May 18, 2012

Counting Your Blessings: The Model of Self-Encouragement [The Model Series, Part 3 of 3]

I Samuel 30:6
"And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God."

While David and his warriors were away, the Amalekites raided their town, burned everything, and captured the women and children. The story is played out in eerie similarity in the rape of the Sabine women, which is the account of Rome's beginnings. In any event, the people wanted to stone David because they charged David in leaving the Ziklag defenseless while he galloped off with Achish.

When David couldn't turn to anyone for encouragement, he turned himself to the Lord. Why? Because he found he couldn't place any confidence in his men or the people around him.

This is what David did instead: He exercised his faith on his God. He encouraged himself in the power of God; in the promises of God, and in the faithfulness of God. You see, David knew and understood God's promises in light of his covenant relation to God.

Oh, that we were like David, in remembrance of the grace, mercy, and goodness of God! If only our former experiences of God's hand in our lives would move us closer to Him rather than away because of doubt (instead of faith); because of unbelief (instead of believing that God will meet us in some way or another, and work salvation for us) and because of timidity in the face of fear (instead of drawing strength from the Word of the Lord).  A Christian's God is no figment of the imagination, but is the real and corporal God-man, the Christ, the living Word of God, whose power, whose might, and whose grace is found in Him, Yes, Jesus, is our All in all.

In times of trouble, Christian, do you consider God? Does He ever come across your mind? In your dire stress & adversity, consider Psalm 23 as your model of self-encouragement when no one else is around to encourage you or when you are under attack.

In verse 1, the emphasis is "LORD" and refers to Jesus Christ for Christians. David states that he shall not want (or, lack) because he acknowledges who his Shepherd is and that He shall provide for all of his needs according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19).

If you focus on the Lord's 10 Provisions in Psalm 23 and reflect how Jesus has personally met your need in each area, then you truly will be blessed with encouragement in the Lord!

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:"  (v. 2a)

Here the picture is of repose or resting safely while being fully fed. Confer Eze. 34:15. Can you remember the last time the Lord furnished you repose?

"...[H]e leadeth me beside the still waters."  (v. 2b)

Not stormy waters or stagnant waters. These waters are still waters, deep waters that not even the strongest heat could steal your breath away or drain you of strength. See Isa. 49:10; Jn. 7:38.

"He restoreth my soul:"  (v. 3a)

God brings back the soul from its errors and sinful wanderings. Oh, what joy one experiences when God delivers us from our evil ways, redeeming the soul from destruction! Check out Ps. 19:7a.

"...[H]e leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."  (v. 3b)

God shows us paths that are good and true and not false in any way because God does not deal treacherously with us. Confer Prv. 4:11; Rom. 3:28, 5:1. Also, being justified is not the sole purpose of your salvation, but that He may be honored & glorified! See Ps. 51:14-15; Eph. 2:8-9.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:"  (v. 4a)

What more do you need than God's mighty hand? It was good enough for Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and Paul, so it should be good enough for you! Not convinced? Okay, read these Scriptures - Isa. 40:28-31; Exo. 15:2; Jn. 10:27-29.

" ...[F]or thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."  (v. 4b)

Even in the darkest of dark hours and deepest valleys, Jesus will never forsake you or abandon you (Heb. 13:5). Interesting note on the rod & staff: It seems to suggest that the staff refers to the part the which the shepherd used in walking, and the crook (or, rod) refers to the hooked part of the staff, which was used for guiding his flock. Thus, the Lord keeps you on the straight and narrow, if you allow Him! Please confer II Sam. 2:19; Ps. 48:14; Ps. 138:7.

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:"  (v. 5a)

Wow! In the heat of the battle, the Lord prepares a feast for his sheep. A sumptuous feast in perfect security in the midst of turmoil. Truly, if God be for you who can be against you? Christian, are you going to be at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9)? Are you encouraged just yet?

"...[T]hou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."  (v. 5b)

God not only fills you with the joy of gladness, it runs over. This, too, indicates an  abundance of  favors thus bestowed on His children. With the Lord, a believer is never left lacking or unfilled with spiritual joy and comfort. It overflows. See Lk. 6:38.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:"  (v. 6a)

The hymnist sang, "Mercy there was great and grace was free, pardon there was multiplied to me, there my burdened soul found liberty. Where? At Calvary!" How so true for every one that believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God! How very comforting to know that as we pass through this life, His goodness and mercy shall follow us every step of the way. Praise the Lord! Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! Need more proof? Go to Lam. 3:22-23.

"...[A]nd I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."  (v.6b)

Friend, where will you spend eternity? Christ said (three times, mind you) that you must be born again to enter the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:1-7). Are you saved? Are you washed in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow? If not, don't reject the free gift of mercy of Calvary! Don't be left out in the dark where there will be gnashing of teeth (Mt. 13:43).

Reader, please consider this model for self-encouragement the next time you're struggling in your Christian walk and have no one to turn to at the moment. It might be a good idea to memorize Psalm 23 and meditate on each part of the psalm, reflecting how God has worked in your life in each of the areas that were noted above.

A final observation on David: He was brought low, only just before he was raised to the throne (read II Sam. 2). So, when things are at their worst with the church and the people of God, that's when they begin to mend.

David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. The soul of the people was bitter; their own discontent and impatience added to the affliction and misery. And, they acted upon their emotions. But David bore it better. Why? Because they gave liberty to their passions, but he set his graces to work; and while they dispirited each other, he, by encouraging himself in God, kept his spirit calm. Those who have taken the Lord for their God, may take encouragement from him in the worst times because God is still on the throne. To God be the glory!

During discouraging times, you need a Saviour. Sometimes you can't wait for the rescuers to arrive. Take matters into your own hands, literally, by praying and encouraging yourself with God's Word. In desperate times you need something solid. What you need is the Holy Bible. In calamitous times you need someone solid. Who you need is Jesus Christ.

Are you his and is He yours? I Want Jesus To Be My Anchor!

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He's the One;
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible,
In times like these O be not idle;
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He's the One;
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

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