness that Paul had that he was fulfilling the will of God for his life. That is, he was in the midst of fulfilling the purpose of God for his life. So when he walked up to stand before that court, listen to what he says. He says, verse 17, but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lions, or the lion's mouth, which meant that after his hearing, of course, they didn't make a decision and he was spared at that time.

Later, of course, he does die. He says, I was strengthened in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished. Now, what is he talking about? Well, you'll recall over here in the last chapter of Acts, what did he do day and night? Preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness and hinderedness about being hindered. And he was continually doing that. What was he doing out there running around all over Asia and a little part of Europe there, preaching and teaching the Word of God? What is he doing standing here now before this Roman court?

Well, he could have, in fact, I'm sure while he was sitting over here waiting, Satan must have been on his show listening to, look, Paul, wait, look, now just wait a minute. Just compromise a little bit. I mean, look, don't get up there and do what you normally naturally do.

Just tell them that you're not guilty and that you love the nation of Israel and that you love God and that you acknowledge the laws of Rome and that you have written an epistle to the Romans and you said be subject to the government. And so just, man, just play it down this time. Just take it easy. Don't show off this time. I mean, he must have been really giving him a hard time. Well, what did the Apostle Paul do? I don't have to wonder what the Apostle Paul was doing over here before this court.

Here's what he was doing. He was talking about the resurrected Christ. He was talking about the atoning death of Jesus Christ. He wasn't defending himself and having a pity party and being tempted to compromise what he believed. The Apostle Paul was proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ fearlessly, boldly, and he was doing it effectively.

And he said one of the things that absolutely overwhelmed him was that as he stood there alone, Jesus was standing with him, strengthened, infused, clothed with the power of God for what reason that he may fulfill God's purpose and God's will for his life and that is to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles in Rome. So what I want you to remember is this. It doesn't make any difference what you're facing in life.

It doesn't make any difference how alone you may feel. There are three things you and I know for certain. The Lord Jesus Christ stands with us. Secondly, the Lord Jesus Christ strengthens us for whatever we have to do. And number three, he will enable us to fulfill his purpose through our last dying breath.

That is the promise of Almighty God. Now there's a passage here I want you to notice because it's so very important. I believe it tells us something about the Apostle Paul. Go back up, if you will, to verse 13. He says now to Timothy writing here, he says, Now when you come, bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus and the books, especially the parchments.

Now the cloak in those days was sort of like a big round piece of cloth that had a hole in the middle so they just put it over their head and sort of clothed them and kept them warm. And of course, Paul is not in some nice air condition and warmly heated with television, telephone and so forth. But he is in prison in Rome. Now, even though he has the privilege of sharing back and forth with people, he's still a prisoner.

What I want you to notice is this. He said, I want you to bring the cloak, but he says the books, especially the parchments. This tells me a lot about the Apostle Paul. First of all, in his life, he had soaked himself in the truth of the Word of God.

That is the Old Testament. And now, as he's coming to the last moments of his life, the last days or months, he doesn't know when at that particular time. What does he want? He wants a coat to keep him warm, probably so he can concentrate a little better. What does he want?

He doesn't ask for material things. He says, I want the books, probably his Old Testament scriptures. What is he wanting in his last days? He wants the Word of God. What does he want it? Because he wants to study it. He wants to meditate upon it. He wants to soak it in. He wants to absorb it. He wants a greater understanding, a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and how God worked among his people.

I wonder what would you call for if you knew that you had 30 days left to live. I wonder where the Word of God would be on your list of things that you want in the last days of your life. Why could this man stand with such boldness and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to a group of Gentile jurors, Roman court? Because those parchments, those books, the Word of God was so much a part of his thinking.

They had absolutely, totally, completely influenced everything about his thinking. This man was sold out to the living God. And that's why he could stand before them with boldness and courage and forthrightness and effectively speak words that were so absolutely persuasive that even Roman kings and Roman officials would say, hold it, you're about to convince me, Paul, of your Christ, of your resurrected Lord. And I am persuaded that more than likely those men deep down inside did believe this man. There was something about his spirit, something about the power of God in this life.

They could not explain it. Listen, when you spend your life in the Word of God and you spend your life with him and your life is centered in the person of Jesus Christ, listen, when you come to the time of death, even before then, when your life is wrapped up in him, somebody is going to know there's something about you that has no human explanation whatsoever. And therefore, he could stand boldly courageously but in the spirit of humility and say, I want to tell you about my resurrected Christ. He is the living Lord. And I want to ask you again, my friend, if you could only have one thing and life was coming to a close, would it be your copy of the Word of God?

Listen to this. Do you have a copy of the Word of God? The pages are torn. The pages are dirty. The pages are worn.

You've worn off all that gold on the sides and sometimes they're a little bit torn and the pages are sort of slipping out of the edge and you've got marks all over it and you've colored up some of it and there are tear stains on some of the pages. Do you have one like that? I'll tell you this for sure. If you've got one like that, when you come to dying, I know what you're going to want. You're going to want the book that unfolded for you who the person of Jesus Christ is. You're going to want the book that unveiled for you who God is and what He's like. You're going to want the book in which you found how to be saved, how to trust Jesus as your Savior. You're going to want to know the book and you want to look at that book once again and hold it and feel of it again. The book in which you discovered how to walk in the Spirit, how to trust God, how to believe Him for those difficult times in life, how to know for absolute certain in the Lamb's Book of Life, how to know that when you die, you will die in the presence of the Son of God who said it and the angels of the Lord will take you and bear your Spirit to heaven. So I want to ask you a question. What place does this book have in your life?

And I can tell you this for certain. If this book is the center of all of your reading, then no matter what you face in life, it's going to be your experience to be aware of the presence of Jesus with you, the strength of Jesus in you and the purpose of Christ in and for your life and through your life. Thank you for listening to Expressing Patience. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-15 02:40:27 / 2024-04-15 02:48:36 / 8

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