Summary: Even in the face of death believers in Jesus Christ can experience God’s presence, know God’s power to fulfill God’s purpose, and rest in God’s promises.
Who said, living for Jesus is easy? The fact is, it may cost you your very life. Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel of Christ. Can’t you detect a note of sadness in these words? A note of sorrow? Paul was feeling all alone.
Some of you may be going through a period of loneness. All of us have at one time or another. One can be lonely even in the midst of a great multitude of people. This passage speaks to those of us who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The reality is, when you are all alone - you aren’t really alone for the Lord is with you. Listen to just a few Biblical promises.
Jesus said, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20). Elijah wasn’t alone when he felt so alone. The Lord came near, not in a fire, or an earthquake, or a mighty wind. He came near in a “still small voice.”
Paul and Silas were not alone when they were in prison at Philippi. God gave them a song to sing at midnight. (See Acts 16). Moody Radio has a musical program called “Music in the Night.” In the book of Job, Job’s friend Elihu said, “But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, Who gives songs in the night.”
The Apostle Paul was facing his own impending death. Though it is evident that Paul felt alone in these verses, we note that his faith came through. We learn from Paul that even in the face of death believers in Jesus Christ can experience God’s presence, know God’s power to fulfill God’s purpose, and rest in God’s promises. Let’s look at these truths a little more carefully.
I. IN THE FACE OF DEATH WE CAN KNOW GOD’S PRESENCE
Note what Paul had experienced.
1. His friends had deserted him (v. 10)
2. He apparently had nothing to read (13). Many POWs said, that what sustained them was Bible Verses and Hymns that they remembered.
3. Alexander the Coppersmith tried to harm him (14-15)
4. No one stood with him when he was first placed on trial.
5. Paul was facing his own impending death. He said “The time of my departure is at hand….” Most of us want some loved ones around.
Though he felt alone, he wasn’t really alone. He said, “The Lord stood with me.” If the Lord stood by Paul, He will also stand by you and me in our lonely hours. You and I are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. God will stand by his children. We all need support and encouragement from each other. However, there are times when we simply do not receive it. The Lord stood by Paul. Moreover, he will stand by us as well.
In Deuteronomy 31:6, Moses challenged the people of Israel who were about to enter into the Promised Land, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Then God spoke to Joshua as he becomes the leader of the nation following the death of Moses. “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”
The writer of Hebrews applies these verses to believers in Jesus Christ. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Our Lord keeps his promise. He will never leave his children or forsake them. The Psalmist put it this way, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me.”
II. IN THE FACE OF DEATH WE CAN FULFILL GOD’S PURPOSE
“The Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear.”
Not only did the Lord stand by Paul, the Lord also strengthened him. Even though he was imprisoned and was at the end of his earthly life, Paul was strengthened by God’s power in order that he might continue bearing witness. We also know that the great apostle Paul spent much time in jail because of the preaching of the gospel.
It was while he was in prison that the Philippian jailer and his family came to know Christ. No doubt a number of fellow prisoners were saved through Paul’s jail ministry as well. He even bore witness to those who were judging him.