Encouraging Ourselves – Dr. Charles Stanley

♪♪♪ Dr. Charles Stanley: All of us have gone through situations and circumstances in our life that we didn't like. And oftentimes we became maybe despondent, maybe even depressed, or feeling the distress of the situation. And this is a world we live in, and we can't change all the circumstances, and we--it's no fun majoring on, that so what we have to do is decide: how am I going to respond when I go through these difficult times? Now, I think most of us would agree that if we have a close friend that we can share things with, someone that would be honest with us, someone that would be confidential, someone who would be an encourager. That, if we had that, that sort of takes away a little of the pain. But then there are those situations that you can't tell anybody about. There are distressful things that happen to you personally or in your life that you would be too embarrassed to tell somebody else. There are heartaches, there are burdens, there are things that go on in the family. There are things that go on in a person's finances and their relationships, in their plans, you can't tell anybody else about. So how do you respond to these distressing situations and you feel like I just can't tell anybody? You can oftentimes see that in somebody's face, if you're close to them or you watch them or you work with them close by, you can tell when they're sort of down, something's different. And if you say, "Well, can I help you in some way?" they would say, "No, I'm fine." Well, you know they're not fine, but at this point in their life, they don't feel free to share that with anybody. What do you do in times like that? Well, we've been talking about how great an encourager God is. And also we've talked about how we have the privilege of encouraging one another. All of us have been encouraged by many people, probably, down through the years. But what about those times when you don't feel like you can tell anybody, and it's just you and the situation, the circumstances. It's just you, and maybe you feel like, "Well, God's up yonder somewhere," but it's just you. How do you deal with that? Well, that's what this message is all about: "Encouraging Ourselves." And that is indeed a biblical principle, that God intends for us to encourage ourselves. And we want to talk about how we do that. And I want to use David, who was a perfect example of encouraging himself, and think about this: by writing the Psalms and his very life, he's encouraged you and me for many, many years. And when I think about how many years ago those Psalms were written, over two thousand years ago, we're still being encouraged. How could we ever repay God for how He used some people in those days, some of them not the best in the world, some of them fantastic characters; and yet, we've been encouraged. So, what I want to do is I want to give you a little background, so this will all fit together. And I want you to turn to First Samuel chapter thirty. And here's what's happening. David has been running from King Saul for years. And King Saul, at first he just thought David was it. And he killed Goliath, and that was a fantastic thing. And next thing you know, his whole attitude's changed because all these ladies came out singing about to David that Saul killed his thousands and David his ten thousands, and all of a sudden, jealousy hits King Saul. And he set out from that moment to destroy him. And once when--twice really, when David was playing the harp for him to sort of settle his nerves, Saul's nerves, he threw a javelin at him twice to kill him, he said, to pin him to the wall. And you know how long they are, how heavy they are, how sharp they are. And if someone thrust one at you, it would go through you easily. When he talked about marriage, he said he wanted to give him a certain daughter of his because she'd bring him down. How's that for a gift of a father-in-law? And so everywhere you turn, he did his best to kill him. And then he chased him, year after year, trying to find him. Had--he'd have three thousand soldiers trying to find David and his band. And twice Saul was so close to David, David cut off a piece of his garment. He showed him that he could have killed him, but that he would not kill the servant of God. You'd think maybe that that would stop it? No, it didn't. And David made this statement about Saul. One day he'll come to the end and probably be killed in battle. And that is exactly what happened, both Saul and his son Jonathan, who was David's best friend, were both killed in battle. In fact, they were killed in the battle right after what we're talking about took place. So, since he was chased by him, finally David had six hundred fellow soldiers, and so they joined up with the Philistines, which was the army that was in opposition to Israel. And you think, "Well, David would never have done that." But he was chased everywhere, they were trying to kill him. So, he had six hundred men and he went over to the Philistine side. So, now the Philistines and Israel are getting ready to battle. And so, David has his six hundred and the Philistines get all lined up. And then, the king of the Philistines said, "You know, he--David's been a fantastic warrior for me." The Philistine soldiers said, "Wait a minute. Isn't this the David that killed Goliath? Isn't this the David that the women came out singing about him? Isn't this the David who