Revive Our Hearts Podcast

How to be Encouraged in the Lord

Episode Resources

Watch Nancy teach this series.

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says when you’re discouraged, maybe you can be encouraged by taking action.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: There’s a danger we face of wallowing in our discouragement rather than getting up and doing what we do know we’re supposed to do. In the act and the process of obeying God, you will find yourself infused with fresh strength and courage for the battle.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender, for October 26, 2018.

Nancy: We’re talking in this short two-day series about dealing with discouragement. I came across a quote from Andrew Murray who was a pastor and a Christian leader in the 1800s, and he says this:

When in discouraging circumstances, remember four things:

  1. God brought me here. It is by His will that I am in this confined place. In that fact I will rest. [So that’s the sovereignty of God. God brought me here.]
  2. He will keep me here in His love and give me grace to behave as His child. [In the midst of these circumstances, not only the sovereignty of God, but the sufficiency of God’s grace.]
  3. God will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends for me to learn and working in me the grace He means to bestow. [So that’s the sanctifying power of suffering. God’s going to use this in my life in a sweet way, a good way.]
  4. In God’s good time He can bring me out again. When and how He knows. [When and how, He will bring me out. He knows.]

Now, Murray summarized those four points with these shorter ones:

  1. I am here by God's appointment.
  2. In His keeping.
  3. Under His training.
  4. For His time.

Remember that when you’re facing discouraging circumstances. We have people in the room and listening to this program today who are in very difficult, stretching, disheartening places. Remember:

I am here—number one—by God’s appointment. Number two: In His keeping. Number three: Under His training. And number four: For His time.

Now we’re continuing today with an Old Testament narrative, an Old Testament passage, 1 Samuel chapter 30. I’d invite you to turn there if you’re where you can get to a Bible or scroll on your phone to 1 Samuel chapter 30. I want to just reset the passage we were looking at yesterday. This is an incident in the life of David when he faced some extremely discouraging circumstances.

So let me begin reading at verse 1 for those who may not have been with us yesterday:

Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day . . .

This was a Philistine encampment where David and 600 of his trusted, trained, fighting men had fled from King Saul and had been hiding out for sixteen months. They left Ziklag to go with the Philistine army. The king of Philistines said, “No, go back to Ziklag.” So they went back, a three-day journey further, and they came back to their town.

And the Amalekites [while they were gone] had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way.

And when David and his men came to the city, [this is their hometown, their home-away-from-home town], they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.

And you can just imagine these deep, heaving cries, these sobbing cries, this huge discouragement from these exhausted men who had now lost everything. And it wasn’t just David’s men. David himself—verse 5, it says his “two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel.” (The wise woman—we’ve studied her on this program before.)

And verse 6 tells us, understandably:

David was greatly distressed, for the people [his trusted, loyal men, he thought, they] spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters (vv. 1–6).

So, what to do when you’re in a discouraging place, when you’re disheartened. You’re faint-hearted. You’re weak with grieving. You’re exhausted from the trial that you’ve been going through.

I know we have some here today, some listening to this program for whom this is a good season in your life, and you’re feeling strong in the Lord. That’s a sweet time, and thank God for those times.

But there are some . . . I’m looking into the eyes of some who are in some debilitating, dangerous, difficult, dire circumstances, and you’re just about to throw in the towel. In fact, maybe the people around you, maybe family members, people that you thought were good friends, maybe they’ve turned against you in the process. What do you do?

We’ve talked about the first thing David did yesterday. It’s found at the end of verse 6 here in 1 Samuel 30. It says, “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

Other translations say, “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

He didn’t look for somebody else to do that. Who else was going to do it at that moment? The Philistines? King Saul? His men? His wives? Everybody was gone. There was no one around him who could encourage him, but he knew that God was still there. So he turned to the one, only, eternal source of encouragement. He said, “Lord, it’s You and me. I’m weak, but You are strong. I am needy, but You are the God of all grace.”

So he strengthened himself, and God infused him with strength and encouragement in that deeply discouraging moment.

Now, there were two other things that David did, and I want to look at those today. The first is that he got direction from God. He didn’t know what to do. So what do you do when you don’t know what to do?

He needed wisdom. He needed guidance. He needed direction. And he knew where to get it. Look at verse 7:

And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, ‘Bring me the ephod.’ So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. And David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?’ (vv. 7–8).

