Charles Stanley - Encouraging Ourselves

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All of us have gone through situations and circumstances in our life that we didn't like. And oftentimes we became maybe despondent, maybe even depressed or feeling the distress of a situation. And this is the world we live in and we can't change all the circumstances. And it's no fun majoring on that. What we have to do is decide how am I going to respond when I go through these difficult times. I think most of us would agree if we have a close friend we can share things with, someone that would be honest with us, someone that would be confidential, someone who would be an encourager. If we had that sort of takes away some of the pain.

Then there's situations you can't tell anybody about. They're distressful things that happen to you personally or in your life that you would be too embarrassed to tell somebody else. Heartaches, burdens, things going on in a family and things going on in a person's finances, relationships, in their plans, you can't tell anybody else about. So how do you respond to these distressing situations and you feel like, I just can't tell anybody? You can oftentimes see that in somebody's face if you're close to them or watch with them or work with them close by. You can tell when they're sort of down, something is different.

And if you say, can I help you in some way? They would say no, I'm fine. You know they're not fine. At this point in their life, they don't feel free to share that with anybody. What do you do in times like that? Well, we've been talking about how great an encourager God is. And also we've talked about how we have the privilege of encouraging one another. All of us have been encouraged by many people probably down through the years. But what about those times when you don't feel like you could tell anybody? And it's just you and the situation, the circumstances. It's just you and maybe you feel like God is up yonder somewhere. But it's just you. How do you deal with that? That's what this message is all about. Encouraging ourselves. And that is indeed a biblical principle that God intends for us to encourage ourselves.

I want to talk about that. I want to use David who was a perfect example of encouraging himself. And think about this. By writing the Psalms and his very life, he's encouraged you and me for many, many years. When I think about how many years ago those Psalms were written, over 2000 years ago, we're still being encouraged. How could we ever repay God for how he used some people in those days? Some of them, not the best in the world. Some of them fantastic characters. And yet, we've been encouraged. What I want to do is give you background so this will all fit together.

I want you to turn to 1 Samuel 30 and here's what's happening. David has been running from king Saul for years. And king Saul at first he just thought David was it. And he killed Goliath and that was a fantastic thing. And next thing you know, his whole attitude has changed because all these ladies came out singing about to David that Saul killed his thousands and David his ten thousands and all of a sudden jealousy hits king Saul. And he set out from that moment to destroy him. And once when, twice really when David was playing the harp for him to sort of settle his nerves, Saul's nerves he threw a Jeff listen at him to pin him to the wall.

You know how heavy they are and sharp they are, if someone thrust one at you, it would go through you easily. He talked about marriage, he said he wanted to give him a daughter of his because she would bring him down. How about that for a gift from a father-in-law? Everywhere he went, he chased him year after year he tried to find him. He would have three thousand soldiers trying to find David and his men. Twice Saul was so close to David David cut off a piece of his garment. He showed him that he could have killed him. But that he would not kill the servant of God. You think maybe that would stop him. No, it didn't. And David made this statement about Saul. One day he'll come to the end and probably be killed in battle. And that is exactly what happened. Both Saul and his son, Jonathan who was David's best friend, were both killed in battle. In fact, they were killed in the battle right after what we're talking about took place.

So since he was chased by him. Finally David had 600 fellow soldiers. So they joined up with the Philistines which was the army that was in opposition to Israel. And you think, David would never have done that. But he was chased everywhere. Tried to kill him. He had six hundred men. He went over to the Philistine side. So now, the Philistines and Israel are getting ready to battle. And so David has his 600 and the Philistines get all lined up. And then the king of the Philistines, you know, David's been a fantastic warrior for me. The Philistine soldiers said, wait a minute. Isn't this the David that killed Goliath. Isn't this the David that the women came out singing about him? Isn't this the David who is a great warrior? We don't want him in this battle. Because if he's in this battle in the middle of the battle, he may turn against us.

So finally Achish called David and said to him, as the Lord lives, you've been up right and your going out and coming in with me and the army are pleasing in my sight for I've not found evil in you from this day. In other words, nevertheless you're not pleasing in the sight of the Lord. You've been everything I've expected you to be, but my commanders don't want you and your six hundred men in this battle because they don't trust you. So finally, Achish said, okay, and he told David, at sunrise tomorrow when the light gets up, you all are to leave. So here he is, pretty disappointed he can't get in the middle of this battle.