is a great warrior? We don't want him in this battle, because if he's in this battle, in the middle of the battle, he may turn against us." And so finally, Achish, "Called David and said to him, 'As the Lord lives, you've been upright in your going out and your coming in with me in the army are pleasing in my sight, for I have not found evil in, from you, from this day, or the days come." In other words, "Nevertheless, you're not pleasing in the sight of the lords." That is, you've been everything I've expected you to be, but my commanders don't want you and your six hundred men in this battle because they don't trust you. So finally, Achish said, "Okay." And he told David, he said, "Sunrise tomorrow, when the sun--when the light gets up, you all are to leave." So here he is pretty disappointed that he can't get in the middle of this battle. And so, if you'll start with me in the thirtieth chapter, and here's what happens. So, they've left, and it's about a sixty mile trip back to Ziklag, and they're--traveled about twenty miles a day, "Then it happened when David and his men came to Ziklag," where they had been camping, "on the third day, that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire," just burnt everything to the ground, "And they took captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great, without killing anyone, and carried them all off their own way. When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and," look at this, "and they wept until there was no more strength in them to weep. Now David's two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. Moreover," now this is the verse, watch this, "Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened," or encouraged, "himself," same word, encouraged himself, "in the Lord his God." Now, think about this. He's lost everything. That's enough. They said they wept and wept and wept. These not--these are men, weeping, weeping, weeping till they just couldn't weep anymore. They were totally exhausted, totally disappointed, distressed, totally depressed. And so, David was one of them. And then the more they thought about it, their hurt became anger and bitterness. And they thought, "Well, we'll just deal with this." And they thought they would maybe just stone David to death. And they were talking about it, so he heard it. So, think about this: what would he do? He couldn't run. He couldn't outrun six hundred men. Secondly, he'd already lost all of his family and everything. There is not anything good going on for David at this particular point. There was no one to turn to. He didn't have half his army saying, "Well, we're for David," and half not. No, they were all bitter because of what had happened. He had nobody to turn to. What do you do when you hit one of those times, and whatever's going on in your life, you can't tell anybody about? Or you don't have a friend that's confidential enough to share it with, so it's just you. What do you do with those heavy, heavy, weighty heartaches, depressions that come into your life and there's nobody to turn to? Well, listen to see what David did here, and I want to show you how he did it. Listen to what he says, "Moreover," in verse six, "David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered," listen, they turned bitter, "Each one because of his sons," they'd lost their families, "and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord." Now, strengthen himself means he encouraged himself. How do you encourage yourself? We know we talk to our friends and they encourage us, how--but how do you encourage yourself? What do you do? How do you go about that? So, I want you to listen carefully, and I want you to think about this. There are times when you have situations you can't tell anybody about, what do you do? Do you get depressed, stay depressed, get so distressed you don't know what to do next? And you do something that's foolish, probably. Or do you do what he did? So, here's what he did. And that is he paused and got quiet before God. That's all he could do. In other words, he couldn't run. He could have given up and quit. He paused. Now, the reason he paused was this: because oftentimes when we get in a situation that's very difficult and hard to handle, people want to make a snap decision. And they're motivated by, "Get me out of this right now, I don't deserve this, I don't want this," whatever it might be. And oftentimes, they can't get out of it. He didn't do that. He paused and thought. He didn't run. He didn't make a decision. He paused and thought about where he was and what the situation was. What do you do when you get in that kind of a situation? Do you stop and think, "Lord, what shall I do?" Or do you just make a decision? And oftentimes, the decision we make is motivated by, on the basis of what we think, "I can handle this," and sometimes you can't. And, "My way'll be as good as anybody else." No, a godly person is going to stop and think, pause and think, "What shall I do? How shall I handle this?" And I want you to turn to the forty-sixth Psalm. And you remember David wrote so many Psalms. And I want you to look at this forty-sixth Psalm and listen to what it says. Verse one, "God is our refuge and strength." They were exhausted, to the end of their rope. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." That word present's very important, "A very present help in trouble. Therefore," because He is, "we will not fear, though the earth should change, the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though it's waters roar and foam, and though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. That is, everything is clouded, nothing's clear. What shall we do? And he writes this Psalm, and come down to the tenth verse, if you will, and here's what he says, "Cease striving and know that I am God." Wouldn't you agree that oftentimes we strive with God? Lord, what about this? What about that and this? In other words, that God will show you something, that, "I don't believe that's it, God." We strive with Him. That is, we argue with Him. We have difficulty in just accepting what He wants to say to us. And the wonderful thing about pausing and being quiet, it gives you an opportunity to let the furor in your heart, the anger in your heart or the greed or the bitterness or resentment or hostility or whatever it might be, it gives it opportunity to just settle a moment. What shall I do, Lord? Not move too fast, not move in some foolish direction. For example, where would he go? He didn't know where his family was. He didn't know where the enemy was. And besides that, he had six hundred soldiers who wanted to stone him to death. What alternative did he have? The wisest thing he could do to encourage himself was, first of all, get quiet before God. And many people don't know how to do that. They just think, "I've got to act." No, you don't have to act. Listen, if you're in a position that is difficult, you don't know what to do next, whatever the situation may be, you just stop and think, "Lord, You said stop, don't strive with You, just wait upon You." And many people, when you talk about waiting upon God, they have no earthly idea what you mean. It means that you don't do anything for a moment. Somebody says, "Well, I have to do this." No, you don't. And oftentimes, when people want to push us to make a decision, we shouldn't make it because the time's not right. It says my time's better than God's time, and my mind's better than His. No. First thing he did, he just stopped. And when I think about this verse right here, the power of it, I think about Martin Luther who wrote the ninety-five theses and put them on a church door that started the Great Reformation, and listen to what he wrote. You know this song, but listen to these words: "A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing, our Helper, He amid the flood, of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe," speaking of Satan, "doth seek to work us woe. His power and craft are great and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not His equal," speaking of the devil. Listen, "Did we in our own strength confide," no, "or striving would be losing. Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing. Do you ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He. Lord Sabaoth is His name, from age to age the same, He must win the battle." And I think you and I need to stop and think, "If I'm facing one of these things, what do I do?" First of all, I stop and ask myself the question: Lord, what would You have me to do at this point? And you don't act first. We're to ask for guidance. God, what would You have me to do? And the Scripture gives us illustration after illustration, verse after verse, about asking God. "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." For the Lord wants us to ask Him. He wants us to stop and seek His wisdom and His guidance. Listen, think about this. You can't get in any kind of predicament that God doesn't have the right answer for. In fact, He knew all about that you were going to get into it. He knew all about how to get you out of it. He knew exactly what it was going to take to encourage your heart in the situation so you wouldn't give up and you wouldn't make a decision that you would regret later on. And many people make decisions when they come to those tough times that they regret for the rest of their life. And so, by encouraging himself, he got real quiet. And then he made the wise decision: "Now, Lord, what would You have me to do?" And see, think about this. God doesn't have to come up with a plan because He's omniscient. Look, He's already seen all the messes you're going to get into in the very beginning. He already has the right plan to bring you through them. Difficulties, hardships that other people bring on you, difficulties and hardships we bring upon ourselves, things that we can't control, He already has the answer. He doesn't have to say, "All right, now let's figure this out. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, let's get together." No, He already knows, because you see, He has a will for your life. When you're out of His will, something's going to happen. In His will, something's going to happen. Any time we're willing to acknowledge our inadequacy and ask Him to give us guidance and direction for our life, He will. And that's exactly what He did. So, in stopping and asking the Lord what to do, here's what he did. The Scripture says he went to Abiathar, who was the priest, and seeking a--make a decision. Now, the priest had this vest that came down to about right here, was sleeveless, came down to about right here. And it was sort of in a square, and there were twelve stones in that, and each one represented one of the tribes of Israel. And we don't know anything else about the ephod except a few