“What do I do?” He asked the Lord.

Now, he did that first by seeking out a mature believer to help him discern the will of God. He went to Abiathar the priest. He didn’t try to make it alone. He looked at the one person God had provided—and I believe God put this in his mind as he strengthened himself in the Lord, as he looked up to the Lord. I believe the Lord prompted him to ask this priest to help him discern the will of God.

Find a mature believer whenever possible. Ask God to direct you to a mature believer who can help direct you to God’s Word where you’re going to get the answers that you need.

And then he used the means that God had provided to help him know the will of God, to reveal the will of God. He said, “Bring me the ephod.”

Now, what in the world does that mean?

Well, the ephod was a sacred, beautifully embroidered linen garment that was worn by the priests over their outer garment. It was in two pieces—the front and the back—that were joined together on the shoulders.

There was a pouch attached to the ephod that held what were called the “urim and the thummim.” Now, you may have heard that pronounced different ways. It’s a provision from God that we don’t know a lot about because the Scripture doesn’t tell us a lot about it except that we know it’s something God gave His leaders to help guide His people. We don’t know how it worked. We just know that the priests consulted this thing to get God’s response to questions, and that was attached to the ephod.

So David said, “Bring me the ephod—bring me the means we’ve been given of knowing the will of God.”

Now, we don’t need an ephod today, and we don’t need the urim and the thummim, but we have exactly what we need, and that is this Book. We have the Word of God. God uses His Word to direct us, to encourage us, to give us hope, and to help us endure through hard times.

I was talking on the phone with a woman the other night. She asked if she could call me for two minutes, and it ended up being about an hour as she poured out her heart about some discouraging . . . It wasn’t so much circumstances, but things she was wrestling with in her own heart, some doubts, some fears, about the love of God, about her relationship with the Lord.

She wanted me to take her to the Word, and she wanted to make sure that the Word was . . . It wasn’t just for people, like, in the Old Testament, like David, or people in the New Testament, like Paul, but that it was really for her.

So I took her to this verse in Romans chapter 15, verse 4: “For everything that was written in the past [that’s the Old Testament Paul was talking about] was written to teach us, [to instruct us], so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

How does God strengthen us? How does He encourage us? How does He give us hope? How does He direct us when we don’t know what to do? He does it through His Word. So that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.

I put a question on Facebook a couple of days ago as I was preparing for this series, asking women: How do you encourage yourself in the Lord when you’re discouraged?

One woman said, “The Word, the Word, the Word.” (laughter) I think she means the Word.

That’s what encourages us when we’re discouraged.

I was talking a number of years ago to a dear friend who is now with the Lord, but for years she had this debilitating, deteriorating weakness. It was a neck muscle that for years was deteriorating in her head, which would hang down lower and lower and lower. It was excruciatingly painful. She endured this for years and years.

I said to her at one point on the phone—I’d called to try and encourage her as she was suffering through this physical affliction—and I just said, “Joyce, how do you encourage yourself?” Because she always seemed to be a hopeful woman. Now, I don’t mean she was a giddy woman, like, “This is easy, no pain.” She was honest about her pain, but I sensed that she knew how to strengthen and encourage herself in the Lord, and I said, “Joyce, how do you encourage yourself?”

She said, “I get into the Word. I get into the Word.”

Open the Book. Read it. Don’t just keep it on your nightstand. Don’t just hold it on your lap. Read it. Read it prayerfully. Read it thoughtfully. Read it carefully and get direction, instruction, teaching, hope, and encouragement. The Word gives us all that and more.

So David wanted direction from God. He didn’t know what to do. He turned to the Lord. He sought out a mature believer who could help him discern God’s will. He used the means God had provided. That means is the Word of God for us.

And then he prayed. This is how he got direction from the Lord: 1 Samuel chapter 30, verse 8: “David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I pursue this troop?’” (These Amalekites who’ve taken our wives and children?)

David didn’t know if they were dead or alive. He didn’t know what he would find. He just knew the city was burned with fire. “Lord, what do I do? Do I stay here? Do I go pursue them? Are they going to kill us? Shall I overtake them? What’s going to be the outcome?”

