By the Rev. Vance Drum

The Sunset pastor on Sunday continued our series, “Drawing Near to God,” with a message, “Early Encouragement.”  The text was from Romans 15:4:  “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through patience and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Did you ever face a time in your life when you needed some extra encouragement from someone?  You were looking at a difficult situation, you might not have been sure how it was going to turn out, and you needed help.

Such is the case for nearly everybody in the world at some point or other.  All of us have needs—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual—and we all need someone, sometimes, to lean on.  For Christians, we have the body of Christ to walk with us through this life, but we’re not always with them 24/7, and God has given us help in his holy word.

The pastor made three points:  (1) God’s Teaching; (2) Our Patience; (3) Encouraging Scriptures.

(1) God’s Teaching. Paul says that God has given us writings from the past for our benefit:  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us.”

Our faith is a taught faith. We do not automatically take in God’s wisdom. In fact, without guidance from God’s word, we will not know God’s mind or God’s wisdom for our lives.  Left to our own devices, we’ll have only human wisdom, which is faulty and fallen.

It is in the Scriptures written long ago (in the Old Testament) that we may know many inspiring and instructional stories—about Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Job, Hezekiah, Josiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and many others.  We learn there about their experiences with God—their struggles, trials, exploits and victories. Their lives are examples of how we should live, and, sometimes, how we should not live (note wicked King Ahab and his just as wicked Queen Jezebel).

We also learn of God’s character—his great love, patience and mercies toward us. We can learn so much wisdom from the early Scriptures about God!

(2) Our Patience.  “…So that through patience… we may have hope.” We live in a fallen world, and things do not always go smoothly or well.

Sometimes we go two steps forward, one step back.  Doors that seemed to be open may suddenly close.  That’s ok if God is in charge of my life:  God has something better for me.

Things do not always go my way.  That is also ok:  “Prefer one another.”  Self-promotion is not a good thing.

In James 5:11:  “You have heard of the patience of Job.” Job became very ill, he lost all his children and livestock, and his wife rebuked him: “Curse God and die.” Job did not give in to stupidity but maintained his integrity, and did not lose his faith. He was patient, and God rewarded him for it.

(3) Encouraging Scriptures.  “…So that through … the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  The Scriptures encourage us, and give us hope.

When the children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land—a land of giants, obstacles and great difficulties, under the leadership of Joshua, God said to Joshua:  “I will give you every place where you set your foot.”  God said, Set your foot down, and I will be with you.  “No one will be able to stand up against you….As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” God will also be with you.  Trust in Him: He will never fail you.

Sherry Whatley and Donna Drum sang, with Jerry Hinson’s accompaniment, the old Happy Goodmans’ song, “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for my Journey Now.”  Great song!

“Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.  Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”  [Psalm 105:3-4]

May we, day by day, seek our heavenly Father’s face.  He will reward you—our prayer for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.