Encourage Yourself

Sometimes I get excited about what I learn from studying the bible and subsequently what I believe.  I expect that others will be just as excited.  However, I find that such isn't the case.  Time and time again I find myself reaching out to "strangers" for encouragement and a sanity check.  Am I being presumptuous or foolish in my faith?  When things don't happen immediately, then I start wondering if there is something wrong with me hindering the results of my applied faith.  Jesus said something that I know understand very much.

Luke 14:26 -- If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

That is an amazing statement of Jesus.  Is he saying that we should hate our mother, father, wife, sister, brother, etc.?  No.  That is not his point.  If you are pursuing God, you cannot allow anyone, not even yourself, to hinder you from that objective.  As much as you may love your mother, wife, brother, sister, etc., you may have to leave them behind in your pursuit for God.  No one should stand between you and God.  You may find that when you really start pursuing God and you really start practicing what you learn from scripture, that you will be walking alone.  My experiences is that people really do not trust God or rather rely on him.  They say they trust God, but when you look at what they actually do in their lives, you will find that their faith is in self and others (e.g., the doctor).  They then try to immerse you with that same doubt and unbelief.  It is amazing how the unbelief of those closest to you affects you.  It is very easy to fall into unbelief, because physically (naturally) speaking, it seems rather logical.  It seems logical to rely on the doctor who has spent years practicing medicine.  It seems logical to depend on the bank when you need funds.  It is silly, in the eyes of those who do not truly trust God, to believe God and trust him to heal, deliver, prosper, etc.

Another thing that Jesus said is very clear to me now.

Matthew 7:13-14 [ESV] -- “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easya that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

I find from my personal experience that most people do not truly pursue God.  Most people, from my perspective, are simply religious.  Things smooth rather nicely when you live a religious life.  You go to church, trust God to guide the doctor's hand, trust God that the medicine you take will work, etc.  However, when you begin to pursue God in a supernatural context, then things will change quickly.  People will admonish you to see the doctor.  People will admonish you about the incredible risk in starting that business.  Very few if any will take the time to pray with you and for you.  Few will stop and do what Jesus said to do.  Most will operate from the context of the limitations of this world and only a few will operate in the context of God's Kingdom.

Therefore, living a life of faith and trust in God is very difficult.  Not because trusting God is so hard, but rather because you find yourself fighting not only your own doubts that arise, but the bombardment of unbeliving words from many others close to you.  You will find yourself alone dodging and ducking the firey darts of the enemy trying to get you to give up and be worldly like all the professed Christians around you.

Don't give up. Encourage yourself.  I find that I have to reach out to online resources to obtain encouragenemtn.  Of course reading the bible encourages me greatly.  Sometimes I am privileged to talk to people that I run into online.  Thank God for the remnant so to speak.  That is, for those who truly pursue God and are learning to trust him more and more. We don't learn to trust God from church so we perceive the unknown through faith as being foolish, dangerous, or even presumptuous.  However, the bible reveals to us that God is faithful and he will do what he said he would do.  Sometimes the situation surely doesn't look like things will turn out good, but God is still faithful.  The bible says that the just shall live by his faith (See Habbakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17).  Either most so called Christians are not just, or they didn't get the memo so to speak (i.e., they don't read and practice the bible)..

Encourage yourself.  You may find that those around you will not be a source of encouragement, but instead a source of doubt, ungelief, and frustration.  You have to be constantly on your guard for the unbelieving words of those around you else they will cause your faith to diminish.  This is not to suggest that your faith is so much greater than everyone else. The bible says that we have all been given the measure of faith (Romans 12:3).  We all have the capability to trust and depend on God.  However, the difference is in the matter of pursuit.  For example, my frustration is not that people don't have faith like mine.  I struggle with my faith, which is why I seek encouragement and motivation.  The bible says that two are better than one and a cord of three is not easily broken (See Eccesiastes 4:9-11).

I should also say that you should not resent those people around you who throw seeds of unbelief at you. They just don't know any better.  Many times they mean very well for you.  If they say, "Go to the doctor," then realize that to them the doctor is the answer.  Their faith is in medical science as represented by the doctor.  So they mean well, but they are on a different realm than you or I.  To me, God is the answer. That doesn't mean I won't go to the doctor, but it does mean that my actions will be more influenced by what the Word of God says than what the doctor says.  So at least thank God that they care about you.  I welcome it even though I am on another path.  It is conforting that people care so don't resent them.

Continue pursuing God. Continue on your journey to depend on God for your life.  It's made more difficult because not many will be on the same path as you.  However, remember that God will direct your path (See Proverbs 3:5-6).  Don't let it get you down that most if not all your family and friends closest to you are not with you on your path to a godly lifestyle.  Realize that they do care about you, but are not on the same path as you.  Reach out to others for fellowship, which I find helps tremedously.  Keep reading and studying your bible.  Keep practicing what you learn from the bible and keep moving forward.  Don't be discouraged, but rather encourage yourself!