He asked God what he should do. He didn’t just assume that whatever first came to his mind as the obvious thing to do was necessarily God’s plan. I mean, he’s a dad. He’s a husband. He’s a leader. He’s a leader of these men who have all lost their wives and children. So certainly he’s going to think to go after these men. He’s a courageous man. Certainly he’s going to think of going to rescue these women, to protect them, the women and children.

But he stops to ask God. He doesn’t say, “This is so obvious. I’m just going to rush into my plan.” He inquires of the Lord.

David does this over and over again in the Old Testament. You’ll see it. Highlight it when you come to that when you’re reading in Samuel and in Kings. He inquired of the Lord; He inquired of the Lord.

Philippians 4 says it this way: “Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything.” Tell God your needs. Ask Him for what you need. And don’t forget to thank Him for His answers when you do. Ask God. Pray about everything.

I need this word. This is speaking to my own heart this morning as I’m thinking about some of the things that are weighing on me, decisions needing to be made, circumstances that my husband and I are faced with. We need to know what to do.

I’m so thankful for a husband who leads me and us in inquiring of the Lord, saying, “Lord, what should we do about this? What do You want us to do?”

Now, David had not inquired of the Lord before going out to battle with the Philistines. That turned out to be the wrong plan, and he didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

You may have taken some steps that were not God’s way. You may have stepped out and done your own plan, and then you ended up in trouble. But it’s not too late to repent and to say, “Lord, what do we do now? What do you want our family to do? What do You want me to do about this situation?”

The husband of the woman I just told you about named Joyce, her husband was Pastor Bobby Moore. He’s also with the Lord now, but he was a dear friend of this ministry for decades. And Bobby Moore said to our staff one time when he was speaking to us, “Fight all your battles on your knees.” Fight all your battles on your knees.

Well, what happened after David inquired of the Lord?

Continuing in verse 8, it says, “God answered him.”

He said, “Lord, what shall I do?”

God answered him, and God gave him two things: He gave him a command, and He gave him a promise.

The command was: “Pursue.”

The promise was: “For you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”

So God says to him, “You’ve asked me what you should do, and I’m telling you what you should do here. Here’s the direction: The command is to pursue them, and the promise is you shall surely overtake them, and you will rescue your loved ones.”

First he encouraged himself, got strength in the Lord, then he got direction from God. And now that he’s received direction from God, what does he do next? He obeys God’s direction, and he believes God’s promise.

Look at verse 9: “So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him.”

Now, remember, they had just been on a military trek for six days at least—three days out with the Philistines, thinking they were going to accompany them to battle. Then the king of the Philistines thought better of it and sent him back, so three days trek back. They’re exhausted. They’re weary. Some of the men are not even going to be able to continue on this rescue operation because they’re so faint-hearted.

You’d think you might say, “Can I take a day break first?”

But God says, “No. Pursue.” So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him.”

God had given His Word—clear direction and a promise. He believed God, and he did what God told him to do. He trusted God for strength to fight this next battle, which went on for approximately twenty-four hours, because verse 17 tells us that David, once he found the Amalekites who had taken the wives and children, it says, “David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day.”

He’s not going to go to the Amalekites and say, “Can we please have our women and children back?”

And they say, “Oh, here they are.”

No. He’s got a big battle ahead of him. But David knows where to get strength. We are weak, but He is strong. He finds strength in the Lord.

So obey God’s direction and believe His promises. Obey God’s direction. Find out from God’s Word what His direction is and do it. Do the next thing that you know God wants you to do.

Here’s some of God’s direction in His Word:

  • Don’t worry about anything; pray about everything.
  • Put away lying. Speak the truth in love.
  • Don’t speak evil of one another.
  • In everything give thanks.
  • Love one another.
  • Humble yourself.
  • If someone has something against you, seek to be reconciled to him.
  • Do not return evil for evil, but rather a blessing.
  • Obey your spiritual leaders.
  • Honor your parents.
  • Forgive. Put off bitterness.

Many commands in God’s Word. Do what you know to do. We have direction. Do what God has told us to do.

There’s a danger we face of wallowing in our discouragement rather than getting up and doing what we do know we’re supposed to do. And in the act and the process of obeying God, you will find yourself infused with fresh strength and courage for the battle.

