Encouragement in Distress

29 August 2021 AM – 1Samuel 30:1-6 – Burdens – Scott Childs
Introduction: David had been fleeing from King Saul. He made friends with the Philistines and they gave him the town Ziklag. Six hundred men and their families resided there with David. (Archaeologists just discovered that town about six years ago). While David and his troupes were away on a campaign, the Amalekites invaded, captured Ziklag, burned the city, and took captive all the women, children and animals. David and his men wept until they were weak. Read 1 Samuel 30:1-6.
            In the midst of that terrible distress, David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. How can we do that when we are distressed?
Transition: This morning I want us to ponder four actions that we ought to take to encourage ourselves in the Lord during every distress.
The first action we ought to take to encourage ourselves in the Lord is to …
1.        We must draw close to God
a.         Distress often comes unexpectedly.
1)         God never sends us a text message saying, “Be prepared, tomorrow will be stressful.
2)         David and his men had been away on battle trips many times. Each time they had left their families and possessions behind. They had no reason to anticipate that this trip would be any different. However, as they neared home, someone noticed smoke ahead. This must have struck the chord of fear in their hearts as they picked up pace. When they arrived, there was nothing left. Their families and possessions were all gone. This was an unexpected calamity.
3)         Our first son, Benjamin, was born five weeks premature. He contracted spinal meningitis and spent the first month of his life in the hospital. That crisis was unexpected.
4)         Very likely, you have faced similar unexpected stresses. It seems they always come without warning.
b.         We must be able to reach God instantly.
1)         Not only did David lose his family and possessions, but also his men blamed him and spoke of stoning him to death. David then wisely drew near to the Lord for help.
2)         Thankfully, David had a close relationship with God and he was able to run to the Lord.
3)         When calamity strikes an unbeliever, he has nowhere to turn. He may turn to alcohol, drugs, or even to suicide.
4)         When troubles collapse on a Christian who is not in close fellowship with God, on whom can he turn? We must constantly be ready for the sudden storms of life. How close of a relationship do you have with God right now? Are you truly in fellowship with him? (1 John 1:6) “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” (1 John 1:7) “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Draw near to God!
The second action we ought to take to encourage ourselves in the Lord is to …
2.        Trust God
Satan uses life’s troubles to tempt us to blame God.
a.         We must trust God’s character.
1)         David’s men plotted revenge against David instead of turning to God. David’s loss was similar to theirs, but he trusted God’s character. He knew God was almighty, loving, caring, and able to help in any situation.
2)         What is God’s character like? You may know facts about God, but how well do you really know God? Has He saved your soul and changed your life? Have you experienced His care? Have you observed His unlimited I power? Has God’s faithfulness comforted you? Has He answer prayer for you? Have you spent time with him today? Do you know God well enough to trust Him fully? Peter’s last words to us are, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18).
b.         We must trust God’s faithfulness.
1)         David chose to trust God’s faithfulness. God had helped him against a lion and a bear, against Goliath, and protected him from Saul. He knew God had not changed.
2)         When distress rips into our lives, we too must trust God’s faithfulness. God knows best. The Apostle Paul was confident of this. (Romans 8:28) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
The third action we ought to take to encourage ourselves in the Lord is to …
3.        Cast your burdens on the Lord instead of worrying
a.         Worry always weakens us.
1)         David’s men worried and this weakened them physically, spiritually and mentally and drove them to irrational behaviour.
2)         When we worry, we do not think clearly. We do not trust God. It disturbs our sleep. We do not act rationally.
3)         A child does not worry when in the arms of is loving mother. Neither should we worry if in the arms of Jesus.
b.         God delights in our dependence on Him.
1)         David encouraged himself in the Lord His God. He immediately turned to God during his troubles.
a)         David hoped in God (Ps 42:5). He trusted in God (Ps 56:3). He waited on God (Ps 62:5). He concluded, (Psalms 118:8) “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
b)         Elisha depended on God while his servant worried. (2 Kings 6:16) “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
2)         Because God actually delights when we depend on Him, David wrote. (Psalms 55:22) “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
3)         Note God’s commands in (Philippians 4:6-8) “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing 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. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
The fourth action we ought to take to encourage ourselves in the Lord is to …
4.        Claim God’s promises and accept His answers
a.         Claim God’s promises for your situation.
1)         David knew God’s word. He chose to meditate on helpful things. (Psalms 19:14) “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
2)         Instead of meditating on our worries, we too must meditate on God’s promises. Find verses that give you hope and memorise them so that you are ready when a burden strikes. On Sunday nights, we are memorising 10 verses on Burdens. (Request the list). Find others to add to your memory list.
3)         Quote them repeatedly and thoughtfully when you are tempted to worry.
b.         Accept God’s answers cheerfully.
1)         In David’s calamity, God enabled him to recover all that the enemy had carried off.
2)         Job was able to say, (Job 13:15) “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 23:10) “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
3)         Paul accepted God’s negative answer cheerfully. (2 Corinthians 12:9) “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
4)         Whether God delivers us from the calamity or enables us to endure the loss, if we will cheerfully accept God’s answer, we will grow through the experience and glorify God.
Conclusion: If you are not currently facing a distress, you will. When a distress comes, the best thing to do is to encourage yourself in the Lord. If you will take the four actions we have identified this morning, I believe that God will use them to encourage your heart. Never underestimate the power of God!
            If you do not know the Lord, that is where you must begin.
Song: Cast your burden on the Lord (bulletin)