references to it; and nobody has any answer of that except David knew and felt responsible for getting to the priest. And he asked God what he should do. And if you'll turn to verse seven of the thirtieth chapter, "Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, 'Please bring me the ephod.' So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. David inquired of the Lord," so he's talking to God now, "saying, 'Shall I pursue the band--this band? Shall I overtake them?' And He said to him, 'Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue all.'" So, he sought the Lord, and God made it clear to him what he should do. Now, think about this: the wisest thing he could possibly do is to say, "Lord, I'm in an impossible situation. I don't know--there's no place to turn. What would You have me to do?" Now, they're already getting ready to stone him to death. And for God to say to him, "You pursue them," what did that mean? God had to speak to six hundred soldiers to agree with a man they were just about ready to stone to death. He couldn't arrange that. That was the awesome miracle of God. Now, listen carefully, when you get in a tough situation, just ask Him what to do. Does He have an answer? Yes. You say, "Well, pursue them, well I, mmm, that doesn't sound right." You don't argue with God. You just do what He says. Somebody says, "Well, I don't know whether I--well, you know, I don't know about asking God." Let me ask you something: who's smarter than, wiser than He is?" Well, you say, "Well, I don't know that God would answer my prayer." So, watch this carefully, if you're living in sin, right, if you're living in sin, you're expecting God to give you some out and make everything just right. No. You living--if you're living in sin, you're living in disobedience to God. You're not listening to Him about your life. But if your life is clean, or if you say, "Well, Lord, I--" get on your knees and ask God to clean you up and get things right. And so, when you do, and when you come to Him genuinely--now watch this also, I've seen people do this: "Oh dear God, I'm telling You, if You'll just please help me outta this, I promise You I won't ever do that again." You know what? God knows better than that. We're talking about genuine confession, genuine repentance, a genuine cleansing of your heart and asking, "Lord, what shall I do?" And so, it seemed to be the most unlikely thing to do. Now, watch this, pursue them? They're getting ready to stone me to death. Secondly, we don't know where they are. Which way do we go? And so, everything was sort of questionable. But he asked God and God spoke to him. Now, watch this carefully. Somebody says, "Why do you keep saying that?" Because it's very important. When you're asking God about something and you don't quite get it clear and you're saying, "Lord, could that possibly be true? Here's what you do. You open the Word of God. You ask Him to show you where to read. You may read something you've never read before in your life. It's been there the whole time, but you just haven't read it. You'd be amazed at the times God will speak to you clearly through His Word, very, very clearly. God is committed to showing you and me what to do and where to go no matter what. And sometime, we don't have anybody else to ask. And notice what he said, that David strengthened himself. That is, he encouraged himself. He encouraged himself to do what? To seek the Lord. He encouraged himself to be obedient to God, whatever God told him. He encouraged himself. There are time when you and I have to encourage ourselves. We don't have anybody else. As we said, there are some things you don't want to share with anybody else, some things you can't tell anybody else. And so, you're discouraged, you're depressed, you're down, you're out. You say, "Well, how can I encourage myself?" Well, you stop and pause and think, "Okay, here's where I am. What does the Word of God tell me? Now, am I going to listen to God or am I not?" And you see, many times God will tell us what to do, and we won't do it. You say, "Well, that couldn't be right." That's not right. Well, He told them, "Well, you head out in this direction," that's what he did. Listen, God will never tell you chapter one if chapter two's not going to be there. He's going to show us what to do and when to do it. I may not understand it. I may not understand it at all, that's not the issue. The issue is I'm to do whatever he says do. I'm to obey him. So, when there are times you can't ask anybody else. And maybe you've never been in that kind of a situation that you had no one to ask. But when you don't have anyone, and you have to encourage yourself, it's you and God and you and His Word. And this is why His Word is so very important for the simple reason that in His Word, we gonna find out what we need to know. And I look back over the years and think about times when I have been in a situation, that I didn't feel like I had anybody to give me some real wise advice or counsel. And I know what I learned to do very early, just go get in a prayer room somewhere and talk to God and be quiet and, "Lord, you show me the next step." And I've been in some situations that were pretty tough, and I'm here to tell you, God's never said to me, "I don't have anything to say." That's not who He is. When you and I stop and recognize that He's--He has an answer, He has an answer to anything and everything you