Sometimes the doldrums come, and we feel blue. There may be a reason why there maybe not. Discouragement is the unwelcomed guest. Heaviness in the soul can feel like having a gnawing weight on your back bearing down on you! How do we break free?
The sheep when they tumble and get stuck on their back, they often can’t recover. They need the shepherd to come and help them get back on their feet. If left on their back, they become easy prey to the enemy and will die. At times we can find ourselves flat on our back, helpless and stuck. Encouragement is the hand of the shepherd coming under and lifting us back on solid ground.
I Samuel 30:6 ….”David encouraged himself IN the Lord“. David lived “in the COURAGE of his God”. Even though he was stuck between a rock and a hard place with no wiggle room.
David easily could have entered self-condemnation and been hard on himself. His environment was:
- Made a bad judgment call
- Closest friends turned on him
- Lost most precious things to him
- Feeling of depression
- Thinking in regret
- Conspiracy brewing
David responded in 1 Samuel 30:8 “David Inquired of the lord “and the promise that was given breathed strength hope and life back into the situation – Pursue and recover all! He was encouraged to act beyond what he was feeling, seeing and even thinking! Nothing had changed yet except his thinking! As he moved in faith things began to change. Notice David went to God first – he asked for help and wisdom and quieted himself before the Lord. Often this can be the last place we go! We may talk to people, strategize, complain and in most cases become paralyzed in fear. There is a better way!
Pursuit of happiness
Encouragement doesn’t mean that I get my way all the time. Being happy and trouble free is impossible all the time. The pursuit of happiness is always fleeting, and we are chasing it. Happiness can be founded on happenstance. Situations going in my favorable outcome. The Psalmist said in Psalms 102:23 “He weakened me in the way”… I have often wondered why Jesus does this and one clear reason is so that we would need him and trust him. If everything was good and perfect all the time our spiritual life could become very superficial. God is working in contentment – divine stability that is not governed by the “yo-yo” of circumstance but by his faithful promises.
Keys for encouragement
“Placing strength in one’s hands” is the fruit of encouragement. Being renewed in the Inner man brings “times of refreshing from the presence of God” (Acts 3:19). As we are rightly related to God, we are able to experience encouragement; if rightly related to self – we enter into the small world of discouragement. When disconnected from an eternal perspective we are left to grovel in the darkness. We are alive with a purpose, daily “linking up” with this powerful truth helps us with perspective and understanding the day to day routine.
Being rightly related to God keeps us encouraged. This means to see yourself as God sees you and relate to yourself the same way. Just like we need our cars front end suspension realigned because of the bad road, so our heart needs the adjustment. Here are a few ways to stay balanced:
- fellowship with the mystery. We are pilgrims and strangers on this earth
- fellowship with our eternal purpose. The seen is temporal and the unseen is eternal.
- fellowship with our eternal value in him. You are his masterpiece made in His image.
A heavy laden, knee-buckling donkey that is being yelled at by his master because he is moving to slow. The continuous barrage of words will not move the donkey faster. To beat the donkey will maybe stir him but not for long. He will eventually falter if the weight is not removed. This can be us if we carry “our life” on our shoulders. We were not made to be burden bearers but to cast all our cares on Jesus! He is the ultimate burden bearer in Mathew 11:28-29. His strength is made perfect in our weakness!
We see the perfect provision In Hebrews 12:1-2 “lay aside every weight that easily besets us and let us run!” To cast away those issues that cause strife and to worship Christ is our refuge. We give authority to the right things by accepting Gods thoughts by faith, in the face of opposition. God will give practical wisdom and assurance that He is with you and ultimately in control.
In focusing on Gods thoughts about you produces a divine perspective; our weights will become light. Gods heart is to give more grace to the humble and to strengthen the weak in Psalms 145. Christ loves to give his abundant life and strength to the most undeserving – this is what brings Him the most glory.
Grace is often seen through brokenness, in trials we discover this exquisite treasure. Satan will want us to enter self-analysis and make it all “about us” and what we didn’t do or should have done. Feelings can be a powerful measuring line, but it often exalts the wrong things.
Grace proclaims what Jesus has completely fulfilled for us and declares failure is not final. Grace exalts Christ in us, magnifies His perfect work in us.