So if you'll start with me in the 30th chapter and here's what happens. So they've left and it's about a 60 mile trip back to Ziklag traveling about 60 miles a day. They came to Ziklag where they had been camping on the third day the amalekites made a raid on Ziklag and overcame Ziklag and burned everything with fire. Burned everything to the ground. They took captive the women and all who were in it both small and great without killing anyone and carried them all off their own way. When David and his men came to the city, behold it was burned with fire. Their wives and sons and daughters had been taken captive.

Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices. Look at this. And they wept until there was no more strength in them to weep. David's two wives were taken captive, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. Moreover, now this is the verse. Watch this. Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him for all the people were embittered. Each one of his of sons and his daughters. But David strengthened or encouraged himself, same word. Encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

Now, think about this. He's lost everything. That's enough. They said they wept and wept and wept. These are men weeping and weeping and weeping until they could not weep anymore. Totally distressed. Totally depressed. David was one of them. And then the more they thought about it, their hurt became anger and bitterness and they thought, well we'll just deal with this. And they thought they would maybe just stone David to death. And they were talking about it. So he heard it. So think about this. What would he do? He couldn't run. He couldn't out run six hundred men. Secondly, he had already lost all of his family and everything. There is not anything good going on for David at this particular point. There was no one to turn to. He didn't have half his army saying well we're for David and half not. No. They were all bitter because of what had happened. He had nobody to turn to.

What do you do when you get in one of those times and whatever is going on in your life you can't tell anybody about? Or you don't have a friend that's confidential enough to share it with so it's just you. What do you do with those heavy, heavy, weighty heartaches, depressions that come into your life and there's nobody to turn to? Listen to see what David did here and I want to show you how he did it. Moreover in verse six, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him because all the people were embittered. They turned bitter. Each ones because of their sons they lost their families, their daughters, but David strengthened himself in the Lord. Strengthened himself means he encouraged himself. How do you encourage yourself? We know we talk to our friends and they encourage but how do you encourage yourself? How do you go about that?

Listen carefully and think about this. There are times you have situations you can't tell anybody about. What do you do? Do you get depressed, stay depressed? Get so distressed you don't know what to do next and you do something that's foolish, probably? Or do you do what he did? So here's what he did. And that is, he paused and got quiet before God. That's all he could do. In other words, he couldn't run. He couldn't give up and quit. He paused. The reason he paused is this. Oftentimes when we get in a situation that's very difficult and hard to handle, people want to make a snap decision and they're motivated by get me out of this right now. I don't deserve this. Whatever it might be. Oftentimes they can't get out of it. He didn't do that. He paused and thought. He didn't run. He didn't make a decision. He paused and thought about where he was and what the situation is.

What do you do when you get this that kind of a situation? Do you stop and think, Lord, what shall I do? Or do you just make a decision? And oftentimes the decision we make is motivated on what we think, I can handle this? And sometimes you can't. My way will be as good as anybody's way. No. A godly person is going o stop and think. Pause and think what should I do? How shall I handle this? And I want you to turn to the 46th Psalm. You remember David wrote so many Psalms. And I want you to look at this 46th Psalm and listen what it says. Verse one. God is our refuge and strength. They were exhausted to the end of their rope. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. That word present is very important. A very present help in trouble. Therefore, because he is, we'll not fear though the earth shall change, the mountains slip into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and though the mountains quake. That is everything is clouded. Nothing is clear. What should we do? And he writes this Psalm and come down to the tenth verse if you will. Here's what he says. Cease striving and know that I am God.

Wouldn't you agree oftentimes we strive with God. What about this? What about this? God will show you something. I don't believe that's it, God. We strive with him. That is, we argue with him. We have difficulty in just accepting what he wants to say to us. And the wonderful thing about pausing and being quiet. It gives you an opportunity to let the furor in your heart, the a anger this your heart or bitterness or hostility whatever it might be, it gives it a moment to just settle a moment. What should I do Lord? Not move too fast. Not move in a foolish direction. For example, where would he go? He didn't know where his family was or enemy was. Besides that, he had six hundred soldiers who wanted to stone him to death. What alternative did he have? The wisest thing he could do to encourage himself is first of all, get quiet before God. And many people don't know how to do that. They just think, I've got to act. No, you don't have to act.

