Wednesday, February 3, 2016

be encouraged today!

I especially love the beginning chapters of the book of Joshua when Israel is in the process of claiming the land that the Lord promised to them.  I love how the Lord encourages His people specifically through the testimony and leadership of Joshua... reminding them to be strong and courageous... to remember that God is always with them no matter what may come.  I've read this book of Scripture over and over throughout the course of my life.  And in my forty-six years, I have leaned desperately on several key passages peppered throughout it's storyline... trusting that the Lord is true... that He will continue to keep His Word and see me and my family through every difficult and scary situation.  So, please forgive me as I attempt to share my newly found shock concerning the spotlight God chose to shine my attention toward while reading this book for the umpteenth-gazillion time.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Be strong and courageous.  (Yep, got it.)
Do not be afraid.  (Doing my best to trust You, Lord.)
Do not be discouraged. (Yeah yeah yeah... I've read all this before.)
For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  (Hurray!)

...

Hm.  Nothing new, right?  Let's try it again...

Be strong and courageous.  (Check!)
Do not be afraid. (Check check!)
Do not be discouraged... (Wait, what?)

Hm.  Do not be discouraged.  How did I pass over that command and not consider it more?  For so much still discourages me each and every day.  So much weighs me down and keeps me glum and feeling overwhelmed, pessimistic.  Pick your poison of personal problems... this life has so many.  Sure, I trust the Lord.  I look to Him to fend off fear.  I lean on His power in order to keep my faith strong.  But have I considered what He has commanded further in this passage?

discourage: (1) to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence; dishearten; dispirit. (2) to dissuade (3) to obstruct by opposition or difficulty; hinder. (4) to express or make clear disapproval of; frown upon.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Do not be discouraged.
Do not lose your hope.
Do not live hindered, broken.
Do not frown upon the life God has bestowed upon you today.
Most important... Do not fail to encourage.

Wow.  What a thought.

This really hit me between the eyes because my chronic pain alone can sometimes defeat my mood before the sun ever rises.  But God doesn't say we won't have pain, does He?  He doesn't promise everything will always be happy, and effortless, and carefree.  No. In fact, anyone who has studied His Word knows that we will certainly face persecution, troubles, and trials.  Hardship is simply a guarantee in our Christian life.  Adversity will indeed meet us wherever we wander.  And although Satan will do all he can to vex our hearts, souls, minds... it is paramount to believe that our God will still be with us wherever we go!  God will shelter us through these storms.  His Savior will teach us how to survive.  His Spirit will show us the correct path - His Way.  And through every hindrance, He commands us to be strong, stay courageous, remain unafraid, and... live encouraged!!!

I think it is easy for us to yield to depression and feelings of defeat.  Too commonly we succumb to the disturbances of Satan and his bad habits - urging us to frown down upon, tear apart, and remain negative, low, contrite.  Yes, the enemy wants us to be discouraged.  He wants us to live beaten down and broken.  He doesn't want us to stand up, brush ourselves off, and continue to move forward.  No, he wants us slowed, stopped, stuck.

But God says to rise up!

They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. God commands stand still and believe.  (Psalm 20:8) 

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” (Matthew 9:6)

This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  (Ephesians 5:14-17)

God says to stand firm!

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you. (2 Chronicals 20:17)

God says to encourage one another every single day, as many times as necessary!

But the Israelites encouraged one another and again took up their positions where they had stationed themselves the first day. (Judges 20:22)

God says there is hope ahead!
So trust Him to be with you through the muck and mire!

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2)

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:17-18)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Yes, do not be discouraged.  Rather encourage.  Rather hope.  Rather live in confidence that the Lord will bring you through this wilderness.  These circumstances are intended to give God glory and honor and praise through the action of our faith and obedience.  So stand up, Believer!  Brush yourself off with His truth.  Pray without ceasing and give thanks to Him as you seek Him first for solutions and healing.  Continue forward this day in His grace and armed with His everlasting truth...

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:17-19)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)

Do not be discouraged!!!
Rather today, focus in faith on what the Lord your God commands:

"Build up, build up, prepare the road!
Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”

For this is what the high and exalted One says -
He who lives forever, whose name is holy:

“I live in a high and holy place,
But also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
To revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite."

(Isaiah 57:14-15)

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson





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