ENCOURAGEMENT

Sam C Lock

Deuteronomy 3: 28

2 Chronicles 35: 1, 2

1 Samuel 30: 6

1 Thessalonians 4: 17, 18

         Like our dear brother who has gone before, I felt led to say something in relation to the matter of encouragement.  I had an impression about the thought of encouragement and it was on my mind that it is not necessarily entirely about happiness.  Encouragement does have an element of joy and happiness attached to it, but I think encouragement also has an element of prompting and strengthening attached to it.  Indeed, in Scripture, strength and encouragement are often put together.  I was reading this passage in Deuteronomy in relation to Moses and he was not permitted to go into the land, or to lead the people into the land, but in this verse it says, “But charge Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land which thou shalt see”; Joshua was to be charged and encouraged and strengthened.  I seek to speak carefully: sometimes we can see things that we would like to do, but it is not God’s mind that we be the ones that do them.  Indeed, God had Joshua in mind for this task at this point, and he was to be encouraged and strengthened.  It says, “for he shall go over before this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land which thou shalt see”.  That was quite a responsibility, and Moses was to “encourage him and strengthen him”.  I think we can apply that to our day.  Our brother mentioned earlier about responsibilities that we have, and sometimes they may seem quite daunting, but we are to be encouraged.  I think we are to encourage one another, to prompt one another, to strengthen one another, strengthen each other in our resolve, strengthen each other in our commitment.  We are to be strengthened in our faith.  It is not that we would be able to do that alone; I think it would be God who is able to strengthen us in our faith, but we are able to encourage one another and strengthen one another for the tasks that lie before each of us, by referring to our Lord, and referring to the teaching God has given us.

         I had a similar impression in connection with Josiah also.  It was particularly verse 2 that struck me: “And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of Jehovah”.  I think sometimes we need encouragement to take up our responsibilities.  We need encouragement to ensure that we each as individuals are doing all that we can for our God.  Our brother mentioned what a priest is.  It says here, “And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of Jehovah”.  We each have responsibilities here in this scene.  I can speak as a young one, and speak from my own experience, that the Lord showed me quite distinctly one day that I am now no longer a young child.  Now I am a young man, and as a result there are things He has in mind that I should be doing, responsibilities I should be taking up.  It was not in any way a reprimand, but I do feel the Lord was encouraging me to take up my responsibilities “of the house of Jehovah”.  I also remember a brother saying to me once, ‘A locality does not just run on its own.  A locality needs saints to take up responsibility’.  I would be very, very careful to suggest that someone is not doing all that they can, but it is a question we must ask ourselves: 'Is God getting my full committal?'.  I think that is something that can only be completely or accurately ascertained between ourselves and God.  Well, we are to encourage one another “to the service of the house of Jehovah”.  God has things that He needs us to do.  God has things that He would like to show us, things that He would like us to be in the gain of, things that He would like us to be able to show to others, and all of that is done through taking up our responsibilities, and by encouraging and prompting one another to be taking up our responsibilities always, and ensuring that God is getting His portion from each of us.  

         When we seek to encourage one another, prompt one another, and help one another to be in the gain of these things, I believe that is when the enemy seeks to come in.  That is why I read about David, because David at this point in time was greatly distressed.  It says his own people were contemplating stoning him.  You may say these should be the very people that should be encouraging him, but this was not the case and “David was greatly distressed”; sometimes we can be distressed by our circumstances.  The enemy has borne witness to man, and he has worked with the minds of men for many thousands of years.  He is very good at what he does in sowing seeds of doubt and discouragement, seeking to disrupt what is for the pleasure of God.  And David was distressed here.  But it says he “strengthened himself in Jehovah his God”.  I think as well as being able to encourage one another, we can always be like David here and turn to God for encouragement.  As I said, encouragement and strength go together quite frequently in Scripture.  God has all the answers.  He has things He needs us to do.  I was struck by that in our reading last week when Peter was to walk across the water to meet the Lord, Matthew 14: 28.  Speaking quite practically, it is a phenomenally remarkable thing to be asked to walk on water, and yet Peter does it, but when he looked away from the Lord and saw the wind and the waves, he began to doubt.  What struck me at that point is that sometimes when the Lord has asked us to do something, or when the Lord shows us something that we need to do, we worry about how we will go about the task, what is going to happen, how will it all work out.  Again I speak very carefully, but sometimes it is not our place to know how or what is going to happen.  It is simply the matter that God has laid something out before us and He needs us to do it.  “David strengthened himself in Jehovah his God”.  God would show us that if He has something He needs us to do, He would not just abandon us to our fears, to our doubts; He would show us that He is with us.  He would encourage us if we have doubts, doubts in our pathway, doubts about our commitment.  He would encourage us and He would show us that He is with us, that He is supporting us, and He would strengthen us.  That is the greatest source of encouragement you can possibly find, strength given from the very Being that created the universe, as well as His desire to have us in such a blessed relationship of dependence as this with Himself.

         That is why I finally read in Thessalonians.  I know it might be a different context here, but it says, “to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be always with the Lord”.  That is what we have to look forward to.  Our brother also alluded to the scripture, “I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you”, John 14: 18.  That was something else that was on my mind, that the Lord is coming and in the meantime while we are here, He needs us to be taking up our tasks and responsibilities; He expects us to be doing this.  He has a right to expect us to be looking after the testimony, to be looking after the things that He has in mind for us to do.  He has the right to expect that.  This final verse is: “So encourage one another with these words”.  I find it very testing to encourage somebody.  Sometimes I do not feel that I have the words or the knowledge to be able to encourage somebody, but if we have the desire to help a fellow-believer, a fellow-saint, in whatever exercise they may be carrying and whatever task the Lord has set before them, I believe the Lord would surely help us do that.  “So encourage one another with these words”.  We are able to point to our Lord; and we have the Scriptures, and we have access to the Father and, with access to all these things, we do not have to worry about what we have to say.  We just have to think about what God would have us say.  God would give us the words that would enable us to encourage one another in order that the results would be for His glory, for the glory of the Lord, and that the results would be for the enjoyment of divine Persons.  I was speaking about that recently with a brother in relation to the enjoyment that divine Persons get from us, and how we often concentrate on the blessings that we have, and it is not wrong to do that.  Indeed, it is a very great thing: we have such great blessings that have been bestowed upon us.  But it is quite something to contemplate what divine Persons can enjoy from our service and committal.  I was encouraged to speak about this that we can encourage one another; we can help strengthen one another in the tasks that are before us, and prompt each other to take up our responsibilities.  I think the enemy is making great efforts these days to disrupt what is for God and His enjoyment, but there is power and resource available in order for us to be able to combat it.  

         May the Lord bless the word!

Edinburgh

3rd February 2015