Listen. If you're in a position that's difficult you don't know what to do next whatever the situation may be you just stop and think, Lord, you said stop don't strive with you, just wait upon you. And many people when you talk about waiting upon God they have no earthly idea what you mean. It means you don't do anything for a moment. Somebody says I have to do this. No, you don't. Oftentimes when people want to push us to make a decision we shouldn't make it because the time is not right. My time is better than God's timing and my mind is better than his. No.

First thing he did, and when I think about this verse right here, the power of it, I think about Martin Luther who wrote 95 thesis and put it on a church door and started the great reformation. Listen to what he wrote. You know these songs but listen to the words. A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing. Helper amid the flood, prevailing, still our ancient foes, speaking of satan, seek to work us whoa and armed with cruel hate on earth is none his equal. Speaking of the devil. Listen. Did we in our own strength confide? No. Our striving would be losing. If not the right man on our side man of God's own choosing. Do you ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is he. Lord sabbath his name. From age to age the same. He must win the battle.

And I think you and I need to stop and think if I'm facing one of these things I stop and ask myself the question, Lord, what would you have me to do at this point? You don't act first. We're to act for guidance, God, what would you have me to do? And the scripture gives us illustration after illustration verse after verse about asking God. Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you. The Lord wants us to ask him. He wants us to stop and seek his wisdom and his guidance. Think about this. You can't get in any predicament God doesn't have the right answer for. He knew you were all about you were going to get into it. He knew all about how to get you out of it. He knew exactly what it would take to encourage your heart so you wouldn't give up and you wouldn't make a decision you would regret later on.

Many people make decisions when they get to the hard times that they regret for the rest of their lives. So by encouraging himself he got real quiet and then he made the wise decision, Lord, what would you have me to do? Think about this. God doesn't have to come up with a plan. Because, he's omniscient. Look. He's already seen all the messes you're going to get into in the very beginning. He already has the right plan to bring them through your difficulty, hardships other people bring on your difficulties and hardships we bring on ourselves we can't control. He already has the answer. He doesn't have to say let's figure this out. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, let's get together. No. He already knows.

See, he has a will for your life. When you're out of his will, something will happen. In his will, something will happen. Any time we're willing to acknowledge our inadequacy and ask him to give us guidance and direction for our life he will. And that's exactly what he did. So in stopping and asking the Lord what to do, here's what he did. The scripture says he went to Abiathar who was the priest and seeking making a decision. Now the priest had this vest that came down to about right here. Sleeveless came down to about right here. A square. 12 stones in that. Each one represented one of the tribes of Israel. And we don't know anything else about the Ephod except a few references to it. Nobody has an answer to that except David knew and felt responsible for getting to the priest. And he asked God what he should do.

And if you'll turn to verse seven of the 30th chapter. Then David said to the priest, the son of Ahimelech, please bring me the Ephod. So he brought the Ephod to David. David inquired of the Lord. So he's talking to God now saying, shall I pursue the band? This band. Shall I overtake them. And he said to him, pursue for you will surely overtake them and you will surely rescue all. So, he sought the Lord and God made it clear to him what he should do.

Think about this. The wisest thing he could possibly do is say, Lord, I'm in an impossible situation. There's no place to turn. What would you have me to do? Now, they're already getting ready o stone him to death. And for God say to him, you pursue them. What did that mean? God had to speak to 600 soldiers to agree with a man they were just about ready to stone to death. He couldn't arrange that. That was the awesome miracle of God. Now listen carefully. When you get in a tough situation, just ask him what to do. Does he have an answer? Yes. Pursue him. That doesn't sound right. You don't argue with God. You just do what he says.

Somebody says, I don't know whether, well, you know, I don't know about asking God. Who is smarter and wiser than he is? I don't know God would answer my prayer. Watch this carefully. If you're living in sin, right. If you're living in sin, you're expecting God to give you some out and make everything just right. No. If you're living in sin you're living in disobedience to God. You're not listening to him about your life. If your life is clean. If you say, Lord, get on your knees and ask God to clean you up and get things right. And so, when you do, and when you come to him genuinely, now watch this also. I've seen people do this. O dear God, I'm telling you, if you will just please help me, I promise you I'll never do that again. Do you know what? God knows better than that.