and I face. And you think about this. God is pleased and honored when you and I choose to go to Him and say, "Lord, I don't know what to do. I don't know which way to turn. I'm going to trust you." God always answers our petition. Now, sometimes he'll tell us to do something that doesn't seem right. In other words, it doesn't look right. But if He tells you what to do, you have to do it. Or you disobey Him. In his situation, he had little or no choice at all. Now, one of the--he says he encouraged himself. So, stopping and pausing and listening and getting a message from God. But one other thing that's very important, that is, to encourage myself, which I'm sure he did. He recalled, listen, he recalled past times in his life when God came through for some situation or some heartache. He recalled God's help in previous times. And I want you to think about something, watch this carefully. As soon as you get through writing, I want you to look this way and listen. It's that important. You are making history in your life. Look back over your life, how God has worked. Times when you thought you had to give up and quit and just walk away. Or when you just want to give up and quit anyway. You're making history in your life, that is, God has come through in the past. He's helped you in this situation, that situation, this situation. You say, but never anything like that, well, it's just adding to history. There is not anything God can't do to help you through whatever you may be going through. And sometimes, sometimes, we just forget how good He's been in the past and what He's done. And so, when I see what happened here, think back, think back how I've rescued you. And he had to think back how He'd rescued him from Saul, and the difficulties and heartaches, and Goliath and all the other things he went through. And this is a powerful, powerful means of getting us through discouragement, and that is, what has God done in the past in my life? And I remember, had a big battle when I first came to First Baptist. And when the second battle came, I--the first battle was, I sat over under the balcony and nobody knew I was there. Second battle, I sat up on the front, right beside the pulpit and looked everybody in the eye. You know why? Because I remembered and recalled God's victory before and I believed He'd give me victory again. So, if you don't make note of what God is doing in your life, it's like you're erasing your history. You're forgetting it. This is why I think we should teach our children early in life to just make little notes about what God is doing in their life, things that they like and things they don't like or whatever is going on. Because they're building their history. And the truth is, all of us are building one whether we acknowledge it or not. And it's--and here's what happens. Watch this carefully, this is a principle: when people forget their history, they repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again. And so, you're building a history. It's a part of your life. It's something that you have walked through already in your life. And because David knew how God had worked before in his life, here he was as a teenager coming up against Goliath, and God gave him that victory. Can you imagine the kind of faith that built into him? And so, all of his warfare, he was victorious over and over and over again. And he'd built this history into his life, and now he's six hundred men against all these Amalekites. And there were lots more of them. He says when they spread out around their camp at night, they just covered everything. And they were outnumbered many times to one. But God told them what to do. Sneak up on them at night time and just hit them from every side, and that'll cause confusion and you'll defeat them. God never leads us into a trap. Remember that. He doesn't lead us into traps. He leads us into situations and circumstances that are very dangerous maybe, or it looks like there's no way to win. And yet, when God tells you to do something, you do it. Now, you say, "Well suppose I don't believe it the first time." Well, you better ask Him again. And listen, He, listen, the work of the Holy Spirit is to confirm within your heart and spirit, "This is of God." That's part of His work, to confirm in your heart that God has said do this. And so, this is exactly what he did. He began to recall how God had worked in his life before. And if you'll think for just a moment, give you a sec, give you about ten seconds to think about this. Think about when you have been in a tough spot, really discouraged. What could you have thought about that happened before? If you'd-a thought about that, "Well, God got me out of that." God helped me through that. And somebody says, "But I'm not sure He's going to help me this time." Well, let me tell--God doesn't change. Now, you know, we sing all about Almighty God and we believe that He's--does not change, that He's the same yesterday today and forever. And He loves us. His love doesn't change. And so, whatever situation we're in, He is going to be there to give us direction and guidance and encourage our hearts. And when I look how God worked in David's life, he said he encouraged himself. How'd he encourage himself? Same way you and I ought to. We're to pause when something happens. Don't make a fast decision. We're to ask for God's guidance. We're to get in His Word. We're to recall what He's done for us