So, obey God’s direction, and then believe God’s promises. The Scripture is filled with promises that God has given to sustain us in every conceivable problem and circumstance of life.

I want to just mention, too, a booklet that we want to make available to you in this short series. It’s called, 50 Promises to Live By: Finding Encouragement, Peace and Hope in the Promises of God.

This is a collection I pulled together many years ago of fifty-some of my favorite promises, the ones I go back to again and again and again over the years. Now, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of promises in God’s Word, but these are fifty of my favorite promises. And what I do is counsel my heart according to the promises of God’s Word.

And, by the way, Leslie will tell you at the end of the program how to get that booklet, but we’re making it available to anyone who makes a donation of any amount today to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.This is a booklet we want to be an encouragement to you.

Let me just read to you some of these precious promises that have meant so much to me, and as I read these, let them wash over you. This is God’s Word. These are His promises to your heart today. Let them strengthen you.

  • Isaiah 41, verse 10: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
  • Psalm 138, verse 8: “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.”
  • Psalm 34, verse 10: “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”
  • Psalm 72:12: “He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper.”
  • Psalm 55, verse 22: “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous to be shaken.”
  • Psalm 50, verse 15: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” What a precious promise.
  • Job 23, verse 10: “He knows the way that I take; and when he has tried me, I will come out (that’s a good enough promise by itself, but that’s not the end of that promise—when he has tried me, I will come out—how?) as gold.” Purified. Valuable. A precious promise.
  • Psalm 84:11: “The Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
  • Psalm 121, verse 7: “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”
  • Philippians 4, verse 19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
  • Isaiah 43, verse 2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers,.they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire, (doesn’t say around it, over it, under it—you’re going to walk through it sometimes—when you walk through the fire), you shall not be burned, the flame shall not consume you.”
  • Isaiah 46, verse 4: (I love this one!) “Even to your old age and gray hairs (laughter), I am he; I am he who will sustain you.

Are you worrying about what’s going to happen in your future? Maybe you’re a widow living on a limited income and, “How am I going to make it on this income?”

He says, “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he who will sustain you.” I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you, and I will rescue you.”

And then this one:

  • Psalm 73, verse 24: “You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

You will guide me. When I don’t know what to do, You’ll tell me what to do. You’ll show me what to do. You’ll speak to me through Your Word. You’ll show me what to do. You’ll guide me with your counsel, and afterward—like, I may die, but that’s not the end. Afterward You will receive me to glory. That’s the end of this story. It’s a never-ending end of this story. There’s glory ahead. It doesn’t feel very glorious right now.

David didn’t feel very glorious when he was standing there watching his city go up in flames and knowing that the wives and children had all been taken captive. But afterward, You will receive me to glory.

David acted in faith on the promise of God. God said, “Pursue.” He found out what God wanted him to do, and then he believed God’s promise—and God came through. Did you doubt it? Look at verse 18, 1 Samuel, chapter 30:

David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all.

Well, we knew that was going to happen. How did we know? Because God made a promise, and God always keeps His Word.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back to pray.

She’s been showing us examples from the life of King David on how to deal with discouragement.

Earlier Nancy mentioned a booklet of fifty of her favorite promises from Scripture. It’s called, Promises to Live By: Finding Encouragement, Peace and Hope in the Promises of God.

We’ll send you this booklet when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Just go to ReviveOurHearts.com to make a gift. You can also give by phone by calling 1–800–569–5959.

Next week we’ll hear from Christian songwriter Jimmy Needham and his wife Kelly as they share about how they overcame trials in their marriage and family. Please be back on Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

Now Nancy’s back to pray.

Nancy: And so, Lord, I pray for some of my discouraged, disheartened sisters today. Or maybe those who are doing fine today, but right around the corner is some great discouragement, some difficult news, some circumstances that are going to be hard to deal with. Maybe they’re in the fire right now, walking through the river, walking through the flame.

I pray that my sisters will strengthen and encourage themselves in You. I pray that they will seek Your direction about what to do when they don’t know what to do. And I pray that they will obey Your direction and believe Your promises.

Lord, I pray for them, and I pray for me. Oh Lord, may we trust You to fulfill Your promises. And thank You that, in the end, all will be well, and You will receive us to glory. So with that hope in our hearts, we give You thanks, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to be a daily encouragement to you. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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