We're talking about genuine confession, genuine repentance genuine cleansing of your heart and asking God, what shall I do? And so it seemed to be the most unlikely thing to do. Now watch this. Pursue them? They're getting ready to stone me to death. Secondly, we don't know where they are, which way do we go? So everything was sort of questionable. But he asked God. And God spoke to him. Now watch this carefully. Somebody says, why do you keep saying that? Because it's very important. When you're asking God about something and you don't quite get it clear and you say, Lord, can that possibly be true? Here's what you do. You open the word of God. You ask him to show you where to read. You may read something that you've never read before. You'll be amazed how many times God will speak to you clearly through his word. Very, very clearly. God is committed to show you and me what to do, where to go no matter what.

Sometimes we don't have anybody else to ask. Notice what he said. That David strengthened himself. That is, he encouraged himself. He encouraged himself to do what? To seek the Lord. He encouraged himself to be obedient to God whatever God told him. He encouraged himself. There's times we have to encourage ourselves we don't have anybody else. There's some things you don't want to share with anybody else. Some things you can't tell anybody else. So you're discouraged. You're depressed. You're down. You're out. You say, how can I encourage myself? You stop and pause and think, okay, here's where I am? What does the word of God tell me? Am I going to listen to God or am I not?

You see, many times God will tell us what to do and we won't do it. That couldn't be right. That's not right. You tell them head out in this direction, that's what he did. God will never tell you chapter one if chapter two is not going to be there. He's going o show us what to do and when to do it. I may not understand it. I may not understand it at all. That's not the issue. The issue is I'm to do whatever he says do. I'm to obey him. So when there's times you can't ask anybody else. And maybe never been in that situation you had no one to ask. When you don't have anyone and you have to encourage yourself, it's you and God and you and his word. That's why his word is very important for simple reason. In his word we're going o find out what we need to know.

I looked back over the years and think about times I have been in a situation that I feel like I had anybody o give me some real wise advice or counsel. I know what I learned to do very early. Get in a prayer room somewhere and talk to God and be quiet and Lord, you show me the next step. I've been in situations that are pretty tough. And I'm they're tell you, God never said to me, I don't have anything to say. That's not who he is. When you and I stop and recognize he has an answer, he has an answer to anything and everything you and I face. And you think about this. God is pleased and honored when you and I choose to go to him and say, Lord, I don't know what to do. I don't know which way to turn. I'll trust you. God always answers our petition.

Now sometimes he'll tell us to do something that doesn't seem right. In other words, it doesn't look right. If he tells you what to do, you have to do it. Or you disobey him. In his situation he had little or no choice at all. He said he encouraged himself. So stopping and pausing and listening and getting our message from God, but within of the things that's very important. That is, to encourage myself which I'm sure he did, he recalled. Listen. He recalled past times in his life when God came through for some situations, some heartache. He recalled God's help in previous times.

I want you to think about something. Watch this carefully. As soon as you get through writing I want you to look this way and listen. It's that important. You are making history in your life. Look back over your life. How God has worked. Times when you thought you had to give up and quit and walk away. When you want to give up and quit anyway. You're making history in your life. That is, God's come through in the past. He's helped you in this situation, that situation, this situation. You say never anything like that. Just add the history. There's not anything God can't do to help you through whatever you may be going through and sometimes, sometimes we just forget how good he's been in the past and what he's done.

So when I see what happened here, think back, think back how I've rescued you. And he had to think back how he rescued him from Saul and the difficulties and heartaches and Goliath and all the other things he went through. And this is a powerful, powerful means of getting us through discouragement. And that is, what has God done in the past in my life? And I remember I had a big battle when I first came to first baptist. And when the second battle came, the first battle I sat under the balcony and no one knew I was there. The second battle I sat up on the front right in front of the pulpit and looked everybody in the eye. Do you know why? I remembered and recalled God's victory before and I believed he would give me victory again.

So if you don't make note of what God's doing in your life, it's like you're erasing your history. You're forgetting it. This is why I think we should teach our children early in life of what God is doing in their life, things they like. Things they don't like. Whatever is going on. They're building their history. And the truth is, all of us are building one whether we acknowledge it or not. And here's what happens. Watch this carefully. This is a principle. When people forget their history, they repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again.