in the past. God, you brought me through that, you'll bring me through this. You took me through this situation, you'll take me through this. You were faithful then, You'll be faithful today. I'm going to trust you. Then of course, we are to obey Him. He said, "Here's what I want you to do, pursue them." Suppose he'd-a said, "Well, you know, I don't know how many there are." And, "We're only six hundred. I don't know where--" in other words, when He said pursue, that's exactly what He meant. Now, watch this, if I'm going to encourage myself, I've got to be willing to do what He says, even though I may be fearful about the very thought of it. So, what encouraged David in an impossible situation? Lost all his family, they grieved till they couldn't grieve anymore. Getting ready to get stoned to death, and all of a sudden, God says, "Challenge your men to follow you and I will show you what to do." And that is exactly what he did. Now, it's interesting what he did in this situation because even after they decided, for example, all right, we're going to follow him. And where are we going? Look how God works. So, they head out in a direction not knowing where to go, and they found this one Egyptian soldier that the Amalekites had cast him aside because he got sick and he couldn't fight in battle, so they just told him to get out there and die. Hadn't had any water or food in three days. So, when David found him, looked like one of the enemy. He asked him where he'd been, what happened. So, he told him that the commander had said you can't fight, so you just stay here and die. Then David said to him, "Will you bring me down to this band?" He said, "You swear to me by God that you will not kill me and I'll tell you." So he did. And as a result, what happened? His six hundred men, they head in that direction, but watch this, God wants to be in control and get all the glory. When they got to a certain river, two hundred of them said, "I'm too tired, I can't go any longer." So, that's one-third of his army has checked out. We just can't fight anymore. They were dead tired and worn out and morally destroyed because of their families and so forth. And so, they said, "We can't go anymore." So, what did David do? Watch this, you listen carefully. Because God said, "Pursue them," he believed exactly what God said, knowing that God knew that two hundred, one-third of his army, won't even be able to fight. The Amalekites, there were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and--in fact, the Scripture says when they found them, they were scattered out everywhere, camping. There were so many of them, they were just everywhere. He only has four hundred men. So what happens? They attack and kill them. Got all their wives back, all their children back, because they didn't kill anybody, they just took them. Got their wives back, got their children back, and got all of their loot back, all their belongings. They got everything back. Look how God operated. David got quiet. He listened to God. He did exactly what God told him to do. And if you'll notice, from that point on, he was encouraged about everything. Because he listened and he obeyed God. And it's, you see, here's one Egyptian out there in the desert dying, but God had him out there to give David exactly where he needed to go. And so, they found them asleep. And when they found them asleep, they killed the whole crowd. Now, he went from absolute total discouragement, facing the loss of his family, and death, facing all of that, and now God has led him to be victorious over his enemy. When I read this, I think, "Lord." And here's what it says, "David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening," they fought all day long. Now, they said while ago they just couldn't do anything, "David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled." So, the guys who didn't stay to fight, they took off, "So David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and rescued his two wives. But nothing of theirs was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that they had taken for themselves, David brought it all back. So David had captured all the sheep, cattle which the people drove ahead of the livestock, and they said, 'This is David's spoil.'" Look what David did. When he came to the two hundred men back here who said, "We don't think we--we just can't handle it. We can't fight." And so, the men who fought said, "They don't get anything. They didn't fight." David said, "Yes, they do. We're going to give them as much as we gave the fighters because somebody had to stay by the stuff back here. And so I value them." And he knew that those two hundred back here had done their best. They were worn out. They couldn't do anything else. If you've got soldiers who can't fight, they're not a help, they're a hindrance. So, when he got back, he gave them everything that they lost. And so, David experienced an awesome deliverance by Almighty God. Now, when you think about situations that you face in life, honestly, what do you do? When you get real disturbed about something or depressed about something and you're just stressed out, I wouldn't dare have you raise your hand, but if I were--should to say, "How many of you, your first response is call the doctor? First response, go to the medicine cabinet. First response, I've got to take something. First response, I've got to talk to somebody." You know what? God