Grace reversals are not impossible. Christ shines through these jars of clay and heaven touches the earth. We begin to see the impact of grace as we receive it first for ourselves and the overflow will go to those around us. Grace teaches us to love ourselves, forgive ourselves and rightly relate to ourselves IN CHRIST. God has made you fly above it all!
“Put away the microscope and take out the telescope” – so much truth in this statement! Taking the long look and seeing the big picture helps with understanding the here and now. The intricate details found under the microscope can be curious as well as frightening! Focusing in on the right things captures our attention and fills our mind with the right things.
We can magnify the flesh so easily by lifting the Law. We must look away from self and be inspired by the New Covenant of God. In Romans 3:3-4 “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid!
Christ personal ministry to us is to love us into what He has already made us be; time only hides what he has completely done. Be patient with yourself it is the journey that matters not only the destination. Everything matters in His plan – build and celebrate the small things!
Discouragement often comes by our own expectations on ourselves and others. We may believe we should be further down the spiritual road then we are. Frustrated with ourselves and our lack – be patient with yourself and relate to God in you rather than focusing just on behavior and our estimation of what success is and is not.
Intimidation or insecurity robs from the manifestation of God. People need to know about the treasure that LIVES within you! The internal warfare that wells up can be met with – “Lord gives me utterance to reveal your mysteries”…
Joy not for sale
Turtles are an interesting creature – in danger, they hide away in their shell till everything calms down. They are stoic and timid and freeze till they sense the danger is gone. This is a great defensive tool, but for the believer, we can’t shut down when the pressure comes. Self-consciousness and analysis, second-guessing in hesitation can stop us dead in our tracks
One of the great shifts to encouragement is when we talk to ourselves rather than listening to ourselves. In Micah 4:9 gives 3 perspective questions, why do you cry aloud? Is there not a King within thee? and has your counselor perished? The Holy spirit would ask these questions of us. We don’t cry as those who have no hope! We have the king of Kings within! When we take our eyes off God our counselor, we begin to lose our rest. Prayer reconnects us to the realities of God. Here are a few areas that steal our joy:
- People pleasing
- Overstepping your skill set
- Being a YES man
Guard your joy and live for the audience of one JESUS. He is pleased with you already.
What failure teaches us
I am sure loss is not on our “bucket list” of desired achievements, failure is part of the maturity and growth arena. If we are waiting for people to encourage us it may not happen the way, we want it to. We learn to encourage ourselves by putting on the promises of God as armor. We would dream of going to battle unprepared, unarmed and on a whim, but we do! The devil knows when we are uncovered – and he is the master opportunist. We must dress for battle and know where to run and hide and when to stand and fight.
- Failure is not the final chapter
- It will pass
- God is faithful
- You are not your sin
- A loss is inevitable but so is gain
- You are a winner regardless of the result
- Jesus will never reject, abandon or shun you.
Even in failure a series of right decisions always avenges disobedience. The conqueror must first be conquered. Calvary must conqueror every other option to retreat or any other path of convenience. Love must conqueror any fear of self-preservation.
What are your options today? God has set before your life or death, what will you choose? Let Gods love and Grace capture your heart today, victory is prepared for you today! Follow on to know the Lord in Hosea 6:3 and Gods love will give hind’s feet in high places in Habakkuk 3:19.
- When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his Future!
- The cross is the answer for the Past, Present, and Future mistakes.
- To remember what God has forgotten robs from present communion.
- We are not defined by the past – but by truth
- The devil’s authority is only what we give him.
- Probation, disqualification, and retaliation are the devil’s tools.
- Unequivocal surrender by embracing truth replaces loss with eternal gain.
- Focusing on the past initiates satanic hypnosis
- Fellowship with the promises and not your wounds!
- Our future is as bright as the promises of God!
Live in the “courage” of Jesus today – He sees you, knows you and loves you completely – you are an overcomer in 1John 4:4.
Jason is a graduate from Maryland Bible College and Seminary, and presently he leads the Pastoral Care Team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. Since age 16, Jason has been involved with mission work among the former Soviet-Bloc countries in Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, and in the United States. While living in Ukraine, he helped church plant three new churches that continue to thrive today under trained nationals. He has also written five books and has his own podcast (tinyurl.com/IRpodcast)