And so you're building a history. It's part of your life. It's something that you have walked through already in your life. And because David knew how God had worked before in his life, here he was as a teenager coming up Goliath and God gave him that victory. Can you imagine the kind of faith that built into him? And so, all of his warfare. He was victorious over and over and over again. And he had built this history into his life and now he's six hundred men against all these amalekites. And there were lots more of them. He said when they spread out around their camp at night, they just covered everything. And they were out numbered many times to one. But God told them what to do, sneak up on them at nighttime and just hit them from every side and that will cause confusion and you'll defeat them.

God never leads us into trap, remember that. He doesn't lead us into traps. He leads us into situations and circumstances that are very dangerous maybe or looks like there's no way to win of the and yet, when God tells you to do something, you do it. Suppose I don't believe it the first time. You better ask him again. Listen, listen, the work of the Holy Spirit is to confirm within your heart and spirit, this is of God. That's part of his work. To confirm in your heart that God has said do this. So this is exactly what he did. He began to recall how God had worked in his life before.

And if you'll think for just a moment, give you about ten seconds to think about this. Think about when you have been in a tough spot. Really discouraged. What could you have thought about that happened before? If you had thought about that. God got me out of that. God helped me through that. Somebody says, I'm not sure he'll help me this time. God doesn't change. We sing all about Almighty God. And we believe that he does not change, that he's the same yesterday, today, forever. And he loves us. His love doesn't change. Whatever situation we're in, he is going to be there to give us direction and guidance and encourage our hearts. And when I look at how God worked in David's life, he said he encouraged himself. How did he encourage himself? Same way you and I are to. We're to pause when something happens. Don't make a fast decision. We're to ask for God's guidance. We're to get into his word. We're to recall what he's done for us in the past. God, you brought me through that. You'll bring me through this. You took me through this situation. You'll take me through this. You were faithful then. You'll be faithful today. I'll trust you.

Then, of course, we are to obey him. He said, here's what I want you to do. Pursue them. Suppose he said, well, you know, I don't know how many there are. And they were only six hundred. In other words, when he said pursue, that's exactly what he meant. Now watch this. If I'm going to encourage myself, I've got to be willing to do what he says even though I may be fearful about the very thought of it. So what encouraged David in an impossible situation? Lost all his family. Grieved until they couldn't grieve anymore. Getting ready to get stoned to death and all of a sudden God said challenge your men to follow you and I'll show you what to do, and that's exactly what he did.

Now it's interesting what he did in this situation because even after they decided, for example, we'll follow him. Where are we going? Look how God works. So they head out in a direction not nothing where to go and they found this one Egyptian soldier. The amalekites had cast him aside because he was sick and couldn't fight in battle and they told him to get out there and die. Didn't have water or food for three days. When David found him, looked like one of the enemy. Where had he been, what happened? The commander told me I couldn't fight so just stay here in die. Will you bring me down to this man? Swear to God you'll not kill me and I'll tell you.

So he did. As a result, what happened? His 600 men head in that direction, but watch this. God wants to be in control and get all the glory. When they got to a certain river 200 of them said I'm too tired I can't go any further. One-third of his army checked out. We can't fight anymore. Dead tired and checked out and morally destroyed because of their families and so forth. They said, we can't go anymore. What did David do? Watch this. You listen carefully. Because God said, pursue them. He believed exactly what God said knowing God knew, one-third of his army won't even be able to fight. The amalekites with hundreds and hundreds. In fact, the scripture says when they found them, they were scattered out everywhere.

So many of them, they were just everywhere. He only has four hundred men. What happens? They attack and kill them. Got all their wives back, all their children back. They didn't kill anybody. They just took them. Got their wives back. Got their children back. Got all their loot back. All their belongings. They got everything back. Look how God operated. David got quiet. He listened to God. He did exactly what God told him to do. And if you'll notice, from that point on, he was encouraged about everything. Because he listened. And he obeyed God. You see, here's one Egyptian out there in the desert dying, but God had him out there to give David exactly where he needed to go. And so they found them asleep. And when they found them asleep, they killed the whole crowd. He went from absolute total discouragement facing the loss of his family and death, facing all of that, and now God's led him to be victorious over his enemy.

When I read this, I think Lord, here's what it says. David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening. They fought all day long. They said a while ago they couldn't do anything. David slaughtered them from the twilight to the evening of the next day and not a man of them escaped except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled. The guys who didn't stay to fight took off. David recovered all the amalekites had taken and rescued his two wives. But none of theirs was missing whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything they had taken for themselves. David brought it all back.