is the Great Physician. And He's the One who heals our hurt hearts. I don't think any doctor has got anything in a bottle that can do what God Almighty can do. I'm not opposed to medicine, I'm just simply saying, "Many times we resort to man rather than Almighty God." Listen to Him, be quiet. Don't jump. Just wait. And whatever He says do, do it. And listen, when somebody says, "If I were you, here's what I would do," let this be your first thought, "You are not me, and you do not know what you would do." I want to know what God wants me to do, not what somebody else wants me to do. Now, that doesn't mean you should never ask for advice or counsel. But we're talking about when you've got things that you don't want to share with anybody else. We've talked about it, we've talked about helping each other and encouraging each other. What about when it's just you and you have nowhere to go but to God? Can you trust Him? Yes, you can. And if He says you go this way or that way, that's what you must do. And to listen to people rather than to God only gets you in trouble. And when I look at this passage and see how God worked in his life, He encouraged David. And listen, He encouraged him to do what? Not just to sit, He encouraged him to go fight a war, outnumbered many times to one. But they won. Why? Because God was on their side. And oftentimes He will tell you something to do that just think, "Mm-mm-mm-mm, there's no way I could do that." Let me ask you a question: what is it that you can't do when God tells you to do it? When God is on your side, when He's working in your behalf. In--you know, I've lived long enough to see things and watch things in my own life that I think, "Lord, that appears to be foolish. I'm not saying it is, God, but I'll do whatever You say." I've never obeyed God in a difficult situation that He did not bring it to pass. Listen, there are no favorites. God doesn't play favorites. God has intimates, not favorites. Intimates are people who have a relationship. When you have a relationship with God, He's going to speak to you clearly. And instead of staying discouraged and giving up and probably getting stoned to death, what did he do? He paused to think. He sought the Lord, asked God to show him what to do. And when you think back, how He worked everything out perfectly. Who is this lone Egyptian out here? He was God's compass, that's who he was. He looked like some poor soldier that was just about gone. But God had him out there for David. He led them to the enemy, to destroy the enemy, got every single thing back. Don't you know they came back rejoicing and praising God? I got my wife, I got my children, I got everything that I had, I got it all back. How did that happen? David didn't react. He just got quiet. He listened. He sought the Lord's mind about it. He heard it. He obeyed God. And God did exactly what He promised. That simple illustration is the key to your life. You're writing the history. You've already written many years of it. Some of you have written more than others and some of you haven't written much. But you know what? Watch this, you can't change history. So, what you want to do, listen, you want your grandchildren to read your history. You want your children, you want your friends. And, in other words, you want the people you've related to over the years, you want their remembrance of you to be something that is good. Well, he stayed in trouble half the time. Well, he stayed in debt all the time. Well, you know, on and on and on we go. But you're writing your history. Nobody can write it for you. But if you will obey Him, obey Him, obey Him, obey Him; trust Him, trust Him, trust Him. Do what He says, not because you understand it or because it's profitable, because of this, because that. No, just trust Him and do what He says. You cannot fail. God is not a failure. He doesn't create failures. We bring it on ourselves. So, when I think about how God worked in his life and how he obeyed the Lord, it's just awesome, and we could talk about it a long time; but naturally, what ultimately encouraged him is he came home with his family. Can't you imagine six hundred men coming back, heading back toward their home with their wife and children. Those kids were never more precious than they were at that moment. Wife was never more lovable than she was that day. She may have been in rags, but she was free and she was with her--they were with their husbands. It was an awesome, encouraging, glorious time even if they had lost all their stuff, it'd have still been the same thing. Why? Watch this, one man encouraged himself before God, and watch what happened. One man, he was all by himself, going to stone him to death, lost everything, nothing positive about it. One man got quiet, listened to God, sought the Lord, heard from God, did exactly what God told him to do. That is a principle that is absolutely unchangeable. Now, we're talking about encouraging ourselves. Watch this, what I've shared with you is the most important part, but there are other ways to encourage yourself. Not when you have some major issue, but there are ways to encourage yourself if you get a little down about something or even if you're going through a tough time. There are other ways to encourage yourself. For example, achievement and accomplishment in something you like, that you love to do, is a wonderful way to encourage yourself. You say, "Well, that's not