For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Because I Need the Encouragement

Suffering yet again this season from a few physical ailments, I’ve been in need of a little encouragement.  My sufferings (or rather my whinings) are not severe, but it is a reminder that we all need encouragement from time to time.  And so I find it in these words from Charles Spurgeon in a message called Encourage Your Minister based on Deuteronomy 1:38.  I hope you are encouraged as well. 

This teaches us, I think, that GOD, EVEN OUR GOD, IS GRACIOUSLY CONSIDERATE OF HIS SERVANTS, and would have them well fitted for high enterprise with good courage. He doth not send them as a tyrant would send a soldier upon an errand for which he is not capable; nor does he afterwards withhold his succor, forgetful of the straits to which they may be reduced; but he is very careful of his servants, and will not let one of them perish. He counts them as the apple of his eye, keeps them at all hours, and defends them from all dangers. Why is this?

The Lord our God hath strong reasons for being thus considerate of his servants. Are they not his children? Is he not their Father? Doth he not love them? If all human loves could be put together, they would scarce make a drop in a bucket, compared with the ocean of love which God the Father hath towards his children. All mothers’ loves, all the loves of friends, of brothers and of sisters, of husbands and of wives, if all piled together, would be a molehill, compared with the towering mountain of the divine love which God the Father hath towards his chosen. We are — and there is no other figure which sets forth the whole length and breadth of that love — we are as dear to God as his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ…

Will he ever send forth his servants to let them fall by the hand of the adversary? He is too jealous of his great name. His honor is too much concerned ever to permit this. Ye feeble ones, to whom God hath given to do or to suffer for his name’s sake, rest assured that he hath his eye upon you now. He cannot leave you, unless he can cease to be “God over all, blessed for ever.” He cannot forget you, for his heart of love can never change, and the relationship which he has towards you can never be dissolved. Beloved, God the Father careth for his children, because they are his children, and because his honor is concerned in them. How sweet the thought, if I fail, God fails; if I succeed, being God’s sent servant, God hath all the honor. Could I lean on him and fail, then to that degree God’s purpose is not fulfilled, God’s promise is not kept, God’s nature is not glorified. Oh, when ye can fall back on the name, the renown, the very character of God; when ye can say, as Moses said upon the Mount, “What wilt thou do for thy great name?” When ye can plead as Luther did, “Lord, this is no quarrel of mine, it is thine. Thou knowest thou didst put me to speak against thy foes, and now if thou leave me, where is thy truth? “When ye can plead with God in this way, surely he will give you a rescue. Ye cannot fail when your cause is God’s cause…

The Christian man must have his spirits sustained, in order that he may glorify the Lord. If his spirits are kept up, he will be able to endure trial upon trial. He comes to the fire, but it will never kindle upon him when his faith is firm. He walks through the rivers, but the floods never overflow him while he can look to his God. The sweetest songs believers ever have are those they sing at night. God’s people are like the nightingale — their music is best heard when the sun is gone down. Oh, how much depends on your spirits being supported! Let the spirits sink, and a little trouble lays like a dead weight upon the soul. On the other hand, if faith be firm, tons of trouble become light as a feather. Unless the spirits of God’s people be sustained, they will dishonor their God; they will think hard things of him, and perhaps they will speak hard things against him, and so the holy name of God will not be had in repute. What a bad example it is! This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic that soon spreads amongst the Lord’s flock. One downcast believer makes twenty sad. This phobia is a contagious species of madness; soon are men bitten with it; if one doubt of the promise of God, straightway a whole congregation will begin to foam with like doubts. When Paul was in the ship and took bread and ate it in the midst of the storm, then all the crew were encouraged; but if Paul had been downcast, then, from the captain to the smallest cabin-boy, there would have been great distress.

Oh, be of good courage! for the sake of your brothers and sisters in Christ; when you would say a hard or bitter thing, keep it back as David did, lest he should offend against the generation of God’s people. “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me.” Unless your courage is kept up, Satan will be too much for you? My experience teaches me that the cowardly old tempter always comes upon us when we are in our worst state. If he would but meet me sometimes, I could drive him as chaff before the wind; but he will always meet me when an attack of bile, or some domestic trouble, or ill tidings in the camp, hinder my cheerfulness. Then, sure enough, in some dark, narrow lane, stands the arch-enemy, with his sword drawn, and he swears he will spill the blood of my soul. But just let the heart be right, let the spirit be joyful in God my Savior, the joy of the Lord shall be your strength, and no fiend of hell shall make headway against you.

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