Encourage Yourself in the Lord
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
If you are a Christian and yet you find yourself sometimes experiencing fears about the Covid-19 sickness, the fall of our economy, rioting in our cities and other trials that are engulfing our entire world, I want to suggest a way to quell these fears should they try to arise in your mind. What I am about to share with you is something I have practiced in my own life over and over again, and it always works. This way of silencing your fears is to encourage yourself in the Lord by remembering all the things God has done for you in the past. Remembering all the things God has done for you is a great faith-builder and encourager. We tend to forget these things, so I encourage you to write them down whenever they happen so you will never forget them.
If you have never done this, I suggest you get alone with God and begin to ask him to bring to your remembrance things from your past that were from the hand of God. Write down in a little notebook or a file on your computer where you can easily access it all these things that come into your mind. I believe if you do this you will be developing a powerful weapon to combat fear whenever the enemy tries to bring it into your mind.
I would like to emphasize from Psalm 46:1, as seen above, the words, “A very present help in trouble.” God is present. When we are witnessing disasters and hearing the constant threats of disasters that are coming from our government and the news media, we may find ourselves wondering, where is God? The answer is, he is right here with us. We are not alone. He knows everything we are thinking and feeling and he wants to comfort us.
When I think of God’s presence with us and his desire to comfort us, I remember from the archives of my mind an experience we had with God decades ago in a time of great sorrow, confusion, and hopelessness. The situation was that we had just gone through a church split (and it was not our first). People we had thought were our friends had turned against us. The main issue had been a decided difference in doctrine. We had started the church and the people had been on fire for God and excited about their faith until some of them started watching Kenneth Copeland on TV. They walked into church late every Sunday morning because they would not leave their homes until Kenneth Copeland’s program was over.
In case you don’t know who Ken Copeland is, he is a televangelist who preaches the word of faith/prosperity gospel. According to his preaching at the time, if you had any trials or sufferings in your life, it was because you didn’t have faith. My husband and I, on the other hand, knew that it is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of God. We knew that difficult times were opportunities to die to self and draw closer to Jesus. There was no way these two doctrines could coexist in our church because some men on our church council said that because they supported us financially, they had the right to dictate to my husband what he was to preach. If he didn’t preach like Ken Copeland then we needed to leave. So this is the background leading up to the miracle God did for us in the midst of this time of suffering and rejection. Before telling you what happened, I want to point out that God did not take us out of this situation, but he provided understanding and encouragement that saw us through the trial. Now here is what happened:
My husband Stoner and I were in the car driving into Indianapolis from our home in a nearby small town. It was Wednesday evening and we were headed towards a large charismatic church whose associate pastor, a friend of ours, had invited Stoner to speak. Stoner was feeling particularly discouraged and rejected that evening. No one else was in the car as we were traveling, so he felt free to honestly confess how he was feeling. His words were, “I feel like a prisoner. I feel like John the Baptist in prison. All these other men out here can freely minister like Jesus did, but I’m locked up in prison like John the Baptist.”
We got to the church just in time to be seated before the worship began. We all stood and worshiped God in song for probably around twenty minutes. Then, as was customary, we all stood in silence waiting upon the Lord in case anyone had a prophetic word. As we were standing there in silence, all of a sudden a man’s voice boomed out with the following words:
“There are those standing here tonight who feel like a prisoner, but the chains that bind you are not the chains of the Devil; they are the chains of trial and testing. You are not in these chains because you have done anything wrong. Be patient just a little while longer and I will break your chains, and when I break them the angels will sing and there is going to be glory!”
I had told no one of our conversation in the car on the way there. The only other person who heard those words was Jesus, and he understood and wanted to encourage us. He could not lift us out of the situation, but he was with us through it and it was necessary that we suffer so that we could join in the sufferings of Christ. He was also misunderstood and rejected, but through his death, he triumphed over the Devil and rose up in total victory having set us all free from the fear of death and hell.
In the days to come, if you find yourself going through great trials and suffering, I hope you will remember that even though you can’t see Jesus or hear his voice, he is with you. He understands and he will give you the strength you need to get through whatever it is you have to face. It is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of God. The kingdoms that the Devil has built up in our nation and the world are being shaken and are coming down. In their place, the kingdom of God is coming. Those who don’t want Jesus or his kingdom will die. Judgment day has come upon us. It is time to cast aside all worldly things that have captivated our soul, and turn to Jesus with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. He, and he alone, is the one who can see us safely through the great trials that have begun and will be increasing.
I want to add just one more thing about this prophetic word from the Lord. God’s understanding of “a little while” is far different from ours. The experience I just described happened forty years ago. (I have gotten that prophecy out and reread it and reread it over and over throughout those forty years and have always been encouraged by it.) We are just now beginning to hear those chains falling to the ground around us. We don’t hear the angels singing yet, but hopefully we will be allowed to hear them at some point. As the kingdom of God is coming upon us, we can expect to move more into his supernatural. After all, the characteristics of his kingdom as demonstrated to us by Jesus were very supernatural and he said in John that we would do greater works than he did. I know that is hard to believe, but that is what he said and we need to start believing it because we are going to need these miracles to survive what lies ahead. The more we become like Jesus in character, the more he will be able to trust us with the miracles and power he moved in. Without preparation by God, we would fall into pride and vitiating sin.