In 1 Kings 19:4 we read that Elijah "requested for himself that he might die:" Why did Elijah desire to die, especially after his great defeat over the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel recorded in 1 Kings 18?
Discouragement! Even though God had just given the prophet Elijah a great victory, the wicked Jezebel has sworn to kill him, and he is discouraged. In 1 Kings 19:10 Elijah said, “He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” Elijah had been faithful and always obedient to God and yet things never seemed to let up or get easier. Elijah felt discouraged and all alone but God said, “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18).
Discouragement is a common problem today - especially in 2020! How often do we feel like Elijah, discouraged because even though we are striving to be faithful things do not ever seem to go our way. Perhaps COVID-19, the recent election, problems at home or on the job are getting us down. It might be that we are discouraged because of problems in the church or among our friends. Whatever the problem we need to overcome our discouragement!
We must realize that discouragement is dangerous! It will defeat and disarm us when there are battles to be fought and won. Discouragement causes idleness, self-pity and distracts us from the work before us. It is also very contagious. It will spread to our family, friends, co-workers and especially our fellow Christians. If not dealt with quickly it can cause untold damage (physically and spiritually). I would like to suggest a few things that we can do to overcome discouragement.
First of all, when we become discouraged, we should pray. In 1 Samuel 30:6 we read, "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God." Jesus spent his last hours before the cross in prayer. The apostle Paul wrote, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7).
God's word will help us overcome discouragement. David, by inspiration, declared that God is like a Shepherd who supplies love and care for us, his sheep. A study of the Bible will increase our faith (Romans 10:17) and encourage us (Philippians 4:13). Psalms 37:39 says, "But the salvation of the righteousness is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble." Philippians 4:19 is a comforting passage, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Christian fellowship will not only help us to overcome discouragement, but it will help to prevent it. “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”. (Hebrews 10:25).
All of us need encouragement (exhorting) and we should gain encouragement each time we assemble with our brethren for Bible study and worship. No one should be more understanding, sympathetic and encouraging than our fellow Christians.
We cannot afford to become discouraged! As Children of God we have the best work before us with the promise of the best benefits and the best reward awaiting us!
In Nehemiah 8:8 we are told, “So they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading”. Understanding the word of God is no different for us. We must “read in the book” before we can begin to understand.
No one would expect to master any discipline without first studying in that field. Likewise, to understand the Bible, we must dig into its depths. Dig deep, for therein one will find great, eternal treasures. –Marty Edwards
Too much of our writing, preaching, and visiting is directed to the weak and unfaithful. We want to reverse that order here. This article is not addressed to you who have to be begged, petted, and pampered before you will attend the services of the church, and still are absent as often as you are present. This is not for those who only give the church their excuses, and grumble, complain, that category can stop now, for this is not written for you. This is written for the faithful.
The vocabulary is not large enough to tell you wonderful people how much you are appreciated. It does not matter how many meetings the elders call in a week, you will be present. Neither the weather nor company of any kind is able to keep you from your responsibilities. Whatever attractions or distractions the world may offer, you will not forsake the Lord or His people. You make whatever sacrifices are necessary. You always support fully every program submitted by the elders and deacons. You will accept an assignment, when you do it is a forgone conclusion that you will successfully complete it.
You do not flirt with sin and see how worldly you can become without completely apostatizing. You are appreciated even more because you demand no special attention or praise or recognition for your service, and you do not consider regular and faithful attendance of each class or worship period in services to God as a grievous burden or a great feat of valor. You are a good example to the youngest member and an inspiration to all. You make the work of a preacher or Bible class teacher much lighter. Thank you for being what the Bible describes as a simple New Testament Christian! We love you!
Christians are to GROW! The Bible says, “As newborn babes, desire (long for - A.S.V.) the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13,14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (emp. mine, D.B.). The Christian life is one of maturing and continual growth. We realize that when water stops flowing and stands still that it becomes stagnant and worthless. So it is with the Christian life. The Bible says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1,2). It takes a great deal of effort in order to grow spiritually! Let’s notice a few ways that we as Christians can grow.
Bible study is a necessity in order to grow (1 Peter 2:2). Personal Bible study each day coupled with our Bible classes on Sunday and Wednesday helps us to grow in our knowledge of the Word. Preparation before each class will help even more. When we are too busy to study the Bible individually each day or with our brethren in Bible class, we are not interested in our spiritual growth.
We also grow spiritually through our worship. Our singing, praying and studying the Bible together helps us to be more spiritual and to grow. We should desire to be at every worship service! If we must be absent, our hearts are saddened. This will include our gospel meetings at home, but we should also enjoy the opportunity to support area gospel meetings. This will help us to grow spiritually and it will encourage our brethren. When we willfully forsake the assembling we are not only guilty of sin (Hebrews 10:25), but we are stating to others that spiritual growth is not a priority!
Godliness (spiritual exercise) will also help us to grow. “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). The desire of every Christian should be to become more God-like or more Christ-like (Phillipians 2:5). By serving God, by helping our fellow-man (James 1:27; Matthew 25:31-46); in general by “letting our light shine” (Matthew 5:16).
Is spiritual growth a priority in YOUR life? Are YOU putting forth every possible effort to insure that YOU do not become stagnant or “lukewarm” (Revelation 3:14-16).