So David had captured all the sheep. Cattle which the people drove ahead. Of the livestock and they said, this is David's spoil. Look what David did. When he came to 200 men back here, we just can't handle it. We can't fight. The men who fought said they don't get anything. They didn't fight. David said, yes they do. We'll give them as much as we gave the fighters because somebody had to stay with the stuff back here. And so I value them. And he knew that those 200 back here had done their best. They were warn out. They couldn't do anything else. If you have soldiers who can't fight they're not a help. They're a hindrance. When they got back, he gave them everything they lost. And so David experienced an awesome deliverance by Almighty God.

Now, when you think about situations that you face in life, honestly what do you do? When you get real disturbed about something or depressed about something and you're just stressed out. I wouldn't dare have you raise your hand. But if I would say how many of you your first response is call the doctor? First response, go to the medicine cabinet? First response, I got o take something. First response, I got o talk to somebody. Do you know what? God is the great physician. And he's the one who heals our hurt hearts. I don't think doctors have anything in a bottle that can do what God can do. I'm not opposed to medicine. Many times we resort to man rather than Almighty God. Listen to him. Be quiet. Don't jump. Just wait. And ever what he says do, do it.

And listen, when somebody says, if I were you, here's what I would do. Let this be your first thought. You're not me. And you don't know what you would do. I want to know what God wants me to do, not what somebody else wants me to do. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ever ask for advice or counsel. We're talking about when you've got things you don't want to share with anybody else. We've talked about helping each other and encouraging each other. What about when it's just you and you have nowhere to go but God? Can you trust him? Yes, you can. He says, you go this way or that way is what you must do. And to listen to people rather than to God only gets you in trouble.

And when I look at that passage and see how God works in his life, he encouraged David. And listen. He encouraged him to do what? Not just to sit. He encouraged him to go fight a war. Out numbered many times to one. They won. Why? God was on their side. Oftentimes he would tell you something to do, you think, no, there's no way I could do that. Let me ask you a question. What is it that you can't do when God tells you to do it? When God is on your side, when he's working on your behalf. I've lived long enough to see things and watch things in my own life I think, Lord, that appears to be foolish. I'm not saying it is, God. I'll do whatever you say. I've never obeyed God in a difficult situation that he did not bring it to pass. Listen. There's no favorites. God doesn't play favorites. God has intimates not favorites. Intimates are people that have a relationship.

When you have a relationship with God, he'll speak to you clearly. And instead of staying discouraged and giving up and probably getting stoned to death what did he do? He paused to think. He sought the Lord. Asked God to show him what to do. And when you think back how he worked everything out perfectly. Who is this lone Egyptian out here? He was God's compass, that's who he was. He looked like a poor soldier just about gone. But God had him out there for David. He led him to the enemy, destroyed the enemy. Got everything back. They came back praising God I got my wife, I got my children, I got everything I had. I got it all back. How did that happen? David didn't react. He got quiet. He listened. He sought the Lord's mind about it. He heard it. He obeyed God. And God did exactly what he promised.

That simple illustration is the key to your life. You're writing history. You've already written many years of it. Some of you have written more than others. Some haven't written much. I've written 81 years of history in my life. Some of you have written a few more than that, or less. Listen. You can't change history. What you want to do, listen, you want your grandchildren to read your history. You want your children. You want your friends. In other words, you want the people who you're related to over the years, you want their remembrance of you to be something that is good. Well he stayed in trouble half the time. He stayed in debt all the time of the on and on and on we go. But you're writing your history. No one can write it for you. But if you will obey him, obey him, obey him. Trust him, trust him, trust him. Do what he says. Not because you understand it or because it's profitable or because of this or because of this. No. Just trust him and do what he says. You cannot fail. God doesn't fail. He doesn't create failures. We bring it on ourselves.

So when I think about how God worked in this life and how he obeyed the Lord, we can talk about it a long time. But naturally what ultimately encouraged him is, he came home. Can you imagine six hundred men coming back, heading back towards their home with their wife and children. The children were never more precious than that moment. Wife wasn't more lovable than that day. He might have been in rags but they were with their husbands. It was an awesome encouraging, glorious time. Even if they lost all their stuff, it still would have been the same thing. Why? Watch this. One man encouraged himself before God and watch what happened. One man. He was all by himself. Going to stone him to death. Lost everything. Nothing positive about it. One man got quiet. Listened to God. Sought the Lord. Heard from God. Did exactly what God told him to do. That is a principle that is absolutely unchangeable.