very spiritual." Yes, it is, because we're to be joyous Christians. And when things get tough on us, and we're doing what the--watch this, when you do what the Lord tells you to do, that doesn't mean there's not going to be any pain, no heartache and doesn't mean--but you--He's going to bring you through it. And you have the privilege and the right and the blessing of being able to do what you love to do. For example, one of the most encouraging things in my life is to sit down with the Word of God and prepare a message. It's challenging, very challenging. Sometimes it gets stressful. In fact, the only thing that raises my blood pressure is preparing a message, not delivering it, preparing it. I think it's so intense. That's okay, but I'm saying I love doing that. And I love photography. So if--got a little heaviness in my heart about something, I'm going to do something that I want to do that brings me pleasure. And you have the same privilege. If you're a person who says, "I don't have anything that brings me pleasure," you need to start from scratch, because surely there's something that brings you pleasure that's holy, and it's not godly or ungodly, it's just something you like to do. Because God intends, listen, God intends for us to be joyous. He intends for us to be happy. It doesn't mean you're going to be happy all the time. He intends for us to have peace in our heart. And so, when are we the best witness? When we're talking about what God is doing in our life and how great He is and what He's doing in your life. That's when you're the--that's when your testimony's the most effective. So, think about this now. Because many of you sitting here are probably in one of those situations. You stop, pause. God, what do You want me to do? You're asking Him. You get in His Word. Say, "Lord." If you need some confirmation, ask Him to confirm it. When He makes it clear to you, you obey Him. And what happens? You will be encouraged. It is the will and the purpose and plan of God, that His children live a purposeful life and a life that has joy. It doesn't mean that we won't hurt nor have pain, but it's a life that, beneath that, has awesome joy, because we're His children. Well, if you're one of those persons who's never been saved and you think, "Well, now how does all that fit me?" Well, let's put it this way. If you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, this is not an opinion. This is not an attitude. This is the divine gospel, biblical truth. It is the truth of Almighty God, that you will reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow. And you can't change that. No, you can't change it. You say, "Well, that's not going to happen to me." It happens. You can't change a principle. That's true morning, noon, and night. It was true in that garden of Eden. It's true today, without Christ in your life, you're going to make a miserable mess of it. You don't have enough money as a substitute, enough prestige, enough fame or anything else. The wages of sin is death. It's not just physical death, it's spiritual death. We reap what we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow. What you need is to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, not based on how good you are or what you can do for Him, 'cause you can't do anything for Him. Based on the fact that He died at Calvary, shed His blood as payment for your sin, you need Him as your Savior. You need Him as your Helper. You think you have it all together, but you don't. You think you could buy your way into anything and everything. No, you can't. There will come a time when your money won't count, your fame won't count. There'll come a time when your influence and testament, none of that's going to count. You're going to stand face to face with God. You may be lying in a hospital bed somewhere, on your way to dying, then what are you going to depend on? And if you'll think about that, your history will have condemned you, that's the way you lived. I pray to God that, right now, whoever you are and wherever you are, you'll ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, cleanse your life, turn your life over to Him and tell Him the only thing that really matters is Christ in your life. I pray to God that you'll ask Him to save you, which He will do. Father, how grateful we are, what an awesome God You are. When we think about all the ways that You've given us joy and happiness and peace in our heart. And sometimes right in the middle of pain, You give us this overwhelming, indescribable, unexplainable joy. And I pray for somebody here this morning who's living in sin, disobeying you, lost, totally separated from You, to help them to realize they're writing history, devastating, sinful history that's going to end up in a devastated, miserable life. And show them that they can change today by asking the Lord Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, to forgive them of their sins based on what you did at the cross. And that before they leave this building, their life will be transformed by Your awesome grace. I pray for everyone here, Father, who is going through some situation or circumstance, that today, they will take these simple ideas, points, truths, principles, begin to apply them to their heart and step out of whatever their facing in life. In Jesus's name, amen. announcer: If you've been blessed by today's program, please visit us at intouch.org.