Summary: Encouragement to stay faithful in the midst of trials and discouragement.

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A grandchild sitting on her grandfather’s lap listening to the Bible story of Noah’s Ark, asked "Were you in the Ark, grandpa?"

He chuckled and replied, "Why, no I wasn’t."

There was a pause, and the child looked up at him quizzically and asked, "Then why weren’t you drowned?"

If that is the biggest discouragement that you have, then you don’t need this message! This subject of discouragement might be the most common in the Bible for Christians. In other words, aside from the message of salvation, this might be the top one.

And I realize why. Every time that we are going through a Bible book and we hit this subject, I think, “boy, we really need this message.” We have people who are discouraged and downhearted. Do you want me to get specific?

In just the last few months, the Northfield family has some that have lost their jobs. Right now there are some that are fearful that they will be losing their job soon. We have a foster family that is having their license challenged. We have a family about to lose a father to cancer. One of our women went to visit with her family just this week on the anniversary of losing their mother to a murder. And this same family has lost two others to cancer in just the last couple of years. There are some who suffer through depression. Then they feel guilty about it because they feel like Christians shouldn’t battle depression . . . and some “well meaning” Christians tell them that they shouldn’t battle depression! It all can be pretty discouraging. That is exactly the subject that Paul addresses to his young son in the faith, Timothy.

By AD 67, four years after Paul wrote 1 Timothy, Christianity had become a stench in the nostrils of Rome. Christians had the audacity to refuse to acknowledge the emperor Nero as a god. To make matters worse, the egotistical ruler had convinced the populace that this “anti-imperial” sect deliberately set the great fire of AD 64, which destroyed half of Rome. Christians were now official enemies of the state, subject to public torture and execution.

The apostle Paul, caught up in the undertow of the swelling wave of persecution that he had helped start so many years ago, now found himself in the courts of Rome, charged with “propagating a forbidden cult.” As if this opposition wasn’t enough, Paul also faced abandonment from Christians. Some fell from the faith, like Demas, but some were apparently afraid of what might happen to them if they associate with Paul.

Fearing for their own lives, the Asian believers failed to support Paul after his arrest (1:15) and no one supported him at his first defense before the Imperial Court (4:16). Abandoned by almost everyone (4:10-11), the apostle found himself in circumstances very different from those of his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:16-31). At that time he was merely under house arrest, people could freely visit him and he had the hope of release. Now he was in a cold Roman cell (4:13), regarded as “an evildoer” (2:9), and without hope of acquittal in spite of the success of his initial defense (4:6-8, 17-18).

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