Encourage0gram December 15, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Merry Mighty Christmas to you and your families. We are all aware this season can be blue as Elvis Presley reminded us long ago. The song was written by Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson. It is a tale of unrequited love during the holidays. There are a multitude of reasons why we may be blue at any time.
I pulled off my shelf a book by Charles Spurgeon which I first read the summer after I graduated from seminary in 1982. It is entitled “Lectures to My Students” and was originally published in England in 1875. The great “prince of preachers” has a chapter on “The minister’s fainting fits.” It contains practical remedies for discouragement.
I thought it may be helpful to review quickly some of his wise advice: Here are seven reasons why a person may become discouraged:
1. We are human beings. Even good people are promised tribulations in the Christian life. Remember the All-wise God has chosen to be your vessel of grace.
2. Most of us have some sort of physical ailment. Our ailments may be physical, mental, emotional or even spiritual. History shows us many examples of this. Even our Savior is called a man of sorrows acquainted with griefs.
3. Our work when earnestly undertaken lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression. Many times, we feel spent in the journey of faithful service to our Lord.
4. Our sedentary habits can create despondency. Spurgeon exhorts his young preachers to exercise.
5. The great hour of success may be followed by a fit of depression. One great example of this is Elijah who triumphed over the priests of Baal at Mount Carmel then ran away from Queen Jezebel in 1 Kings 18.
6. In the midst of a long stretch of unbroken labor the same affliction may arise. There are times when the most spiritual thing we can do is take a nap or set aside time for solitude and quietness.
7. Criticism often leads us into depression. It is true that most of us react to one critic while ignoring many who give us praise and thanks.
Here are some of his parting words of encouragement and exhortation:
“The lesson of wisdom is: Be not dismayed by soul-trouble. Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary ministerial experience. Cast not away your confidence, for it hath a great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise and overthrow him. Cast your burden of the present, along with sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord who does not forsake his saints. Live by the day – ay, by the hour. Put no trust in frames or feelings. Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement. Trust God alone and lean not one the reeds of human help. Be not surprised when friends fail you; it is a failing world. . . Come fair or come foul, . . . be it ours, when we cannot see the face of our God, to trust under the shadow of His wings.”
NIV Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
We will continue our Christmas sermon series “Jesus the Firstborn Son” tomorrow. Our worship will be focused on an amazing chapter Hebrews 1. It is my prayer that the truths we find will draw us nearer to the One who was rich but became poor for us so that in Him we may be rich!