Now, we are talking about encouraging others. Watch this. What I've shared with you is the most important part. But there are other ways to encourage yourself, not when you have some major issue. But there's ways to encourage yourself if you get a little down about something. Even if you're going through a tough time, there's other ways to encourage yourself. For example, achievement and accomplishment in something you like, that you love to do is a wonderful way to encourage yourself. You say that's not very spiritual. Yes, it is. We're to be joyous Christians. And when things get tough on us, watch this, when you do what the Lord tells you to do, that doesn't mean they'll not be any pain or heartache. But he's going to bring you through it. You have the privilege and the right and the blessing of being able to do what you love to do.

For example, one of the most encouraging things in my life is to sit down with the word of God and prepare a message. It's challenging, very challenging. Sometimes it gets stressful. In fact, the only thing that raises my blood pressure is preparing a message. Not delivering it. Preparing it. I think it's so intense. That's okay. But I'm saying, I love doing that. I love photography. If I have a little heaviness in my heart about something, I'll do something I want to do that brings me pleasure. You have the same privilege. If you're a person who says I don't have anything that brings me pleasure, you need to start from scratch. Because surely there's something that brings you pleasure that's holy and it's not ungodly, it's just something you like to do. Because God intends, listen, God intends for us to be joyous. He intends for us to be happy. It doesn't mean you'll be happy all the time. He intends for us to have peace in our heart.

When are we the best witness? When we're talking about what God is doing in our lives and how great he is and what he's doing in your life. That's when your testimony is the most effective. Think about this now. Some of you in here probably in one of those situations. You stop. Pause. God, what do you want me to do? You're asking him. You get in his word. Lord, if you need some confirmation, ask him to confirm it. When he makes it clear to you, you obey him. And what happens? You will be encouraged. It is the will and purpose and plan of God that his children live a purposeful life and a life that has joy. Doesn't mean we won't have hurt and pain but a life beneath that has awesome joy, because we're his children.

Well, if you're one of those persons who have never been saved and you think, well, how does all that fit me? Put it this way. If you never trusted Jesus as your Savior, this is not an opinion. This is not an attitude. This is the divine gospel, biblical truth. It is the truth of Almighty God that you will reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow. And you can't change that. No. You can't change it. No. It will not happen to me. It happens. You can't change a principle. That's true, morning, noon and night. It was true in the garden of eden. It's true today. Without Christ in your life, you're going to make a miserable mess of it. You don't have enough money as a substitute. Enough prestige, enough fame or anything else. The ages of sin is death. It's not just physical death. It's spiritual death. We reap what we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow.

What you need is to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, not based on how good you are or what you can do for him because you can't do anything for him. Based on the fact he died at calvary, shed his blood as payment for your sin. You need him as your Savior. You need him as your helper. You think you have it altogether but you don't. You think you can buy your way into anything and everything. No, you can't. There will come a time your money won't count. Fame won't count. Influence. None of that will count. You'll stand face-to-face with God. You may be lying in a hospital bed somewhere on your way to dying. Then what are you going depend on? And if you'll think about that, your history will have condemned you. The way you lived. I pray to God that right now, whoever you are and wherever you are, you'll ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, cleanse your life, turn your life over to him. Tell him the only thing that really matters is Christ in your life. I pray to God that you'll ask him to save you, which he will do.

Father, how grateful we are. What an awesome God you are. When we think about all the ways that you've given us joy and happiness and peace in our heart. And sometimes right in the middle of pain. You give us this overwhelming, indescribable, unexplainable joy. I pray for someone here this morning who's living in sin, disobeying you, lost, totally separated from you. Help them to realize they're writing history. Devastating, sinful history that's going to end up in a devastated, miserable life. And show them that they can change today by asking the Lord Jesus Christ your beloved Son to forgive them of their sins based on what you did at the cross. And before they leave this building, their life will be transformed by your awesome grace. I pray for you here, Father, who is going through some situation or circumstance that today they will take these simple ideas, points, truths, principles, begin to apply them to their heart and step out of whatever they're facing in life, in Jesus' name, amen.

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