Key verse: 2 Timothy 3:12
Big idea: Persecution cannot stop Jesus.
The third chapter of Second Timothy begins with an ominous warning: "In the last days, perilous times shall come." Paul warned that the world's hostility to the gospel would gradually intensify as people turned ever more inward and rejected God more and more. Yet, Paul makes clear that the basic attitude is ancient. Pharoah's magicians stood against Moses over a millennium before Paul was born, and now more than nineteen centuries have passed since Paul himself lost his life to anti-Christian persecution. The terminology that Paul uses is fascinating: he says that God has delivered him from the persecution which he faced. Yet, Paul had been stoned, shipwrecked while under arrest, and was awaiting his execution. So God did not deliver Paul from persecution, but through it. He was able to remain faithful and continue delivering the message of the cross, despite the opposition he faced.
There has always been opposition to God's people, from the time that Cain killed Abel. Even worse, this is not the fate of a few exceptional Christians! "All that will," in the sense of will to or desire to, "live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." If you or I even try to live for God in the world that is in rebellion against Him, we will suffer. As Adrian Rogers said: "You are either in collusion with the Devil or in collision with him." But that persecution does not stop the progress of Jesus' work. He brings us through it, even when he does not bring us out of it. Our part is just to continue in what He has started.
Discussion idea: When Paul says that all who desire to live godly will suffer persecution, what forms does that persecution take?
Prayer focus: Lord, help me endure in the face of opposition, continuing what you have begun in my life and in our world.