Do you ever get blue? … down in the dumps? … don’t want to be with anyone? I feel that way sometimes, but I have learned not to stay there, realizing that being in such a mood is one way Satan tiptoes up and strangles me. When a person is blue, he sometimes says and does things he shouldn’t, and often doesn’t want to be with others.
One of the most insidious tactics of Satan is discouragement. It is not conspicuous like other things – not cursing that others would have heard, not adultery or stealing, and so on. Discouragement is quiet, sneaky, slips up on you.
God wants us to be with other Christians and "hold up" each other's hands (Exodus 17:11-12), and be a "Barnabas" (Acts 4:36, NIV) to each other. (A commercial “plug”: look up and buy a copy of Vicky Litmer’s sweet book: “You are a Barnabas to Me”. I bought a few copies as gifts!) That’s one reason we can’t be a good, effective Christian by staying home and missing worship services. (Don’t get bent out of joint … I’m not talking about legitimate shut-ins and caregivers and such!) Colossians 3:16 (NIV) says that we are to “ … teach and admonish [encourage – NK] one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (See also Hebrews 10:24 - 25.)
“Encourage” or a form of it is in the King James’ Version of the Bible only 9 times, and that in the Old Testament, but in the New International Version, it is used 15 times in the Old Testament and 30+ times in the New Testament!
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God, but encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” – Hebrews 3:12 - 13, NIV.
Of course that are too many to write out here, but you can look up the following verses. Depending on the translation you use, “encourage” may not be the word used:
Romans 15:4, 5;
II Corinthians 13:11;
And several in I Thessalonians 4 & 5
The word “discourage” or a form of it is also used in the Bible. What happened when someone was discouraged? They lost battles. They listened to the wrong people, and God allowed them to be defeated!
One of my favorite verses – and which I recently got a pendant which is on a chain that I wear all the time now – is of a shield. On the back is Joshua 1:9: “ … Be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
As the saying goes, one person and God is a majority! Or as Paul said (Romans 8:31): “ … If God be for us, who can be against us?”
When Christians plan to get together, whether for a singing and Bible study at someone’s house, or a simple pot luck meal – and at almost the last minute, the host gets sick and the event has to be canceled … or plans are made for some Christians to go on vacation together, and are anticipating being together – and a week before the cruise or flight time, something happens where it looks like they will have to cancel … Do you think that’s a coincidence? I don’t. And the older I get, the more I see such things happening. That’s when it is time to say: “Get behind me, Satan! You are trying to lead me to Hell! I am not following you! I am going on with my plans to be with Christians! I am following Jesus!”
- by Netagene Kirkpatrick, November 19, 2013 -