"Take Courage"

Here in Baton Rouge, the unthinkable happened this past Sunday morning:  three police officers dead and three wounded.  From Dallas to Nice to Baton Rouge, we are all on an emotional roller coaster of tragedy.

police-car.jpg

It so happened I was here in Baton Rouge preaching all three weekend services at Bethany Church.  I ministered on the importance of keeping “perspective” in moments of crisis (you can watch it HERE).

How do we cope?  Where do we find the courage to keep loving, keep forgiving, keep giving?  Jesus repeatedly told those in distress to "take courage."  It was a COMMAND:  "TAKE courage."  Don’t leave it laying on the ground, pick it up.

Here are a few ways you "take courage" when you are in a time of deep distress: 

1.    "Encourage yourself

  • David was in deep distress. His wife and children had been kidnapped at Ziklag.  He "encouraged himself in the Lord his God…” (1 Sam. 30: 6).
     
  • Take responsibility for your own encouragement.  Don't collapse.  Stand upright, reach out your hand, and TAKE the courage the Lord is offering to you.

2.   "Take heart

  • Jesus said this often. In French, "couer" is "heart."  “Couer-age" (courage) means to be "full of heart."   In other words, “strengthen your heart.”
     
  • Encouragement is not a MENTAL trick we play on ourselves. It is SPIRITUAL.  It is establishing yourheart by meditating on the Word of God.
When I go through crisis, I always speak the Word of God OUT LOUD.
— Larry Stockstill

3.   "Be of good cheer"

  • This is another phrase Jesus often said to those in crisis. We usually reserve "cheer" for times of celebration, not crisis.  For the Lord, it means putting every event of life in perspective of heaven and eternity.
     
  • A friend of mine asked someone once, "How are you doing?" They replied, "OK, I guess, under the circumstances."  He said to them, "What are you doing under there?"

4.   "Look up”

  • King Jehoshaphat was surrounded by three armies. He admitted his condition:  "For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chron. 20: 12)
     
  • Get perspective. Ants look low, eagles look high.  Soar upward and look toward heaven’s throne where your help comes from.

5.   “Speak up

  • When I go through crisis, I always speak the Word of God OUT LOUD. My ears need to hear the promises.   There is a power in Psalm 23, Psalm 46, Isaiah 40 and other passages to lift your soul from the deepest despair.
     
  • Your mind is not able to grasp a huge crisis. It shuts down.  Connect your mouth to your heart and you will be encouraged.
     

Be “en-couraged.”  Take courage “in.”  Feed yourself courage.  Take in large doses of encouraging words, psalms, and hymns.

Paul got through his storm on the Mediterranean.  It was a rough experience, but it turned out well.

We here in Baton Rouge will get through this storm.   Our hearts, our love, and our prayers are for the officers families and this nation.

Be encouraged.

If you would like to read last week's blog How to Stop the Current Violence in America, click here.

QUESTION: “What storm have you gone through recently and how did you remain encouraged when it was at the hardest point?