Take courage

take courage fashademicActs 23:11: But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness to My cause Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome.”

There are various situations that may arise that seem to eat away at your courage. David faced a situation when his courage seemed to fly away (1Samuel 30:1-31). While David and his men were not at home in Ziklag, before he became king in Israel, a marauding band came and took their wives, children and all their goods. It was a red letter day in David’s history of hiding from Saul, running from the familiarity of his country to the uncharted territories of the wilderness and eventually putting up with a foreign king.

He endured insults from Nabal in the wilderness (1Samuel 25); he endured the severe and harsh changing weather and uncertainty of not knowing where your next meal will come from.

Now when he thought he was safe in Ziklag, he lost everything; that is what it looked like at first. As if that was not bad enough, his men decided that they need to pour their anger on him by stone him to death.

He however showed the kind of man he has, the kind of depth that he has by encouraging himself in the Lord. He made enquiry of the Lord and God showed him what to do to regain all that was lost.

Have you suffered any loss of any kind? You should encourage yourself with these words: all thing work together for me who love God and are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28); the thoughts God has for me are thoughts of good and not of evil to bring me to an good end (Jeremiah 29:11); I trust in the lord with all your hearts and lean not on my own understanding, in all your ways I acknowledge him and he directs my path (Proverbs 3:5-6); my  path shines brighter and brighter until the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18); after God has tried me I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10); the end of a thing is better than the beginning therefore (Ecclesiastes 7:8); the righteous may fall seven times but God lifts him up each time (Proverbs 24:16); the lord will enlighten my darkness (Psalm 18:28); don’t rejoice over me, my enemies because when I fall down the lord will lift me up, when I sit in darkness the lord will be my light (Micah 7:8); The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places, yes I have a goodly heritage (Psalm 16:6); I will bless the lord at all times his praise shall continually be in my mouth (Psalm 34:1-3); I will arise and shine for my light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon me (Isaiah 60:1-3).

One of the reasons for manifestations of the gift of prophecy is for encouragement (1Corinthians 14:3, 5-6). So the prophetic word is not just weird thing that nobody understands easily, it is definitely a divine channel for encouragement to come from God.  By hearing what God has to say about a situation, we gain a superior perception about it that adds joy to our heart, that edifies, build us up even when we are down.

In the focus verse, Jesus asked Paul to take courage by telling him what will happen in the future. That is definitely a way to be happy in the midst of challenging situation, knowing what God has in stock for you.

Of Jesus it was said that for the joy set before him he endured the cross despising the shame (Hebrews 12:1-2). So Jesus bore the punishing experience of the cross with uncommon courage because he had an insight of the outcome, of what will come after.

You also should have courage because your end is glorious, the promise is that after you have suffered a while you will be strengthened and settled by God (1Peter 5:10). The promise is that the God of peace will soon crush the devil under your foot (Romans 16:20). The promise is that when humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, he will lift you up in due season (1Peter 5:6). You due season is around the corner. Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). You have to have in front of you the picture of a glorious picture as painted by the word of God. That will bring courage.

Moses sent 12 spies to Canaan, 10 of them brought reports that discouraged the people. The problem was what they saw, that formed their expectation, to the neglect of the word (the promise) of God (Numbers 13).

They said that they saw that they were like grasshoppers before the giants in the land. But the other two (Caleb and Joshua) brought words of encouragement. Caleb allowed the word of God to paint pictures of successful conquest in his mind, and those were the word he spoke out. He was not discouraged by what he saw; he was encouraged by what God had promised, which was to bring them into the Canaan land.

Elijah once lost courage when he heard the words of Jezebel saying that she was going to deal with him without fail making him like one of the prophets of Baal who had their throats cut by Elijah (1Kings 18-19). Jezebel successfully painted a damnable end in the inner eyes of Elijah, and he entered into depression, wishing he was dead.

That is in contrast with the courage he displayed when he rallied the people and fire came down and consumed the altar at the evening sacrifice, forcing them to confess that the Lord is God.

It’s all about expectation. With negative expectation, courage flees through the window. With positive expectation, you feel invincible, infused with courage, able to take on the giants, making advances. You rejoice in the Lord because you know that he will come through for you no matter what.

We need to express trust in the Lord and have his praise continually in our mouth (Psalm 34:1). The psalmist says that I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand I will not be moved (Psalm 16:8). Whether you will be moved by the gale of discouragement is dependent on whether you are gazing on the Lord or not. Do not allow the devil to pain his gory pictures before your eyes. Get occupied with the good things the Word of God say.

That was why Jesus thought it necessary to appear to Paul and speak his words to him, so that he will not be crushed with depression in his difficult situation. Jesus may not appear to you like he did Paul, but you have the scriptures; take God’s word in your mouth, and put it in your heart.

Take courage.

 

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