Sunday, February 8, 2015

Trials and Discouragement

Temple Baptist Church - 2-8-2015
Numbers 21:1-9


A.  When Holy Spirit spoke of the trial of our faith “being much more precious than gold that perisheth,” it was because we do not naturally see our trials in this perspective.

1.  First of all, it would be good to remember that Old Testament Israel operated much of the time on a “sight bases.”  They heard God speak; they watched God work; and, yet, they became easily discouraged when things did not work out right. 

2.  Not one of us likes the hard times and, when our trials are either very hard or very long ones, we all get discouraged.   Job knew about trials and discouragement when he wrote:  “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

B.  One of the greatest enemies of God’s people is that of discouragement.  In these verses, we find Israel still wandering in the wilderness because of the sin of unbelief. 

1.  The 10 spies gave an evil report of the Promised Land and discouraged the hearts of the people to the extent that they turned back and brought upon themselves the judgment of God.  Even in the wilderness, the Lord was good to Israel and met their every need, but the way was long and hard and the people prone to complain. 

2.  Israel had just won a great victory through the help of Jehovah God and, in the next verse was discouraged!  I want to look at this enemy of discouragement this morning with both its causes and affects.  Why do God’s people get discouraged when He is meeting our every need?

C.  What are the major causes of discouragement?  I believe this passage of scripture reveals them.

1.  Discouraged because of the Foe.  Vs. 1-3  Israel has enemies all around them and so do we.  As Christ had enemies, the child of God has enemies.  The enemy fights long and hard; the enemy often wins battles; God will eventually take them down.  (“took…prisoners” and yet God is giving victory: “utterly destroyed them”) - Numbers 21:3  And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.

2.  Discouraged because the Way.  Vs. 4  Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness.  Our Lord had no place to lay His head.  Life is hard at times.  I thank the Lord for the good times but bad times come and they are often long and hard.  (“they journeyed” and were led of God) -Numbers 32:7-9  And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?  Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadeshbarnea to see the land.  For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them.

3.  Discouraged because of the frailty of our flesh.  Vs. 5a  Israel complained often.  From the time God delivered them with a high hand, they murmured and complained.  Our Lord never complained but our hearts are often complaining and bitter.  (“spake against God…against Moses”) - Numbers 14:2  And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!

4.  Discouraged because our spiritual sight is often dimmed and limited.  Vs. 5b  Israel lived from day to day because the manna had to be resupplied.  There was no water save that which God gave from the R0ck.  (“out of Egypt to die” instead of going to Canaan’s land - “no bread…water” yet God was giving them both!) - Exodus 17:6  Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Exodus 16:15  And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.

5.  Discouraged because they were ungrateful for what the Lord gave them.  Vs. 5c  Israel was being clothed, fed, and led every step of the way through the vast wilderness.  We too often look at the things which we do not have which causes us not to be thankful for the things which we do have.  (“loatheth this light bread” which was actually angel’s food!) - Psalms 78:25  Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full
            a)  Discouragement Is Sin

            b)  Discouragement Is Infectious

            c)  Discouragement Is Curable


1.  You Will Not Find Encouragement In Circumstances (though they may improve temporarily, they will continue to change)

2.  You Will Not Find Encouragement In Human Reason (the world has no spiritual answers)

3.  You Will Not Find Encouragement In Self-Pity (this will only cause the trial to deepen)


1.  You Will Find Encouragement In The Lord - 1 Samuel 30:6  And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

a.  There Is Encouragement In His Person - Habakkuk 3:17-18  Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

b.  There Is Encouragement In His Presence - Hebrews 13:5  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

c.  There Is Encouragement In His Power - Romans 8:31  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Hebrews 13:6  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

d.  There Is Encouragement In His Purpose - Philippians 4:12-13  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.   I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

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 hispurpose.

2 Corinthians 1:9  But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

e.  There Is Encouragement In His Protection - 2 Corinthians 1:10  Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

2.  You Will Find Encouragement In the Word - Psalms 119:28  My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. 

a.  There Is Encouragement In Its Promises - Deuteronomy 1:21  Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.

b.  There Is Encouragement In Its Preaching - Hebrews 13:22  And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.

2 Timothy 4:2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3.  You Will Find Encouragement In The Church - Hebrews 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 
a.  There Is Encouragement In Your Pastor

1)  To Continue - Deuteronomy 3:28  But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.

2)  To Contend - Jude 1:3  Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

3)  To Conform -  Titus 2:11-15  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

b.  There Is Encouragement In Your People
1)  There Is Visual Encouragement - Hebrews 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.  (It encourages me just to see them!)
2)  There Is Vocal Encouragement - Hebrews 3:13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  (It encourages me just to hear them!)

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